"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Wednesday, February 2, 2022

CROSSING The T’s STUDY in 1 TIMOTHY – Biblical Precepts and Principles for Pastoral ministry: CHAPTER THREE

INTRODUCTION: In any kind of employment or vocational endeavor, qualifications are an essential when looking over potential candidates. It’s no different in the church, but in fact, the criteria by which we judge among these candidates must be a far higher standard than what the world would use. Beyond the moral and ethical implications, a servant of the LORD must also be a child of GOD, and truly one cannot be the former in an explicit sense without first being the latter.

We are indeed servants of the LORD – doulos in fact, which is a bond-servant (LEV 25:39; ROM 1:1): one who goes beyond the parameters of a mere hired employee, and rather is a devoted, life-long servant that reserves no personal rights of their own but is wholly given over to the will of their master.

The LORD Jesus elevated us from the status of ‘servant’ to that of ‘friend’ in drawing us into a greater sense of intimacy (JOHN 15:15). And then elevated us one step even higher by calling us His brothers, as the Father was able to adopt us as His own through the atoning blood of Christ, shed for our sin (JOHN 20:17; HEB 2:11)!

Yet as we can see in so many of the epistles, these who are brethren of the LORD, never lose, nor forsake the blessed title of servant, for this is what the Word of GOD declares: He who would be greatest, must be servant of all (MATT 23:11). He Who is LORD of all, has humbled Himself to become the Servant of YHWH, and of all of us (MATT 20:28)!

Thus every position in church leadership must be filled with those who are humble, compliant to the soft touch of the LORD as He directs us and do all in the Name of Christ – according to His nature of love, holiness, righteousness, and godliness! Let us then see what Paul the apostle directs young pastor Timothy to do in regards to choosing church ‘servantship’ as leaders of the church!

1 TIMOTHY 3:1-2
1 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach

The word for “bishop” is episkope and it essentially means a supervisor or superintendent. Apostle Paul spoke of those who watch over (supervise) the souls granted to their charge by the LORD:
Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you
On balance, the apostle Peter had this to say regarding overseers:
1 PETER 5:1-3
1 The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock
Any supervisor who legitimately earned that position is going to have all the knowledge required to ensure that procedures and policies are adhered to by employees under their charge, as well as to instruct and guide his subordinates. In all of the ways that GOD has called Christians to live in honor of Him and His Word, we see these things exemplified in the bishop – which for all essential purposes is the same thing as an elder.

Being blameless doesn’t mean sinlessness but living in integrity and following the LORD in all that He commands, and that if he does commit a sin, he is quick to confess and repent, and by the grace of GOD be restored to the fluent fellowship that the LORD enjoys with those He uses. He shouldn’t have anyone able to accuse him of charges he’s genuinely guilty of – unable to be convicted in other words.

Some have made it mandatory that anyone in leadership must be married and have that marriage and household governed in such a way that commends them for leadership. However, while this is a very important measure, there are also other means to determine those who are qualified for such service. He must be temperate, that is to say, vigilant, circumspect, having a sensitivity towards others as well as one’s own life before the LORD. They will refuse anything that would cloud their judgment and blur their ability to discern, thus sobriety is also rendered in this word “temperate”.

They should be modest and well behaved, not given to bras
hness, rudeness, and discourteous behavior. They ought to be “fond of guests” – when someone knocks on their door, and they open to see who it is, there should be a measure of enthusiastic joy, making the visitor feel welcomed with heartwarming sensations. “My house is your house” is the motto of a servant of the LORD.

Anyone called to leadership in the church in pastoral ministry should be able to teach the Word, counsel from the Word, employ and offer wisdom from the Word. This doesn’t necessarily have to be from the pulpit, but in teaching his own family or a home Bible study, or in admonishing those young in the faith in a discipleship class (I myself am most comfortable in these last two positions, though by GOD’s grace, also capable of the pulpit ministry when called upon).

Intoxication is forbidden to any bishop or elder; again, anything that clouds the judgment with the ability to reason righteously. Even the occasional glass of wine with dinner is off limits to godly leadership, therefore “not given [at all] to wine is the order for bishops or elders, as opposed to deacons, for they are not to be given to “much wine” (vs. 8).

1 TIMOTHY 3:3-5
3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)

No Christian should ever be guilty of physical violence (“a striker”- one that engages in physical abuse), but especially those who are given charge over their own family – a husband and a father; so much more so, those given stewardship over the flock of GOD, the very bride of Christ.

Greed is the prime motivator of this world; there is the adage, “money talks” and what it usually says is, “I’m available for a price” – and what people are willing to do for money is quite often mortifying. An anonymous questionnaire in 2001 once asked, “If you were paid $1 million to kill a person, and it would be guaranteed that you would never be discovered, would you do it?” An astounding 48% said that they would!?

Unfortunately in today’s evangelical ‘televangelist’ world, greed is the primary characteristic of the vast majority of these hucksters. I actually witnessed one such person, named Creflo Dollar (what does that name say to you?) was dancing on the stage, ankle deep in money and was directing the congregation to extend their hands towards the dollars and shout out “money!” and by speaking out that word (being little gods), it would have power to attract money to them.

Gentleness is something that our Good Shepherd has in abundance for His sheep, and as bishops are the under-shepherds, our dealings with the body of Christ should be in Spirit enabled gentleness. Think about the people that populate your pews – those truly saved are the bride of none other than Jesus Christ – how would you want to see her treated?!

We are not called to quarrel; we are called to call people to repentance and to salvation; we are called to counsel and to comfort; we are called to make disciples and also to reason with those who have honest doubts; not to quarrel with haters of GOD, or with unreasonable people (2 THESS 3:2). No good fruit comes from quarreling (“a brawler”).

And here we see that a bishop who rules his house well, with special attention to how children respond to their father’s parental authority is definitely something to look for when appointing elders/bishops. As has been said by Sonny Islas, pastor of SHINE BRIGHT Church: “Our homes are our training grounds in how to deal with people in the church.” And so they are!

1 TIMOTHY 3:6-7
6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil

It’s a dangerous situation when someone young in the faith is placed in a position of authority. Even in the secular world, a person promoted too quickly will either collapse under the weight of responsibility that they are not yet ready to bear, or they’ll let the power go to their heads and they become tyrants. Sometimes it’s a bit of both and as a result of these various influences, they become neurotic, suspicious, paranoid.

For the Christian it’s vital that they have a sure, strong, tried foundation that begins with the purity of the Gospel, evidenced by good fruit, patience in trials, a humble and teachable spirit.
Far too often, a celebrity film star or athlete will come to faith, and they are plunged immediately into ministry with a microphone thrust in front of them and they face this daunting experience with little or no discipleship. More often than not, their profession of faith falls through the cracks, and you never hear from them again.

How long should a Christian be discipled before they’re suitable for a leadership role? There are no clear cut and distinct demarcations that separates those ready and those not, as far as number of months, or years, but I think generally speaking a person should firstly know the LORD for 2 to 3 years and in that time show evidence of a repentant and changed life, spiritual stability, bearing fruit, having understanding of the fundamentals of the Bible – being a Bible scholar isn’t required, but they should be conversant in the Scriptures.

A Christian may acquire these standards in as little as several months or it may take as long as a few years; it’s dependent on a few factors:

1) How long have they been in the world, under the influences that are inspired of Satan, the god of this world? Those who have a lot of miles behind them will more than likely have acquired a lot more ‘spiritual crud’ than those who have fewer miles (but not necessarily).

2) Is their passion and thirst for the Bible, prayer, godly fellowship, communion with the LORD JESUS, obedience to the Word of Truth so intense, that fruit grows relatively quickly and is evident or are they growing slowly, with unstable spurts, with the sort of walk that’s three steps forward and two steps back?

3) What is their current living situation? Are they living in a broken home with alcoholic parents or a godly, strong, and nurturing family? What sort of friends do they have? What are their life goals and how do they propose to achieve them?

The greatest danger to someone being elevated to a position too quickly is the potential for themselves to be puffed up with pride, and then as a result, fall and removed (cast down) from that position in humiliation.

Having a “good report” from those outside of the church is important because those in church leadership should have a consistent testimony: they should be of the same character everywhere else as they are in the church.
Hypocrites make for very poor leaders.

Fourteen years ago I was asked to pray about becoming an elder and unbeknownst to me, while I was praying, this pastor did some checking up on me with my boss at work. He was blessed to learn from my boss that I was among his finest workers and gave a glowing report not just on my work ethic, but on my character!

Having to expose a person for blatant hypocrisy and serious breach of living a double-standard life can be very difficult for leadership in rebuking one guilty of such things, but it must be done meekly (GAL 6:1). No doubt, at the Day of Judgment, when Satan himself is brought before the Holy GOD, he will know the very epitome of reproachment, as this once holy angel was snared by pride and will be abased because of it (ISAIAH 14:12,15-19; EZEK 28:17-19).

1 TIMOTHY 3:8-10
8 Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, 9 holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. 10 But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless

The word for deacon (diakonos) basically means ‘errand runner’. The difference between elders and deacons is akin to the difference between the apostles and those who waited on tables, there in Jerusalem. Those who waited on tables were the seven chosen men, including Stephen and Philip who saw to the fair distribution of goods sent by way of charity among the churches to minister to their poor fellow Jews in the capital city. The criteria for those seven men are those of deacons:
ACTS 6:3-6
3 "Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 "but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word." 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, 6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them
The office of deacon is granted to godly men who bless the body of Christ on a practical level, meeting physical needs as did Stephen and the other six. The office of the elder (“bishop”) attends to the spiritual needs of the church, very much like the apostles who declined to serve tables, and instead “[gave themselves] continually to prayer and the ministry of the Word”.

You will find that the criteria for deacons is nearly identical to that for elders. Since the qualifications are almost the same (elders are not to be given to wine; deacons not given to “much wine”), how is the distinction to be made as to who becomes an elder and who becomes a deacon? The gifts and callings of GOD are His alone to dispense, and He doesn’t revoke them; the gifts given are according to the will of GOD (ROM 11:29; 1 COR 13:11). The LORD determines and appoints who He wants where in the body of Christ (1 COR 12:12-31; esp. vs. 12-14)

9 “…holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience…”

The Greek word for mystery as we have seen before is musterion, which is something once hidden, but then revealed, typically as a result of being inducted into some society that is privileged to such revelation. So here we have the mystery of “the faith”; note that: it doesn’t say “faith” but “the faith” which is specific to the doctrine of GOD’s Word (ACTS 6:7; JUDE 1:3; 1 TIM 4:1).

We have in our possession GOD’s Truth, revelatory knowledge of all things past, present, and future. We are holding in our hands the “manual for life” that addresses every need, every dilemma, every perplexity, and opportunity we may ever experience in this life! This takes the guess work out of life, right??

And we are granted understanding of this ‘mysterious book’ as some people see it – and indeed it is a mystery, even foolishness to the natural man (1 COR 2:14) – by being inducted into the society of the Spirit as we are saved and indwelt by the very same One Who inspired the writers of GOD’s Word (2 TIM 3:16; 2 PET 1:21).

And while the canon of Scripture is complete with no more need for further revelation as inspired, there are still revelations to be understood and thus increase in the knowledge of the Word.

The deacons, and I dare say, all the saints who name the Name of Christ ought to hold this precious revelation with “a pure conscience” – that is to say, a non-convictable conscience: not to say sinless, but one who deals with sin immediately by the blood of the LAMB which washes white as snow, and by that same grace, walk in obedience to the LORD (ROM 6:16-19; 2 COR 10:5). Hence, in this manner, walk in blamelessness.

1 TIMOTHY 3:11
Likewise their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things

Godly wives are do very often the unsung heroes of the church!

PROVERBS 31:10-12,26-28
10 Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. 11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness. 27 She watches over the ways of her house hold and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her

Show me a godly and blessed man, and I’ll show you a wife that is dutifully and faithfully praying for him and ministering to his needs with such efficiency and diligence that he cannot contain the resulting blessing. The lady saints of the church are keen in their discernment and so adept in matters with the finest of detail. Without them, our fellowships would be sorely lacking and hindered.

I am so blessed by the lady saints in our fellowship; they are a great bunch of godly gals who serve with such joy and contentment and seek to glorify GOD in every way possible! The LORD gifted mothers with a soft tenderness that many misunderstand and think them weak, when in all reality, they possess a tremendous strength and fortitude revealed in their hearts of love that’s so great, that the New Testament writers actually created a Greek word to describe GOD’s love, based on the love that a mother has for her child! Tell me that isn’t amazing!

Some of the most powerful prayer warriors I have been privileged to pray alongside of are the lady saints that know nothing of quitting in crying out to our Abba Father!
Please take time out the next time you’re in church to approach some of your sisters in Christ and tell them how much you appreciate them and how they serve the body!

1 TIMOTHY 3:12-13
12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus

Again, as with the bishops, ruling the house well is of vital importance because this indicates a serious commitment to their responsibilities in the home, and reveals that they will be seriously committed in ministering to the church with just as much (if not more so) care for the body. This same criteria applies with the deacons. Whether bishop or deacon, both the good standing (character) and the boldness (confidence) are established in Christ Jesus by faith in His Word.

1 TIMOTHY 3:14-15
14 These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; 15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth

We understand that when we talk about church, we are not referring to the building, but to the ekklesia, the called out assembly of saints who are sanctified (set apart) and called out of this world of sin. We are not monastic ministers who cloister themselves in dark, drafty monasteries, away from public life; rather we’re ministers and ambassadors of Christ who physically mix with the world, but spiritually are set apart so that we refuse to partake of their sin, just as with the LORD Jesus Christ who was observed by the Pharisees as “the friend of sinners” (MATT 11:19).

Yet while He did mix among sinners, it was as a physician mixing among his sickly patients (MATT 9:12). His sinless integrity however was not once compromised or stained by sinners that thronged Him constantly: He was and ever is separate from sinners (HEB 7:26) and yet ever accessible to those who seek mercy, grace, and truth from a humble, repentant heart (JOHN 7:37-38; 6:37)! They then are included as the “house of GOD”, “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 COR 6:19-20).

We ought to know how to conduct ourselves as saints (“sanctified ones”) and to be a blessing one to another as we fellowship in Christ, ministering to one another. It’s in this place – the house of GOD – that the pillar of truth is founded, the very foundation of which is Christ the Rock, Who is Himself Truth incarnate (MATT 16:18; JOHN 14:6)!

1 TIMOTHY 3:16
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory

In colloquial terms, you could read this verse as: “Without a doubt this is a mind-blowing revelation of godly and holy reality, that GOD was revealed to us in a body”. This is what’s known as the hypostatic union – the perfect union of GOD in His fullness with an absolute human being – yet One completely separate from sin. This is indeed the mystery – how can GOD be perfectly embodied in a physical form, limited in its dimensions and abilities, and still be perfectly expressed as Deity? How can the One who measures all creation within the span of His hand be ‘reduced’ down to a flesh and blood human being?

How can either of His dual natures be fully expressed without overshadowing each other? The LORD Jesus Christ isn’t fifty percent man and fifty percent GOD; nor is He one hundred percent of each but at different times. He is fully GOD and fully man! Nor was He as the anointed One – the Christ, a separate entity from the person of Jesus (as New Age adherents like to assert: that the Christ-consciousness is something we can all obtain; it’s just that of all humanity, Jesus embodied it the best – so far!).

Can we understand this duality of Jesus Christ any better than we understand the Triune nature of GOD? While we may have some credible insights granted to us by the Holy Spirit through the Word of GOD, we can only get so far, and the rest we accept on faith. Hence the term “children of GOD” is all the more meaningful. As a child accepts their Daddy’s answer as truth, nothing doubting, we likewise receive our Abba Father’s Word and accept it – nothing doubting.

Obviously the need for a body was apparent so that Christ could become the sacrifice for sin (JOHN 1:29), just as He is the High Priest Who offered Himself for us (HEB 9:11,14-15,28). That He required a body to communicate with us is also recognized, so that as we could see Him and understand the nature of the Father (JOHN 14:9).

That He as the Christ, that is, the Messiah King, will one day physically, actually sit upon the authentic and visible throne of David and rule over GOD’s people is another purpose He will fulfill in the body that was granted to Him (LUKE 1:31-32).

One of the dearest truths I take away from this, is that GOD wanted to put on a body, so that He could administer bear-hugs to each and every one of His children when we see Him face to Face!

He was justified in the Spirit as well: His flawless godliness testified of His absolute right standing before GOD the Father (JOHN 8:29). His just conduct revealed His perfect representation as the Kinsman Goel: the One Who could represent all of us before our Holy GOD, Who on the basis of our faith in Him could justify all sinners by grace (ROM 4:5; 2 COR 5:21). The Son of GOD was just and righteous in His own right as Deity, yet He also lived by the power of the Spirit. Then as we sinners repent of our sin, receive salvation in Christ, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, can lean upon the Spirit of grace Who empowers us to walk, even as He walked (certainly not perfectly, but practically at the least; 1 JOHN 2:6).

He was not merely seen of angels but worshiped by them as their Holy King (HEB 1:6). Angels don’t worship other angels, and so the claim by Jehovah’s Witnesses that Jesus is Michael the arch-angel is null and void. He is the Word made flesh (JOHN 1:14).
He was preached among the Jews first, but His own people didn’t (for the most part) receive Him as Messiah (JOHN 1:11) and when the nation rejected Him, He had another plan to establish another entity, known by various titles: the church (MATT 16:18), the body of Christ (1 COR 12:27), the bride of the LAMB (REV 21:9).

While the body comprises both Jew and Gentile, becoming one new man (by the spiritual rebirth; EPH 2:15; JOHN 3:3; 1 PET 1:23), we are essentially a Gentile body, a people that GOD is calling out for His Name (JESUS!): See ACTS 15:14. And from two thousand years ago until today and tomorrow, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being preached to every tribe, tongue and nation (Gentiles) and is in process of saving souls from each of these:
And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation
And yet, according to Paul the apostle, the nation of Israel will yet come to salvation:
ROMANS 11:26-29
26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins." 28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable
The world can be divided into two camps where some believe, and some believe not (ACTS 28:24). Believing to the saving of the soul is what counts (HEB 10:39), because simple intellectual assent to certain biblical truths are not sufficient because even demons believe – and tremble (JAMES 2:19) and yet we know that they are unredeemable.

Our LORD Jesus ascended up into the clouds, and we hold dear the precious promise that the two angels declared to His disciples as they watched Him ascending up into the clouds:
ACTS 1:9-11
9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven

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