True or False?
Lord, use Your Word today to command me and comfort me. I need Your direction and consolation.
Read 1 TIMOTHY 1:1-11
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
”The purpose of theology is the cogent articulation of the knowledge of God and also the nurture of the people of God” (Unknown).
I have just received a report from a church leader in Tanzania. As in many parts of Africa, the Church is growing fast. At the same time, my friend writes that, “The Church may be growing in numbers, but spiritually, the Church is deteriorating. There are many challenges: syncretism, the prosperity gospel, dream-based faith, poor leadership and lack of consistency.”
Today’s passage—and indeed the entire letter—is addressing a first-century equivalent to what my friend describes. The church in Ephesus was encountering the debilitating impact of false doctrine (3-4), and we are wise to take note because it is a challenge today all over the world. Paul describes those who promote error as having “departed” (6) from the love, purity and faith of the true gospel. They give their attention to myths, genealogies, controversies and meaningless talk (4,6). Though keen on the law (7), they fail to understand the reality of the gospel: salvation does not come from keeping the law but from faith in Christ.
The urgent need of the Church, then and now, is “sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel” (10,11). “Sound” was originally a medical term, used elsewhere to describe those who were made “perfectly whole.” Sound teaching is healthy, life-giving teaching. It is essential nourishment for every believer, and so it is a serious mistake to imagine that a concern for doctrine is irrelevant, divisive or boring. I can’t think of a greater priority for our churches than this. If God’s Word is well taught, then welcomed and digested, loved and lived out, we will live wholesome lives in healthy Christian communities. Nothing is more important for the well-being of our churches, and it is vital that we pray and work for this, locally and globally.
Pray for wisdom for those involved in your church—the leadership team, the clergy, the elders—who are charged with pastoral responsibility to guard and apply Christian doctrine.
Lord Jesus, I need to keep my focus on You. I realize again that You alone are the way to God, the truth about God, and the life in God.