CTT | Civil Disobedience?

If you’ve missed the news over the weekend, the LORD be praised! If you didn’t miss the news, then you’ve heard about the rioting in D.C. mislabeled a “protest” and the miserably named “DC Women’s March” which was a vulgar, progressivist, demonstration attacking the unborn and rejecting pro-life women. By all accounts it was a disgrace. Police had to respond to the rioters with non-lethal force. Several arrests were made.

Sadly, this garbage filled most of social media throughout the weekend, and I saw professing Christians commenting in all directions. Today, let us look at what Scripture says to the Church regarding so-called “civil disobedience”.

Governmental Authority

Romans 13:1-7 (ESV) | Submission to the Authorities

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. When the Police stepped in to punish the lawless acts of the rioters, they did a good thing. They served their neighbors in their vocations by being a terror to bad conduct. They served their neighbor in their vocations as God’s servant for our good. That they did so using non-lethal means is a mercy and extension of grace to the lawless. The law of the land in the United States affirms “the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”, but there is no right to destroy public and private property. Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are not to engage in such lawlessness. Heed Scripture’s warning that if you do wrong, be afraid, for [the governing authority] does not bear the sword in vain. Remember, Paul penned this under the rule of Emperor Nero, so don’t try to make an appeal to the culture.

DC Women’s March?

I sure hope my brothers and sisters in Christ aren’t participating or championing this vulgar display over the weekend. There was nothing praiseworthy in this murderous (pro-abortion) and scandalous demonstration. What does Scripture say?

Titus 2 (ESV) | Teach Sound Doctrine

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Working at home. I’d like to comment on this one, because I know that the vast majority of western households are dual-income homes. I don’t think this is a ban on women having a vocation in addition to “housewife”; rather, this is to indicate that our primary vocations are in service of the home. Mothers and housewives are nearly irreplaceable in the home, whereas outside the home you are easily replaced for the sake of business. Similarly, fathers and husbands are nearly irreplaceable in the home, but easily replaced outside of the home. The focus of this is on the work at home. Lydia of Thyatira was a seller of purple goods (Acts 16), she had a vocation outside the home, but it did not replace her vocation at home. Most homes were family businesses in those days, we see Aquila and Priscilla were tentmakers by trade, they worked together in trade. Paul stayed with them and also worked with them in their trade (Acts 18). Is it a sin for a woman to work outside of the home? No, unless she is neglecting her duties to her husband, children, and home. Is a man in sin for staying at home? No, unless he isn’t working or he is neglecting his duties to his wife and children. note: earning a paycheck is not the sole definition of “working”.

Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
Here, again, we see no room for the Church to engage in lawlessness and public displays of vulgarity.

But there has to be an exception to the rule!

Sadly, it is often the case that those who focus on finding the exception to the rule do so because they have no intention of obeying the rule. In scripture we might see cases that seem to present exceptions to the rule, but when we look more closely we’ll see that such cases are being misrepresented as exceptions.

Acts 4:13-22 (ESV) Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.

Acts 5:12-18 (ESV) Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed. But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison.

These rulers were corrupt and hostile to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They commanded the Apostles in opposition to Christ’s commandment to them to preach and to baptize in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Their response to the council is often touted as an exception to the rule of submission to authorities. But notice, later on when they continue preaching in Solomon’s Portico and performing signs and miracles in the Name of Jesus, they were arrested and thrown into prison. The charge against them was unjust, and remained so for they submitted to their arrest and gave no further cause for punishment, that the Word of God may not be reviled, and that their opponent might be put to shame. God delivers them from jail in this case, but that is not guaranteed to happen every time. Paul wrote many of his letters while wrongfully imprisoned. Most of the Apostles died as martyrs, wrongfully punished for the sake of the Gospel. They submitted to the authorities, and they honored their calling in Christ to preach the Word. So is our charge as Christ’s Church.

Conclusion

The church isn’t called to produce “social change” or to somehow force pagan governments to bend the knee to Christ. Christ will do that Himself when He returns in glory to judge both the Living and the Dead. Despite what our society praises in the unholy sacrament of “civil disobedience”, the Church has no such call. Here in the United States, we are given some room to resist tyranny and to hold our government accountable. There is a process in place for just such actions. There are also those within this government charged with defending and protecting the U.S. Constitution from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. This is their vocation and their good works of service to their neighbor. Outside of these vocations, we submit to the authorities and we place our trust in God alone.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV)

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

 

DiM | Worship Leader or Worship Pastor?

trebleclefOn twitter we recently confessed that my wife and I enjoy watching the reality show The Voice on NBC. So far this season, there were two groan-worthy moments we shared that, sadly, ties directly into the modern-day church and its reckless approach to corporate worship, particularly in our selection of “Worship Leaders” and the bad habit of calling them “Worship Pastors”.

Disclaimer: Yes, we do watch some TV

When it comes to television shows, I enjoy watching skilled competition, particularly in musical and culinary arts. As a fan of music in general, I find this particular show to have the best format for selecting talented voices for competition. The various formats for competition are interesting and the coaches are engaging, funny, and do a great job of conveying genuine concern for the prospective careers of the contestants and for each other. The show is not without its problems, particularly for the testimony of Jesus Christ being marred by the conduct of those professing to be Christian yet chasing after their selfish dreams and indulgences. Not a single episode passes by without one of us groaning over something that is said in a back story montage or over the lyrics of a song chosen, or of the zen Buddhism being passed of as “gospel” advice by a coach. We take care in what we watch, but we do watch TV together. That might be a good topic to discuss at a later time, how we should approach Television and guarding ourselves from its lies/influence.

When “Worship Pastor” is thrown into a Resume

The first major moment of groaning for us happened during the back story montage for contestant Chris Crump from the Blind Auditions part 3 (Air Date: 09/28/15). His montage begins at roughly 1:03 mark. In the montage, there is the typical hit on Christian-based home-schooling with the reference to “my first secular album was a Creed Album…” The part that really caught my ire was when he talked about how in the south, we believe the man needs to support the family, and then he goes on say he’s accepted horrible gigs just so I could support us: carpenter, grocery stores, mortgage company, worship pastor, women’s shoe store, and sold TVs. Now, his list was very clearly clipped together by the producers of the show. It is not my intent to hold Chris Crump directly accountable for this statement, because it is clear we are missing parts of the interview. My point is that the producers of the show clipped together a list that demoted “Worship Pastor” to a resume filler on par with grocery stores and selling women’s shoes.  I groaned at the thought and then mentioned it to my wife, who then said, “sadly, most christians who hear that won’t even catch it, or see a problem with it.” I think she’s right, which is why we are going to discuss this now. For the record, He did a great job in his audition, singing a secular love song dedicated to his wife. All of the coaches wanted him, and he picked Blake Shelton for his coach. I want him to do well for his family’s sake, and I hope he demonstrates the fruit of the Spirit in his conduct on the show.

Worship Pastor

The Pastoral office is one of an Overseer, which is clearly defined in the New Testament. Just last week we looked at the Apostle Paul’s instructions to Timothy when we looked at the concept of being Dressed for Worship, so today let’s look to his instructions to Titus.

Titus 1:5-16 (ESV) | Qualifications for Elders

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

Now, I included v10-16 because they expand on the need for pastors to rebuke those who contradict sound doctrine. This is a vital role of the office of the Pastor that doesn’t get much recognition in the modern-day church. In fact, this role is often avoided by Pastors and Elders, and  shunned by congregants. In fact, there is a subculture of professional “church-hoppers” who join a church, climb the social ladder within that church as quickly as possible and bail as soon as someone calls out their false doctrine, usually causing as much division as humanly possible. It is these who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers. Yes, Paul mentions those of the circumcision party (Judaizers). In our day we have many such groups… including modern-day Judaizers (Hebrew-roots movement, Theonomists, Dominionists, etc.).

When the Church identifies someone as a “Worship Pastor” we are saying that this Pastor/Elder/Overseer is in charge of the Corporate Worship. As such, he is expected to hold firm to the trustworthy Word as taught, sot hat he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. We should expect the him to be that Pastor/Elder/Overseer shepherding those involved in the worship team (the band, singers, readers, technicians, etc). We should expect them to hold the members accountable to sound doctrine, and we should also expect them to exercise Church discipline. They are to be held accountable by their fellow Pastors/Elders/Overseers for the content of Worship and the conduct of their worship team. The admonition of James to teachers of God’s Word also applies to any who bear the title “Worship Pastor”.

James 3 (ESV) | Taming the Tongue

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

Wisdom from Above

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Now the standard being taught here is for everyone who names the Name of Jesus, but for those who want to teach there is an even higher standard. It is my sincere desire, that every congregation have a Worship Pastor in place; not in name only, but in keeping with the Biblical Office of Pastor/Elder/Overseer.

Worship Leader

The truth is that what the vast majority of modern-day churches has is a “Worship Leader” who is either unqualified or untested as a Pastor or a Deacon (1 Timothy 3). Is this sin in every case? I won’t commit to an answer of “yes/no”; rather, I will urge the reader to recognize that it is a real possibility that must be judged Spiritually (1 Cor 2:14-16). There is a growing number of churches who are unashamed of their Worship Leaders who are living in open, unrepentant, sexual immorality. Getting back to #TheVoice, every season has had a token LGBT contestant that promotes their particular sexual immorality in an ever-present attempt to normalize sin and portray Biblical standards of sexual purity as bigoted. With each passing season, we are seeing more and more of these spokespersons of immorality/depravity claiming to have the backing of their respective church bodies. The normalizing of homosexuality and gender rebellion is the current great wave of Apostasy here in the West. The world is living out its Romans 1 judgement… I’m not writing to judge the lost, but to warn the Church. This sin has been ignored and even covered over for far too long. Having a “great sounding band” is simply not worth the price we’ve been paying for it these past several decades. We need Pastors/Elders/Overseers to fulfill the charge of their office to rebuke those who contradict sound doctrine… and no church should have anyone in open, unrepentant sin serving in any sort of leadership role within the Church.

Conclusion

There are many Church-plants throughout the United States. Many of them planted in rebellion rather than Providence. Many planted in hopes of riding the “church-growth” movement’s wave as a means of gathering unrighteous gain. Still many were planted out of a sincere heart to be faithful stewards of the Gospel of Grace, ministers of reconciliation, and to the building and equipping of the saints. To the latter group of churches, I encourage you to remain firmly planted in the Word of God, and to pray for your Pastors/Elders/Overseers. We pray for grace in the lives of your Worship leaders, that those who are eligible for the offices of Deacon and Elder might grow, be tested, and show themselves approved for the office of Pastor by the grace of God. That those who are unqualified, be humble enough to continue serving when God the Holy Spirit calls another to lead. I pray that every church body, that lifts up Holy Hands in worship of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will seek to maintain biblical, pastoral oversight of the Worship Service, whether they use the title of Worship Pastor or simply Pastor.

Jude 24-25 (ESV) 

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

CTT | Sowing Discord

The visible church is suffering from a lack of discernment; either a lack of noble Bereans who receive the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so (Acts 17:10-12or worse, a total unwillingness to listen to them and concerted efforts to silence them. These two possibilities are both true and they contribute to each other. Today, we are going to look at one of the ways discernment ministries and noble Bereans are silenced… they are accused of sowing discord.

Proverbs 6:16-19 (ESV)

16 There are six things that the Lord hates,
    seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
    and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans,
    feet that make haste to run to evil,
19 a false witness who breathes out lies,
    and one who sows discord among brothers.

This is a hard-hitting proverb, and effective for intimidating noble Bereans into silence and capitulation for the sake of “unity” and to avoid being an abomination to the Lord. The error here is in the definition of on who sows discord among brothers. Is Solomon issuing a blanket statement that anyone who disagrees with the majority or the leadership, for any reason, is sowing discord and as such is an abomination to the Lord? No. First, let’s look at the verses preceding this section.

Proverbs 6:12-15 (ESV)

12 A worthless person, a wicked man,
    goes about with crooked speech,
13 winks with his eyes, signals with his feet,
    points with his finger,
14 with perverted heart devises evil,
    continually sowing discord;
15 therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly;
    in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.

There it is. You see, even in the case of the one congregant who always seems to be sounding the discernment alarm, there are a number of possibilities… most notably, either that individual is indeed attempting to sow discord, or the individual is being faithful to the Word, not being heeded, and there are continuous doctrinal problems that need to be addressed. Either way, it is insufficient to silence the individual with this intimidating accusation of “sowing discord”.

So what shall we do? Thankfully, we can look for specific instruction in Paul’s letter to Titus.

Titus 3:1-11 (ESV) | Be Ready for Every Good Work

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

If the person in question is in sin, or espousing falsehood, or stirring up division (rather than seeking to point out error), the person is warped and sinful and is self-condemned. He has stood and railed against sound doctrine (The Word of God, not the doctrines of men). We see the charge in verse 2 to speak evil of no one, be gentle, and show perfect courtesy. Strawman fallacies, Ad Hominem attacks, or marginalizing the brother or sister who is exercising discernment runs contrary to scripture. Even the best of our good works is tainted by our sinful flesh; however, that does not excuse any pre-emptive or reactionary gag-order. If the noble Berean is in error, the elders should teach, explain, exhort, and even rebuke when necessary according to the Scriptures. Truth doesn’t need defending, opinions do.

Are there errors in the congregation? Absolutely, that is why the need shepherds. But there are also errors in leadership, and if the leadership doesn’t catch the error, we who are of the same faith, same baptism, same Holy Spirit are charged to do the work of the noble Bereans to see if these things are so. The leaders will be held accountable, for they will have to give account as it is their calling to watch over our souls (Hebrews 13:17). Pastors, your congregation won’t always “do it right”, and there will be cause for instruction and correction regarding their approach, their attitudes, and even their mistrust… but none of these negate the point being brought up. There is a logical fallacy fallacy, where a failure to logically articulate an argument is used to invalidate the argument. The argument’s validity is unaffected by its articulation, it just makes convincing someone else of the point extremely difficult. Thankfully, we are talking about Scriptural matters; therefore, the ultimate arbiter and objective standards is God’s Word. My fellow Berean… be ready to confess and repent of your sin, even while pursuing the most noble good work by the Grace of God.

1 Timothy 6 (ESV)

Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.

False Teachers and True Contentment

Teach and urge these things. If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Fight the Good Fight of Faith

11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

20 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.

Grace be with you.

 Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

CTT | “I Love My Church”

ILMCOur family had an absolutely amazing weekend. The ministry outreach project went very well and we were all so blessed to take part in this event. The turnout was far greater than we had anticipated, which lead to more work being done at each site than was planned, which is a huge Praise the Lord! As soon as we get a hold of the photographs and video taken we will be sharing it here. I believe that this is the sort of good work the church should be engaged in each of their communities. To my knowledge, there were volunteers representing 5 different local churches (Reformed Baptist, Free-Will Baptist, and Pentecostal) coming together as brothers and sisters in Christ to do good work. Today’s post is not in any way related to this event.

Have you seen bumper stickers, t-shirts, or yard signs that bore the “I love my church” slogan pointing to a specific local church? Have you ever wondered, “what’s that about?”.  Is it wrong to love your church? No, of course not. But is that what this campaign is about?

Studies show that on average only 20 percent of church attendees regularly contribute and are involved in the ministry and leadership of their church, while the other 80 percent fill seats on Sunday but never experience the blessings of full church engagement. Turn these statistics around in your church with the new “I Love My Church” campaign and small group curriculum.

Through this five-week campaign, your church members will learn WHY God designed the Church and how they can find fulfillment and spiritual growth through loving God and his Church. (reference)

This is a campaign geared for making more of the regular attendees become increase in their involvement their contributions to the local church based on a 5-week sermon series on Why God designed the Church. The tail end of the plug is to suggest that this series will encourage the non-regular contributors (the 80% who don’t tithe regularly) that if they would become more involved then they will find greater fulfillment and spiritual growth. That’s the campaign pitch. It’s a church club-pep rally to boost “team spirit” in some quantifiable way in exchange for a qualitative measure of increased fulfillment and growth.

A 5 Week Series on the Church?

This part of the campaign vexes me. The first question that fires off in my head is, “What is the Church preaching if a special 5-week series on why God designed the Church sounds like a good idea?” Seriously, how does a church make it through a year without addressing that subject as it correlates to the Gospel of Jesus Christ? You can’t have preached through any of Paul’s Epistles, or James, or the book of Hebrews… nope, don’t think you could make it through any portion of the New Testament without addressing the Kingdom of Heaven or the Body of Christ. Sadly, I already know the answer to this question… many popular churches these days preach themselves, their speculations, and so-called life tips from week to week, and never truly preach Law and Gospel, or work through any large portion of Scripture faithfully. Difficult to fit all of that text on 5 slides, and asking the congregation to turn in your Bibles to… has become passé and even draconian to some. If there is a major portion of the congregation that is marginalized or uninvolved in the congregation, there is a shepherding problem that needs to be addressed. A 5-week pep rally won’t solve that problem. The sheep require a shepherd.

My Church?

Whose Church are we? We are His Church.

Matthew 16:17-19 (ESV)

17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

We are His Church. Jesus said He will build His church. Please take a moment to think about what we are doing here. I have no doubt that those who get excited about their church are in any way confused about to whom the church belongs, at least not in the academic sense. This isn’t complex, but our hearts/emotions/flesh is sinful. The sin of idolatry works its way into every aspect of our lives because our flesh is inherently idolatrous, born into the sin of Adam. Jesus builds His church. Let’s work out an analogy for a moment.

I enjoy the sport of American football. I am not a fan of any football team, neither college nor professional. When I get invited to a football gathering (like a Superbowl Party), the host of the party is usually a dedicated fan of one of the teams. The excitement in the air, the cheers, even the food will be reflective of the supported team. Both teams are playing football, but we aren’t there for both teams, we are there (generally) for one of the teams so that we can cheer together and moan together as we watch the game play out. Sometimes, though, some of the most decked-out fans (clothing, gadgets, accessories, and even makeup) aren’t particularly fans of the sport or even know the rules of the game, they just like being a part of the team and rely on others to give cues for what is praiseworthy or where there is injustice.

Now, in this analogy, lets replace “the sport of American football” with Christianity. True, Biblical, Christianity, no cults or apostate doctrines in this analogy. Now we have teams, or individual denominations or church bodies. See where this is going? Not every game is “a good game”, meaning sometimes the two sides just aren’t very well matched which leads to a blowout on some topics. But then there are some highly contested match-ups (like reformed Baptist versus free-will Baptists, or Presbyterian versus Baptist, or Reformed versus Lutheran, or Methodist versus Pentecostal). Provided these match-ups remain within the context and confines of Christianity as defined in Scripture, such contests can lead to Iron Sharpening Iron in brotherly love. The players are those working in the ministry, teaching, preaching, and service. The rest are congregational fans. Not all the fans really understand the intricacies of the doctrines, they rest in a general knowledge of Christianity and take their cues from their church, because they are fans of the teams playing not necessarily of the sport.

Discipleship != Fandom

Being a fan of your local church is not equal to being Discipled. In fact, in many ways it runs contrary to the purpose of the local church and the Great Commission to make disciples of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul had to address the problem of fandom early in his first letter to the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 3 (ESV) | Divisions in the Church

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and eachwill receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

If we were to continue this list for today, we might add, “What is Graham? What is Wesley? What is Spurgeon? What is Calvin? What is Luther?”

10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. 18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

Paul and Peter were Apostles, Apollos was not. Yet, in this rebuke Paul doesn’t maintain any distinction in this fandom. Paul pointed the Corinthians to Christ and the preaching of His Word, not the servant who delivered the teaching. We should do likewise. There are times when using a major category of theology helps speed along a conversation and it’s not really a fandom issue. I find it helpful when someone tells me they are Reformed or Lutheran, because I know how to better communicate by using (to the best of my ability) their understanding of certain words, and I know how to talk about certain passages of scripture. As long as we don’t allow our “brand” to take the place of the Gospel, we’re all good. The problem comes in when we take our brand and insist on it as if it were the Gospel. The congregation you call home, the denomination you serve is not the Church. At best, it is a part of His Church.

Role of the Church

We should love our neighbors, we should love our Church, and we can only do so inasmuch as we’ve understood Christ’s love for us. The Law to love does not produce the love we need; rather, it kills the sinful self-love so that we repent and the Gospel of Jesus Christ frees us to love God and our neighbor. The role of the local church is to preach Law and Gospel so that as we die daily to our flesh and repent of sin that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can wash us clean and give us Life. Let’s look at the first two chapters of Paul’s letter to Titus.

Titus 1 (ESV)

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;

To Titus, my true child in a common faith:
Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

Titus 2 (ESV) | Teach Sound Doctrine

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Conclusion

There isn’t a problem with loving your local church and being excited about inviting others to attend, provided you don’t falsely idolize your congregation and judge others by their “team spirit” or lack thereof. I’ve seen people get deeply offended for hearing me recommend a church different from the one I attend, or the one they attend. Don’t let your cheer-leading for your specific church create division in the greater Body of Christ. Don’t limit your “praise the Lord” reports to only that which reflects what God is doing in your church… God works through His church, so give Him Praise where Praise is due. Don’t limit the Truth of Jesus building His church to only what He can do for your congregation’s brand. We will all be very surprised in the Day of the Resurrection to see just how many people outside of our congregations are adopted as heirs and joint-heirs of Christ.

2 Thessalonians 3:13-16 (ESV)

13 As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother. 16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.

Amen. In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

The Church | Part 2

churchAs we continue in our study series of the Biblical picture of the Church, I want to be absolutely clear that I am not trying to “call out” any specific churches, or fellowships, or pastors. I’m not trying to convince you to leave your church, or join mine. The purpose of this series is to clearly state my doctrine regarding church and to challenge individuals and heads of households to weigh everything they are taught in their church (down to the very structure of said church) against Scripture. I will endeavor to keep these discussions on prescriptive passages in God’s Word, plainly written for us to follow. If you take umbrage with any of my assessments or commentary, I ask that you take some time to share your thoughts or questions with me (either via comment below or personal message). If you take issue with what the Scriptures say… well, I leave that to you, your elders, and God the Holy Spirit.

Christ is the Head of His Church

By way of reminder, let us review Ephesians 4:1-16, where the Apostle Paul makes absolutely clear that Jesus is the Head of His Church.

Ephesians 4:1-16 (ESV)
1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”

9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

The reason we are starting here is because we are going to be moving into the Biblical model for church leadership within the Body of Christ (I will be using a lower-case “church” to denote the local body of believers or congregation and an upper-case “Church” for the Body of Christ). In Part 1 of this series, we saw that when Paul was using the analogy of the Church as a building, that its foundation was upon that of the apostles and the prophets, with Christ as the cornerstone. I want to begin the discussion of what Biblical church leadership looks like by addressing what some call a Mosaic model of church leadership. The idea that the church should have a single leader who is expected to hear the Word of God for the church and then relay what God has said to the congregation. Many such leaders take up their own Aarons as assistant pastor and then promote small group leaders patterned after Moses choosing leaders of the tribes manage the many needs of the multitudes. Some of the more modern churches might not realize they are employing a Mosaic architecture, they think it is all from corporate America, where the Moses of the organization is the CEO of the church.  The first major problem with this setup is that Moses already recorded the Law of God and we have that now in written form. Christ came to fulfill the Law (and the Prophets) and we who now believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ are no longer under the Law (we Gentiles never had access to the Promises of the Law anyway) but we have been adopted into a New Covenant by the blood of Jesus Christ (The book of Galatians and Hebrews lays this out well). So how is the Church (and subsequently, each church within it) supposed to be set up?

The Foundation of the Apostles

When our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ conducted His earthly ministry, He selected 12 disciples and appointed them Apostles. One (Judas) betrayed Him. In the first chapter of Acts, we see the Apostles gathered together with other believers (approximately 120 in total) in prayer. They were waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit, given to them by Jesus. They also looked to appoint another witness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to be counted among the leaders.

Acts 1:21-26 (ESV)
21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

There are some who point to Peter as the head of the Apostles, and others who point to James. Notice that they didn’t make this decision on their own, they prayed together and asked the Lord, the Head of His Church, to show them who should be appointed the ministry and apostleship that Judas despised. Please note that after the Holy Spirit is poured out from heaven, we no longer see a casting of lots to seek guidance from God. The Holy Spirit was the promised reminder of all that Jesus had said to His disciples, and inspired the writing of the New Testament. We who are in Christ now benefit from the written Word of God & the indwelling presence of the Promised Holy Spirit of God as well. When Peter was sent to the house of Cornelius (Acts 10) for God to show him that the Gospel was indeed for the Gentiles just as it was for the Jews, he went back to the brothers and gave an account to the Apostles. However, Peter didn’t command a change in policy at that point. He offered up his testimony of what God had done for the Gentiles during the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) and the Council also listened to the testimony of Paul and Barnabas. At the conclusion of the council, we see James sharing the council’s final decision. What we see demonstrated throughout the book of Acts, is not a Mosaic framework; rather, we see a plurality of elders leading the Church and giving council for the churches with Christ as the Head of His Church.

The Role of Elders

I want to first take a historical look at role of Elders by looking at the introduction of the Deacon in Acts. From there, we will move on to more prescriptive texts.

Acts 6:1-7 (ESV)
1 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

The Church at this time was already large, and while they pooled all they had for the ministry of the brethren, some were being overlooked. Therefore, the Elders (at this time they were the Apostles) realized that for them to personally ensure that the daily distribution reached all, they’d have to reduce the time they spent in prayer and in ministering of the Word of God (teaching and preaching). Therefore, the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples. This isn’t Paul or James making a decree… the twelve Apostles, Elders of the Church, summoned the full congregation and told them to nominate seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom. Once chosen, the Apostles laid their hands on the 7 men in prayer. We see these men to indeed be filled with the Holy Spirit and even preaching the Word of God with miracles and wonders, but their office is that of deacon, serving the disciples, and the body of Christ.

Qualifications of Elders

In the interest of time, let us look at Paul’s instructions to Titus regarding Elders. I had planned to walk through Paul’s instructions to Timothy, but I think it best to postpone that discussion to tomorrow (I’m trying to keep these studies to a loose 3,000 word limit). Who is Titus? Well, we first see Titus mentioned in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Titus is a Greek convert who Paul and Barnabas brought along as testimony of God’s work among the Gentiles, when Paul presented their ministry to the Apostles in Jerusalem.

Galatians 2:1-10 (ESV)
1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. 6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

So then, Titus is a disciple of Paul since the early missionary trip with Barnabas (before teaming up with Silas). We see his name pop up occasionally as Paul closes his letters giving a quick update on how the state of the Church. Now that we have a good idea of who Titus was, let us begin reading Paul’s instructions to him.

Titus 1  (ESV)
1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began 3 and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;

To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— 6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

Notice the adoptive tone of his regard for Titus “my true child in the common faith“.  Titus spent a great deal of time laboring with Paul in the ministry. He is now being charged to do a great deal of work in Crete, putting into order what remained. His primary charge is to appoint elders in every town. If you’ll remember our last discussion, we closed with the idea that the smallest unit of the Church is the family. That it falls to fathers to be the leaders and priests of their households. If the first thought in your mind is “but what about those families without fathers or where the father is not a believer?”, I ask you to hold onto that thought for the final post of this series. We will address the “what if” and the special cases later. We must resist the desire to formulate the rules based on exceptions by focusing on the Word of God that gives the rules, and then search the Scriptures for how to address the “special cases”.

Okay, so if we look at the qualifications for an elder, we find that an elder should be above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children should be believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. Why is that so important? Because an elder isn’t just “a guy with leadership potential”, or a politician to be elected into a temporary office… he is an overseer, God’s steward of the church. As such, he must be above reproach. Paul explains what it means to be above reproach as an individual now (He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined). Look at that final sentence, though. In addition to these character traits, he must hold firmly to the trustworthy word as taught so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. That last part, is best exemplified by examining the fruit of his instruction and ability to discipline… his wife and children. Does he love his wife as Christ loves the Church? Does his wife submit to, respect, and honor him? Has he taught his children the Word of God? Are they believers? Are they disciplined? We’ll see tomorrow in Paul’s letter to Timothy that a man who cannot manage his household cannot be trusted to manage the church. You don’t hire a bankrupt accountant to manage your finances, and you don’t appoint an elder whose family is in disarray to be God’s steward over the church. If the man is a new believer, or newly married, or his children are still infants then his first ministry is to his family. Remember, while the question of salvation is on an individual level (for God looks on the heart of a man), but the smallest unit of the Church is the family. If an elder’s children become insubordinate or open to the charge of debauchery, there is a problem within his household that needs his attention. For his family is his first responsibility.

Tomorrow, we will begin working through 1 Timothy to fully examine how Paul instructs Timothy regarding the church. In closing today’s discussion, I’d like to read from the closing of the letter to the Romans.

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV)
25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

In Him,
Jorge

Series: The Church | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5