The Guardian Of The Truth
Truth is God’s property; but He places it into the hearts of human beings - to live it, and teach it. Although Timothy had received the truth about Jesus, he had to keep it pure and undiluted so that it would not become a ‘false gospel’ which would dishonour Christ and be useless to others. However useful ‘tolerant discussion’ can be in evangelism, it is easy to allow the ‘godless chatter’ of wrong beliefs and opposing ideas to control the agenda in the church. When that happens, error gains legitimacy, claiming a right to be heard and to contest the Word of God.
Timothy was to be ruthless about such discussion. The church must not become a debating chamber where the audience vote determines the validity of the ideas. The purpose of the church is to proclaim the truth and expose the falseness of every other view. If the gospel is not clear to the church then people will make up their own idea of the gospel and wander from the faith. It would be a narrow and uphill road for Timothy’s leadership but he dare not falter. Teachers who lead people astray from Jesus are accountable to Him (James 3:1). Timothy would need all of God’s grace to keep on track with the truth, despite the opposition.
Heresy has always been a problem for the church. It can start as a little wrong thought that grows in popularity, or as a radically new idea from a previously respected teacher. It always provides a humanly plausible reason to doubt God’s Word and then to reject part of His teaching. Initially it may be tolerated as a ‘little unconventional idea’ but very quickly it becomes an acceptable alternative to the truth. That is the route to apostasy and spiritual decay for the church; believers lose their assurance and fall away from their security in Christ. Therefore every leader must always be alert to prevent the problem starting. It will need all of God’s grace and courage to keep the truth, true. Leaders who are ‘people-pleasers’ will fail to teach the truth clearly, allowing people to embrace a range of opinions: their ministry is spiritually doomed irrespective of their current popularity.
© Dr Paul Adams