till I come, give heed to the reading, to the exhortation, to the teaching;1 Timothy 4:13(YLT)
Although he was sending written directives to the young pastor Timothy, on how to shepherd the flock of God that was under his care, we can all take to heart the wise instruction given here, on how to become a man or woman of God, so that we conduct ourselves in a manner that is honouring to the Lord and faithful to our position in Christ.
Throughout Paul's epistles we discover an emphasis on God's Word and a devotion to it: reading it and studying it.. expounding, preaching and teaching it - rightly dividing the word of truth and standing firm on the gospel of grace.. for the word of God is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and training in righteousness.
And so having been warned that as the day for Christ's return draws ever closer many will depart from the faith, and that sound doctrine will be replaced with ear-tickling fables, we find Paul once again urging Timothy to give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and to teaching.
There is a distinct order in Paul's instruction. First: to the reading of the Scripture - for faith comes by hearing and hearing from the Word of God. Sadly today, in both public services and personal devotion there seems to be a greater emphasis on emotional music and a seeker friendly gospel, rather than on reading the Scriptures, which has caused the Bible to become a closed book in many assemblies and Christian homes.
Second: to exhortation or as the Greek word (paraklesei) implies.. sound, exegetical expounding of the Word of truth. Sound exegesis is where the plain meaning of Scripture is drawn out from a passage in accordance with its correct historical context under the guidance of its Author - the Holy Spirit of God. For in this way believers are edified and encouraged to trust the Word of God and apply its important teachings to our personal lives. Too often however eisegesis occurs in the churches of today, where a pastor or reader imposes his own preferred interpretation or personal biases onto the text, which too often leads believers astray.
Third: to sound teaching or un-compromised doctrine. Indeed throughout Paul's epistles there is a repetitive emphasis on sound doctrine where the Word of God is rightly divided and believers are encouraged to search the Scriptures daily for themselves in order to check whether they were receiving biblically sound doctrine.
Although this verse was probably addressing the public ministry of the Word, in a day when the reading of personal scripture is being replaced with water-down and distorted audio-visual alternatives, all Christians should give heed to these instruction from Paul and make opportunities to engage in both the personal and public reading of Scripture - as well as paying careful attention that what is preached and taught from the pulpit.
Let us with discernment read and study the Word of God for ourselves as well as participating in a Christ-centered Church assembly. Let us search the scriptures digently to ensure that any scriptural message we receive or offer is rooted and grounded in the word of truth, which was once given to the saints, for our learning and spiritual growth. Let us apply the Word of God in our lives daily, or we will find that we become disconnected from the only Source of our life and power.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word and the truths that it contains. I pray that I would read, mark, learn and inwardly digest its truth so that I may conduct myself in a manner that is honouring to You and faithful to my position in Christ. Give me discernment to know the truth and protect me from any teaching that has distorted the Word - this I pray in Jesus name, AMEN.
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