Summary: Paul warned Timothy to keep a close watch on his life and on THE TEACHING because "in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you." Why is what we teach so critical to the salvation of ourselves and our listeners?

OPEN: Shortly after I got out of Bible College there was a popular church near Ft. Wayne that attracted thousands of attenders that was called “The Glory Barn” (the building looked like it had been a barn). I went to their worship a couple of times myself just to see what the attraction was, and I remember being disturbed by something - though I didn’t know quite what. Later, I was in a Bible Study in my hometown where a young husband and wife were attending. In the Study I shared something I had learned at college. At that point, the young wife objected that I was wrong. She said the preacher at the “Glory Barn” taught something entirely different. I replied “Well, I guess I could be wrong, and (of course) your preacher could be wrong too…” That offended her: “Oh no! He could never be wrong… he’s a prophet.”

He was a prophet? Where did she get that idea? Well, she got that idea from the “prophet”. He was the ultimate authority in that church… and people hung on his every word. What I learned later was that this prophet taught that if you had enough faith you didn’t have to go see a doctor… YOUR FAITH would heal you. In fact, if you went to a doctor that implied you didn’t have enough faith in God. It just so happened, that the young husband in that Bible Study (attending Glory Barn) had diabetes - and he was so convicted by the teachings of that “prophet” that he tried to go off his insulin several times. The last time he did that… the young man died.

In the NKJV of our passage this morning: Paul wrote Timothy: “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”

TAKE HEED! BE CAREFUL! KEEP A CLOSE WATCH. Take heed not only in how you live (because if you don’t live right… people could be led astray) but ALSO be careful about what you teach. Because Timothy; because Sunday School teacher; because Elder; because Bible Study leader; because Preacher YOUR salvation and the salvation of your hearers hangs on what you teach. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine!!!

For the past few weeks we’ve been dealing with “SCARY THINGS” (demons and death, etc) but perhaps the scariest thing for a Christian is the danger of accepting false teaching that can rob us of our Lives (as in the case of that young man with Diabetes); Or the blessings of God; Or our very salvation.

So, we want to take heed. We want to keep a close watch on what we are taught, and what we allow ourselves to buy into. IT’S IMPORTANT!

In Acts 17:11 God commended the Bereans because they “examined the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was true.” God was impressed that the Bereans studied their BIBLE every day to be sure Paul was right. Why was God pleased by this? Well, if we don’t know our Bible we are at a disadvantage because the Bible is ALL that we know about God’s truth and God’s will. We don’t get that kind of insight anyplace else.

Paul wrote to Timothy “… from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15)

Then (in the next 2 verses) Paul goes on to say “All Scripture is breathed out by God (it’s NOT the work of men) and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God MAY BE COMPLETE, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) The Bible that you hold in your hands (or is on your cellphone) - that Bible can make you complete!!!! It’s ALL you need!

Hebrews 4:12 says “The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” In other words - Scripture changes us. It penetrates to the very essence of our being.

That’s why we should strive to know more and more about God’s word. God tells us “Whatever was written in former days (Old Testament) was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4

Everything you and I need is right here in this book.

Now, you can read other books about the Bible, but be careful to ALWAYS read the Bible itself. Someone once said: “Never let good books take the place of the Bible. Drink from the Well, not from the streams that flow from the Well.” (Amy Carmichael) Let me repeat: everything you and I need is right here in this book. Accept NO SUBSTITUTES!!!

The problem is, there’s a lot of people out there who are NOT satisfied with the Bible … alone. They feel they have to add something to Scripture. And false teaching always begins with someone adding something to Bible. For that reason, we are warned: “Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” Proverbs 30:6

But people DO ADD to God’s word, and that can create problems.

And there’s all kinds of ways folks do that. One of the ways I’ve noticed that people do that is by adding (what I call) “corrective lenses” to the Bible.

ILLUS: I’m near sighted, and without my glasses I can only see about so far. So, I need glasses (or corrective lenses) to help me see clearly. My eyes aren’t good enough without them. So there are people who add their kind of “corrective lenses” to God’s Word. And they do that by convincing their followers their eyes aren’t good enough to see what God wants them to see without those lenses.

FOR EXAMPLE: do you remember that ‘prophet’ at the Glory Barn? That prophet was THE “corrective lens” for his church. When he (the “prophet”) said the Bible meant something, he was never wrong! Why? Because he was a prophet. He would never be in error because he (not Scripture) had the final authority. The accepted teaching (in that church) was – that without that prophet - you’d NEVER understand what God wanted you to know. You’d need HIM… because your eyes aren’t good enough on their own. You NEED him… because HE was the corrective lens.

So we’ve got to be careful about accepting the teachings of any mortal teacher, because they can be wrong. You’ve got to be careful even of me because even I can be wrong (once in awhile). Don’t TRUST me just because I’m your preacher and you like me. Be like the Bereans and “examine the Scriptures daily to see if what I’m saying is true.”

That’s one of the reasons we don’t have Creeds or Books of Doctrine here. Every Creed or Book of Doctrine is the product of (many times) well-meaning mortals. But there is no Creed or Book of Doctrine that is nearly as good (or infallible) as Scripture. There are over 150 creeds. If they were infallible… you’d only need one.

As 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says “All Scripture is breathed out by God, and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17


Now, that brings me to my main topic today. The Elders have asked me to preach about a “teaching” that some of our people have been exposed to, and our Elders have become concerned about that teaching. And I agree with them… this teaching I’m going to address today concerns me too.

The topic is a teaching known as “Lectio Divina” which means the “Divine Reading.” Lectio Divina is a method of Bible Reading and Meditation created by Catholic monks in the 6th century & has been around forever.

(I put a meme I found online on the screen) This meme explains the steps of this practice: “1. Read – read the passage slowly and reverently. 2. Meditate – reflect on what you have read. 3. Pray – pray to God in response (to what you’ve read). 4. Contemplate – spend time resting in God’s presence.” Now, these steps don’t necessarily have to follow in that order. Practitioners of this technique will bounce around as they feel inspired to do so.

As I read over that list, it almost sounded Biblical. But the devil is in the details. I’ll let a Catholic priest introduce this concept ( Notice the first thing he says: “Lectio Divina is MORE VALUABLE from the spiritual point of view than just the exegesis (or the studying) of the text”

It’s not enough to read or study the Bible. You need to practice Lectio because (he says) “(Lectio Divina) communicates the context or the spirit in which these words are originally contained that may be reflecting nuances of spiritual experience.” What he’s saying is this: you NEED Lectio Divina, because it’s the corrective lens that will make you more spiritual.

As one video on YouTube declared: “… A 'Lectio Divina' Journaling Practice will Change Your Prayer Life” by Dr. Mary Healy

According to one source, “Proponents of lectio divina commonly describe the reading of Scripture (that takes pains to study words, grammar, and history) as cold, analytical, and lifeless. True spirituality, they claim, must come from something superior to these elements.” (

So what’s the key to this deep spiritual practice called “lectio Divina”? Well, for those who deeply involved in this procedure, the key is in the meditation and prayer. One proponent said “When you are doing Lectio, you will feel drawn by the Spirit to one element or another in no particular order. Go where the Spirit leads. When I don’t feel drawn to a particular (part of Lectio), I generally shift to meditation, which for me is Centering Prayer.… This helps me AVOID getting drawn into analysis and helps me EMPTY my mind to create space to rest in God’s loving presence, allowing my … mind to descend into my heart in surrender. When my thoughts intrude, which they will, I acknowledge them and come back to my breath — ruach – the Holy Spirit that resides in me. You may return to your sacred word, a mantra or icon.” (

Now, if you think that sounds bizarre - the reason you’d think that is because… it IS bizarre!!!

Part of the process, for many who take this Lectio practice seriously, is to focus on a short phrase or a single word/mantra (over and over again) and to avoid any thought as to what God may have meant in what you read. Why? Because if you looked for the MEANING of a Bible text, THAT would be analytical and cold and lifeless. You need something that is more “spiritual.”

The very idea that God would want you to be like the Bereans, who examined the Scriptures daily to confirm TRUTH, would never occur to these guys.

But now wait… doesn’t the Bible talk about meditation? Well… yes, but not like this. (Psalm 119:15) “I meditate on YOUR PRECEPTS and consider your ways”; (Psalm 119:27) “Let me understand THE TEACHING of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders”; (Psalm 119:48) “I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your DECREES”; (Psalm 119:97) “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long”;

Psalm 119:99 “I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.”

David didn’t focus on a single word, or a short phrase - David wanted to know everything about what God had taught him in the Law and so he spent time trying to UNDERSTAND what he’d read. And that made it so he had more insight than his teachers.

That’s what BIBLICAL meditation is all about. Reading, Studying… and Applying what you’ve read to your life. Biblical Meditation is NOT the process of looking for some FEELING of spirituality, because - while feelings are good and are important - they should NOT replace knowing and applying God’s Word.

I want to close by reading something from the Atlantic Monthly about dependence upon feelings. “When flying through clouds or fog, which prevent them from seeing the horizon pilots cannot feel the plane’s wings beginning to bank to the left or right. In fact in the early days of flight, pilots followed the myth of instinct: They believed they could feel the turn, and when their planes were accidently engulfed in fog or clouds, many banked unknowingly into a spiral dive that ended in a crash That’s why one pilot wrote, “Instinct is worse than useless in the clouds.” To fly through clouds, pilots must rely on instruments like the artificial horizon. The artificial horizon is a gyroscopically steadied line that stays level with the earth’s surface and unerringly indicates when the wings are banking left or right. The instrument called the artificial horizon revolutionized flying, But when it was first invented pilots resisted using it. The biggest problem flyers had was belief. They trusted their feelings more than their instruments. (William Langewiesche, “The Turn,” Atlantic Monthly, December 1993, 115–22.)

For us, our “Artificial Horizon” is Scripture. God’s Word keeps us ON THE LEVEL. By contrast, feelings lead to danger. You can trust the Bible, but you can’t always trust feelings. So stick with the Bible and the Bible only… and you’ll be safe.


Footnote: For another explanation of this practice consider: