Go Straight Upstream

A thought with an urgency was the catalyst for this message. We live in tumultuous times and every day is loaded with debates and arguments. Sometimes they are very necessary, but yet the true Christian must be sensitive, very sensitive, to the direction of the Holy Spirit, otherwise they may be caught in a whirlpool with assorted dangers.
Go Straight Upstream
Source - Image owned, uploaded and copyrighted 2016 by the author, Peter P. Macinta (BrotherPete).

As a minister of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ God directs me on what to speak on from the Holy Scriptures. He does it in various ways but for this message the way He did it was very impressionable to me. It began with an urgency to caution those in the Body of Christ not to get caught up in unnecessary and often unfruitful controversies mainly because the time is short and the days are evil. In my mind such controversies were pictured as whirlpools.

I had other things to speak on, but the urgency to avoid spiritual whirlpools kept

coming back. Then, God gave to me a picture in my mind of fish going upstream avoiding whirlpools. God then led me to the text to be used. Upon studying the text I found a word whose meaning in the Greek perfectly matched the idea of breaking away from a whirlpool! The text God brought me to is 1 Timothy 6:20-21 along with verses 11 and 12 of that chapter. Like living fish with a natural goal in mind, we must spiritually go straight upstream avoiding whirlpools along the way. Let us first consider the goal, upstream, and work our way back through the phrase for this message.

I. Upstream  20a (11-12)

"O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, . . ."

Before we look at what was entrusted to Timothy it will be good to note the word "guard." James Strong [1] lists a number of definitions for the Greek word "phulasso," but quite fitting for this passage is, "to keep from being snatched away, preserve safe and unimpaired" and "to guard from being lost or perishing." And I find the pronunciation of the Greek word interesting and also fitting for it almost sounds like "full lasso."

Much was entrusted to Timothy as it is to every true Christian. Yes, Timothy was a bishop of the Ephesian church, but foundationally he was like every other disciple. Therefore we can consider the godly attributes of verse 11 and the exhortations of verse 12 as that which all Christians must have and guard. Every true disciple has a "full lasso" to "keep from being snatched away, preserve safe and unimpaired" and "to guard from being lost or perishing."

Here are the godly attributes we are to pursue (verse 11): "righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness." In regard to righteousness and love, please see my previous article, Ultimate Love For You [2]. Godliness is godliness as described in the Holy Bible and certainly not by anything outside of it.

The New American Standard Bible (NASB) rightly has "perseverance" where some other versions might have patience. Perseverance here means enduring under pressure. When it comes, though, to "gentleness" the term "meekness" would be more accurate according to Strong and Young's Literal Translation. Gentleness is an expression of meekness. Most times Biblical meekness points to a reliance upon God's unlimited resources and not upon self or what help self can muster apart from God.

In verse 12, “fight the good fight of faith” fits very well with the idea of going upstream against the current of the world. Satan and the world would like to get any true Christian back into the realm of darkness. And the top goal, of course, is Eternal Life. Everything else in this life fades away from that vantage point.

II. Straight  20b-21a

“. . . avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”— 21 which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith.”

For satan [3] and the world it is not enough that the flow goes downstream. Sure enough they will see to it that there will be many whirlpools. These whirlpools come in the form of controversies, arguments, and debates. That is not to say those three things are bad in themselves. There are times they are even necessary (Christ and Paul had controversies with the Jews, arguments arose between Barnabas and Paul, and Peter and Paul). However, there are many unnecessary controversies along the way.

How can we tell? The best answer I can give to that is "listen to the Holy Spirit." If we are truly evangelical then there will be many times we will engage in some sort of conversation either to win the lost or edify the Body of Christ. Listen carefully to what God says to your heart as you permit Him to guide you in the discourse. At some point He may tell you to stop. Do not let pride get in your way and depend upon the direction of God to get you out of that whirlpool of controversy.

And, no, I am certainly not an expert in this matter, but I have learned from experience we must listen to the Holy Spirit. "Avoiding" in our passage can mean "to turn or twist out" (matching very well the picture God planted in my mind of a fish avoiding a whirlpool) and "to turn off or aside." While some debates are needed, the unnecessary ones rob us of our time which could be used for better purposes in furthering the Kingdom of God.

While the KJV has "profane" for "worldly" in this verse they are the same. One aspect of this is instead of using worldly logic or language we need to be directed by God's Holy Spirit, using Biblical terms and definitions. Another aspect of this is not succumbing to vulgarity. "Vain" means empty, devoid of spiritual benefit. We may also think of vain in the sense that a conversation is going nowhere, either on purpose or a person is "just not getting it." There are many times it takes a move of God upon a person before they recognize truth. Conversations that foster fear and not faith are also vain. Whirlpools of worry can develop from them.

Finally for this point we are to avoid whirlpools of "contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge." A few translations have "science" for "knowledge" but "knowledge" is most correct. There is much "knowledge" about the Holy Bible that is not true. For a small example some declare Daniel really did not have all those visions but they were written later, the Holy Bible states the world is 6,000 years old, or the New Testament was not written until a few centuries after Christ. All three of these allegations, along with the rest of them, are easily proven wrong.

If we do want to narrow the word down to science, well, yes. While much of science is actually good and helpful, much of the "facts" and declarations change quite often. For me the classic example is that when I was a child Pluto was declared and taught to be a planet. It is no longer classified as such. The theory of evolution (where man came from lower

life forms, or all animal life on earth evolved from a single cell by chance) is currently being proven wrong due to at least three factors in current society: the rise of same-sex marriage, the general degradation of society, and the rise of so-called transgendered individuals.

After being reminded by the Lord, I need to add the following. Although "science falsely so called" is a tad narrow, it is probably quite prophetic because back in the 1800s Mary Baker Eddy wrote "Science And Health And The Key To The Scriptures." Eventually the Church of Christ's Scientists was formed, aka "Christian Science," which someone has described as neither Christian or science. A number of cults were formed in the 1800s.

It is good to remember that whirlpools are circular. We might think we are going spiritually upstream but if we get ourselves too involved and forget what we need to guard and to hold on to we might end up heading downstream and even spiritually dead. The spiritually dead just go with the flow. They head downstream. So we need to take heed to the warning of verse 21 which implies some got involved in improper controversies, became spiritually dizzy (whirlpools are circular), permitted themselves to be deceived, and then find themselves professing the same malarkey they listened to,

This calls to mind someone I came across a number of decades ago when we lived in Granstville, Maryland. At that time the Jehovah's Witnesses were very active in the area. They would come to our neighborhood at least two or three times a year. One time when they showed up there was a man among them that used to be Baptist. He had listened to their lies about the Trinity and how true Christians define it [4]. Not being led by the Spirit of God he was unable to defeat their "straw man" arguments against various fundamental Christian teachings. He became like them, believing and living a lie.

III. Go 21b

“Grace be with you.”

Although that is just about a standard ending, there is power in those words, especially in "grace," which, of course, by the Holy Spirit Paul means the grace of God. While grace certainly does include things like the unmerited favor of God it also includes God granting us the ability through Jesus Christ to do what pleases Him.

Every true disciple in Christ has a mission. In fact, we have missions. First and foremost, as indicated in the first point above is to get saved, fellowship with God, grow in Him, stay saved, buildup other real Christians and win the lost to Christ. We are to fight the good fight of faith and certainly lay hold on Eternal Life-- and do not let go! If you are truly redeemed by Christ this is your primary mission.

Each day we are to make ourselves available to God through Christ. Do not ever think that there is nothing for you to do. As you obey His will and do the “basics" such as daily worship, prayer, intercessory prayer, and so on, you will eventually sense from God a specific avenue of service and perhaps more than one. Albeit, it is good to always have these objectives in mind: to glorify God, edify the Body of Christ, and bring the lost to Jesus Christ.

We are to go straight upstream with Christ within, having within His forgiveness, guidance, and strength. Like a good soldier we must focus on our task and not deviate from our course, listening for direction from our commander-in-chief and empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is very obvious that the time is short and we are coming to the end of the present age, after which the Great Tribulation will begin, partly designed by our merciful God that a remnant of Israel be redeemed. Let us stay on course and be part of the solution.


[1] From an electronic version of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance by James Strong incorporated in the Online Bible program, and so throughout the article whenever the ancient language is referred to and no other authority is cited.

[2] Please see Ultimate Love For You at http://holybibletreasures.expertscolumn.com/article/ultimate-love-for-you .

[3] Not capitalized on purpose. Experts Column gives me the freedom to express myself in that way.

[4] The written Word of God clearly shows that there is One Supreme Being, God, Who, for our salvation, lovingly subsists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is not impossible or illogical, because, by example, each of us subsist as body, soul, and spirit. We do not believe in three separate Gods. We believe in one God, Who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You, yourself, are one being, but yet you are body, soul and spirit.

This article was written in the form of a sermon (message) outline with comments. God willing by September 14, 2016 (hopefully much sooner), you should be able to hear the actual message (sermon) by selecting a link at http://www.sapphirestreams.com/life/audioM.html#M415 .

Unless otherwise noted all Holy Scripture is from the New American Standard Bible changing LORD to YHVH as it rightly should be when the text so indicates. * = For other versions the spelling of some words is updated for our time in addition to changing LORD to YHVH as it rightly should be when the text so indicates.

Not responsible for any advertisements appearing with this article nor am I necessarily in agreement with any of them. The statements of this paragraph hold true not only for this article, but for everything I have placed on the Internet.

Article Written By BrotherPete

I am a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, having served over forty years as a pastor. I graduated from Northeast Bible College of Green Lane Pennsylvania and have a Bachelors Degree in Bible. I am enthused about the Word of God and how it can make a positive change in the life of anyone once it is teamed up with faith and the Holy Spirit. I am happily married. Visit www.sapphirestreams.com.

Last updated on 29-07-2016 168 1

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  • nbillett  10-02-2017
    We are to follow Christ and love the world as he did. We are to love each individual, friend and foe because in the eyes of God we all have worth. We are to serve and minister to each other for that is the will of God.
    reply 0
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