Thursday, February 4, 2016

Reflection - False Teachers

Source (book): "Faithful to the end", Chapter 7, Question 3, Page 107.
By Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000 - 2012


A False Prophet
PHOTO: A False Teacher, Prophet
Refuting false teaching a better pastoral option than trying to get rid of false teachers. Deal with false teaching through the faithful teaching of God's truth, not with meanness and pride, but with love and gentleness, in the hope that we might win the opponent for Christ.
Picture from CHRISTLICHE STIMME   
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Why is refuting false teaching a better pastoral option than trying to get rid of false teachers? Discuss 2 Timothy 2:23-26. How can this be done in practice? What possible problems do you anticipate?

Why is refuting false teaching a better pastoral option than trying to get rid of false teachers?

 

Summary of Part Two: Useful to Christ [2]
Our usefulness to the Lord also depends on how we handle those who oppose us and those who do not know Christ. We must see those who are trapped in sin and falsehood through God's eyes, and see that they too need salvation. In our ministry we must seek to hate the sin and love the sinner, hate the heresy but love the heretic. We must not respond with the politics of power but with the ministry of truth, seeking not so much to get rid of the opposition but to deal with false teaching through the faithful teaching of God's truth, not with meanness and pride, but with love and gentleness, in the hope that we might win the opponent for Christ. Such a Christ minister would be greatly used by the Lord, and such a ministry of Christian leadership will bring honour to the Lord.



Our usefulness to the Lord also depends on how we handle those who oppose us and those who do not know Christ.
PHOTO: Our usefulness to the Lord also depends on how we handle those who oppose us and those who do not know Christ. We must see those who are trapped in sin and falsehood through God's eyes, and see that they too need salvation. In our ministry we must seek to hate the sin and love the sinner, hate the heresy but love the heretic. Such a Christ minister would be greatly used by the Lord, and such a ministry of Christian leadership will bring honour to the Lord. 
Posted by NO2HWA on Sunday, 19 August 2012 at 02:51:00 PM  
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Handle the Opposition well [1]
There were false teachers promoting dangerous heresies in the church. Paul had already warned Timothy about them in his first epistle. Apparently, the problem did not go away and could have been the cause of Timothy's "tears" (2 Timothy 1:4) [4], and Paul had to re-address the issue and urge Timothy to deal with the danger, perhaps with greater boldness and firmness. Was Timothy to get rid of the opposition? We saw earlier Augustine's point about the wheat and the weeds based on the teachings of Christ. Simply getting rid of the opposition would not be the solution because there is a tendency for a leader to descend into politics if he pursues that path.


There were false teachers promoting dangerous heresies in the church.PHOTO: There were false teachers promoting dangerous heresies in the church. Paul had to re-address the issue and urge Timothy to deal with the danger, perhaps with greater boldness and firmness. Simply getting rid of the opposition would not be the solution because there is a tendency for a leader to descend into politics if he pursues that path.
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Paul offers a better pastoral strategy. The solution is not to dispose of the false teachers or those who opposed Timothy, but to challenge their false teaching by the preaching of sound doctrine and being an example of Christlikeness to the flock. Paul offers a perspective that makes ir clear that those who oppose and stand in our way are also people who need God's salvation. Whatever we do to resist their false teaching must not result in their destruction but hopefully in their salvation.



Paul offers a better pastoral strategy.

PHOTO: Paul offers a better pastoral strategy. The solution is not to dispose of the false teachers or those who opposed Timothy, but to challenge their false teaching by the preaching of sound doctrine and being an example of Christlikeness to the flock.
Picture posted by MEGUSTAMUCHO on Sunday, 18 May 2014
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Meaningless "word battles" produce strife and end in ruins. The Greek word translated as "ruins" is katastrophē, from which we get the word "catastrophic". If the servant of the Lord fights against the false teachers by using the same methods and meanness, the results in the church would be nothing short of catastrophic. Sadly this was the case when there was mutual slaughtering in the aftermath of the Reformation in the 16th century that led to the bloody Thirty Years War in Europe in the 17th century. To be sure, politics took over from doctrinal matters. It attests to what we have understood earlier that the elimination of opponents rather than the persistent teaching of sound doctrine would often go that way.


The main events and figures of the early stages of French Protestantism
PHOTO: The main events and figures of the early stages of French Protestantism: from Jean Calvin, to Henri IV, including Clément Marot and Ambroise Paré. It reveals the expansion of Protestantism in France up to the Wars of Religion that shattered the Kingdom at the end of the 16th century.
The Reformation did not first appear in France but in Germany. In 1517, a monk, Martin Luther, denounced the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church in 95 theses that caused quite a sensation. Thanks to the development of printing, the proposals for reform circulated all over Europe. They were readily accepted in France amongst scholars who openly criticised the Church and advocated a renewed reading of the Gospel.
Sadly this was the case when there was mutual slaughtering in the aftermath of the Reformation in the 16th century that led to the bloody Thirty Years War in Europe in the 17th century. The elimination of opponents rather than the persistent teaching of sound doctrine would often led to bloody "catastrophic".
Texts from Introduction to the Reform in the 16th century (Virtual Museum of Protestantism) - http://www.museeprotestant.org/en/parcours/parcours-dinitiation-a-la-reforme-au-xvie-siecle/
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Discuss 2 Timothy 2:23-26. How can this be done in practice?
The true condition of the false teachers and those who followed them was described by Paul. They were caught in "the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive" (2 Timothy 2:26). They were prisoners of the devil who has led them astray, and his intention was to make them captive "to do his will". Those who flee from sin and pursue holiness are those who seek to do God's will. All others, by default, end up doing Satan's will. In other words, one either does God's will or the devil's will. Our sinful self-will and the pull of the worldly crowd all are the devil's will. Whether we are pursuing sinful desires of the flesh or worldly desires of popularity, power, materialism and self-indulgence, we are doing the devil's will. This should be a frightening thought for those who are not doing God's will. Those who think they are free to do whatever they desire are in fact prisoners of Satan.


Those who flee from sin and pursue holiness are those who seek to do God's will. All others, by default, end up doing Satan's will.
PHOTO: Those who flee from sin and pursue holiness are those who seek to do God's will. All others, by default, end up doing Satan's will. Whether we are pursuing sinful desires of the flesh or worldly desires of popularity, power, materialism and self-indulgence, we are doing the devil's will. Those who think they are free to do whatever they desire are in fact prisoners of Satan.
Posted by Walmir Almeida on Saturday, 23 February 2013
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Paul saw those who opposed Timothy's faithful teaching ministry (and thus by proxy, the ministry of Paul) as sinners and captives of Satan who needed to be saved and freed from the clutches of the devil. He hoped that "they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil". It is this perspective that shaped Paul's suggestion of how to handle the opposition.



Paul saw those who opposed Timothy's faithful teaching ministry as sinners and captives of Satan who needed to be saved and freed from the clutches of the devil.

PHOTO: Paul saw those who opposed Timothy's faithful teaching ministry as sinners and captives of Satan who needed to be saved and freed from the clutches of the devil. He hoped that "they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil".
Picture posted by Church of Jesus Christ on Friday, 29 January 2016
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Paul warned Timothy that in his fight against false teaching in the church, he should be careful not to become like the false teachers in his method, manner, or motive. If they wanted to fight in the boxing ring, Timothy should challenge them differently - with Christlike kindness. He is not to get into their boxing ring and fight like they do. Paul reminded Timothy: "Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful" (2 Timothy 2:23-24). The word "stupid" is translated from the Greek apaideutos, meaning uninstructed and ill-informed. Meaningless and useless debates are often stirred by those who do not know enough! It seems true that ignorance makes the quarrel louder and that "empty vessels make the most noise".



 If the false teachers wanted to fight in the boxing ring, Timothy should challenge them differently - with Christlike kindness.




PHOTO: If the false teachers wanted to fight in the boxing ring, Timothy should challenge them differently - with Christlike kindness. He is not to get into their boxing ring and fight like they do. Instead he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, and not resentful.
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Paul exhorted Timothy to deal with his opponents more kindly, teach faithfully and make sure that he does not let resentment against his opponents fester (become worse or more intense). Thus Timothy was to handle false teaching by watching his own inner life and reactions, being clear that what he should actually do was to teach sound doctrine, and that he should relate with his opponents with patience and gentleness.


Paul exhorted Timothy to deal with his opponents more kindly, teach faithfully and make sure that he does not let resentment against his opponents fester (become worse or more intense). PHOTO: Paul exhorted Timothy to deal with his opponents more kindly, teach faithfully and make sure that he does not let resentment against his opponents fester (become worse or more intense). Thus Timothy was to handle false teaching by watching his own inner life and reactions, being clear that what he should actually do was to teach sound doctrine, and that he should relate with his opponents with patience and gentleness.
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In all this, Timothy should remain faithful to Christ and reflect His likeness in method, manner and motive. As Gary Demarest has noted, "Orthodoxy is more than merely holding the standards. It is holding them, and acting all the while in trust and love with those we regard as opponents - or even heretics (a person believing in or practising religious heresy, blasphemy)." [6] We remember Paul's earlier charge to Timothy: "What you have heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 1:13). Faith, faithfulness, and love are our constant companions on the road to heaven.
 
 
 Paul's earlier charge to Timothy:
PHOTO: Paul's earlier charge to Timothy: "What you have heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 1:13). Faith, faithfulness, and love are our constant companions on the road to heaven.
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The servant of God must not lose his temper or become resentful. Paul urged Timothy to "gently instruct" his opponents (2 Timothy 2:25). Why? So that they may come to their senses and be saved (2 Timothy 2:26). In opposing false teaching, Timothy was to harbour godly hope regarding his opponents - "that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 2:25). In other words, the issue is not winning debates, but  winning people - even our opponents. This is at the heart of a true instrument of God who is selfless and Christ-centered, who is godly and effective, useful in the hands of his Master.


he servant of God must not lose his temper or become resentful. Paul urged Timothy to 'gently instruct' his opponents
PHOTO: The servant of God must not lose his temper or become resentful. Paul urged Timothy to "gently instruct" his opponents (2 Timothy 2:25). So that they may come to their senses and be saved (2 Timothy 2:26).
Picture posted by Robert King (Watchman's post)
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The best outcome is where there are long-term positive results: not only is the faithful pastor saved to become a model of godliness, his church members are also saved from falling prey to dangerous doctrines and wrong lifestyles by being well-grounded in God's Word; most amazing of all, the heretical teachers themselves may be saved. The church would then not be a hothouse for bruising and ugly political battles but a temple where God's truth and splendour prevail. [1]


The best outcome is where there are long-term positive results
PHOTO: The best outcome is where there are long-term positive results: not only is the faithful pastor saved to become a model of godliness, his church members are also saved from falling prey to dangerous doctrines and wrong lifestyles by being well-grounded in God's Word; most amazing of all, the heretical teachers themselves may be saved. The church would then not be a hothouse for bruising and ugly political battles but a temple where God's truth and splendour prevail.
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What possible problems do you anticipate?
I think we forget sometimes that Paul was one of those he is warning us about. If Saul of Tarsus were alive today would we think he was finally and ultimately condemned already? Would anyone pray for the salvation of a person who hated Jesus and His church that much? Would we pray for one who used the name of God to mislead the masses as he and his group did? [3a]


I am a pastor of a very small church (attendance about 15). Every time I try to point out the differences of what people believe, one church member says I am being judgmental. (You should hear the way he says it.)

Several years ago when the Southern Baptist Convention was held in Salt Lake City, Utah, they sent material for us to teach our church members what Mormons really believe.

One deacon told me that I was being divisive and he did not want to hear about other religions. he said he did not want all that "Greek and hebrew stuff." "Just preach the Word," he said. "That's how you preach the word," I said. Now that deacon is pastoring another church.

Another woman left my current church because I was doing a series on the doctrines that Baptists believe. She said she would come back when I quit preaching doctrine. She said that she already had her own doctrine. She did, and it was off the wall. She has never come back and I haven't changed my preaching.
[3b]


Be sure you understand the difference between the burden placed on Leaders and the exhortations to members.

In general - Members aren't in authority to Rebuke leaders openly, and especially not to unseat them. Doing so tends to fan flames of division - and that brings on a whole new set of problems along with very strong Scriptural admonitions. Absolutely - you should go to a leader in private and talk with them on points where you feel there is error. If it goes past that - you should consider following the exhortation to Flee such leaders.

Leaders HAVE a burden assigned to them that they are to root out false teachers and wolves. It's not a suggestion - it's an actual requirement. If you look at John's post - he specifically states the responsibility is on Leaders. Leaders who refuse to do such are held personally responsible before God himself.
[3c]


Give some specific examples of things (1) that "are leading people away from the gospel and causing serious division" and (2) where there is "disagreement among faithful Bible teachers" (to use your phrases).

I think we're both agreed that the labels false teacher and false teaching only apply to major departures from the gospel. I've been trying to argue this in several recent comments, as I get the impression that many people think almost any area of disagreement merits the false teaching label. I was once like that and it was a difficult mindset to get out of.

So some categorisation of the big issues that christians today disagree over would be greatly appreciated. It would provide much-needed clarification.
[3d]

 

Dear Heavenly Father, We pray that we . . . .
PHOTO: Dear Heavenly Father, We pray that we are able to refute false teaching instead of trying to get rid of false teachers, in order to become more useful to the Lord our God.
And as the Lord's servant; must not quarrel; instead be kind to everyone, able to teach sound doctrine, and not resentful.
This is so that everybody may be saved from falling prey to dangerous doctrines and wrong lifestyles, and be saved. Amen!
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Reflection - False Teachers, By Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000 - 2012


 
Reference 
[1] From "Faithful to the end" A Preacher's Exposition of 2 Timothy, Copyright © 2014 by Robert M. Solomon,ISBN 978-1-62707-241-0, PART TWO: USEFUL TO CHRIST, Chapter 7 "Ministering to the lost" (2 Timothy 2:20-26), Page 102-105.

[2] From "Faithful to the end" A Preacher's Exposition of 2 Timothy, Copyright © 2014 by Robert M. Solomon,ISBN 978-1-62707-241-0, PART TWO: USEFUL TO CHRIST, Chapter 7 "Ministering to the lost" (2 Timothy 2:20-26), Page 107.
 
[3a] The Responsibility to Rebuke, Response posted by George Canady on Thursday, 27 February 2014 at 7:30 AM, http://www.gty.org/blog/B140227/the-responsibility-to-rebuke

[3b] The Responsibility to Rebuke,  Response posted by Mike Mcguire on Thursday, 27 February 2014 at 2:37 PM, http://www.gty.org/blog/B140227/the-responsibility-to-rebuke

[3c] The Responsibility to Rebuke,  Response posted by John Cox on Thursday, 27 February 2014 at 6:57 PM, http://www.gty.org/blog/B140227/the-responsibility-to-rebuke

[3d] The Responsibility to Rebuke,  Response posted by David Smith on Thursday, 27 February 2014 at 2:40 PM, http://www.gty.org/blog/B140227/the-responsibility-to-rebuke
 
[4] Towner, 1-2 Timothy and Titus, 157.

[5] Gary W. Demarest, Mastering the New Testament: 1, 2 Thessalonians; 1, 2 Timothy; and Titus, The Communicator's Commentary Series (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1984) 269.

[6] Ibid. (in the same source mentioned in a previous reference), 249

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2 Timothy 1:13 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+1%3A13&version=NIV

2 Timothy 2:14 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+2%3A14&version=NIV

2 Timothy 2:20-26 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+2%3A20-26&version=NIV