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Confronting Apostasy

(2 Timothy 4:1-8)

Lesson 4 -- third quarter 1997
June 22, 1997

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1997, Christian Light Publications

Preach the Word. Me?!
Strive lawfully.

"You can't expect me to preach the Word! For sure you better not depend on me to be instant, quick on the draw. And the "in season, out of season" bit . . . forget it! Oh, I know the Bible commands this, but I think I'm one exception to the preaching clause."

Easy now. When the Bible commands something to God's people, it leaves no exception! Those who entertain such thoughts in one area will eventually entertain them in others areas. This perspective leads people on until they ultimately must be branded with terms such as heretic, apostate and cast away. Please, beware of so-called "exception clauses"!

Instead of deciding that your calling isn't to "preach the Word," that your temperament isn't to "be instant," and that your awareness and alertness aren't geared for the "in season, out of season" part, ask yourself how you can obey the Lord. Here are two pointers:

Learn the Word. You can't expect to preach the Word, much less be quick in its use at any time, if you don't know it. Familiarize yourself with the Bible. Memorize it. Meditate on it. Discover its applications for you, then live the Word. In addition to reading the Bible, read about it--study books, devotionals, biographies and so forth. Listen carefully as the Scripture is taught.

Keep good company. Have you ever noticed how some people just seem to brim and overflow with life applications of Scripture? And they do so in the most natural and unforced manner! It seems like so many things and circumstances remind them of Bible verses or concepts. The Lord tells us that "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise" (Proverbs 13:20). I understand this to mean that as I have companions who are good preachers of the Word, I will become a better preacher of the Word.

Paul wrote, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness" (vs. 7,8). In last Sunday's lesson we read something else he penned: "And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully" (2 Timothy 2:5). We all want to complete our course successfully, we all want to receive the crown. Therefore, we must strive lawfully.

Those who strive lawfully do not attack fellow athletes. She wanted to be the champion national athlete in her sport, so she participated in a conspiracy to wound her strongest competitor. Christians sometimes try to improve their standing by demeaning, undercutting and attacking one another.

Those who strive lawfully do not use steroids. He won an Olympic gold medal, only to lose it after testing positive. How many hypocrites expect to bluff their way all the way beyond heaven's entrance?

Those who strive lawfully do not bribe the judges. They thought their debate team just might lose to the competition; they thought a nice gift to the referees just might tip the scales in their favor. Many unbelievers and some Christians expect their moral strength and character to get them "in," even if it's only by the "skin of their teeth."

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