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Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 1:8-13
Return to the Old Paths
1. Bible records many of God’s pleas to man to be restored to His way of doing things: Noah (2 Pet. 2:5); Isaiah (Isa. 8:20); Zechariah (1:3); Malachi (3:7; 4:4); John (Mal. 4:5-6 -- Matt. 17:11-12).
2. Jer. 6:16-17 (18:15-17) – Plea often ignored in spite of Jer. 10:23!
3. Restoring our lives to God’s divine will (gospel of Christ) is the only way of salvation, Acts 4:12 (Jno.14:6). [To set in place, ordain]
4. So, returning to God’s way – the old paths – is at the heart of the gospel we believe, obey and teach, 2 Pet. 1:12-15; 1 Pet. 4:11.
I. WE MUST RETURN TO AN ABSOLUTE RESPECT FOR THE SCRIPTURES AS GOD’S INSPIRED REVELATION TO US, 1 Cor. 2:6-13; 14:37; 1 Ths. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3.
A. Such Respect has been and Continues to be Eroded.
1. Secular humanism: “We believe...that traditional dogmatic or authoritarian religions that place revelation, God, ritual, or creed above human needs and experience do a disservice to the human species.” (Humanist Manifesto II, signers include Isaac Asimov, Alan Guttmacher, PPFA, Betty Friedan, founder of NOW, Lester Mondale)
2. Immorality: Selfish lusts (Col. 3:5-6).
3. Hypocrisy: From those who ought to oppose this erosion of respect, Matt. 23:2-3.
4. Doctrines of denial: New revelation doctrines, Holy Spirit guidance apart from the word doctrines, liberal theology.
II. WE MUST RETURN TO USING THE BIBLE AS OUR ONLY SOURCE OF AUTHORITY FOR WHAT WE BELIEVE AND PRACTICE, Col. 3:17.
A. Return to Book-Chapter-Verse Preaching, Acts 17:2-3; 18:28.
1. Rom. 3:9-19: Apostle used 6 quotes to support one statement in v. 9 (3:19: “The law!”).
2. Brethren have become bored with this kind of preaching (stories, jokes, entertained, ears scratched).
3. Bible classes with almost no Scripture being used.
B. Return to Contending for the Faith, Jude 3.
1. Debate is now unacceptable to many, Acts 6:9-10.
2. Refusal aids error and apostasy, Jude 4 (Rom. 16:17-18).
III. WHAT RETURNING TO THE OLD PATHS OF THE GOSPEL WILL DO:
A. Will Return Hearts to God, cf. Mal. 4:5-6 (Lk. 1:16-17).
1. The gospel turns evil hearts, Eph. 4:20-24.
2. Good and honest hearts, Lk. 8:15.
B. Will Return to Christ’s Law of Pardon, Acts 3:17-20, 26.
1. Unity on how to be saved (not praying through, sinner’s prayer, faith only, H.S. experience…)
2. Like NT: Taught, believe, repent, confess faith, baptized (Acts 2:21, 38, 40-41; 8:35-38; 16:30-34).
C. Will Return to the Purity of Worship.
1. Not everything offered is approved, Lev.10:1-2 (Jno. 4:24).
a. NT: Singing (Eph. 5:19); Prayer (Acts 2:42); Giving (1 Cor. 16:2); Lord's Supper (Acts 20:7); Preaching and learning (Acts 20:7).
b. Returning to the gospel means removing all additions and also replacing what has been taken away!
2. Not everything being offered is accepted because hearts are not right, cf. Psa. 51:16-17 (Jas. 4:6-10).
D. Will Return the Local Church to its Right Order, Acts 16:5.
1. When obedient, there was growth and blessings, 16:4.
2. Return its organization (autonomous, independent), Acts 14:23; 1 Pet. 5:2.
3. Return its work (preach, edify, relieve saints), Acts 6:1-4, 7.
4. Return its unity, 1 Cor. 1:10.
E. Will Return to Doctrinal Accuracy, 1 Tim. 4:1 (Gal. 1:6-10).
1. A spirit of compromise has swept through the churches of Christ.
2. Almost anything goes “as long as you are sincere and open to study…”
F. Will Return to Pure Morals and Holy Living, 1 Pet. 1:13-16.
1. Commandments will not be compromised…
2. Modesty (1 Tim. 2:9-10); Adulterous remarriages (Matt. 19:9); lack of self-control (smoking, drink, drugs, language, 1 Cor. 9:25).
A return to the old paths of divine truth and Christ's gospel in our lives is not an idealistic fairly tale – not “cunningly devised fables” (2 Pet. 1:16) – it is mandatory for our salvation. Matt. 7:21-25 (Jer. 6:16); Col. 3:17; Matt. 28:18; 2 Tim. 1:13