May 10th, 2009 – 2 Timothy 2:14-18

Growth through Knowing and Living by the Truth

Lesson 2

Introduction

As believers if we are not hungry for and purposeful about spiritual growth then our faith in Christ becomes over time a lifeless intellectual formula or a religious ritual. Through this journey to discover ‘How Faith Grows’ last time we considered from 2 Timothy 1:6-9 the fact that our faith or trust in Christ grows as we make the choice moment to moment in life to practice courageous faith in God. In 2 Timothy 2:14-18 we will see that faith also grows through making the effort to know and practice the truth found in God’s Word.
While fishing off-shore in a small boat, a man fell overboard and immediately began to panic. Since he was alone, he decided to call out to God for help. He cried out, “Lord, please save me! If you’ll just let me live I’ll start keeping the Ten Commandments. Thou shalt not, uh, thou shalt not, uh … Oh, God, if you’ll just get me out of this I promise to learn the Ten Commandments.” (Beaumont Examiner, July 8, 1999)
The truth revealed in scripture is life-changing. It is life-directing. However, how many actually dedicate the time to understand and live by the truth revealed within the pages of God’s Word. Are we in truth more like the fisherman caught in the midst of an emergency only to turn to God and His Word when we feel like we’re about to drown?
Paul exhorts young Timothy to be two things related to the truth revealed in scripture:

  • Be Firmly Grounded in God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:14-15)
  • Be Aware of False Teaching (2 Timothy 2:16-18)

Being Firmly Grounded in God’s Word

Read: 2 Timothy 2:14-15

Key Question: What is so important about having a growing understanding and application of the truth found in scripture?

The context of this passage can be noted by two things: First, Paul in the verses preceding this passage called upon Timothy and other believers to embrace and pass on the truth from scripture to the next generation (1:3-5; 2:1-13). Secondly, there were false teachers who kept causing confusion and havoc among believers who were not well grounded in God’s Word. When Paul calls upon Timothy to “warn” believers “against quarreling about words; …” he is challenging believers not to waste a lot of time engaging false teachers in worthless “quarrels” or arguments. Paul says, “… it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.”

One sure sign that we are being firmly grounded in the truth from scripture is an ability to discern and avoid majoring on the minor things in life. Engaging in senseless arguments is a distraction from what in life really matters. Constantly worrying over the small things leads to “ruin”. It will tend to subvert our spiritual growth.

Instead of senseless “quarrels about words” Paul in v.15 calls believers to a life pursuit of having a deeper understanding of truth revealed in God’s Word. As Paul depicts this truth it is a truth tested by time (v.15a) and a truth needing to be correctly handled (v.15b). First, Paul states, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, …” The phrase, “present yourself” lit. means stand alongside of and “one approved” refers to passing careful scrutiny before God. This “approval” is connected to how we work to understand, apply and even communicate God’s Word to others. As we “do out best” to understand, apply and pass on truth to others God transforms our minds (thinking), hearts (desires) and lives (priorities we live by). Being grounded in the truth is not simply engaging in more and more intellectual facts from scripture, but rather engaging a living, loving God in the scripture Who will change our lives over time.

Being Aware of False Teaching

Read: 2 Timothy 2:16-18

In the final part of this passage, Paul denotes two types of danger that false teaching posses when we don’t recognize it for what it is: First, false teaching posses a personal danger to your spiritual life (v.16) and secondly, false teaching posses a corporate danger to the body of Christ (vv.17-18).

We are cautioned first to, “Avoid godless chatter, …”. “Godless chatter” does not refer here to idle gossip which is destructive enough, but rather refers to false teaching. Note the downward spiritual spiral Paul warns us about when we are not grounded enough in God’s Word (v.15) to discern and even “avoid” false teaching (“godless chatter”), “… those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.” Lacking the Biblical basis or foundation to discern what is really true from what only sounds true carries the consequence of becoming less and less like Christ (e.g. “more and more ungodly.”) A shallow understanding of truth and superficial spiritual lives of one generation will be passed on to the next ultimately with devastating affect.

Note also when false teaching goes unchallenged and unrecognized it will spread like a deadly disease through a church body (v.17) and carry the potential to “destroy the faith of some.” (v.18) How we “handle” (v.15) the truth from God’s Word can make the difference between spiritual life and spiritual death even from one generation to the next.

Conclusion

Someone once observed that people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older. Then it dawned on this individual … they are cramming for their finals. Genuine growth does not come from “cramming”. It comes over time as we consistently take some time in the day to read, understand and apply the truth to our lives. Then in turn we will have something worth passing on to the next generation.

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