***Printed in the weekly bulletin at the church of Christ at Elkins on 6/15/2014
The words of Paul in II Timothy 2:15 form the Biblical hallmark for a proper understanding of the Bible, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Paul faced with frequency those who handled the word of God improperly. For example, the recently converted Galatians were troubled by Judaizing teachers in their midst who sought to pervert God’s word and turn Christians into practitioners of Judaism which had been abolished (Gal. 1:6-9).
In Peter’s day many wrestled and twisted the scriptures, but he said those who distort the word of God will be lost in eternity (II Peter 3:16). In our own day and time, many mishandle the word of truth by taking scriptures out of their context. That is why Paul told Timothy to rightly handle the word of truth. The expression “rightly dividing” (orthotomeo: orthos) means straight and (temno) means to cut or rightly dealing with an item.
Some today in churches try to justify not appointing elders in every church by quoting Matt. 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” This verse has nothing to do with worship or church structure and is completely taken out of its context! Even if it was talking about worship, this would not negate God’s command in Acts 14:23. Jesus in this passage is showing us the power of united prayer even if the number praying is only one or two persons!
Jesus is saying that He supports disciples in the withdrawal of fellowship from rebellious offenders! Jesus here assures disciples that when two or three come together to pray, He is in their midst to comfort them, because they are doing His will. The whole idea of this verse is that Jesus is with one or two as with many if they are praying according to His will! “The verse after (v. 19) says, “Again I say unto you, that if two of you agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done . . .. “ Jesus here assures them that their prayers will be answered if it is done in accordance with the will of God!
God wisely planned that elders be appointed in “every church” (Acts 14:23, Titus 1:5), and to accept the outcome of business meetings instead of the decisions of elders is disobedience!
When God gives a specific command, it should entail complete obedience to that which is commanded, “Appoint elders in every church.” A general command allows for tolerance and choice, but a specific command is intolerant and allows no freedom of action! Presumptuous sins are ever prevalent among those who have no respect for “thus saith the Lord.” God’s warning in II John 2:9-11, “Whosoever transgresses and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God” should be considered by all who put forth innovations to God’s prescribed order of worship and take scriptures out of context.
The meaning of this scripture is very clear! If we advocate a false doctrine or condone a false doctrine, then we do not have God’s approval!
written by Earl Sutton
In 1996 a grain ship, “Bright Field,” was heading down the Mississippi River near New Orleans, when it lost control, veered toward the shore and crashed into a riverside shopping mall. The impact demolished parts of the wharf and injured 116 people. According to the Coast Guard investigation, the ship’s owner and crew had failed to repair long-standing engine problems. This is a clear example of not doing what you should do and receiving the consequences of bad decisions.
The Devil deceived Eve into thinking that there would be no consequences for eating the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:1-7). God said, “But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, ye shall not eat of it lest ye die” (v.3) The Devil said, “Ye shall not surely die.” (v.4) Eve dilly-dallied with the temptation and contemplated the possibilities that the Devil had suggested and threw away all restrain and ate the fruit! Why? The Devil deceived her into thinking that there would be no consequences for sin.
The Devil continues to lie to us today and tells our society that a little sin won’t hurt, a little indulgence is not a problem, a little transgression will never hurt anybody! The Devil tells us that we are only human and go ahead and enjoy sin. The Bible says, “The way of the transgressor is hard.” ( Prov. 13:15)
Our society believes that it can live in disobedience to God’s will by practicing homosexuality and never suffer the consequences. The scriptures teach that there will be consequences for our actions. “Be not deceived: God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth unto his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption: but he that soweth unto the spirit shall of the spirit reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:7-8) This basic principle applies to the physical world and spiritual realm as well. The word, “mocked” is a Greek word (mukterizete:) which means to turn one’s nose up at God. The point is that if a person sows to the flesh (homosexuality and sinful living) and turns up his nose at God, he shall go the way of all flesh, -- die and face the judgment of God where there will be consequences. (reap destruction – Gal. 6:8)
The scriptures emphasize the consequences of sin in other verses. Ezekiel said, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ez. 18:4) Paul said, “The wages of sin is death.” (Rom. 6:23) Over and over, again and again, the Bible under all circumstances, emphasizes that we reap what we sow and that sin is always followed by consequences.
There is rebellion in the hearts and in the behavior of many people in our society today. In view of the fact that sin will always have consequences, what can we predict for the future? According to the basic law of sowing and reaping, the answer can best be given in the words of the prophet Hosea, “They sow the wind and they shall reap the whirlwind.” (Hos. 8:7) There is one time of sowing (while alive), and there will be two times of reaping. We reap in this life and also reap beyond this life in the hereafter. Sin brings forth its consequences both here and hereafter.
People may do things without realizing the consequences of their actions, but one day there is going to be an accounting! (Rev. 21:8)