Saturday, November 25, 2017

How to remain faithful! -- 1Timothy 4:1-7

How to remain faithful! -- 1Timothy 4:1-7
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 26, 2017

Here in America we have not faced the persecution that exists in much of the rest of the world for our faith. We think that if someone feels ill-will towards us or says a nasty thing about our faith that this is the same as the persecution others around the world face -- it is not. Certainly we are facing more and more resentment, ungodliness, and outward bitterness towards Christianity but we are not yet suffering beatings, slavery, and religious genocide as others have and are. Yet how are we to remain faithful if persecution for our faith worsens?

Paul knew very well what real religious persecution was all about. He not only felt it as he followed Jesus but had inflicted it on other believers before becoming a Christian himself. This is why he was being so urgent with Timothy; being a believer in Paul’s day meant being persecuted for your faith. So how does one remain faithful in light of such a prospect? Let’s find out…

READ: 1Timothy 4:1-7

Paul knew there would be those for whatever reason who would try to sway the early church to not adhere to what Jesus taught and so tells Timothy that in order…

I. To remain faithful we must not believe the world’s teaching concerning Christ! (Vv. 1-2)

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.

  1. Jesus had taught his disciples that “false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect--if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time… No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:22-23, 32 NIV) And Peter had written to remind the church that “First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this 'coming' he promised?’ Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation… But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (2Peter 3:3-4, 9 NIV) So like Jesus or the other disciples I do not think Paul was specifically writing Timothy about a set date but rather he knew everyday brought believers closer to the day of Jesus’ return and that “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” Never forget that anyone who teaches against the gospel in the antichrist and any teaching that goes against what Jesus taught is demonic. John would write that “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist… every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” (1John 2:22; 4:3) So Paul warns Timothy that “Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” To remain faithful we must not believe the world’s teaching concerning Christ!

  EXAMPLE: I believe in fact this is what we are facing now in our day. There are those who want to dismiss Jesus as just another human who taught good things and was a nice guy who loved everyone. While this is the partial truth it is not the actual truth. Adam Rutherford in his book A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Human Genes writes that history is “foggy” and therefore untrustworthy so if we “Flit back a few centuries, and there is no contemporary evidence even for the existence of Jesus Christ, arguably the most influential man in history. Most of our tales about his life were written in the decades after his death by people who had never met him. Today, we would seriously question that, if it were presented as historical evidence. Even the accounts that Christians rely on, the Gospels are inconsistent and have irreversibly mutated over time.” This is not the gospel message of Jesus who came to “seek and save the lost” rather it is part and parcel of a worldview to dismiss Jesus. To remain faithful we must not believe the world’s teaching concerning Jesus Christ who “appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory” (1Timothy 3:16 NIV). To remain faithful we must not believe the world’s teaching concerning Christ!

There are a lot of false notions that have existed even for decades concerning what is taught in Scripture. As believers we must not appear hypocritical in our faith walk nor in our teaching of what Scripture actually says. Therefore Paul tells Timothy that…

II. To remain faithful we must adhere to the truth! (Vv. 3-5)

They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

  1. There is a lot of ungodly teaching concerning Jesus in our day and sadly a lot of it comes from “Christian” churches. Some of comes from the pride of the preacher who speaks it; some of it comes from the human adherence to unbiblical teaching; and some of it comes from those who would want to deceive you in order to gain some kind of control over your life. I learned early on that the best thing believers can do is to read their Bibles but again sadly few actually do. Instead we allow others to fill our heads full of gospel gunk that has no actual bearing on what Jesus, the disciples, or biblical writers actually taught! As I have heard and taught the best thing to remember when reading what others say about a certain passage: A text taken out of context is a pretext to a false doctrine, and so we must be willing to make sure we contextualize what we read or hear concerning Scripture! Paul gives us some examples of what folks do who have an axe to grind rather than truthfully teaching what is actually in Scripture. Some of these folks “forbid people to marry” like ascetic Catholics or those who think marriage is not necessary or that it can be redefined to fit their personal perverted proclivity! Or those who “order [believers] to abstain from certain foods” like Seventh Day Adventists and their schizophrenic attitude towards the Old and New Testaments or those who teach that Christians should eat only certain “healthy” things forgetting that all things “God created [were] to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.” Going back to what Jesus actually taught and how he completed God’s plan and therefore the law, redemption, and what we should know about God, Paul reminds us that “everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” To remain faithful we must adhere to the truth!

  EXAMPLE: Pontius Pilate stood in front of the truth of God in human form, Jesus, and asked him “What is truth?” In our day the answer to this question has been reduced to some personal esoteric often emotional concept. We have churches that are complacent in not teaching the entire truth of God found in Scripture. Some do it in order to sooth their own guilt, some do it in order to promote themselves, and some do it so they will not “offend”. The gospel message is offensive by its very nature. Never forget Jesus bluntly taught his followers, “All men will hate you because of me.” (Luke 21:17 NIV) Later Paul would write Timothy, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3 NIV) To remain faithful we must adhere to the truth!

What the world needs today is the gospel truth yet there are those who will defy it, discredit it, and try to dissuade others from following it. Therefore as Paul taught Timothy in order…

III. To remain faithful we must teach others the truth! (Vv. 6-7)

If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.

  1. I have found it frustrating, kind of funny, and often puzzling when you use logic with others and they resort to name-calling, vulgarities, or lying. It is truly sad when those who profess faith in Jesus do these things. Paul understood that this would occur as well and he wanted his young friend Timothy to be aware of his concerns. He knew the Jewish community, the pagan world, and even other jealous believers would resort to these kinds of tactics when faced with the stark truth of the gospel. So he writes that it is his duty as a pastor to teach the truth in season and out of season no matter what others claim. In fact, Paul writes, “If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.” The same is true for each of who profess our faith and trust in Jesus. In fact, Paul would write Titus, another young pastor, “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” (Titus 2:7-8 NIV) Paul would later tell Timothy to “Keep reminding them of these things.” (2Timothy 2:14 NIV) In fact he would tell him to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene.” (2Timothy 2:15-17 NIV) And in fact this is why there still exists a resistance for some to follow actual biblical teaching rather than what has “always been taught”. This has created a false correction by some and spiritual rebellion by others. Therefore we are to “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; [but] rather, [we are to] train [ourselves] to be godly.” To remain faithful we must teach others the truth!

  EXAMPLE: I have found it beneficial to allow others to read for themselves what the Bible says rather than always trying to tell someone what it says. This is why I will use specific passages when witnessing to someone else and allow them to read them out loud and tell me what they think they say. Now do not think I am saying that reading some Christian books are not beneficial because they are, but we need to be more discerning in what we read even if it claims Christianity. As Paul would write, “‘Everything is permissible’--but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible’--but not everything is constructive.” (1 Corinthians 10:23 NIV) We must follow and teach what the Bible actually says and not our own inclination. Much of what is taught about Jesus’ coming, prayer, angels, worship, church membership, giving, church leadership, and salvation has more to do with manmade doctrines rather than what is actually taught in Scripture. Paul tells Timothy that in order to remain faithful we must teach others the truth!

Conclusion:

To remain faithful we must not believe the world’s teaching concerning Christ! To remain faithful we must adhere to the truth! To remain faithful we must teach others the truth!
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This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Mystery of Godliness! -- 1Timothy 3:14-16

Mystery of Godliness! -- 1Timothy 3:14-16
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 19, 2017

If you only had one letter, email, or text to send someone that explained how important their faith in Jesus was what would you write? We live in an age where real writing has gone by the wayside. The conveying of ideas no longer relies on the logical progression of argument but rather on the emotional response invoked instead. Politics, science, morality, philosophy and or religion have been reduced to a visceral response garnered for the gain of the speaker and not the audience involved. In other words writing has been rendered to gain the reader’s or listener’s empathy rather than being based on actual facts.

For Paul the gospel message was the single most important message ever given to mankind. Timothy needed to have a firm grasp of what this actually meant because if he did not he would fall into doubt, personal speculation, or worse the hybridization of the truth! Therefore in the following verses Paul makes an appeal to Timothy concerning the mystery of godliness, let’s discover what he wrote and why…

READ: 1Timothy 3:14-16

Jesus established his church because he was going back to where he has always existed, at the right hand of the Father. This does not mean he is actually present standing or sitting by God’s right hand but rather that he shares all that God is because he is God and he returned to where God always is. This can be confusing for our little liner minds but Paul reminds us that...

I. The mystery of godliness established the church for a reason! (Vv. 14-15)

Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

  1. Paul has brought to a close some of the principal guidelines which he has to give respecting the preservation of pure teaching concerning the gospel, the church, and the qualifications for ministry. Before going on to other topics Paul halts in order to insist upon the importance of these things, by pointing out what is really involved in them. Their importance is one main reason for his writing. Paul “hoped to come… soon” to Timothy and the churches that were in the area where Timothy ministered. And he was “writing” these “instructions” so that if he [was] “delayed” in any way, Timothy and thereby those Timothy ministered to would “know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household”. A lot of teaching or lack thereof within the American church “God's household” today is not based on actual biblical teaching concerning “the church of the living God” or what it means. Paul knew this could happen and was warning Timothy and thereby us as well. Jesus established the church when he taught his disciples about how it was supposed to function as far as disciplines were concerned; they were to “tell it to the church”. Then he related, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20 NIV) This is not in some esoteric sense for feel good purposes. The church is not a social gathering, a weekly seminar, or a place to train your kids concerning godly things. Jesus used the word ekklēsia (ek-klay-see'-ah) which literally means “called out ones”. The church is made up of folks who were called out by God from the world and into his body. Paul would write his fellow believers, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV) So, when Paul wrote Timothy concerning these instructions he was sharing how “the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth” was supposed to function. The mystery of godliness established the church for a reason!

  EXAMPLE: Do you like a good mystery? I do; in fact I like a good mystery where you are given clues and you piece them logically together one after another in order to solve it. This is why Sherlock Holmes has survived the decades. Sadly today’s world can be presented all the clues and still not logically think through the consequences of rejecting or accepting the truth God has left us to find him through Jesus. The mystery of godliness established the church for a reason!
The church of God is the body of Christ in the world. We are his called out ones to do his will in this world. To be a part of this great mystery is a tremendous thing indeed. Paul would often wonder why God in Jesus considered him worthy of his sacrifice and grace. He was often in awe of its mercy and his calling and related to Timothy that…

II. Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great! (v. 16)

Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.

  1. What had personally occurred to Paul was a mystery to Paul until he had begun to understand exactly what had happened. Remember he had written, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.” (1Timothy 1:12-13 NIV) And so now with complete confidence Paul could declare, “Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great!” God coming to earth as Jesus was miraculous however what Jesus did of his own free will was beyond description. Paul would write that Jesus “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8 NIV) Jesus did this in order that we would be saved from our sin condition. The choice is ours to make: “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (Romans 3:22 NIV) Jesus could do this because “He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.” In fact it is “Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34 NIV) Thhis is why Paul would write his friend Timothy, “He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.” Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great!

  EXAMPLE: Far too often folks have reduced Jesus to being their friend, buddy or daily Daniel Boone who guides them through their times of trouble rather than who he truly is meant to be in their life. Now certainly Jesus can be these personalities but that is not who he is. He is the Alpha, Omega, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He is the Creator of all things. Paul knew that beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great!

Conclusion:

The mystery of godliness established the church for a reason! Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great!
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This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A deacon! -- 1Timothy 3:8-13

A deacon! -- 1Timothy 3:8-13
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 12, 2012

Often all you hear about, read about, or see in the movies and TV is a gross characterization of evangelical church leadership. In fact so much so that there is a societal mythos that is completely false concerning Christian leadership in evangelical churches; especially concerning deacons. The truth is there are literally tens of thousands of pastors and hundreds of thousands of deacons who serve in evangelical churches all across America and worldwide with grace and compassion as the servants of Jesus they are called to be.

Paul is writing to his young friend in the ministry Timothy on how a church is supposed to function and how congregations were to choose their leadership. Were Paul’s suggestions supposed to be the absolute law for all time and all churches everywhere concerning how a local church chooses its leadership? No, I do not believe so, however, since his writing is Spirit-inspired we as believers would do well to give it the weight it deserves and see it as extremely important guidelines in choosing a church’s local leadership. Let’s see what Paul writes concerning a deacon…

READ: 1Timothy 3:8-13

I believe if churches truly followed Paul’s suggestions to Timothy in choosing their leadership we would have fewer problems within churches. The problem is that pastors and deacons have been given authority they were never supposed to have and are often seen as a hierarchy rather than the chosen servants they are supposed to be. In fact Paul writes Timothy that…

I. Deacons are to be men worthy of their calling! (Vv. 8-9)

Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.

  1. You would think that if Paul held the standards for a church’s pastor in high regard that he would do so for other leadership within the church and we discover he does. He immediately refers to his assessment for pastors by writing Timothy that “Deacons, likewise, are to be men of respect”. He is telling Timothy that in the exact same way Deacons are to be like their pastors in that they should also be “men worthy of respect”. Remember, respect is earned not automatically given. The idea is one of honest and deep devotion to the Lord. There should be no question as to where his spiritual allegiance lies. The deacon should be “sincere” not double-tongued, saying one thing and meaning another. Deacons have to be straight-shooters and therefore “sincere”. A leader cannot be sincere or worthy of respect if they are influenced by outside stimulates so they should “not indulge in much wine”. In our day and age there is a segment of the Christian church that is rebelling against past teaching that wasn’t necessarily biblical but not necessarily wrong either. One of these is the willingness of millennials and others to justify drinking alcohol. Churches for centuries never taught against drinking alcohol such as wine and the Bible does not teach against it. It was during America’s prohibition when many evangelical churches adopted a strict no alcohol policy because alcoholism was so rampant. People have forgotten that it was the American voter who demanded Prohibition in the first place. Alcoholism was a national problem. Personally I believe this is a good standard since so much grief comes from alcohol. And Paul did write, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18 NIV) This is the idea Paul was writing concerning pastors and deacons imbibing. However the deacon should not be consumed with worldly wealth “pursuing dishonest gain” either. Paul summarizes this section by stating that deacons “must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.” This should be the man of God’s focus in life, not booze or dishonest gain. Deacons are to be men worthy of their calling!

  EXAMPLE: In the past there were those who did not think that being called to a ministry by the Lord was necessary, that instead it was simply an office conveyed or passed on by the church to certain people whom they thought of as deserving. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being called to be a deacon in a church by God is an awesome and noble task. Churches are to be very careful in whom they set aside for deacons because these will be the men who will serve you as literally God’s waiters. Therefore deacons are to be men worthy of their calling!

Deacons are not to rule their churches nor are they to be seen as mini-pastors. They are to be the called out servants of the church that the church can depend upon to minister to its particular needs. The Book of Acts gives us an example of some men who were chosen by the Jerusalem church to literally “wait on tables” in taking care of the needs of widows in the church. (Acts 6:1-7) “They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.” (Acts 6:5 NIV) Paul writes Timothy that…

II. Deacons should be weighed in the balance! (v. 10)

They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.

  1. Deacons are not deacons for life as some churches teach just as pastors are not pastor for life. It is not some worldly rank conferred by the church. A deacon should be a man of God who is called by God to serve his church. We realize then that deacons are called out men of God for a specific local church to serve that church. Therefore these men “must first be tested”. Literally Paul meant these men who are being considered should be proven by their actions, attitudes, and lifestyles. Their lives should be an open book and they should be ready, willing, and able to have their lives examined by the church they are gonna serve. Sadly there are always examples of deacons who were poor examples, authoritarians or self-indulgent men who focused on themselves and the personal power they gained from their title of being a “deacon”. Yet there are many more deacons, as I shared before, who serve graciously and with great humility, honoring Jesus with their lives and service. The writer of Hebrews reminds us to “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7 NIV) And this is what Paul was trying to teach Timothy, namely that a church’s local leadership should be made up of men who the world, new believers, and the church would want to emulate. Therefore, “if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.” As we look at those who want to serve us in our church we should remember that deacons should be weighed in the balance!

  EXAMPLE: King Belshazzar is one of those tragic figures of biblical history. The Bible relates that he “gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them.” And that “he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them… As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone. Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall… The king watched the hand as it wrote.” (Daniel 5:1-5 NIV) He called for Daniel to interpret the writing and was told “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.” (Daniel 5:27 NIV) Paul knew if men are called to serve him as deacons, they should be weighed in the balance!

Leadership in the local church will be the example the local community sees as leading the church. How they equate the men who serve says a lot about the church itself. The title “deacon” is the
Anglicized form of the Greek word diakonos, meaning a “runner,” “messenger,” or “servant” and like pastors must also be men of quality, even though their function in the congregation is significantly different. Paul writes Timothy that…

III. Deacons should be good family men! (Vv. 11-13)

In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

  1. Continuing in his directions to Timothy Paul writes “In the same way” referring to the guidelines he had just laid out for pastors. In the same way deacons, if they are married, should have wives who “are to be women worthy of respect” as well. Some believe this to be a pronouncement that deacons should be married and this is possible under the way the original language is constructed. His wife is worthy of respect because she is honorable, honest, and not one of those “malicious talkers but temperate (meaning even keeled) and trustworthy in everything”. In fact I believe that the wife has a lot to offer in her support, insight, and encouragement to her husband who is a deacon. A wife that makes poor choices or is a gossip can be a huge detriment to their husband who desires to serve the church. Deacons and their wives must be able to keep things to their selves and not spread rumors or gossip. And again, like with a pastor Paul relates that “A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well.” A person’s spiritual skills begin in one’s home and how they are respected and honored by their own family reveals a lot about a man’s ability to serve his church. Paul knew that “Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.” Paul reminds us that deacons should be good family men!

  EXAMPLE: Early in ministry I was exposed to a deacon whose family was well let’s just say not the best example in the world. I caught his son on top of the roof of the church yelling at and making improper finger salutes to passing cars one Sunday morning. The deacon’s response was to yell at his wife and his son in public and humiliate both of them. Needless to say he was not the best example of a deacon. Paul tells Timothy that deacons should be good family men!

Conclusion:

Deacons are to be men worthy of their calling! Deacons should be weighed in the balance! Deacons should be good family men!
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This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

An overseer! -- 1Timothy 3:1-7

An overseer! -- 1Timothy 3:1-7
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 7, 2017

When we think of leadership in our day and age we sometimes do not have a very good opinion or view of it and it is only natural considering what we see in politics, in entertainment, in business, or in sports. In fact there are religious leaders that have left a sour taste in our mouths as well. But should leadership get such a bad rap from us? Paul would say, “No.”

Continuing his instructions to Timothy on how a church should act Paul relates who should be considered as leaders. He knew the entire world would be looking at the early church. Christians would need to be above any criticism. In other words they had to be like Jesus if they proclaimed the gospel message of Jesus to the world. Let’s see what Paul said about being an overseer…

READ: 1Timothy 3:1-7

The word overseer is not used much in our day and age and when it is used we have a tendency to think it means a slave driver or task master, nothing could be further from the truth. Here we will discover that it means the leader of a local church, a pastor. Paul gives Timothy several guidelines for when a church is looking for a pastor and he relates that…

I. An overseer must be well-balanced! (Vv. 1-3)

Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

  1. Paul begins this section by stating “Here is a trustworthy saying” which was a familiar phrase people of his day used in order to acquire the listener’s or hearer’s attention to what the speaker is about to teach. So Paul is writing to Timothy to listen up because what he is about to teach him is important. “If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble” or good “task.” The term overseer (episkopos) is sometimes translated “bishop”. It is one of several words used in the New Testament to describe church leaders. “Elders” (presbyteroi) is the most common. Other words are “rulers” (proistamenoi), “leaders” (hēgoumenois) and “pastors” (poimenas). They are seen as interchangeable. So Paul is writing to Timothy a pastor about what it takes to be a good pastor. He continues by writing that “the overseer must be above reproach” in the world they would minister. Jewish husbands would divorce their wives for burning their dinner and the Greeks or Romans hopped from one relationship to another without a thought of the emotional, mental, or spiritual toll it took. Therefore the pastor should be “the husband of but one wife” meaning that he should only be a one woman man when the church would consider him for service. This phrase prohibits both polygamy and promiscuity and Paul didn’t write a man could never be divorced or that divorce was the unpardonable sin that some churches make it out to be, but rather the man they were considering should be married to one woman! He should also be “temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, [and] not a lover of money”. Leaders of the church must be self-controlled, ethical, moral, godly men who can lead not just through their speaking ability but through the wisdom they garner as they follow Jesus! An overseer must be well-balanced!

  EXAMPLE: As my mama was making biscuits one day I came into the kitchen to gripe about my brother bugging me. With flour, eggs, baking powder, and salt my mother made the best biscuits ever. As she listened to me she reminded me that “You and your brother need to strike the right balance with one another instead of always trying to strike one another. You both are made of the same basic ingredients just like my biscuits, but not all biscuits come out the same even if they have the same ingredients. You have to be the one to strike the right balance in life.” Paul knew that a life that is spiritually proportional that is defined and in the way God desires is a life that is worthy of respect. In a world that was often guided by its own lusts, desires, and personal wants Paul knew that the early church would face an uphill battle. An overseer must be well-balanced!

There are men who can direct large companies, invest large amounts of money, or invent all kinds of things but are not able to lead their own families. Paul knew that a pastor who was entrusted with the church of Jesus must have certain qualities and one essential was that…

II. An overseer must direct his family well! (Vv. 4-5)

He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?)

  1. I have often found it amusing that churches will put a humongous emphasis on a leader’s marital situation or his ability to speak well but ignore what kind of a husband, person, and parent the man is! However Paul related that this is a very important part of considering someone for leadership as a pastor! Notice again the emphasis on the leader of the pastor as being a male: “HE must manage HIS own family”. Paul did not say that women could not be leaders in the church but the pastor should be a man. It goes back to the idea of who is the leader and assumes responsibility for the direction of the church. The church is like a family. After writing about how a marriage and family is to work and how husbands are to love their wives and wives honor their husbands Paul writes that just as a man leaves his mother and father and forms a home with his wife, the individual leaves behind the world and becomes part of God’s family the church! “This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:32 NIV) The idea here in 1Timothy is that the man should be able to stand before his family as an example of what a husband and father are supposed to be. He is to maintain and preside over his family as a consistent figure “and see that his children obey him with proper respect”. Now I have learned that respect is earned and not forced. It is earned over days, weeks, and years of being the father and husband a man should be. Far too many churches suffer because their pastors cannot lead their own families. Their children are disobedient, disrespectful, and disloyal. Paul rightly suggests that “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?” And the answer is that he can’t. Pastors should have families that reflect their Godly leadership and not their sinful tyranny. An overseer must direct his family well!

  EXAMPLE: Families are like symphonies. There are highs and lows, sometimes they can be fast-paced or slow but they are always on the verge of reaching a crescendo. The beat goes on. And like a symphony a family needs a conductor to make sure all the participants are in sync. Paul knew that the church was like a family and needed someone to direct, lead, and keep it safe. Paul knew that an overseer must direct his family well!

Just as we would not want a brand new graduate that has had not been an intern and assisted in surgeries do heart surgery on us for the first time we should not want someone that has not had some kind of experience or background in ministry, preaching, and leading to be our pastor. Plus we should want a surgeon that has a good reputation just as a pastor ought to. In fact, Paul writes that…

III. An overseer must be well thought of! (Vv. 6-7)

He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap.

  1. How a pastor walks within their personal relationships is important but so is how they are seen in the community around them. Also, in order to be well-acquainted with spiritual teaching and spiritual matters one should have some kind of track record. You can often hear or read it in the immature wisdom of the newly indentured seminary student as they express their myriad of theological opinions they have recently been exposed to. In other words as Paul would write, “He must not be a recent convert”. And there are several reasons for this: “he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.” Of course Paul is referring to the conceitedness of Satan whereby he thinks of himself as an equal with God! How his knowledge and standing corrupted his very nature and made him into the evil and corrupted being he is. The Devil forgot he was created and not the Creator! Mankind can do this as well. Paul saw this in the edicts of the Roman Emperors his world had to deal with in viewing themselves as gods – kind of like Congress. Overseers in the church should never ever see themselves as above their congregation or the community they minister to. In fact this is why I am glad that a lot of pastors are electing to preach from the main floor of their churches rather than being “high and lifted up”. This was and is from medieval times whereby the congregation was to be separated from the minister and the minister “above” his flock! They would even elevate the pastor and he would climb a special stairway to his pulpit! However, Paul reminds us that the pastor should also be seen in his community as approachable and writes that “He must have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and the devil’s trap.” Paul writes that an overseer must be well thought of!

  EXAMPLE: Abraham Lincoln said that “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Joseph Hall a 15th century English preacher wrote that “A reputation once broken my possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep an eye on the spot where the crack was.” And my dad reiterated that “our reputation is what others think of us but our character is what God knows about us.” In his letter to his friend Timothy Paul wrote that an overseer must be well thought of!

Conclusion:

An overseer must be well-balanced! An overseer must direct his family well! An overseer must be well thought of!
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This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.