False Advertising

2 Timothy 2:3,8-9 (3) Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (8) Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, (9) for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned.

We tell people that the Gospel is the “good news” and yet, if one was to read what Paul is telling Timothy, that doesn’t sound very good to me! Suffer? What do you mean, suffer?! Why should I have to suffer? Christ suffered so that I would not have to! Christ sacrificed His life so that I won’t have to sacrifice anything! The unfortunate reality of what we have here is the fact that this is not out of the realm of possibility of what many people believe. Most people who claim to believe in Christ, believe that they should not suffer and by suffering, it is because of their lack of faith. These kinds of ideals come from the preaching of the “social gospel” or the “prosperity gospel”. In short, these “gospels” are not THE true Gospel. They are false teachings that bring about a false sense of security that does not lead one to Christ. They are full of sophistry and do not promote the truth of the Gospel message.

The good news that the Gospel brings is that we do not have to SUFFER eternal condemnation that is rightly deserved because of our sins. That through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can have fellowship with God. These teachings will cause you to live a life that is different from the world. It is for this reason that we suffer. The world is going to reject you. They will insult you. They will try to humiliate you. They will despise you and often times, they will cut you out of their lives completely due to their hatred for the truth. This Gospel is not to be tainted with. We do not add or take away anything from the truth and yet, that is what many do.

We need to understand that our suffering here does not cease to exist because we are obedient to Christ. Our eternal suffering ceases, but not our current sufferings. Obedience does not negate suffering and it does not guarantee how successful we are or make our lives easy. We have a perfect example in the life of Joseph in Genesis 37.

In the life of Joseph, we know that God gave him dreams that brought out much anger from his brothers and even his father rebuked him for his dreams. Not only did Joseph receive these dreams from God but he was also obedient to his father. Far too often people look at the idea that faithfulness will bring about an easier or more comfortable life. Because of this, they will make certain decisions in hope that their life will continue to be easy and more simple. At the young age of 17, Joseph had no intention of being hated by his brothers. He had no intention of being sold into slavery. Yet, it was his faithfulness that caused him to suffer much at the hands of those who were supposed to love him.

Consider two kinds of people; the obedient and the disobedient. Most would conclude that Joseph falls into the category of those who are obedient and his brothers into the disobedient. What are we to conclude then? Faithfulness brings about suffering to those who obey by the disobedient. What was Joseph guilty of? The only thing he did was obey his father and then all this disaster took place in his life. Why do we not consider that our current sufferings could be like that of Joseph or even the apostle Paul?

(NLT) 2 Timothy 4:3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.

There is no doubt that the blame goes around the room. The blame goes to those who have no sense of what it means to respect authority. It goes to those who refuse to acknowledge and accept the truth. The blame also goes to the false teachers obviously. They will not admit it publicly because they have an image to uphold. I have come to realize that once you get them behind closed doors and out of public view, many of them soon begin to realize the garbage that they teach. Even so, they continue to teach false doctrine because if they don’t, the people will find someone who will continue teaching things that will not convict them.

People are not receiving the Gospel, the good news. They are receiving news that is “good” to them. We are warned about these kinds of doctrines and “gospels”.

Galatians 1:9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

Do not get suckered into believing lies. There are some used car lot dealerships that use shady tactics to get you on their lots. They make bold claims that will get your attention and once they have your signature on the dotted line on loan papers, they have you right where they want you. False teachers are no different. Once you park yourself in their “pews” or “chairs”, they have you right where they want you. Make no mistake about it, they are not preaching and teaching the truth. They use the same shady tricks that most con artists’ use. They are charismatic, good speakers, and they know a fool when they see one.

-Lee Elkins