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Denying the Power

2 Timothy 3:1-9

In the last days before the return of Christ, there will be perilous or troublesome and dangerous times. This will be characterized by a “falling away” from the faith (2 Thessalonians 2:3), with various other identifiers in men’s lives as well (2 Timothy 3:2-5). This time period has been preached with great warning for many years, with messages pointing at men’s lifestyles and the lack of holiness that they exhibit as evidence that we are approaching the end.

If you have an understanding of what Paul and the rest of the early church was preaching in the time of the New Testament, it becomes easier to see what they meant by a “falling away” or “perilous times”. Paul preached a doctrine of pure grace, in which man is saved by faith alone, apart from his works and that salvation is a complete justification based upon the finished work of Jesus Christ. Paul considered God only as righteous as His willingness to save man based upon faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26).

For Paul to prophecy of a time when the church would fall backwards or experience perilous times, he was seeing a time when the most accepted message in the church would not be the message of pure grace. That time is upon us, when there is more and more a mixture of pure grace with the trappings of law. Many churches specialize in preaching grace to the sinner and works to the saint in an attempt to “balance out” the message of law and grace. What man calls balance, God calls mixture! (Luke 5:36-39).

“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power therof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5). I used to interpret this verse to mean that many people speak of holiness and living right but they deny the mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost, thus they are denying the power source. Paul never gives any such indication in his writings, but does in fact give us the answer to this statement. In his letter to Rome, Paul tells us what the power of God is, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). The power of God is the good news of Christ’s finished work; namely, the message of pure grace. He then goes a step further, showing us true godliness and where it comes from, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:17). Within the power of the finished work is where true righteousness grows. If we want godliness, we must want pure grace!

There will always be those who like Jannes and Jambres standing in front of Moses (2 Timothy 3:8), resist the truth. We must not back down from telling others of the wonderful love of God just because there are some who deny salvation could be that simple. Never back down from the message of pure grace, because it truly is the power of God to see men changed.

We are in perilous times, when people are hearing less and less of the glorious good news of God’s grace, but do not be dismayed believer. You and I are also living in an awesome time, when God is raising up voices all over the world to tell mankind of the love of the heavenly Father and of His awesome finished work. Will you be one of those voices today?

 

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Old Wives’ Fables

1 Timothy 4:1-7

In writing to young Timothy, Paul told him, and us, that “the Spirit speaketh expressly” or ‘pointedly’, “that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils”. Someone asked me recently if I felt that the church was entering a period that could be defined as “the falling away” (2 Thessalonians 2:3) or “the latter times”. I responded that I believe that we are certainly in the latter times, but that we have been in them for nearly 2000 years on God’s time clock. As for the falling away, I do not believe that we are entering that period now; I believe that we are already in it!

When Paul wrote of the falling away from the faith, he was writing it from the perspective of his gospel. What was it that Paul preached? He preached pure grace with salvation coming by faith alone in what Jesus had finished at the cross. Paul never preached the law as a means of salvation or as a means of maintaining or improving one’s salvation. Paul advocated a complete separation of the law from the preaching of grace, claiming that the law would inflame sin (Romans 5:18) and cause saints to fall from grace (Galatians 5:4).

To envision a church that would fall away from the faith, Paul sees one that no longer preaches pure grace. It should be obvious that we are not entering this period of church history, but are already there. The gospel of pure grace has all but vanished from many pulpits, with the hybrid message of law and grace being so prevalent as to be considered the only true gospel. In my part of the world, preachers that scream and yell and condemn people to hell are praised as preaching the “unadulterated gospel”, while they are truly instruments of condemnation and death. Paul would be hard pressed to find the comfort and exhortation being ministered that he personally worked so hard to foster.

He warns of “old wives’ fables” while not actually giving us one. However, the Word does share one with us that is of particular importance. The word of the LORD came to Ezekiel and this “wives’ fable” was confronted:

“What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?’ As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:2-4)

This old proverb in Israel stated that if a man ate sour grapes, his child’s teeth would hurt. In other words, if a man sinned, his son would be punished. This teaching of generational curses passed back from God’s teaching Moses on Mt. Sinai that he would “visit the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” (Exodus 20:5). God states that it can no longer be used, but why? The answer is found at the cross.

Jesus is thirsty at Calvary, so he asks for something to drink. They fill a sponge with “vinegar” or “sour wine” and lift it to Jesus. After he had received it, he said “It is finished”. At Calvary, Jesus drank the sour wine so that you will never have your teeth set on edge. He was punished so that you can go free. Remove the old wives’ tales and rejoice in a New Covenant!

 

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