FROM FOLLIES TO FABLES  (An Exegesis with Comments from II Timothy 3 and 4)

How do you so quickly in the third and fourth chapters of II Timothy pass from the
"follies of church members" of 3:1-9 with "perilous times" to the "fables" of church
members of 4:3,4?  In other words how do the follies of church members during the
periodic downs of "perilous times", like the periodic valleys of churches like the
periodic mountain top revivals, become the steady great apostasy in a church when
"they will no longer endure sound doctrine".  The immediate answer is when the follies
of church members are no longer revealed as follies as admonished in 3:9.

"...but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theres
also was."  (II Timothy 3:9)

I.  The Follies of Church Members.

It is difficult at first to digest that the list of follies such as "lovers of self", "lovers of
money", "boasters", "proud", and more apply to church members.

(1).  So close is this list of bad behavior and attitudes among church members to the
description of the unrighteous of Romans 1:29-32 that surely at first we would beg the
issue that II Timothy 3:1-9 can not be about church members.  WRONG!

(2).  The text of 3:5, "having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof" makes
it obvious that the attitudes of behavior of church members are being discussed here in
the Word of God.

(3).  The fact that many of the follies are repeated in Romans for the unrighteous and in
II Timothy for church members during perilous times reminds us of the inevitability of
"tares" in the kingdom and the local church.  {Later in II Timothy 4:3,4 we will find
that the "tares" have become more numerous, more aggressive, and more set in their
ways in opposition to Christ and sound doctrine.

II.  The Fables of Church Members.

It should be obvious that it is the same church members of the perilous times that after
so many stumbling of the ups and downs become to "they" of "the time will come when
they will not endure sound doctrine..."  (II Timothy 4:3)

(1).  The Time and Leaders of the Great Apostasy of the Falling Away.

a.  The time is the Falling Away, approximately 40 years before the "little while" that
sees the withdrawal of the Holy Spirit from earth, the release of Satan, the "little
while" of course terminating with the Second Coming of Christ.
b.  The leaders of the Great Falling Away, which Christ identified as the time when
"sin will abound and the love of many will wax cold", are the same church members of
the perilous times; but these church members are the victims of many cycles of history,
their own cycle culminating when the follies are no longer revealed in their local
church {you can see where each local church may arrive all the way to a lack of
"endurance" at different times during the 40 years of the Falling Away}.  By the way
the only reason 40 years is chosen here is because that was the period of the other great
Falling Away of the children of Israel in the desert of Exodus, Deuteronomy, and

(2).  While this Falling Away begins harmlessly with a history of selfishness, boasting,
and slander in local churches, at first rebuffed and then no longer revealed as follies {if
they are in the church, they must be right, especially if they are leaders, tares or not},
after so long a time the sin of which becomes solidified into outright and unashamed
opposition to sound doctrine which the Word of God refers to in the words "the time
will come when they will not endure sound doctrine..."  (II Timothy 4:3a)

(3).  The Falling Away in any local church moves quickly over this period of a 40
years from lack of endurance of what is sound and right to the point where church
members, no longer motivated by Christ and the Holy Spirit, are motivated by "their
own desires".  You have seen it, when church members do what they want to do
without shame!

(4).  The next step in the process of the "departing from the living God" (Hebrews
3:12) of the Falling Away is for a local church to become controlled more by their
"itching ears" than by a heart of love and domination by the Master.  {by the way not a
falling away from churches as church attendance will actually go up among those where
the leaders have long ago departed from sound doctrine}.
a.  This is not a process isolated to the local church but that is going on world wide in
seminaries, on TV, in conferences, and anywhere the Bible is taught.
b.  Itching ears Bible teachers that excite members and listeners dominate with words
of comfort and membership and Christianity become superficial, subverted,
sentimental, and soft.

(5).  The Falling Away process quickly passes into the heaping up process, "they will
heap up for themselves teachers."  Christ and the Spirit lose control of the process as
sound doctrine teachers and preachers are heaped out and unsound doctrine, itching
ears teachings and preachings are heaped in.  {Of course by this time the local church
is so far into a lack of folly revelation, that they actually think they are doing the will of
God and Christ rather than their own desires.}
a.  In the heaping out part of the "heaping up" sound preachers are run out of the local
church, careers are ruined, and Bible teachers are carefully selected based on:  [1]
intolerance toward sound doctrine; [2] the personal desires of the church members; and
[3] consistency with the imagination of their itching ears.
b.  The heaping into the local church and seminaries and on TV as part of the "heaping
up" process has the same criterion as for the heaping out process--intolerance, personal
desires, and the imaginations of itching ears.

(6).  The Falling Away process in the local church, and also in the world-wide
Christian movement of the kingdom, culminates just before "the little while" with
church members actually turning into "fables", "they will turn away their ears from the
truth, and be turned aside to fables."  You do see that they once they stop listening to
truth and sound doctrine {by the way "truth" is a good definition also of sound
doctrine}, they become victims that can "be turned aside to fables."

III.  It will happen, so what can you do about it!  Yes, in the middle of all this slop of
church member follies and fables are two of the most challenging and encouraging and
positive statements of Scripture.

(1).  Retain the challenge of a "man of God" {or woman or person of God} to
complete, spiritual maturity {"the LORD knows His own, and let every one who names
the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (II Timothy 2:19)}, by allowing the Scripture
of the Word of God--given by inspiration of God and profitable for doctrine, reproof,
correction, and instruction in righteousness--to make you equipped for every good
work.  Yes, you find that in II Timothy 3:16,17, between the perilous times of church
members and the time of the Falling Away.

(2).  You don't have to be an "evangelist" but you can do the work of an evangelist,
according to II Timothy 4:5.  You will have to make full proof of your own ministry.  
And since the world does not encourage such work, nor pay for it by and large as we
get deeper into the Falling Away, be ready to "endure afflictions" {increasing many
church members will be friends of the world as much as friends of Jesus, and to be "a
friend of the world is to be an enemy of God"}.  Also watch out for all things for "the
world is not a friend to lead you on to God".

(3).  Don't let anyone fool you with a booming voice and a vivid imagination on
eschatology:  it is quite simple according to II Thessalonians {please read it carefully}
that the Falling Away and a visual on the man of sin must happen before the Second
Coming.  How foolish and overcome by fables are we, when we look for the Second
Coming and ignore the Falling Away!

IV.  The Preaching of all Scriptures and all "profits" reveals the follies of church
members, and prevents the follies from turning into fables. (II Timothy 3:16 and 4:2)

(continued on the second page of  
"From Follies to Fables")
From Follies to Fables:  II
Timothy 3 and 4