Gamma 17 – The Pastoral Epistles (Study 7)

Study 7




Please look at the questions and discuss the answers. The case histories are designed to let you apply what theoretical knowledge you have gleaned from the study. There are intentionally many more questions and case histories than you can manage in one session but this is designed to cover the many and varied needs of the individuals in the church hence please pick and choose which ones to discuss as long as it gets people sharing and applying the Word to real life situations. Never feel obligated to finish all the questions The answers will be posted on the web the next day.

Family – -deep bond with love, no choice in siblings, unity Church of the living God: Ekklessia ..called out ones..the focus is on the calling of Jesus Christ on each one , called by the living God to a mission to a purpose to a life lived for Him. It is not a club where we look after each other it is a movement towards a goal. The one who calls us is living in contract to the dead wooden idols who are powerless. God’s movement is alive and always advancing because He is alive and actively leading the movement. He is not like President Donald Trump who infamously called on his supporters to march on the Capitol building and declared that he himself with walk with them but instead he chickened out and watched from the sidelines in the comfort of the White House. Our God sends us out in a mission and walks with us and in us.

Pillar and Buttress: A support and defence of the Truth of the Gospel in a world where everyone makes up their own truth.

Roman Catholics believe that the Church is the pillar of truth hence their basis of authority is threefold
A. Magisterium (Pope and Cardinals)
B. Church Tradition
C. Bible

Protestants …Bible alone

The Roman Catholic position is open to abuse as we have seen in history because if ultimate authority is given to sinful man resulted in heretical doctrines like the purchasing of indulgences for reducing time in purgatory which triggered the Reformation by Martin Luther. There are other dubious beliefs like the veneration of the saints, praying to the saints and to Mary as the mother of God, having a mass just for her called the Novena. Additionally there is controversy over the incorporation of good works as part of the basis of salvation.

The pros are a stable belief system preserved over centuries and less liable to individuals leading break away movements and denominations.

The Protestant position is the authority is on the Bible alone (Sola Scriptura) is must safer as there is only one source of authority which is the Word of God.

However the weakness is that there is no central authority and the independence of leaders to often read and interpret the bible in their own individual ways often ignoring even the basics of accepted interpretive guidelines leaves them open to multiple denominations and disunity.

The word “musterion” in Greek does not mean an enigma or something very difficult to understand that is puzzling and we need secret knowledge like the Gnostics to uncover. It means something hidden in the past but now revealed. The the gospel is the mystery because it is the life( incarnation), death, resurrection of Jesus and the declaration all over the world of this news accepted and taken by faith by His people.

In all other religions it is man striving by himself to be pure and holy and righteous as in Buddhism by meditation and contemplation and other religions there is a set of laws or methods where by a person can draw near to God in hopes god will accept him or her.

In our faith the path to godliness or a God centered life is a life that is responsive to what Jesus had already done for us in his life death and resurrection. We are responding to the action of God we are not seeking or drawing near to God by our own discovery or ethical life style. We acknowledge that we are lost and that God has come to us and provided a way back to Him via His Son. What propels us towards a life lived in godliness is the fear of God and the love of God which was demonstrated on the cross.

The more we take in the cross, the more we understand what it took for God to send His Son, what it took for Jesus to stay on the cross, the more we understand what we were in terms of sin and lostness the more we will experience both awe( fear) and love towards Him. Hence the fear of God and the love of God will drive us to respond appropriately to God by submitting to Him as Lord and Savior and focusing our whole lives to live in obedience and service to Him. The depth and robustness of our response will depend on our increasing knowledge of Him and the beauty of what he did for us. On the contrary other religions instead focus on gleaning wisdom to best improve ourselves and perform rituals in order to ingratiate ourselves to God.

The conscience is our internal witness to what we already know. There is a semblance of what God expects of us imprinted in our inner thoughts and when we act in a manner that is contrary to this there will be an emotional reaction to what we did. For example if we cheated our neighbor out of his house in a scam our conscience would be triggered to make us uncomfortable that what we did was not the right thing to do. Secular people will interpret this feeling as our innate sense of justice or ethics. Confucius believed men are innately good and filial piety was based on this intrinsic conscience. We believe as Paul states that is is the Law of God imprinted in our souls from the Creator.

The Word of God is direct revelation of God as the more we read it, it will then inform our conscience moving us towards an ethical life, living consistent with our conscience and not against it. The false teacher’s conscience are seared…imprinted by Satan and they have so often ignored the subtle emotions of their conscience that it is no longer active or effective in modulating their behaviour.

The seared conscience is like the one described by Paul in 2 Thess 2:9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Delusion and fake news and deception will alter the conscience once these folk have rejected the truth and given the Devil a foot hold in their lives.

The thinking at the time was Greek thinking where by the nature of man was two fold where there was a higher self in terms of the soul which was pure and able to take the knowledge of God and the body which was beset with all sorts of base desires. Religion was then configured to suppress the body which was inherently evil to release the soul to the true knowledge of God. Hence ascetics and the whole raft of restrictive food laws was designed to suppress the urgings our our physical body which leads to sin. The purer state is one in which the body is suppressed. Buddhism and to a lesser extent Hinduism still focuses on these where all desire is recognised as evil and prayer and medication and rituals are designed to curse desire.

Biblical faith instead sees desires and the satiation of all bodily desires are wonderful gifts of God showered on us as an expression of His love but to be experienced within the boundaries of His Word. They are given to point us to the ultimate fulfillment of all desires which can only be met by God and God alone. Man too often misinterpret all desires as evil because they only see the horrific consequences of the indulgence of these desires when they are satisfied in behavior that exceeds the boundaries of His Word and His design for us.

Sexual desire is godly and right but expressed within the sanctity of marriage and will point us towards the thrill of ultimate union with God in eternity but the same desire satisfied in extramarital affairs or same sex unions points us to a life away from God, to addiction to spiritual ruin.

A buffet is not wrong in itself, but taken to indulge in gluttony will result in disease and spiritual alienation from God if the focus is just on the food itself but not as the food as a pointer to the ultimate fulfillment in God.

How do you think the influence of society and in this case Greek philosophy outlook play a part in the thinking of these false teachers.

The rationale Paul gave against the prohibitions of false teachers was that

A. All food was created by God and what He created is good and to be enjoyed.
B. What God had created for our good is to be received with thanksgiving like when we say grace before the meal and the fact that it’s is to be received with thanksgiving is proof that it is good
C. The freedom with which we enjoy with eating without the restrictions of food laws is a celebration of the efficacy of the work of the Cross on which Jesus died for us. We eat freely demonstrating we are no longer under the law and that Christ has fulfilled every demand of the law on our behalf. If we are still live as if we are bound by certain food laws then we are betraying our trust in the sufficiency of His work.

No fasting in today’s church is not a form of false teaching because fasting is the abstinence of all foods in order to spend a season of focused prayer and contemplation of God for a particular issue or persons in need and is actually endorsed by Jesus in Matthew 6:16-18. It is to say that our desire for God is greater than our natural desire for food. It is the greater desire for God for a period of of lives that displaces all other desires. It is to say that our lives is not consisting on what we eat or the satisfaction of our innate desires or not entirely driven by satisfying our desires not that this is wrong but for a season of fasting our desire for communion with God takes total priority. We demonstrate the in fasting we do not live entirely to fulfill our desires but have an overwhelming driving desire for God that takes center place for a season.

Fasting therefore is not a repudiation of God’s goodness or of our bodily desires but it is a demonstration of a greater desire for which we are willing to forgo for a season of our usual desires.

A. Do not condemn or judge the person because whatever restriction the persons is practicing is done to glorify God and consistent with his own conscience. He is accountable to God and not you.

B. What ever restrictions or devotion to special days is a personal matter of faith of each person but the person must act in accordance with his own conscience. He must be fully convinced in his own mind. If he follows others and acts against his own conscience he will be condemned hence it is a serious matter not to act in a manner that will influence the other person to act against his own conscience.