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The Timothy Initiative

It seems to be doing good but it does not precisely follow the biblical model.  Teaching is by trained leaders and not directly from Scripture and Scripture alone.  Imperfections in the understanding of the leaders are communicated directly to each new community they establish.  

God’s Plan

The Biblical model is for converts to form small communities in which there is ongoing, almost continuous informal contact between members of all age groups.  In these, men, women and older children meet and study both separately and together on an informal basis.  They may occasionally attend sermons or lectures given by others outside the community but the meaty discussion and final working out of the meaning of Scripture is internal to the group itself.

In this model, there is no central repository (other than Scripture itself) of the meaning of God’s truth.  This is of great significance and importance.  Because God is what He is, His goals for His people are very high.  Each believer will, in time become far more knowledgeable of the truth of Scripture than today’s wisest theologians.  This is God’s goal for all His people.  All must work toward as perfect and complete an understanding as they can attain in this life.  Clearly some will go further than others but all must do as much as they really can, not just what they may think they can. 

This cannot be realized without in-depth study on the part of each and every individual.  They may and should work together and help each other; but they must not rely on anything other than their own personal understanding of God’s Word.  When the weak slack off and begin to rely on others, they do not progress as God requires.  They fall short of their true potential and do not fully please God.

This was of necessity the model of the early church in the Roman Empire.  The apostles wrote letters, widely distributed among the congregations, that formed the foundation.  These letters, now the bulk of the New Testament, instructed the early believers directly, without pastors as intermediaries.  The anti-Christian environment in Ancient Rome precluded any such possibility.

These small groups was where the real learning and development took place.  It was subject to local error but not broadly contaminated by deficiencies in any overseeing central agency.  It was God’s Word speaking directly to God’s people.  Each group worked out, on their own, from Scripture alone! the meaning of each passage.  It was truly Sola Scriptura, the cry of the Reformation. 

This is the model that led first to Christian Rome and later to Christian Europe.  It was not followed perfectly but it was God’s way for guiding His people to His truth.  It may seem to be the hard way but it was and is still God’s way.  God’s people, then and now, are extremely weak and have a very long way to go.  Many centuries will pass before God is satisfied with our progress.      

Our Responsibility

Instead of gaining from the efforts of these early believers, though, we have fallen very far from their lead.  Today, almost all Christians have virtually given up any possibility of this ever being a Christian world.  They try to believe that Jesus didn’t really tell His disciples to teach the nations to obey His Commandments and make the world a Christian world.  Instead, they take obedience to His commandments as a do the best you can effort.

This is one more example of a problem that has limited the progress of the Christian faith since the early centuries.  It is simply imperfect and partial obedience.  God’s instructions are very precise and must be obeyed to the letter.  God sees partial obedience as disobedience, which is precisely what it really is. 

Why is this so?  Why have God’s people failed so miserably to obey their God?  There are many reasons but the root issue is they have not obeyed His command to study and learn directly from His Word, without reliance on an upper class of teachers as their baby-sitters.  They may mean well and even do some good but they did not fully obey God.  They went their own way and not God’s way.  There is a place for teachers such as Timothy and others but they are no substitute for the personal study of God’s Word by all God’s people.  The faith will continue to flounder and flail and get nowhere until this deficiency is corrected.

What Next?

Given our current degraded situation, what should God’s people do?  We can’t push a button and change the world instantly but we can do things that would affect our immediate environment.  We can take our families out of the grip of the false teachers that substitute entertainment for real teaching from God’s Word.  We can develop them and ourselves as we study together as families and groups of families.  We must teach them and teach ourselves to do without outside help from professionals.  We must recognize that God holds us responsible for leading and teaching our families.  We must stop off-loading this highly important task. 

As more and more of God’s people take this task seriously, we will see at first gradual and then more and more rapid growth of godly communities teaching and doing God’s work.  We will see changes, first in our own immediate environment, later those nearby and still later further away.  Our responsibility to our Lord is to do all we can with all we have to further obedience to His Great Commission. 

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