|Volume 17 Number 7 July 2015||
Ernest S. Underwood
Did you ever cuddle a nest of rattlesnakes? How about a litter of young puppies? Why the difference? Just this. You have a natural fear and repulsion of rattlesnakes, but just the opposite is true about puppies. Toward the puppies there is a “natural affection.”
Twice in the New Testament reference is made to those “without natural affection.” Paul included this in his list of those who are laden with sin (2 Timothy 3). In Romans 1, he described those who have vile affections and who were without natural affection – homosexuals.
A normal, loving mother has a natural affection for the child she carries. One without natural affection aborts the child, and thus she sins against the child, herself and God. The homosexual burns in his lust for one of the same sex. These, we are told in Romans 1:26-27, “God gave them up.” All the so-called legal arguments do not change either situation. Both are in sin – sin that will cause them to be cast into hell.
[Editor’s Note: Fortunately, there is a remedy for all types of sin, even homosexuality and abortion (murder). “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NKJV; cf. Revelation 21:8; Galatians 5:19-21). Sin-soiled souls can become Christians upon their belief in Christ and through the washing of baptism (Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16). Sin-soiled Christians can be “washed,” “sanctified” and “justified” through penitence and prayer (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
Fred C. Nowell, Jr.
It has always impressed me how people can run for miles and miles without stopping. What has impressed me more is why any would want to do this. I know that exercise is needful and beneficial for good health, but come on – miles of running?
It’s call “Long Distance Running”or “Endurance Running.” I like the latter, because it explains or defines better what it really is or takes to do. Endurance according to Webster is, “The ability to do something difficult for a long time; to deal with pain or suffering that continues for a long time, the quality of continuing for a long time.” When we consider the definitions for endurance, we might get a better idea what it takes to run the Christian race that is set before every Christian. It takes understanding that one must cross the finish line to receive the prize, and that takes great endurance! Paul told the Corinthian Christians in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27,
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain. And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beats the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway [rejected].
Paul understood that the Christian race took personal commitment coupled with endurance!
The writer of Hebrews said after considering all the heroes of faith in chapter11,
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about [surrounded] with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily beset us, and let us run with patience [hupomonay, endurance] the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured [hupomeno] the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
The writer is saying to “run with endurance” as Jesus “endured the cross.” Each dealing with an ability, a continuation and a suffering for a period of time. The Christian’s endurance is motivated by and is a duplication of the endurance Jesus displayed.
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he encouraged him to “endure” – to keep on keeping on! First, he told Timothy to endure hardness [hardship] (2 Timothy 2:4). Soldiers in the Lord’s army are going to have hardships. Paul likened the readiness to suffer hardships with that of a soldier. I’ve never been in the military, but some of you have. You understand better! Hardship was something with which the apostle Paul was very familiar (2 Corinthians 11:23-29): many stripes, prison, near death, beatings, stoned, shipwrecked, difficult travels, near drownings, false brethren, weariness, pain, spying, hunger, thirst, freezing temperatures, without proper clothing, daily dealings with congregations.
It’s pretty easy to say that most of us will not suffer as Paul did, but we will still have hardships. Therefore, as we go about as Christian soldiers, let us adopt the mind of Paul who would soon say after this verse in 2 Timothy 2:4-10,
No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits. Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
Second, Paul instructed Timothy to endure persecutions (2 Timothy 3:11-12). Paul spoke of the persecutions he endured while in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra. These cities heard Paul’s preaching, and the Jews stirred up the people to cause Paul to stop and leave. Enemies in Lystra went a little further and stoned Paul, dragged him outside the city, believing that he was dead (Acts 14:19). Even though Paul was severely persecuted, look at what he stated in verse 11 after he spoke of the persecution he endured, “But out of them all the Lord delivered me.” Persecutions come in all sizes and in different packages. Persecution is often seen in the Bible as a direct result of being godly. Paul by inspiration gave this promise in verse 12 saying, “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
We must not fear this but rather embrace it and endure it, for Jesus said in Matthew 5:11-12, “Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven…”
Paul also told Timothy to endure afflictions (2 Timothy 4:5), “Watch in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” Hardship and afflictions are very similar. Afflictions are those things that come upon us that seek to throw us off course. The penman of Hebrews wrote words of praise saying in Hebrews 10:32-34, “call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” Afflictions are but for a while; a great reward awaits those who endure!
Finally, Paul said to endure sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3). Backing up just a little, hear how Paul began in verses 1-4.
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
It sounds strange to me to have to encourage one to “endure” correct teaching! We can understand the need to teach endurance in the areas of hardship, persecution and affliction, but in “sound doctrine”? Things have not changed in 2000 years! The same need to endure in following the Truth is still inspiration’s plea! In Paul’s first letter, he told Timothy to “take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:16). Continue in my teaching, Paul urged, for in doing so, you’ll be saved and save others!
Paul’s plea and command to Timothy is still inspiration’s plea and command for us today. Endure hardship, persecutions, afflictions and sound doctrine. If we will commit ourselves to sound doctrine, we will have less difficulties enduring the other three! May we all “run with patience [endurance] the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.”