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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published Weekly on Friday
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:3-4)
Welcome to HBS.
FYI: Sometimes (not always) I present a brief review of the teaching points from the prior lesson before starting the next section of Scripture. I perform this repetitious activity simply because it is an effective training tool. So in our study of Philippians 1:14-17, we learned the majority of the brethren in Rome, depending on the Lord for enablement, became more courageous than ever before. They preached the gospel in and around Rome, which resulted in more people hearing God’s good news of salvation then if Paul had been free to preach himself. However, some other brethren operating with ulterior motives preached out of envy, strife, and contention, i.e. self ambition, aiming to add affliction to Paul’s bonds. They hoped when the news of their activities reached Paul it would upset him greatly. In this lesson, one of the things we’re about to learn is how our Apostle Paul reacted to their jealous behavior.
Please open your Bible and meet me at Philippians 1:18-19.
What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
This passage doesn’t convey the idea Paul was upset by the envious brethren’s attitude, instead, Paul rejoiced. Paul said, “…whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do (what) rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.”
What then? Another way of saying this is, “What is my conclusion?” Paul is summing up his previous comments here. However, it’s a rhetorical question, meaning he’s not expecting an answer from his audience. He provides the answer to this question:
…notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth,
The word “pretence” is Prophasis (Prof-as-is), Noun, Feminine, Strong’s Greek #4392, and it means: alleged reason or pretended cause; a cloak of covetousness. Pretence means operating with false motives. Thus, pretence concerns those brethren who were pretending to preach the gospel of grace for the right reason but in actuality were doing so out of envy, strife, and contention.
…or in truth - the flip-side of all falsehood is the truth. In the Greek, truth is Aletheia (Al-ay’-thi-a), Noun, Feminine, Strong’s Greek #225, meaning: true to fact or reality. Truth means sincerity and it refers to the brethren of the household of faith who preached Paul’s gospel with the right motivation. Said differently, if one is holding to the Truth then they are sincere in the dealings with others. Some of the brethren were properly motivated in preaching the truth re: God’s free gift of grace or heralding God’s policy in the Dispensation of Grace (1:16) and some others not so much.
The truth spoken of below is based on fact or reality for example:
Fact: God desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1Timothy 2:3-4).
Fact: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons (Galatians 4:4-5).
Fact: For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth (Romans 10:4).
Fact: For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26).
When these truths (facts or reality) are shared with sincerity, you’re operating with the right motive. And this brings me back to my original thought. Many people today do not readily accept facts or reality (See Creationism vs Evolution for one). The biblical things you speak of are “relative” to most people. This comes as no surprise because “relativism” is becoming the norm in our culture. Over simplified this term means “there are no absolutes.” What‘s true for one person, doesn’t necessarily translate as truth to someone else.
An example from Scripture just came to mind, so we’re going to look at it. The Lord Jesus Christ said He is the only way to the Father, that is, to be saved and that by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). So, here’s our first example of truth and it brings to mind a church incident that occurred several years ago. The sermon that Sunday morning was about salvation and during that talk the pastor informed the congregation there are many ways to heaven, not just one. A man in the audience immediately turned to John 14:6 in his Bible and read it again, and again. After church, he stopped as he was exiting the building and showed this truth to his pastor who replied, “That doesn’t mean what it says.” Obviously, this church leader had his own opinions about what is truth and what is not and in this case, it certainly was insincere.
While we’re here I may as well mention one of the largest churches in the USA today is the New Age church. More than 20 million people are counted as members. Why is it so popular? Basically, they appreciate its teachings. This church denies many of the fundamental truths of the Bible. One of their beliefs is there are many ways to heaven. They like the sound of this proclamation because it gives them options. The very idea that there is but one way to the Father is too restrictive. So, in a nutshell, truth is relative to these folks (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
The truth was also relative to Pontius Pilate. Please turn to John’s gospel at chapter 18:37-38. Let’s begin at verse 37. Here we have Jesus Christ standing before Pilate.
Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews (or mob), and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.
Here Pilate asks the most important question of his life, but he doesn’t wait for the answer. After he asked Jesus, “What is truth?” he turned his back on Him and walked away. Pilate’s cynical response reveals truth is relative to him (i.e. changing with circumstances, not permanently fixed, but having a meaning or value that can only be established in relation to something else).
Jesus said, “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate stood face to face with Reality or the truth on this day and provides one of the most significant episodes of relativism in Scripture. Jesus’ remarks are spiritual truth, but instead of asking him to elaborate, which would demonstrate he was interested in the truth, he simply said, “What is truth” and left it at that. In effect he not only dismissed Jesus’ words, he dismissed Jesus Himself. You see, Pilate wasn’t interested in truth, as Jesus presented it. He was preoccupied with his concern about the charge of insurrection which the Jews had brought against Jesus and how the Roman emperor would respond to his decision in this matter. In this exchange we learn Pilate, like Cain, was destitute of faith the key factor required in pleasing God (Hebrews 11:6).
The only source of divine truth in the world today is the Bible. Jesus spoke the truth. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). From this we learn faith is believing the truth.
And with that I offer these two points regarding faith: 1) The Bible is not addressed to reason; but to faith. Thus, faith is being convinced of the truth and being certain of reality, despite having not seen. This principle reminds me of Paul’s observation in 2 Corinthians 5:7: (For we walk by faith, not by sight).
I like biblical examples so let’s all turn to John 20:19-28. Here we have the Apostle James meeting with his fellow disciples and receiving the information they’d seen Jesus alive. But James didn’t believe them. What’s more he wanted proof of life. He said he believe when he saw Him in person and felt His lethal wounds. I’m won’t take the time to examine the entire passage; I suggest you do this on your own. Our purpose for being here is located in verse 28:
And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed (John 20:28).
This brings me to my next point of interest. 2) Faith believes, hopes in, and is in total agreement with the truth, and stands firm therein. I’ve selected a few Bible passage to help explain what this means:
And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? (Romans 8:23-24).
Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, and in which you stand firm. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).
That we henceforth be no more children (spiritually immature), tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight (trickery) of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. But speaking (what) the truth in love, may grow up into him (the Lord Jesus Christ) in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (Ephesians 4:14-15)
Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil (Hebrews 6:19).
Relativism is the philosophical view that all points of view are equally valid and that all truth is relative to the individual. This means all moral positions, all religious systems, all art forms, all political movements, etc. are truths that are relative to each individual. Some expressions you may hear are: “That is your version of truth, not mine;” “It is true for you, but not for me;” and the most popular “There are no absolutes!” But in the end folks, all of these statements are illogical. Why? Our society, our economy, our schools, and even our homes are being invaded by this mentality. Society, as a whole, cannot flourish or survive in an environment where everyone does what is right “in their own eyes.” That’s chaos or better said anarchy.
And the children of Israel departed thence at that time, every man to his tribe and to his family, and they went out from thence every man to his inheritance. In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:24-25).
Let’s move on to verse 1:18b.
Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
The Greek word "rejoice" means an inner joy. Paul’s attitude of selflessness and his sincere concern for the cause of Christ Jesus is on display here. Whether the preaching came from proper or improper motives, he rejoiced in the fact Jesus Christ was being heralded in and about Rome.
Here Paul teaches the Philippians (and us) a valuable lesson. Paul didn’t respond in kind; he responded in love. Paul’s motive remained fixed. He desired to be a faithful servant (steward) of the Lord in all things, despite his circumstances.
For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
Paul’s not talking about his personal salvation here; that’s a done deal. Once saved, always saved, per this book.
Please turn to the book of John chapter 13:6-11. Here we find Jesus Christ preparing to wash the feet of His disciples at the Last Supper: Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Simon saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed (past tense) needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
The lowliest household servant (slave) was responsible for washing the feet of a guest or visitor to the home. The roads and streets were not paved and there was no indoor plumbing or outhouses back in the day which means people relieved themselves and the waste was tossed out into the street. You were sure to find garbage lying about as well. I pray you’re getting the idea. People wore sandals or walked barefoot, so the feet became more than just filthy they were contaminated. Cleaning feet was the custom of the day. Perhaps Jesus sat there waiting for one of His apostles to tend to the task, but we also note they were busy discussing “who was greater.” You have to review Luke 22:24-27 to pick up this vital piece of information. John doesn’t mention it. By the way, Jesus performs this task to set an example, not to introduce a church doctrine. Big difference! In verse 15 He said, “For I have given you (a doctrine, no, look at what He said) an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” The example He speaks of is adopting the heart of a servant towards one another and their countrymen, the Jews. Gentiles (that’s us) aren’t in the Lord’s salvation picture yet. I know the churches put us there, but that is inaccurate.
Jesus said, “He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit (way),” confirming what the Bible teaches in other places, that is, once saved, always saved. He also mentions the fact that one among them (namely Judas) was not only His betrayer, but he was spiritually unclean or destitute of faith. Hanging out with godly people no more saves an individual then sitting in a garage 24 hours a day makes you a Chevrolet. Placing your trust (faith) in what God has said will.
So Paul’s not speaking of his salvation here. The phrase this shall turn to my salvation said differently would be “this evil act intended to cause me great harm shall instead turn to my deliverance.” Paul said he rejoiced in knowing the gospel was being preached, even in Caesar’s palace, and this activity could influence the outcome of his trial.
This refers to Christ is preached back in verse 18. But that preaching was being done by properly motivated brethren. Here it refers to Paul’s future preaching. So he’s saying, and believes, God intends for him to continue preaching, so this will lead to his deliverance or salvation from his bonds.
… through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
Here, again, we note Paul’s belief in prayer. He’s in a tight spot. He doesn’t believe his release from prison will occur automatically. He believes his freedom will come by way of persistent prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ or the help provided by the third member of the Triune Godhead.
(To be continued)
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