God’s remedy against corruption is his treatment for spiritual health
My dear brothers and sisters, boys and girls, in the Lord,
Our bodies are wonderfully made. How the brain works, is still puzzling people; the fact that you can break a bone, and it grows back, is just fantastic. You skin can replace itself, and in some case if one of the organs like a kidney is lost, the other takes over most of the functions. The most intriguing is probably the exact nature of how DNA works.
There are also lots of things happening in our blood, our cells and organs. To help us grow and sustain our cells, joints, our gray matter and all other functions of the body, the body needs to have ; vitamins. By eating certain foods, the body can produce these vitamins. There is factory for making vitamins in our bodies. Just eat the right stuff and it knows to put things together so that it can make its own vitamins.
; But there is one vitamin the body cannot make. I find this amazing, more so because this particular vitamin is extremely important. This vitamin helps to cement the joints, the tissue and all other things together by help making ; collagen. This vitamin is vitamin C.
Interesting is that the body needs to have a regular intake of vitamin C. It does not make it, it just absorbs it. It doesn’t really store it; it needs fresh supplies of it on a daily basis. Eat you veggies and fruit, and you can be sure that your body will be happy and you will be healthy.
Vitamin C tells me something about spiritual health. God’s remedy against corruption and His treatment towards good spiritual health needs to be taken on a regular basis, indeed it needs to be taken every day. What is it? ; Of course we know what it is by listening to the Bible:
The holy Scriptures are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:15-17)
; The soul is incapable of sustaining itself
Just like Vitamin C, which is so important to have, but to take it on a daily basis because the body cannot make it, so is the reading and study of the Scriptures.
It is now almost 500 years ago that ; Martin Luther, a German priest protested against the theology of the Roman Church. At that stage it was only Luther and a handful of priests that had the privilege of having a Bible. It was not even written in their own language. They were German, the Bible was in ; Latin. And to make things even worse: this Latin Bible was considered to be authentic, while the original Hebrew and Greek texts hardly God any attention.
Luther looked at the church and the corrupted theology. And he realised that, to stem this corruption and give the church a firm foundation so it can do the work God intended for it to do, he needed to ; translate this Word into the everyday language off the people so everyone could have it, and everyone could read it and everyone could learn from this Word as the pure fountain of the soul. The Bible became the first book to be produced on a printing press. This was pure spiritual vitamin C to the people.
It was not different in the days of the apostle Paul as he wrote this epistle to Timothy. Let’s pick it up in 2Tim 3:
; People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. (2 Timothy 3:2-7)
From this paragraph at least we understand that some people might have a form of godliness while denying its power. Also there are some who are always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.
; In the days before the Reformation this was common practice. Before Martin Luther became a Christian, liberated and saved by grace through the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance was only possible after you have said the Lord’s Prayer so many times on the steps of the cathedral. People were told that their sins will be forgiven after they put their money in the collection box. The church was utterly corrupted with some priests buying their way into the priesthood, without training and without any spiritual commitment to the Lord. Some priests lived such utterly godless lives that it led to all sorts of corrupted practices within their congregations. The Word of God was seldom heard. The result was an ethical corrupt and morally sick society. ; There was almost no development on any front of society. No scientific research, no great building projects, so missionary development, no church growth, hardly any book written, poverty was common, and wars and strife were the order of the day. This period of time is widely known as the Dark Middle Ages.
We can say, without the Word of God correcting and guiding society the souls of both church leaders and church members, and therefore all of society suffocated. There was no spiritual vitamin to keep the life before God alive.
;The soul is revived by the Word of God
In this spiritually dark world, the apostle wrote to Timothy: You have known the Holy Scriptures from you childhood. This Word makes you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
It is by the Word that our hearts are quickened to respond to the faith through Christ Jesus. The Bible is the ray of sunshine shining on a heart dead in sin. And where there is light, there is life. God ordained it to be like that. So, the truth here is this: ; No Bible, no truth; no Bible, no salvation. No Bible, no preaching. No Bible, no life.
Why is the Bible so important? Because, as God created in the first place when his Spirit hovered over the waters, and as God spoke to bring creation into being, and as God breathed his breath into Adam, so God once again provided the spark for spiritual life: ; the Scriptures are God-breathed. It has the power to once again create new life. So does God use the power of the Gospel and the Word to bring to life the spiritually dead.
Paul states: ; this Word is the source of doctrine. No Scripture, no doctrine. In the days before the Reformation the Roman Church added to the Word the traditions of the church. Icons, and relics, and statutes were introduced. The saving grace of God was replaced by the system of good works. The doctrine of total depravity was replaced by in inherent goodness of men. The doctrine of the judgment of God was softened by purgatory; the grace of God’s grace in the sacrament was replaced by the offering of the body of Christ every time communion was held. The Headship of Jesus Christ was replaced by the Headship of the Pope. The uniqueness of the mediatorship of Christ was replaced by that of the immaculate Virgin. And so the list goes on and on!
Luther and the Reformers after him released, as Paul instructed Timothy, that the only way to stem this corruption, was to once again preach the Bible and make it available to the people.
; What we have in the Bible is everything we need unto salvation. We do not need traditions, or visions, or more prophecies. The Bible says of itself that it equips the people of God thoroughly for every good work.
; Preach the Word!
The Apostle uses very strong words as he charges young Timothy for his work as an evangelist. Listen:
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: (2 Timothy 4:1)
The apostle takes God the Father and Jesus Christ as the basis of his plea to express the importance of preaching the Word. It is almost as if he says: ; Because what you must say is about God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit, keep in mind what you say is because of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Preaching the Word is God’s way to lead mankind to salvation, to equip them for service, to preserve his church against corrupt doctrine and to rebuke the unrepented of heart.
But then, the vitamin C example: ; Be ready in season and out of season. In other words: always. We need to breathe this Word on a daily basis. Our spiritual lives depend on it. Without it we have deficiencies. Our souls cannot store up spiritual vitamin C. We need to hear it freshly every day.
Paul warns Timothy of the sinful inclination of mankind to eat spiritual food not good for their souls. Once again we are back to the good diet needed for a healthy body. You see, the sinful inclination of man is to go for ; spiritual junk food. Listen:
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
The good minister is like good dietician and cook. He prepares the food with the good vitamins in it. But sinful man cannot stand good spiritual food. He goes for the junk food. No sound doctrine; instead, they find their own cooks and dieticians. The menu looks quite different. Their dieticians will provide a menu with lollies and ice cream, with lots of fats and heaps of sugar. Why? The people love it!
The soul of mankind is ever corrupt. It cannot stand a healthy diet. The teachers to these souls will be weighed against the poverty of doctrine. Don’t preach doctrine, of sin, or judgment; we want to hear grace and love only. Don’t make people feel uncomfortable, make them feel as welcome as possible. Don’t be too exact about the content of your doctrine, it will divide people. Don’t preach Christ only, it will offend those of other religions. So we can add to the list.
And in the midst is Timothy with the advice of the man who put his life in danger every day for the truth of the Word: Preach the Word!
My dear brother and sister in Christ, ; a healthy Church needs a healthy doctrine. Healthy doctrine needs healthy knowledge of the Word. To by healthy in the Gospel is to take your spiritual vitamin C each day. Without it, your body is going to fall apart, your joints will become undone, the cement that keeps the church operating as a body won’t be there.
Paul and Timothy understood it. Luther and John Calvin and John Knox and the other Reformers understood it. We need to understand it. AMEN.