The Authority of Scripture in This Modern Age
J. B. Hewitt, Chesterfield
"But understand this, that in the last days there will set in perilous times of great stress and trouble, hard to deal with, and hard to bear", 2 Tim. 3. 1, Amplified N.T.
The Apostasy: its Peril, v. 1; its Pattern, w. 2-5; its Product, w. 6-7; its Persecution, w. 8-13; the divine Provision for its Prevention, w. 14-17.
1. An Age of Corruption, w. 1-7; turn away from it. This is seen in personal life, v. 2, as "lovers of their own selves"; in home life as "disobedient to parents", v. 2; in business life as "boasters ... highminded", w. 2,4; in social life as "truce-breakers . . . lovers of pleasures", vv. 3, 4; in personal life as "incontinent, fierce", v. 3; in religious life as "having a form of godliness, but denying the power", v. 5.
The Marks of the Last Days, vv. 1-2. The two first marks in the list, lovers of self and money, supply the key to the rest of the list, eighteen vices in all.
The Manners of the Last Days, w. 2-3, embracing sins against truth, "boasters"; sins against love, "proud"; sins against good, "blasphemers".
The Morals of the Last Days, w. 2, 3, 6, 13, embracing "disobedient to parents, unthankful", "despisers of those that are good", with evil men waxing "worse and worse".
Materialism in the Last Days, v. 4, shown by those who are lovers of money and pleasure more than lovers of God.
Motives in the Last Days, v. 4, manifested by the words "more than".
The Movements and Mind of such Men, w. 6, 8, as with "corrupt minds" they "creep" like serpents.
2. An Age of Imitation, v. 8; refuse it. The character of these apostates is compared to the Egyptian court magicians in their opposition to the truth by counterfeit miracles.
3. An Age of Opposition, v. 8; withstand it. These men of moral depravity may have availed themselves of occult powers and practices, in rivalry to the gifts of the Spirit.
4. An Age of Deception, w. 6, 13; condemn it. Here irverse 6 we have a description of their work, accomplished with winsome manners and plausible propaganda. The "evil men" are depicted in verses 2-5, and the imposters in verses 6-9. An Age of Limitation, w. 11, 12; rejoice and thank GOD for it. Apparent success is severely limited ; the imposter is eventually exposed.
5. An Age of Persecution, w. 11, 12; share in it. From worthless men, w. 1-9, we turn and follow a worthy man, w. 11-12. He was imprisoned, 1. 8; afflicted, 3. 12; deserted, 1. 15; chained, 1. 16; maligned, 2. 9; forsaken and wronged, 4. 14-16. May we share such reproach, Heb. 13. 13.
This Modern Age - a Further Description: Manners and morals, w. 2,3;
Opposition to truth, v. 8; Affection for self, vv. 2,4;
Deceiving and deceived, v. r 3; Greed and guilt, w. 6,7; Evil men and manners, w. 3,13; End fully revealed, v. 9. Reprobate concerning truth, v. 8; N ever acknowledge truth, v. 7;
From what is sordid and sensual, we now turn to the sacred
Authority of Scripture, w. 14-17. Divine resources available to us are (i) apostolic teaching and example, w. 10-13; (ii) parental instruction and help, w. 14-15; (iii) the Scriptures, w. 16-17.
1. Authority Declared, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God" (God-breathed), v. 16. The word "inspiration" is not applied to the vessel, but to the verities. The Spirit of God both gave and guarded the Word of God, Matt. 22. 43-45; Psa. 119. 160.
2. Authority is Delineated, v. 16. Here we have what is profitable, constructive doctrine, preventative reproof, restorative correction, and educative training for living.
3. Authority is Divine and Dynamic, v. 15. Here we have the Word in its purity, "holy"; in its ability, "able to make thee wise".
4. Authority is Dependable, v. 14. We must "continue" or abide and remain in these things, not advancing away from them like false teachers. All true progress must be within, not away from the divine fundamentals of the Christian revelation, Authority is Directive, v. 15. "Thou hast known" shows that there had been a continuous knowledge always "from a child". The aim is not knowledge as such, but wisdom "unto salvation". The end result is "to be permanently equipped", "complete in all parts and proportions".
5. Authority Demonstrated, w. 10-14; I- 5- Timothy had a mother and a grandmother both marked by "unhypocritical faith". From them, Timothy had inherited the knowledge of the true God, having received instruction in the Scriptures from childhood, w. 14-15. He diligently traced the life of Paul step by step; the Scriptures are a storehouse of wisdom, a reservoir of fulness, a fountain of delights, and a river of refreshment.
The "last days" are marked by terror, w. 1, 2; trouble, w. 3, 4; temptations, w. 5-8; trickery, v. 13. On the other hand, they are marked by testimony, w. 10-17; teaching, w. 14,15; training, w. 16, 17. Hence we must read, rely upon, and respond to the authority of the Word.