Then in the key verses we see that the Apostle Paul does in fact name names! He specifically mentions two people -- Hymenaeus and Philetus. What was their crime? Heresy! They were preaching a different Gospel then they had received! How crucial is this to God? How important is the purity of the doctrine to our God?
And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person's share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book. -- Revelation 22: 18-19 (NLT)
Beloved, it is not what we say that saves anyone but what God says. Our fancy buildings, community outreaches, and creative ministries save no one. I once heard a mega-church pastor say that because of the new plasma flat screen TV's in the basement, three youth gave their lives to Christ one Friday evening. Those are some powerful televisions. It is silly of course. It is actually worthless talk that spreads like cancer. It is so important to God that if anyone dares to add anything to the Gospel message then all of the curses that appear in the entire Bible shall apply to that person!
Lastly from the key verses -- why is all of this important? Why does God name names here? What is the end result of the heresy of Hymenaeus and Philetus? They have turned some people away from the faith. Remember, this is not about you or me. It is about Jesus Christ and the unsaved masses of people out there looking in on our salvation. They probably turned away some good people. Some God-fearing people. Some people with great intentions. Beloved realize that it gives me no pleasure to say that Joel Osteen is a false teacher. It gives me no pleasure to say that Joseph Prince teaches incomplete Gospel. Or that The Circle Maker is heretical teaching. But Osteen, Prince and Batterson are big boys. I am worried about the tens of thousands of people who attend their churches and think they are saved when they are not. People who have taken their stand on a compromised Gospel with a watered down Christ who saves no one. There are 45,000 people who attend Osteen's church every week. Is it possible that some come to God through his work? Sure, God will use anyone. But for every ten saved I bet there are a thousand unsaved who think they are. Their best life is not now -- it's still out there waiting for them. Waiting for someone to preach the actual Gospel of Jesus Christ to them!
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes--the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, "It is through faith that a righteous person has life." -- Romans 1: 16-17 (NLT)
The Gospel is not meant to help us become relevant. It is not meant to help us feel significant. It is meant to tell us how God makes us right in His sight! It is no surprise that the key verses are written to Timothy, who was a pastor in charge of his own church. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul explained the close relationship between what we preach and the salvation of those who would hear us:
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. -- 1Timothy 4: 16 (NIV)
Amen. May we continue to proclaim the true Gospel of Jesus Christ for the sake of the salvation of those who would listen. In Jesus name.