Bible Lesson 72

Where Are We?
2nd Timothy 3:1-9

Part I

Where is America and where are Americans’ Where do we stand with God’ What’s next for a country that has been so richly blessed by God, yet has failed even to be thankful in most cases, and certainly are not in step with the word and will of God, as presented to us clearly in the Bible’ Where are we’ How long before we will get to where we are headed, or to quote one of my dear great-granddaughters, how many more nite, nites before something will happen’ I’m reminded that many years ago when I was in the military with my family, my wife and three sons; and when we would travel, which was generally at nights, they were always wanting to know how much longer until we reached our destination. Perhaps, that’s why Christ tells us in the Bible that we must come to him as little children, (Mark 10:15). Little children normally accept things as they are and seem to want to know where they are most of the time. As adults, we normally have our agendas and we forget that our lives are fleeting towards the end of our lives, and yet we never ask ‘Where are we’.

Let’s take advantage of this time while we are in this lesson to see if we can identify any ‘landmarks’ or any highway signs and mark where we are at as individuals and as a nation. We can always depend upon ‘s Word, the Bible, to tell us where we stand with, and where our lives are heading so let’s look at the Scripture text for this lesson (2nd Timothy chapter three), and if you haven’t already read it, won’t you stop and read it right now’
But, before you do that, let’s establish some guidelines for properly understanding what we read therein that scripture. First, we must understand that although it was the Apostle Paul who wrote this epistle, it was the Inspired Word that Paul wrote for us. We are not reading the words of Paul when we read this scripture’ we are reading the Words of the Living. Second, let’s remind ourselves that Paul was aware that his life would not last much longer because, at this time in Rome, He was imprisoned and knew that he would face execution, so these are his last words to Timothy, that beloved son, that Paul has mentored and now was saying goodbye to.

If we understand that these are the words of a dying man, we will look more intensely at them, and weigh them more carefully as we read them. Third, Paul puts these scriptures in perspective for us, as he says ‘ In the last days perilous times will come’. Paul and Timothy were both living in the last days, just as you and I are today.

The last days began when the Holy Spirit descended on the day of Pentecost, and perilous times have been gradually inching its way toward us. Fourth, Paul put a face on these perilous times when he said in verse 5, that ‘the men who would characterize the perilous times would be men ‘Having a form of lines but denying its power’. Not only that but in verse 12 Paul says that ‘all those who desire to live in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution’. Fifty, Paul encourages Timothy to be steadfast because all scripture is by inspiration of; and as we said before when we read the Bible, we are reading the inspired words of God.

With that said, let’s hold the mirror of God’s word up to our present-day lives and examine ourselves to see if we are part of the problem or part of the solution. I suspect that many will find themselves at a disadvantage, when we want to hold up the Word of God as a mirror, to measure our lives by; because we do not have enough understanding of the Word of God to know where to start.

I know that is startling and unpleasant for many, but we have to be truthful or we are wasting our time and effort. I say that because we have become people who will not take the time and make the effort to read and study the Bible for ourselves to make sure that we are even on the right track to reach God. Many have been taught that it’s the preachers or the pastor’s problem to teach us the truths of God.
Some even have been encouraged to join churches so that they appear to be Christians, never realizing that joining the church only makes you a church member, not a Christian. For years now the visible church, the denominational church, has been teaching whatever their congregations wanted to hear, things that make sinners feel good about their particular sin.

The Apostle Paul, writing under the direct inspiration of God, wrote to us to warn us of that kind of preaching, and he said in Second Timothy 4:3-4, ‘For the time will come when they will not endure (tolerate) sound doctrine, but according to their desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables’. Notice, that Paul says the same thing here that he said in our scripture text for this lesson.

Our text for this lesson warns us of a ‘perilous time’ that is coming, a time when God will be more or less forced out of the visible church; and in Chapter four of Timothy, the Apostle Paul writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to warn us of how this will come about. People who are not saved, church members, but not children of God will not tolerate the truth or the preaching of it, and will ‘heap up’ for themselves teachers, who will teach false doctrines, lies, that make the hearers feel good about themselves, and they will follow myths and fables. If you look closely at many congregations you will see that we are at that stage in the church of our day. We believe in a god, but not the God of the Bible, the god that we believe in is ourselves. We have come to think that we are so good and so needed in God’s plan that we can manipulate God and cause Him to accept whatever we want to believe. We no longer believe that God is Sovereign; instead, we believe that we, and our little social group that we call a church, are in charge of God.

Now, if you are offended by what I am saying to you, and you can give a good defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear’; and you can quote six or eight verses of scripture and explain them in context, I will apologize! I’ll be honest; I am getting pretty fed up with people who attempt to explain away the power of God in salvation. Anyone awake and aware knows for certain that most people who go to church regularly and call themselves Christians are as lost as a ball in high weeds.

We mentioned before in setting forth our scripture text, that Paul saw God’s inspiration for this letter as some of his last words, so we need to take these scriptures very seriously. In a matter of months, the Apostle would be executed by the Roman system. These words that we are looking at in this lesson are God’s last words spoken to us through Paul. What God told us through Paul was that there is a time coming, which can best be described as ‘perilous’. See if any of this sounds familiar to you’

Times are perilous when men who love themselves, and money, more than they love anything else including God, and when the self becomes all-important, those same men become boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying it’s power.

These depraved self-lovers, these narcissistic little people who imagine themselves to be gods, and yet they are despoilers of everything and everyone that they come into contact with. These kinds of people are the ones who cause the times that they live in to be perilous. Isn’t it strange that it seems that we as a people have decided to elect these kinds of people to lead us as a country’ The psalmist must have spoken to our willingness to tolerate those kinds of people, when in Psalms 12:8 he wrote, ‘The wicked walk on every side when the vilest men are exalted’? When we as a people begin to approve of and even elect men of low or no character to lead us we have no place to go except down. Stop and think about some of the men that Americans have elected to the high public office recently and you will see the seed of perilous times. We have elected and re-elected to office men who were sodomites, thieves, anti-god and anti-good, interested only in their agendas, so what can we expect. Oh, yes, some of these men would tell you that they are Christians, members of some well known denominational church but they just have a form of godliness, which has no power except the flesh of the one who is claiming Christ as his/her savior. We can make our mouths say anything that we want them to, but that doesn’t make it the truth. At times, it seems that the more depraved and evil a man is the more people there are that will vote for them. I suppose we have measured ourselves against ourselves for so long, instead of measuring our lives against the life of Christ, that a bad person makes us look a little better, so we throw our vote behind them.

What does the Bible say about that’ Well, in our scripture text for this lesson in 2nd Timothy 3:5, we are exhorted to turn away from those kinds of people. That’s what the Bible tells us to do over and over; and that’s what makes us salt, for when we stand against evil and iniquity, we show it to be what it is, an affront to our holy God.

What do you think verse five of our scripture for this lesson means when it says that some people have a form of godliness but they deny the power of that form of godliness’ It means that they are hypocrites who say one thing and mean something entirely different. Simply spoken, they are liars and they are children of the devil who do whatever their father tells them to do (John 8:42-45). I hate to have to say things like I am about to say here, but the Lord called me, to tell the truth, so I tell you without hesitation or reservation, that the majority of the members of the visible church in 2009 are children of the devil rather than children of God. We are deep in those perilous times that God warns us about in 2nd Timothy chapter three, and it doesn’t appear that many are willing to stir the mix to begin to make any changes. We have allowed ourselves to be lulled to sleep by cheap grace preaching and now we are so comfortable in our sin that we will not tolerate preaching that confronts us and our sin.

We are over two thousand years closer to the last days than the Apostle Paul was when God inspired him to write this warning to us, and it should be obvious to all of us that we are, as the old preacher Vance Havner said” we may be many, but we are not much’! We have demanded, and have gotten a gospel that costs nothing, requires nothing, changes nothing and at the Judgment will be worth nothing, and we are proud of ourselves for being so ‘intellectual, and progressive’.

If you think we are not seeing all of the many troubles and problems that the last days bring, stop and think about what we see going on today against any mention of God and Christ. Many places will not allow Christmas scenes to be placed, we have taken God out of our schools, we have seen the religion of humanism and atheism allowed to displace Christianity, and we now take scant notice of God’s law.

That’s the problem, so what is the solution to that problem’ God gives it to us through the Apostle Paul here in 2nd Timothy chapter three when He says in verses 14 through 17, to us ‘Evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them. And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which can make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete (perfect), thoroughly equipped for every good work’.

Our problem is a problem that was caused by our choosing to leave the Word of God, the Bible, to follow after men whose agenda was not the same as God’s agenda. We have been fooled into believing that all we need is some ‘form’ of religion, something that will cause those who do not know us to think that we are truly practicing religion. The problem is that there is no power in what we practice. We like to go about singing a little song that denigrates the power of God and His salvation, and the song sounds like this”’We worship God and He created the heavens and the earth, He is mighty and He does whatsoever He pleases, He is Omnipotent, but. Oh yes, He is God and He is powerful, but””” He does not have the power to cause me to want to live right nor to live according to His Word. I know God said that Jesus Christ would save His people ‘from’ their sin, but He just can’t complete that in me; because I am a sinner and I know it and I don’t intend to change.

They may not verbalize those exact words but that is what they are saying and everybody knows it. Our problem was sin, the sin nature; and God sent His Son Jesus Christ to take that nature of Adam to His cross for all of those who will obey Him, but most church-members today will not believe that. Truly saved people walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, so if you are not doing that and receiving Jesus Christ and His power to have victory over sin, you are probably not saved at all. God works in those who He has saved to both ‘want’ to do His will; and ‘to do’ of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). I close with this, why won’t we at least submit ourselves to His power and apply ourselves to His will and prove His power to save us from sin.

Until next time,

may God bless and keep you

This is Bro. Bob