Paul’s second letter to Timothy contains several charges for him to preach the truth. Paul warns Timothy that many will fall away from the truth. Examine the following words written from the hand of Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1-5.
1 “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
Notice the predictions made by Paul in verse 3. Paul’s predictions sadly came true. With Constantine’s Edict of Milan in 325, Christianity joined hand in hand with paganism resulting in the church drifting far away from the New Testament pattern. Departures from Scripture included the teachings of celibacy, simony, indulgences, purgatory and hagiolatry. The departures became so obvious and glaring protestors sought for changes. The Reformation Movement was born out of the many voices of opposition. Reformation was achieved, but the movement fell short of restoration. A regrettable result of the movement was the competition that ensued between individuals and sects. The voices of dissent within the group of reformers gave birth to the many denominations that exist even today.
Some continued the quest for restoration including Thomas Campbell. Campbell expressed the following: “The Church of Christ upon earth is essentially, intentionally and constitutionally one, consisting of all those in every place that profess their faith in Christ and obedience to him in all things according to the Scriptures … that division among the Christians is a horrid evil, fraught with many evils; in a word, it is productive of confusion and of every evil work.” Restoration has been the mission of churches of Christ for two hundred years. The goal is to achieve the unity prayed for by Jesus in John 17:20-23. The path to this unity is made clear by Jesus words in John 17:17. “Sanctify them in truth, Your word is truth.”
Remember Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3. Paul told Timothy that men would depart from the truth. This continues to happen today. The only way for the church to be unified as Christ desires is to have a standard to bring about unity. The standard is God’s Word. One of the most beautiful pictures in the Bible is found in Acts 2:42-47. This is a picture of what God desires today. Do we have a desire for restoration? Do we have a desire to restore their teaching? Do we desire to restore their passion and zeal? Do we desire to restore their example of sharing? Do we desire to have their same fervor for outreach? God’s desire for His church has not changed. Jesus’s prayer in John 17 describes God’s desire for His church. What is your desire?