From this week’s Bible reading, we have these insightful words from Paul.
(1 Timothy 1:3-7) . . .Just as I encouraged you to stay in Eph′e·sus when I was about to go my way into Mac·e·do′ni·a, so I do now, that you might command certain ones not to teach different doctrine, 4 nor to pay attention to false stories and to genealogies, which end up in nothing, but which furnish questions for research rather than a dispensing of anything by God in connection with faith. 5 Really the objective of this mandate is love out of a clean heart and out of a good conscience and out of faith without hypocrisy. 6 By deviating from these things certain ones have been turned aside into idle talk, 7 wanting to be teachers of law, but not perceiving either the things they are saying or the things about which they are making strong assertions.
We use this scripture and other similar ones whenever we want to quash speculation from the rank and file. Speculation is a bad thing as it is a manifestation of independent thinking which is an even worse thing.
The fact is, neither speculation nor independent thinking are bad things; nor are they good things. There is no moral dimension to either. That stems from how they are used. Thinking which is independent from God is a bad thing. Thinking that is independent from the thinking of other men—not so much. Speculation is a wonderful tool for improving our understanding of the universe. It is only bad when we transform it into dogma.
Paul is warning Timothy about men how are trying to do just that. These men had been speculating on the significance of genealogies and had prompted false stories as part of a different doctrine. Who today fits that bill?
Paul restates the Christian way: “love out of a clean heart and out of a good conscience and out of faith without hypocrisy.” The men he is condemning here started on their wrong course “by deviating from these things”.
Our teaching involving 1914 and all the prophetic fulfillments which we have tied to that year are based solely on speculation. Not only can we not prove them, but the evidence available contradicts our conclusions. Yet we hold to the speculation and teach it as doctrine. Likewise, the hope of millions has been diverted from the truth based on speculation as to the meaning of texts such as John 18:16: “I have other sheep which are not of this fold…” Again, no proof; just speculation transformed into dogma and imposed by authority.
Such teachings do not come from “love out of a clean heart and out of a good conscience and out of faith without hypocrisy.”
Paul’s warning to Timothy resonates to this day. We stand condemned by the very texts we use to condemn others.