"Is The Time Now?"
"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." Second Timothy 4:3 (NIV)
This passage speaks of a time when people have greatly departed from a hunger for the truth of God's Word. It speaks of a time in which Bible understanding is either ignored or greatly diluted to meaningless personal interpretations. Are we now seeing evidence of living in that time? Are we beginning to sense that many people have very little care or concern for the Holy Scriptures? By many indicators we have indeed entered a time of wholesale disregard for God. This passage does not indicate that we might escape such a time but rather it quite emphatically states such a time is coming. Has it now arrived?
This passage lends itself to a phrase by phrase analysis. Please consider the following truths found in this one verse.
#1. Doctrine may be sound or unsound. We must come to realize that a 3- piece suit and a nice Bible cover do not necessarily reflect a person's heart! Remember, we have been warned of wolves coming to us in sheep's clothing. Just because someone stands up and rants and raves that something is the truth does not make it the truth. We simply must, as did the Bereans (see Acts 17:11), search the scriptures to see if the preaching we hear is from God.
#2. God's Word does not always fall in line with our own desires. Paul is speaking of people who go astray "to suit their own desires." We are immature if we think we, as Christians, will always be happy and joyous with every message from God. Rather, we must admit that sometimes our ego and feelings get hurt. We must acknowledge that we too need correction from God and that as we study His Word our desires may have to change.
#3. People like to follow. Yes, we no doubt have more followers than leaders and at first glance that is good. However, in God's world we must all in some ways take on a leadership role. Parents must take responsibility for teaching their own children. Families must not rely only on the Pastor for their spiritual growth. The "Church" is wonderful and blessed but it does not take the place of personal study and devotion. It is easier to follow than to lead but that is not necessarily the path God wants for you in your life.
#4. Large numbers does not prove truth. You see, just because a certain body of believers or a denomination has a great following or a great number of teachers does not guarantee the truth rests with them. Here Paul clearly states that these mislead people will gather around themselves great numbers to say just what they want to hear. You can gather a large number of leaders and followers for any cause under the sun and that is no promise of truth.
#5. People have a tendency to hear what they want to hear. This is part of the human condition. Adam and Eve first demonstrated it in their dealings with the serpent and it persists to this day. We sometimes ask people what they think about a certain thing because we know they will say what we want to hear. The Bible does not always speak of what we want to hear but it does always speak the truth.
In this writing Paul is speaking of a future day. Has that day arrived? Have we as a people departed from pure devotion to God Almighty and rather began to hear what our itching ears want to hear? You have to sort out the answer. But take comfort in knowing that God's opinion has been in writing for centuries and remains unchanged! Learn to relish God's truth as it never changes and never needs updating. When a Bible teacher claims some great and new revelation - be careful. Study the Word of God and compare it to what is being said before you decide to shout amen. May God continue to bless your study of His Word.
By Gary Stone
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