THE SUCCESSION OF FAITH
ASAPH said in his psalm:
"Listen, 0 my people, to my instruction; incline your ears to the words of
my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old,
which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not
conceal them from their children, but to tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His
wondrous works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob, and
appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should
teach them to their children, that the generation to come might know, even the
children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children,
that they should put their confidence in God, and not forget the works of God,
but keep His commandments" (Psalm 78:1ff). The passing down of God's word
from one generation to another has been fundamental' in God's blessing of the
offspring of Abraham and the restoration of Israel in 1948, after 2000 years of
When the Lord was about to take up
Elijah by a whirlwind, Elisha closely followed
him. His sincerity touched Elijah
immensely, who granted his wish "let a double portion of your spirit be
upon me". He became the successor
of Elijah (2 Kgs 2:1ff).
Timothy had not only inherited the
sincere faith of his grandmother and mother (2 Tim 1:5), he also received
careful instructions from his mother.
For this reason, he knew the Scriptures from young (2 Tim 3:15). The brethren in Derbe and Lystra spoke well
of Timothy, whom Paul took with him to preach the gospel, at the same time
teaching and molding him.
In the years 66 to 67 AD, Paul was
put behind bars and was to be martyred for God.
He wrote the second epistle to Timothy, to instruct him to accomplish
the following counts:
"Retain the standard of sound words which
you have heard from me" (2 Tim 1: 13).
"Be diligent to present yourself approved
to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the
word of truth" (2 Tim 2:15).
"And the things which you have heard from
me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will
be able to teach others" (2 Tim 2:1).
Paul's instruction was to enable
Timothy to be his successor, to continue in the ministry of the gospel to build
up the body of Christ (Eph 4:11f).
The gospel that Paul preached did
not come through man, but was the direct revelation of God (Gal 1:11f). Though
he had not been with Jesus physically, as the apostles had, his preaching did
not in any way contradict the gospel of Christ. Instead, what he preached was
of more depth (cf 2 Pet 3:15f). For this reason, he boldly told Timothy that
what he preached was the pattern of the sound word (2 Tim 1:13f).
When a shepherd handles accurately
the word of God, he pleases God and is truly a worker without blemish. To handle accurately the word of God, he must
base all doctrinal issues of salvation on:
The teachings of the apostles,
prophets and Jesus (Mt 28:20; Eph 2:19f; 2 Jn 9). The
well-established foundation is Jesus, apart from whom no one can lay another
foundation (1 Cor 3:11)
Interpretation of verses adopted
in preaching must conform to the sound word (Tit 2:1; 2 Pet 3:16). Misinterpreting or misconstruing God's word
is disastrous to the listeners, and brings curses upon the interpreter himself
The way of salvation must be
clearly explained; for the word of God is the absolute truth, as in God there
is no yes and no (2 Cor 1:18f).
What is not in the Bible can not
be added to it; what is clearly established in the Bible cannot be taken away
from it (Deut 4:2; Rev 22:18f). Only
when the above are faithfully observed, can we bring others perfect before the
The approved workers, who are
pleasing to God and handle accurately the word of God, must heartily impart
knowledge to and train others. Imparting
the word of God from one generation to another will deepen the study of the
truth, by which the church will continue to grow and prosper. This was why Paul instructed Timothy to
impart the word which he heard from him to faithful men. Paul was the first generation who received
the truth directly from God. Timothy was
the second, who received it from Paul.
The faithful man was the third who received it from Timothy. The fourth generation was those whom the
faithful men taught. This was the chain
of imparting the truth. We must humbly
accept the teachings from our predecessors, so that we can teach the generation
to come. In this way, the spreading of
God's word would continue till the church is lifted up to heaven (1 Cor 15:24; 1 Thess 4:15ff).
The True Jesus Church has been
preaching the doctrines of salvation for many decades. These doctrines were revealed directly by
God, which are clearly documented in the Bible and conform neatly to the
teachings of the apostles. They are the
pattern of sound word of the ancient church.
If we can adhere to what Paul had instructed Timothy, then surely the
truth will be spread throughout the world at the close of the 21st century.