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2020-10-18 1 Timothy 4:6-7 A GOOD SERVANT (2): AVOIDS ERROR

1 Timothy  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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A GOOD SERVANT (2): AVOIDS ERROR (I Tim 4:6-7) October 18, 2020 Read I Tim 4:6-7 – The theme of our passage is being “a good servant of Christ Jesus”. Greater than any human award, or any heavenly crown reward would be to hear Jesus say one day, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Mt 25:21). So what does it take to be a good servant of Christ Jesus? So, Paul gives us 5 qualities of such a person. I. A good servant warns against error – “puts these things before the brothers”. They won’t get sucked into false teaching, and are faithful in lovingly warning others. II. A good servant feeds on the Word – “being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.” A good servant feeds himself prior to feeding others. We must feed on the Word. III. A Good Servant Avoids Religious Myths In 1985, SI ran a story about a NY Mets pitching phenom named Sidd Finch. He was an eccentric who mastered the “art of the pitch” in the mountains of Tibet, wore only one shoe – a hiker’s boot – and was torn between baseball and the French horn. He could throw with pinpoint accuracy up to 168 mph. The article, by Geo Plimpton, noted “He’s part pitcher, part yogi and part recluse.” Thousands were fooled by that article despite the fact the mag was dated April 1, and the first letters of the first words of the article spelled out “Happy April Fools Day, a fib.” All in good fun. Paul is concerned with fibs where the stakes are much higher and the deception far more dangerous. 7a: “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths.” It literally reads “old wives tales” in place of “silly myths”. In those days, women typically had no chance for an education, they were more susceptible to myths and fables that might come along. That should not be true today, so ESV calls them “irreverent, silly myths.” A good servant must avoid those. So what are “silly myths?” Anything that denies biblical truth. For example, on the Jewish side, there was no end to the legends and myths made up about biblical characters included in the many genealogies of the OT based solely on the meaning of someone’s name – teaching some moral truth. Even worse was Greek dualism, the prevailing philosophy of the day, which defined matter as evil; spirit as good. Out of that came the myth of Gnosticism 1 – a mystical philosophy which taught since God is spirit, He is absolutely good and could never have created a physical world. He couldn’t touch matter. So, how did creation happen? Well, a goddess named Sophia, who emanated from the Father, desired independent knowledge. She gave birth to a lower god, Yahweh, the Creator, who freed himself from his well-intentioned mother, formed other archons, or emanations, who were increasingly more physical and less spiritual until at last they created the material cosmos – totally evil. Sophia, recognizing her mistake in creating Yahweh, sends the serpent to seduce Adam and Eve to break Yahweh’s hold on them providing true human liberation – turning the biblical account completely upside down. It gets worse. Sophia sends her daughter, Zoe, to reprimand Yahweh for claiming to be the only God and casts him into hell. That silly myth turns biblical truth completely on its ear. Yahweh, our wise creator, is the source of all evil. Obeying him is a life-threatening error. The serpent is not just clever but good. Silly myths – deadly myths. So, you’d think such ancient myths would have long passed into the black hole of primitive lore. You would think. You’d be wrong! Not long ago a radical feminist group met in Minneapolis to re-imagine God. Obviously they rejected the deity Christ. They blessed, thanked and praised Sophia as a deity who was with God at creation and whom they described as “the tree of life to those who lay hold of her.” A Jewish feminist, Naomi Goldenburg said, “We women are going to bring an end to God.” She described religious feminism as “engaged in the slow execution of Christ and Yahweh.” So the old myths are alive and well. But we have plenty of our own day. Let’s see a few examples of irreverent, silly myths both outside the church as well as within. A. Outside Myths – I’m going to talk about some specific groups, which usually offends someone. Please understand, I’m not condemning any specific person, but false teaching that denies in some truth of Scripture. There is only one truth – but Satan has a lie for every occasion and every person. He knows our weaknesses. So, let’s review a few and be warned. Roman Catholicism – They believe many things we do – sinfulness of man, Sovereignty of God, the Trinity, deity of Christ. But they also believe that every mass is a renewal of Jesus’ death on the cross. The official catechism of the RC church reads in Section 1367: “The Eucharist is also a sacrifice . . . In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloodied manner on the altar of the cross is 2 offered again in an unbloodied manner.” This despite Rom 6:10: “For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.” They further teach salvation by grace through faith – but plus works beginning with baptism and continuing throughout life with penance. Meanwhile God says, Titus 3:5, “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy.” Roman Catholicism has added to Scripture -- penance, purgatory, papal infallibility, prayers for the dead, and an entire sacramental system. Pope Francis recently added universalism to this list of myths, declaring, “The Lord has redeemed all of us, with the blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! Even the atheists.” Not only is this unbiblical; it contradicts what the church itself has been teaching about salvation by faith plus works. These are not biblical; these are modern myths. Be warned. Mormon theology is filled with silly myths. They speak of God, pray to Him and talk about Him just like we do. But who is God? Joseph Smith says, “God Himself was once as we are now and is an exalted man.” Elsewhere he says, “The father has a body of flesh and bone as tangible as man’s; the Son also, but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of spirit.” Totally denies the Bible teaching that God created man, not that He evolved from a man. Jesus says in John 4:24 “God is spirit.” That’s why Jas 1:17 refers to God as “invisible,” and why, John 1:18: “No one has ever seen God.” Manifestations, yes; actual essence, No. Because He has no body. Orson Hyde, a Mormon theologian, says, “Remember that God our heavenly father was once a child and mortal like we are and rose step by step in the scale of progress, in the school of advancement; has moved forward and overcome until He has arrived at the point where He is now.” Mormon theology teaches that the man Adam progressed to the point where he is now the God we worship. Brigham Young: “When our father Adam came into the Garden, he came into it with a celestial body and brought Eve, one of his celestial wives with him. . . . He is our father and our God and the only God with whom we have to do.” And, BTW, Lucifer is Jesus’ brother. No hell. One hellish modern myth does away with hell. The main reason Chas Taze Russell, founder of JW’s, left orthodox Xnty, he couldn’t believe in hell. One JW book, Let God Be True, claims, “It is plain that the Bible hell is the tomb, the grave, that even an honest child can understand it, but not the religious theologians.” Only one problem. The Witnesses forgot to tell the 3 rich man in Lu 16:23: “and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes . . . 24 And he called out, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.” That’s more than just the grave. Not liking it doesn’t negate it. One more from the JW’s. After predicting Christ’s return without success on several occasions, they now teach He did come – invisibly – and directs His activities out of JW headquarters in Brooklyn, NY. Evidence offered? None. Another fable. The Bible says in Mt 24:23: “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!” do not believe it. . . . 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms [in Brooklyn],’ do not believe it. 27For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” There will be no missing the Lord’s coming. We could go on and on. So how do we avoid fables? Jn 17:17: “Sanctify them in truth; your word is truth.” Know the Word. Error is often appealing; it is never right. II Pet 1:16: “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made know to the you the power and coming of the LJC, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” What did you see, Peter? We saw God in the flesh in Jesus of Nazareth. We saw Him live without sin. We saw Him die for the sins of the world, and we saw God raise him again. So you must make a decision. Myths will not do. You must accept or reject His truth. B. Inside Myths – So-called evangelical, Bible-believing Xns are also the propagators of “silly myths” in rejecting biblical truth in favor of political correctness and human wisdom. Here again the range of error is expansive. Just because someone refers to God and Jesus doesn’t mean they are good servants. They may, in fact, be what Jesus warned against in Mt 7:15: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” False teachers do not come with signs around their neck that read, “False prophet.” They look amazingly like a real servant of God. You have to dig deep to find the wolf within. Let’s look at a couple representative examples to serve as warnings to us to be on guard. How about the prosperity gospel? Speak it into existence. If you have enough faith, God has to respond. One proponent says, “Years ago they used to preach, ‘O, we are going to walk on streets of gold.’ I would say, ‘I don’t need the gold up there. I’ve got to have it down here.’” Hardly what Jesus meant when He sent us out a sheep among wolves. 4 Most devastating is the myth developed over the past 30 years that Jesus didn’t really die for our sins. Steve Chalke in The Lost Message of Jesus, states the idea of “God the Father punishing his Son for an offense he has not even committed would be a form of cosmic child abuse.” Clark Pinnock and Robert Brow, profs at an evangelical seminary, in Unbounded Love, state, “The idea of substitutionary atonement makes things sound as if God wanted Jesus to die, and predestined Pilate and Caiaphas to make it happen. Surely not.” But isn’t that exactly what the Bible teaches: Isa 53:10: “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him.” Why? Because He is a sadist? Of course, not. It was because Isa 53:6: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” If that’s not substitutionary atonement, words mean nothing. And God – Father and Son – did it willingly as the only way to remove the guilt of a fallen human race. But that’s not PC anymore. Al Mohler ran into this his first year at the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville. The prof asked each student to intro themselves and tell why they took the class. One young woman, studying to be a missionary, said she wanted to learn about JC and his shed blood. The prof exploded, “There will be no bloody cross religion in this classroom. Is that understood? That is not tolerated. It is beneath the dignity and self-respect to believe in a God who had to kill in order to forgive.” Nice idea. But who gave that man the right to deny God’s stated purpose because it did not align with his idea of dignity? God used that same young man, Al Mohler, a decade later, at great personal cost, to clean out the faculty of the seminary and return it to its orthodox roots. Trading the myths of human wisdom for the healing, wisdom of God. One more – the myth that there are multiple ways to God. Jesus is one way, but not the only way. It’s a myth from within. For example, two evangelical pastors, Tony Compolo and Shane Clairborne wrote an article, in which they say we should stop trying to convert Muslims and say to them, “You live up to the truth as you understand it. I will live up to the truth as I understand it, and we will leave it up to God on Judgment Day” – the supposition being, God will accept both because both are sincere. They claim we should stop saying that Muslims who reject Christ are in danger of eternal judgment. But isn’t that like pulling the antidote away from a snakebite victim – or refusing a cure to a cancer victim? Jn 3:36: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” Isn’t it crueller to withhold truth than to chance offending someone with truth? Silly myths send people to eternity without God. 5 Conc – I could go on and on – internal myths deny the inerrancy of the Bible, the sufficiency of Scripture, the objective nature of truth, the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, the bodily resurrection just to name a few. All within the fold. So Paul says, “7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths.” But with so many myths, how can we keep up with all of them? We don’t have to. We only have to know the truth, right? There multiplied ways of counterfeiting money. So how are tellers taught to recognize false bills? Simple. They’re just taught to know what the good ones look like – in detail. Know that, and you’ll be able to spot any flavor of error. Too often our churches have become confused and weak due to convictionless preaching, watered down platitudes and weak theology replacing clear, expositional preaching. We’ve been more concerned to placate people and not offend than we have to represent God’s truth. A pastor’s heart, however, is not measured by how good a man is at petting the sheep, but by how well he protects them from wolves and feeds them so they grow to be mature and strong. That’s how we avoid silly myths – by knowing the truth. Let’s pray. 6
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