“The story is told of a certain African tribe that learned an easy way to capture ducks in a river. Catching their agile and wary dinner would be a feat indeed, so they formulated a plan.
“The tribesmen learned to go upstream, place a pumpkin in the river, and let it slowly float down into the flock of ducks. At first, the cautious fowl would quack and fly away. After all, it wasn’t ordinary for pumpkins to float down the river! But the persistent tribesmen would subsequently float another pumpkin into the re-gathered ducks. Again they would scatter, only to return after the strange sphere had passed. Again, the hungry hunters would float another pumpkin. This time the ducks would remain, with a cautious eye on the pumpkin; and with each successive passing, the ducks would become more comfortable, until they finally accepted the pumpkins as a normal part of life.
“When the natives saw that the pumpkins no longer bothered the ducks, they hollowed out pumpkins, put them over their heads, and walked into the river. Meandering into the midst of the tolerant fowl, they pulled them down one at a time. Dinner? Roast duck.” 1
There is much deception in this world. We need to be cautious and on guard with the things we hear and read. In life, the pumpkins of false doctrine and error keep subtly coming at us. There are dangerous teachings around us at all times. Sometimes because of the volume of information coming at us through television, radio, the internet, and social media, we let our guard down and we begin tolerating them. We can feel safe when we are not. We can very easily get caught in “the snare of the devil” (2 Tim. 2:26) and be led astray into error and unsound doctrine if we don’t keep our focus on the truth of the Word, rightly divided.
“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13).
This verse shows that Paul had no grand illusions that the world would become better and better. Rather, by divine revelation, he wrote that things and people will only get “worse and worse.” Paul informs us that, as the dispensation of grace progresses, deception will only go from bad to worse, and it will get so bad and out of hand that deceivers will believe their own lies. After peddling their lies for so long, they will actually come to believe them personally. Of course, we know that they are ultimately being deceived by Satan (2 Cor. 11:13-15; Rev. 12:9).
We visited Mount Rushmore earlier this year. As we were walking in, I noticed a booth set up by Jehovah’s Witnesses in the free speech area. There were a few people staffing the booth. As I looked at the booth and literature and knowing some of their deceptive, false teaching, it made my blood boil. On our way out, I saw an older man setting up a little chair and a simple sign with the gospel on it, right across from the Jehovah’s Witness booth. His hat said, “Jesus is my Boss.” I went over to him and thanked him for his boldness and willingness to be a light for the Lord. He was a dear brother in Christ. His name was Gary, and he had driven his motorcycle to Mount Rushmore from West Virginia just to sit there and pass out gospel tracts and share the truth. He thanked me for my encouragement and asked that we pray for him together. My family prayed with him, all of us holding hands in a circle. It struck me how the truth was made known by Gary very simply and humbly, with a small sign and some gospel tracts. He was just being a lighthouse for the truth.
Rather than telling Timothy to go after deceivers to correct the lies that they believe, Paul advises,
“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them” (2 Tim. 3:14).
Timothy needed to rely on what he knew to be true: what Paul had taught him. What Timothy learned from Paul, and had been assured about, was the revelation of the Mystery, the body of truth for this present dispensation of grace (Eph. 3:1-9).
We’re never going to right all the wrongs or correct all the lies people believe. It’s a waste of valuable time to try. We simply need to keep our focus on the truth and the proclamation of it. We need to do what Paul instructed Timothy to do, to “continue” or remain steadfast in the teachings of “the Word of His grace” (Acts 20:32) that the Lord committed to Paul. We must “continue” to stand for the message of grace committed to the Apostle Paul and “continue” to grow in our knowledge of it. By knowing and obeying God’s truth for today as found in the letters of Paul, we are protected from falling prey to the devil’s schemes and being pulled down into error and false doctrine.
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.