Text: II Timothy 2:14-18
I. Many years ago, a set of false teaching was being promoted in the congregation. When the false teacher was asked by the congregation to explain himself, he gave a list of questions to one of the younger members, who passed it on the older members.
A. I found it necessary to study material that I strongly believe was behind the questions.
B. For most older Christians, the material is obviously false.
1. A few people, who attempted to read the material, told me how nauseating the material is to read.
2. We are people who love God’s truth and to see someone twist the truth twists our guts.
C. I spent some time thinking about why this material was so appealing, despite its obvious falsehoods.
1. It struck me that the author presented his erroneous teachings in the form of questions.
2. Often, he would not come out and directly state his belief, but rather question our understanding of the Scriptures.
3. Example: Going Beyond What is Written by Cecil Hooks
“Our great stress has been on the need for authority for all that we do in worship assemblies. We have emphasized the ritualistic aspect of worship. But where is our authority for segmenting worship from our daily and constant offering of self in whole-life worship? Where do the scriptures say that our assemblies for edification are to be changed into "worship services" with a different set of rules to govern them? Where do we read such expressions as "go to worship" (regarding Christian assemblies), "begin our worship service," "after the worship is over," and "missing worship"? Where do we read of the "five acts of worship" or a list of specified activities for our assemblies? Where do we find a limitation of the means whereby we may praise God and edify one another, either in or out of assemblies? Has our privilege of praise been granted in only a few activities? Is it a privilege of praise or a fulfillment of the demands of law to praise? Do we worship only in rituals? Are assemblies for the purpose of performance of rituals? Seeking answers to these questions led me to many exciting new (for me) insights.”
4. For this lesson, I’m not so interested in the topic of the questions, but the way the questions are expressed.
5. The writings of this man and others are full of series of questions such as the one you are looking at.
a. Why present it this way?
b. Why not just explain what the person believes?
c. What I came to realize is that the style was selected, on purpose, to create an environment of doubt that would leave the reader more willing to accept the false teachings
D. All questions are not alike. It is a mistake to assume that every question is a desire to learn an answer and we can prove this to ourselves from the Scriptures.
II. Honest Questions
A. Questions used to learn
1. The disciples of Jesus asked questions about his teachings - Luke 8:4-9
a. They didn’t understand and they wanted to know the answer.
B. Questions used to teach
1. The Greek philosopher, Socrates made an art of the asking of question to an art-form.
a. Teachers know that stating a fact doesn’t always register, but when a student struggles to find an answer, the answer sticks with him.
b. So leading questions are employed to direct a student’s mind down a particular path.
c. It stays with the student because he was actively involved in finding the answer
2. Jesus often used this form of teaching with his disciples. Topics were often introduced in the form of a question.
a. Mark 8:27-30 - Jesus was able to get the disciples to realize what they believed.
b. Questions were used to draw out what a person needed to learn - Mark 9:31-34
(1) Even though they did not answer Jesus’ question, the question prepared them to receive his answer.
c. The very attempt to answer a question can make a person realize how little he knows - Luke 20:1-8
(1) Because they were unable to answer the question to their own satisfaction, Jesus’s question shows they were not in a position to question his authority to teach.
(2) Another example - Matthew 22:41-46
C. Questions used to motivate people to action
1. David questioned the people as to why no one answered Goliath’s challenge - I Samuel 17:26-30
a. Eliab saw David’s questions as wrong because he thought David wanted to see a battle, so he was stirring people up with his questions.
b. David was asking questions because he wanted people to serve God.
III. But not all questions are productive. Not all questions are sincerely asked.
A. Some ask questions, but they do not expect an answer because they believe they already have the answer
1. Pilate asked what is truth - John 18:37-38
a. We know he wasn’t interested in the answer, because he left before a reply was made.
b. By his disinterest in an answer to his question, we learn that Pilate does not believe there is an absolute truth.
c. His question was really a statement of his belief.
B. Some ask questions to entrap. They are not looking for an answer or to instruct another, but searching the reply for errors to accuse the person.
1. It doesn’t take long in reading the Gospels to see how often the Jews used questions in an attempt to trap Jesus
a. Matthew 22:23-28 - The Sadducees’ question was insincere because they asked about something they didn’t believe in.
(1) It is like someone telling me they rode in a flying saucer and I asked them what color was the upholstery.
b. Next come the Pharisees - Matthew 22:34-35
(1) The Pharisees believed the question was unanswerable.
(a) A claim to not know, would open Jesus up for ridicule
(b) Putting one law above another would be judging the word of God.
(2) Jesus was able to answer the question, because He was the author of the law.
C. Like David, some ask questions to stir up people, but instead motivating them for the good, the questions are designed to cause controversy
1. False teachers use controversial questions to create friction - I Timothy 6:3-5
a. When people disagree, when they are divided, they are easy to destroy - Luke 11:17
b. Unity strengthens - Ecclesiastes 4:12, so Satan and his minions try to divide.
c. That is why Titus was warned to avoid the foolish controversies of a factious man - Titus 3:9-11
2. We must recognize that some questions are simply asked to cause quarrels - II Timothy 2:23
a. When we don’t see this, we have lost the battle.
D. Notice that Paul also referred to ignorant speculations. Some questions are asked about things we do not know and cannot know.
1. The ignorant spend time asking and debating them because it makes them feel scholarly (The old “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” question.)
2. I Timothy 1:3-8
a. These men were not using the law correctly
b. In their pride, they wanted to teach, but they did not know enough
c. They make up for their ignorance by asking foolish questions and waste time in fruitless discussion.
d. It not only caused dissension, but notice the end of verse 3, it is the teaching of strange doctrine!
e. A person can and does espouse false doctrine by their pursuit of speculative questions.
E. People wrangle about the meaning of words, not to promote understanding, but to waste time and effort - II Timothy 2:14-18
1. Wrangling over the meaning of words ruins the hearer - (“It depends on what your definition of the word ‘is’ is.”)
2. Empty chatter leads to further ungodliness.
3. It is used by men who have gone astray from the truth!
4. Unchecked, it spreads like gangrene, causing more to leave the faith!
IV. I hope, brethren, you see that all questions are not alike. They don’t serve the same purpose.
A. This is why Paul told women to ask questions at home - I Corinthians 14:34-35
1. Questions can be used to teach, but women are not to have authority over men - I Timothy 2:11-12
2. Questions can be asked in an honest effort to learn, but it is very easy to cross the line of using questions to steer discussion and to espouse your own beliefs.
B. Too often we are tolerant of those who are in the process of destroying us - II Corinthians 11:19-20
V. Brethren, my charge to you today is the same as the beloved Paul
A. II Timothy 4:1-4 - People will depart from the faith
B. I Corinthians 15:58 - The answer is to be steadfast and unmoveable from the truth