Unbelieving Believers

Unbelieving Believers

2Timothy 3:1-17
„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. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra--which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 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. All 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.”

This chapter is one of Paul’s teachings, which in many cases is not enough to just read, but to teach from it. It is very strange to me that Christian creeds and teachings are based on the teachings of other people. For example, the teachings of Paul, or the teachings of any of the apostles. Maybe that's a bad thing? Everyone answers this for themselves. Whether James, Peter, Paul, John, or the other apostles, their teaching was uniform, unlike among Christian teachers today. But what could be the problem with today’s teachers?

The problem is that beyond the teachings of the apostles, they do not see the teaching of God. They stick in the speeches of the apostles, like they were saying something that only they could know. From the beginning, the apostles all taught about the word of God, not gathering the audience to themselves, but leading them to the word of God.

Today's churches only listen to the words of Jesus and the apostles, and the unity has become thousands of denominations and millions of visions because for them the Scripture runs from the Gospel of Matthew to the Book of Revelation! Therefore, they do not understand the words of Jesus and what the apostles taught. They ignore the fact that when the apostles lived, they did not preach the gospel of Matthew or John, they did not consider Paul’s letters to be Scripture, but continued to teach the churches of God from the Tanach, the so-called Old Testament scriptures. If the apostles knew that the Christian congregations of today regard their teachings as Scripture, how much would they be offended? Moreover, how much would Jesus be offended, whose mission was to proclaim the Father’s speech and ask people to keep his commandments?

But let’s turn to our opening chapter today, so let the teaching come from Paul’s teaching.

First, let’s start with the beginning. Paul mentions the last days, which is also interesting because we can read in several places in the New Testament writings that the apostles mentioned the last times, and even John says 'it is the last hour', and this is because we do not have to think in years, but in ages. For if we think about years, the apostles were wrong, for 2,000 years have passed since then, and if there had been 'last times', what times are there today? So we are talking about ages, so there is an era/age between the resurrection and the coming of Jesus, although much has happened since the time of the apostles, no new act has taken place, the era/age is still the same. To this day, tares and wheat grow together, and then each will have its place at harvest.

Paul then lists a bunch of ungodly acts committed by people who maintain the appearance of godliness but deny its power. What it means? Let us first take godliness. Maybe this would be about practicing in front of people? No, they believe in the grace of God much more. We can read this a little further:

2Timothy 3:12
„Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,”

You must live in God’s will, walk in God’s pleasure! Those who really do so will be truly persecuted as their actions stand out from the crowd. So there are many who only practice their appearance of godliness but deny its power! They don’t think it would be really important, so they don’t even act, they just keep the appearance of godliness. Familiar right? Congregational benches are crowded with such believers, as it is the widely accepted “gospel” to just believe in Jesus, and then everything will be fine, even though they don’t even know what it means to believe in Him. They say that actions are not necessary, thereby denying the power of how important good fruit is, how important it is to live our lives in God’s will. How important is the good fruits? Life and death depend on it!

Then we can also read that these people are always learning, but they can never get to know the whole truth. Read about this in James' letter:

James 1:22-25
„But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”

Believers are always learning something. Not necessarily good things or things based on the Bible, but learning something in the church or while reading the Bible. Let us not forget that these are those whom Paul also mentioned, who retain only the appearance of godliness, but deny its power. So we understand that those who live only in appearances, so they think they are believers but do not follow the actions of Jesus, cannot come to know the Word (John 17:17) because they do not see their eternal life in it (Word of God = Jesus ). Yet in the Word we have eternal life:

John 12:48-50
„The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment--what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me."”


James 1:21
„Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”

Many people contradict this because of a misunderstood verse, so let’s look at the verse that Jesus said:

John 5:39
„You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,”

They only search the scriptures, but do not act according to the Word, this is clearly stated elsewhere by Jesus:

Matthew 23:1-3
„Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you--but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice.

Then we can read an interesting thing from Paul concerning two persons whom we find nothing in Scripture, who are called Jannes and Jambres. Who are they, and why did he bring them up as an example to Timothy? If we read the last parts of the chapter carefully, Paul makes such a statement:

2Timothy 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.”

Paul knew that Timothy knew the person of Jannes and Jambres, since Timothy had known the scriptures since he was a child. Scripture used to be more voluminous, but unfortunately even in its present extent it is not read by the majority of believers. Going back to Jannes and Jambres, who are they? I think it is enough to mention about them that they were the wizards who “dueled” with Moses in Egypt before the Pharaoh, and then at the time of the exodus they also withdrew with the people of Israel, but that’s not the end of their story.

Going further in Paul’s letter, he finally sets himself up as an example to be followed by Timothy, as his life was spent keeping the commandments of God. Finally, he concludes that full scripture is apt to make us perfect, to prepare us for all good deeds. Because the scripture must not only be read, but also acted upon. Paul, when he wrote this to Timothy, clearly meant the Tanach, along with those sacred writings that we either don’t hear about at all today, or that we hear about, but it is rejected by believers without thinking.

In conclusion, the faith of the majority of believers today rests not on the word of God, but on teachings taught from the apostles. It would even be good if they were raised in the teachings of the apostles, but unfortunately their teachings are taught in their own sense and have become unrecognizable.

Antal Farkas
(November 6, 2020)

Tagged: Tanach, apocrypha, grace, christian life, good deeds

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