1 Timothy 4:13
Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
Paul has given all the instruction we have studied so far to help Timothy care for the church at Ephesus until he would be able to return. Paul had no idea how soon he would return, so he decided to write this letter rather than wait until he could return. He knew of the background of the churches at Ephesus and that there could be trouble with doctrine and choosing leaders so he entrusted Timothy to make sure all went smoothly. Timothy carried out his charge well.
Paul wanted to make sure that the major areas were covered so he told Timothy to “give attendance” to three things. This is the same as saying to pay attention to these three things. When I look at this list, I wonder why Paul did not include prayer in the list. It would be my guess that Paul did not worry about Timothy’s prayer life. He knew he had told Timothy how important it was to stay on his knees before the Lord in prayer. He knew Timothy would be praying much.
I must admit that my prayer life is not quite so trustworthy. It seems I get going on a good routine only to have it interrupted by the affairs of this life. I wish for a better prayer life all the time. I make plenty of prayers throughout the day as God brings things to my attention. But I am not good at having a set time of prayer. Paul would not have had so much confidence in me. This is an area I need to work on.
The first thing Paul wanted Timothy to pay attention to was the reading of scripture. At this time the only scripture they had was the Old Testament Torah and that on a limited basis. It is unknown how many copies and of which scripture would have been available. Plus there were Paul’s letters which were not considered scripture yet, but were filled with great wisdom. It is also stated that Timothy was well versed on the scriptures from his youth, so he had been taught well how the scripture of the Old Testament pointed to the life of Jesus Christ. In 2 Timothy 3:15 Paul says that Timothy had known this from infancy.
I am also sure that Paul imparted a great deal of wisdom to Timothy while they travelled together. Paul would preach and Timothy would probably sit and take notes on the way the Old testament pointed to Christ. This was also a part of his reading. I have a lot of notes on old sermons that I heard through my Christian walk. Occasionally I go back and read through them, many times spurring new insights into the relevance of scripture in my life. We need to pay regular attention to the Word of God and good biblical preachers in order to keep abiding in the vine!
The second area Paul tells Timothy to Pay attention is in exhortation. An exhortation is an address or communication emphatically urging someone to do something. Paul never wanted Timothy to lose his zeal for the things of the Lord. He did not just say to communicate or to preach, but used the word exhort to express his desire that Timothy would be urgent in his preaching and in his message. Timothy was responsible for making sure the churches were following correct doctrine, assigning Bishops and Deacons and making sure they ran smoothly. His message had to have an urgency about It that they maintain the standards that pointed to righteousness and holiness. Nothing short of this was acceptable to Paul.
Is our preaching done with this type of urging? I have to ask myself this question all the time. Am I conveying the truths of God in a way that makes people be compelled to follow? I was at a conference last weekend where a good friend of mine was ministering to a group of pastors and evangelist. I watched him before the service and noticed how he looked like a caged tiger just waiting to be unleashed. There was no doubt he was well prepared to deliver what God had given him and he delivered it with a strong sense of urgency. I have known this young man since he was a teen and was amazed at how he had grown in the Lord, and at how his preaching had improved so much. God is with him because he preaches with a sense of urgency. I need to do the same!
The third area God tells Timothy to pay attention is to doctrine. Much like today, Timothy faced many challenges in this area. The Judaisers were one of the main groups trying to impose doctrine on the churches back ion that day. They believed that to be saved one had to be circumcised. They were widespread in this preaching and scared people into believing their lie. Timothy had to fight this doctrine all the time and make sure that no other doctrine came in except that which was given by Jesus, Peter or Paul. Timothy’s task was to keep the church pure and undefiled, a bride waiting for her groom!
Today there is false doctrine everywhere we look. Jesus said in the last days even the very elect will be deceived (Matthew 24:24). It is not just the church, but all false doctrine we have to be wary of. Islam is a false doctrine, as is Hinduism and Buddhism. Eastern mysticism is finding it’s way into the church today, with many so-called Christian leaders selling trinkets, charms and other things that they call sacred. Yoga, martial arts, transcendental meditation, and other such things do not belong in the church.
The grace movement is a scary thing and has birthed the New Apostolic Reformation. While it is true that we are saved by grace and we are under grace, we should not sin so that grace may abound. The grace movement says it’s OK, just confess and do what you want to do. This is not what Jesus said. The NAR assigns bishops, prophets and apostles who can add to the scripture or subtract from it because they are “ordained” to do so. This is nonsense but they are very deceptive.
There is also Mormonism, Jehovah’s witnesses and other so called Christian sects that follow a man’s doctrine and don’t even know the scriptures and what they say. I had a couple of them come to my door this winter. When I started to share scripture with them, they marveled I knew scripture so well, but tried to change the subject back to their way of thinking. Of course, I did not go there.
We must stay in sound doctrine, and we must teach sound doctrine. I could give many more examples, but the main thing to look at is scripture. Is there anything in scripture that says we should pray to the dead? Is there anything in scripture that says we should worship any other than Jesus Christ and God the Father? Is there any place in scripture that says an earthly priest can be our intercessor to absolve sins? False doctrine is all around us. It is so entrenched that people overlook it easily. The famous phrase “we have always done it this way” allows this doctrine to continue. The thought that we must have something new and exciting allows false doctrine to become main stream.
Let us stay with Biblical principles, not man’s doctrines. :Let us preach with urgency the truth of the Gospel. Let us keep reading the scriptures and absorbing ourselves in the truth. If we maintain solid doctrine and stay in the word, we will not be deceived.
1 John 1:7
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin