Pursue the Truth

<— Click here for Part 1
24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will (2 Ti 2:24 – 26).

Want to hear the verse in context? 2 Timothy 2
What is this about?

Fake ecumenical harmony based upon nothing but a culturally vogue philosophy that unity must be maintained at all costs and doctrine divides emasculates the testimony of the Church. Paul agues rather for unity resting upon the solid foundation of doctrinal exclusivity, 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph 4:4 – 6). If God’s Church is to rise it will be because the Holy Spirit has stirred the hearts of believers through the faithful teaching of His word.

“Fake ecumenical harmony based upon nothing but a culturally vogue philosophy that unity must be maintained at all costs and doctrine divides emasculates the testimony of the Church”

It is a travesty that South African pastors are ill equipped to exposit the Word of the Lord and edify their flock. Pulpits around our country turn a blind eye to the proliferation of doctrinal inaccuracies and heresies. The Zion Christian Church, with “10-15 million members” (Wikipedia 2010a), teaches that “senior officials in the ZCC … can use the power of the Holy Spirit to perform healing” (Anderson 1999); Rhema Bible Church, with a “45,000 strong congregation” (Wikipedia 2010b), continues to propagate the Prosperity Gospel (Carew 2001); high profile pastors lobby for the recognition of same sex unions. Our pulpits are no longer anchored to God’s Word but rather the fleeting philosophies of the world.

For this reason our Shepherds need to feed their flock sound doctrine. Paul’s words to the young elder, Titus, echo in my head, “be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers” (Tit 1:9), and his commission to his protégé, Timothy, ring out, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ … Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Ti 4:1 – 2).

The early church converts were characterised by their unquenchable thirst for sound teaching. Luke records that they “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship” (Acts 2:42a). It must be so with our congregations. Much of the focus of pastors needs to be spent in preparation for preaching and teaching so that when the church leads it will do so with the banner of our Lord Jesus Christ and the immutable, infallible, sure and trustworthy Word of Holy Scripture at the forefront of the procession.

The criticality of teaching is not limited to equipping the church but also to protecting it from attack. As pursuers of the truth shepherds are to guard their flock against imminent danger from all around,

10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: 11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. (Titus 1:10 – 11)

Want to hear the verse in context? Titus 1
What is this about?

The church of our Lord Jesus Christ is refined as we rely upon “the primacy of the teaching of the Word” (Swartley 2005:74).

As leaders exemplify the truth of God’s Word his people are called to holy living; not through passionate pulpit pleas but by edifying and exemplary example. As Paul said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Co 11:1). As the church is purified so she stands apart from a world sunk in sin’s mire, her testimony is elevated and God is glorified.

“God’s Word is to us food … we must pursue it diligently, hold to it tightly and protect it ferociously”

God’s people live on the bread of life. God’s Word is to us food, necessary for life itself. As we minister we must pursue it diligently, hold to it tightly and protect it ferociously. The unity that truth brings stands strong in the face of the evil one as the Holy Spirit binds us together with cords which cannot be broken.

God’s shepherds, those men who faithfully serve the local church as under shepherds of Jesus Christ, are charged to exemplify the truth of God’s Word and be pursues of that truth. As we yield to the Holy Spirit and God’s Word we become useful to our master. A handful of uneducated, unrefined fishermen did just that and changed the world. My God grant us the same service.

This two part series considers the following statement, “Christian leaders must be both exemplifiers of truth and pursuers of truth.” Did this resonate with you? If so go and check out the series African Leadership Pitfalls.

<— Click here for Part 1

7 thoughts on “Pursue the Truth

  1. Mark, you are right in this blog post.

    Shepherds that play willy-nilly with the truth of God, has not yet met the God of the Scriptures, and simply do not understand how jealous He is of His truth.

    If we truly understand the God of the Scriptures and that the Scriptures are His Word, then we will treat His Word with more care.

    A shepherd that finds it easy to prepare his Sunday sermons obviously does not understand what He is dealing with. To him, it is just a book. However, if he truly understood the immensity of God’s Word, and the great importance of God’s Word and the mandate of preaching God’s truth, then his preparation for his Sunday sermon will be with awe and perhaps even trepidation.

    BTW, the quote you have about the ZCC is by far not the worst of their ideas. The worst is that they have a synergistic religion between ancestral worship and Christianity. They have mixed ancestral worship with Christianity, and as such, have no Christianity at all!

    Just as an aside, the book that this quote is from, was written by my church history lecturer way back in 1985, Allan Anderson. I still have contact with him.

  2. hi Mark

    I find myself agreeing with you on much of what you say above – especially the emphasis that there can be no real, effective unity without agreement / cohering beliefs (doctrines, although I tend to avoid that word for reasons I won’t go into here). And of course not all doctrines are created equal and some would “work” unity a lot better than others.

    I also share your caution (and negative opinion) of groups that promise supernatural interventions (on God’s behalf) and prosperity (however much those may appeal to the masses who value the spectacular and the materialistic at the expense of the really important things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control). On a good day I guess I tend to put that down to spiritual immaturity and on a bad day I think it is an evil and dangerous ploy.

    But I do wonder if our unity is really based on our understanding/s … or on a peace which passes understanding. (I am tending towards mysticism)

    The one big predicament it seems to me is not Scripture so much but rather our understanding (interpretations) thereof… which can (and do) differ substantially.

    Maybe it is a good thing to remember that we should not lean on our own understanding (no matter how clever or qualified we may think we are)?

    I get the feeling we are doing something wrong when we rely on our own abilities and capacities – rather than trust God to save us … and to grow us … and to unite us?

    I seem to think that is a “doctrine” which Paul emphasized above others.

    I have got to admit I don’t like the Swartz quote or sentence … but it seems to be contradicted in the next line about influencing by way of example (rather than by mere words – or “pulpiteering” as a friend of mine calls it).

    I also disagree with the sense of fear and insecurity that I sense (maybe incorrectly) in the words “protect it ferociously”. I tend to think of the truths of God as being strong… people don’t break them so much as they break themselves upon them…? (not sure if Ive made that clear?)

    And naturally I do support the idea that spiritual “leaders” (in fact all Christians) support the recognition of same sex unions as I don’t see this as contrary to Scripture at all … as partly explained in my good friend Patrick FitzGerald’s blog post:


    and also my own website’s little exposition on the matter:


    Anyway thanks for the food for thought! :) I look forward to following your thoughts more closely in future!

    • Hey Lance,

      Challenging thoughts, especially the comment re “protect it ferociously” which possibly does uncover a degree of “fear and insecurity”.

      Either that or it exposes fanaticalism :).

      mmm, the better of two evils?

      Keep testing, hold onto the good.

      • Many years ago I remember reading a Selwyn Hughes (Every Day With Jesus devotional writer) quote that said that “Fanaticism is a sign of doubt”…

        That thought has always stayed with me.

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