2 Timothy 3:1-7 (ESV) But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
Here we find that St. Paul describes people who have lived in every era of history, right up to this day. In verse 4, he writes about those who prefer turning self-indulgence and entertainment into idols. These are people who look holy, but inwardly are unbelievers (verse 5).
Yet, it's something he specifically writes in verses 6-7 that apply to this post today. Religious quackery was widely received by women in the Roman Empire during this time (just as it still is today), because while the husband was away, religious charlatans would visit homes and try to persuade the women to accept their false teachings.
This is what always happens when truth becomes a matter of human opinion rather than divine revelation. People prefer their own version of the truth.
God's Word, by contrast, speaks the eternal truth simply and plainly.
That's what today's post is all about.
Recently, Pastor Chris Rosebrough of Fighting For The Faith wrote a piece encouraging his fellow Pastors to be faithful to their calling by doing a much better job of teaching their parishioners how to be more discerning while also doing a better job of protecting the women from their congregation in the process.
Mr. Rosebrough shared a truly heartbreaking letter he received that could be written about any church. It demands that we pay attention and exhorts Pastors to stop turning a blind eye to this sort of thing. Here's an excerpt...
Earlier this morning as I penned, Stop Snuggling The Wolves, my heart was heavy for women who are oh-so easily deceived. I had just received a letter from a woman whose seemingly solid pastor has a big heart and a large blind spot when it comes to naming names and helping his sheep discern. The fruit of these "spiritual cataracts" is a women's ministry rife with yeast, and ladies who delight at being tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching that comes in pretty pink packages. I know full well that women become very angry when you challenge their favorite teachers and conferences, and will accuse you of all sorts of vile motives. Those who believe the branding of these "real, raw, transparent sincere" celebrities don't mind a little apostasy as long as it's fun. Sadly, our women are being led off by every conceivable feel-good movement out there; the newer the better. They don’t check the speakers to see if they’re solid, but they do check to see if these speakers can bring in the numbers. Thus, far too many women in our churches resemble the women described in 2 Timothy 3:1-7.
As the woman who wrote that letter properly observed , preaching the truth faithfully from the pulpit isn't enough. She emphasizes this hard-hitting reality with the following...
Pastors, I have a plea for you. Please, love your women enough to warn them against false teachers. It isn’t enough to simply teach the good stuff; if they don’t know what is out there that is not good and why it isn’t good? They will continue to fall for it. And, when your women’s ministry decides to welcome in a conference involving Beth Moore or Joyce Meyer, know that their lack of discernment is a reflection on you. This is a shepherding issue, pastor. Repent. And if you love your women, rebuke them, and apologize to them for not warning them. Pastors, make no mistake: When your women are “always learning” but never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth, you will be held accountable before God one day for that. James 3:1 tells us that “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” Your role as a pastor is not just to teach sound doctrine, but to deliberately teach your people to be discerning, and to point out false doctrine so that your sheep aren’t led astray. Keep your flock close. Protect them. Be willing to speak out against false teaching, and be willing to call the false teachers by name. Don’t wash your hands of it and shrug and assume they’ll “chew the meat and spit out the bones” especially when you have never prepared them for coming into contact with the bones. They’ll simply choke, because, without rebuking those who contradict sound doctrine, you haven’t taught your sheep how to chew.
Yes, I know that there must be false Christians and heretics, in order that the true Christians may be proved (Matthew 13:24-30), but that does not mean that we are excused from learning how to be more discerning let alone that Pastors are excused from protecting the sheep entrusted to his care.
It reminds me of a beautiful exposition of Jesus' Parable of the Tares Among The Wheat delivered by Pastor Joseph Abrahamson...
From this it does not follow that we should with open eyes permit the tares to be sown, when we could easily prevent it. The power to discipline or excommunicate the sinner has not been taken from the Church. For the Lord speaks in this passage of such an out-rooting, which is done by the sword. We must deal here with God’s word, for thus it goes in these matters, that he who errs today, may come first tomorrow. If Matthew, whilst he was yet a publican, and Paul, whilst he was in the act of persecuting the Christians, had been killed, then the wheat which grew after they were converted, would also have been rooted out. Do thou, minister or preacher, faithfully attend to the duties of thine office; suffer not thy pure faith, profession and Christian life to be taken from thee, or be hindered; if there is no other remedy, then openly excommunicate such people, heretics and false Christians, that every one may know them to be dangerous tares and avoid them (Titus 3:10) check and prohibit them, that they do not intrude themselves and presume to preach.
Pastors, please teach us all how to be much more discerning.
Pastors, please protect the women in your congregation.
Pastors, if you must, exercise the authority granted to you by God as you fulfill your calling.
In a Lutheran layman's terms, please remember that "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, hat the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Executive Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 2 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!