Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Monthly Archives: August 2016

Avoid irreverent babble to avoid more ungodliness – 2nd Timothy 2:16-19


Avoid irreverent babble to avoid more ungodliness – 2nd Timothy 2:16-19 – August 31st 2016

This is a series in the book of 2nd Timothy, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of 2nd Timothy as the LORD wills.

2nd Timothy 2:16 (ESV) But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

Paul encourages Timothy to be focused; perhaps it is because of his youth or perhaps it is a personal observation but we see that Paul lasers in on avoiding irreverent babble. We see so many ministries today lose their effectiveness because the believer does not heed the warning in the book of James chapter 3…

James 3:1 (ESV) Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

As I read that I start to disqualify myself because I know my own heart and my own failings. I know none of us are perfect but what Paul is stating here (as well as James) is that profane babblings are not to come from the mouth of a teacher because like it or not he has a greater responsibility not to stumble others. If the leadership has dropped standards in this area it will encourage others to do so and will create a culture of ungodliness.

This is confirmed in verse 17 where Paul states that “it will spread like gangrene” and I know that this is a very graphic picture where it will be like a cancer and be like a degenerating illness when we allow the profanity of man, whether that be his opinions, his ideas or his ways although they tickle the fancy of those you wish to reach and be very popular, if it is contrary to the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ then those things are exactly what Paul is speaking of.

Some of the most lampooned heretics started off on the correct path so we have to be on our guard. They did not all start off like Hymenaeus and Philetus. (Do you remember Hymenaeus from 1st Timothy 1) Their message was profane to the correct Word of God and it was popular because we hear that it was spreading quickly and we even know what error they were preaching.

They taught that “the resurrection has already happened” and due to the heresy they were causing others to believe in something that was contrary to the Word of God. Whilst it was terrible that this happened I do love the lesson here that we have to line up what we are being taught with how well it lines up with the Word of God that will not contradict itself. They were trying to remove the hope from Christianity by stating that Christ was not coming back and the fruit of their labors is that they were upsetting the faith of some, should they remained in this error without repentance we have the words of Christ in the gospel of Matthew 18…

Matthew 18:1 (ESV) At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Sounds harsh huh? That is why I quoted that “not many should become teachers” as it is a much greater responsibility. We have to stand on the solid foundation of God as we read in verse 19. Despite Paul being on the defensive he states quite clearly that the defense of the Gospel that he is defending would not be touched by such minuscule attacks. Guys like Hymenaeus and Philetus and even modern day heretics would not be enough to pull down the kingdom of God. They may misrepresent it or cause it scandal but the Lords firm foundation stands.

Paul speaks of two seals and we see these below…

The Lord knows those who are his – Is a direct quotation from the book of Numbers which in context reads as follows…

Numbers 16:1 (ESV) Now Korah the son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men. 2 And they rose up before Moses, with a number of the people of Israel, 250 chiefs of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men. 3 They assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?” 4 When Moses heard it, he fell on his face, 5 and he said to Korah and all his company, “In the morning the LORD will show who is his, and who is holy, and will bring him near to him. The one whom he chooses he will bring near to him.

And we are reminded that the Lord knows who are his, we don’t always do and although we can see small evidences of spiritual fruit in people’s lives we will be surprised when we get to heaven by who made it and who didn’t. This is a great witnessing strategy too because Jesus died for us all so who are we to judge who deserves or not His saving gospel.

Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity – We are called as Christians to flee from our sin! Who is perfect in that area huh? I am not being facetious when I say that as we all have different hurdles and stumble in different ways but if we still act like we are in the world then how will we effectively witness to those we want to save for Jesus Christ? How salty are you?

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we will look at the verses twenty through twenty six of chapter two where Paul encourages Timothy to “be an honorable vessel” having read ahead I love these scriptures and I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.

Do not quarrel about words because you will ruin the hearers – 2nd Timothy 2:14-15


Do not quarrel about words because you will ruin the hearers – 2nd Timothy 2:14-15 – August 29th 2016

This is a series in the book of 2nd Timothy, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of 2nd Timothy as the LORD wills.

2nd Timothy 2:14 (ESV) Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Paul again charges Timothy to “remind them” and to go over information that they already are aware of. This hits home with me because I do not always listen right the first time and often times I have to be reminded things that I should already know and I don’t know whether it is just me but I usually get the difficult things down but it is the beginner or easier parts of Christianity that I don’t always have switched on. I am so grateful that Christianity is not like other religions in that it is all rules, facts and figures but an actual relationship where I am the party that will mess up and be unfaithful. That to me is challenging and the more I write these articles the more I feel God working in my life.

Timothy had the same job as many pastors do today and that is one of realigning the vision of the ones he had been charged to shepherd and keep them focused on good doctrine. Keep the main thing the main thing and not to get bogged down in words that do not matter and we could learn from that today in our church culture that is all about packaging and branding as much as it is the life changing message that could save someone from Hell! People ask why I have not made “more of an effort with this website” and my answer has and will always be “it is about the bible studies and not building something pleasing to the eye” as people really are not going to get saved by a great introduction page!

Again Paul allows Timothy to cut out the fruitless arguments over things that really have no importance, we can get lost in spiritual rabbit trails about things that really have no impact in people’s lives. I have seen whole ministries dedicated to arguing a point about one small piece of scripture and really being ineffective in the world because the point they are arguing does not glorify God or save souls. They are “busy” for the Lord but not really “productive”. That is a warning for everyone and in that I include even me and I have to check myself on a regular basis to make sure I am not doing likewise. What do you have fruitless arguments over?

Be careful because Paul warns that these arguments can ruin the hearers because people do what people have been taught and if they are taught by an endless debater that leads more seekers to be detractors from the Word of God then that seed will be sown in the new believer and you will have cloned another who debates fruitlessly and does very little to advance the kingdom of God. I feel strongly about this as I used to be like this and I took 1st Peter 3:15 as an invite to debate people into submission and it was never intended to be like that.

We have to remember that the scriptures are living and breathing and have the power to change people’s lives and we must not be trying to bludgeon people or bore them to death with them and our endless debates.

Verse 15 is by and far the most quoted verse in this chapter and my own home church in Porterville California used to have it on their announcement sheet. I will break this down ito it’s component parts…

  • Do your best – Be diligent, work hard and endure in the Word, find out exactly what it means and be in context before you begin to teach it. Never underestimate the benefit of laboring in the scriptures.
  • To present yourself to God as one approved – Timothy was not doing this to appear smart before men, at least that should not be his motivation and this echoes the teachings of Christ who advised men like that “had received their reward already”. You will also notice that he was to first present HIMSELF to God as one approved.

It is similar to when you are on a flight and you listen to the safety announcement where it states that always affix your own safety device before helping someone else, yes Timothy will have plenty opportunity to mentor others into a deeper faith but he must not neglect his own personal study because he will leave himself pumping a dry well when he is serving.

  • A worker who has no need to be ashamed – we have all had a teacher, a manager or supervisor at some point in our lives and if we do a poor job then to be called on it we know how embarrassing that is and how it shames us. Being entrusted with the holy word of God well that should motivate us to do our very best work.

I am reminded of a story that I heard the preacher Philip De Courcey say when he was quoting an account from Kissinger where a young intern handed Kissinger a report and he asked “is this your very best work?” and the intern thought and said ” I guess it can be improved” and this happened a few other times and finally the intern said “yes, I am confident this is my best work” and Kissinger took the document and read it. How is our work for the Lord? Are we holding something back? Are we clock watching? Are we ashamed?

  • Rightly handling the word of truth – remember what we said earlier about getting the truth correct from the scriptures? Timothy had to be able to teach correctly and be strong enough to squash any heresies and explain what the scriptures said and did not actually say. Many commentators have a picture of a sword and that Timothy should be handling the Word like a sword and that is a good picture to keep because a Sword does divide and pierce, much like the Word of God.

It also means that his teaching had to be relevant and we need to learn that today that the illustrations should be small and pointing towards a larger truth. The point of an illustration should not be to “be funny” get a “quick laugh” or to alleviate the tedium of a long service but to point someone to a greater truth. Remember we are trying to save souls, not bore people to death!

It also gets rid of “interpretation issues” where people will state “you interpret it this way and I do not” if you have rightly divided the word and have it in context and approach the text with no bias (I say this because many people will try to get scripture to justify all manners of sin by using an interpretation that at best is a stretch!) then you will have the correct interpretation which is why it is vital to labor in the scriptures to understand and rightly handle the word of truth.

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we will look at the verses sixteen through nineteen of chapter two where Paul instructs Timothy to “avoid irreverent babble” having read ahead I love these scriptures and I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.

When football clubs become voices of political ideals and religion

When football clubs become voices of political ideals and religion

For my US readers I am talking about (Soccer) football…

This blog is a strange one coming from me as I do not usually go into current affairs (with the exception of a few posts about Scottish Independence) and I am even curious whether this post will even reach the blogosphere after I type it. The reason for this is because simply that this is not the reason why God pressed on my heart to use my writing and it is not the reason for this website. The reason for this website is to do bible studies and get some doctrine out there that will help people find their messiah Jesus Christ, not to discuss something that will probably blow over in five minutes.

That being said, I am a product of the West Central Scotland where the names “Rangers” and “Celtic” are much more than football clubs. There is a traditional mentality (right or wrong) that the two sets of customers for supporting of these Scottish Football institutions should be separated by denomination. That the Rangers are only for the Protestants (or Proddies in West Scotland slang) and Celtic was “the Catholic club”. (Which I find ironic as “Catholic in its truest sense means universal”)

Why did I write this?

Celtic are coming in for criticism for their display against the Israeli team Haepol Beer Sheva where many of their most vociferous fans held up Palestinian flags and have since fell foul of the UEFA rule that states the following…

“The European governing body’s rules prohibit the use of “any message that is not fit for a sports event, particularly messages that are of a political, ideological, religious, offensive or provocative nature”.”

And to use a phrase of my new homeland the USA “This is not their first rodeo” because they have been looked at EIGHT times and found to be wanting based on UEFA’s guidelines for supporter conduct.

I know the folks that want to diss Celtic at any costs will bring up past behaviors’ such as flying the flag of the Irish Republic, other dubious flags, singing songs of Irish history that would be classified as “rebel” or “dubious” really won’t help in this discussion and I know that people will want to draw a IRA-PLO link that may or may not be there but the nuts and bolts of it is Celtic are a business, a business that has had a drop in attendance due to Rangers being liquidated and starting again in the 4th tier.

They have had 5 years of the league not having much of a challenge and the company side of Celtic could really do with not alienating potential clients and there are many who do not have the stomach to hear terrorist songs or political displays. I know the guys in the Green Brigade could not care less about the plc’s bottom line but they would do well to remember the pre Fergus McCann days where the team was almost wound up with a crumbling stadium and mounting debts, Celtic were technically insolvent.

Fast forward to present and they now have 60,000 seats in a decent stadium that 95% of the seats offer a decent view. If they ever brought up the main stand to the same level as the rest of the stadium they would have around 80,000 (potentially more with the introduction of safe standing) and all the seats would then have an excellent view due to the offending support pillars no longer being needed. However that is unlikely to happen if the team continues in a league with no discernable title challenger. As stated previously they are not filling their current stadium so why spend millions building more seats.

It’s just banter!

Some will dismiss this as banter, such as “Argentina” chants when a Scottish team plays England but this really is not actually banter as there is a real conflict between the people who are loyal to the flag that they are taunting the Israelis with and the state of Israel. It is anti-Semitism at its core and if it was meant to be humorous then it missed the mark worse than an Anton Rogan clearance.

The “Celtic song” has the following lyrics…

“It’s a grand old team to play for, it’s a grand old team to sing, if you know your history”…

Let’s look at the history then, it is interesting they used the term “FREE PALESTINE” as this is blatantly incorrect because the state they wish to be recognized as a nation turned down the last opportunity to become a nation when it was offered by the UN in 1948. (The same time Israel became one) and the state of British Palestine actually was a flag which was sky blue and white halves with a gold Star of David. (I did not see any of them in the Green Brigade section?) Perhaps they do not “know their history?”

Celtic’s history – the poor man’s club

Celtic are known for championing causes and they have done many benevolent acts such as turning over their stadium for charity events and they were founded as a club to help those poor families in the East End of Glasgow, many of whom happened to be Irish and much like clubs in Dundee and Edinburgh, they became the club championed by the Catholic supporters and in some cases the Irish immigrants in those relevant cities. Unlike Rangers who would not proactively sign a Roman Catholic (and the first high profile signing was in 1989 when ex Celtic player Mo Johnston signed for Graeme Souness) conversely when Celtic had their greatest achievement in 1967 they had a few non-Catholics playing for them.

I really do not get the fascination with the Palestinian cause, I get that most of the Celtic fans are “cultural-Catholics” and couldn’t tell you the name of their local priest but even with the most basic of biblical knowledge they will know that God still has a special place for Israel so why are they actively choosing to go against the God that is a major part of the faith that they champion being such a big part of their identity?

Celtic or Rangers – Which one are you?

Actually neither! I come at it from a slightly unique point of view as I used to be employed by Celtic in the retail division and as hard as it may be to believe for the most ardent “Old Firm” fan but there was once upon a time someone who was known to be a “Proddy” and who used his “Sunday name” William and he answered the phone in most of Glasgow’s branches of the Celtic Shop and also the Mail Order line at some point in his Celtic career, and guess what – Celtic Park did not crumble! John Barnes was the manager around the time so the fans were preoccupied with what was unfolding (or not) on the green stuff in the middle of the stadium rather on me in the retail section.

Actually I only had an issue once and that was from two wee guys with Northern Irish accents and they were having issues spending a “Northern Bank” 20 pound note and it was a new girl on the cash desk who I had to approve this as Northern Irish money is legal tender in parts of the UK. (The girl had never seen one before so she called me over to make sure it was legit) and during the transaction they inquired why a Catholic would be called “William” to which I replied “Actually I am a Presbyterian” as I handed the kids their change, the look they gave me was priceless and symbolizes what happens if you project your prejudices on your kids.

To call myself a Protestant in those days of my life would be a slap in the face to those who set the reformation in progress, stalwarts like Knox, Wishart, Luther would not have recognized my life as “Christ like” and it was simply a cultural attachment more than an active church going/relationship with Jesus type of thing.

So how come you do a Christian blog now?

That has all changed and I am the worst type or “Proddy” as I am one of those annoying ones that is a “true believer” one that couldn’t really care what tribe you belong to on a Sunday as long as you truly worship the messiah you claim to represent. Really that is all that matters! There would be nothing to divide over if it wasn’t for that fundamental faith, if you are clinging onto that and not even attending the church you represent then you are not what you claim to be. Confusing stuff huh?

I moved passed the buildings of worship and found the reason behind it all and that was Jesus Christ, I worship at a new cathedral and that is the throne of grace. I don’t attend Scottish football anymore but that is because I live in the USA and my closest MLS franchise is some 200 miles away in Los Angeles.

You are a Zionist

Not as far as I know, I love the State of Israel because I believe that God is not finished with them yet, however many within that state have still to come to a knowledge of their Messiah. Do I think that Israel does everything right? Absolutely not as it is governed by men who make mistakes, there are faults on both sides in the Middle East conflict. I am not anti-Palestine, anti-Arab or anti-Islam because I believe that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23) but that can be resolved by finding Jesus as your Messiah.

Something to say?

I welcome debate but comments like “IRA loving” Terrorist supporting” PLO loving” or other fun stuff like that really won’t add to debate and often times I won’t even let them through! Feel free to comment otherwise though!

Please make your own application as needed.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.