2 Timothy 2:14-19
Life in the Local Church
Words Mean Things
Good Morning! Please turn in your Bibles with me to 2 Timothy, chapter 2. Before we get started, thank you all for the prayers, the groceries and the love that you all sent out to us over the last two weeks, and especially to Dave for covering my teaching and preaching duties here. We are praying that none of you get hit with this major bug that we got.
So, we are going to pick up where we left off a few weeks ago, in 2 Timothy 2. I’ll give a brief review and then we will jump into this week’s text. So, Paul is coming to the end of his life, imprisoned in Rome, awaiting trial before Caesar and tradition says he was beheaded after being found guilty from that trial. He is writing this letter to his young protégé, his child in the faith, as his last warnings, his last encouragements and his last directions to the local church.
Back in verse 8, he tells Timothy to Remember Jesus Christ, truly man and truly God. Remember the Gospel, that God became man to save sinners. Verse 9 is powerful where he declares that despite Paul being chained, bound in prison, the Word of God is not bound! Paul finishes up that section by sharing a faithful and true saying, likely quoting an early, well known hymn, verses 11-13:
The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.
What a wonderful amazing statement! No matter what happens, HE remains faithful and HE cannot deny himself.
So, on that note, we will go ahead and read the next passage of scripture in this letter. I was originally planning on going through the rest of the chapter, hence the verses up on the screen, but we are only going to go through a couple of verses this morning. We will be reading through 2 Timothy 2, verses 14-19. I’m going to be reading out of the English Standard Version. I encourage you to follow along with your preferred translation.
2 Timothy 2:14-19, Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writing the very Words of God, tells Timothy:
Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,
and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,
who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.
But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
May God Bless the Reading of his Word.
Paul starts off telling Timothy to remind them of these things. Remind his congregation of the things that Paul is teaching Timothy and remind his congregation about the things that the faithful saying and the hymn teaches. We need that constant reminder. We are forgetful people. We need to remind ourselves each and every week. This is why scripture is constantly saying “Remember what you have been told,” Remember what you have been taught,” We have to be reminded often.
But we also, have you noticed this about yourself, because I’ve noticed it about me, we spend a lot of time trying to remind those around us instead of reminding ourselves. “Hey, Hey, did you hear that?”
We often listen to sermons and instead of thinking of how it applies to our own lives and how we can grow and glorify God, we think things like, “oh good, So and so really needs to hear this.”
We sometimes try to play the part of the Holy Spirit, maybe we nudge our spouses when we think there is something they need to hear. But when we do that, we can too easily undo a lot of what the Holy Spirit might be doing and working on inside the other person. We are very poor imitations of the Holy Spirit.
Or sometimes we are reading our Bible and we come along a passage that we ignore the personal application and growth and we think, “See, if only so and so would read this passage!” We are so often more worried about being right and showing others that we are right, instead of seeing what Gods Word has for us.
But what does Paul say here? Remind them constantly of Jesus. Remind yourself of the Gospel. And don’t quarrel about words. Quarreling does nobody any good, except for the enemy. Because quarreling causes hurt to the hearers. It causes division, it leads to gossip and slander, even when we don’t realize it. These are very common characteristics of false teachers, as one example. That is one of the key things that Paul is warning Timothy about. And those who stir up and cause controversy and division, they are to be dealt with and avoided.
2 Timothy 2:15 is a great verse to memorize if you haven’t yet. There is so much packed into this verse, we are going to barely scratch the surface, I’m afraid. We start with the charge that Paul gives, that we are to do our best to present ourselves as one approved.
We are to stand tall, holy and blameless before God. And not because of anything about us, but because He has made us Holy and blameless in His sight. We see again the last part of the faithful saying Paul just shared, that even in our unfaithfulness, He remains Faithful. That’s his character, that’s who he is, and he cannot deny himself.
No matter what, he remains faithful. And because of who he is and his faithfulness, we can stand firm in his promises and we can stand tall, a worker for God. We have no need to be ashamed. But we will be told that we have reason to be ashamed.
Those of us who stick with the Word of God and believe what it actually says and that it is in fact the word of God, we will often be called names and made to feel that we should be ashamed. We will be told that we think we are better than others. We will be told that out views and thoughts are bigoted, intolerant and on the wrong side of history. We will get called self-righteous and hypocritical.
Those things are designed to make us feel ashamed. But we know the truth. We are not better than anyone else. All sin removes us from Gods grace and places us under Gods wrath. And we are all sinners, worthy of his judgment. But we know Romans 5:8, that God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We know that have done nothing to make ourselves right in Gods eyes, but instead we have been saved by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. We are standing tall, saved by God, brought into his family by him, now children of God.
Another way that False teachers especially will try to shame us is by saying that we get the word of God wrong. They will say that we take the Bible too literally. They will say that we use the Bible to back up our own prejudices and exclude groups of people, that we divide or keep out certain groups of people or shame people who are in certain sins and sinful behaviors.
Just this week, one False Teacher was responding to a statement that we need to follow not just the parts of the Bible we like but follow the whole Bible. Her response was, “C’mon, nobody really obeys the whole Bible.” What kind of message is that to send out on social media? Its certainly not a biblical message. Now, do all of us always follow everything the Bible says every single second of every single day? Of course not. But we are called to be Holy. We are called to obey his commands. We are called to pursue righteousness. This false teacher’s point was not that we all are sinners in need of grace. Her point was that those who call people to repentance are not being loving and instead are being sexist, intolerant, racist and bigoted.
False teachers accuse us of twisting the word of God for our own purposes and instead it is they who twist Gods word in order to lessen who He is. They take away from some of his attributes, his holiness, his judgment, his hatred for sin. And they say that God couldn’t possibly mean what it looks like he says, because that would not be very nice. That would not be inclusive and that would not affirm what they have already decided is right and loving.
The truth is, the more faithful we are to the Word of God, the more we will be attacked for it. And we will be attacked by those who take scripture out of context. Those who make scriptures about themselves instead of about the Holy, all powerful God of the universe. Those who don’t believe that the Bible is Gods Holy and Inspired Word, infallible, inerrant and sufficient. Those who, despite their words, by their fruit, do not believe what Paul writes just about 1 chapter from know, that All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[b] may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16 & 17)
They have no respect for the holiness of God. They have no respect for the truth of Gods Word. They twist scriptures for their own purposes. The New Testament is ripe with Scriptures about False Teachers within the church, what to look out for and what the consequences of them are. Here are just a few of them.
1 Timothy 4:1: Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons
1 John 4:1-3: Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
2 Peter 2:1-3: But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed, they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
And the last one, Jude 4: For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
But if we truly trust the Word of God in all things, if we have the utmost respect for His Word and we hold it up as the very Word of God as it proposes to be, that means that every single, solitary word in here is put in here specifically and purposely by God.
It means not just the letters in Red, though it includes that as well. Not dismissing Paul’s letters and his teachings because his words are “not the words of Jesus.” When in very fact, Jesus is the Word of God. Johns Gospel starts out with that fact. John 1:1. He writes: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And then John 1:14, And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son[d] from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Bible is the Word of God. Jesus is the Word become flesh. Every Word in the Bible, no matter who wrote it or who spoke it are in fact the Words of Jesus himself, the Very Word of God.
Paul calls us, maybe charges us is a better way to say it, he charges us at the end of verse 15, to rightly handle the Word of truth. And that means believing and following every Word of what the Bible says.
The Word of God is what guides us to holiness. Its what teaches us and leads us to our sanctification. Its how God speaks to us today. Hebrews 4:12, the author tells us for the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Straying from the Word of God, on the other hand, leads to irreverent babble. It leads to more and more ungodliness. And rejecting the authority and sufficiency of the Bible is a slippery slope that is incredibly difficult to come back from.
Paul says that this type of thing spreads like gangrene. When we talk, our words spread like wildfire. I use that descriptive word purposely because we all have seen firsthand how quick that is. It’s not an exaggeration to say that words spread that quick. True or false, right or wrong. The problem is that false lies are often more believable than the truth. And often, based on our own, human wisdom and understanding, we want to believe the lies more. Romans 1:18, says that we suppress the truth with our unrighteousness.
And the lies and the gossip and the slander and the divisive talk spreads and it travels quickly. And it takes people down with it. Gossip and lies are sins because they go against the truth. They are anti truth. God is Truth. He cannot lie. He cannot deny himself. So, for us to lie, for us to deny him and his words is to sin against God.
Paul gives a specific example of one case of lies and false teaching going on in the church in Ephesus that are spreading through the body if Christ. Hymenaeus and Philetus were teaching that the Second coming had already occurred. They were saying that the resurrection had already occurred. They were teaching people that the only resurrection that takes place is the spiritual resurrection that takes place at the moment of salvation, when we move from death to life. They were teaching that there is no future, physical resurrection. This is of course, refuted in many passages in scriptures, including but not limited to Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians and in 1 Corinthians 15. But this false teaching was spreading, and it was upsetting the faith of many in the congregation.
But, BUT… and the Bible has a lot of Big Buts, some of the greatest parts of the Bible hinge on a But. Look at Ephesians chapter 2, I want to read verses 1-10 so that you get the full context of what Paul is saying, but I’m just going to read verses 3-5 and encourage you to read the rest on your own. Ephesians 2:3-5: we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[b] 4 But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
One more real quick, 1 Corinthians 6, verses 9-11: do you not know that the unrighteous[b] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[c] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
But God…Two of the greatest words God put into the Bible.
Despite all the lies running wild in this world, despite the false teachers undercutting the Word of God, Despite all the attacks on the authority of Gods Word and his laws and his commands. Despite all of that, we see in verse 19 here, But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
Gods firm foundation stands. The true church, Gods elect, his people are what he builds upon that firm foundation. The foundation is Jesus Christ. It is, as we read in Matthew, built upon the statement that Peter makes that Jesus Christ is Messiah, the LORD, the Son of God, God himself. Upon that rock, he builds his church.
The LORD knows who are his. Those of us, being saved from our sin and from the wrath of God, by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, not works or anything about us, but faith alone in the foundation of all of it, the cornerstone, Jesus Christ alone. Those of us who are called by the Holy Spirit, bearing His seal. We stand firm on his foundation, unashamed of our past, because it is forgiven, covered in Christs righteousness, because we have none of our own.
Part of being his, is that everyone who knows the name of the LORD, everyone who is his, depart from iniquity. Paul well get more into this later in this chapter, we are to mark and avoid false teachers and those who spread division and deception.
We are to walk upright and blameless by strength of God. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,[c] a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. Amen.