Cruising Route 66
Avoiding Snow Blindness
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. II Timothy 4:1-4
Watch a father walk through the snow with his young son close behind, and you will see the boy stretching his little legs as far as he can in order to walk in his father’s footsteps. When Dad sees the effort and the difficulty, he takes shorter steps, so his son can follow. This is a picture of discipleship. In our walk of faith, we follow in someone’s footsteps.
Someone has gone before us. Paul went before Timothy, and now he follows in Paul’s footsteps, but the snow is getting deep. The church is facing a blizzard of false doctrine, and a hail storm of lies. Paul instructs Timothy and you and I, to ask a few questions in the midst of the storm, who are you following? Where are you going? Are you leaving footprints others can follow? When they do, will they arrive at the right place?
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
Note that the NIV does not say “the latter times,” but rather, “the later times.” I always saw that as the time just before the Lord’s return, in the last days, when there would be a departure from the faith, a great apostasy within the church.
As the Lord’s return draws near, there will be an increasing departure from the faith, but this passage isn’t talking about one single great departure. The falling away has been going on throughout the course of Christian history. The term translated “times”, kairos, is also the word for “seasons”. So it would be more properly understood if it were translated to read, “in subsequent seasons, there will be many departing from the faith.”
Just as there are seasons in a calendar year, God says that there are “seasons of deceit,” when a blizzard of error will bring a whole new spectrum of untruth that has caused “snow blindness” even where you live.
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work which is by faith. I Timothy 1:3-4
Paul’s first instruction to Timothy is to deal with the storm of confusion that has come from false doctrine, fictional stories, and efforts to connect with God by way of your family tree. We have seen several such seasons of confusion. At the end of the 19th century, there was a season of deceit, when new cults emerged in America. Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses came into being, and Christian Science emerged. All claiming to be Christian.
After that followed a time of quiet, when no new cults emerged, then suddenly, in the mid-60s, the dark clouds formed, and a new storm broke loose. The Moonies, Hare Krishna, Scientology, Transcendental Meditation, and if you weren’t involved with Zen Buddhism, you weren’t cool. Each of these groups made their appeal to the emotions, the intellect, the will, and the pride of mankind. They appeared to have one common characteristic, they brought about a “departure from the faith.”
If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. I Timothy 4:6
Let me point out a few snowstorms that loom on the horizon. This is not an exhaustive weather report. I am simply providing a forecast of the spiritual weather conditions within our community. You may see the clouds of one of these storms forming in your own family, or among your friends. I am not attempting to quell the storm, because it’s only Jesus who has the power over the storm. All I wish to do is warn you so you won’t be blinded by the flurry of lies that can so easily look like a gentle dusting of white powder but is actually a blinding blizzard.
Take note of Paul’s words. Not everyone gets lost in the snow by accident, it can often be intentional.
Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. I Timothy 1:6-7
Three prime questions need to be asked, Who is God? Who is Jesus? How can I be saved? Numerous religious groups will respond to this question with their own established doctrine, and in each case, they are placing the focus on themselves. Biblical Christianity places the focus on God.
God is One, one God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is the Creator of all things, eternally changeless, holy, loving, and perfect. He is personal, compassionate, just, and involved with His creation. Jesus is God, the second person of the Trinity, fully God and fully man (the two natures joined, not mixed), coequal with God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. He is not a created being, but has always existed, and always will. He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, was crucified, died, and rose from the dead on the third day. He ascended into heaven, and now sits at the right of the Father, interceding for the church. He will return in glory and power for all to see, to establish the kingdom of God, and to judge the world.
Salvation is by God’s grace alone, apart from man’s effort. This gift must be received by faith, believing that Jesus, the Son of God, died for our sins, and that through no other means can mankind be saved.
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men …. I Timothy 2:5-6
Until next time,