Editorial: Past, Present, and Future -- By: Stephen J. Wellum

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 09:1 (Spring 2005)
Article: Editorial: Past, Present, and Future
Author: Stephen J. Wellum

Editorial: Past, Present, and Future

Stephen J. Wellum

Stephen J. Wellum is Associate Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Wellum received his Ph.D. degree in theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and has also taught theology at the Associated Canadian Theological Schools and Northwest Baptist Theological College and Seminary in Canada. He has contributed to several publications and a collection of essays on theology and worldview issues.

As one reads the New Testament, at least two complementary truths stand out in regard to the proclamation, defense, and passing on of the gospel. First, there is the sad fact of how quickly people depart from the truth and substitute it for false doctrine. It would seem that we as fallen creatures love to believe error much faster than the truth. Second, and in light of the first observation, there is the constant exhortation to stand for the truth, which requires nothing less than constant diligence and Spirit-wrought faithfulness to the Lord and his Word.

The first fact is clearly evident in the New Testament. For example, think of the church at Galatia. Paul himself is astonished at how quickly this church has turned to another gospel, which he makes very clear is “really no gospel at all” (Gal 1:6). But sadly this is not an isolated occurrence in the New Testament. Think of Paul’s warnings to his young pastor-apprentice Timothy where he describes the “last days”—the entire period between the first and second comings of our Lord—as characterized by those in the church who are “always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth” (2 Tim 3:7). Hence the need for Timothy to be vigilant, to persevere in the faith both in terms of his life and doctrine (1 Tim 4:15–16), and to preach the Word with great patience and careful instruction (2 Tim 4:2–3). Or think of the seven churches in Revelation 2–3. How many times does the risen and exalted Lord warn the churches to stand for the truth in the face of those within the church who are introducing false doctrine and departing from the gospel? The answer is obvious on any reading of these important chapters.

The second truth is unmistakably evident as well. In light of the fact that we so quickly depart from the truth, there is the constant need for the church to “guard the deposit” (2 Tim 1:14), for leaders in the church to “keep watch over yourselves and all the flock” (You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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