Text: 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5
3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Two men had an argument. To settle the matter, they went to a judge for arbitration. The plaintiff made his case. He was very eloquent and persuasive in his reasoning. When he finished, the judge nodded in approval and said, "That's right, that's right."
On hearing this, the defendant jumped up and said, "Wait a second, judge, you haven't even heard my side of the case yet." So the judge told the defendant to state his case. And he, too, was very persuasive and eloquent. When he finished, the judge said, "That's right, that's right."
When the clerk of court heard this, he jumped up and said, "Judge, they both can't be right." The judge looked at the clerk of court and said, "That's right, that's right."
Roger von Oech, Ph.D., A Whack on the Side of the Head, Warner Books, 1983, p. 23.
Truth is Truth! "That's right, that's right."
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 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.
It is interesting here how the apostle Paul writes Timothy – his son in the faith - to urge him to continue to believe the scriptures (the OT teaching) that he learned from his youth through his mother (Eunice) and grandmother (Lois) and from St. Paul himself.
How familiar that sounds especially for you mothers and grandmothers that I hear often urging their own children and grandchildren to continue in the truth of the faith and how you also share your sadness and grief when they seemingly fall away from that faith, turn a deaf ear to it, or act contrary to it.
There are many people in fact that believe and maintain that they are Christians - though they rarely if ever come to church or read the Bible - or even know much of what is believed, taught and confessed by Christians. We also see many children of Christians living together out of wedlock, not seeing or even understanding the sin they are committing. They assume that Love is Love or Sex is Love as it is presented by our civil society, not recognizing that there are desires and ways of life that are in conflict and opposed to the truth of God’s word.
As was presented in our Catechism Connection today and as God’s word tells us in the 6th Commandment about committing adultery – or leading a sexually pure and decent life – covering God’s definition of marriage with husband and wife … loving and honoring each other.
In a recent poll, light is shed on the paradox of religiosity vs. decreased morality, or God’s truth vs. our actions and how we live.
According to sociologist Robert Bellah, 81% of the American people say they agree that "an individual should arrive at his or her own religious belief independent of any church or synagogue." (That truth is determined apart from God’s word and teaching in our case.)
This interesting thought is key to the paradox that that those who claim to be Christians are arriving at faith on their own terms -- terms that make no demands … on behavior … or Christian values.
A woman named Sheila, interviewed for Bellah's poll, embodies this attitude. She says, "I believe in God. I can't remember the last time I went to church though, but my faith has carried me a long way. It's 'Sheila-ism.' Just my own little voice."
Charles Colson, Against the Night, p. 98.
The apostle Paul tells Timothy and us:
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Truth - when it is God’s word - is Truth!
At times life and society tell us what truth is to be believed – whether marriage is between a man and a woman or whether we can celebrate this gift from God in any way we choose. Whether even,
27… God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply Gen. 1:27-28a
Today even gender is no longer a physical determination of male and female but a psychological determination as many see fit - and society in its many forms - in many ways has bought into that truth. How someone sees themselves, or feels about themselves, becomes the determining truth or reality.
An interesting video that I saw on line has a white man of about 30 years of age and around 5’-8” in height on a college campus asking students what they would say if he told them that he is 6’-4” tall.
Most smile a bit and say: “Well who am I to disagree with your truth. If you see yourself as 6’-4” than I guess you are 6’-4”."
When he pushed it further and asked how they might react to him being 6’-4” and Chinese they smiled and said: “If that is your reality then who am I to argue against you?”
Finally, when he claimed to be a 6”-4” Chine woman, one student said: “Oh come on!”
You see, if you don’t believe and trust God’s word: Then truth is determined by the reality of the individual. If we believe that the child in the womb is just a bunch of cells then removing it is no different than removing a tumor that is benign or cancerous.
If you don’t believe and trust God’s word: Then there are many paths to the Father as some claim, and Jesus is not the savior and only way that he claimed to be.
If you don’t believe and trust God’s word: Then you might be a pretty good person from your perspective and not dead in trespass and sin as Paul writes the truth of our condition in Ephesians 2.
If you don’t believe and trust God’s word: Then everlasting life is given to all apart from faith in Christ and the death of Jesus Christ was unnecessary and accomplished nothing.
If you don’t believe and trust God’s word: Then the rich man from our lesson a few weeks ago was not in torment in hell and he could have easily gone from death to life just by changing his reality.
If you don’t believe and trust God’s word: Then Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead and you are dead in trespass and sin.
But truth is truth … when it is God’s word …
That is what Paul keeps telling young Pastor Timothy: Preach the Word.
4 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
As Christians we have the truth and we know this by God’s gift of faith alone.
Jesus prays for his disciples in his high priestly prayer of John 17 when he prays to the Father:
14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, [dear friends we’re here for the duration] but that you keep them from the evil one [from sin, death and the power of the devil]. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them [or keep them holy and separate from the world] in the truth; your word is truth.
We are kept in the truth, as we gather together to hear the truth of God’s word, as we receive the gift of forgiveness of sins in our Lord’s word and sacraments and then we go forth joyfully with that same word of comfort and peace to seek those who remain dead in trespass and sin.
For St. Timothy and for you and me all the road remains the same as Paul reminds him:
3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths [or lies of the evil one as the time now shows]. 5 As for you, as it was for Timothy, always be sober-minded, [clear headed and knowing that the truth is truth] endure suffering, [that is the reality for all who believe] do the work of an evangelist, [preach the word and comfort those in need the truth you have been comforted with] fulfill your ministry.
We have been blessed by faith with God truth may you all by that same faith be steadfast in receiving God word as truth for and always.
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.