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Can Christians Shipwreck Their Faith?

What does Paul mean when he tells Timothy that some have suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith? Does this text of Scripture teach that a believer can lose their salvation? How should a believer consider the text of 1 Timothy 1:18-20 what does it mean?

 

This week on the Straight Truth Podcast, Dr. Josh Philpot and Dr. Richard Caldwell discuss the instructions that Paul gives to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:18-19. Paul writes to Timothy after leaving him in Ephesus with the express purpose to remind Timothy why he is there and what he is to be about; Timothy is to fight the good fight. Paul is expressing important things Timothy needs to remember and do. Through careful reading, studying, and proper exegesis, we will be able to understand why these things are so important. By looking at the broader context of 1 Timothy 1, Dr. Caldwell seeks to help us understand what Paul means in this passage when he speaks of ‘some who have made shipwreck of their faith’ and why Hymenaeus and Alexander named are among them.

 

Dr. Caldwell states that this is a warning passage entrusted to the church and entrusted to believers as well. It is something we all need to be aware of and alert to, and something we want to be sure of that does not characterize us. This warning passage and the others found in the New Testament address believers, but not because believers will actually end up shipwrecked. Through these warnings, God is at work keeping His people on the right pathway, preserving them in the faith. Believers will heed these warnings; unbelievers will not and, as a result, eventually will be shipwrecked. It's within this context that Dr. Caldwell believes that those who are shipwrecked are unbelievers, false teachers. What they have once claimed to believe they have swerved from and have gone off course. They no longer believe what they once claimed. Ultimately, they will walk away, and 1 John 2:19 becomes evident; they were never one of us. They never believed. 

 

In verses 18 and 19, Paul exhorts Timothy to exhort others to hold on to faith and a good conscience. The faith Paul speaks of has to do with truth, and a good conscience has to do with the constant application of the truth. If we proclaim to be a believer, we must hold to the truth and make sure that we are actually applying it in every realm God has designed by living it out. If you say you hold to the truth (belief/believing it), and you’re not applying it and living it out, then you're not holding to it you're swerving from it. Dr. Caldwell says that Christians can wander at times. Genuine believers can, for a time, be confused by false doctrine and, for a season, cease to live out what they believe, resulting in temporal consequences. But ultimately, God’s saving work in their lives makes certain that He holds on to them, not allowing them to wander permanently. But for those who continue along, veering off the course, not hearing or heeding correction, those individuals will run aground on the rocks, and the result is evident that they were never a believer.

 

Dr. Caldwell takes us to what Paul tells Timothy in verses 3 through 7 of the chapter. He explains what Paul is describing here is false teachers because in verse 6, Paul says, ‘certain persons, by swerving from these, …'. The ‘these’ Paul refers to is what Dr. Caldwell has shared from verses 3 through 5. Hymenaeus and Alexander are examples of those who have swerved; they are false teachers and have suffered shipwreck. Those who go on living this way, teaching untruths, not open to correction, and unwilling to repent, are to be treated as unbelievers and, as Paul states, have to be turned over to Satan. But what does this turning over to Satan for the destruction of their souls mean?

 

Dr. Caldwell explains that what this means is these men, Hymenaeus and Alexander, have previously made a profession of faith. They have been professing believers among the gathered body of Christ. The turning over to Satan is the outcome of the church discipline process from Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 5. This final stage of discipline treats those who continue in unrepentance as unbelievers. These individuals are put out of the fellowship of the church (excommunicated); this is removal from the protection and insulation of God’s people to the realm of Satan's grasp. They will suffer as a result. Scripture doesn’t tell us the final outcome of these two men. However, Scripture does inform us if a person who has been put out of the church turns, repents, and comes back, what is on display is either that they were a believer or possibly converted as a result of the discipline process.

 

 These men were mishandling and distorting the truth. Paul says they have blasphemed (vs.20). He speaks of these men as swerving into the realm of myths, genealogies, and all sorts of other things, much like the Judaiziers in Galatia. These things are a distortion of the gospel of Jesus Christ. These distortions come by way of additions, at other times by way of subtractions. Dr. Caldwell shares that when you add to the gospel, you’ve distorted the gospel. When you remove vital elements from the gospel, you’ve also distorted the gospel, which in turn means you don’t have the gospel. These men have jettisoned the gospel and the result is they have crashed on the rocks of this world and the rocks of sin, bringing destruction. We must cling to the faith and not toss overboard or reject our consciences that need to submit to biblical faith. It is vital that we believe the right things, and it is vital that we live what we believe.

About The Straight Truth Podcast

The Straight Truth Podcast: Christian Opinions in an Increasingly Secular World. Join Dr. Richard Caldwell, Dr. Josh Philpot, and their guests as they discuss news events, current affairs, and cultural issues from a Biblical point of view. Find the truth at www.straighttruth.net

The Straight Truth Podcast is a weekly opinion show hosted by Dr. Richard Caldwell and Dr. Josh Philpot. Straight Truth is available as an audio podcast on iTunes or as a video podcast through YouTube or Vimeo.  The duration of the podcast is approximately 10 minutes. We release new episodes every Thursday.

The topics discussed in the Straight Truth Podcast are current events, matters that challenge traditional Christian values, and questions submitted by audience members. Dr. Caldwell, Dr. Philpot, and their guests seek to answer these questions with Biblical truths and from a Christian conservative point of view. The Holy Bible is the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God; it alone is and will be the basis and authority of
answering any and all questions.

The Straight Truth Podcast is the perfect podcast for those seeking to strengthen their faith, to be informed on how to broach difficult topics with a Christian point of view, to share their faith with unbelieving friends, to challenge the status quo of their own beliefs by viewing them under the lens of the Scriptures, to interpret current news events from a Biblical point of view, and more.

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Season 22 Credits

Produced by
Juan Carlos Claveria

Executive Producers
Joshua Philpot
David Anders

Hosted by
Joshua Philpot

Social Media Descriptions by
Michele Watson

Graphic Design
David Navejas

DP / EDITING / COLOR
JUAN CARLOS CLAVERIA

SPECIAL THANKS TO THE
FOUNDERS BAPTIST CHURCH
MEDIA TEAM VOLUNTEERS

Special Thanks to
El Centro Network

Music by
LynneMusic

Motion Graphics
The Media Stock

Set Decorator
Molly Atchison

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