If you’d like to join us in our journey reading all the way through the Bible this year, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be glad to email back a copy of the reading plan we are using.
For a period of time when I was younger, I lived and worked in a funeral home. My labors were in exchange for rent. And one of my duties was to stand “calling hours” – to greet and assist people as they came to pay their respects to the one who died and sympathize with their family. One thing which was evident was the vast difference in the atmosphere of those gatherings when the deceased had known Christ and when that was not so.
Both groups grieved. But the Christian groups grieved with genuine hope. There was loss, but the sure knowledge of the resurrection and reunion around the throne of Jesus. Others ranged from a nebulous religious optimism, to nothing but loss. Why such a disparity? The difference is between genuine Biblical faith, and what often passes for it.
I’m Reid Ferguson, and we’ll talk a bit more about that today on Through the Word in 2020.
Of our 3 reading sections today – Nehemiah 5–7; Luke 9:57–10:12; 1 Timothy 1:3–20 – I’d like to consider the last one.
As Paul writes to Timothy who is ministering in Ephesus, he urges him to challenge and charge the folks in the Church there not to teach any other doctrines than what they had received when Paul had been with them, and to be sure not to give any weight to myths or genealogies. His concern is this: Faith, genuine saving and sustaining faith cannot be fostered by: untruth, myths or genealogies.
In short, he’s telling us what real faith does require: 1. It must be rooted in truth, God-revealed Biblical truth. Understanding what the Bible really teaches. 2nd, it must be based on historical, Biblical fact. The reality of the incarnation, and Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. And 3rd, it is dependent upon a personal connection with God through Jesus, by the Holy Spirit.
You see, un-Biblical doctrines or teachings, myths and putting your trust in being related to someone who supposedly has a connection to God (that’s the idea in genealogies) can only promote mere speculation. They make salvation an issue of guesswork. A “hope so” proposition. Speculation is not, and must not be confused with genuine faith.
Faith always appeals to the sound and clear teaching of Scripture. Not feelings. Not opinions. Not imagination. It is not the stuff of “I think”, “I feel” or “I heard.” It is the “I know” because this is what God has revealed in His Word.
Once, while standing calling hours, a gal told me she was confident in the deceased’s state because he had several family members who were priests, and others who were nuns. She then purchased a prayer card to enroll him in a society which promised to add his name to their daily prayers to lessen his time in Purgatory. Her confidence (which she expressed for herself as well) was based upon doctrines not taught in the Bible, a genealogical connection and a myth. A present day demonstration of the very thing Paul was writing about to Timothy.
So what is your hope and faith rooted in today? The Apostle John wrote to a group of disciples: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” That my friend is faith. Knowing, based on God’s Word.
And if you’re trusting Christ as your sin-bearer, as having taken God’s just wrath due to you on the Cross of Calvary, that His righteousness might be accounted to you – you can KNOW you have eternal life too.
As Jesus prayed in John 17: Father…you have given me authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given me. “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
God willing, we’ll be back tomorrow.