His Master's Voice
|Copyright © 2004 - All rights retained by author|
|Written by: C. W. Booth|
In my study, hanging just above and behind my head is a replica of an antique metal sign. It shows a dog with head cocked to the side, nosing the sound cone of an old Victor Phonograph as he listens to it play. He is listening to "his masterís voice", or rather, a recording of his masterís voice as it plays back from the wax record which his master had just made of himself speaking.
Dogs are adorable creatures. When they hear something which is unusual to them, they cock their heads to the side as if to say, "I need to hear this better because it confuses me."
Scripture is our Victor phonograph, replaying the instructions that our Master left for us. Sometimes I donít understand all that it says. So I look at it again, metaphorically cock my head to the side, and try to understand its meaning yet again.
As confusing as the Scriptures themselves can be at certain times, there is a more difficult problem. Sometimes we hear a recording, it mostly sounds like our Masterís voice, but is it? Could it be that perhaps this is a counterfeit?
Discovering whether what we are reading is truly what the Master intended or whether it is an imprecise rendering, or worse a fraudulent imitation, requires application of discernment. A dogís level of discernment is limited. He quickly becomes accustomed to the phonographic playback, real or imitation, and ultimately ignores all of it. He simply turns away, picks up his half-chewed bone, and curls up in a corner paying no mind to the recording.
But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.
Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness." Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:16-26)
Those who introduce fake recordings of our Masterís voice are "quarrelers".
"refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels."
Quarrelers introduce speculations. Speculations about doctrine or about God which are impossible to verify because the Word does not give us a specific answer. Speculations are opinions. If these opinions could be validated with actual quotations from Scripture, they would not be speculations, they would be doctrine.
Speculations are what Paul meant when he wrote, "avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangreneÖ foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels".
Quarrelers invent some new speculation about God, the meaning of life, the meaning of Godís life, some new chief-of-all-commandment that has been overlooked for thousands of years, and even speculations on who gets to see the kingdom of God and who does not based on their own criteria derived from their own assumptions. These are the quarrelers.
Why are they called quarrelers? Because they fight against the truth of the Word with their own uninformed (meaning they lack information from the Word) and ignorant assumptions about what they think the Word ought to have said instead of either accepting what it does say, or, that it remains silent on certain issues.
Hymenaeus and Philetus were actually strongly based in Scripture. They argued for the historical reality of Christ, a biblical fact. They argued that Christ was resurrected, a Scriptural truth. They even argued that Christ was the agent of resurrection for the dead in Christ, a key doctrine in the Word for us today. They were really quite biblical, mostly. All they got wrong was one tiny detail--just one. They argued that Christís resurrection of the church had already occurred. All they did was assume into existence one small "fact" that was not fully correct.
That in itself did not make them "quarrelers." What made them "quarrelers" was they taught, preached, and published their assumption as if it were not an opinion and not a speculation, thus calling on others to believe their assumption as one would believe a doctrine. This upset the faith of some true believers.
They quarreled against the truth, basing their arguments on opinion and supposition. Quarreling against the truth of the Word makes even a generally biblical teacher into a quarreler.
On the other hand, the ones who "with gentleness correct those who are in opposition" to quarrelers are not themselves quarrelers. These are the ones who aggressively and actively refuse and refute the ignorant assumptions of the quarrelers by speaking out openly and boldly against them as Paul did, but always exercising love and gentleness. The goal: cause the quarrelers to come "to the knowledge of the truth", repent, and "come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil."
Quarrelers are not those who stand up, recite the Word, and publicly point out that someone else has introduced a "doctrine" founded more on personal assumption and opinions than on direct quotations of Scripture. Yet, oddly enough, in our society, it is more often the quarreler who is upheld for his "innovation" and his "refreshing insights" than the discerner who becomes improperly ostracized.
How often has the one with discernment been labeled as the quarreler. Not because he is in opposition to the Scripture, but because he "quarrels" with the true "quarreler".
It is of 2 Timothy 2 on which my mind settles every time I see my reproduction antique sign. "His masterís voice." Is he hearing an authentic recording, or is he listening to a quarreler? No wonder that poor dog cocks his head to the side, it just sounds so real, but is it his masterís voice or not?