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?