Warning Against False Teaching
Out loud, pray for God to speak to you through your reading. Praise God for giving us His word. Ask the Spirit to help you read with faith, and to live out what you hear from God through the passage.
1 Timothy 1:3-11
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Good Doctrine and Firm Foundation
by Pr. Dave Mann
One of UALC’s early senior pastors liked to tell this story. When the foundation for the current Lytham Road sanctuary was being poured, the contractor encountered an unexpected weakness in the structure of the underground footing. His advice was to dig deeper and to pour in more concrete. “Yes, it will cost more,” he stated, “but you don’t scrimp on foundation work. Once the building is complete, you won’t see a firm foundation. But if you have a weak foundation, you definitely will see the result, and it won’t be pretty.” So, they dug deep and they poured concrete.
There are some (perhaps even many) who consider Christian doctrine to be unnecessary, and perhaps even counterproductive. However, ideas have consequences. Ideas are the foundation on which a edifice of thought and action is built. If the foundation is weak or crooked, the building will be unsafe and it will not stand long.
God’s work includes good doctrine. Good theology supports and encourages God’s people into godly actions. The Apostle Paul was very aware that good doctrine was the foundation for building of a vibrant and growing church. That is why he takes care to warn Timothy about flawed thinking (weak foundations) – myths, endless genealogies, speculations, vain discussions, etc. Mindless philosophizing about unimportant matters does not build the church in a god-pleasing way. Sometimes unhelpful teachings tend to build up the ego of the teacher rather than to train up the believers for sacrificial service and for the glory of God.
After that, in 1 Timothy 1:4, Paul exhorts Timothy to care about oikonomian theou. This is a Greek phrase which is rich in meaning. That is why it is translated in various ways by different translations – advancing God’s work, God’s redemptive plan, stewardship from God, the administration of God, godly edifying, divine training, and more. Which translation is best? All of them! Each and every one gets at an aspect of what the original term means. And none of the English phrases completely captures the totality. Good theology, good doctrine is essential because it brings to light and identifies the foundation of the teaching of the apostles and prophets as stated in Scripture. (See Ephesians 2:20.)
What is the appropriate goal or endgame of good doctrine that serves as a firm foundation? Verse 5 addresses that question: “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” This is the part of the building that is visible. Love, a good conscience, and sincere faith, are the beautiful aspects of a church that is growing and vibrant.
Do you want that kind of a church? Make sure the foundation is firm.
Lord Jesus, thank you for the firm foundation laid by the apostles and the prophets. Would you help us to value the true theology and doctrine that they laid for us, on which we can build safely and securely? We long to see the visible love and faith which are beautiful to your eyes.