Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. (1 Timothy 4:13-16 KJV)
Paul mentored Timothy. Through the letters Paul wrote, we see how much he loved this young man and wanted him to follow the doctrine given by Jesus. Not all of Paul’s companions did so:
Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. (1 Timothy 1:19-20 KJV)
Paul was inspired in his letter writing, but somehow I doubt he could imagine an aged woman half a world away would be studying his letters two thousand years after they were written – that she would be looking for doctrine that meshed with what four other men wrote about the life of Jesus. Yet, I’m following Paul’s instructions as much as Timothy did when I “meditate upon these things.”
A young man once told me his church “had no doctrine.” Regrettable, because that’s what Jesus taught. He taught doctrine from the first:
And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. (Mark 1:22 KJV)
Jesus gave the source of His doctrine, too:
Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (John 7:16-17 KJV)
It is contained in God’s word – which is not for men to add to.
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. (Deuteronomy 4:2 KJV)
The first sin followed two misuses of scripture. Eve added to it and Satan denied God’s word was fact. We seem committed to repeat their errors – it appears Hymenaeus and Alexander did, too. The Bible does not include an explanation of where they went wrong. Paul was not inspired to explain their actions nor their incorrect doctrine. His focus remained on explaining what Timothy should do, not what others had done that was wrong.
Timothy apparently did not store Paul’s letter away in a keepsake box. Perhaps he did carry it with him, sharing it with his friends in the congregation. However it was made public, it eventually was regarded as inspired and suitable for all Christians. It contains doctrine and we should give it careful heed. We should read it with prayer and a desire to apply what we learn in our own lives.
Paul also wrote Timothy what to do with incorrect doctrine:
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. (1 Timothy 6:3-5 KJV)