The Essentials of the Doctrine of End Times

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When it comes to the doctrine of end times, there is no hiding the fact that believers have differing views. The three major millennial views (Amillennial, Premillennial, and Postmillennial) each have godly, gifted, and gracious adherents.  In this post, I would like to point out four key areas of agreement between the views. This is not to suggest that we ignore the arguments for each of these views, nor am I suggesting that they are not important. My main point in this post is to provide the essentials with regards to end times. I want to consider four essentials with regards to the doctrine of end times that are not up for negotiation.  Continue reading The Essentials of the Doctrine of End Times

Guarding Sound Doctrine (1 Timothy 1:1-11)

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Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, 2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion,desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. ()

STUDY

We need to remember that a church’s doctrine is not to be limited to its current situation. We are to recognize that we stand in line with centuries of historical truth. Every church potentially is less than a generation away from compromise. In this passage, Paul calls for Timothy to guard against departure of doctrine (1:3-7) and to guard the gospel of glory (1:8-11).

Guard Against Departure of Doctrine ()
After his opening greeting (1:1-2), Paul provides Timothy with a serious charge, which reveals the occasion for the writing of this letter (1:3-5). Timothy may have had plans to move on from his role in Ephesus but Paul urges him to “remain at Ephesus” with the view to guarding against a departure from sound doctrine (1:3). Those who have departed from sound doctrine “devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies” (1:4a). It is possible they still teach truth, but they add to it things “which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” (1:4b). The goal of this charge is genuine love. This love has a threefold source, it “issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith“(1:5).

After giving this charge, Paul reveals the conduct of the problematic teachers in Ephesus (1:6-7). They have strayed from the source of biblical love. This has led them to wandering “away into vain discussion” (1:6). This departure from sound doctrine has resulted in their pride (“desiring to be teachers of the law“) and ignorance (“without understanding“). False teachers ignore biblical love (1:5, cf. ), they don’t source their teachings from the sufficient Scripture and a transformed life (1:4, 6), and they are prideful (1:7). Beware of false teachers!

Guard the Gospel of Glory (1 Timothy 1:8-11)
In addition to guarding against departure from doctrine, Paul calls for Timothy to guard the gospel of glory. This is achieved by rightly using the law of God. Though the false teachers desired to become teachers of the law, they were using it unlawfully. God’s “law is good, if one uses it lawfully” (1:8). Though the law has many uses (refer to study question 5), Paul reveals that one purpose of the law is that it is for sinners to come to an understanding of their horrible condition before the Lord and to find grace in the gospel of Christ. He provides a list of conditions and sins that the law condemns (1:9-10). The lawful use of the law is “in accordance with the gospel of the glory” (1:11). The false teachers use the law for their purposes (promotion of pride), whereas the law is to be used as a means to display the power of the gospel.

APPLY

1. Is doctrine important? Consider the following references and discuss the place doctrine   has in the church: .

2. Discuss the importance of the church having biblical, historical and clear doctrine.

3. It is the duty of God’s people to love (cf. ). Where does biblical love come from? See 1:5.

4. Throughout Scripture we are warned about false prophets and teachers (;). Jesus taught that we would know them by their fruits (). From our passage (and others) what are some of the characteristics of false teachers?

5. What is the purpose of God’s law (1:8-10)? See also  and .

6. Pray that the Lord will enable your church to guard sound doctrine and that He would protect from error and pride.

1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

To Timothy, my true child in the faith:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,

10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,

1 Timothy 4:6

If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.

1 Timothy 4:13

13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.

1 Timothy 4:16

16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

1 Timothy 5:17

17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.

1 Timothy 6:1

6:1 Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.

1 Timothy 6:3-4

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions,

13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

2:1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

Titus 2:10

10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

Matthew 22:39

39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Matthew 24:4

And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray.

28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.

16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

Romans 7:7

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”

19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.

Guarding Against Departure of Doctrine

Myths and genealogies

We need to remember that a church’s doctrine is not to be limited to their current situation. We are to recognize that we stand in line with centuries of historical truth. Every church potentially is less than a generation away from compromise, so it is essential that we know how to guard against departure of doctrine.

After his opening greeting in his first letter to Timothy (), Paul provides Timothy with a serious charge, which reveals the occasion for the writing of this letter (). He begins by saying; Continue reading Guarding Against Departure of Doctrine

1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

To Timothy, my true child in the faith:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Why is Doctrine Important?

Doctrine is important2

The word doctrine will create various responses from people. Some think controversy, legalism, or truth and for some they are just indifferent to the word!

What is doctrine? When it comes to defining doctrine I am talking about Christian doctrine, which is a body of belief or teaching that is drawn from Scripture. We can put this body of belief into categories like, the doctrine of Scripture, the doctrine of God, the doctrine of man, the doctrine of salvation, the doctrine of the church and the doctrine of last things.

Knowing then that doctrine is a body of belief drawn from Scripture, why is it important? In this post I want to give three reasons, the source of doctrine, the supervision of doctrine, and the security of doctrine.

The Source of Doctrine
God – the Creator and Sovereign of the universe – is not silent. He has spoken and therefore what He has said is of utmost importance. His words are to be treasured because they alone are food for our soul and light for our path. God continues to speak to us today by means of the Holy Scriptures. It is by means of reading and studying them (with the Holy Spirit’s help) that we can know and learn about God. Every genuine believer of the Lord Jesus Christ ought to desire to learn about Him and in turn obey Him. Jesus said to His disciples, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (). These commandments He spoke of are contained within the Scriptures, therefore we must read and know the Scriptures in-order to obey what he has commanded. Now the Scriptures unlike any other document proceed from God and are inspired (). Because the Scriptures are inspired they are “profitable for teaching” (). The word for “teaching” can also be translated “doctrine” (KJV). It is from the Scriptures where biblical doctrine is drawn. Doctrine is important because it is a summary of what God has spoken. Since God has spoken, whatever He has said is of great importance and must be affirmed by the people of God.

The Supervision of Doctrine
Doctrine matters because it provides us God’s supervision and direction for the church. If you are invited to a particular venue, and the instructions you were given were incorrect, it is almost certain that you will arrive at the wrong destination. Even though you were convinced you were going the right way, the truth is, you weren’t. The wrong instructions led you to the wrong destination. It is the same when it comes to Christian belief and living. We know that we are to live lives of godliness, but how do we know what is godly? How do we live in such a way that according to the will of God? How do we adhere to biblical truth? How does a church practice godliness? The answer is, by holding to and living in accordance to what God requires. If we disbelieve or misinterpret what He has said in His Word, our actions will be contrary to what He desires. Our life will be one of sinfulness, even though we may be convinced that we are obeying God, the truth is we are not. Our wrong belief will lead to wrong behaviour.

It is essential that if we are going to adhere to God’s truth and live in accordance to it (as individual believers and as churches as whole), we need to first of all understand His instructions. Because the Scriptures contain what God has spoken, they are authoritative. All that we do as Christians must come as a result of obedience to what God requires of us. If we are convinced that the Scriptures are from God, and that they contain His truth, then they must be our foundation. The apostle Paul said to Timothy, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (). These are called “sound words” because they are without corruption. What are these “words“? This is a reference to the very words of God. Paul knew the importance of God’s words when it came to Christian living, and he commands Timothy to allow them to be a pillar that will hold him up when it comes to ministry.

If biblical doctrine is at our foundation, it will direct us down the path of righteousness. The Psalmist said, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (). God’s Word lights up the path and guides the believer in a direction that is glorifying to God providing Divine supervision.

The Security of Doctrine
Finally, doctrine is important because it provides the believer with security. That is to say it protects us from error. There are many false doctrines in the world today, but this is nothing new. The Scriptures provide various names for false doctrines, “worthless doctrine” (), “every wind of doctrine” (), “doctrines of men” (), “different doctrine” (), “doctrines of demons” (), “strange doctrines” (), “doctrine of Balaam” () and “doctrine of the Nicolaitans” (). These names give us the understanding of the source and nature of false doctrine. False doctrine does not come from God and therefore is not helpful but only harmful.

How does sound biblical doctrine protect us from error? It will prevent us from affirming a belief that it unbiblical which in turn will lead to a practice that is unbiblical. Put simply, it will protect us from bad belief and behaviour. Departure from sound doctrine occurs when someone basis their belief and behaviour on something that is not biblical. Perhaps people and churches will form their belief on tradition, experience or simply on ignorance. Such practice is devastating because the actions they perform are driven by something that is unbiblical. This is one of the reasons why many churches will have bizarre and unbiblical ministries and practices – they have departed from sound doctrine. Liberalism is the fruit of departing from sound doctrine. Biblical doctrine is critical because it provides the believer with security and informs their behaviour and practice.

In contrast to those who embraced false teaching, Paul reminded Timothy “You, however, have followed my teaching (or “doctrine“)” (). Because of the emphasis of this “teaching” coming from Paul, it is best to view this as apostolic teaching. In other words, this refers to the divine truth of Scripture that Paul taught and wrote. If Timothy imitates Paul’s doctrine, this will lead to godliness, and in turn combat error. In addition following doctrine, Paul instructed Timothy, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it” (). While the false teachers advance in their error (cf. ), Timothy is to continue in the things he had learned. In other words, don’t move from the truth! Doctrine, drawn from the Scriptures is your weapon against error and it will protect you.

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.

They are both stupid and foolish;
the instruction of idols is but wood!

14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings?

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine,

1 Timothy 6:3

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness,

4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,

Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.

14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.

15 So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.

10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness,

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it

13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

Civil Authority and the Christian

Civil Authority and the Christian

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution,whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. ()

Continue reading Civil Authority and the Christian

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

The Priority of Preaching

© david hughes – Fotolia.com

It is sad to see how many pastors have departed from giving preaching a priority in their ministry. Preaching in many cases has been substituted for performance related activities (drama or music) or a placating to societies priorities. To stand before a congregation and proclaim what God has said in His word has been considered by some to be old fashioned and irrelevant.

I think that is a detrimental mindset and not in harmony with the teaching of the word of God. We need to remember that the preaching of the Scriptures (and listening to them) is a privileged task. Unlike giving a mere speech, the preacher is speaking, explaining and proclaiming the revealed words of God. In  – a classic text for preachers – Paul commands Timothy to “preach the word.”

It is the task of the preacher to proclaim them. Paul does not command Timothy to preach tradition, mysticism, social justice, humanism, experience or pragmatism. Instead, he explicitly commands, “preach the word.” The “word” here is a reference to the Scriptures, which he described as “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (). It is the preacher’s task to take the Scriptures (God’s word), rightly handle them (), and then preach them. What a thought! Our Infinite Sovereign Lord God has spoken, and the preacher is given the task of being His spokesman. Why would he do anything else? The answer is a departure from the priority of doctrine. Paul warns that “the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (). This is happening more and more.

Let us remember, that when the preacher comes before his congregation, it is his mandate to proclaim God’s word.

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

Thinking Theologically

Photo by Jacob Bøtter. Used under the Creative Commons license.

Recently I preached a sermon on Jesus’ death, as part of our doctrinal series on the gospel.  At one point I explained four different models of the atonement.  All four models come from the Bible.  First, Jesus’ death is an example for us to follow ().  Second, Jesus’ death is a demonstration of the love of God ().  Third, Jesus’ death is a victory over death and the devil
().  Fourth, Jesus’ death is a substitutionary sacrifice for sins
(; ).

All four models are Biblical, but only one of them is adequate to explain the atonement sufficiently.  Continue reading Thinking Theologically

21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,

24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

Hanging our hats, like Jesus

Christians are a diverse lot. Even self-confessed ‘Reformed’ Christians are a diverse lot. There’s lots of doctrines, practices and issues we’ll hang our hat on when we’re forced to. Others will hang their hat whether they’re forced to or not. (I’m more in the latter category.) Even here at Hills, we’re a diverse bunch. Complementarian and Egalitarian, Premillenial and Amillenial, Baptistic and “not really fussed”, teetotaler and drinker, Calvinist and Arminian, bourbon and scotch, Cats and Hawks, and so on. But I digress.

R. C. Sproul Jr. (UPDATED: thank you Nathan!) has written a great little piece on unity and truth, and the tension between them. There have been a few recent squabbles in Reformed circles in the US (one of which was related to James’s post about John MacArthur). Nothing too major, but enough to prompt Sproul to reflect on the ongoing battle between two great Christian principles.

Truth. It’s biblical. , , .

Unity. It is also biblical. , , .

Continue reading Hanging our hats, like Jesus

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

17 Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence,
but a false witness utters deceit.

Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.

133:1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!

13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,

10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.