The message of God is powerful. And the need for the message is great: to bring hope, to produce strength in us so that we can stand against the forces bringing death into our lives, etc.
This recounts Paul’s meeting with the elders of the Ephesian church. (We have been studying the letter to this church on Sunday mornings.) What we say to someone that we never expect to see again would be considered very important. That is the situation with this message. These verses in Acts place a heavy emphasis on God’s word (see verses 20-21, 24, 25, 27, 31-32). Paul’s ministry was of the word. Verse 32 indicates that Paul’s work with them was ending, but that he could depart from them with confidence because God would always be with them through the word.
2 Timothy 2:8-26
Before we look at 2 Timothy 2:8-26, let us notice what the following passages have to say regarding God’s truth.
Romans 1:18 – God’s anger will be expressed against suppressors of his truth. Anyone who keeps the word’s power from people will experience the judgment of God.
Ephesians 1:13 – These have a right reaction to the word of God, they listened.
1 Thessalonians 2:11-13 – Why would anyone refuse the truth? Because their source of pleasure, life, happiness is in things that are wicked. God will actually help people to believe what is false, if that is their choice. God could force us to believe the truth, but instead, he gives us the freedom to choose.
1 Timothy 6:5 – Evildoers are described as being “deprived of the truth.”
2 Timothy 2:8-26 (We believe that Timothy was at Ephesus when he received this letter.)
1. Focus on the Basics of the Gospel (vs. 8-13)
Verse 9 says that the word of God is not imprisoned. Truth is the means to escape the devil’s snares. Verses 8-13 teach that the gospel is the basic truth that saves. The world tends to run after one fad after another. We do not need another salvation message. Verse 13 says that God is dependable. We do not go to our Bible some day and find pages missing because God “changed his mind.”
2. Avoid Disputing over What Is Unimportant (vs. 14-17, 23)
Some messages are like gangrene, they kill! But we need to avoid unnecessary fighting with others over their opinions. Remember the following restoration ideas:
“Where the Bible speaks, we will speak.
Where the Bible is silent, we are silent.”
Thomas Campbell’s fifth proposition states:
That with respect to the commands and ordinances of our Lord Jesus Christ, where the scriptures are silent, as to the express time or manner of performance, if any such there be; no human authority has power to interfere, in order to supply the supposed deficiency, by making laws for the church; nor can any thing more be required of Christians in such cases, but only that they so observe these commands and ordinances, as will evidently answer the declared and obvious end of their institution. Much less has any human authority power to impose new commands or ordinances upon the church, which our Lord Jesus Christ has not enjoined. Nothing ought to be received into the faith or worship of the church; or be made a term of communion amongst Christians, that is not as old as the New Testament.
This proposition addresses how Campbell felt we should handle the silence of the scriptures.
1) If the scriptures are silent about precisely how to perform some command or ordinance, no mortal has the authority to legislate the missing specifics and bind them upon anyone.
2) No mortal has authority to create new commands or ordinances which are not specified in scripture.
3) Nothing outside the New Testament may be introduced into the faith or worship of the church
4) Nothing outside the New Testament may be made a term of communion among Christians
Don’t we need to give others freedom regarding things that the scripture has not revealed?
3. Be Kind and Gentle (vs. 24-26)
Be kind and gentle regarding the truth. We are not to hit people over the head with the Bible. It is sad that I do not trust the word of God in the hands of some people because I am afraid that they do not have my best interests at heart as they teach it. This is not a passage about weakness, but about goodness and kindness.
—Robert Lee, 4-15-07, p.m.