Rabbit Trails (1 Tim. 1-11)
Friday, September 04, 2009 Comments (0)
My father has been a Sunday school teacher for many years. He often complained that he would sometimes get off on rabbit trails as he taught. It’s not that his diversions from the prescribed lesson were wrong or harmful—they just got off the subject. I have to confess that I sometimes get off on rabbit trails and need to be reminded to stick with the subject matter at hand.
There is a different kind of rabbit trail that is indeed dangerous and harmful. This is the rabbit trail of false doctrine. When the Apostle Paul bid the church at Ephesus farewell he said to the elders, “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” (Acts 20:28) Unfortunately, Paul’s prophecy came true. Now Paul writes his beloved son in the faith Timothy from prison, instructing this young pastor how to handle these "fierce wolves” who were leading the Ephesians down dangerous rabbit trails.
It is amazing how relevant this passage of Scripture is for the contemporary church. With the information explosion that began with the advent of the Internet in the 1990s until now, there is a great need to hear and obey the words of 1 Timothy 1-11. False teachers can now broadcast their poison to the entire world 24-hours a day. False teaching can and often does infiltrate the evangelical church today. For example, The Shack by William Young has been on the paperback bestseller list for over a year. Many within the evangelical community have been seduced by its compelling story and frankly ignore its heretical ideas about God. I listened to an interview of the author in which he flatly denied penal substitution. Penal substitution is the doctrine that Christ was punished for our sins. Folks, penal substitution is at the heart of the Gospel. This comes out in the book when he twists Christ’s words on the cross, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” to mean that Jesus only “felt” forsaken and that God did not really leave his son when He bore all our sin on the cross. (For more info see A Brief Review of The Shack)
Paul reminds us in this passage that false teachers must be confronted. Correction is vital to the life and effectiveness of the church. A failure to correct false teaching will surely result in us wandering onto dangerous rabbit trails. Sadly, some who wander onto these dangerous rabbit trails never return.
Soli Deo Gloria!
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