by Mike Ratliff
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:1-7 ESV)
The title to this post is strictly a rhetorical question. I do not expect anyone to be able to answer it succinctly except the Lord and He isn’t going to do that. However, as we, those of us who are not blind to the truth that is, survey the church visible, we must honestly say that what is going on is exactly what the Apostle Paul was talking about in 2 Timothy 3:1-7. Could things get worse? Sure, they could. Could God grant the Church a reprieve and send mighty men of God who would preach in the power of the Holy Spirit and bring another Great Awakening? God can do that if He wills, but will He?
My good friend Ken Silva posted Brian McLaren Takes On Al Mohler Over Rob Bell earlier today. I suggest you read it. Near the bottom of that post is a quote from Dr. Walter Martin which is below.
There is a progression that takes place in liberal theology: It begins with a corrupt bibliology, a corrupt view of the nature and the inspiration of Scripture. They have a corrupt theology because once you are picking and choosing from the Bible what you want, your theology has to suffer from it, because your human reason is corrupt… every major theological seminary that has turned from orthodox Christianity began with disbelief of Biblical doctrine.
There wasn’t a single exception.This corrupt Bibliology then lead them to the next step. Their theology began to be touched by it, their view of the Cross, the Virgin Birth were both immediately questioned; then came the miracles of Christ… And finally they had emptied the Gospel of all its content; they were simply using the outward shell so that they go on collecting money from the people and the churches; because they knew that if the people in the pew knew that they were apostate, they’d throw them out. So the strategy was hang on to the trust funds; hang on to the money we’ve got; hang on the properties we control, and we will gradually educate the laymen into this new approach to theology.
And then finally we will take control of everything. The gradual process of feeding you theological poison until you become immunized enough so that you don’t know what’s happening to you. And when you wake up to what’s happening to you, it’s too late they’ve got everything. That is not a baseless charge, I stand prepared to prove that the Cult of Liberal Theology in the United States has deliberately and consistently followed this methodology to entrap, control and dominate the denominations and the churches of the United States and our educational institutions. (The Cult of Liberalism, available from Walter Martin Religious InfoNet)
Did you notice the progression? It is important that we understand where this corruption starts. What is the first thing that so-called christian liberals attack as they attempt to take over or change whatever Christian institution or church or denomination or function? They are corrupt or liberal because they began with a corrupt bibliology, which is a corrupt view of the nature and the inspiration of Scripture. This is the first domino. If it goes then the rest fall rather quickly and by the time full corruption has set in all that is left is just an empty shell of the Gospel and just a façade of what used be Christian. So, what is it that we must do in order to fight the good fight to stop the liberal agenda from making what is left of the church visible in the United States nothing more than another part of Rick Warren’s empire?
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 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. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV)
Let’s look at this a verse at a time.
1) I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:
1) Διαμαρτύρομαι ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ μέλλοντος κρίνειν ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς, καὶ τὴν ἐπιφάνειαν αὐτοῦ καὶ τὴν βασιλείαν αὐτοῦ·
The ESV’s rendering of “I charge you” translates the verb διαμαρτύρομαι or diamarturomai, which is in Present Tense, Indicative Mood, and Middle Voice. Paul is telling Timothy and everyone who reads this that what he is about to say is a command. The Greek has the idea of issuing a forceful order or directive. Paul then enforces this even further by saying, “ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ μέλλοντος κρίνειν ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς” or, literally, “before God and Christ Jesus the one about to judge the living and dead…” Why is Paul emphasizing this this way? This grammatical construction suggests imminency—that Christ is about to judge. He is doing this to make sure that we understand our accountability to Christ as Judge. All believers, especially ministers of the Word of God, serve Christ and this service is rendered both under His watchful eye and with the knowledge that as Judge He will one day appraise the works of every believer. Therefore, Paul is about to issue a command and is emphasizing this accountability to all of us. Woe be to all believers, especially ministers of the Word of God, who do not take this seriously by not obeying the command Paul is giving.
2) preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
2) κήρυξον τὸν λόγον, ἐπίστηθι εὐκαίρως ἀκαίρως, ἔλεγξον, ἐπιτίμησον, παρακάλεσον, ἐν πάσῃ μακροθυμίᾳ καὶ διδαχῇ.
The ESV’s rendering of “preach” translates the verb κήρυξον, which is the Aorist Tense, Imperative Mood, Active Voice form of κηρύσσω or kērussō, “to preach, proclaim, tell, announce a message.” This is the first part of the command. Our focus must be on preaching the Word and this means the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ as well as expository preaching through books of God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit. Notice the rest of the command. We don’t preach the word only to those who want to hear it and only when it is convenient, but we must ἐπίστηθι or “be ready.” Again, this is in the Aorist, Imperative, Active form. The base verb is ἐφίστημι or ephistēmi, “in this context this verb carries the ideas of urgency, preparedness, and readiness. It was used of a soldier prepared to go into battle or a guard who was continually alert for any surprise attack. Think about the surprise attacks that descend upon us nowadays from the enemy! Notice the next two contrasts, “in season and out of season.” This the translation of εὐκαίρως ἀκαίρως. These are adverbs. The first one, εὐκαίρως or eukairōs speaks of opportunely: – conveniently, in season. On the other hand, ἀκαίρως or akairōs speaks of inopportunely: – out of season. In other words, we are to be prepared to preach the Word urgently whether it is convenient or not. We are to do so whether the people want to hear the truth or not. We are not to be concerned about tickling people’s ears. We see that in the next part of the verse because this is what real preaching of the Word of God does. It reproves, rebukes and exhorts. We do all this with complete patience as teachers of the Word of God.
3-4) 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.
3-4) Ἔσται γὰρ καιρὸς ὅτε τῆς ὑγιαινούσης διδασκαλίας οὐκ ἀνέξονται ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὰς ἰδίας ἐπιθυμίας ἑαυτοῖς ἐπισωρεύσουσιν διδασκάλους κνηθόμενοι τὴν ἀκοὴν καὶ ἀπὸ μὲν τῆς ἀληθείας τὴν ἀκοὴν ἀποστρέψουσιν, ἐπὶ δὲ τοὺς μύθους ἐκτραπήσονται.
The phrase, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching” is a rendering of “Ἔσται γὰρ καιρὸς ὅτε τῆς ὑγιαινούσης διδασκαλίας οὐκ ἀνέξονται.” It is the teaching of sound doctrine (ὑγιαινούσης διδασκαλίας) that is the problem for these people. The word οὐκ absolutely nullifies the verb ἀνέξονται, which is the Future Tense, Indicative Mood, and Middle Voice form of ἀνέχομαι or anechomai, “to hold oneself up against, that is, (figuratively) put up with: – bear with endure, forbear, suffer.” What Paul is saying refers to holding up under adversity and a good translation here would be “tolerate.” This is a warning that in the dangerous times of these last days, many will become intolerant of the confrontive, demanding preaching of God’s Word as Paul just described for us above that is commanded for us to continue to do whether it is convenient or not. How are we to remain faithful in this when so many are resisting the truth?
5) As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
5) Σὺ δὲ νῆφε ἐν πᾶσιν, κακοπάθησον, ἔργον ποίησον εὐαγγελιστοῦ, τὴν διακονίαν σου πληροφόρησον.
Regardless of the resistance from the enemies of the cross of Christ, we must remain faithful because we have been given this command in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus as a charge. I wonder how many ministers of the Word of God understand that they have been given this commission to do this this way? There are some of us whom God has given spiritual gifts like those I have that enable me to put these posts together or get up in front of people and exposit God’s Word or teach or counsel or rebuke and exhort. We all have ministries. Let us do them in the power of the Holy Spirit regardless of the merciless attacks and outright lies coming from those who claim to be Christian leaders, but who prove they are wolves by their denial of good doctrines of our Orthodox Christian Faith. We prove they are false by remaining faithful and showing that what they teach is not the truth, not by attacking them directly.
Even so, as we remain faithful, there will always be those who will not tolerate the truth and will resort to all sorts of evil tactics to attack us as well as the message we proclaim. No matter what, let us do our work, fulfilling our ministry.
Soli Deo Gloria!
All Greek Text in this Post is from: Novum Testamentum Graece (Nestle-Aland), 27th edition, © German Bible Society, Stuttgart 1992