Introducing Paul’s first epistle to Timothy…
Guard the Faith and stay clear of false teachers…
1 Timothy 6:20-21
20 O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge—21 by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.
Paul declares his reason for writing to Timothy right at the beginning of his letter...
After a customary greeting Paul writes:
“. . . stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false [or, other] doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. (1 Timothy 1:3-4a)
False teachers have always blemished the church. The false teachers in the Ephesian church did not believe Jesus was really human.
They contradicted Scripture while appearing to be self-disciplined and morally righteous.
Paul was concerned because “the pure and sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5) he had brought to Ephesus was being corrupted.
Men and women within the Ephesian church were teaching and spreading doctrines that were different from Paul’s teaching, and so he wrote to Timothy—who was ministering in Ephesus at that time—and advised him about these people and their doctrines.
Paul gives an even sterner warning in his letter to the Galatian church, when he says,
“But even if we or an angel out of heaven should preach a gospel to you contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let him be accursed!” (Galatians 1:8)
In chapter 6, verse 20 we come to Paul’s final exhortation to Timothy.
He is encouraged to guard what was committed to him.
This probably refers to the true doctrines of the Christian faith.
It is not here a question of Timothy’s soul or of his salvation, but rather of the truth of the gospel of the grace of God.
Like money deposited in a bank, the truth entrusted to Timothy was to be preserved “entire and whole and unharmed.”
He is to avoid the profane and idle babble and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge.
Idle babble or chatter is empty talk about matters which are not profitable.
Paul realized that Timothy would encounter a great deal of teaching which posed as true knowledge but which was actually opposed to the Christian revelation.
Bishop Moule writes: The Gnostics of Paul’s day claimed to lead their disciples “past the common herd of mere believers to a superior and gifted circle who should know the mysteries of being, and who by such knowing should live emancipated from the slavery of matter, ranging at liberty in the world of spirit.”
From all such Timothy should turn away.
This would refer, in our day, first of all to false cults, such as “Christian Science.”
This system claims to be Christian in character and also claims to have true knowledge, but it is falsely so-called.
It is neither Christian nor science!
This verse may also be applied to many forms of natural science, as taught in our schools today.
Actually, no true finding of science will ever contradict the Bible, because the secrets of science were placed in the universe by the same One who wrote the Bible, God Himself.
But many so-called facts of science are in reality nothing but unproven theories.
Any such hypotheses which contradict the Bible should be rejected.
6:21 Paul realized that some professed Christians had been taken up with these false teachings and had strayed concerning the faith.
Paul here issued a personal plea to Timothy: guard what has been entrusted to your care.
This is no light matter. The gospel and doctrine, as given by the apostles, must be defended and preserved.
Timothy had been equipped by God to do this; now he must set his heart and mind to the task.
The work was entrusted to him, just as valuables are deposited in a bank for safety.
Timothy was handed the responsibility of guarding the riches of the gospel against false teachers and keeping the church unified in the face of divisive teachings.
In order to carry out this work, Timothy must turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge.
These are the arrogant views of the false teachers, those who think academic pursuits and tangling with words are, in themselves, pathways to spirituality.
They do not recognize the need for a comprehensive belief that changes the inner person and his behavior.
Such people and their teachings appear wise, but they are actually empty.
These false teachers were not just little irritants which disrupted the church; they were dangerous.
The spurious doctrines which some have professed have caused people to wander from the faith.
This was soul-damaging. Such people appeared as religious teachers, but they were traitorous to the God who created them.
Paul ended as he began: Grace be with you. This was extended not only to Timothy, but to the congregation who listened to this letter and heard all of Paul’s instructions.
For the believers gathered in Ephesus, Paul desired God’s grace, his abundant goodness and spiritual fullness.
We continue as we started in the Christian faith—by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-10).
These closing verses bring before us the great dangers of so-called intellectualism, rationalism, modernism, liberalism, and every other “ism” which disregards or waters down Christ.
Grace be with you. This benediction is Paul’s “trademark,” because only God’s grace can keep His people on the “strait and narrow” way. Amen
The Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed
Christianity is a religion of the Word, the Word that created the world and the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us.
Fidelity to God’s Word consists in part of echoing this Word in our confession of faith.
Indeed, Christian faith is first a gift or grace to be received, not a tool to be wielded.
Submission to a fixed formula regards the givenness of faith. Creeds then hold us accountable to the Word of God; they hold our minds still before the Word so they can be conformed to the truth.
The church fathers formed a council in the first or second century to define Christian Orthodoxy, the first was called the Apostles Creed, which was later influenced by the Nicene Creed.
The earliest historical evidence of the creed’s existence is in a letter written by the Council of Milan in 390 A.D.
The basic tenants of the Christian faith, which must be adhered to and believed to be considered orthodox is as follows.
Any variation or belief systems that compromise or contradict these basic tenants of the Christian faith are considered Cults.
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
He suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of Life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic (universal) and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Paul teaches us that we each have a responsibility to rightly divide the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
The Greek word translated as “rightly dividing” is orthotomounta—ortho means “right or proper,” and tomounta means “to cut.”
Literally, success in handling the Word is to cut it properly or correctly.
This is farming imagery, as a farmer who is plowing a field would seek to cut straight furrows in order to plant rows of seed.
When plowing, a farmer would look at a point on the other side of the field and focus on that point to ensure the line cut in the dirt was straight.
This is what the good student of the Word is doing, as well: remaining focused on the goal or outcome and being diligent to handle the Word of God properly.
To rightly divide the Word of truth is to “cut it straight.”
Ultimately, in studying the Word, we are trying to understand what the Author has said and not allow our own opinions or views to cloud the meaning of what He has written.
When we are diligent to “cut straight”—to rightly divide the Word of truth—we can understand what He has communicated in His Word and be well-equipped for what He would have us to do and how He would have us to think.
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