PREACH THE WORD [01/24/23]

A study of 2 Tim.4:1-5

As Paul comes to the close of his directives to Timothy, he emphasizes the importance of preaching the Word: “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge” <2 Tim.4:1 (NIV)>.Timothy, as well as all servants of Christ, must be aware of the importance of our responsibilities, especially when called to be leaders in the Church (local or national), for Christ will be the judge of our effort when He returns for His Church <see 1 Cor.3:12-15>. Paul now proceeds to give nine objectives to the servants of Christ:

  1. Preach the Word; there has to be a commitment of the servant to deliver God’s Word by preaching and teaching the pure Word of God at all times, it should be our constant duty <see 1 Tim.4:13>.
  2. Be prepared: “in season”; that is when it is convenient or is scheduled, such as in the public worship of the Church: “out of season”; that is when it may be inconvenient; those situations where or when there are hindrances, embarrassments or discouragements; or where we might have to create an opportunity.
  3. Correct: as stated earlier, the Scriptures are to be used for correction of errors that have been introduced by false teaching; such teaching should only be corrected through scripture.
  4. Rebuke: unfortunately, there comes a time when this is necessary, either privately or in public, all sin in the church must be immediately dealt with when exposed <see 1 Tim.5:20>.
  5. Encourage: every church leader must be quick to encourage the “flock” with patience and careful instruction, especially where church discipline has occurred.
  6. Keep your head in all situations: be alert against error and sin; that is, do not be distracted by Satan from what is transpiring among the members of the church <see 1Cor.16:13>.
  7. Endure hardships: difficult times will come not only from outside of the church but also from within, and at such times we must rely on the leadership of The Holy Spirit to do business with what is occurring. The hardships that we face from outside the church must also be under the control of The Holy Spirit for we are fighting against the unseen enemy, and we will only overcome by following Paul’s example instruction <see 2 Tim.1:8; 2:3>.
  8. Do the work of an evangelist: this is the appropriate business of all Christ’s servants, for we are all appointed to proclaim the joyful news of salvation because non-believers are incompetent and their eyes blinded to God <see Eph.4:18>.
  9. Discharge all the duties of your ministry: “Timothy was so to discharge the duties of his office as to furnish “a fair illustration” of what the ministry could do, and thus to show the wisdom of the Saviour in its institution. This should be the aim of all the ministers of the gospel. Each one should resolve, by the blessing of God, that the ministry, in his hands, shall be allowed, “by a fair trial,” to show to the utmost what it is adapted to do for the welfare of mankind.” (From Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997-2014 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Paul’s reasoning for these instructions is seen in his statement: “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” <2 Tim.4:3-4 (NIV)>. It is quite evident in our present-day society the fulfilment of this statement, for increasingly we see this attitude displayed by individuals today. Ungodliness is apparent in the lifestyle of many individuals for they refuse to hear anything relating to the Scriptures; they mock God, the scriptures are misinterpreted and such misinterpretation is used for their pleasure, they refuse to hear or listen to the truth of scripture, to the extent that some have instituted their own churches in opposition to what is taught in the New Testament – their satisfaction is sought in their personal desires, there is no worship of God! This was the attitude of the Israelites during the siege of Jerusalem, when God’s message through Jerimiah was that they should not go to Egypt to escape the Babylonian army; We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord! We will certainly do everything we said we would…” <Jer.44:16-17 (NIV)>; they chose to listen to the voice of their associates rather than the word of God. Unfortunately, this is the attitude that confronts every servant of God today!

After Christ’s resurrection and just prior to His ascension, He commissioned His disciples, and all future followers: “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” <Mk.16:15-16 (NIV)>; and this was the message that the disciples preached to all people during the early days of the Church <see Acts 2:22-24. 32; 3:15>; and this message has been preached in Churches down through the centuries to the present day and millions have responded, but unfortunately many more have turned their backs on God’s offer of salvation. As Paul has already warned Timothy (and all Christ’s followers today) that “There will be terrible times in the last days” <2Tim.3:1> when people will oppose and totally reject God, and the evidence of this is seen in governments passing laws to obstruct the preaching of the gospel because individual persons will hear and possibly turn to God. The following is a partial quote from Premier Christian News UK: “However, many …… plans, which could see conversion therapy banned …… Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee’s public petition…. show that many back the idea in order to ensure the safety of …… people……Conversion practices that try to change a person …… are harmful, discriminatory, and have no place in our society.” And such laws will continue to be updated and become more inclusive to the extent that preaching the gospel will become increasingly difficult for God’s servants; but we must be obedient to Christ’s commission. Relative to this, let us understand one important fact of salvation: true repentance in any and all persons will result in a complete change in thought, actions, and life-style, and unless this is evident there has been no repentance. (To read more on Repentance you can follow this link: https://biblicalcontemplation.com/category/repentance-12-02-2021/ )

As it has been for many decades, people will refuse to hear God’s message of salvation, and their refusal is not so much of the message that we deliver but a refusal of God Himself since they do not want His influence in their lives. The unfortunate result of their rejection of God will be God’s rejection of them, and although they may presume that they will enter God’s heaven, their end- result will be eternal death and separation from God! If we desire to enter God’s heaven we must enter on His terms! <see Rev.21:8, 27>.

 

THE GENERATION OF DENIAL [12/29/22]

A Study of 2 Tim.3:1-14

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days” <2 Tim.3:1 (NIV)> The characteristics of people in the last days – the last days began with Christ’s first advent and will continue until he comes again – Paul states that during this time people will become increasingly ruthless. Let us examine Paul’s list <2 Tim.3:1-5>:

People will be lovers of themselves               no respect for others                   

lovers of money                                              always trying to get more

boastful                                                         arrogant

proud                                                             self-righteous, egotistical

abusive                                                            insulting, obnoxious, offensive

disobedient to their parents               begins at the earliest age, progresses and can cause great grief

ungrateful                                                      thankless, unsatisfying

unholy                                                            desiring nothing to do with God

without love                                                    cannot show, or unable to love

unforgiving                                                    exacting, intolerant, remorseless, vindictive

slanderous                                                      insulting, malicious

without self-control                                        no restraint or self-discipline

brutal                                                             ruthless, cruel, heartless, violent

not lovers of the good                                    not decent, respectable, moral, worthy       

treacherous                                                              unfaithful, disloyal, deceitful, two-faced, untrustworthy

rash                                                                 impulsive, thoughtless, foolish

conceited                                                   self-important, superior, snobbish, self-satisfied, narcissistic, selfish

lovers of pleasure rather than … God          lovers of gratification, indulgence, sensuality, leisure

 

This list describes the character and attitude of people in the era of Paul and Timothy, – it is even more ruthless in the present era – and will become increasingly corrupt as the years go by, until Christ returns. Evidence of this type of behaviour is rampant in our society today! Individuals will have and demonstrate “a form of godliness but denying its power.” <2 Tim.3:5a (NIV)>; they will have a practice of worship, they will follow rituals, they will follow custom; but there will be a rejection of God who they are professing to worship. Paul’s instruction to Timothy, and all followers of Christ is: “Have nothing to do with them.” <2 Tim.3:5b (NIV)>. Such individuals will become members of the Church, but we are instructed not to encourage them or their beliefs.

Paul continues to describe their characteristics: “They are the kind who worm their way …… and gain control” <2 Tim.3:6 (NIV)>, like an insect they wriggle their way into the homes and Church, attempting to, and will eventually gain control of those that are weak in their faith; “over weak-willed ……who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires” <2 Tim.3:6 (NIV)>; those that are guilt-ridden because of their unforgiven sins, and are victims of false teaching; they are always learning but never coming to a saving knowledge of Christ <2 Tim.3:7 (NIV Study Bible)>. According to Jewish tradition, (Jannes and Jambres who are not mentioned by name in the OT, <see Ex.7:11>); just as Moses was in conflict with these men, so also is the conflict seen by such individuals in our time: “…so also these men oppose the truth — men of depraved minds” <2 Tim.3:8 (NIV)>. When the Scriptures are clearly taught in the Church the progress of these individuals will be minimized because “…their folly will be clear to everyone.” <2 Tim.3:9 (NIV)>; and the issue is – is such absurdity clear to us today?

In our opposition to this rejection of God <2 Tim.3:10-17>, we should understand that there are two types of denial; one in which the individual absolutely denies God’s existence or refuses to be guided by The Spirit of God; and the other is, those that have professed to be believers but have never fully committed their life to Christ. There are many “church members” who are similar to the unbelievers that Moses had to contend with, they heard the message but rebelled <see Heb.3:16-19; cf Jn.5:38-40>. Then there are those that have been enlightened and have been exposed to the gift of salvation, have walked the new way for a while, but have been turned away because of worldly pleasure and false teachings <see Heb.6:4-6; cf Jn.8:31-32>. Whatever the reason may be, our opposition must always be based on Scripture, for Paul reminds us that the Scriptures are able to give us the wisdom that we need in such circumstances <2 Tim.3:15>. We base our opposition and correction of denial on the Scriptures because “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” <2 Tim.3:16 (NIV); cf Heb.4:12-13>, and should be our only method of correcting those that deny the authority of Christ as Head of His Church, and the teaching of His appointed leaders.

Paul then gives Timothy, and us, the reason for this methodology: “so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” <2 Tim.3:17 (NIV)>. When all the members of Christ’s Church live by the principles of the Scriptures, correcting differences and outright denial of scriptural truths can be easily managed, and all members will be completely equipped for His service. This is the reason why Paul could draw attention to his own way of living when he addresses Timothy at the beginning of this section: “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings…” <2 Tim.3:10-11 (NIV)>; Paul’s life and purpose, and everything else about him, was all under the influence and control of Christ through The Holy Spirit; and in reference to his suffering, he reminds us that “…everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” <2 Tim.3:12 (NIV)>. While evil people will go from bad to worse deceiving and being deceived <2 Tim.3:13>; Christ’s followers are encouraged to continue living being guided by what we have learned from the Scriptures; But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it” <2 Tim.3:14 (NIV)>.

As we have examined Paul’s description of the denial of God by individuals today, where do you fit into the picture? It is obvious that many people fit Paul’s description of those that reject the gospel, and if you see yourself as such, please allow the Spirit of God to lead you to Christ today.

THE FAITHFUL MINISTER [12/3/22]

A Study of 2 Tim.2:1-26>                

Every faithful servant of Christ must display a Christlike characteristic, and the first should be that of discipline: “…be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” <2 Tim.2:1 (NIV)>. Let us remember our responsibility; do not be ashamed to testify of God’s goodness <2 Tim.1:8>; guard what has been entrusted to us <2 Tim.1:14>; always acknowledging our source of power <Eph.1:19; 6:10>. One other responsibility of a faithful servant is to ensure that there is a qualified successor to take over: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” <2 Tim.2:2 (NIV)>; a good teacher will teach with the intent that others will become qualified to continue teaching the undiluted gospel. Just as Timothy had been under the tutorship of Paul, now he must be sure that the pattern is continued.

“Endure hardship”; in every aspect of life there is adversity that must be tolerated, and the longer we live the more adversity we face. Paul encourages Timothy to persevere as a good soldier of Christ <2 Tim.2:3-5>. As any soldier will testify, there is a great deal to persevere while enlisted. It is the same for all soldiers of Christ, the longer we serve the more difficult the battle becomes, for we are reminded that our battle is not against the human enemy but against the unseen enemy – that of Satan – and only by the help of the Holy Spirit can we overcome <see Eph.6:11-13>. In similarity, as a soldier wishes to please the commanding officer, likewise the soldier of Christ should please Christ as ‘The Commanding Officer’. Paul also compares our service to that of an athlete who “does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.” <2 Tim.2:5 (NIV)>; the athlete either loses the race or is disqualified. In similarity, Christ’s servant must serve according to the rules as outlined in the Scriptures, understanding that there will be consequences to those who persist in going against God’s rules <see 1 Cor.9:25-27>.

“The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.” <2 Tim.2:6 (NIV)>; here again Paul is making reference to adversity and perseverance, for farming is not an easy profession. The normal work day for any farmer is from daybreak to sunset, and these are the hours from day to day, and he faces many adversities; but the end result is that with perseverance the best of the produce is harvested.

The characteristics of a faithful servant of Christ is persevering through all adversities by the help of The Holy Spirit. For all of God’s faithful servants will face these demands of service and possess these characteristics; but we all must understand that faithful service can only be possible through The Lord Jesus Christ who is alive for evermore, and this is the theme of the gospel; and even though there are many adversities in serving God, when we are restrained by Satan “God’s word is not chained.” <2 Tim.2:9 (NIV); cf Isa.55:11>. We therefore continue to live and preach the gospel in service to our faithful Commander. Paul now ends this section with another of his trustworthy sayings: “If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” <2 Tim.2:11-13 (NIV); see Matt.10:32-33>; and as God’s servants let us pay specific attention to Paul’s last sentence: no matter how unfaithful we become; our Lord Jesus Christ will always remain faithful!

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” <2 Tim.2:15 (NIV)>. Church leaders; whether Bishop, Pastor or Elder, are appointed to the position by their associates but are all approved by God. Those that are approved will see their work blessed by God, those that are not approved by God will see very little progress. Paul reminds us that a diligent approved worker for God does not need to be ashamed when correctly handling the Word of Truth, for God’s continued approval rests upon this. There are three warnings given here to Church leaders as well as all who diligently serve God. First: “Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.” <2 Tim.2:14 (NIV)>; it is unfortunate that such arguing occurs in our churches today over words and phrases used in scripture where different implications give rise to arguments; let us be aware of the consequences – it ruins those who listen – let us not be the instruments of ruining the lives of other believers in Christ <cf 1 Tim.1:4; 6:4; Tit.3:9>, for our freedom to do or say things can cause the younger believer, or believers that are not strong in faith, to stumble <see 1 Cor.8:9>. Secondly, he says: “Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.” <2 Tim.2:16 (NIV)>; chatter can be described as continuous and often purposeless speech, also gossiping; and where such is all that one can talk about especially when there is little or no reference to the Scriptures or God, those involved will become more ungodly <cf Job 38:2; Prov.20:15; Col.4:6>. All God’s workers must be very careful to present the undiluted Word of God! Third: every faithful worker of God must be careful in the interpretation of the Scriptures, especially where such interpretation will “destroy the faith of some” <2 Tim.2:18 (NIV)>; sad to say that there are those that have been turned away from the Church, and God, because of what has been preached from the pulpit! Paul’s summation is: “Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”” <2 Tim.2:19 (NIV)>. The foundation of the Church is protected by two guarantees: first, it is secured by God in Christ for He intimately knows all that are His: secondly, there is the human responsibility which means that all who acknowledge His name must turn away from sin and iniquity. Let us always remember that God owns the Church and securely protects it with His assurance <see Eph.1:13>. The Lord knows those that are approved for His service, and those that are approved, as well as all others, must turn away from sin and iniquity!

The Faithful servant of God must be “sanctified Vessel” <2 Tim.2:20-23>, one that engages in “righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” <2 Tim.2:22 (NIV)>. We are sanctified in righteousness, faith, love and peace by clinging to that which is principled, by the cleansing of The Holy Spirit; and we should note that Paul encourages us to seek the company of those that call on the name of the Lord, and in so doing we remain useful to The Master and are prepared to do His good work <2 Tim.2:20-21; cf 1 Jn.2:1-6>. Paul also reminds us to avoid “foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” <2 Tim.2:23 (NIV); cf 2 Tim.2:14>.

One of the greatest difficulties that faces any church leader is addressed here by Paul: “the Lord’s servant …. must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” <2 Tim.2:24 (NIV)>. When God’s servant is faced with continuous criticism and attacks by various individuals who have fallen for the “trap” of Satan <2 Tim.2:26>, it takes God’s love and the help of The Holy Spirit not to argue, in this we need to follow Christ’s example <see Matt.11:29>. Why should he be able to teach, why should he be not angry? Because of his good teaching and bearing no grudge: “Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” <2 Tim.2:25-26 (NIV)>. It should always be the aim of all Pastors, Bishops, and other leaders (and all of God’s workers) to present God’s Word with the intent that through hearing the truth unbelievers will repent, come to their senses and escape Satan’s trap that has taken them captive to do his bidding <see Psa.25:15; 31:4; Jn.17:17>.

HOW TO ENDURE ADVERSITIES [11/18/22]

A study of 2 Tim.1:1 – 2:26

“Tree-skiing may sound like a death wish, but some skiers love the risk of skiing virgin powder lying in a stand of aspen or spruce. The key, of course, is not hitting the trees! In Outside magazine, writer and skier Tim Etchells lays out the challenge:

Even more so than in deep snow or moguls, what you focus your eyes on becomes critical in the woods. Look at the spaces between the trees—the exits where you hope to be traveling. “Don’t stare at what you don’t want to hit,” says [extreme-skiing world champion Kim] Reichelm matter-of-factly”. [Vision for Life: Citation: Tim Etchells, “The Trees: Lovely, Dark, and Deep,” Outside (November 1999), p. 128, from Perfect Illustrations]

Living the life of a believer in Christ, in Paul and Timothy’s time, and under present conditions, is by no means easy or pleasant. News items constantly remind us of the difficulties that we face when we exercise our faith in God and live our lives pleasing God in accordance with the teaching of the scriptures.

Paul begins by reminding Timothy <2 Tim.1:1-5>, and all believers, that we are commissioned by Christ to preach the gospel by word and by actions (our life-style) to all those that we associate with: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.””  <Matt. 28:19-20 (NIV)>: and as He taught His disciples, we must all be accountable to Him <Mk.6:30>, and our only hope of persevering in this world is to focus on Him only: “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house.” <Heb.3:1-2 (NIV)>; for in so doing we can declare “the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus” <2 Tim.1:1 (NIV); cf Jn.3:16; Eph.3:6; Tit.1:2; 1 Tim.6:19>.

Paul is thankful to God for Timothy and is constantly praying for him, and in this he is reminded of Timothy’s sincere faith that was seen first in his grandmother and then in his mother and “I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” <1:5 (NIV)>. It is this faith that strengthens all believers to persevere in our service for God.

As Paul continues to encourage Timothy (and all believers in Christ), he gives three commands that form the basis of our responsibility that will help us to persevere in our service <2 Tim.1:6-18>. First, “fan into flame the gift of God” <2 Tim.1:6 (NIV)>. Since our gifts are not fully developed when initially given to us, we need to develop them by using them – fanning the flame“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” <2 Tim.1:7 (NIV)>; thus, we should not be ashamed or scared to use them for His glory <2 Tim.1:8; cf Rom.1:16>. Secondly, we should never be arrogant in our service but always keep in mind that what we have received and how we are to serve is “…not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” <2 Tim.1:9 (NIV)>. Grace that was given to us in Christ Jesus through His appearing as our Saviour, destroying death and bringing immortality to life through the gospel <2 Tim.1:9b-10>; reminding Timothy (and us) that preaching the gospel had caused his suffering <2 Tim.1:11-12a>. Third; although suffering as he was, he could say: “Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” <2 Tim.1:12 (NIV); cf 1 Pet.1:3-5>. The work that God has begun in us He will continue to do until it is completed at Christ’s second coming <Phil.1:6>.

Paul then completes Timothy’s responsibility by instructing him: “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you — guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” <2 Tim.1:13-14 (NIV)>. Follow the pattern of sound teaching; guard what has been entrusted to you (the gospel) – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit; a responsibility that should be the objective of all God’s servants! <see 2 Cor.4:17-18>.

“Recently I glimpsed the glory of finishing a task well. At Arlington National Cemetery, I saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. I had watched that ceremony several times before, always moved by its solemnity and precision.

This time, however, I witnessed something new. When the changing of the guard was completed, the commanding officer asked us to remain standing in silence. Sergeant Jennings had completed 27 months of this special duty and wanted now to pay his respect to the unknown soldiers. A guard escorted Jennings’ family to a place of honor.

The commanding officer handed Jennings four roses. Jennings approached the great Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the First World War, knelt, and placed a rose before it. Then he moved with solemn dignity to the tombs honoring unknown soldiers from the Second World War, and the wars in Korea and Vietnam, kneeling to place one red rose upon each. He returned to his commanding officer and stood before him. At attention, with their eyes locked, they shook hands. Then Sergeant Jennings carefully removed his white gloves and returned them, his work finished. He saluted his officer, greeted his family, and left.

With tears running down my face I thought of standing before my Lord Jesus someday, taking off my gloves and handing them to him.” (Citation: Harry J. Heintz; Troy, New York; “Finishing work on Earth”; (From Perfect Illustrations))

PASTORAL DUTIES [10/29/22]

A study of 1 Tim.6:1-21

Paul concludes his first letter by suggesting advices to Timothy in coping with various kinds of people and situations in the Church.

He encourages “All (servants) who are under the yoke of slavery” <1 Tim.6:1 (NIV)>; those that are under the oppression of servitude are to do so with respect and sincerity in the same way as they serve and obey the Lord Jesus <see Eph.6:5-8>, such service should also display reverence for the Lord with the understanding that “It is the Lord Christ you are serving” <Col.3:22-24 (NIV)>. Slavery was the “way of life” in the Roman and Greek empires, and many slaves became followers of Christ and continued to work for their Christian masters.

He continues to counsel and addresses the dilemma of false teachers in the Church; revealing their chief interest, their ruling motives and the outcome of their teaching. They have “an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words” <1 Tim.6:4 (NIV)>; constantly arguing about the content of scripture, the manner in which it is written and how various words should be interpreted; they dwell on the “so-called errors” but fail to understand the accurate meaning of The Word of God. They continually think and teach “that godliness is a means of financial gain <1 Tim.6:5b (NIV)>, a subject that is quite evident from some of our pulpits today. The outcome of their teaching is seen in “envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth…” <1 Tim.6:4-5 (NIV)>. These people who want to use godliness as a means of getting rich “fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” <1 Tim.6:9-10 (NIV)>. This form of teaching also produces bitter envy and selfish ambition, it is secular and of the devil, causing disorder and evil practices <see Jas.3:14-16>.

Paul therefore directs Timothy “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of eternal life…” <1 Tim.6:12 (NIV)>, claim the benefits by placing his hope in God alone and not in material wealth, by paying careful attention to his character and doctrine <1 Tim.4:16>. A command to each of us, that as followers of Christ we should do the same until death or the second coming of Christ, whichever comes first <1 Tim.6:14>.

We all must live godly lives and follow this command as we look forward to Christ’s second coming, a day and time that has been set by God, “the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever, Amen” <1 Tim.6:14-16 (NIV)>.

He appeals to those that are rich and instructs them “not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth…. but to put their hope in God” <1 Tim.6:17 (NIV)> since it is God who richly provides for us <see Jas.1:17>. They are further commanded to do good, to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share; for by doing so they will accumulate real wealth in the coming kingdom of Christ.

Finally, he encourages Timothy. “…guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge” <1. Tim.6:20 (NIV)>

“Guard what has been entrusted to your care”; this is indeed the whole duty of the Pastor, Elder, Bishop, whatever the title may be; and this protection is possible with the help of the Holy Spirit <see 2 Tim.1:14>. The gospel has been entrusted to the care of all believers in Christ, and we need to take note of Paul’s encouragement to Timothy; but more important, to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself <see Matt.28:19-20; Lk.24:46-49>. Furthermore, all Pastors are given additional instructions found here in Paul’s letter to Timothy in relation to doctrine, public worship, false teaching and church discipline; and these instructions are extremely important, for Paul had given a previous warning in his farewell address to the Ephesian Church Elders <see Acts 20:28-31>; and the unfortunate effect that this has had on the Church down through the ages is evident today in the incompetence of many Churches because Pastors have neglected their responsibility.

So, the question is: As a Pastor, how well am I guarding what has been entrusted to my care?

Timothy, and indeed all followers of Christ, are instructed to be aware of and to avoid the false teaching of Gnosticism which states that our salvation can be accomplished through knowledge. Let us all hold to and proclaim the gospel of God that has been committed to us, that salvation comes only in and through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.

SHOW SENSITIVITY AND IMPARTIALITY [10/08/22]

A study of 1 Tim.5:1-25

“When I was a child, my minister father brought home a 12-year-old boy named Roger… There was no one to care for Roger, so my folks decided they’d just raise him as if he were one of their own sons. At first it was quite difficult for Roger to adjust to his new home…… Every day, several times a day, I heard my parents saying to Roger: “No, no. That’s not how we behave in this family.” “No, no. You don’t have to scream or fight or hurt other people to get what you want.” “No, no, Roger, we expect you to show respect in this family.” And in time Roger began to change.

Now, did Roger have to make all those changes in order to become a part of the family? No. He was made a part of the family simply by the grace of my father. But did he then have to do a lot of hard work because he was in the family? You bet he did. It was tough for him to change, and he had to work at it. But he was motivated by gratitude for the incredible love he had received.

Do you have a lot of hard work to do now that the Spirit has adopted you into God’s family? Certainly. But not in order to become a son or a daughter of the heavenly Father. No, you make those changes because you are a son or daughter. And every time you start to revert back to the old addictions to sin, the Holy Spirit will say to you, “No, no. That’s not how we act in this family.”  (Citation: Craig Barnes, author and pastor of National Presbyterian Church; Washington, D.C.; from sermon “The Blessed Trinity” (5-30-99) [from Perfect Illustrations])

There has to be mutual respect among all members of the Church family so that orderliness can be experienced; and if this is not evident there will only be chaos and discontent. Paul first speaks directly to Timothy as a younger believer and as a leader in the church; possibly, he could be aggressive, impatient and resentful of the older men, so Paul cautions him “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father.” <1 Tim.5:1 (NIV)>, he should give advice, caution or encourage older men with the same respect as he would give to his father. He should not display an authoritative attitude toward the younger men, but to treat them as his brothers, or to be like one of them; “Treat younger men as brothers” <1 Tim.5:1 (NIV)>. He should view older women “as mothers” giving them the respect, dignity and love that is due to them. Finally, he should regard younger women as his sisters “with absolute purity”, avoiding any behaviour that could be interpreted as being evil or impure.

Paul recognizes three categories of widows that Timothy is to identify in the Church <1 Tim.5:3-16>. First, he says; “Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need.” <1 Tim.5:3 (NIV)>, because “The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help.” <1 Tim.5:5 (NIV)>: these widows should be fully supported. Secondly, those widows that have children and grandchildren, should be supported by their children and grandchildren who should learn first “to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.” <1 Tim.5:4 (NIV)>. A third category of widows that Paul addresses: “…the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.” <1 Tim.5:6 (NIV)>. The J.B. Phillips translation records it as: “The widow who plunges into all the pleasures that the world can give her is killing her own soul”; the meaning here is that she is spiritually dead while living physically. Paul does not give a directive to Timothy for such widows but it is evident that no support should be offered.

So that no members of the Church may be open to reproach, Paul instructs: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” <1 Tim.5:8 (NIV)>; when this directive is adhered to, the problem of widow support should be minimal in the Church. He also directs that the younger widows should re-marry rather than getting into the habit of laziness, gossiping and meddling while they are being supported <1 Tim.5:11-14>.  The Church needs unrestricted funds to support those widows that are really in need, and much wisdom is required by those who are responsible for the Church finances <see Acts 6:1-3>.

Paul gives three instructions to Timothy in regards to elders in the church <1 Tim.5:17-20>. First, he says that elders who are responsible for preaching and teaching are worthy of double-honour according to the scriptures: “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” <1 Tim.5:18 (NIV); cf Deut.25:4; 1 Cor.9:9-12>; he applies the teaching of Deuteronomy to the work in which he is involved – the preaching and teaching of scripture. Secondly, he says “Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.” <1 Tim.5:19 (NIV); see Matt.18:16; Deut.19:15>; the meaning here suggests that any accusation against an elder must be substantiated by proper witnesses. Paul emphasizes it here because elders occupy a position of responsibility, can become a target of Satan’s attack and are in danger of being unjustly accused. Thirdly, Paul instructs “Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.” <1 Tim.5:20 (NIV)>; this charge to Timothy, although in reference to elders, is applicable to all believers who sin, for it displays the seriousness of sin in Christian service and serves as a deterrent to others in the church.

Paul considers these instructions to be extremely important to the spiritual welfare of the local church, so he instructs Timothy “I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.” <1 Tim. 5:21 (NIV)>. It is always difficult for church leaders to act without partiality and favouritism, but the instruction is comprehensible. We also see a difficulty when elders and deacons are to be appointed; Paul instructs “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands” <1 Tim.5:22 (NIV)> when such appointments become necessary, and he gives the reasons; “The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden.” <1 Tim.5:24-25 (NIV; cf Job 12:22; Eccl.12:14; Isa.29:15; Heb.4:13)>

Paul also gives Timothy the secret to being impartial and not displaying preferential treatment “do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.” <1 Tim.5:22 (NIV)>; the implication here could possibly refer to Timothy joining with others in the church by ignoring or overlooking the wrong-doings of those that are to be appointed as Pastors or Deacons.

“It is computed that only from one-tenth to one-eighth of an iceberg is visible above the water line. A preacher said, “When you are tempted to judge sin from its superficial appearance, and to judge it leniently, remember that sins are like icebergs – the greater part of them is out of sight!”” [Source: Knight’s Master Book of New Illustrations – Moody Monthly]

Paul then gives Timothy a “digression”: “By the way, I should advise you to drink wine in moderation, instead of water; It will do your stomach good and help you to get over your frequent spells of illness.” <1 Tim.5:23 (J.B. Phillips)>: whatever the reason for this counsel, it is not given by Paul.

TEACHING THE TRUTH [9/17/22]

A study of 1 Tim.4:1-16

“The notion that there are many truths might seem well suited to a diverse society. But when everyone is free to define truth as he or she prefers, as at present, the result is an intellectual and moral shouting match in which the people with the loudest voices are most likely to be heard.” (Citation: Mary Lefkowitz, a professor of classical studies at Wellesley College, in New York Times Book Review (January 23, 2000) [Perfect Illustrations – ‘Many Truths’])

False teaching (doctrine) was not only a problem that faced the early Christian Church, it has been a problem from the beginning of time, for it was Satan’s way to bring sin into the world <see Gen.3:1-5>, and this has continued down through the ages to the present time. The major difficulty we have in the Church today is that Church members do not know what the Bible teaches because it has not been faithfully taught, and most Church members are reluctant to learn for themselves by faithfully reading and studying the Scriptures, for they prefer to only hear it from the pulpit. At the trial of our Lord Jesus Christ, Pilate asked “What is truth?” <Jn.18:38 (NIV)>. The New Testament is filled with Christ’s words “I tell you the truth…” for we learn that Jesus Christ is TRUTH <see Jn.1:17; 14:6a>, also that the Church is the Church of the Living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth” <1 Tim.3:15b (NIV)>; and for this very reason it is required of God that the truth be preached and taught to the members of His body – the Church! There is also a warning to those who do not faithfully preach and teach the truth <see Rev.22:18-19>.

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” <1 Tim.4:1-2 (NIV)>. False teachers are described as deceitful liars having no conscience, causing insidious harm or ruin, they are evil (demons) and are wicked, all because they follow deceiving spirits, and their end is judgment by God <see 2 Pet.2:4; Jude 6>. Paul had already warned the Ephesian Leaders to expect this <see Acts 20:28-31>, and here he reminds Timothy that they will attempt to creep into the Church causing spiritual harm and ruin. They will introduce such false teachings as relating to marriage and eating certain foods; “They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods” <1 Tim.4:3 (NIV)>; which is an extreme form of Gnosticism taught by the Nicolaitans. Unfortunately, this doctrine was a major problem facing the Ephesian Church and is quite rampant today. There are those that hold to the belief that Priests and Bishops should remain unmarried (celibacy), but this is not what Paul is teaching here. He has already addressed this by saying that a Bishop must be the husband of one wife (not a polygamist) <1 Tim.3:2>, and a Deacon should abide by the same rule, addressing the subject of the “wives” of Deacons <1 Tim.3:8, 11>. The Scriptures teach that marriage is ordained by God <see Gen.2:20-24; Mal.2:15; Heb.13:4>. Another subject relates to the consumption food, we find that Scripture declares all food in whatever form is provided by God for mankind’s good and nourishment <1 Tim.4:4; cf. Gen.9:3; Mk.7:18-19; Acts 10:14-15; 1 Cor.10:25-26>. Here then, we are warned that such false teaching is, and will always be a threat to the Church, so Elders, Bishops, Deacons and all members should be on guard, and where such teaching, or any other falsehood is introduced, it must be immediately rejected, and the misleading teachers dismissed from the membership.

In order to be a competent teacher in our secular society, one must know the content of the course, what is covered, what is expected to be understood, how is the content going to be processed, what is the “take-away”, how is it going to be evaluated. This is also a requirement for the True Teacher of God’s Word <1 Tim.4:6-10>, and Paul communicates this to Timothy; “If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.” <1 Tim.4:6 (NIV)>. Timothy is to be a good minister of Christ in the Truth of the faith inspired by the good teaching that he has received; and to do so he must “Have nothing to do with godless myths” <1 Tim.4:7 (NIV); cf 1 Tim.4:1-2>, for these have no place in the Truth of the gospel; individually we must “train yourself to be godly” <1 Tim.4:7 (NIV)>. In order to become more efficient in any profession one must commit to constant training, and so it is with the teacher of God’s Word; this requires self-discipline; we must constantly be a student of the Scriptures. In so doing, the teacher will be able to maintain godliness which has a greater value than anything physical or secular since godliness ensures “promise for both the present life and the life to come” <1 Tim.4:8 (NIV); cf Heb.11:1>; meaning that godliness is eternal. Godliness in this present life is possible because “we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.” <1 Tim.4:10 (NIV)>. God does not save every person from eternal punishment, only those individuals that believe in Christ as Saviour and come to Him in faith; to such, godliness is possible. This then, must be the message of the True Teacher.

cropped-mp900443601.jpgThe faithful teacher must “Command and teach these things.” <1 Tim.4:11 (NIV)> and also live by example in: speech, love, faith, and purity; so often what is preached from the pulpit is not practiced in the pulpit or in the pews. We hear what the Word of God teaches: “…set an example for believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” <1 Tim.4:12 (NIV)>; but sometimes it is difficult to put these instructions into practice. Paul emphasizes that Timothy should commit himself <1 Tim.4:13> to three forms of public worship: public reading of the scriptures, preaching and teaching, and this should be done by all teachers as this was the practice in the early churches <see Lk.4:16; Acts 13:14-16; Col.4:16; 1 Thess.5:27>. The faithful teacher should “not neglect your gift” <1 Tim.4:14 (NIV)>; and like Timothy, all teachers must continually update themselves otherwise negligence of the Word of God can lead to preaching and teaching that has no depth or truth. Therefore, the faithful teacher must “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them” <1 Tim.4:15 (NIV)>, so that progress and maturity can be evident in the lives of the teacher and the students; and both teacher and students should “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them” <1 Tim.4:16 (NIV)>, otherwise the teacher has failed to teach or the students have failed to learn <see 1 Cor.9:27>.

GODLINESS IN THE CHURCH [8/21/22]

A Study of 1 Tim.3:14-16

Is it necessary for believers, whether in Paul’s time or in the present age, to consider our conduct in the local Church of which we are members? God expects this and Paul thought it was necessary for he opens this section of his letter by stating; “I am writing you these instructions so that……you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” <1 Tim.3:14-15 (NIV)>. woman-1566154__340Whether it be our own family household, and just as important, in the local assembly (Church) of believers, there must be some standard of conduct that is acceptable and required of each and all of the members. Paul has already addressed some aspects of conduct in his instructions to Timothy in regards to his choice and appointment of Bishops and Deacons, and to the conduct of women in the church <1 Tim.2:9-10 NIV >, which is also applicable to the men as well; but let us look at some other aspects of conduct that affect the function of the local Church.

Most important is the fact that all members including leaders understand the importance of the leadership of The Holy Spirit; this is important because The Holy Spirit represents Christ, and is sent by God to guide us; “”If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you…. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” <Jn.14:15-17; 26 (NIV)>…. “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.” <Jn.16:13-14 (NIV)>; and His guidance in necessary for leaders and members alike especially in these days where the truth of Scripture is being challenged. Believers must therefore take this leadership very seriously and depend entirely upon, and continually pursue the leadership and guidance of The Holy Spirit. When this conduct is evident, most, if not all other difficulties can be overcome: “In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered.” <2 Chron.31:21 (NIV)>.

Spiritual unity is another factor that can influence our conduct so that divisions can be avoided in the Church; and here we need to remember Christ’s teaching and instructions to His disciples <Jn.17:22-23; Eph.4:3-6>. Spiritual love and care for each other should be that mark of Christian conduct <1 Jn.3:17-19>: spiritual purity is a necessary Christian conduct <1 Cor.5:1>.

Maintaining and nurturing the body (Church) is another necessary conduct <2 Cor.6:16-17; 7:1>; and so is Church discipline <1 Cor.5:1-2>. Another misconduct that we face today in many churches is that of quarrels, fights, and personality conflicts causing divisions <Rom.16:17-18; 1 Cor.1:10-12>; and further to these is the dissatisfaction with leadership by some which can easily spread among the membership <Num.16:1-3, 19-21; Heb.13:17>. Therefore, our conduct in the House of God is an absolute requirement and we should always be aware of our demeanour.

The reason for this comment by Paul is observed at the end of his statement: “the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”; and this truth is the “mystery of godliness” that should influence our conduct; our Lord Jesus Christ is here described as that mystery; a mystery that has been finally revealed to all believers <see Rom.11:25; Col.1:26-27>, and the fact that Jesus Christ has been vindicated in His death and resurrection proving Him to be The Son of God, should be the motivation that controls our conduct, not only in the Church but in our everyday life! “…the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.” <3:16 (NIV)>.

In essence, what Paul is implying to Timothy, and to the members of the Church at Ephesus is, that what is required of Bishops, Elders, and Deacons is also applicable to all the members of the Church, and all must exhibit the same characteristics: “be above reproach, …. temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to… [be taught] not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. ….  worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. …. keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.” <1 Tim.3:2-5, 8-10 (NIV)>. The behaviour of believers in Christ is of primary importance, for the Church (believers) must uphold the truth as a testimony to unbelievers, Christ Himself is truth and the foundation of the Church <see 1 Cor.3:11>, and we must understand that there is a certain demeanor that should characterize all believers. One of the most deplorable evils of our present generation is that of irreverence or the lack of respect for God, and believers must be very conscious of our speech and conversation, our manner of life, the company we keep, the associations we establish; for Satan uses all these to shape our minds and can lead to disarray, bring criticism and dishonour to Christ, and cause the message of the gospel to be mocked by unbelievers <see 1 Cor.10:12>.

Our Lord Jesus Christ not only died to bring us forgiveness, but also to bring about a new life of godliness in us and in His Church; “…. Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word…” <Eph.5:25-26 (NIV)>.

“People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.

We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” [NATURAL DRIFT FROM HOLINESS; Citation: D. A. Carson, quoted in “Reflections,” Christianity Today (7-31-00); from Perfect Illustrations].

CHURCH LEADERSHIP [08/07/22

A study of 1 Tim.3:1-13

cropped-mp900443601.jpgPaul presents Timothy with the qualifications of Bishops (Pastors, Elders) <1 Tim.3:1-7>, and begins with another of his “commendable precepts”; “Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task.” <1 Tim.3:1 (NIV)>. Anyone desiring to become an overseer, or elder, or bishop; desires an honourable undertaking; for this position in the Church is demanding upon the person that accepts this calling; it is indeed a self-sacrificing position. It is one in which personal characteristics must include; freedom from accusation; moderation; self-discipline; morality; hospitality; not given to alcoholic or such intoxication; gentleness; not argumentative; not devoted to the accumulation of wealth. Abilities should include the aptitude to teach and to cope with family members, which would be required to administer the affairs of the Church, since the bishop is required to preach, and teach <1 Tim.5:17>; to direct the affairs of the Church; to lead the flock of God; and to guard the church from erroneous teachings <Acts 20:28-31>. “He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.” <1 Tim.3:6 (NIV)>; Christian experience is very important as Paul expands on this characteristic; arrogance will certainly bring about the same judgment as the devil <see Ezek.28:11-17; 2 Pet.2:4>. Finally, Paul says that the bishop’s general characteristic should have “a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.” <1 Tim.3:7 (NIV)>; “outsiders”, is a reference to those who are not members of the local church. He specifies that the bishop should have a good repute with such people so that disgrace and condemnation will not be a consequence. If there is no good reputation, the bishop (Pastor, Elder) will become subject to the accusations of the outsiders and to the trap of the devil. The devil’s trap is one that Satan sets for those whose lives are not consistent with their Christian calling, and once caught in this trap, Satan upholds them to ridicule, scorn and contempt.

Therefore, those that accept this position should not do so simply because of persuasion by others in the Church; prayerful consideration is necessary. One has to consider all the qualities of the office, and whether or not it is God’s calling, selfish aspiration, or not just the request of associates.

Paul continues with the qualifications of Deacons <1 Tim.3:8-13>, expressing that “Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.” <1 Tim.3:8 (NIV)>. In similarity, Deacons should have the same basic qualifications as Bishops (Pastors, Elders), they should not be “lovers of money” <1 Tim.3:3>, they should “not pursue dishonest gain” (proceeds or earnings); that is, there should be no paybacks or reimbursements for their dealings with members or outsiders for the business of the Church; they should be mindful of the original reason for Deacons <see Acts 6:1-4>. “They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.” <1 Tim.3:9 (NIV)>; and this is necessary in order that they will not fall into the Devil’s trap by becoming lovers of money and pursuance of dishonest gain. Adherence to the deep truths of the faith is a necessity for all believers whether we be Bishops, Deacons or mere members of the Church, for that is how we will become mature Christians, otherwise there will be a departure from a true following of Christ <see Heb.5:11-6:1>. “They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.” <1 Tim.3:10 (NIV)>. Before any appointments of Deacons are made, there should be some form of “testing” so as to be sure that all appointees display the qualifications that have been laid out <see Acts 6:5-6>. “Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.” <1 Tim.3:13 (NIV)>; those that are faithful in their duties as Deacons will most likely progress in their service for God in the Church, as we see the examples of Philip and Stephen, two of the original Deacons, both advancing to become evangelists in the early Church as described in the Book of Acts.

Do you consider yourself to be qualified that you could be appointed to a leadership position in your local Church?

“The foundation of ministry is character.

The nature of ministry is service.

The motive for ministry is love.

The measure of ministry is sacrifice.

The authority of ministry is submission.

The purpose of ministry is the glory of God.

The tools of ministry are the Word of God and prayer.

The privilege of ministry is growth.

The power of ministry is the Holy Spirit,

and the model for ministry is Jesus Christ.”

(Citation: Warren W. Wiersbe and David W. Wiersbe, Making Sense of the Ministry (Moody Press, 1983) Source: Perfect Illustrations)

Many have been appointed, or have been self-appointed, to the office of Bishop (Elder, Pastor, Deacon) in their local Church, and have brought disgrace to the “office”, to the Church, but most of all to our Lord Jesus Christ; because they have fallen into Satan’s trap. There are, however, many more who have been appointed to a leadership position and have served our Lord and the Church faithfully. If you are in a position of leadership do your best, with the help of The Holy Spirit, to serve as the Lord Jesus Christ would have you serve.

CONCERNING PUBLIC WORSHIP [7/12/22]

A Study of 1 Tim.2:1—15

Paul begins this section by addressing prayer in public worship <1Tim.2:1-8>, and it should be understood that when the Church meets for worship, it is accessible to all who wish to attend; therefore, it is a public meeting. Now, Paul sets out the principles of faith for which Timothy is to contend with. First, he instructs “that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone” <1 Tim.2:1-2 (NIV)>. When the Church meets for public worship; prayer requests, intercessions and thanksgivings should be made on behalf of all people, especially for rulers and political officials; so that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in a respectful awareness of God, and our responsibility to Him as we live our lives; for “This is good, and pleases God our Savior” <1 Tim.2:3 (NIV)>. It is pleasing to God when His children spend time in prayer to Him, bringing before Him all the concerns that we encounter as we live this life and fight for our faith <cf Acts 2:42>. Secondly, he presents the doctrine of our faith; “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” <1 Tim.2:5 (NIV); see 1 Cor.8:5-6; cf Acts 17:22-31>. In the situation where Timothy found himself, there were many gods being worshipped by the people, the Christian faith honours only one God, and His Son Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as our sacrifice for sins and is now our mediator or intercessor before His Father in heaven. The fact that Christ is our sacrifice gives Him the entitlement to be our intercessor for He knows the struggles that we face <see Heb.2:14-15>. Finally, the reason for our public worship and prayer is to let all individuals know the love God expressed to humanity, for God our Saviour “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” <1 Tim.2:14 (NIV); see also Ezek. 18:23, 32; 33:11>. Paul speaks to the fact that he was appointed for this very purpose – as a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles <1 Tim.2:7>.

So, our public prayer should include all of these thoughts as the Church intercedes for all members of our society – citizens and those in authority; and also, for each other as believers in Christ since we all cope with the battle for our faith.

Paul now continues by addressing the role of women in public worship <1 Tim.2:9-15>, and the content of this section has caused much controversy as to the role of women in the Church [and I do not wish to add to this], so let us look at the background to the difficulty that faced Timothy.

In Paul’s time Ephesus was the principal commercial city of Asia Minor, wealthy, elegant, and licentious (lustful), and the capital of the Ionian Confederacy, which had its treasury in the temple of Diana. The city was once a centre of wealth and a culture of idolatry [source: The Book of Life -System Bible Study- Historical Digest]. The Church in the first century A.D. was restricted to the Roman Empire and possibly concentrated in Asia Minor and consisted of many converted Gentiles [source: The Macmillan Bible Atlas, by Y. Aharoni & M.  Avi-Yonah]. According to Greek legend, the city was founded by Amazons* – mythical female warriors, and was located crosswise the main line of communication between Rome and the east. Merchants and traders flocked to it. From all over Asia Minor pilgrims came to Ephesus to worship. Under Roman influence, the city’s Greek goddess, Artemis, became identified with the Roman Diana [source: National Geographic Society, Bible Times]. Diana (Artemis) was a protectress of youth, especially those of her own sex. Young girls revered the virgin goddess as the guardian of their maiden years. Once a year there was a public festival in her honour at Ephesus, to which all the Ionians who could do so, repaired with their wives and children, bringing costly offerings for Diana and rich presents for the priests. Great gain came to the silversmiths in making and selling small images of the goddess [source: Unger’s Bible Dictionary].  *(You can read more about the Amazons here: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/amazon-women-there-any-truth-behind-myth-180950188/

The Churches of Asia Minor not only consisted of Gentile believers but also Jewish believers that had migrated from Jerusalem, and these Jewish believers also had traditions from their Jewish past <see Acts 19:18-19, 35-36>. As head of the family, the husband or father presented the sacrifices and offerings on behalf of the entire family; and in the New Testament times Jewish women were not allowed to enter the Inner Court of the Temple, nor were they allowed to read or speak in the synagogue. However, a different picture unfolds in the early Christian Church; Christ, in His earthly ministry encouraged women to accompany Him and to be taught by Him; they also assembled with His disciples when they met together for prayer and communion [source: Manners and Customs of The Bible, J.I. Packer & M.C. Tenney]. 

So, here we see that the Church in Ephesus consisting of both Jewish and Gentile believers, each group predisposed to hold on to their previous traditions, at this point trying to live by their new convictions as believers in Christ. Unfortunately, the old nature never goes away or gives up trying to influence the believer, and this no doubt was a problem in the Church at Ephesus, and Paul had already dealt with this in his letter to the Ephesian Church <see Eph.4:17-24>; and Christ’s message through John the apostle for the Ephesian Church warning them of their pagan influence encouraging them to return to their “first love” <Rev.2:1-7; cf Acts 20:29-30>

Paul does not indicate the reason for his directive to Timothy concerning the role of women in the Ephesian Church, but it no doubt had some bearing on the above background.

“I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety” <1 Tim.2:9 (NIV); cf 1 Pet.3:3-6; Eph.4:22-24; Col.3:5>; they should not allow their previous habits to influence their new convictions, nor should they attempt to be influenced by the society in which they lived; their external beauty should emerge from their new “inner” nature; “appropriate for women who profess to worship God.” <1 Tim.2:10 (NIV)>. The intent here is that women should not dress in a way that will draw attention to them by others in the congregation, rather than to focus on the One who is being worshipped.

“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man” <1 Tim.2:11-12 (NIV)>; whatever the reason for this directive, again we are not told, but Paul is giving the order of propriety in public worship <see 1 Cor.11:3-16; 14:34-35>. It is God who has decreed that a woman should not have a public teaching ministry in the church, not Paul! However, we find that women are permitted to teach children and younger women <see 2 Tim.1:5; 3:14-15; Tit.2:4>, and this can certainly be done in a church setting.

The questions that we must ask ourselves are: how do we apply these principles in the Church today? Was Paul dealing with specifics of that time period only? Are any of the background qualities or similarities mentioned above present in the Church and society today?

Circumstances and situations are different in our day and these concerns have been addressed by a variety of practices. Who, or what then, is correct in the eyes of God?