by Pastor Ayo Sparks
THE SIGNS OF THE END TIME (FOCUS ON THE CHURCH)
When we talk about the end time, our attentions are quickly drawn to the nefarious happenings in the world around us as sings of the end time. While we need to be conversant with our environments, we should not be too distracted by the activities around us to forget or neglect the fact that as the end draws closer, there are some negative prophecies to be fulfilled in the church. It is important to have our attentions continually drawn to this so that we don’t surreptitiously start walking in the path to having either of those prophecies fulfilled through and against us.
1Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
The latter times speaks of the era before the end of the ages, popularly referred to as “the end time” which began since the days of the apostles and now running close to 2000 years. Paul is hinting Timothy on what the Spirit is saying which will be the aftermath or the resultant effect of doctrinal anomalies such that was besieging the Ephesian Church. That is believed to make Timothy see the more reason to remain in Ephesus and face the task with all readiness and doggedness, as it is likewise expected of us today!
The saints at Ephesus were prone to having the focus of their faith shifted away from Jesus to something else, not consciously knowing when they will start believing in lies as they are being constantly exposed to other gospels which is not of Christ.
Today, we have people who we can say were sound in the knowledge of the cross now fast becoming preachers of heresies, promoting apostasy. Unfortunately, many others who are not yet rooted in the knowledge of the truth are being carried away by their false teachings.
Right from chapter 1 of this first letter to Timothy, Paul gave a succinct doctrinal template for the preaching of the word of truth and it serves as the touchstone for detecting false teachings:
1Timothy 1: And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
Meaning, the word of truth is centered on Jesus coming into the world to save sinners. And, it is by His grace which is exceeding abundant, activated by faith in Christ Jesus that we receive salvation.
1Timothy 2: For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
That is, God desires for all to be saved but that will be by coming to the knowledge and the acknowledgement or acceptance of the truth about Jesus who gave Himself as ransom for all and that He’s the only mediator between God and men.
1Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
The message of the church is all about faith in Jesus Who is God Himself, took on flesh to be sacrificed for our sins and ascended back to heaven having finished the work of our eternal salvation. That the Spirit attested to this at Jordan (as He does still in us and through us today) and even the holy Angels are witnesses to this truth makes our message and Faith most valid.
1Timothy 4: This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe.
These things command and teach.
Again in this chapter, Paul makes a brief reference to what the gospel message is all about: the emphasis is on the fact that, Jesus is the Saviour of/for all the world but in reality, He’s the Saviour of/to them that believe. In other words, Jesus (who came, died, resurrected and ascended) is the Saviour of all but only those that believe in Him are/will be saved.
Any kind of teaching that is contrary or different from the above will stealthily sift you away from the faith in Christ to either self or any other, the more you give attention to it.
Paul sensing in the spirit what the spread of false teachings would result into, wrote Timothy to be on guard. He gave possible kinds of teachings that would pervade the pulpits to pervert the church (or as it was already the case at Ephesus), as the Spirit impressed on him.
1Timothy 4: Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: 5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.
But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
Paul could clearly see through the Spirit that there’ll be doctrinal deviation from the message of salvation by faith in the finished work of Christ alone unto some irrelevant matters to be inspired and influenced by seducing spirit, birthing the doctrines of demons.
Any message that promotes what you have to do or have to deal with or avoid before you can be accepted by God is a deviation from the truth. Same with any teaching that presents you with the list of what to do to qualify for God’s blessings or to move God to work for you.
Paul charges Timothy to be on guard and constantly teach and remind the brethren of the truth that debunks the teachings of the invaders. Such is expected of us these days to be on guard against such teachings and teachers of whatever places significance on anything else than Jesus and promotes what you must do instead of growing your faith in the finished work of Christ, even as we stand in the gap for those that are being deceived. This makes us good Ministers of Jesus Christ as Paul admonished Timothy.
While we stand against false teachings by rigorously disseminating the knowledge of the Truth and supporting the same by all means, it is vital that we practically grow in the knowledge of the Truth that we preach also _in deeds_ and not just in words. Thus Paul did adjure Timothy to exercise himself unto godliness so that his ways of life would not contradict what he teaches as that would subject both his person and the message of Christ to ridicule by those he’s assigned to guard against.
Truly, godly living earns you the respect of all, both old and young!
As it is today, so it was in the ancient Greek and Roman culture that people are given to bodily exercise to achieve either good health or mere physical buildup. Though that is something but for one to undertake spiritual exercise (of feeding healthily and voraciously on the word of truth, and engaging the same in prayers and daily living) has more honorable and eternal value.
1 Timothy 4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
In conclusion, Paul offered fatherly counsel to Timothy to be an addicted student of the word:
1Timothy 4: Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
When you disconnect or disassociate yourself from the company of godly people you start sinking into ungodliness without consciously suspecting. The same is true when you’re not constantly being fed with the word of His Grace. Giving attention to the message of Christ alone will build conviction in you unto salvation. Doing the same continually will enable you to grow unto Him in stature, in grace and in faith. And, there’s no end to that till He returns. Therefore, the message of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus is God’s prescription for your quotidian consumption.
A life devoted to reading, exhortation and meditation on and in line with the doctrine of Christ will get you built up to your own present and eternal advantages and for the benefits others.
Remember, what the Spirit said through Paul close to two millennia ago is happening still today. Many are turning from believing in the assurance of salvation by faith in Christ alone into having to do something to make it at/till the end.
Beloved, it is the latter days. Guard yourself daily with the gospel of Christ!
When you’re faced with any kind of teaching that can only be justified by quoting what “our village elders used to say”, or one “old Chinese/Yoruba/Igbo/English proverb” contrary to or aside what the scripture says.
Or, a particular verse of the scripture is been quoted to emphasize on what is done away with in CHRIST, do you know what to do? FLEE!
ADDITIONAL NOTES BY PASTOR DAMILOLA AKINYERA
There is this group of people that call themselves Calvinists. You probably have heard of them but don’t really know what they stand for. There was this theologian name John Calvin who was a Protestant reformer and was very influential in the progress of the Gospel. Calvinism was the name of the denomination that came from what John Calvin proposed.
Personally, I’m impressed with John Calvin because he is among those who made the Gospel of the eternal salvation of Jesus Christ through Grace popular in his time (though his personal stands became internationally popular after he left the world). He broke from the Roman Catholic Church (hence a Protestant).
But here is an issue I have with him and all that claim to be Calvinists. John Calvin proposed a theology that bothers on predestination and election of salvation, among other beliefs I am not one who follows headlong on a sect. John Calvin proposed 5main points that are referred to base on alliteration as TULIP
T – Total Depravity
U – Unconditional Election
L – Limited Atonement
I – Irresistible Grace
P – Perseverance of the Saints
My main issue with Calvinism is the Limited Atonement. It sounds very lugubrious. Limited atonement is the doctrine that says the death of Jesus was not for everyone but for a limited number of people. So I had an interaction with a Calvinists recently on limited atonement
And I asked if he hasn’t considered 1John 2:1-2. That clearly said Jesus is the propitiation for the whole world… but advocate for believers. The response I got was that John was not referring to everyone in the world but those elected to be saved in the whole world. This interpretation got me worried. Let us be careful not to put our sect belief into clear scriptures.
Now why did I bring this up? It is because of the chapter we read today. What was Paul’s revelation by the Grace of God on the wideness of the atonement of Jesus? To answer this, let everyone ensure you never forget vs. 10 of what you read today!
The sacrifice of Jesus is NOT limited in atonement.
Even though not everybody will be saved, that never rules out the plain truth of scriptures that Everybody CAN be saved! What vs. 10 says is an echo of what 1John 2:1-2 says
Propitiation for the world… Advocation for believers
That right there is the gospel!
“…God is the Saviour of the world, and especially of those who believe” (1Tim 4:10)
We probably might have skipped this verse when we read the second chapter of our current study….
1Tim 2:4 (God our Saviour) who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
In explaining the propitiation of Jesus’ atonement, John described Jesus in John 1:9 as the One “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”
Then went ahead 3verses later to explain the advocacy of Our Lord’s atonement
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”
Please I dropped all this to ensure we are guarded as we grow in Grace. God is the Saviour of the world and especially those that believe!
Enjoy Peace as you acknowledge the unlimited atonement of our Saviour.