Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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“Whom shall He teach knowledge?
And whom shall he make to understand doctrine?
Them who are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breast.
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept,
line upon line, line upon line, here a little, and there a little.”
From the Lessons from Isaiah series
The apostle Paul told Timothy that sound doctrine is something to which Timothy had attained (1Tim. 4:6). This tells us that full knowledge of the truth does not come with conversion, but must be diligently sought after as treasure hunters seek for their treasures. Hebrews 5:14 tells us that true knowledge of good and evil belongs only to the saints of God who are “of full age, to those who by reason of use have exercised their senses to discern good and evil.” This is how Timothy attained to sound doctrine. This is how he escaped the many pitfalls of false teaching that were lying in wait for his soul.
We learn from the book of Acts and from Paul’s two letters to Timothy that Timothy started in the Lord as a young man, and continued to follow the Lord as he traveled with Paul. There is no question but that Timothy faced the same challenges any young man faces in this world, the same temptations, the same persecutions for loving the truth and choosing to do good instead of evil. There is no question but that Timothy paid a price in scorn for loving Paul and sticking close to him. So close to Paul did Timothy grow that Paul called Timothy “my own son in the faith”.
In his travels with Paul, through the labors and trials, the joys and sorrows of the work of God, the tragedies of seeing some make “shipwreck of their faith” and the triumphs of seeing souls won to Christ, Timothy learned, a little here and a little there. In his evening walks with Paul, or in their private conversations as they traveled, Timothy asked questions about this or that line of Scripture, and listened as they were patiently explained. Over time, bit by bit, a little here and a little there, Timothy attained to sound doctrine. His patient pursuit of the truth bore fruit, and he was at last grounded in the faith. In Paul’s old age, Paul judged Timothy worthy of the great responsibility of attempting to salvage the souls of Paul’s converts in Ephesus, souls who were in danger of being led astray by smooth-talking zealots teaching false doctrines. Paul sent Timothy into a fierce battle, unconcerned that false teachers would confuse Timothy because Paul had watched Timothy attain to sound doctrine, line upon line.
If you want a place in the kingdom of God, if you want the honor of being entrusted with responsibility among the saints, do as Timothy did and pursue the truth relentlessly. The knowledge of God is not to be attained to in a day, nor even a year, or two. But the reward awaits those who long for it enough to pursue it and to embrace it, regardless of the cost.