1 Timothy 1:3-4
3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
Paul faced a constant battle with false teachers everywhere he went. He would set up a church, explain to them that salvation is by grace through faith, and they would all rejoice that they did not to do anything to earn their salvation. After he left the area, false teachers would come in and tell them they were not saved until they were circumcised or baptized or some other work of the flesh that was needed. It was happening all over the new church and it was deceiving many into thinking they actually had to do these things to be part of Christ’s church.
As we explained in the last post, our salvation was secured at Calvary. The only thing you have to do is accept the free gift. Jesus paid the price. He took the penalty for sin once and for all. There is nothing you can do, or have to do, to earn your salvation. It can’t be earned, It can only be taken as the free gift it is. If you are depending on anything else, or any work of the flesh, to obtain your salvation, then you have been listening to false teachers.
Paul decided to leave Timothy in Ephesus so he put down some of these teachings. He specifically mentions two things. Endless genealogies and fables. Timothy had a task ahead of him. The teachers in the church were teaching these things and Timothy had to put a stop to it. Paul wanted to make sure that the teachers were teaching things of God that would edify the people and their faith. Paul went on to Macedonia to check on the churches there and possibly start more.
Endless genealogies points to teaching that says our lineage is what makes us acceptable to God. In those days, being a son of Abraham was a big deal, and claiming that you were a son of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was an even bigger thing. There are many places in the Bible where God is described as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We have top remember that Jacob was later named Israel, and thus the father of the nation. Isaac was also the father of Esau, who was the father of the Edomites, arch enemies of the Israelites. We could spend days hashing out genealogies and get nowhere.
The fact is that we are part of the faith covenant with Abraham. Abrahams seed includes all who by faith accept Christ’s sacrifice since Christ was the fulfillment of the law. We are blessed, just as the nation of Israel is blessed, when we have this faith in God because without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). The Bible says that Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6). This is the faith we must have. Not faith in genealogies, but faith in God and His Son Jesus Christ.
In today’s world, many think that they can hang on the coattails of their parents and grandparents. They think that their genealogy can get them into heaven. The believe that because they go to their parents church and have been good all their lives, they are assured a place in heaven. This could not be further from the truth. We all make heaven our home by our own personal decision. We must believe that Jesus died as an atonement for our sins and that he rose again to give us eternal life. We must act on that belief by accepting the sacrifice He made and making Him the Lord of our lives. We must relent of our sins and leave them at His feet. This is what brings salvation into our lives. Once saved, we must obey His commandments in order to even see the Kingdom of heaven. Nothing in your genealogy can save you. Your parents cannot take you to heaven. Only you can make that decision.
Fables speaks of things made up that falsify the truth. One of the chief examples of this in Paul’s time was the Judaizers. They preached that circumcision must be done to those who accepted Christ. This was a subversion of the truth of the gospel. Paul tells Timothy here that anything that ministers questions in the mind of the believer should not be taught, but things that minister grace.
We have to remember the times they were in. The gospel was preached to the people, not read by the people. The heathen, or Gentiles, did not know the Old Testament either. They had to take the word they were told and process it. It is so different today. When Paul preached, people took him at his word. It was all they knew about what happened. When false teachers came in and told them something different, it raised questions in their minds whether Paul was telling the truth. This is what Paul was trying to stop.
Today we have a lot of examples of false teaching that raises questions. Some would say that all Protestants are following a fabrication of the truth and that Catholicism is the only way to God. Of course, I disagree because Christ is the only way to God, not any church organization. Some would say that once you are saved you are always saved and cannot lose your place in heaven. Jesus clearly says otherwise (Matt 7:21). Some would say if you want something, anything, just claim it from God and it’s yours. If you don’t get it, you don’t have enough faith. I do not believe that for a minute because God is sovereign and He will decide what is best for you. You really don’t know what is best for you at any given moment. God knows you better than you know yourself and he will always do what is best for you.
Then there are some who say once you get saved, grace will cover anything you do after that. Jesus also contradicts that belief by saying we should be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matt 5:48). As stated above, He says that not everyone who calls Him Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of the Father. What is that will? It is found in Matthew chapters 5-7. We are under grace, but we are also told we must do you best to follow Christ’s commands. We can’t just go and do anything we want and expect grace to cover us. Even Jesus knew this as shown by His testing in the wilderness. Satan came to Him three times tempting Him and Jesus did not fall for his charms (Matthew 4:1-11). If anyone would have been covered by grace it would be Jesus. Paul says God forbid that we should continue in sin so grace can cover us (Romans 6:1-2). Let’s not fall for the grace covers all gospel.
These and many more “fables” are around in the church today to lure even the very elect away from the gospel message (Matthew 24:24). The NAR (New Apostolic Reformation church is the latest in trickery. I am not going to get into all the various ways that this cult is drawing people away from the gospel, but I suggest you study it out yourself. It is very deceptive and is sweeping through churches around the globe. I am saddened by how easily people are drawn away from Christ and the pure Gospel message.
Let us be ministers of grace. Grace that leads people to repentance. Grace that tells people of the cross and the price that Jesus paid for them so many years ago. Grace that says you can accept this sacrifice of love by faith if you’ll only believe. It is a simple message that is as profound in so many ways. Christ crucified, the hope of glory. Let us never forget the Gospel message and let us preach it wherever we go.