Posted by: SandreS | September 22, 2009

The Church in Ruins (Brief Thoughts on II Timothy), Part 16

The Faithful Athlete

And if a man also strives for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strives lawfully (II Timothy 2:5).

An athlete can’t compete in a game just anyway he wants, making up the rules as he goes. He must follow the rules of the game or be disqualified. The same is true with the believer. He must know what God’s program for this age is, and he must follow its “rules” to win the race and prize.

A.E. Knoch writes,

[The athlete] races and boxes so as not to be disqualified (“castaway” I Corinthians 9:27). He must observe the rules of the game. An athlete who fails to observe the conditions would be disqualified – he loses the race even if he is first over the line. He is not acclaimed the winner in a boxing match if he strikes below the belt. So it will be at the dais.[1]

C.R. Stam also writes,

The racer cannot decide to start running just before the signal, so as to get a head start! The participants in athletic competition must abide by the rules of the game or be immediately disqualified. In each game the rules are different from all the rest: tennis is different from baseball, and soccer from both, but in each case the participants must abide by the rules for that game …

This is important, for there are many Christians who do indeed make their own rules where doctrine and service are concerned. Think of the great attempt to return to Pentecost and its miraculous demonstrations! Pentecost was a fulfillment of prophecy, and the antitype of all the Pentecosts that had gone before. It was “when the day of Pentecost [the great antitype] had fully come” that the gift of tongues and other miraculous signs of our Lord’s Messiahship were granted …

Others make their own rules where the so-called “Great Commission” is concerned. They just decide for themselves which record of the commission is to be obeyed, and even which parts of any or all of them apply to the present dispensation. This is a simple case of making one’s own rules …

The Christian has no right to make his own rules, and this applies especially to those who minister the Word. He must go by the written Word of God, “rightly divided,” or be disqualified from the contest (See I Corinthians 9:27, and c.f. II Timothy 2:15, where the word “castaway” and “approved” are the very opposite in the Greek: adokimos and dokimos, referring to the disapproval or the approval of participants in the contest – not, thank God, as His redeemed children).

How important, then, to heed the words of Paul in I Corinthians 3:10: “According to the grace of God which is given unto me as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation and another builds thereon. But let every man take heed how he builds thereupon.”

Do not decide for yourself that it is all right to build Mosaic or Petrine material on the Pauline foundation. Do not preach the Law, the Sermon on the Mount, or the Gospel of the Kingdom instead of the message we have been commissioned to proclaim: Christ, according to “the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest” (Romans 16:25-26). If you fail to proclaim this gospel, unmixed with messages for other ages, depend upon it: you will not “receive a reward” at the Judgment Seat of Christ … (Read carefully I Corinthians 3:10-15).[2]

(to be continued)

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2001, 2009 Bible Student’s Press

[1] A.E. Knoch, The Problem of Evil, p. 275, Concordant Publishing Concern, 2008.
[2] C.R. Stam, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 150, Berean Bible Society.


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