1 Timothy 4:6-16 Life in the Local Church: Being a Good Servant of God

1 Timothy 4:6-16

Life in the Local Church

What a Good Servant Looks Like

 

Good Morning. Please grab your Bibles and turn with me to 1 Timothy chapter 4. If you do not own a Bible, please grab one from the back table as our gift to you.

We are continuing through our series through 1 & 2 Timothy that we have titled “Life in the Local Church.” The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, after leaving and placing Timothy in Ephesus as the Pastor, the head elder. He wrote to Timothy in order to encourage Timothy, to build him up and to challenge him.

Timothy was placed in Ephesus in order to deal with the issues that the church was dealing with, most notably, but not limited to false teaching and the false teachers who teach them. One of the ways that Timothy should be counteracting these issues is by knowing and applying how to act in the local church.

Paul has dealt with proper prayer, with worship, with church offices and the authority of those who hold leadership positions, and more. Now, Paul turns his attention to encouraging Timothy, teaching him, encouraging him and reminding him that his focus, and ours should be on building, training and growing ourselves, first, as a good servant of Christ.

Let’s go ahead and read this week’s text, 1 Timothy chapter 4, verses 6 through 16. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your own preferred translation. Once again, 1 Timothy 4:6-16. Paul, under the inspiration of God, the Holy Spirit, bring forth the very inerrant, infallible, immutable Words of God, writes to Timothy:

If you put these things before the brothers,[a] you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive,[b] because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them,[c] so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

 

May God Bless the reading of his word.

We know that the Bible is a unique book. Paul is very specifically writing to Timothy. But we also know that Timothy is not the only person being written to and being instructed here. Like ripples emanating from a rock thrown in a pool, the ripples going out, there are many separate people groups being spoken to. First, of course, like we said, Timothy. Second, pastors, elders, church leaders are being taught through this letter how to lead Gods people. Third, as with all the Bible, all Gods people are being instructed, as we have said, in “Life in the local church.”

Paul starts here, saying to put these things before the brothers. These things being the culmination of everything that we have looked at in the first 4 chapters. All the things that Paul has shared and taught Timothy up to this point. Bring all those things and put them before the brethren, the brothers and sisters, the body of Christ in the local church. Paul essentially telling Timothy, “Do the things that I am teaching you and you will serve the LORD well.”

Paul tells Timothy to be trained in the Words of the Faith. Paul gets more into what that means to Timothy specifically in his second letter to Timothy, but for here, we have one of the biggest points to take away from today; Read Yo Bible!

Be trained in what the Bible says. Above all else, above whoever else you are allowing to teach you, even above anyone else that is speaking into your life, Read Yo Bible. And then Read it again! And then again. Continue to read your Bible. Be trained by it and by the words of God in it. And then put it into action!

And we know that to put the Bible in to action correctly, we need to read it in the proper context (Ding!) Paul emphasizes this when he says that not only are we to be trained in the words of the faith, but in good Doctrine as well. Right understanding of the Word of God is so very vital and important. Context is everything! If our heart is truly Gods, then we should have a driving desire, a need to get it right!

None of the words of God are accidental or incidental. He gave us these words for very specific reasons. His words mean one thing and one thing only. And in order to know that one thing, we must study and be trained by it. In order to act on it, we must be trained by his words, fully and completely.

But we need to remember that, when you remove yourself from the Word and when you remove yourself from sound, good doctrine, you will struggle, and you will trip over the worlds and/or false teachers world views. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:33: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

What’s and who are around us will influence us. What we watch, what we listen to, what we read, who we spend time with, all those things will affect us. The enemy and false teachers, they want to separate us and isolate us from God, his word and his people.

You know, in Prayer meeting this week, we read Psalm 1 and had some real good discussion there. And we talked about this point as well. Psalm 1 is a short one, but a powerful one, lets read it really quick. Psalm 1, the Psalmist writes:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 

but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 

for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

 

In that, we see that those who are righteous, those who belong to the LORD, who know Jesus Christ, they are like trees planted next to streams. Of Course, we will see fruit that comes to bear on those trees. But what else we see is that the trees that are planted need a steady stream and they need to be planted in a single location.

If I plant a tree up by the house, then after a short time, I see no growth, and I dig it up, plant it somewhere else and continue this for a while, there will be no growth of that tree, it will wither. The same as if the water source dries up. We see that every summer here, right? Look outside at the church grounds right now. No water, for an extended period of time and the tree will die.

We need the Word of God to teach us truth, good doctrine and right application. We need each other to help us to stay on track, to grow and to have right knowledge and right doctrine.

 

 

Paul reminds us, having mentioned this in the beginning of chapter 1 as well, that we are to have nothing to do with silly, irrelevant myths. This includes getting into conversations about just ridiculous stuff. Supposed genealogies and the “ancestry” & “descendants” of Jesus. This is making parables out of the Gospel stories. This is putting any credence into the “lost” Gospels and into secret knowledge.

You ever have a conversation with someone, and they say something, and its so absurd, so out of the realm of possibility, and its everything you can do to not respond, to just let it go? That’s one of the things this is talking about. If you respond and get into this conversation, you will have wasted your time and nothing you say will have an affect on them. It is similar to casting your pearls before swine, though that is specifically talking about the Gospel.

Silly, irreverent myths are spiritually immature. They take the focus off of God the Father, His son, Jesus Christ and the Word of God itself. It places the focus on anything and everything else; trivia, minutia, unknowable speculation, the other person, and ourselves.

Paul says that instead, we should train ourselves in Godliness. The habits that we develop, the spiritual disciplines that we practice, these are the things that train us in Godliness. This is not easy. Distractions, laziness, other good but not God things, friends, family, sleep, phone calls, our favorite show, all these things will try to get in our way of practicing spiritual discipline. These and much more will attempt to stop us from practicing and training and spending the needed and necessary time in Gods Word.

Paul contrasts this with bodily training, with taking care of ourselves physically. He shows us that this is a good thing. Watching what we eat, keeping in good physical shape, taking care of the bodies that God has given us, these are good things. These are very good ideas and they are incredibly important. They have some value. But they are not as important as spiritual training.

Spiritual training, which leads to Godliness, is everything. It is completely valuable. It is eternally valuable. It has promise and value in this life for sure. But more importantly, it has more promise and more value in the next life.

When Paul wants to really and truly emphasize a point, he says, as he does in verse 9 here, some variation of:  The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. And so, we need to pay extra attention to what Paul says here. V 10: For to this end we toil and strive,[b] because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

          We work because of our hope and our faith. We work because of what God has done for us. We work because of the living God, Jesus Christ. We work because of the work that he did on the cross, accomplishing our salvation, rising from the dead and, once and for all, defeating death and sin.

The invitation to salvation, sent out to all, extended to all. As Paul writes elsewhere, there is no Jew, no Greek, no male or female when it comes to who is able to be saved or our standing before God. And it is those who believe, that accept the invitation. It is solely by the grace of God, only through the faith that he has given us, in the only way to salvation, his Son Jesus Christ that we are saved.

It is because of this that we work. It is not that we work for this, but because of this. Sometimes those small, semantic differences can make all the difference. Scripture shows us this time and time again.

Verse 11, Paul tells Timothy, Command and teach these things. Teach these things that I just shared and reminded you. First and foremost, of course, the Gospel that he just shared. Teach and share the spiritual disciplines. Teach and share the importance of Godliness. Teach the focus that needs to be on God and his Word above all else.

Paul starts this last section of our passage as an encouragement and a challenge. Timothy is a timid man, quiet, maybe shy. That’s the personality that God gave him. Timothy speaks to me in that way. I see a lot of myself in him. God gives us our personalities and he uses them for his purposes. We will get back to that in a moment.

Paul addresses one of the obstacles that Timothy is dealing with in Ephesus. Paul says, let no one look down upon you, reject you or not listen to you because of your age. Age isn’t, or shouldn’t, be an issue. What is an issue is your call, your qualifications, your godliness.

I look around and I realize that I am the youngest adult in this church. I was the youngest adult in my previous church as well. Without getting into it, we see two different ways of looking at my situation. Some of you here have been Christians for longer than I have been alive. But you know what? I never hear you say that. You don’t use that as a reason to not listen to me or to reject what I am saying or teaching.

Timothy was encountering this. I’ve encountered this before. The truth is that God has called me here. He has called me to be here as a Pastor, as a shepherd, as a Teacher and as a protector of the flock. I have a lot to teach and a lot to share. Age is not an issue with who God chooses to call to certain positions.

Now, I mentioned our personalities before, and I want to touch on those now as well. God has created each and everyone of us personally and with our unique traits and personalities. Some of us are louder, some quieter, some more outgoing, some quitter, some more cautious, some impulsive. Each given to us by God the Father himself. These are gifts and good things.

But, each of these also has the potential to be a pitfall as well. The person who is quiet and timid might avoid confronting sin in others or avoid confronting false teachers and their false teachings. The person who is louder and outgoing, might offend, they might confront sin where there isn’t any, or put themselves and their thoughts, teachings above Gods.

The point that Paul was making was this, to Timothy, to me, to you, to all of us. Don’t use your personality as an excuse to sin. Its way to easy, it takes an incredible amount of self-reflection and it takes walking a very thin line sometimes. But, do not use your personality as an excuse to sin!

We are called to deny ourselves. How often do you hear, as an excuse for sin, “I was born this way.” In a sense, that’s true. We all are born sinners. But we are called to put that old self aside, and to repent of our sins. Paul tells us elsewhere that when we are in Christ, our old self has died, and we are now new creations. We have a new heart, we have new desires, we have a new nature when we are in Christ. We are not to stay the way we were born, but instead, we are called to be born again.

And so, Paul says to set the believers an example. An example of Godly living. How we live and how we act. Our faithfulness to God. These are but some of the ways that we can show those around us and those who watch us the work that God has down for us all and what he expects in holiness and godliness.

In verse 13, we see again, in Paul’s exhortation to Timothy, the purpose of the local church. We see the reason that Paul (more specifically God) placed Timothy in Ephesus, and that is to combat false teaching. And we see how. By the public reading of scripture, by exhortation and by teaching. Especially and specifically the teaching of that public reading of scripture. This even goes back to Old Testament times. Nehemiah 8:8 says:

They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly,N1 and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.

In Verse 14, Paul points out that Timothy was given a spiritual gift from God. It is an unknown gift, though presumably teaching or preaching, something for sure along those lines of pastoring in Ephesus to combat false teachings.

And in verse 15 & 16, Paul emphasis self-inspection and spiritual growth. He says, practice your gifts. Do your duties, whether they are your gifts or not. Practice and grow your devotion to God and what he has called you to do.

As the fruit on your tree grows, as you develop your spiritual disciplines, as we grow in sanctification and maturity in Christ, People will see, and they will notice.

Verse 16, Paul tells Timothy to keep a close watch on himself and his teachings. Let me say it this way. It does no good for you to call out false teaching if you just replace it with other false teaching. The point is to replace it with the truth. Keeping a close watch on ourselves and our teachings is what will keep us from falling in false teaching or from becoming false teachers.

The single easiest way for one to start false teaching is to stop paying too close attention to what you are teaching or sharing. Often this will happen without noticing. Kind of mentally shifting into cruise control. This will have the thoughts of thinking we know it all, or that we have no need to study Gods Word or to get deeper into it.

By keeping a close watch on ourselves and our teaching, we will not only prevent ourselves from falling and failing, but because of the community we are called to, as the body of the local church, we will help others from falling into these false teachings as well, thereby saving them from, to use some language we used last week, walking out from under the umbrella of orthodoxy and into the rain of heresy.

I think that there really are three points I want you to walk away from this morning remembering. The first one, remember, was READ YO BIBLE! And make sure that you are desiring and focusing on the right and true word of God and right doctrine in how to apply it.

Second, your personality is a gift from God abut don’t let it be an excuse to sin. Use your personality to share and show the Word of God, and Jesus Christ and his work on the Cross.

Lastly, keep a close watch on yourself and your teachings. Recognize and combat false teachings and make sure that you are keeping yourself in the truth and speaking the truth, no matter what else.

These things are the basis and foundation for us building up the local church and for us and the church to fulfill its purpose.

Let’s Pray on these things and remember the grace of God that we are saved despite all that is stacked against us because of sin.

Book Review: Letters to My Students, Volume 1: On Preaching, by Jason Allen

Book Review

Letters to My Students: Volume 1 On Preaching

Jason K Allen

 

Letters to My Students was very obviously written by someone who is a gifted teacher and passionate about preaching, and preaching faithfully God and His Word, the Bible. Jason Allen draws on Scripture as his main resource, as it should be, but also draws heavily on his influences, including Charles Spurgeon and Dr Steven Lawson, (Two of the very best in my opinion!). He also shares his experiences in preaching and preparing to preach. He shares the good and the bad, the wins and the lessons learned. And he is called and passionate about helping to raise up, teach and encourage the latest batch of pastors and preachers coming up.

And that’s who this is ultimately aimed at, pastors and ministers in training. In hat, I have not read a better book on preaching and preparing sermons. It goes into the call of preaching, sermon prep, the benefits and necessity of Expository Preaching, when there are right and wrong times for Topical Sermons, lessons learned, and so much more.

Throughout the book, in all the lessons, Allen keeps the focus squarely on preaching Christ, in all, and above all. He draws heavily on Spurgeons illustration regarding being able to draw a straight line from any scripture directly to Christ. Jesus should not just be an add on at the end of the sermon, nor should the Gospel.

With that, in my opinion, the best paragraph in the book starts and ends like this:

“Christian Preachers ought to preach Christ-centered and Christ-exalting sermons. If a Rabbi could preach my sermon, I still have more work to do….If you have preached a sermon without featuring Jesus, then you haven’t preached a Christian sermon.” (pg. 106)

Ultimately, I am further along in my pastoral career than the target audience of this book. However, I still learned quite a bit, was reminded of things Ive forgotten and encouraged by a lot of what was written here. I also don’t tend to highlight, underline, make notes, etc in the books that I am reading, but this book is highly marked up!

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is thinking about preaching, who is training to be a pastor (in seminary, for example) or who is early in their pastoral career. And I would also recommend it to any one who preaches, whether regularly or occasionally, whether for a few years now, or a veteran preacher.

 

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

1 Timothy 4:1-5 Life in the Local Church: False Teaching is Spiritual Warfare

1 Timothy 4:1-5
Life in the Local Church
False Teaching is Spiritual Warfare

Good Morning. Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to 1 Timothy chapter 4. If you do not own a Bible, please feel free to grab on off the back table as our gift to you. We are continuing our series through 1 and 2 Timothy this morning titled, “Life in the Local Church.”
Paul, in this letter to Timothy, just got finished building up the local church and Gods design for it, that it would be the household of God and it would be a pillar and buttress for the Truth.
The truth of the simple, clear Gospel. Jesus Christ. God became man to save sinners. This is the truth that the church is to stand on, to lift up and support, to defend and to proclaim.
And from that, Paul is coming back to one of his main points in his letter. False teachers and their false teachings. And this is purposely side by side with the end of Chapter 3. The expectation and grand, divine purpose of the church, along with the reality of imperfection. We are to recognize the importance of the local church and we are to love the local church, who is the bride of Christ, but we must not mistake love for idealizing, idolizing and assuming perfection.
Christ loves us and knows that we are not perfect. I love Hope and my kids with all my heart, and I know that they are not perfect. She loves me and heaven knows I am far from perfect. And like the local church, we are to love our church, even while recognizing imperfections.
Before we get into all that, lets go ahead and read our passage for this week, 1 Timothy chapter 4, verses 1-5. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation in your hands. 1 Timothy 4:1-5, Paul writing under the influence of the Holy Spirit, writing the inspired words of God, writes:
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
Amen.
Paul starts by stating, “The spirit expressly says.” He could make no stronger statement. There is no maybe or possibly. Paul is showing here that there will be false teachers that come up in the church. Don’t be surprised by them. Instead be on guard for them.
And Paul knows this because the spirit expressly says it. This is likely some direct revelation to Paul, possibly from Jesus himself as he was teaching Paul. Jesus himself says in Matthew 24, both that many will come in his name but lead many astray (v 5) and that many false teachers will arise and lead many astray (v 11). Again, no question, no wondering, just a simple clear promise that this will indeed happen.
We see too here an example of why doing a superficial, surface reading of the Bible can, at times, give us an inaccurate or incomplete idea of what the true meaning is. Paul says that it will be in latter times that some will depart the faith.
This idea of later time or the last days, the end times, is commonly misunderstood. We are not racing towards the end times. We are not only recently in the latter days. It is not an indicative of how close it is to Jesus return. Instead, this is the common terms for the time between Jesus first coming, his incarnation, and his second coming.
One commentary, summing up this common understanding, says it this way: This is not a period just prior to the Second Coming of Christ. Rather, in keeping with the overall New Testament perspective, it is the era inaugurated by Christs First Advent and completed at his second. (Acts 2:17, Heb 1:2, 1 Pet 1:20, 1 John 2:18)
So, from the time that Jesus arrived here on this earth, False Teachers have been here, trying to lead others astray. From the time that Jesus was ministering here on earth, there have been those who have been departing the faith. We know of course of Judas as the most famous example, but we see throughout the Gospels that many people followed Him along with the disciples for a time, and then the realities of what it takes, what it means to be a faithful servant of Christ rears its head and many would fall away, return home and practically forget that they ever were out there to begin with. OF course, we see Jesus tell the crowds in Matthew ch 7 that many would even do good works in his name and would not truly be His.
And that is one of the key things to remember as well. Departing from the faith does not mean that one was saved and then loses their salvation. Biblical context argues the opposite. 1 John 2:19 tells us that those who depart from the faith were never truly of the faith to begin with.
What Paul is talking about here is those who played the part. Those who maybe even thought that they were truly part of Gods church. Those who knew all the things to do, all the words to say, all the things that Christians do. And he is talking about those who have departed from orthodoxy. Essentially, orthodoxy is the established, historical biblical beliefs and faith about the bible and what it says. Orthodoxy is the umbrella that all acceptable Christian beliefs and teaching are held under. There can and are disagreements under this umbrella.
When we move outside of the umbrella, we get into false teaching, we creep along, and we get into heresy. When people in the latter days depart from the true biblical teachings of historical orthodox Christianity, they end up, usually unknowingly devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons.
Just in case you ever think that we can dismiss, ignore or allow false teaching to go on without confronting it, see what Paul is saying here. False teaching is Spiritual Warfare. And Spiritual Warfare is something that we need to take very seriously.
False teachers are lying liars who lie. They lie about what the Bible says. They lie about who Jesus is. They lie about the character and attributes and the very Word of God. But also, and this is what Paul is pointing out here, how they draw people in is through lying and insincerity.
What you will often hear out of their mouths is that they care about you, and they are the only ones who do. Everyone else is secretly saying stuff about you, lying about you, gossiping behind your back. Trust only me because I’m the only one who truly cares.
You will hear things like, I wont judge you or tell you your wrong. I will validate your feelings, your beliefs, your actions, no matter where they line up compared to the truth of scriptures. They will say things like they are sided on the side of compassion and love, and that makes it ok if we don’t quite have correct doctrine or the correct truth. You will often hear things like, don’t worry about what Paul says, after all, he is not Jesus. Jesus never said that.
These are lies that come from lying False Teachers. The truth is that they are only speaking insincerity. The truth is that False teachers don’t care about you. They only care about using you to increase their influence. They more followers they can get, the more influence they will have. They care about power. If it’s a pastor or a television or radio personality, the more listeners and followers a false teacher has, the more control and the more power they can exert over you. And the more power and influence they have, the more money they can fleece from people who usually don’t have extra money to send or to give. Usually, though not always, the more local a false teacher is, the more they care about power and influence as opposed to money. The bigger they get, the more well known the become, the more the money starts playing a factor.
One of the reasons we need to be super careful about who we listen to, who we read, and we let teach us, is because their teachings rarely start out as false teachings. You see time and time again that as a pastor or bible teacher gains influence and a bigger audience, the more they start wanting to hold on to that audience and that influence and so they start watering down their teachings and start compromising the truth. And so, we must be careful about who we recommend to others, and who we promote in our libraries and who we spend money on.
Now, other false teachers will err to the other extreme instead. They will implement and demand strict physical standards that go beyond what the Bible demands. They will be overly legalistic and demanding absolute loyalty to themselves as the sole correct interpreter of the bible. You will often here things like, “If you slip and do this thing that you shouldn’t do, then you have put your salvation I danger and are you really even saved?” They sow doubt so that you keep coming back to them.
They will forbid things that the Bible doesn’t forbid. This is exactly what the pharisees did in the New Testament times to show themselves as extra righteous. Paul gives two examples here. He starts with calling out those who forbid marriage and put restrictions on what foods we can have.
Of course, multiple other scriptures, including Jesus himself in Mark 7:19 show us that all foods are clean and available for us to consume and to receive with thanksgiving. And of course, marriage is a gift from God that goes all the way back to creation, instituted and given to us before the fall.
And of course, there are some who are called to singleness, Paul mentions those in, I think 1 Corinthians. And there are some who are called to abstain from certain foods. But those are exceptions. Because one person is called to singleness doesn’t mean that all are called to it. And just because one person is called to abstain from a certain food, doesn’t mean that all people should abstain from that food, or that that food is unclean or sinful. Those are exceptions that prove the rule.
And those who know and believe the truth, who are firmly and faithfully within the umbrella of historic, biblical orthodoxy know that this false teaching is absolute garbage.
Back in the biblical times, and shortly after, one of the groups of false teachers was called the Gnostics. In addition to believing in extra biblical and secret revelation, but also that everything physical and material was evil. And only everything spiritual and immaterial was good.
And yet we see biblical evidence that this is not even close to correct. God, of course, we see in Genesis 1, created everything physical, everything material and everything in creation was very good. And we see that there is so much so-called spirituality that is pure evil.
Paul writes in Galatians 1 that there are demons and angels, fallen angels to be specific that preach a different gospel than the true, simple gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul makes clear in Ephesians 4 that there are no other options, writing in verse 4-6:
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Anything else than that, any other Gospel, any teaching that counters the Gospel is literally and by definition, demonic. One commentator puts the problem with these false teachers this way, saying:
The fundamental error of these false teachers is that they were setting their own view of the Christian life over the view that God revealed in His word. They were forbidding what God allowed in His word, and therefore they were setting their opinion above the final rule of faith and practice in God’s holy word.
We don’t get to do that. God, if he is God, which we know he is, is indeed God. And as God, his Word is complete and total. We don’t get to think of ourselves as smarter, or that our views are more correct or as valid as Gods.
The problem comes in, when we start interpreting the scriptures through our experiences instead of interpreting our experiences through scripture. When we start treating our experiences as truer and more real than Gods word, we have left that umbrella of orthodoxy and we will, not may, not probably, but will and probably already have left the truth of Gods Word.
And we see Paul emphasize that everything that God created, his whole creation is good. They were also corrupted by the fall, including our sin nature, with us trying to put ourselves on par or above God himself.
This is not to say that our emotions and experiences are not good things, they are. But, like all other things, they are corrupted by the fall. They are less than Gods Word. They are less than scriptures and we need to remember to submit them to God himself.
Paul finishes this section by that if it is received with thanksgiving, then things are made holy through the Word of God and through prayer. This is specifically regarding refuting the diet issues, the restrictions on foods that the false teachers were presenting, but it made for much broader application as well.
If you receive food with prayer to God, giving him thanks for the provision, then it can be received with no issue. One application is to practice showing God gratitude by praying before every meal.
Bigger than that, lets remember to show God gratitude and thanksgiving for, first our salvation. Our salvation is a gift of God, given by his grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Second, we thank him for grounding us in his Word. His will, his word, his revelation is given to us in the scriptures alone, through no other source. Not dreams, not God audibly speaking to us, no other way but through scriptures. I’ve read you this quote before, but I think it fits nicely here. Justin Peters, an evangelist and an exposer of false teachings and teachers, he says that, “If you want to hear God speak, read your Bible. If you want to heat him speak out load, read your Bible out load.”
So, we thank him for that. And third, we thank him that he protects us from the false teachers that are out there, spreading lies and deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons and insincerity. It is to the Glory of God that we abide in Him and His truth and His word and to do anything other risks showing us that we are not truly his to begin with.
Jesus says in John 14:23 & 24, If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
He has given us his Word, or his commands in some translations. This very book that we hold in our hands. Through Scripture Alone. Now we pray that he gives us the grace, strength, ability, discernment and wisdom to keep his commands and we abide in him as His children.
Let’s Pray.

1 Timothy 3:14-16 Life in the Local Church: The Purpose of the Local Church

1 Timothy 3:14-16

Life in the Local Church

The Purpose of the Local Church

 

 

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to 1 Timothy chapter 3. IF you do not have a Bible, there are some on the back table designed to be our gift to you. We are continuing our series through 1 & 2 Timothy that we are calling, “Life in the Local Church.”

Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, who was pastoring the early church in Ephesus. And he wrote to encourage, challenge and instruct Timothy on how to deal with some of the issues in the local church. These letters ended up being Gods inspired Word about what the local church should look like.

As we finish up Chapter 3 here, Paul has, for now, finished talking about prayer, worship, and church offices and what those things look like in the local church. And for these couple of verses he is turning his attention to three very interconnected things. First, he will address why he is writing this letter to Timothy. Second, he will the purpose and mission of the local church. Last, he will give a poetic summation of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

So, we will read this week’s text before we go any further. We will be reading 1 Timothy 3, verses 14-16. Ill be reading out if the English Standard Version though I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation that you should have in your hands. Once again, 1 Timothy 3:14-16. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, God Himself, writes holy scripture, telling Timothy:

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He[e] was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated[
f] by the Spirit,[g]
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.

 

          And all his church says Amen!

You know what’s interesting to me? Gods perfect timing. Paul is writing a letter to Timothy. A letter that survived many, many years. A letter that was inspired by God to be the very Word of God. A letter that we now have written and copied in the Bibles you are holding in your hands. And he tells here why he wrote that letter.

Paul wanted to come and talk to Timothy in person. He was trying to come to him, but what Paul was telling Timothy was much too time critical to wait for Paul to physically get there. And in that time, there were no phones. Paul and Timothy couldn’t just call each other and talk about what’s going on. There was no email, no skype, no way at all of communicating except through face to face contact or via letter.

And this is what I want to point out here. If Paul had access to any of those other forms of communication, we would not have these letters in the Bible. We would have an incomplete scripture. There would have been no record of what Paul wrote to Timothy and we would not have Gods entire word to us today.

But God knew what he was doing, God had his perfect timing and orchestrated it so that Paul wrote this letter to Timothy and we know have the full council of God’s Word, infallible, inerrant, immutable, sufficient.

This is not todays big point, but someone may need not hear this. God orchestrates life in a way that brings glory to himself 2000 years later. You may think you should be doing something that you think would benefit the kingdom of God and bring glory to God, but he is closing that door and you can’t understand why. Trust him anyway. Paul wanted to go see Timothy but had to write this letter instead so that we could read it all these years later.

But, back to the text, the reason that Paul wants to go see Timothy is to share “how one ought to behave in the household of God.” This is the same idea that is behind the title of our series, “Life in the Local Church.” Paul has already mentioned prayer, worship, Church offices, the Glorious Gospel, church leaders, along with authority and submission.

Paul is going to transition back into talking about combatting the false teaching that is pervasive in the early churches back then, and in our churches today. But first, notice something else.

What is the church? Now, we all know the saying, “The church is the people, not the building.” And there is truth to that. The point is that the building is not something to be worshiped. The goal with that saying is that we don’t shirk our responsibility to live out the Gospel when we leave the church after Sunday mornings.

But Paul makes it clear here that the Church is the household of God. The Church is the local body of Christ, gathering, and fellowshipping, equipping the saints, teaching the Word of God, worshipping the one true Eternal God. Is there more than that as well? Of course. But it is never less than what Paul is saying. The church is the equal mixture and additions of the body itself, where we meet and us doing what God has called us to.

Now, of course, where we meet is not important. In church buildings, in local granges, community centers and halls, in houses across the world, in wide open spaces, in campgrounds, in parking lots, in big stadiums, wherever. Where we meet, as the body of Christ is the household of God, the church of the living God.

And the household of God, the church of the living God, is to be a pillar and a buttress of truth. Those words mean literally to provide support. The church is Gods chosen instrument to fight against the False Teaching in this world and to share and spread and teach the truth of the Gospel. RC Sproul writes that, “the truth of the Gospel is found in and sustained by Gods Church.”

          So, Paul is doing two things here. He is showing us how important it is to know how to live and how to act in the local church, the household of God. And that’s why we see these instructions on what prayer and worship should look like. That’s why we see the restrictions and qualifications on who is to lead and have authority in the local church. Paul is not trying to be a micromanager. He is not trying to be a control freak. He is saying, this is important because this is how God designed it and this is His house!

That’s why Paul will always teach and affirm justification by grace through faith in Christ alone. That works play no part in our salvation in any way shape or form. But he will also in his letters, often talk about the way to live rightly, follow the commands and directions of God, to live by the moral law that God has passed down. Because that is how we are to live and act in the household of God. It’s a respect thing. It’s a part of our worship. Our entire lives, everything we do, think and speak are, whether we want them to be or not, an act of worship. It may be worship to the living God, or it may be worship to the gods of this world, but it is worship.

Second, Paul is showing us how important it is to have right teaching, right doctrine, right understanding of the Word of God. He is showing where that truth comes from and what our role in it is. We are to provide support for the truth that goes out from amongst us. This is why Paul started out so strong against the false teaching that is going on in Ephesus. And this is why he will be talking against the false teaching again coming up.

One of the things we can take from this is that we need to be in a local church for us to be able to stand against the false teaching. The church body, the local church, is a pillar and buttress of the truth. If we are not a part of a local church, we are isolated from the truth.

Watching preachers on TV or listening to them online or on the radio, if they are biblically solid, can be a great resource for growing our knowledge in the LORD. I will caution you that many who are on TV or on the radio are indeed NOT biblically sound. But ones that are can be a great resource. However, if that is the extent of your “Church participation,” you are in grave danger of being led astray from the truth.

The same thing is the case if you are a part of a church that is to far away. I’ve heard of pastors and their families who “pastor” churches that are over 50 miles away from where they live. If you live that far away, you can’t shepherd the flock. You are a weekly guest speaker at that point. And the congregation doesn’t have any one they can go to when they need to.

This is, of course, not to say that you have to go to whatever church is the closest to you geographically. First off, that would be incredibly legalistic and second, its not practical. Just because a church is closest, doesn’t mean its is a Bible believing, Gospel preaching church. They might differ from you on important things. Sadly, they may differ from you on core things as well. But you should be a part of a local church, where you can be involved and a part of the body.

Being a part of the local church helps people know you, see your life, see your wins and your struggles, and help to stay out of the crevices of sin that temptation brings. And the Local church helps people know you so that they can help guard against the influence of false teaching. If all your biblical input is coming from the guys on TV, you will be susceptible to falling for false teaching and for allowing false teachers to define your theology. With no one to correct and counteract false teaching we are all able to be deceived.

The local church, providing discipleship, fellowship, protection against false teaching and teaching truth is, second only to the Bible itself, the most important thing we can actively do to mature and grow in Christ Jesus.

Listen to what Ligon Duncan says about the local church from this passage:

Paul is saying that the local church is the place that God has appointed to be essential to the propagation and protection of the truth in the world. Paul’s saying there can be no “Lone Ranger Christianity.” You can’t be off on your own–you Jesus, and your Bible–and expect for the truth to prosper in your life. We need one another as believers. We need one another as encouragement, we need to see one another’s lives. We need to see the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of other believers, to encourage us to love and good deeds. We need to be saying the word to one another, memorizing the word with one another, hearing the word of God together, serving the word of God together. Together the church serves as the pillar and support of the truth, in the sense that it is essential, it is God’s essential vehicle for evangelism, for discipleship, for missions, for the defense of the faith. Paul is just pointing out that the church is absolutely crucial. It is vital in preserving and propagating the gospel. It is the local church, Paul is saying, where God meets especially with His people in the New Covenant era, and it is the local church which is the essential instrument through which God propagates His truth.

 

So many people today miss the importance of the local church. Of sitting under sound teaching and authority, of the accountability, of the understanding and proclaiming of the Truth!

And Paul shares with us that very truth that we are to proclaim as he writes to Timothy:

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He[e] was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated[f] by the Spirit,[g]
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.

 

This is the truth that the local church is to stand and to proclaim and to protect. The mystery of Godliness. The mystery of the gospel. This mystery that I mentioned last week. The mystery that we heard during the scripture reading early from Ephesians 3.

God shared the Gospel all the way back in Genesis 4, right after the fall. The people of the Old Testament knew that there was a savior, a messiah coming. God promised it. And they had some insight, through the Prophets who spoke the Word of God, what that savior would look like, who that messiah would be. But overall it was a mystery to them.

When Christ arrived, it was no longer a mystery, but was revealed. At first, it was revealed in part, during Jesus’ earthly ministry, then revealed in full after his resurrection and ascension.

Paul writes to the Colossians, chapter 1, verses 25-28:

I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

Paul has said that the mission of the local church is to stand for and protect the truth. And he says in that passage in Colossians his mission is to the local churches, to make sure that they know and make known the full Word of God and that they known and share the revealed mystery, Christ in you.

And that’s how Paul ends this section with the revel of what that mystery was and what the truth is that we are to stand firm on. Many speculate that this poetic waxing of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ is an early Christian hymn.

Paul lists 6 truths about Christ that we are to proclaim and protect. First, Christ was manifested in the flesh. This is his incarnation. Jesus, eternally God from eternity past, 2nd part of the trinity, was made man, put on flesh and is fully God and fully man.

Second, he was vindicated by the Spirit. I’ve seen this taken to refer to either the resurrection, where as the Holt Spirit, fully God, vindicated Jesus, declaring him righteous, innocent and not guilty of any sin, or about his baptism, where the Holy spirit, in the form of a dove descended upon him and vindicated the start of his earthly ministry.

Third, Jesus was seen by the Angels. This is in reference to his ascension. Jesus Christ physically, literally died on the cross and was buried. He was physically, literally brought back to life. He was dead, then he was alive. After that, we see recorded in the beginning of the book of Acts that Jesus, back alive again, did not die again, instead he ascended into Heaven, and where He is now, we will see in the last statement.

Fourth, after his ascension, we see that Jesus disciples went out into the world and proclaimed this very truth. The same truth that we are tasked and blessed with continuing to spread throughout the world. The book of Acts is a record of how the Apostles first began spreading the Gospel.

Fifth, the Gospel was believed throughout the world. And that is one of Gods promises. We spread the seed; he will give the growth. Where the pure, simple Gospel is preached, people will be believing. Paul writes in Romans that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. That is how God has chosen to pour out his grace.

Lastly, Jesus was taken up in glory. When he ascended, he was then seated at the right hand of the Father. Christ is reigning in Heaven and is waiting for his return. He is exalted and worshipped and exactly where he is deserved to be.

One of Paul’s points is that we would do well to remember theses things. These are truths that false teachers will deny or twist. These are the truths that we are to protect. These are the truths that will guide us in how to behave in the household of God.

When we have trouble dealing with stuff, or getting frustrated with certain situations or circumstances, when we want to throw in the towel or take things into our own hands, we would do well to remember these things.

And when we hear something go against these things, we would do well to speak up. Paul will pick back up with the false teachers next week, but right now, here today. This is the truth. This is Christ. This is the mystery revealed. Let us remember and rest in that. Let us remember and rest in Him.

I leave you with the very words of Jesus himself, from Matthew 11:25-30:

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.[g] 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

 

Let’s Pray.

1 Timothy 3:1-13; Life in the Local Church: Qualifications for Elders and Deacons

1 Timothy 3:1-13

Life in the Local Church

Qualifications for Elders and Deacons

 

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to 1 Timothy chapter 3. If you do not have a Bible, we do have some on the back table and their specific purpose is to give to those who do not have a Bible. Please help yourself as we strive to get Gods Word into everybody’s hands.

Now, we are continuing our series through 1 & 2 Timothy that we have entitled “Life in the Local Church.” And this week, as we look at most of Chapter 3, we see Paul continue with some of the big themes we looked at last week, picking up a specific thread and answering questions before they get a chance to be asked.

In Chapter 2, Paul showed us some of the roles that He has called certain people to and how they are based on the creation order itself. One of the things that Paul mentions, that today is causing the most ruckus, and likely then, is that the role and office of pastor is not for design by God for women, but for called and qualified men. Which begs the question, what does it mean to be qualified. And that’s what Paul is going to answer in chapter 3.

Chapter 3 lays out the qualifications for elders and deacons. Pastors are called from within the elders, the same qualifications apply. Deacons and Elders are those who are called by God to serve and lead the church in an authoritative role. And if a man does not meet these qualifications, he is not called to be an elder or a deacon.

Let’s go ahead and read the text, the whole text straight through. We will be looking at 1 Timothy 3, verses 1-13. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Please do follow along with you in your preferred translation. 1 Timothy 3:1-13. Paul through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, sharing the very Word of God, writes:

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer[a] must be above reproach, the husband of one wife,[b] sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued,[c] not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise[d] must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

Paul, while going into specific examples, is emphasizing some main points here. To me, the biggest point I see being made by Paul is the importance of character when it comes to one who is called. This takes absolute and total precedence over the ability to do tasks and the accomplishments one may have achieved.

Paul starts by saying that the office of overseer, used interchangeably with elder and pastor in our Bibles, is a noble one. Therefore, because of that, because of the office, because of what God has said about it and what He has called it to be, stemming from his created design, this is what an overseer must be.

We are not going to go into full detail in each and everyone of the things that Paul has listed here. But we are going to hit the high points and the themes. Some individually, some as a group. I also want to mention that Pail, in his letter to Titus, also includes a list of qualifications for overseer. Titus1:6-9, Paul writes:

If anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.   For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain,

but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.

He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

We are not going to look at that text this morning, but its important to see the parallels and the consistency in the different texts. And what we are going to do is make our way through the attributes and qualities that Paul lists in 1 Timothy 3.

First, an elder must be above reproach.

Above Reproach. This does not mean, of course, to be sinless. RC Sproul says this would be more accurate to the meaning saying, “above scandalous reproach.” This means that elders are to have a good standing in the community, that they are to have a good witness amongst those outside the church.

We see many stories of scandals from pastors or church leaders who fall from their position. Sex, drugs, money, etc. It doesn’t matter what it is, when the pastor falls, the scandal breaks, there is a collective response from the outside world of, “see? What hypocrites! And they pretend to be so much better than us!” That pastor is now disqualified. That elder is now disqualified. Don’t get me wrong, forgiveness is still possible. Restoration to their local church is still hoped for and prayed for. But he is no longer above reproach.

Now, one of the themes, throughout these qualifications, and I don’t know if I’ll mention it multiple times or just leave it hear as a reminder. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

I know that there are some that would disagree on me about this, but I don’t believe what happened in our lives before we came to know Christ has any bearings on our qualifications. We know clearly from scripture that it has no bearing on our standing before God. Paul writes in Romans 8:1, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

          But I believe that our lives, specifically our sins from before our coming to Christ, do not disqualify one from a position of leadership. Often, it makes for a better witness and testimony to see how far God has brought us. The last point on this is that being above reproach is also to be looked at as a summation of all the rest of the things that Paul lists here in 1 Timothy 3. It is the essence of character on those whom God has called.

That plays also into the next thing that Paul lists. He says that an elder must be a husband of one wife. The Greek literally reads a one-woman man. Historically, there have been three ways this is interpreted.

First, some say that this is making a prohibition on polygamy. This is possible and polygamy is clearly prohibited in other passages in scripture. Marriage is clearly defined in scripture as between a man and a woman, starting all the way back in the Garden of Eden, before the fall. But I don’t think that’s what this verse is referring to.

Second, some say that this is in reference to unbiblical divorce and remarriage. Scriptures are clear about what God thinks about Divorce. God hates divorce. Jesus said in Mark 10:9, What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.

          All scholars and commentators agree that the Bible lays out Biblical exceptions that allow for divorce, most specifically in Matthew 5 and 1 Corinthians 7. And most scholars and commentators agree that within those circumstances, those exceptions, then there is freedom to remarry as well, though there are a few notable exceptions on that point.

But we know that we live in a state and a society that is willing and encourages divorce for no reason whatsoever and does not hold to the sanctity or the fidelity of the covenant of marriage. So, there are many divorces and remarriages that are there for non-biblical grounds.

The last possibility is that this is referring to being faithful to your marriage bed. No affairs, no extra marital sex. Men only begin with the woman that you are married to. This is where a lot of commentator’s land based on the culture in the Roman empire of the day.

I think however, it’s a combination of the last two at least. I think that the point that Paul is making is that to be a pastor, an overseer, an elder, you must be faithful and fully submitted to what God calls marriage. The author of Hebrews writes in Hebrews 13:4, Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

God has ordered his creation in a certain way. This applies to gender roles between men and women. This applies to what is and not marriage. This applies to what is and is not sin. This applies to life. To be a leader in the church, you must be faithful to the role and order of Gods creation.

Third, Paul lists self-controlled, sober minded, respectable and hospitable. These come together and speak to a person’s character. These are areas where elders need to lead. Ligon Duncan describes these attributes thusly: He is a temperate, or sober-minded man. He’s possessed of a wakeful, alert, vigilant habit of mind, and he’s opposed to all sorts of excess. He’s prudent, he has mastery over his natural reactions. He’s got some self-control. He’s respectable. He lives a life that bears up under public scrutiny. He’s hospitable; that is, he’s possessed of that hospitality that is required of all Christians. Elders are to take a lead in that.

I’m hoping your noticing something about many of these things that Paul is listing that I’m going to tie together at the end of this.,

Fourthly, he must be able to teach. This is especially important given Ephesus’ problem and our current day problem of dealing with False Teachers. Elders must be able to combat these teachings that go against the Gospel.

This, again, does not mean that all elders must be great or gifted teachers. But what it means is that they can get up and they can teach the Gospel, simply and accurately. They can what a scripture passage means and while they will not always be perfect, they will be studious and knowledgeable.

As a member of the church, you should be able to bring a person who has never heard the gospel or doesn’t know the Gospel and bring them to anyone of the elders and know that the Gospel and salvation message will be clearly and faithfully presented. It may be better stated that an elder is to be able to disciple. To teach those around him who to grow and mature in Christ, to teach them about life and the Bible. Some do it from up front here, all do it done there, amongst the people, in one on one situations, small groups and anywhere the need and opportunity arise.

Fifth, Paul says that Elders are to be not drunkards, not violent, not quarrelsome and not greedy. This is kind of the mirror image in some ways of the third section. There, Paul said this is what they are to be. Here, he is saying what they are not to be.

And the point is that they are not to be giving in and controlled by these earthly, fleshly temptations. These sins are common sins to man, and they are often, though not always, easy to see from both outside a person and outside the church.

This fits right along with what Paul writes in Galatians 5, regarding the works of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit. Galatians 5: 16-25, he writes:

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.  Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.   And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

 

Sure, Paul could have told Timothy and the Ephesians to read what he wrote to the Galatians, but that’s not the way things worked back then. They didn’t have all the scriptures collected and ready to read in one fell swoop. Paul couldn’t depend on the church at Ephesus to know what he wrote to the Galatians.

And so, he often says the same thing in different ways in his letters. IF we don’t pay attention, it can seem that he is just repeating himself, but it is in these areas where we see what the most important things is that Paul was led to address and teach.

Sixth, Paul makes the correlation between managing one’s own household and the house of God. Again, some try to make this mean something more than what Paul is saying. This does not mean that an elder is to have perfect and sinless kids, looking at the comparison being made, that would also mean that we are to have perfect and sinless church members.   And it doesn’t disqualify an elder of his adult children are not walking with the LORD. That would disqualify a surprising amount of godly, qualified and faithful elders in churches today.

I have told this story before but I’m not sure how recently. I was at a Pastors conference many years ago. The speaker asked this room full of pastors, how many there had children who were not walking with the LORD. Well over 75% of the men in that room raised their hands.

It reminds that even when we are faithful to manage our households and to raise our kids the right way, they can’t just take our faith. At some point, they are solely responsible for their own faith.

So, whether the kids are or become saved is not what Paul would use to determine whether one’s household is managed well. One commentary brings home the point when it states, only a man capable of virtuously leading his own family can lead members of Gods family. To do one, one must first prove he can do the simpler. And yes, managing one’s own house is simpler than managing Gods house. When one is faithful with a little, God will give him more.

Seventh, Paul says that an elder, an overseer must not be a recent convert. This has to do with spiritual maturity, not physical age or maturity. Its easy, as a new convert, for us to think that, as we get to know things in and about the Bible, that we know it all. It is not uncommon to enter what’s called “Cage stage.” One article explains the term this way: Cage-stage” describes an all too common phenomenon wherein a believer comes to embrace (the LORD) and for a time becomes an obnoxious lout in defending the doctrines to all comers, whether they are interested or not. It suggests that such a newbie should spend some time in a cage until they calm down.

The article continues: The Cage Stager seems to forget the battle with sin he not only continues to have, but the battle he only recently won, by God’s grace, in coming to embrace the doctrines of grace. He seems to reason, “What is wrong with those terrible, awful, good-for-nothing sinners that they refuse to see what I only recently came to see?”

The biggest issue that comes out of being a recent convert is pride. Pride has no place in leading the people of God. Connected to this, we are never more susceptible to false teaching and sin than when we are first growing.

The more we know Gods Word, the more we mature, the more we should be resisting sin and remaining humble. We know how little we deserve to receive from God. And We know how much He has given us, His grace and His mercy and his forgiveness.

Lastly, and in summation of what Paul has already written, an elder is to be thought well by outsiders. If a pastor, or an elder, church leaders, if they fall, it should be incredibly hard for him to be restored to office. Again, forgiveness can and should come with repentance and it should come quickly. But restoration should come very, very slowly if at all, because, among other reasons, how it would look to the outside world. This is directly tied to the very first thing that Paul wrote, about overseers being above reproach.

Paul then moves to verse 8, saying, Deacons, likewise. Now, some see this as being an interchangeable continuation of his list regarding elders. Paul will use different terms interchangeably, so I get it. But I see this as a differentiation of the two offices of Elders and Deacons.

They are very similar, as we see with Paul saying, likewise, and as we see with the similarities between the two lists. We are going to burn through this list really quick and focus, mostly on how they parallel the list of qualifications of elders.

That Deacons must be dignified parallels #’s 1 and 3 especially of what we just looked at. Not addicted to much wine, or greedy for dishonest gain, parallels number 5, that elders are not to be drunkards or greedy.

Next Paul mentions the mystery of the faith. This is the Gospel. This is the mystery that was yet to be revealed in the Old Testament about who and what the Messiah would be. This is that God became man, to die for our sins and offer grace for the forgiveness of sins.

Deacons do not have to be able to teach as elders are required to be. However, they must be solid in the faith. They must have a solid theological background, not swaying on some of the core tenets of the faith. They do have to know and be able to express the clear Gospel.

Deacons are to be test first and found blameless. This parallels with # 7 in ways. Of course, we know that blameless does not equal sinless. They are to let their lives, over time, through the course of trials and testing, show fruit of the Gospel. Taking a course over time shows that they also cannot be a recent convert. Fruit takes time to grow and develop.

A quick aside in v 11 shows that the wives must also be mature Christians showing fruit of the spirit, as Paul declares they are to be dignified, not slanderous, sober minded and faithful.

Paul returns to the deacons as he mentions that they are to be the husband of one wife, just like #2 and that he must manage his household well, just like #6. Those 8 qualifications for deacons are very similar to those qualifications for elders as you can see.

They are positions of authority in the church, of leadership. But they are first and foremost positions of servanthood. Our lives and our service are to a testimony to the life and work of and our faith in Jesus Christ. All that we do, we are to do unto the LORD.

And here is the connecting thread I was wondering if you picked up on earlier. This is a passage listing the qualifications of elders and deacons in the local church. Does that mean this is a passage that is only intended to be for myself and the elders of the church? Does this mean that there isn’t any takeaway or application for you? Nope. Sorry, not that easy for you.

These are qualifications and requirements for Deacons and Elders. But this is the goal for ALL believers. Each and everyone of us, this is a list that we should strive to live out as we grow and mature in our faith in Christ Jesus.

Also, the elders and deacons of Bangor Community Church are voted on by the members of Bangor Community Church. In order to vote, you must know what you are voting for. So, this passage, this list of qualifications, is so much more than just that.

This is a list of what Gods is doing in our lives, through sanctification and through growth. This is what we should see developing in each and every one of us. This is the fruit that grows and develops over time because of what Christ has done for us.

 

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