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Friday, August 3, 2018

People not Parchment

In the past several weeks issues have surfaced at churches, with individuals, and with groups concerning what is right or correct in either our understanding of what our Lord requires, or our understanding of what the Bible says.  One could describe these as doctrinal or theological issues.
People not Parchment
I have seen a myriad of ways in which people have attempted to address these types of issues.  In some cases organizations craft detailed doctrinal/theological position papers by which they attempt to define and control the understanding of those involved in said organization.  Others will have seminars or classes to teach what they believe.  Some will share a message or series of messages intended to “correct” misunderstanding of one or many facets of the group’s theological understanding.

From a Biblical point of view I am not sure that any of those are effective means of transmitting either correct doctrine or understanding of the Scripture.

In the past year or so, in four different Bible studies, the books of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus have been the focus.  In each study the three books were studied as a unit.  The idea was to look for common themes, directions, or suggestions which Paul shared with his protégés.

At the beginning of each book it is clear that one of the major issues Paul addresses is the engagement of his key men with false teaching and false teachers.  Throughout the three books there is a consistent call to engage and refute false teaching.

In several of Paul’s epistles, he explicitly calls his readers to imitate him (click here for a list of references), implicitly in 2 Timothy, he exhorts his closest coworker to do so (2 Timothy 2:2, 3:10 – 13 (here @ Bible Gateway)).

So what is Paul’s charge to Titus and Timothy?  How does he exhort them to combat false teaching and false teachers?  There is much in these three books that is worthy of our attention concerning this crucial aspect of leadership, much more than can be addressed here.  There is one aspect of Paul’s instruction to which he invests proportionately more of his exhortation, which is to invest in the equipping of others in the truth.

In all three books Paul gives explicit instructions on the types of men Timothy and Titus are to select, and the importance of building into them the truth that was to be preserved.

In 2 Timothy 3:10 – 13 (here @ Bible Gateway), Paul exhorts Timothy to follow Paul’s example.  If you scan through Acts 16 – 20 (here @ Bible Gateway) you quickly pick up what it was that Timothy experienced as he accompanied his mentor for six and a half to seven years in their journeys around the Mediterranean.

Paul’s answer to how to deal with false teaching, seems to be to invest in people not parchment.  That is, rather than writing down what is the true doctrine, impart it, entrust it into the lives of those whom you are called to serve.

For those of us who are fathers, that certainly includes our wives and children and if we have them, grandchildren and the spouses of our children.  But it also include anyone in our sphere of influence.  We are called to put His Kingdom, His Truth, first in our lives.  That suggests that we are to make the proclamation and transmission of those our first priority.

I need to do better at this.