As Good As Your Word
April 26, 1998 2Timothy 2:14-26
Installation of Officers:
Do you accept your office as a sacred and solemn trust from the Lord Jesus Christ, promising Him and this church to fulfill its responsibilities and ministries to the best of your ability?
Will you strive with God’s help to be examples of Christ in the midst of those whom He has set you as leaders, holding to the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience?
Do you, the members of this church, acknowledge and receive these officers, entering with them into the spirit of the vows they have just made to God and this church?
Do you promise to honor them, encourage them, cooperate with them and pray for them, as the Word of God and the constitution of this church admonish?
The congregation will please rise.
Pastor prays, dedicating the leaders to their tasks and to God and dedicating the congregation to renewed spiritual unity and progress under the blessing of Christ Jesus, the Head of the Church.
This passage speaks directly to Timothy as one who has charge over God’s house. It also speaks indirectly, but still just as effectively, to any who would have positions of authority or leadership in the church. Therefore, it speaks to us. The focus is upon the guardianship of God’s Word (S. 2Tim. 1:12-14) that has been entrusted to us. We are to be on guard against false teaching. This passage tells us what it is and what to do about it.
In making his points, Paul moves into this passage with a dynamic contrast and then draws three more. Verse 10 refers to the salvation and glory of the “elect” as the reason Paul has endured so much for Christ. He is participating with Christ in the building of his kingdom and wants the benefits of that kingdom for others as well. His initial contrast concerns the elect from whom God’s Word is not chained. In them, the truth of God’s Word has found fertile ground in which to live and reproduce. They are the ones who have died with Christ by faith unto eternal life, therefore enduring with him unto eternal glory.
The contrast are those who, after discovering the life change demanded by the truth of God’s Word, have disowned it, and him, and have become faithless. These are the ones who are false, the ones whom God “never knew.” But none of this is due to any faithlessness on God’s part. He is eternally faithful. That is why those who are not faithful have no part in him. They cannot because they are not of him. And the fact is, since God is faithful to himself, he is able to carry out his plan without us. (Here Paul begins to sound like the apostle John for whom things always seem so black and white.) Paul is admonishing us, as the elect, to be correct in how we handle God’s Word for the sake of the elect. The salvation of others depends upon it. His next words are that we should be continually reminded of it.
We have been chosen by God to understand truth, to speak truth, and to conform to truth. But as all of us know, it is so easy to slip back into fallen ways of thinking, talking, and doing. This spoils the image of our election and makes for bad government. This passage teaches us to beware and to build the house of God as we should - with wise and godly words and not the ineptness of our own. We must ensure that we ourselves do not slip into the realm of false teaching - not necessarily by design but by default. And the only way of doing that is to constantly interface with the only source of truth which is God’s Word, and to refuse to get sucked into arguments that are eternally meaningless - preferring instead to gently instruct according to God’s truth. What we build is only as good as our word - will they be our words or God’s words? He has given his words to us. Will we make them ours in productive, healing, and instructive speech? The devil lays many traps, but the firm gentle truth of God springs them and saves many from destruction.
Paul’s three contrasts which follow concern true vs. false teachers, noble vs. ignoble vessels, and kind vs. quarrelsome people. The elect are revealed as those who are true, noble, and kind. They are the ones in whom God’s Word dwells and has made, and is making, an eternal change into his likeness - for God himself is true, noble and kind.
I. The True and the False
We must continually be reminded to forsake pettiness in pursuing our own words and to seek approval in pursuing God’s words. Pettiness produces pettiness - in truth and faith. Pettiness leads us away from the truth of the gospel to the insecurity of our own truth. Pettiness destroys the faith of others along with ourselves.
But God’s approval is a solid foundation based upon his call to his truth, and based upon our response to his truth.
II. The Noble and the Not So Noble
The church could be considered God’s large house. No matter where we look in life we will find both the honorable and the dishonorable. God’s words of truth are gold and silver. Our own words are wood and clay. Gold and silver are precious and valuable and uncommon and enduring. So are God’s words. Wood and clay are disposable, cheap, common and short lived. So are the words of man.
A man remade into the gold and silver of the image of God, from the wood and clay of the flesh, becomes holy and fit for God’s purpose in doing good works.
III. The Kind and the Quarrelsome
The good work of God is advancing toward the maturity of a pure heart. A pure heart dwells upon God’s words and obeys them. A pure heart avoids the entrapments of foolishness in ourselves and others. A pure heart speaks words of encouragement, edification, instruction and peace. A person with a pure heart does not speak hastily but understands the agency of God calling others through his demeanor.
We are reminded of our own propensity toward entrapment in the lies of the devil and that we must gently speak words of truth from God that sets captives free.
Conclusion: (James 1:19-27)
The elect live to God, endure unto righteousness, keep from falling away and remain faithful by living and speaking the truth of the Word of God.
1Pet. 4:11a If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.
What foolish and stupid arguments might people in a church get involved it? How might we keep from getting sucked into this? Don’t get involved in the argument but gently instruct.
South Park Cartoon: individual right of free speech vs. individual right of acceptance and dignity.
Trojan Horse: country and church.