Summary: The message explores the familiar admonition to handle the Word of Truth rightly.

“Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are his,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.’” [1]

There is “handling the Word of Truth,” and there is “rightly handling the Word of Truth.” The difference between these two concepts is as vital as life and death. Mishandling the Word of Truth jeopardises both those who hear and those who are doing the handling. Tragically, mishandling the Word of Truth may be more common in the pulpits of this day than we might otherwise imagine.

The concept of “rightly handling the Word of Truth” has entered the lexicon of the Faith. Whatever else we think the concept means, this emphasis demonstrates the reality that the Faith is a word-based entity. In other words, right doctrine is essential if we will please God. What is believed, and thus, what is taught to those who seek to understand the will of God, is communicated through the Word. The church that fails to provide sound exposition of the Word of God is failing both parishioners those who are outside the precincts of grace, leaving them vulnerable to spiritual loss and quite possibly condemning them to eternal loss. We know that “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” [ROMANS 10:17].

When Paul confronted the Christians of Galatia because they were departing the Faith, he pointed again to this word-based aspect of the Faith. The Apostle asked, “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith” [GALATIANS 3:2]? Underscore in your mind that ultimate phrase, “hearing with faith.” This concept will be used again when he asks, “Does He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by the works of the law, or by hearing with faith” [GALATIANS 3:5]? The Apostle reminds the saints in Corinth, “It pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe” [1 CORINTHIANS 1:21].

The message is essential if sinners are to be saved. It is of no consequence what I think is important concerning the will of God—God sets the standard for what is pleasing to Him. Neither am I able to excuse unbelief as though there is no urgency for the lost to believe the message of life. The message of salvation must be that which God has delivered in His Word. Our children are vulnerable, our friends are under sentence of death and our colleagues are dependent upon us to ensure that the love of God is communicated without distortion. Your thoughts concerning how you imagine you will serve the Son of God are of no consequence. My ideas of what I will do are futile in honouring God; your conception of what is pleasing to God is worthless. What matters is whether each of us does what God commands. This is the meaning of Jesus’ teaching, “You are My friends if you do what I command you” [JOHN 15:14].

Obviously, knowing the will of God is vital; however, doing the will of God is essential. The primary labour of the elder is to instruct those who hear him to do what pleases God. Paul’s missives to Timothy speak primarily of matters related to conducting oneself in the pastorate. That is why these are known as “Pastoral Letters.” No one should assume, however, that because these are Pastoral Letters they have nothing to say to those who are not elders. Congregational members are responsible to know what God expects of the elder, holding that man accountable before God for what is taught and the manner in which he conducts his life. These Pastoral Letters are not written for elders only—they are given for all the people of God!

REMIND THEM OF THESE THINGS — Thus, the Apostle in our text begins by enjoining the young pastor, “Remind them of these things.” We might properly ask, “What things?” “These things” refers back to what Paul has just delivered. “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for:

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