Have you ever read a Bible passage and wondered to whom it was referring? There are certain verses and even entire chapters that seem vague at first referring to individuals as ‘they,’ not putting a face to the subject, but broad brushing it to the point that one starts to wonder if perhaps the wording couldn’t have been a bit more deliberate.
The only thing more contentious than the word ‘they’ within certain Christian circles seems to be the word ‘if,’ coincidentally also found in the Bible at various times.
The big bone of contention regarding the first of these words is who the Word was referring to, whether the godless, the saved, the people of that time or people of a future time. Depending on who you ask you’ll get a different answer, and if you press them on it, or try to point out the inconsistency of their argument, well, then you’re just Ichabod, and they can no longer have fellowship with you.
The reason for the back and forth regarding the second word is obvious, and although it is there for all the world to see, some people pretend as though it isn’t. If denotes conditionality, and for some people, being required to repent, deny the flesh, or turn from their wicked ways is a nonstarter.
I woke up early this morning. Early even for me. I was up by 2 am, and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I decided to use my time wisely, and do a little reading. As I slowly made my way through Paul’s second letter to Timothy, I got stuck on one verse in particular, and couldn’t see myself past it without giving it some serious thought.
2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.”
I had to think about why this verse hit me so hard this particular morning. I must have read it a few hundred times throughout my lifetime, even preached it a few dozen times, but why have this impact now?
Then I remembered an article I read not long ago about a pastor in Oklahoma whose congregation began walking out while he was giving a sermon and mentioned homosexuality, calling it a sin.
It’s no accident or coincidence that Paul identified men’s lusts as being the cause of their not being able to endure sound doctrine. It is not happenstance that Paul spoke of a time that would come, when they, meaning those within the household of faith, those calling themselves believers, and children of God, would no longer endure sound doctrine.
Rather than submit to Christ, they would follow after their lusts, and find teachers to suit their unregenerate nature.
In understanding that we are living the times Paul foresaw, we must likewise understand that judgment is not afar off.
I know we tend to point at the shepherds who feed poison to their flock, coddling their sin, justifying their indifference, and validating their abominations, but just so we’re clear, the sheep aren’t all doe-eyed innocents looking for truth and holiness either.
A pastor did what a pastor is supposed to do: he preached the gospel! As a direct result of preaching the gospel, the sheep walked out and sought another shepherd who would not preach the gospel to them.
And somehow I’m supposed to believe that today’s church is ready to take on the darkness. Somehow I’m supposed to believe that today’s church is fully equipped, in battle array, ready to make war against the enemy.
The great falling away is upon us, and there is no great revival in sight.