Life-Study of 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemonby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In 6:1-10 Paul deals with slaves and with money lovers. In verses 1 and 2 he speaks concerning slaves. Then in verse 3 he suddenly refers to teaching differently and not consenting to healthy words. Then in verse 7 he begins to talk about the love of money. Apparently the dealing with slaves has nothing to do with different teachings, and the different teachings are not related to the love of money. Nevertheless, in 6:1-10 Paul put these things together. This is indicated by the word “if” at the beginning of verse 3 and the word “for” at the beginning of verse 7. The use of these words at the beginning of these verses indicates that they are a continuation of the foregoing verses.
In studying the Bible we should not be careless. Even little words such as “if” and “for” deserve our attention. Paying attention to words such as these often can bring in light. These words not only enable us to see the continuation in thought; they also afford a way for light to come in. Because by the Lord’s mercy we have received so much light from the Word, we can say that in the recovery we know the Bible in the way of life, light, and spirit.
In the United States today there are different kinds of theology. Certain seminaries teach modernistic theology, which denies the authority of the Bible and teaches that Jesus was merely a man, that His death on the cross was not for redemption but was merely an act of martyrdom, and that He did not rise from the dead. In the theology departments of some secular colleges and universities, religion and theology are regarded merely as part of man’s culture. However, in other seminaries fundamental theology is taught. Nevertheless, the standard concerning the truth is not very high. The highest standard of theology found among Christians today in the United States is that which has its source in the teachings of the Brethren, especially as those teachings were made popular by Dr. C. I. Scofield and his famous Reference Bible and correspondence courses. Although Scofield adopted nearly all the teachings of the Brethren, he rejected the Brethren way to practice the church life. The leading teacher among the Brethren was J. N. Darby. Anyone who calls himself a theologian but who is not familiar with the writings of Darby is not a theologian of the highest caliber.
In 1925 I wrote to Brother Nee asking him which book, according to his knowledge, would be the best to help me understand the Bible verse by verse. As a young believer, I was eager to obtain a thorough knowledge of the Word of God. I wanted to understand every verse of the Bible, from the first verse in Genesis to the last verse in Revelation. Brother Nee told me that the best help in knowing the Bible in this way was Darby’s Synopsis of the Books of the Bible. Eight years later he gave me a copy of this five volume work.
J. N. Darby and his contemporaries were great teachers of the Bible. According to history, the Bible was opened more to the Brethren teachers than to anyone who had gone before them. These Brethren teachers did not know the Word merely according to tradition or according to letters in black and white; they knew the Bible according to fresh light which came directly from the Lord. Having been enlightened by the Lord, they received the vision and the revelation of many truths in the Word.
Christians today often talk about the Bible in dead letters. Some are familiar with Bible geography and history; they also know certain elementary teachings. However, they may not have any light or revelation.
We have pointed out that it is possible for Christians to speak of certain Bible doctrines as if they were nothing more than old-womanish tales. For some, even the doctrine of justification by faith is a “tale.” For example, a particular Lutheran pastor in China fifty years ago taught justification by faith. Nevertheless, he himself was an opium smuggler. As far as he was concerned, justification by faith was nothing more than a “tale.” Concerning this matter, he was altogether without light or revelation. One day an elderly lady evangelist from Norway, who was very prevailing in the preaching of regeneration, stopped this Lutheran pastor after a meeting and asked him if he had been regenerated. When he tried to tell her that he had been regenerated, she said that simply by looking at his face, she knew that he had not been regenerated. This Lutheran pastor was insulted and so much filled with hatred for this lady evangelist that he plotted that night to murder her. But at that very hour the Holy Spirit enlightened him and rebuked him, and he repented and cried to the Lord. The next morning when this lady evangelist saw him, she looked at his face and said, “Praise the Lord, you have been regenerated!” Then in the meeting this pastor gave his testimony with great impact. This influenced hundreds of young people to be saved. The case of this Lutheran pastor illustrates the difference between knowing the Bible merely according to the black and white letters and knowing the Word according to the shining of the divine light.
Among Christians today there are many old-womanish tales. Not only are there “tales” about doctrine, but also “tales” having to do with so-called miracles. A certain Pentecostal pastor once told me about teeth that were supposedly filled miraculously with gold. Another Pentecostal minister claimed that in a certain meeting a person in the congregation miraculously spoke in Chinese. Both stories, however, were nothing more than “tales.”
The apostle’s teaching in 1 Timothy is far superior to old-womanish tales. Furthermore, in this Epistle there is no mention of miraculous things. On the contrary, in 5:23 Paul tells Timothy, “No longer drink water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent weaknesses.” Here Paul does not exercise a miraculous gift to heal his co-worker. Instead, he encourages Timothy to be human, not religious, and to care for his health in a human way.
Many of those who teach the Bible do not have any light or revelation. They merely teach the Word according to the black and white letters, perhaps also giving out information about geography or history. Where can you hear a message from 1 Timothy 1:4 on the subject of God’s dispensation in the New Testament? By the Lord’s mercy, He has shined upon us and made known His truth. For this reason, I hope that reputable theologians and professors will study the Recovery Version and the Life-study Messages, even study them in a critical way. I believe that if they study our writings, they will receive light.
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