2021 – The Others
Paul’s Last Letter 4
The letter of 2 Timothy is not one of Paul’s most organized letters. Last year, as we studied Romans, we dove into the tightly organized, logical progression, intertwined arguments of that letter. Romans is a masterpiece of closely written theology. But 2 Timothy, on the other hand, is intensely personal. It is like a conversation… not as well organized. Several places in the letter Paul interrupts his flow of argument to mention personal details. Some of the theology Paul wants to remind Timothy is scattered in different spots throughout the letter.
Because of this, today, I am gathering up, from different places in the letter, Paul’s instructions about truth; about Scripture; about the faith of the Gospel. Paul wants Timothy to incorporate the truths of Scripture into who he is. Paul wants Timothy to use the sacred writings to advance the Gospel. Paul wants Timothy to preach the Word and be the Word!
I believe how we approach the Bible is important. The way we process Scripture is essential. How we incorporate the authority of God’s Word into our lives makes all the difference.
--There are no letters in the Bible addressed to the Los Alamos Church of Christ.
--There are no portions of the Bible written directly to the problems of the 21stcentury.
--Nothing in the New Testament has been written in the last 20 centuries.
--Nothing is written in English.
We need to take the sacred writings and know what to believe and how to live.
This morning we are doing hermeneutics. That is the technical word for the methods of applying the ancient writings of the Bible to our lives today… on Sunday… February 28th… 2021… here at the ends of the earth… Los Alamos… New Mexico... in the good ol’ US of A. Let’s do some… hermeneutics! (I need a woo-who)
Let’s begin by gathering up…
2 Timothy 3:15…and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
The term “sacred” writings is literally “temple” writings. When Timothy was a kid learning the Scriptures… it was scrolls. In the Temple or more likely synagogue there would be lots of scrolls… each with parts of what we call the Old Testament. Paul is encouraging Timothy to use the sacred writings to be wise.
Remember the time Jesus was in the synagogue.
Luke 4:16-17 Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written…
The words of Isaiah were on a separate scroll from the scroll of Daniel or the writings of Moses. There were separate scrolls of “sacred writings”.
That is the first hermeneutic point I want to make…
Hermeneutic point #1… There are Sacred Writing”s”.
It is healthier for us to understand Scripture as a collection of sacred writings rather than a book; the Bible. The word Bible means library. The word “Bible” is not used in the Bible. The Bible is a collection of writings which span 1500 years. Written by dozens of different people, across several cultures. It is healthier for us to think of a library of sacred writings. The Bible is the library of sacred writings!
Consequently, we need to be careful with our words…
--The Bible says… It would be more accurate to say Jesus said… Moses said… It is written in the scroll of Isaiah…
--Biblical principles… I use this term. But it would be cleaner to say… Jesus wants us to love our neighbor as yourself. Or John’s doctrine of… God is Love…
--The Bible teaches… It is clearer to say The Law of Moses teaches the importance of caring for the widows and the orphans. Or, Paul, in the letter to the Romans teaches we should bring glory to God by sharing the Gospel.
We wouldn’t say… The Los Alamos Public Library teaches…
Hermeneutic point #1… Bible is the collection of scared writings. This understanding keeps us from making many mistakes in our hermeneutics.
In 2 Timothy it is taught… The sacred writings are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Let’s keep gathering verses…
2 Timothy 3:16-17All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
Hermeneutic point #2… Scriptures Are Breathed Out by God.
We believe the Scriptures are in-spired or out-spired. The Greek word theopneustos… God pneumonia-ed. God breathed the scriptures. This is fun to think about. The sacred writings are the breath of God. But Paul does not explain… what this means or the process by which it happens or how God breathed out Scripture.
I think we want to remember Hermeneutic point #1… Collection of sacred writing”s”… God breathed out Scripture in different ways to different writers…
--On Mount Sinai in the presence of Moses, the finger of God wrote on the stone tablets.
--Think David writing a Psalm… He is writing to God his feelings, not God’s message to him. A very different breathing process.
--Think John on the Isle of Patmos… John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, seeing a revelation!
--Think Jeremiah… the word of the LORD came to me… He repeats the words God gave him.
--Think the differences of Paul’s writings… Ephesians is written to all the churches but 2 Timothy is a personal letter.
Hermeneutic point #2… God breathed out Scripture… in different ways.
All Scripture is breathed out by God so that we can preach the Gospel and be the Gospel. God breathed life and meaning and truth out into all his sacred writings!
This is fun… keep gathering verses from 2 Timothy which teach us about Scripture.
2 Timothy 3:10,14 You, however, have followed my teaching… But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it.
Both of our previous points spoke of the collection of writings we call the Old Testament. But within the collection of writings of the New Testament, the writers spoke with the authority of Jesus.
Hermeneutic point #3… The writers of the New Testament wrote with Jesus-authority.
--My faith is based upon the resurrection of Jesus. It happened.
--The resurrection of Jesus affirmed his death… Jesus died to cover the sins of the world.
--This resurrection also confirmed all his teachings. The Sermon on the Mount is truth because Jesus proved his words with the resurrection.
--Jesus, then, through the Spirit, commissioned his apostles with truth. His followers listened to his words. Believed his words. Taught his words. Jesus followers taught/wrote truth.
--The collection of the writings of the New Testament are eye-witnesses or closely associated with the eye-witnesses who wrote the truth.
--Thus, Paul can tell Timothy… follow my teaching! Paul wrote with Jesus-authority.
Listen to how the beginning of these New Testament writings are worded…
Galatians 1:1 Paul, an apostle- not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead!
1 John 1:1-2 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life- the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it!
Luke 1:1-2 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us…
Matthew 13:52 "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old."
1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
Hermeneutic point #3… We put our faith in the sacred writings of the collection we call the New Testament based upon the authority of the resurrected Jesus!
Therefore, we continue in the faith!
Let’s gather some more…
2 Timothy 2:15 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.
Hermeneutic point #4… We must rightly handle the Word of Truth.
New Testament writings were incarnate into the real-life of the church. Like God becoming man in real life, the process of writing Scripture was involved in the real-life situations of the early church. God did not dictate His word separately from the context of its application in the early church.
There were real-life situations/problems in the church. The writers of the New Testament addressed those real situations with letters of specific solutions.
Matthew and Hebrews were written to address Jewish Christians struggling with their faith in Christ. The message… Jesus is King. The message… Jesus is High Priest. The message… Jesus is the Messiah! Be Faithful. Crisis… Solution!
In the Gospel of Mark and 2 Timothy the crisis is Christians being persecuted by Nero. The solution… Look at Jesus… Look at Paul… Suffering is the power of the Gospel!
In Luke/Acts the crisis… Christianity is on trial as a seditious religion. The solution… no Christianity is compassionate to all!
John is written to convince a Greek world that Jesus is in fact God amongst us! These things I have written that you may believe!
In Paul’s letters there are a variety of different problems in his churches… Crisis… how to Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians get along… solution… All are one in Christ!
On we could go through the rest of the New Testament… Crisis… Solution.
To rightly handle the word of truth we need to dig into the problems. Then, understand the solutions… then… then… then… we apply the principles we find from their solutions to our own problems!
The application of the Scriptures to our lives is found in…
--Understanding the original meaning: crisis-solution in its historical context.
--Deriving timeless, cultureless, principles from this understanding.
--Applying these principles to our time and culture.
Hermeneutic point #4… We must rightly handle the Word of Truth by understanding what is really going on in each writing.
We are to rightly handle the word of truth!
Let’s gather up another…
NTW 2 Timothy 1:13 Keep a firm hold on the pattern of healthy teaching which you heard from me, in the faith and love which are in King Jesus.
Hermeneutic point #5… We Use the Patterns of Healthy Teaching.
One of the challenges of doing hermeneutics well is… discerning between what are patterns that we should repeat and what are simply incidental facts. Or to say it a different way, what commands in the scriptures are specific to the situation and which commands are general principles which we, too, should follow. There are specific commands and general principles.
Sometimes it is easy to determine.
--Paul commanded Timothy to come before winter and bring Mark and the parchments. Although this is given as a command, we would understand this is specific to the situation.
--Jesus telling the lawyer to… Love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. We easily understand this is a universal pattern we all should aspire to.
--But, Paul’s instructions in 1 Timothy… are more difficult.
1 Timothy 2:9-12 Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness- with good works. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.
Do we pick and choose from these verses? Gold… specific, modest… universal, braided hair… specific, Quiet… not going to happen… It requires a deeper digging.
Hermeneutic point #5… We must use patterns healthily. Some beliefs, some practices are unhealth. They led to weak churches. They lead to marginalization of people groups. We must be careful in our use of the patterns in the New Testament to make sure we teach and behave in healthy ways.
We follow the pattern of healthy teaching in the faith and love which are in King Jesus.
Gather up one more verse as a conclusion to this sermon…
NTW 2 Timothy 1:14 You have had something very important entrusted to you; make sure you look after it, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
We have just scratched the surface on how we should do hermeneutics well. It is worthy of an extensive study. But, this morning, we have discovered…
--We have been entrusted with the sacred writings of the Word of God. God trusts us with his Word! We are to look after them; look into them!
--We discern healthy patterns within them. We gather timeless truths!
--Rightly handle them in their context. We understand each letter in history.
--Treat Scripture as God breathed.
--Follow the truth in the sacred writings.
--We make wise use of the writings for our salvation by faith in Christ Jesus!
Here is the Ninth Principle of interrelating with the Others… The Gospel we preach; The Gospel we live; for the Others… is the Word of God.
February 28, 2021
Los Alamos Church of Christ
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