Safe and Sound

Tom Burke

October 2006
© 2006 Scriptural Study Groups.  All Rights Reserved.

Our culture appears to be obsessed with change. Change is offered as the cure for nearly every ill. Don’t like your life? Don’t like your condition? Don’t like yourself? Or are you simply bored? Change! Change your hair, change your job, change your spouse, change your gender [!] — change something!

Sadly, that which is new becomes old, and for the man or woman addicted to change, the future holds nothing but a series of momentary delights followed by frustration.

Perhaps nowhere is change so emphasized as in the field of communication. People have a short and shallow attention span, we are told, and therefore our message must be fast, bright, loud — and ever changing.

Adherents of this philosophy would find Paul’s advice to Timothy to be naïve, if not downright misleading.

2 Timothy 2:2
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

Perhaps if Timothy lived today, he would be advised to come up with an original message, to express him self in a new way — but certainly not just to repeat the same old message.

That “same old message” that Timothy had received, however, was truth. Truth does not change. If I endeavor to “improve upon” that which is already pure truth, I’m left with, at best, partial truth. And if a message is only true in part, what is the other part?

Truth was never imparted to satisfy the critics; it was imparted to make men and women free. It was never intended to be particularly fascinating, but for those who receive it with believing, the truth of God’s Word is a never-ending source of joy and thanksgiving.

Additionally, these same basic truths can never be exhausted or over-taught because truth has to survive in a sinful world. We speak truth in a realm ruled by Satan. We endeavor to retain truth in a world in which truth is ceaselessly assailed by the evidence of the senses. Even the best of us can forget.

The believers in Thessalonica are a case in point. In many ways they were the “model church,” recognizing and standing faithfully upon all of the essential truths of Christianity. And yet they too could forget.

2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ [the text reads “day of the Lord”] is at hand.

Apparently, someone was telling the Thessalonians that the day of the Lord, the time of judgment, was beginning. Clearly, at least some of them believed this, for they were troubled by it. (The thought that we, as Christians, would have to go through the judgment after all would be troubling indeed!) They had forgotten that this day could not occur until after the time of the gathering together.

What makes this exhortation especially noteworthy is the fact that according to scholars, 2 Thessalonians was written only one to two years after the writing of 1 Thessalonians. What did Paul have to say only a year or two earlier?

1 Thessalonians 5:1, 2, 4
But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

At the time of the first epistle, they were not just vaguely familiar with the truths regarding the day of the Lord — they knew them perfectly! They knew them to the extent that Paul saw no need to write further on the matter.

Yet as little as a year later, these same instructed believers were in fear regarding the day of the Lord. And they were a model church!

Perhaps the conclusion is that all of us need to hear and re-hear these essential truths regarding the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the authority of the believer due to his resurrection and ascension, and the hope we share of his return for us — before the time of judgment — after which we will forever be with the Lord.

Philippians 3:1
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

Truth does not need to be updated, nor do we need to apologize for it. A faithful teacher never tires of teaching the essential truths regarding Christ, for they are the only sure foundation upon which to build a life, a family, or a ministry.