Getting Distracting with Debates
2 Timothy 2:23-26 KJV
(23) But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. (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.
It has recently become apparent to me that the primary source of conflict for God’s people is now from within the church, not outside the church. Every day, yet another person rises up seeking new approaches, new methods, or new interpretations of the everlasting gospel. In the past year alone, I have seen and heard more interesting theories that people claim are supported by the Bible, but somehow, the texts used to support the theory are always a subset of all of the passages that Bible contains on the subject at hand. When this is pointed out, there is never an acknowledgement of the missing texts, or any attempt to account for what they teach, but just accusations about how people are not listening to truth.
Hint: That’s not how Jesus behaved when He wasn’t listened to, and He *is* truth!
As a result of all this error and supposition that is creeping – or sometimes strolling – into the church, concerned brethren are readily engaging in debate and rebuttals and confrontations. But what does this serve? I cannot speak for everyone, but I myself have yet to see that as good, solid rebuttal or debate has caused anyone to say, “You know, I might have been wrong here.” I have not seen any person bearing their “new light” back down in the face of abundant scriptural evidence that their position is not supported by the Word of God. Meanwhile, lengthy debates generate collateral damage for bystanders in the form of doubt, and also in the deteriorating attitude of those who are engaged in the battle, leading to behavior and attitude that is most unChristlike. In short, this does not make a good witness for the gospel. It is no wonder that Paul counseled Timothy to avoid these types of conflicts and debates, for no good will come from them.
It seems that we frequently forget that we are engaged in a very serious conflict with a highly sophisticated and determined enemy. All this chaos is intended to redirect efforts that should be focused on encouraging our brethren to deep, personal Bible study, and on the preaching/teaching of the 3 angels’ messages to the whole world. There is no time to get caught up in needless conflict. There is no time to be distracted from the mission. There is no time to come down from the wall to meet and discuss with those who are looking to use a convenient subset of scripture to promote their theories.
Does that mean that we never challenge a false position, or gently seek to redirect an erring student of the Word? No, we should not casually leave any true seeker in error. But, once a person has been provided the evidence that their position is unsupported by scripture, and they insist that you are deluded or supporting heresy or are in apostasy, then you need to evaluate your subsequent time in light of the lateness of the hour and your responsibility to be a faithful steward of time. We cannot afford to get embroiled in needless debates, when there is so much of the Lord’s work which remains to be done.
Nehemiah 6:1-4 KJV
(1) Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;) (2) That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief. (3) And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you? (4) Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner.
We have no time for needless conflict. Let us be prudent and discerning, and use our time wisely. We only need to correct an error once, and if the person insists on holding on to it, we need to move on.
”I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?”