Saturday, April 26, 2014

Accurately Handling the Word of Truth

The Scriptures have much to say about the need to teach sound doctrine, and to abide in the truth, although many people today downplay the importance of these.

The apostle Paul wrote to Titus about the qualifications for an overseer, saying that he must be devoted to the faithful word, which agrees with the teaching. “Holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.”  (Tit 1:9)

The Greek word for teaching in this verse is “didache,” meaning “instruction (the act or the matter): - doctrine, hath been taught.” (Strongs).  This word is also found in the following Scriptures, where it is sometimes translated “teaching” and other times it is translated “instruction,” depending on the context.

We must beware of false teaching. “Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Mat 16:12)

People were amazed at Jesus’ teaching, because He taught with authority. “They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Mar 1:22)

The teaching of Jesus was not His own but the Father’s. “So Jesus answered them and said, ‘My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.’”  (Joh 7:16-17)

The early disciples devoted themselves continually to the apostles’ teaching. “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”  (Act 2:42).  It’s still appropriate and wise to be continually devoted to the apostles’ teaching.

We must be obedient to the sound, biblical teaching to which we were committed. “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,” (Rom 6:17)

We brethren must keep our eyes on those who cause hindrances and dissensions contrary to the sound teaching of Christ and the apostles, and turn away from such people.  “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.” (Rom 16:17)

When we assemble together, someone should have a teaching for the purpose of edification. “What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” (1Co 14:26)

The minister of the gospel must reprove, rebuke, exhort with instruction. “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” (2Ti 4:2)

One can actually be carried away by strange teachings, so we must avoid this. “Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.” (Heb 13:9)

We must abide in the teaching of Christ, in order to have both the Father and the Son, because those who do not abide in the teaching do not have God.  “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting;”  (2Jn 1:9-10)

The Lord Jesus had a warning message specifically for those in Thyatira who were following certain false teachings. “'But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.’”  (Rev 2:14-15)

But for those in Thyatira who did not hold to those teachings, the Lord placed no other burden on them. “'But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them--I place no other burden on you.’” (Rev 2:24)

Also see Mat. 7:28; 22:33; Mark 1:27; 4:2; 11:18; 12:38; Luke 4:32; John 18:19; Acts 5:28; 13:12; 17:19; 1Co. 14:6; Heb. 6:2.

There can be no doubt that teaching is important to the Lord.

Equally important as the teaching is the sound doctrine. In the passage I opened with at the top of this article, Paul told Titus that an overseer is to exhort others in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict. “Holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.” (Tit 1:9)

In the same sentence, Paul refers to both teaching and doctrine.  Since we have already covered the word “didache” in the first half of this message, let’s look at the Greek word “didaskalia,” meaning “instruction (the function or the information): - doctrine, learning, teaching.” (Strongs).  While “didache” refers to the act or the matter of teaching, “didaskalia” refers to the function or the information given in the instruction.  The word “didaskalia” is sometimes translated “doctrine” and other times it is “teaching.”

Some teach the precepts of men as doctrines. 'But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.'" (Mat 15:9) 

There are winds of doctrine, which the mature disciple will not be carried away by. “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;” (Eph 4:14)

There are deceitful spirits that teach doctrines of demons. “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,” (1Ti 4:1)

Sound doctrine nourishes you and you should follow it. “In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.” (1Ti 4:6)

We are to give attention to teaching. “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.” (1Ti 4:13)

The minister of the gospel must pay close attention to himself and to his teaching in order to ensure his own salvation and the salvation of his hearers.  “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.”  (1Ti 4:16)

Elders who work hard at teaching are consider worthy of honor. “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” (1Ti 5:17)

It is important that our lives are consistent with our doctrine, so that our doctrine is not spoken against. “All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against.” (1Ti 6:1)

The doctrine we advocate is the doctrine conforming to godliness. “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.” (1Ti 6:3-5)

These are the times when they will not endure sound doctrine.  “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,” (2Ti 4:3)

An overseer is to teach what agrees with sound doctrine. “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.”  (Tit 2:1)

An overseer must maintain doctrinal purity and be dignified.  “In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified,”  (Tit 2:7)

When we show all good faith, it makes the doctrine of God attractive. “Not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.”  (Tit 2:10)

Also see: Mark 7:7; Rom. 12:7; 15:4; Col. 2:22; 1Ti. 1:10; 2Ti. 3:10,16; 2:1,7.

The Truth
The truth is not popular but that doesn’t change what it is.  It’s still the absolute truth.

The Truth is not merely information.  The Truth is a Person. “Jesus *said to him, ‘I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'” (Jn 14:6)

Jesus Christ is the Truth.  Many people mistakenly think that the Lord Jesus has a casual attitude toward sin.  However, there is no "in-between" with Him.  Just as we read in the gospels about His life on earth, He is still the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He said what He meant, and He meant what He said. Everything is either black or white with Him.  There are no "grey areas."

Truth is absolute.  Two plus two will always be four.  What Jesus said cannot be changed or annulled. Here are a few passages about The Truth, which is not open to revision.

Paul said God desires all men to come to the knowledge of the truth.  “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” (1Ti 2:3-7)

He said that the church of the living God is the pillar and support of the truth. “But in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.” (1Ti 3:15)

We must accurately handle the word of truth, which requires diligence. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2Ti 2:15)

“Men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.” (2Ti 2:18)

It is God who grants repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth. “With gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,” (2Ti 2:25)

Some people are “Always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2Ti 3:7)

Others actually oppose the truth, “Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith.” (2Ti 3:8)

“And will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (2Ti 4:4)

The truth is not something to simply know, but it must be practiced. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;” (1Jn 1:6)

The one who knows the Truth keeps His commandments. “The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;” (1Jn 2:4)

“We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1Jn 4:6)

John said the Spirit is the truth.  “This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.” (1Jn 5:6)

"In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise," Eph 1:13)

The new self one received when one is born again has been created in the likeness of God in righteousness and holiness of the truth. "And put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." (Eph 4:24)

"(for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth)," (Eph 5:9)

"But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (Joh 4:23-24)

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (Joh 8:32).  This is what happened to me when I came to know Jesus, which you can read about in The Truth Set Me Free!. It changed my whole life!

"When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me,” (Joh 15:26)

"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (Joh 16:13)
Putting it All Together

So from these passages of Scripture, we learn that teaching and sound doctrine are important to the heart of God. This is why we must hold fast to the faithful Word and guard the trust we have been given. 

Many will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.  They advocate a different doctrine and do not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness.  They are paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.  They are carried away by strange teachings. Some of them teach the precepts of men as doctrines, which are merely man-made and artificial teachings, not from the Lord.

However, the faithful minister of the gospel must pay close attention to himself and to his teaching in order to ensure his own salvation and the salvation of his hearers. We must all abide in the teaching of Christ, and devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching, as is faithfully recorded in Scripture.  Instead of coming up with messages that people want to hear, in order to remain popular, we must preach the Word just as it is written, not dissect it into little pieces or twist it to say what we want it to say.  We need to proclaim the whole counsel of God, and not just our favorite topics that we are comfortable with. 

In a day when Truth is being rejected, I intend to continue teaching in faith and truth. Let me admonish every minister of the gospel to be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Image courtesy of Entitled to Revelation in their article What is Absolute Truth?

Author's note:  I also recommend reading The Top Ten Things Jesus Taught, Tradition vs. Truth, What is Truth?, An Open Mind that Loves the Truth, Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?, Holding Fast the Faithful Word, Unbiblical Practices of the Catholic Church, Rachael Mushala Testimony of Hell, and A Trip to Hell. You may access more of my articles on the Main Directory of this blog, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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