Saturday, March 14, 2009




2 Timothy 2:14 Remind them of these things, charging them before God not to fight about words; this is in no way profitable and leads to the ruin of the hearers.
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth.
16 But avoid irreverent, empty speech, for this will produce an even greater measure of godlessness.
17 And their word will spread like gangrene, among whom are Hymenaeus and Philetus.
18 They have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and are overturning the faith of some.
19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, having this inscription: The Lord knows those who are His, and Everyone who names the name of the Lord must turn away from unrighteousness.
20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver bowls, but also those of wood and earthenware, some for special use, some for ordinary.
21 So if anyone purifies himself from these things, he will be a special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
22 Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
23 But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they breed quarrels.
24 The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient,
25 instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance to know the truth.
26 Then they may come to their senses and escape the Devil’s trap, having been captured by him to do his will.

Gangrene is a disease that is insidious.

Gangrene is a medical term used to describe the death of an area of the body. It develops when the blood supply is cut off to the affected part as a result of various processes, such as infection, vascular (pertaining to blood vessels) disease, or trauma. Gangrene can involve any part of the body; the most common sites include the toes, fingers, feet, and hands.

Two major types of gangrene exist:

Dry gangrene is caused by a reduction of blood flow through the arteries. It appears gradually and progresses slowly. In most people, the affected part does not become infected. In this type of gangrene, the tissue becomes cold and black, begins to dry, and eventually sloughs off. Dry gangrene is commonly seen in people with blockage of arteries (arteriosclerosis) resulting from increased cholesterol levels, diabetes, cigarette smoking, and genetic and other factors.

Wet or moist gangrene develops as a complication of an untreated infected wound. Swelling resulting from the bacterial infection causes a sudden stoppage of blood flow. Cessation of blood flow facilitates invasion of the muscles by the bacteria and multiplication of the bacteria because disease-fighting cells (white blood cells) cannot reach the affected part. Sometimes it produce poisonous toxins and gas.

It’s a terrible way to die. Some churches are in that mode of being in a situation where all you cn say is that it is a terrible way to die.

The apostle Paul highlights this when he talks about some people in the church at Ephesus that were causing it die a terrible death. 17 And their word will spread like gangrene, among whom are Hymenaeus and Philetus.

We don’t know much about Hymenaeus and Philetus. What we do know is enough.

We met this man Hymenaeus in Paul's first letter to Timothy. Paul says he had, "delivered him unto Satan in order that he may learn not to blaspheme," (1 Tim 1:20 {RSV}). That was several years earlier. But, evidently, it had not done Hymenaeus any good, because he is still spreading his false doctrine throughout the church, teaching that the resurrection was already past.

Imagine being called a dangerous stinking toxic poison by the Apostle Paul. And look t how these guys have effected the church at Ephesus. Paul sees apostasy and defeat all around him. This is evident when one compares 1 & 2 Timothy with the words "some" and "all."

Dr. J. Sidlow Baxter, in Explore the Book, points out that the "some" of 1 Timothy has become "all" in 2 Timothy.

- "Some...have turned aside." (1:6) - "Some...have made shipwreck." (1:19)

- "Some have...turned aside after Satan." (5:15) - "Some...have erred from the faith." (6:10)

- "Some...have erred concerning the faith." (6:21)

* This is the theme of his first letter. But in 2 Timothy, we read the following:

- " turned away from me." (1:15) - "All men forsook me." (4:16)

The churches were turning from the faith, and Paul urges young Timothy to be true to his calling and faithfully fulfil his ministry. Woven in and out of the exhortations in this letter are the concerns of the great apostle.

Paul has been addressing the question of how to stand firm as a Christian, how to maintain the truth in a world that is falling apart. Paul is addressing a new tactic of the enemy. The devil is very clever in his attack upon Christians and Christianity.

The devil has many tactics. He may seek to destroy the truth by patronizing Christianity and Christians. He may try to do so by popularity -- by diverting the attention of Christians away from why they are sent into the world. He has destroyed many a Christian witness that way. He may, as we have been seeing in this letter, bring about sharp persecution; he may try to paralyze us by fear, and by societal rejection; or he may bring about a polarization, an attempt to divide the body.

How can you and I avoid the problem of congregational gangrene?

It will spread of its not contained.

People with gangrene require urgent assessment and treatment to prevent the spread of gangrene. Antibiotics and surgery are the primary treatments and have been proven very effective. Hospitalisation is necessary for treatment.

Dry gangrene: Because the cause of dry gangrene is a lack of blood flow, restoring the blood supply is vital. Assessment by a vascular surgeon can help determine whether surgical intervention to restore blood supply would be beneficial.

Wet gangrene: Surgical debridement (removal of dead tissue) of the wound is performed, and intravenous antibiotics are administered to control the infection.

Gas gangrene: This condition needs to be treated aggressively because of the threat of the infection rapidly spreading via the bloodstream and damaging vital organs. The wound requires immediate debridement. Antibiotics are administered to the affected person.

1. Contain the Problem Remind them to Avoid The Words of Men

The first thing the apostle says is, Remind them of this, and charge them before the Lord to avoid disputing about words. {2 Tim 2:14a RSV}

"disputing about words." Many churches fall into that trap today. The words in question, of course, represented doctrinal viewpoints. Sometimes churches split over eschatology. Do you agree with Dr. so and so’s take on one verse or do you want something else.

Usually divisiveness is more about personalities and who wants to be first rather than about a truth.

Sometimes others will not allow others the liberty to be wrong.

Timothy is told to do four things about the word battle in Ephesus. These guidelines will be helpful to us too, if we are engaged in a controversy of this sort:

As the Battle of Trafalgar was about to begin, Admiral Nelson came across two officers of his own flagship who were arguing hotly and about to take sword to each other. Nelson stepped between them and said, "Stop." Then, pointing to the French fleet, he said, "There is the enemy."

Christians need to remember that. We are not to be engaged in debates that get so intense and so hot that we forget what the Lord has sent us to do. We forget who the real enemy is, the devil. Quarreling over words does no good, so Timothy was to plead earnestly with them to avoid such disputes. I have been present at several church quarrels, and it is very evident that it is true that no further light is ever shed when a controversy gets heated. Nobody is bringing out truth; they are simply hammering away at each other. Further, Paul says, "it leads to catastrophe." The word ruins here ("only ruins the hearers"), is literally the word, "catastrophe." Church quarrels can lead to catastrophic events. Contain the problem. Avoid disputing about words.

2. Improve The Flow Of Good Blood. Rightly Divide The Word Of God

The second suggestion the apostle makes as to how to handle the incipient quarrel at Ephesus is, demonstrate a proper handling of the Scriptures. Paul says to Timothy, "Show them yourself how to do this." Here is one of those wonderful verses which we all ought to memorize. Verse 15: Timothy is to be a workman, a laborer, somebody who needs not be ashamed because he has done his homework adequately; he has investigated throughout the whole of the Scriptures what the words in question mean.

I have found that it takes a minimum of ten to twelve hours to prepare a message for a Sunday morning service. One has to go back to the original Greek or Hebrew text and see what the words mean in their original.

"rightly handle the word of truth." “rightly divide the word of truth." I was told that meant that as one read through the New Testament or the Old Testament, one was to divide it up according to which part was addressed to the Jews, which part to the Gentiles, and which part to the Christians; or, one was to divide it according to that which dealt with the church versus that which dealt with the kingdom; whether it addressed itself to those who are under the Law or those who are under grace. That gave rise to what is frequently called, Dispensationalism, where one had to be very careful to understand exactly who God was speaking to when he said something.

There is some value and some truth in that view, but the text itself is more properly translated, "rightly handling the word of truth." It is a single word which means "to cut straight" -- "cut straight the word of truth," Paul is probably referring to his own experience as a tentmaker. Timothy travelled with Paul, so he must have worked many nights with him, cutting and sewing material together to make tents, a figure that Timothy would well understand. You ladies who have made garments from patterns know how important it is to cut the material straight. If you cut it on a line away from what the pattern says you will end up with a piece that is either too small or too large. When you try to fit it with other pieces it will either droop and sag because it is too large, or it will pull and pinch because it is too small.

That is what Paul is talking about. When you handle the Scriptures, he says to Timothy, be sure to cut a straight line. That is, understand the words that are used as they relate to other Scriptures that deal with the subject, so that when the whole thing is put together you will not have to pull or stretch or try to fit something in that does not quite belong; you have clearly understood what each section means, and it will all fit together naturally. Paul is dealing here with a very important principle in understanding the truth of Scripture – all Scripture must be understood in the light of the rest of Scripture. We really have not ever understood any single passage until we have carefully tried to fit it with all that the Scriptures say about it.

3. Cut Out The Bad Stuff Rigidly Avoid The Ungodly Words

The third thing the apostle says to Timothy about handling church squabbles is in Verse 16:

Avoid such godless chatter, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will eat its way like gangrene. {2 Tim 2:16-17a RSV}

The word for avoid is really the word, "walk around." Skirt it; do not get involved; do not join the clamor; do not let yourself be down into these kinds of word battles because, if you get involved, it will only escalate the problem. "It will lead to more and more ungodliness," Paul says. The term he uses, which is translated here, godless chatter, is literally "empty babblings." That refers to people who shoot off their mouths, who talk off the top of their heads and display a lot of emotionalism. Paul tells Timothy to not get involved with that because it will escalate; it will lead to more and more "unwholesomeness," literally.

Further, says the apostle, it will "eat like gangrene." Gangrene is an infection of the bloodstream that not only spreads rapidly through the body, but smells horribly. Foul, suppurating wounds keep increasing in size, so that it is one of the most difficult problems to handle, medically. God's view of a church squabble is that it spreads like gangrene. It smells bad, it spreads quickly, and a whole congregation can be infected by it.

Paul has an example right at hand in Ephesus. Here is a case in point (Verse 17b):

Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth by holding that the resurrection is past already. They are upsetting the faith of some. {2 Tim 2:17b-18 RSV}

4. Trust The Doctor Remember The Word Of The Lord

The last thing the apostle says is, remember God's firm foundation. Verse 19:

But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: "The Lord knows those who are his," and "Let every one who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity." {2 Tim 2:19 RSV}

In other words, "Timothy, don't panic over this. Yes, there may be heresy in the congregation, there may be dissension among you and you may have to do battle against it, but, remember, 'God's firm foundation stands.'"

Both of those quotations in Verse 19 are taken from the story in the sixteenth chapter of the book of Numbers about the rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. During Israel's wandering through the wilderness, those three men challenged the authority of Moses, saying, "Why do you listen to

Moses? He is no different than we are. We are men of understanding like Moses." Why don't you listen to us, was their implication. Moses took the problem to the Lord, and the Lord said, "Bring them here. Let me give them an examination." Korah, Dathan and Abiram and their families all stood together. Suddenly, before the eyes of the whole congregation, the ground opened up, down they went into the pit and the ground slammed shut behind them. God said, "Any more questions?"

Yes, God knows them that are his. He has his own ways of dealing with this kind of thing. The apostle says that those who are genuine will depart from iniquity.

You've just teed off on the 13th hole of Canyon West Golf Club in Weatherford, Texas. Your shot lands in the fairway, which makes you a better golfer than me. You stride up to the ball, ready for your next shot, when you find your ball resting on yellow metal sticking up from the ground. Congratulations—you've just discovered a buried bulldozer. Acting on a tip, officials recently dug up the fairway, where they found a 9,000 pound Ford rubber tire loader. Investigators have been told that the owners allegedly used the stolen equipment to build the course 14 years ago, then buried it. One official estimates that the bulldozer would have cost $40,000 to $50,000, perhaps more.

Buried it comes to the surface. There is stuff that is covered up that will one day be uncovered.

1 Tim 5: 24 Some people’s sins are evident, going before them to judgment, but [the sins]of others follow them. 25 Likewise, good works are obvious, and those that are not [obvious]cannot remain hidden.

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