Days of Deception

Days of Deception
Robert Wurtz II

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. (2 Timothy 4:2-5 KJV)

Paul had already warned Timothy earlier in the epistle of people who would be, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (…) as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.” (2 Timothy 3:7–8 KJV) Disobedience is almost always the cause of people “ever learning and never coming to the knowledge of the truth.” Nevertheless, Paul issued a solemn charge to Timothy that he was to go on preaching the Gospel that was once and for all delivered unto the saints no matter if it were in season or out of season.

Paul inserts into this charge a prophecy about a type of people who are characterized by three things:

1. They will not endure sound doctrine; i.e., reproving, rebuking, and exhorting.
2. They will heap to themselves teachers that tickle their ears and fuel their lusts.
3. They will refuse to hear the truth, but will turn to fables (stories and myths).

This prophecy is given as a future reality as the verbs are future tense. There was a season coming in which Timothy would have to deal with these people. I suggest that these people would arise as a consequence of Paul being dead. This is akin to the warning Paul gave to the Ephesians that after his departure savage wolves would enter in — not sparing the sheep. In the absence of sound preaching, the lusts of men and women come to the fore and a band of so-called ministers rise to feed them. 

After Their Own Lusts

Markets are driven by demand. This is true in all walks of life. When demand for something dries up — the supply chain for it dries up. Flow is created by pressure; and in this case the pressure is lust. The Greek word for lust is the standard word for strong desire (epithumia). These people are not driven by God’s will or His word — but their own strong desires. Whereas the Kingdom of God is designed around God’s desires, these have traded God’s desires for their own desires. Nevertheless, they chose to remain in the churches. This creates a very serious challenge for preachers. Feed the peoples lusts; or preach for the glory of God?

Heaping to Themselves

The very fact that Paul told Timothy that people will heap teachers to themselves that tickle their ears suggests that Timothy is going to be woefully outnumbered if he carries out Paul’s charge. It suggests that even in the first century there was a serious disparity between the number of true preachers and ear ticklers. Just as in our times, compromisers are able to vote out truth by majority. In other words, majority rules. “They” are deceived into thinking that the more people agree with their lusts the more likely “they” are to be right. Add to that the false idea that popularity equals authority and you have a recipe for wholesale deception.

In our times heaping can be done on an exponential basis. The television and Christian networks are loaded with speakers who have carved their niche in meeting the lusts of men. Between hyper grace preachers and prosperity merchants the masses are made to believe they can drive a Rolls Royce into heaven laden with sin. What has happened? Simply put, they tell people what they want to hear. They almost never serve up news that would agitate their base. Therefore, their TV audience, radio listeners, and Internet mailing lists keep growing. Obviously, not all are in this category, but clearly the majority are. In Timothy’s day “they” could heap a handful of preachers to tickle their ears– today the sky is the limit with so much access to various speakers. One could feed themselves deception 24/7/365.

An Encouragement to Timothy

Paul was telling Timothy what “they” were going to do and what their speakers were going to tell them. Fables. Falsehoods. Twisted notions. All sorts of things that distract them from the truth. Typically, these notions seek to bless “they”, that is, the very people God is wanting reproved or rebuked. It means that Timothy would have to live with what Leonard Ravenhill called, “rejection.” Paul dealt with it too –even among professors of Christ. 

The time came when Timothy got up to preach and could expect a house of reluctant hearers who seemed to merely endure and tolerate his preaching; but then came the “ear tickler” and the house was full and the people anxious and attentive. He would have seen it and it would have grieved and vexed his soul. From people who taught that the resurrection had already passed, to others who promoted the damnable teachings of the Judaizers (see Galatians 1) — Paul was in a constant battle. Paul’s words would come to mind:

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

Almost as if Paul shot down all the arguments from the beginning. “They” are thronging the ear tickling preachers you say? ” But watch thou in all things. I know what “they” are doing but “thou” are to watch in all things. The word for “watch” here could be translated sober. “They” may be drunk on the elixir of this world and stagger at the lusts that are heaped up, but be thou sober in all things. “They” might be doing it, but thou must not. You fill to the full your ministry and leave “they” and their speakers to God. Let them be ignorant still. No matter how insignificant you may think your contribution is — keep preaching the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 

Profits or Prophets?

Profits or Prophets? 

Robert Wurtz II

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. (2 Timothy 4:2–4 NKJV)

In 2012 Reuters reported that a study had been performed in which music created between 1955 and 2010 was drawn from the Milllion Song Data Set and digitally analyzed. Their conclusion? Pop music (is) too loud and (it) all sounds the same.” This summary became the title of the article. “A team led by artificial intelligence specialist Joan Serra at the Spanish National Research Council ran music from the last 50 years through some complex algorithms and found that pop songs have become intrinsically louder and more bland in terms of the chords, melodies and types of sound used. ‘We found evidence of a progressive homogenization of the musical discourse,’ Serra told Reuters. ‘In particular, we obtained numerical indicators that the diversity of transitions between note combinations – roughly speaking chords plus melodies – has consistently diminished in the last 50 years.'”

I wonder if there were a million sermons and Christian songs in a database, and a similar test could be conducted over the last 100 years, what the results would be? If we went on our passage in 2 Timothy 4:2-4 alone we would know the outcome before the team could be assembled or the first algorithm devised. For decades mainstream Christendom has suffered from the same kind of “homogenization” of its music and Biblical discourse that has affected secular music. In general, these things are getting louder and blander by the day. 

What is driving this trend? Undoubtedly, its the same thing that’s driving the secular world. In an attempt to maximize sales, record companies look for music that will create the most revenue. It’s not about creating good music, it’s about creating money. This is the consequence of commercialization. Nearly all of our experiences in the Western World are directly affected by profits. 

Profits of Prosperity 

Modern Christianity is fast in danger of becoming a non-prophet for profit organism. This has been the trade-off. Sometimes you will hear the peace and prosperity merchants using cynical stereotypes to describe who they call “prophets of doom.” This is what happens when Christianity becomes a profit centered enterprise. What does it do to edify the Body? I’ll tell you. Nothing meaningful. It makes me wonder; if Jesus were to show up in the flesh in the 21st Century, what do you think He would do with the money-changer driven “Pop-Christianity” that dominates our times? If He took his leather whip, as He did when moved in zeal for His Father’s House, where would He head to first? The Christian bookstores? The CCM headquarters? How about the political conventions we have in our denominations? What about the Christian Networks that use satellites and TV stations to teach things they ought not for filthy lucre sake? I dare say there wasn’t a single false teacher in the New Testament that could hold a candle to some of the prophets for profit whose names are on the lips of many Christians in our day. 

A False Jesus

I realize the standard picture of Jesus is an effeminate man with a lamb in his arms, but I really have to ask — what would He cleanse first if He should prepare His Church for His return? The homogenization of the faith has produced a form of Christianity that bears little resemblance to the New Testament. What is most dreadful of all is that the masses refuse to even ponder this great problem. It is a hard saying, but it’s almost like today, many don’t have time to learn. People will sacrifice for nonsense, but not give ample resources for their own eternity. Sure, books that puff man up sell and those type preachers captivate their audiences. “Your best life now” sells a million copies, but the pour soul writing about genuine repentance, holiness, or an expounding of the wonders of the New Covenant can’t get the time of day. Why? They won’t sell. There is no money in it. No demand. 

One of the top selling genres of so-called Christian books is Amish love stories. Really? Sin and compromise always sells, but if we are to move into Christian reality we are going to have to recognize the hour we are living in. I dare say that the time has come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they heap up for themselves teachers; and they turn their ears away from the truth, and are turned aside to fables. For Paul it was the future, but for us it is now. Let the weight of that sink in. Our generation fits this passage like no other. 

Spiritual Malnutrition

The challenge we have is that the very people who are homogenizing Christianity and feeding it to the people have made sure that nothing they ever teach will cause alarm. It like people eat and go into some kind of spiritual food coma. They are asleep to the dreadful times we are living in. If they did become alarmed, they are so spiritually malnourished that they wouldn’t have the strength or courage to do anything. Homogenized Christianity for profit has created a generation of Christian refugees traveling life’s road in perpetual weakness and frailty. Moreover, their entire palate is adjusted for the homogenized and bland stuff in such a way that they can’t stand the taste of anything legitimate. It’s like a person who has not eaten solid food for so long that they can’t handle it anymore. 

Paul’s Charge

Indeed, this is our times, but there is no need to despair. Paul gave us the solution; Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. When it’s not popular — Preach the word! When the people don’t want to hear it; Be ready in season and out of season. When they call you a prophet of doom; Convince, rebuke, and exhort. But most of all realize that God warned us of this time. We should have been expecting it to come. He knows about it and He warned us. Therefore do all these things with all longsuffering and teaching. Keep teaching the people. Keep showing them what is happening to them. Not everyone will listen, but some will. Even if nobody listens, we have a mandate from God. This is our calling. This is our commission. This is the charge we must keep.      

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