When I was listening to Phil Johnson’s sermon “Marching Orders” earlier, I found myself convicted of something.
I have to confess – the recent controversy swirling around Dr. White and Dr. Caner has caught me up in something I must repent of. It’s something very simple, but not often thought of by those who engage in contention for the faith.
For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus [and] with [it] eternal glory. It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. Remind [them] of these things, and solemnly charge [them] in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless [and leads] to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. But avoid worldly [and] empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, [men] who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these [things], he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love [and] peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses [and escape] from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2 Tim 2:10-26, NASB)
So, to explain my repentance, I figure this is a good time to explain why I should, as it will perhaps be helpful to others. First, let’s address the overview of the chapter. Paul is encouraging and instructing his son in the faith, Timothy, in the office of elder/overseer. In this chapter, he gives practical instruction concerning what an elder must do. Now, for full disclosure purposes, I am not an elder. However, I am a teacher, and as such, am held to a higher standard.
In verse 10, Paul gives his own philosophy of ministry – also explicated in Philippians 2 – of service and suffering for the sake of the elect. He endures, because he will reign with Christ – to deny Him is to have Christ deny us. Even if we are faithless – He still remains faithful – for He cannot deny Himself! He charges Timothy to remind his flock of these things, and to remind them not to quarrel over trifling matters. This is useless, and leads to the ruin of the hearers. On the contrary – be diligent – be a workman who is not ashamed. Rightly handle the Word of Truth. Avoid worldly, empty chatter – it spreads like gangrene! However, note that Paul is not afraid to name names, as he does elsewhere, of people who stray from the truth. The firm foundation, however, is of God – and stands still. God is who prepares the appropriate vessels for the appropriate work.
Flee from youthful lusts – but pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace – with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart. Notice here – peace is always with those of God. If you have peace with the world, you’re doing something wrong. But on we go!
Refuse foolish and ignorant speculations – they produce quarrels. The Lord’s bondservant, however, is NOT quarrelsome – not given to quarreling, for the sake of quarreling. But, and this is where we get to where my problem lies:
He must be: kind to all – am I kind to all? No, I’m not – and I repent of that, and ask forgiveness.
able to teach – I pray that I at least fulfill this duty faithfully.
patient when wronged – the ESV renders this as “patiently enduring evil”. Now, what is interesting about this is that I definitely am a violator of this. I am not only impatient with evil, but I rebel at enduring it – for the sake of God, the elect, or anyone else. It means “patient of ills and wrongs, forbearing” – I have been failing miserably at forbearance in this regard. It doesn’t matter what the wrong is – or whether it is directed at another. This ties in with the next consideration.
…with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses [and escape] from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
I am fond of quoting Bahnsen, and Schaeffer – their “humble boldness” and “truth in love” are dear to my heart. I must confess, however, that I am often ungentle in my correction. I nuke when I should use a scalpel, and I use a club when I should be using a careful razor’s edge to shave away the layers of falsity.
I have kept this name to remind myself to do just that – but I’ve failed in my task, and I ask your forgiveness for this fault. Especially, I ask the forgiveness of Mr. Lumpkins. While I do not minimize the depth of his error in the libel in which he has lately engaged, I’m very sorry for not patiently enduring it, and correcting gently. It doesn’t matter how deep the wound that is made is – or how loyal I strive to be to a friend and a dear brother. I am still called to – and held to – the standard of Scripture in dealing with error – and I haven’t met it. I also ask the forgiveness of anyone else whom I’ve lately been ungentle with – or have talked about impatiently out of their hearing. It is not the standard to which I’ve been called.
It’s something I need to work on, and once again, I repent of it.