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Volume 15 - Page 45 of 160 Index | Zoom | |
who thinks he would like to do a bit of service as a pleasant occupation! There must be
the burden of stewardship and the realization of the seriousness of the call before such
can be approved unto God.
"The life that is now, and to come" (I Tim. 4: 8).
The instructions given to Timothy, while personal to himself and dealing with matters
that were then present, are nevertheless part of "all scripture". The errors and opposition
of the early days foreshadow and emphasize error and opposition for all time, and
especially so the apostasy at the close. Accordingly the next item in the charge is set in
an atmosphere of apostasy and in the latter time.
The right understanding of the departure from the faith necessitates a careful study of
the "mystery of godliness" with which chapter 3: closes. This we must do upon
another occasion, our task for the moment being to observe the items in the "charge" that
bear upon the question of ministry. The apostasy of this chapter (4:) is not of necessity
to be looked upon as something that will take place at the end of the dispensation, it is
progressive. The words "in the latter times" were future to the apostle, but not future to
us. They differ from the words of II Tim. 3: 1 in Paul's own day (I Tim. 1: 6), and was
destined to spread, as departure from the truth opened the way.
The agents in this apostasy are not merely human:--
"Seducing SPIRITS and doctrine of DEMONS" (I Tim. 4: 1).
It will be remembered that the apostle stated the necessity of a "pure conscience" as a
part of the "end of the charge", together with an unfeigned faith. "Unfeigned" is in the
original anupokritos, "not hypocritical". Those who "missed" this "turned aside". All
this is suggestive in the light of the developed apostasy. There the human agents of the
doctrine of demons are hypocrites, and their consciences have been seared. How needful
in view of these things to every seeker is that conscience void of offence, that faith that is
without hypocrisy, that heart which is clean! Little do those who trifle with these things
think that they are adding their quota to the steadily growing apostasy. Many times this
propagation of lies is accompanied by external pretensions to a super-holiness. Such
were the ascetic teaching of the early Gnostics, and their various modern representatives
still teach the same:--
"Forbidding marriage, and commanding to abstain from foods, which God has created
to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every
creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused, being received with thanksgiving,
for it is sanctified through the word of God and prayer" (I Tim. 4: 3-5).
It must be remembered that the Gnostic teaching viewed creation and the flesh as evil
and to be avoided, and that the dualism of their doctrine spoke of the Creator of this