18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Paul “charged” Timothy to stay in Ephesus. Why? To make sure “certain persons do not teach any different doctrine.” Here we learn that Paul trusted Timothy with this based on his reputation, their history together, and Timothy’s calling.
Timothy was to ensure nothing but healthy doctrine was being communicated throughout the church in Ephesus. Paul knew it would be war (Satan hates when churches grow in healthy doctrine); he knew it would require firm faith in the truth; and he knew Timothy must do it with a clear conscience.
Paul goes on to tell Timothy something that sheds light for us on the importance of healthy doctrine. Apparently teachers in the Ephesus church had shipwrecked their faith by teaching blasphemy. Not sure what it was – but knowing this brings up a strong point: Unbiblical teaching communicated from those assumed to be biblical teachers must be removed. In fact, Paul lets us know that these men – Hymenaeus and Alexander – were handed over to Satan to learn a lesson. Whoah. Hadn’t heard talk like that lately in any churches. You?
What can we learn from this?
#1. Healthy doctrine matters.
What you believe directly impacts how you live. Right belief leads to right living. Wrong belief? Wrong living. Paul was adamant and loved the church he planted too much to see it begin to believe something false.
#2. Removing someone from their post is – sometimes – necessary . . . and loving.
Oftentimes churches err on the side of being “too loving.” In other words, we want to be nice and not exclude anyone. This is fine – until doing so negatively effects a bunch of people! Not wanting to hurt one person’s feelings at the expense of several having their “faith shipwrecked” isn’t loving at all. For the teacher or the congregant.
#3. Teachers – pay attention to your teaching and your SS quarterlies!
Don’t trust everything in your teacher books. Don’t believe everything that comes from a solid publisher. Think about it – the church PAUL PLANTED had false teachers in it! Pay attention!
#4. Participants – pay attention to what you’re being taught & be diligent to compare it with what the Bible says.
Compare everything you hear taught from someone who professes to be a “Bible teacher” with the actual Bible. Don’t assume. Don’t be passive. What you are being taught from a proclaimed “Bible teacher” matters. Big time.
#5. Churches cannot have “just anybody” teaching the Word.
Sunday School teachers and small group leaders and preachers and ministers don’t need to be picked lightly. They need to be drilled. Drilled in all things Bible and doctrine and convictions and beliefs. It’s important. The present and future health of the church hangs in the balance.
Do you know what your preacher or Sunday School teacher believes about the important things? What do they believe about the Bible? What do they believe about Jesus? What are their thoughts on the Trinity? What does it take for someone to become a Christian? Does your teacher know the Gospel?