From time to time we see a photograph that pictures four generations of family members. These photographs are very special, because it shows that there are shared values and memories among those who span the decades and yet represent the same family. Did you know that there is a Bible verse that mentions four generations? It’s 2 Timothy 2:1-2: “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
Notice that in this passage, we read of four generations, all of whom were to teach the same thing: Paul (representing one generation) told Timothy (a second generation) what to teach. Timothy, of course, was not to depart from what Paul told him to teach, but was to faithfully present the same to faithful men. The faithful men represent a third generation. And Paul implies that these faithful men were to teach others (representing a fourth generation) the same thing also.
Have you considered 2 Timothy 2:1-2 as a passage that emphasizes our Restoration plea? The Restoration Plea may be succinctly stated as follows: Man must restore the religion of Christ and the apostles in the present day in order to please God and be saved. This principle is implied by our “four-generation text.” There is no biblical warrant for departing from the apostles’ doctrine. Quite the opposite: If we want to please God, we must teach and practice the same thing that Paul taught and practiced, even if the larger culture (even religious culture!) opposes our teaching. In fact, in the very same letter, Paul warned even Timothy that he would have to doggedly cling to the true gospel in the midst of criticism and departures from the truth:
“[Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober- minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:2-5).
The Restoration Plea is valid today, just as it was in Timothy’s day. May we always stand for it.
NOTE: For an excellent lesson by Dr. David Lipe on this subject, please visit http://bit.ly/1OShUy6.