For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
2 Timothy 1:12 (KJV) Emphasis mine
“…Have ye not read…?”
More and more as I read the scriptures, I can see that God is consistent and He cannot be blamed for any conclusions of men concerning the scriptures that leads them into (full-time) error. Whenever there is a misunderstanding of the word of God, there are two questions the LORD will ask. First, “…Have ye not read…?” (Matthew 19:4). That is the LORD’s first response, even though a question, to the questions sincerely bothering people’s heart and to the confusions imposed upon unstable souls mostly by dishonest men (and women) who are actively searching for a way to undermine the infallible conclusions of scriptures by twisting the same (2 Peter 3:16, Romans 16:18, Mark 13:22).
It’s important to note that the men He was talking to were actually learned in scriptures but they missed the whole point of whom all the scriptures was about. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). Now, that shows He was not just speaking about knowing the scriptures but understanding the coherence, integrity and comprehensiveness of the counsel (purpose) of God that is revealed in and understood through Christ.
Although they were tempting Him with their questions (Matthew 19:3, 9), the response of Jesus does not just show knowledge of scriptures but understanding of the mind of God (reasons & purposes) behind the laws given to Moses (Matthew 19:4-6,8) for the nation of Israel and by extension those of us who have now received the gospel (1 Corinthians 10:11). That leads us to the second question the LORD will pose to anyone who is asking questions that seems to raise objections against the finality that Christ brings to the entire length and breadth of God’s word and purposes. (NOTE: People arrive at these objections primarily because of a heart denied access to the LORD who had promised to replace our hearts of stone with that of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19-20, 36:26, 2 Corinthians 3:3).)
“…how readest thou?…”
Jesus asked, “…how readest thou?…” (Luke 10:26). Everyone reading the word of God must answer this question that our LORD Jesus posed to this learned man. This is a question to those who are already reading the scriptures and perhaps very learned in it. How are you reading what you are reading? It means the way you read will determine whether you (are able to) arrive at the truth or whether you simply get a scripture to support your pet doctrines or dangerous traditions of those who have given you their own “private” interpretations of God’s holy word (2 Peter 1:20).
The responsibility of God does not make man irresponsible
The scripture here under consideration (2 Timothy 1:12) clearly puts within the same verse that which is the responsibility of God towards me, which cannot fail, and that which is my own duty, which I must keep before me in the context of God’s faithfulness and grace towards me. However, it is clear that I cannot then think that He will keep what I did not commit into His hands (and this committing must be a present continuous thing as we see Paul reaffirming what He had already done in the past). So, when I know Him, I will not separate what God will do from what I will do, I will actually see them as one and (almost) the same.
The way it must work in my mind is that once I have come to this point of persuasion, I will not now discredit God by not DOING my own part and then thinking God’s part will still be in force. It must be a consolation for me and a great joy indeed that God is so committed to me and of course the actual weight of what needs to be done is on Him; yet, the proof of my consolation and joy is the faith that makes me ACT in consonance with what I have believed, that is, to turn on the “switch” of my faith, which is in a sense a work (of faith), without which the “electricity” of His works that is already there for me will not be actually experienced (James 2:14,17,18,20,22,24,26; 1:23, Matthew 7:26).
The inseparability of being and doing
I have been brought to think about this recently as I realized a trend of understanding among God’s people that I find very injurious to the faith. The idea that DOING has to be de-emphasized (undermined or downplayed) in the light of BEING (that which God has already done). That a person does not need to do anything to be who he already is, which sounds plausible. Yet, the problem that this statement creates arises from the unnecessary separation we have made between what God has done in us (BEING) and our response in daily thoughts, actions and attitudes (DOING).
When you tell a person who has an entire lifetime before him to conform (or be transformed) to the image of the Son of God (Romans 8:29, Philippians 2:13, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Romans 12:1-2), that he doesn’t need to do anything and that he has already become (which means no need for further doing), he will constantly shun every or any instruction that commands him to do and in fact find a reason to always dismiss it as a mere command to the first human recipients of the Holy Scriptures. This is definitely dangerous!
Plausible but not possible
The danger here lies in the plausibility of the quiet assertions and insinuations of such teachers. Remember, the word “plausible” speaks of making a statement that appears difficult to fault in order to cover up actual fact. Merriam Webster dictionary defines plausible as “…reasonable, or valuable but often specious” and “appearing worthy of belief”. It further defines the word specious as, “appearing to be true but actually false” and “having a false look of truth or genuineness”. This is plausibility. The ability to make people believe you to be correct, even with seeming evidence, but usually on a closer examination, it doesn’t stand up at all to the real facts.
The problem here then is that most of us reading this may not even bother verifying anything you read, once it is believable; you just jump on the bandwagon and off you go in the direction of the crowd. It is not enough for you to see and read the scripture references given for many ideas being propagated today, because intelligent people can make the bible say what it is not saying. You will need to be like the Bereans who “… were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, AND searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11). It is this “and” that is missing with many people, in church or not. Anyone who knows his way in the scriptures can use any part of it to swindle you out of the true grace of God and make you a sinner like himself.
Spiritual decomposition: the state of false teachers and prophets
Jude spoke about such men who are “…clouds…without water…trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots.” (v.12). And Peter also testified that they “…cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls…” (2 Peter 2:14) and “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” (v.19). It takes this kind of spiritual decomposition (twice dead) to make a career of teaching people, who are feeling that victory over sin is not possible and are beginning to entertain thoughts and acts of secret compromises, which will further lead them to having itchy ears and heaping to themselves teachers who will cater to their doubts and reduce the standard of the word of God altogether (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
“All scripture is …profitable… ” (2 Timothy 3:16)
Indeed, the scriptures first came to certain people, groups and/or churches at the earlier periods of inspiration and writing, yet it has been abundantly established that God did not only speak to these first recipients of the Holy Words, He also spoke to all (all people -Matthew 11:28) who will come to Him (those who will be saved -Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13) and follow Him faithfully till the end (those who will become disciples with a continuing salvation – John 8:32). There is a divine capacity in the Holy Scriptures that is not extended to any other collection of books in the entire history of mankind. This is the reason why many other books written about the same time of the compilation of the books of the bible cannot be taken as scripture except the part that the Holy Spirit granted inclusion as a quote or reference, simply because that is what the Holy Spirit wanted to say (Titus 1:12, Jude 14-15).
All these books, regardless of their poetic beauty or prophetic quality, are simply works of men and must not be forced into the canon of Scriptures. The peculiarity of Scriptures is that the Holy Spirit who inspired men to write (2 Peter 1:19-21) is the Spirit of Christ, who knows all men and all that is in man (John 2:24-25), that He gave an inspiration through every book of the bible that will never lose its relevance in the entire range or continuum of human need, experience and application. It will speak to those who are not saved, and when they are saved, it continues to speak to their condition, of the need to grow. It is this second part we are interested in, in this journey. The fact that after salvation, we must continue to “…WORK out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippains 2:12.
Pictures: hyper grace – spiritualwhip on blogspot, false teachers – 4discernment dot com