Paul’s love – 2 Timothy 4:14-15

Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message (2 Timothy 4:14-15).

lostLook at Paul’s message here. Paul does not sound very loving in his discussion of Alexander the coppersmith. In fact, Paul sounds quite judgmental. Should he have used a more gentle tone? Maybe Alexander the coppersmith was a nice guy who was trying to defend the faith as he best understood it? Paul needs to be more loving!

But let’s stop and think about this for a minute. Paul addressed this letter “to Timothy, my beloved child” (2 Timothy 1:2). Paul was expressing his love toward Timothy in this letter. And Timothy had been placed over a young church to lead and protect it. Paul also loved the people in Timothy’s congregation. Paul loved Timothy, that congregation, and all of Christ’s church.

It is precisely because of Paul’s love for his true brothers and sisters in Christ that he warned them of false gospels and false teachers. Unfortunately, so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ today are confused about what true Christian love is; and, therefore, how true Christian love acts. Sometimes, the most loving thing we can do is point out the error, explain why the error is wrong, what the harm of the error is, and , yes, even point out the person responsible for the error. Some people (many people?) are not discerning enough to get past the personality and see the error.

(Acknowledgment: Most of the text from this last paragraph and the idea for this post came from Morris Brooks and his comment in a discussion over at Pyromaniacs).

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8 Comments

Filed under Christian Life, False Teachers

8 responses to “Paul’s love – 2 Timothy 4:14-15

  1. What you say is so true. Another problem is that many times those who are warned are not genuine believers in Jesus Christ. I opposed a dead false teacher in a church we attended in private through email with the pastor for months with much documentation. When he privately agreed with me in person I went public in the church with the false teacher. Given the truth about C. S. Lewis the people who attended the church were incensed that I would dare speak about this beloved author letting them know that Lewis believed in purgatory, baptismal regeneration, theistic evolution, did not believe in the penal substitution of Christ or in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible and believed that the Genesis account of the fall was a myth. This is all well-documented from his own works and from Christianity Today. I told them that the pastor agreed with me and when they asked him he lied and said he had never agreed with me. He lied to me in an email. We left the church. It has been impossible to find a church where the leadership is faithful to the Word of God though we are trying another one at this time that might be okay. God bless you:)
    http://holdingforthhisword.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/let-your-light-shine/

    • Eliza,

      Thanks for stopping by the blog! Choosing where we draw the line on recommending particular authors, like C.S. Lewis, can be a challenging one. Lewis definitely had some major theological errors. I would not recommend much of his writing, particularly to new believers. For example, there is a recent article over at the Pyromaniacs blog that discusses a popular, but misguided, quote from Lewis on hell. Even with all Lewis issues, I definitely enjoyed The Screwtape Letters. As always, we must be careful when reading the words of mere men and women.

      Dale

  2. Since Lewis opposed the gospel of Jesus Christ by his false teaching and therefore was against Christ Himself, how can we as the beloved of the Lord give credence to him? The Lord knows those who are His and commands us to separate from those who are false. Since Lewis denied that the Scriptures are the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God, what light could there be in him? He resorted to human wisdom and cleverness, which he considered to be more powerful than the Word of God. That “great apologetic work” Mere Christianity never quotes Scripture, but relies upon human wisdom and reasoning, something which God clearly condemns. How could such a work and such an author really be an apologist for the faith once for all delivered to the saints? Why should we resort to any who are mere men and women for being built up on our most holy faith? We have the very Word of the living God and the indwelling Holy Spirit for our faith and walk. God bless you:)

    • Eliza,

      You ask a very important and timely question. My pastor’s sermon yesterday was from 2 John which includes the verses that say:

      Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works (2 John 1:9-11).

      After the service, several of us had some discussion on where we draw the line on who we do not greet and welcome into our house (i.e. consider a brother or sister in the faith). Since none of us in this lifetime will have perfect theology, it can often be a difficult line to draw. C.S. Lewis is an interesting case. He was definitely a terrible theologian and apologist as he leaned much more towards human philosophy. However, I have never seen where he denied the gospel.

      I would argue that someone can be incorrect regarding the inerrant, infallible, and God-breathed word of God and still be a Christian. Wrong, confused, immature in the faith and in a dangerous place, but they can still certainly be a Christian. Similarly, I think many people today who believe in new revelation undermine the sufficiency of Scripture and present similar problems. I would never recommend Beth Moore or Sarah Young to anyone not only because they believe in new revelation, but because it is so central to their faith AND they often confuse the gospel. On the other hand, I might recommend books by John Piper who I also think is wrong on new revelation, but it is not as central to his writing and he does not confuse the gospel.

      So, I can understand and even support your strong feelings about C.S. Lewis. His significant theological errors are often given a pass. And we should regularly warn people (particularly believers who are immature in the faith) to avoid most (or perhaps all?) of his writing. I would certainly not welcome C.S. Lewis into the pulpit of our church or to be an elder or our congregation. Yet, I have not seen anything that convinces me that he did not believe the gospel (but could be wrong here as well).

      Thanks again for the dialog. These are truly important questions and thinking through these things helps build us up in the body of Christ.

      In Christ,

      Dale

  3. Hi Dale,
    Thank you for your reply. I disagree with much that you have said. The bible clearly reveals all that we need to know about God our Father, Jesus Christ the Son, the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures, the gospel of Jesus Christ, mankind, etc. The problem is that so many get their revelation from man rather than God’s Word the Bible, and so many who propose to reveal the Scriptures are not truly born again and so do not have the Spirit of truth indwelling them to lead them into all truth. Yes, Christians can be in error, however, God will disclose that to us by His Holy Spirit and His Word of truth, the Bible. I am sure that many Christians can attest to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives delivering them from error and teaching them the truth from the Scriptures. Your reply did spark a desire to address two of the false doctrines that C. S. Lewis held to and how they attack the truth of the Scripture about Christ’s work for us. The post is on my blog. God bless you:)
    http://holdingforthhisword.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/defending-the-gospel/

    • Eliza,

      I agree that the Bible is our final authority for faith and life. And yes the Holy Spirit works in us to reveal truth. But we also have to remember that one of those mechanisms used by the Holy Spirit is other sinful people with imperfect theology. You are suggesting to read your blog to help guide people to the truth, yet your blog is not Scripture. So, we have to be careful not to reject all teachings from men so long as they are in agreement with Scripture. One of the reasons Christ established his church was to help us discern and understand the truth revealed in Scripture.

      Dale

  4. Hi Dale,
    I understand what you are saying, but teachers who are anointed with the Holy Spirit teach the Scriptures. The Scriptures teach the doctrines that we hold to. We don’t go to men for our teachings we go to the Scriptures which is the Word of God. God’s Word rightly divided as we diligently study it will give us clear understanding for knowing our faith and living for God. Yes, even godly men who teach the Scriptures can make mistakes, but they should be agreeable to correct their error when it has been revealed; like Peter correcting his deadly error when confronted in front of the believers by Paul. This is the godly pattern that we should expect from those who believe they are called to teach the church. We do not see this, instead we see camps set up around the teachings of men that we like and gravitate towards. This has more to do with itching ears then it does with a desire to know and obey the truth of God which is only found in the Bible. We as believers need to confront this error, holding those who perpetrate it accountable, because we are commanded by God to contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints and because we care deeply about God’s glorious message that is intimately tied to His honor and which secures the salvation of lost condemned sinners. God bless you:)

    • Accountability and the willingness to admit and correct our errors. You nailed some very big issues that are definitely lacking in our churches today. Could not agree more. Thanks and God’s blessing to you also.