2 Timothy 1:13-14
What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. (14) Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
Keep and follow the pattern of sound teaching (doctrine) which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
Contemporary English Version
Now follow the example of the correct teaching I gave you, and let the faith and love of Christ Jesus be your model.
Not all teachings from the Bible are sound teachings. Some teachings from the Bible are false because of the way the presenter has misinterpreted the Bible facts. Therefore not all teachings claimed to be from the Bible should just be accepted. We must investigate if all the teachings we are being taught and preached to are sound biblical teachings. There is a pattern of sound teaching!
Apostle Paul writes this final letter before he dies, he writes it to Timothy who he left to pastor the church in Ephesus. Paul tells Timothy to seriously guard the teachings he taught him because they contain a pattern of sound teachings.
Sound teachings refer to teachings that are sensible, explainable, and true. Sound teachings are not complex, contradictory, and confusing. Sound teachings are the true and right teachings that we should all follow. There is a pattern of sound teachings!
Pattern or form, suggests that the logic used is not hidden. The pattern suggests that one can explain from the beginning to the end how a certain conclusion was arrived at. The pattern suggests that when the same method is followed all over scripture it will not contradict scripture but remains consistent. A pattern can be compared to the scientific method of doing things. It is explainable and repeatable with the same and reliable results. The pattern suggests that there are rules that apply in the interpretation and should be used. The pattern suggests a similarity that is repeated. If we follow the same rules and repeat them we get the same results. There is a pattern of sound teachings!
Paul tells Timothy to follow the pattern and together with the teachings arrived at, guard it as treasure. Doctrines that are taught after being arrived at through this process must be seriously guarded. So the question is, how do we arrive at Sound teachings from the Bible? I will list some rules or principles to apply. These rules or principles are the patterns of sound teachings. There is a pattern of sound teachings!
- We must first establish who wrote what we are now reading, who was the recipient and what circumstances influenced the message. This is important because as time passes we carry over principles and not specific instructions that only made sense in the past of Bible times. For example Old Testament expression of gratitude by slaughtering an animal cannot be carried forward to our time, but the principle of gratitude lives on to this day. This is critical because many falsely zealous fellows have carried forward instructions that made sense in the past and not now. They forget to carry the principles and instead carry everything. For example on women covering their heads and not speaking in worship, these were specific to Corinth and Ephesus churches.
- After establishing what the Bible was addressing in the past, determine what it is telling us now, then find other passages throughout scripture that address the same matter. It is only a sound teaching if it is repeatedly mentioned in the same manner and without contradiction throughout scripture.
- If one passage carries a seemingly contradictory message, we set it aside and go by what majority of texts in the Bible tell us. One passage tells us to use alcohol for the stomach ailments while all others tell us the evils of alcohol. We go by majority of texts and totally avoid alcohol.
- No Bible teachings should be built on one text. If only one verse explains what you are saying, it cannot be considered to be a Bible teaching or doctrine. This is because one text can be taken out of context and cause harm in application. For example when Samson killed himself and others, that single text can be used to approve mass murder of enemies. The text on two people one taken one left should not be used to explain the manner the world will end and Jesus returns, because many other clear texts exist.
- No Bible teachings can be nor should be based on unclear texts. Some texts are unclear because translators have never agreed on what an original language word meant. When there is dispute on what the text straight away means, we leave out the text. Good teaching or sound doctrine can still stand even when unclear texts are put aside. For example when Jesus said “on this rock I will build my church” was He referring to Himself, Peter, disciples or some nearby rock? We don’t know. The doctrine of the church can still be explained using many other texts without using this one.
- No Bible teachings should only be explainable using a certain Bible translation, version, paraphrase or language. Sound Bible teachings should make sense whichever Bible is used. If you must insist on everyone having a specific Bible, then the teachings are suspect.
- No Bible teaching should need support of any books outside the Bible to explain. The Bible should fully and convincingly explain itself without any additional support from anywhere else. If you need a dictionary, a scholarly material, Spirit of prophecy books, theology text books, etc., to explain the Bible then yours are not Biblical teachings. For example all Seventh-day Adventist teachings can be convincingly taught and explained without any reference whatsoever to the writings of Ellen G White. Writings of Ellen G White are used as additional clarification of what the Bible has already said. That is how all other extra materials should be used – to confirm what the Bible has already said.
- Bible texts are interpreted using the clear meaning that comes out upon reading. We avoid insisting on a deeper meaning that is unclear on basic reading of the text.
- Bible teaching should not emenate from some authors only or some religious leaders only. Bible teaching is what various people in studying for themselves are convinced it’s true. A constant reference to a person or book for clarity is a sign of weakness in the doctrine you purport to espouse. There study it for yourself, be convinced that it’s true and believe it for yourself. You can be taught but do not be forever dependent on the teacher.
- Spiritual things are spiritually understood. Therefore be humble and prayerful as you interpret Biblical texts.
Those are some of the patterns of sound teaching. If anyone anywhere around the world uses them, we will not find contradictory teachings and all teachings will be fully Biblical. Usage of these sensible principles produces a pattern of sound teachings. There is a pattern of sound teaching!
Thank you, God, for the pattern of sound teachings. Make me faithful to you and your word and through it bless me, in Jesus’s name, Amen!
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