Category Archives: Christian Leadership Principles

Be An Example

1 Timothy 4:12

12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

Here is the Lord’s heart cry to all of us. Be an example. Let others see what Christ is like by all that you do. The word example is defined two ways in Webster’s dictionary. The first is a thing characteristic of its kind or illustrating a general rule. That means this example needs to be in the image of what it is trying to show to others. We need to conduct ourselves like Christ would. Remember the old saying “What Would Jesus Do?” This became very popular in the 1990’s and actually became part of pop culture. Unfortunately, it just became a popular saying, not a popular thing to do necessarily. People wearing WWJD bracelets and T-shirts would be just as sinful as the world, and that is not what Jesus would have done. Our example must be like the spotless Lamb of God.

The second definition of example is a person or thing regarded in terms of their fitness to be imitated or the likelihood of their being imitated. This means we should live a life that others could imitate in their walk with the Lord. Paul said that the things we have learned, have received, have heard and have seen in him we should do (Philippians 4:9). Paul set an example for others to follow. Are we setting this same example? Would we want others to live the same kind of life we do in a successful walk with Christ? This should be the pattern for our lives.

Paul then goes on to tell Timothy there are 6 areas of his life this applies to. The first way we should set an example is in our words. One of the first things God did when I got saved was that he took swearing out of my language. It was just gone. All those 4 letter words that I used in every sentence vanished from my vocabulary. It even amazed me that suddenly these words were no longer used. Those words have no place in a Christian’s vocabulary. They set a bad example. So does telling dirty jokes. There is no room for these either. Nor lying, dishonest statements or saying things with the wrong motives in mind. Gossip, backbiting, slandering and many more ways seem to be part of our culture today. Each of these creep into the church, and into our lives, at different times. All of the above mentioned issues with the words we speak show the church to be nothing more than a bunch of hypocrites. The church has become too much like the world in our words.

Our words should be loving, merciful, forgiving, forbearing, patient and reverent. They should show us to be lovers of men, ready to lay down our lives for those less fortunate than we are. Our words should give comfort, joy, peace, nurturing and grace to those we are speaking to all the time, not just some of the time. These words should be honest and truthful at all times, spoken in love to anyone we approach. There should be no hint of ungodliness or unrighteousness in the things we say. James 3 is a great chapter on taming our tongue. Basically, James says if we can bridle our tongue, we enter a realm of perfection. Let us guard our speech at all times.

The second way Paul asks Timothy to be an example is in his conversation. We can get confused if we see this word meaning the words we have between one another. In biblical terms, the word conversation means lifestyle. Our lifestyle should be one that everyone sees as pure and undefiled. We should set an example by the places we go, the choices we make and the manner in which we conduct ourselves. Do we take correction easily? Are we quickly offended? Do we forgive people if they wrong us? Do we ask for forgiveness if we have hurt our neighbor in some way? All of these things are part of our conversation.

Ephesians 4:1 tells us to walk worthy of the vocation to which we are called. It does not matter if you are a preacher or the church custodian or a clerk at Walmart or flipping burgers at McDonalds. You might be a corporate executive, or retired or maybe a CPA or an MD. Maybe you just write blogs, work on mapping, sell insurance occasionally and help out at your church (this is me in a nutshell). Whatever your vocation, whatever you do day in and day out, you should walk worthy of that calling. Our jobs are part of our calling, and we must show ourselves as an example of Christ in everything we do.

The third area Paul says we should be an example is in charity. I think we all know charity means love. I like the use of the word charity because that word means giving something without expecting a return. The word love is so misused and abused in our society that it gets a bad wrap most of the time. People don’t know what real love is. Many have never experienced a true loving relationship except with their parents, and even there a lot of people are abused by that word. When we as Christians think of the word love we should always think of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth

To translate briefly, love is patient and kind at all times. It does not become jealous or covetous and does not boast of its accomplishments but is humble. Love never portrays a non- Christian attitude and does not try to get things for itself. Love does not get angry easily and never thinks evil of someone else. Love rejoices in the good fortune of others and in the truth always being in the forefront. It bears with anything and believes in the other person with the hope that will endure to the end. Love never fails. This is the kind of love we should have at all times to set the example Paul is talking about here.

The fourth area we should be an example is in spirit. This talks about the attitude with which we live our lives. Are we positive and uplifting, or are we a sourpuss all the time. Do we speak words of grace to everyone (Eph 4:29) or are we sarcastic and cruel. Do we wake up in the morning refreshed and renewed, ready to take on the day? Or are we just trying to get through the day and bring our cloud with us as we go through our routines? All of these things reflect the spirit with which we approach life. I love the quote from Charles Swindoll, renowned Christian author, speaker and pastor.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

To me, that says it all!

The fifth area Paul tells Timothy to be an example is in faith. Do we show others that we trust God in all things, even in the most difficult of times in our lives? Do they see our faith arise as we go through those times and continue to rely on God to bring us provision, strength and guidance in the midst of the storm? Has our faith risen to the occasion when someone needs prayer and we are quick to pray with them on the spot instead of the old line “Yes I will pray for you.”

When I was going through my cancer battle for three years, people noticed how upbeat I stayed most of the time. Many would ask me how I could face such a difficult test with such a good attitude. I would tell them it is because I have an undying faith in my God! I knew he would not fail me. I knew He would use this test for my good. I knew he would sustain me and keep me even in the hardest of times. People saw my faith in action. They saw my example of faith. How often do they see yours?

The last area where we should be an example is in purity. This talks of moral and behavioral excellence. We should be above anything that seems filthy, raunchy, rowdy, or anything else that would be deemed impure. Our lives should reflect the Bible and it’s moral standard in every way. The worlds moral compass has gone haywire, and we must show what the standard should be or it will be lost to all. We leave in a world that has put purity aside for pleasure. They do not even see how they have gone wrong, or that they are even doing wrong. The low morals and impurity are out in the public eye and no one seems the least bit concerned except those who want morality brought back into our lives. If we do not keep the biblical standard it will further erode this society and Christians will be even more weird in the worlds eyes.

Christians are already being persecuted for righteousness sake, as Jesus told us we would. We should rejoice in this (Matthew 5:12) But greater persecution will come as the world drifts farther and farther away from Christian values. I am a part of Pew Research in that I take survey’s for them once a month. One of the questions on the last survey asked if I thought social media should be allowed to take off offensive material. I said no, mainly because the world is starting to see parts of the Bible as offensive and I do not want our face squashed by a social media company. Some of my own blogs would disappear! Those of us who stand up for Christian values, for pure values, must never let this world dictate what we write or preach.

With all my heart I want to be the type of example Paul asked Timothy to be. I fail often, but I must each time pick myself up and keep on going. Paul does not tell Timor=thy he has to be perfect and part of our example should be seen as a flawed human being with difficulties and challenges. If we can remember to forgive and accept forgiveness, that will go a long ay to developing us an example of what Christ would want us to be.

Advertisements

Exercise Unto Godliness

1 Timothy 4:7-11

7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
11 These things command and teach.

I am terrible about exercising, I admit. I can get on my exercise bike one day and then just get too bored to get on it again. My granddaughter and I got a one month pass to the local fitness center with very good intentions. But she has used it only once and I have not used it at all. I’m guessing I won’t renew the membership. I do walk the dog faithfully and this is about the only exercise I get. To my dismay, that means my weight stays where it is, which is about 15 pounds more than I would like it to be. I did lose that weight once by a combination of a good diet and more exercise, and I need to do that again. Being lazy like I have become sets bad habits into place, and I need to get rid of them. If I don’t, my health could be jeopardized even further, I will have more shortness of breath and I will have other problems with my body that I would just as soon not face.

Our spiritual life is no different. It too needs exercise and a good diet. I need to regularly exercise my spirit by praise and meditation. I need to utilize the prayer language that God has given me to pray for those needs I don’t have all the information about. I need to exercise the spiritual gifts that God has placed in my life to edify my church. And I need a steady diet on the Word of God, which is the bread of life. Not just reading it and meditating on it, but studying out principles that God lays on my heart. I must make sure I am not just relying on others to interpret the word for me, but ask the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to me as well. There are many untruths in our world today as we have discussed. I must be able to tell the difference between what is true and what is false. This is a must for all of us.

Old wives fables can include anything that has been a doctrine or custom of the church that is contrary to the Bible. Do you have those things in your church? Are there things you do just out of habit that have been that way for a long time, yet you question whether it is right or not? When you bring it up to someone they just say we have always done it that way and you just let it rest. Or maybe it’s a teaching of your church, or a doctrinal statement that is just not Biblical, although it sounds close. Maybe within yourself you have questioned it for a long time but have never spoken up. Maybe it’s time you do! People can be misled by old habits as fast as they can from new doctrine. We must regularly exercise our faith and our spirit to abide in the vine as Jesus asked us to.

You see, when we practice Godliness it is good for all those around us, even if they don’t believe. Imagine a world where all the Christians always practice Ephesians 4:29 and never spoke a foul word but always said things that ministered grace to the hearer. Imagine a world where all Christians turned the other cheek and walked the extra mile. Imagine a world where we were never worried, but always prayed with thanksgiving. Imagine a world where we forgave every offense and put it behind us, choosing to love instead of holding a grudge. Imagine a world where we could bear all things, believe all things, hope all things and endured all things. Imagine a world where we always thought on things that were true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy about other people. Do you see a better world being formed? Do you see how this would profit all men?

These things and many more should be our way of life because we know the Savior. We know the one who taught us how to live this life and how to enter the kingdom of heaven. He showed us the way to walk on this earth, loving the unlovable, reaching out to the outcast, bringing healing to the sick and maimed and bringing life to those who are dead, both in body and in Spirit. As we exercise Godliness, we touch lives. We become Jesus to them. We live through the reproaches they might bring into our life because we trust God to see us through.

Exercising our Spirit will bring us closer to God and closer to the perfection He asks for. Without it, we will wither away in our spiritual walk and not have the power God expects us to walk in. We will not have the strength to stand up to temptation. We will forget the words that can bring us through trials. Our witness will become cold and dim in a world already filled with darkness. Let us not be weary in well doing. Let us exercise the faith that we entered into as babes, yearning for more and more. He nurtured us and taught us by His Holy Spirit. He guided our steps to where we are today. It’s time we step up and do all that He wants us to do! Walk in the power and strength of the Lord!

Be a Good Minister

1 Timothy 4:6

6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.

We have an awesome responsibility to our brothers and sisters in Christ. That responsibility is reminding them what God has said. We cannot take for granted that they know what God has said. Paul has asked us here to put the brethren in remembrance of these things. God knows we are flawed human beings and that our flesh wants to gravitate toward the things and ways of this world. Because of this, He has commissioned us to be ministers of the Gospel and the ministers of His doctrine. Not the doctrine of this world, but His doctrine.

What things do we have to remind our brothers about? I would go back to chapter three and everything from there on is what we need constant reminding about. Chapter three deals with the qualifications of our church leadership. I would dare say that some churches and denominations have lost sight of many of these qualifications. The first and foremost is choosing bishops and deacons who are seasoned in the word. These men and women have the daunting task of keeping the church on course in their pursuit of Christ. If they are not seeking out the truth in scripture and applying it on a day to day basis, they can easily slip away from that truth. When that happens, they can erode the fabric of a church if false doctrine should creep in. You may remember our discussion on seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. Just as in Paul’s day, these are rampant in the church today. Our leaders must be aware of what the Word says and where these false teaching miss the mark.

Then there is the mystery of the gospel, spoken of in 1 Timothy 3:16. It is imperative that we continually remind ourselves of the birth, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the foundation of the church and of our lives. The great salvation He purchased for us must be renewed in us on a continual basis. This is the reason we have set aside holidays to celebrate these events – so we will never forget. That Christ came down from heaven to be born of a virgin is nothing short of miraculous mercy and grace. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords gave up His throne in heaven to come and die for me. He did not come with much fanfare, but in a lowly stable to a couple who were poor. No royalty met Him when He arrived, but shepherds that had heard of Him while watching their flocks at night. God chose them, the meek and lowly, to first witness His Son. He grew up unknown and wise, at one time questioning the temple leaders as if He had the wisdom of God. Until He was in His early 30’s, no one followed Him.

But then John the Baptist recognized who He was. Many heard the voice from heaven speak and say “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ Many saw the dove fly down from heaven and land on His shoulder. Many heard John say “I must decrease and He must increase.” It was a changing of the guard and the people started following Jesus. His teaching angered the religious leaders but brought comfort and joy to the common folk. He healed everyone who came to Him, cast out devils, fed the masses and raised the dead. More and more people followed Him through the next three years. He chose 12 disciples to become His closest friends and He taught about the Kingdom of God. He talked in parables which confounded the wise but spoke to the simple. Thousands followed Him wherever He went.

Then He came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey just before the Passover. The crowd spread palm branches before Him and cried “Hosanna, hosanna. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” The Pharisees were outraged, but He told them if the people did not praise Him, the very rocks would cry out. The next day He walked into the marketplace and overturned the tables of the crooked moneychangers. Over the next two days He taught in more parables, spoke of the end times and cried out woes to the Pharisees and Scribes, calling them hypocrites and whitewashed sepulchers. They were furious and started plotting His death. They convinced a disciple named Judas to betray Him. His disciples found a place to have the Passover meal by following what Jesus had told them. Their fourth day in town they sat down to share the meal.

But this was no ordinary meal. At the beginning, Jesus got up and washed all of their feet, much to the protests of Peter. He told them if they wanted to be great, they must become servants to all. Then He told them one would betray Him, knowing what was to come. He broke the bread and passed the cup, saying this was His body and His blood. They did as He said, but did not understand what was happening. He told Peter that he would deny Him three times before morning light. As they walked to the Garden to pray that night, He told them He was going away to prepare mansions for them and they could not come with Him, but they would see Him later. He told them He was the Way, the Truth and the Life. He told them He was the vine and they were the branches, and that they must abide in Him. He told them He would send the comforter to help them to remember the words He had spoken and He left His peace with them. He told them so many things that they did not understand at the time. Then He prayed for them that the Father would keep them safe.

Once at the Garden, He asked Peter, James and John to pray with Him for an hour. He knew His death was soon. He knew the one who betrayed Him would be coming. He knew he would be beaten, scourged, spit upon, crowned with thorns and crucified. He knew the pain He would have to endure. He knew the disciples would not be able to bear the test that was about to come, and wanted them to pray not only for Him, but for themselves. Then He bowed to the Fathers will. Two times He went back to find the three disciples, His closest friends, asleep while He was praying. The third time, Judas came and betrayed Him with a kiss. Peter tried to fend off the soldiers, but Jesus told them if He wanted to be freed He could call ten thousand angels to come right now.

The guards took Him into the judgment hall where they slapped Him, jeered at Him, spit on Him and called false witnesses against Him. They took Him to Pilate who said He found no fault in Him but had Him scourged anyway. A wicked whipping with a bone laced whip that dug deep into His back. Pilate sent Him back to Herod, but soon He was right back before Pilate, this time with a crown of thorns the soldiers had placed on His head. Pilate still found no fault in Him but decided to give the people a choice between Him and a zealot named Barabbas. They chose Barabbas and cried crucify Jesus. Pilate found himself in a no win situation, so He told them to take Him and crucify Him and washed His hands of Jesus, saying His blood was on the Jews. He had to carry His own cross, falling under the weight of it and requiring help to finish the long walk. Once at the top of Golgotha, they nailed His feet and hands to that cross and dropped it in the ground. The gambled for His robe, gave Him vinegar to drink, and challenged Him to come down off the cross. But He was there willingly. He was there for you and me. He was there to set us free. Isaiah 53:5 puts it so beautifully “He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. Surely the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and by His stripes we are healed.” He spoke “It is finished” signifying the completion of the plan of our redemption from sin. Then He gave up the ghost. They pierced His side to make sure He was dead.

They took Him down from the cross and placed Him in a borrowed tomb. The Pharisees had heard that He said He would rise on the third day so they asked Pilate to put a guard on the tomb and seal it tight. He did so, and all thought it was over. There was no more hope for a new kingdom to be set up. Roman rule would continue. But on the third day, the women came to anoint the body with spices and they saw the stone rolled away. They saw an angel sitting where Jesus body should have been. They saw His grave clothes neatly folded. The angel told them He was alive! The women ran back to the disciples with Mary lagging behind. Jesus appeared to her and told her He was alive. He is still alive today, to be our friend and our provider, to walk with us and talk with us, to heal us and to comfort us. The cross made a way for our redemption. We cannot stay on the front side of the cross. We must go through the cross to the back of the cross because:

On the front of the cross is agony on the back of the cross is peace
On the front of the cross is sorrow on the back of the cross is joy
On the front of the cross is pain on the back of the cross is healing
On the front of the cross is bondage on the back of the cross is freedom
On the front of the cross is sin on the back of the cross is forgiveness
On the front of the cross we are stained with sin
on the back of the cross we are white as snow
On the front of the cross is defeat on the back of the cross is victory
On the front of the cross is death on the back of the cross is eternal life
If we stay on the front of the cross, hell will be our destination
When we go through the cross, and come to the back, our destination is heaven

All is only achieved if we go through the cross. Where are you standing? Are you still seeing Jesus from the front of the cross, or have you accepted that sacrifice as your own. Have you identified with His death and come to the other side of yourself? Is Christ alive in you today?

This Easter season, let us put everyone in remembrance of these things. Let us make sure we tell all those around us of the saving power of Jesus Christ. When, we do, we are sure to be called good ministers of Jesus Christ.

Don’t Depart From the Faith

1 Timothy 4:1-2

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils
Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

This warning was never more true than it is today. Paul has just finished giving Timothy instruction on how to choose bishops and deacons for the churches. One of the requirements is that they would not be novices in the faith and that they would have the ability and knowledge to hold onto the mystery of the faith. He goes on to tell them the mystery of the gospel is found in Jesus Christ crucified and risen again. This is the basis we must build our faith on and anyone that does not preach these truths has departed from the faith Paul preached (2 Corinthians 11:4).

Jesus also taught that many would come claiming to be Christ (Matthew 24:5). He said that we should be careful not to be deceived (Luke 21:8). He even told us that the very elect will be deceived (Matthew 24:24). I am not sure exactly who the very elect are. After reading many commentaries I am still am not sure. Many think it is the Jews. Some think it is people who have been chosen by God to be deceived in the later days. Others think it is those who have been taught the rigid Gospel by the law and not the Spirit, knowing the scripture but not knowing how to apply it. Whatever the case, I do not want to be counted as one of them!

In our world today there are many seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. Seducing spirits are those that would look and sound a lot like the true gospel only to draw people further and further from the truth as they get more involved. Once they are that far in, it is hard for them to break away because their mind has been filled with such deception they have a hard time seeing they are deceived. They think the lie is the truth.

The seducing spirit that comes to the top of my mind first is the LDS church. To those who are not well versed in the bible, the LDS church can sound very good. They come to your door and talk about Jesus Christ and His salvation. Then they will talk about the earth being restored and becoming the kingdom of God. They draw you in using what sounds very Biblical. Once you are involved they start to teach you the book of Mormon and before you know it the book of Mormon has replaced the Bible. They no longer teach from the Bible, but only quote the book of Mormon.

My best friend recently had the opportunity to talk to a large group of elders from the Mormon church. He was invited by a friend who had converted to Mormonism, convinced that it was the true way that God had planned. They started to ask him questions about his Christian faith and he answered with the scripture. When he asked them about their faith, they did not use scripture at all. They would only quote from the book of Mormon. They led him to a teacher who taught the book of Mormon. The service he went to never even opened a bible.

The truth here is that the LDS church are followers of Joseph Smith, not Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith founded the church in 1826. He dictated the Book of Mormon which he said was a translation of golden tablets he had found in upstate New York. He claimed to be a prophet and that these tablets were buried there by a native American long ago. He drew a small following and as persecution arose he moved to Missouri and Brigham Young picked up the movement. Mr. Young then went to salt Lake City, where the LDS church flourished and is still headquartered today. Joseph Smith was seduced by a spirit and a whole movement was started that is not centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The second Seducing spirit today is the New Apostolic reformation, or NAR church. It is sweeping through Christianity like a flood and taking many good meaning Christians with it. I remember back in 2008 when I heard two men give a warning about this movement and how subtle it was. They said that at that time 8 of the top 10 Christian best selling books were NAR books. That is a scary thing! Are you wise enough not to be deceived by this movement? I am no expert, but here is a link to an article that contains several links to inform you about the NAR. I suggest you acquire knowledge about this before your church starts to slide down the slippery slope. https://bcooper.wordpress.com/2019/01/22/an-indepth-study-of-the-new-apostolic-reformation-movement/

Doctrines of demons to me means that the church, in the later days, will start to make doctrines of those things that are devised by the enemy to split apart the church. These could also be classified as seductive, but these become doctrines within churches that still ascribe to the gospel. Unfortunately they twist the words of the Bible or ignore them altogether, in order to take on these devilish doctrines, Once they take them on as doctrine for their church or denomination, it is hard to reverse course and the people are led astray, being drawn away from the truth of the Bible.

I can think of several of these devilish doctrines. One is the LGBTQ agenda. God loves every single person, no matter what they have done or how they have acted. His love is all encompassing. To receive salvation, a soul must turn from there sin and not return to it. Jesus never sanctioned that a person could stay in sin and be saved. He preached repentance, and then the Father would forgive. But the LGBTQ community does not want to turn from their sin, which is clearly spelled out in the Old and New Testaments. Romans 1:26-28 and Leviticus 18:22 are just two examples. Genesis 2:18-25 tells us marriage is between a man and woman. That is what God intended.

I just did a search for warning against LGBTQ in the Bible and it came up with the above verses, but also many verses that tell us we must love one another and not judge each other. Most of the verses that came up had nothing to do with the homosexual lifestyle, but were included to make us think that we should just accept them as they are. It amazes me that a Christian can turn their eyes away from the truth about this sinful lifestyle. Do they ignore other sins that are clearly spelled out in the Bible? All sin requires a sacrifice, and all sin must be turned away from in our lives. Paul asked if we should sin more so that grace will abound? He emphatically answered NO to this proposition. (Romans 6:1-2). Grace does cover sin, but we cannot continue to sin once we are saved. That is what this community wants to be able to do. It is a doctrine of devils.

Another doctrine of devils is the grace movement. Grace is a powerful thing. It is what gives us the faith to receive Christ in the first place (Ephesians 2:8-9). When we are saved we must turn from our sin. The grace movement says we can continue in sin and grace will cover us. The grace movement says once we are saved, no matter what we do, we will go to heaven because we have said a few words that line up with scripture. They miss the fact that Jesus said if we do not do His commands, we will not go to heaven even though we call Him Lord (Matthew 7:21). Jesus said we should be perfect, as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Paul said we must forsake all to follow Him (Philippians 3:7-8). The disciples forsook all to follow Him (Luke 5:11). Are we to do any less? NO! His grace does cover sin, and His blood paid the sacrifice for sin. But once we have given our sin to Him, we must repent and become living sacrifices for Him (Romans 12:1). We are not once saved, always saved.

When man’s doctrine replaces the word of God, that is considered a doctrine of devils. God’s word should be the basis for any doctrine the church decides to follow. In our church, ever one of our doctrinal statements is backed up by scripture. In case you’re wondering, here it is:

What We Believe
The Holy Bible is inspired by God and is an infallible guide for our personal and corporate conduct

There is One God eternally existent in three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Man was created in God’s image, but he has fallen short of God’s glory through the sin of the first man, Adam. Therefore, a man/woman must repent unto God for the forgiveness of sin

Jesus Christ, being born in the flesh, has died so that man/woman may receive forgiveness of sin through repentance and faith in Him.

Water Baptism by immersion is commanded by our Lord by everyone who believes. By this baptism, we identify ourselves with His death, burial and resurrection.

Holiness is God’s standard for His people

Sanctification subsequent to the new birth comes through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ, through the Word, and by the Holy Spirit.

Baptism in the Holy Spirit is subsequent to the new birth, and is evidenced by speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance

Divine Healing is provided for all in Christ’s atonement

The Resurrection of the righteous dead and the catching away of the living saints to heaven before the tribulation. The subsequent return of Jesus and all His saints to reign on earth for 1,000 years

Hell is the eternal destiny of both the living and the dead who have not accepted Christ in their life

Heaven is the eternal destiny of all those, both living and dead, who have

I did not include the scriptures that back these up, but there are plenty. If you have a problem with any of these, I wish you would study it out and then comment. I will certainly reply with the biblical basis for whichever one you struggle with.

What are your church’s doctrinal statements? What do you believe? Are they all scripturally based? I urge you today to cheek out your own church and make sure you have not been taken in by seducing spirits or doctrines of devils. Be grounded in the Bible and do not be deceived or drawn away.  Do not fall for their lies.  Their conscience has been seared.  Keep a pure conscience before the Lord and you will do well!

Purchase a Good Degree

1 Timothy 3:11-13

11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus

Paul now turns his attention to the deacon’s family. As with the bishop, a deacon must have his family affairs in order. I find it interesting he addresses some traits the wife must have and really never does that with the bishop. Personally, I would want the bishop to have a wife that fits these characteristics as well.

First the wives must be grave. We see this attribute with their husbands as well. They should be serious about things and not given to flighty, useless chatter. You’ve seen the type. Women that go on and on about virtually nothing important. They seem to not be able to stop talking, but fill their mouth with words that will not affect anything. Men do it to, so don’t get me wrong. A deacon and his wife should be people that we can go to and expect an honest, heartfelt comment about any subject we might bring up. Especially when it is a subject of the heart and spirit, something that we are struggling with. They would not make light of it or joke around about it but give it their utmost attention. This is being grave.

They are not slanderers. They do not gossip or backbite other people. Their speech is kind and useful, edifying others with their words on a regular basis. This is a characteristic we all should possess. Gossip and backbiting do no one any good. They are both malicious and destructive. Paul tells us that our speech should minister grace to the person hearing our words (Ephesians 4:29) and too often we do just the opposite. Imagine how the church would be blessed if we would all out aside our petty gossip and complaints! People would flock to us like metal does to a magnet.

The deacons should be husbands to one wife. We discussed this in the previous post on the qualifications of a bishop. This does not necessarily mean he has only been married once, although that is preferred. It talks of the necessity of faithfulness in all things, which is mentioned before this. A deacon must be faithful in his giving, in his attendance, in his service and to his family and job. This is a lost art in today’s world. There is little faithfulness and even less loyalty, which is a product of faithfulness. People bounce from one relationship to the next, from one job to another and from church to church. They have forgotten the concept of being faithful.

But not the deacon! He is faithful in all things. This includes his family. He is faithful to his wife and his children. He does not fail to provide, protect, honor and serve all of them on a daily basis. He can be counted on in good times and bad to keep his composure and not get out of sorts. He is faithful to God, and God is faithful to him, seeing him through every trial and every test. There is never a doubt who he serves and who he loves.

A person who executes the office of deacon well takes a position of high regard from others. This is another way of saying the first part of verse 13. God honors their execution of the office of deacon. He is pleased that they have taken care of their church and themselves well and thus he gives them honor in their circle of influence. Everyone looks up to him as an honorable person. This is what a earning a good degree means.

Paul says the deacon also has great boldness in the faith. Remember, he is not a novice. He has studied the word and used it to make wise decisions. There are not many places in the Bible that tell us we should be bold. Most of the time we should be meek and humble, but Paul says the deacon is bold in the faith. He is able to defend the gospel when someone comes against the truth. He can stand firm in his decisions, like a tree planted by the water that is not moved. This makes him a valuable asset on any church board, and even more valuable in establishing the churches in Paul’s day.

We would all do well to try and emulate the characteristics of a bishop or a deacon. While these criteria are still used today to choose people for church leadership, most of the things listed are traits we should all possess as Christians. If we do, then when the need comes for someone in our church to rise to leadership, we will be ready to fill the role. And we can carry these things to the world as part of our Christian witness. Doing this will certainly purchase us a good degree!

The Office of a Deacon

1 Timothy 3:8-10

8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.

Paul now turns his attention to the deacons within each church. Most of us have deacons in our churches today and hopefully we are using Paul’s criteria to choose those people to fulfill this office. I would hope that deacons are not just thrown into office without consideration of their spiritual walk and their character. Not following these guidelines could prove to be a problem for our churches today just like it would have for the churches in Paul’s day.

The first characteristic listed is translated grave in the KJV. In other translations the words dignified or honorable are used. This is also the same Greek word used in Philippians 4:8 for honest. I find it fascinating that one word can carry so much meaning and be translated so many different ways, all with an emphasis on the character of the man. Dignified shows a man who conducts his life in such a manner that people respect him. He is composed and serious about life, not joking around all the time but showing a true concern for others. Honorable is used as a defining word for someone like a judge. This man is deemed worthy of honor and carries himself in such a way that shows he makes wise decisions. Honest shows us a man who does not mince words. What he says is what he believes. All of these characteristics should be found in a deacon.

A deacon should not be double-tongued. They should not be one who says one thing but means another, or that dodges the question and vacillates between both sides of the issue. He should not be someone who changes his mind from one day to the next. He should not be one who will say one thing to one person and something just the opposite to another person just to appease them. He must be stable in his speech and his decisions on all issues. This attribute comes up later when Paul says the man must be proved. He must show that he is not double minded and tossed about with every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14). What he says is solid and serious.

A deacon should not be given to much wine and they should not be greedy of filthy lucre. These were both covered in my last post about bishops so I am not going to go into them again. I am glad Paul repeated these attributes though. It show us that this was a big problem with the people back in those days, as it can be today.

A deacon must hold the mysteries of the faith in pure conscience. I love the way Paul describes this particular attribute. This person needs a good understanding of the scriptures and he must live by them. This is what Paul means when he says the deacon holds the mysteries of the faith. They are always at his hand. He lives the life Christ has asked us to live. He shows that he is blessed by living out the qualities shown in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12). He is salt and light to those around him (Matthew 5:13-16). He abides in Christ continually and bears much fruit (John 15:5). To him, these are not mysteries. They are a way of life. He is ready to give an answer for the hope that is within him (1 Peter 3:15). He is instant in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2). He displays and distributes the fruit of the spirit continually (Galatians 5:22-23). There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that he loves the Lord and serves Him with zeal.

He holds these truths in a pure conscience. He follows them daily, wrapping his life around them as they guide him on the path God lays out for him. He knows God has a plan for him (Jeremiah 29:11). He knows that he will be held accountable for every word he speaks (Matthew 12:36) so he speaks words that minister grace to the person who is hearing his words (Ephesians 4:29). He is quick to forgive others because he knows how much God forgave him (Matthew 6:14). He walks in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16) so he will not fulfil the lust of the flesh. He is a cheerful giver of his time, money and even himself ( 2 Corinthians 9:7). He puts others before himself (Philippians 2:3-4) and ministers life to them. Because he lives the word, he can hold it in a pure conscience.

A deacon must be proved. He must be watched to see if he is doing the above things. There can be no blame placed on him. The community must think highly of him. The church members must think highly of him, not finding any fault within his walk with Christ. We know we are all sinners, but there must be a clean spirit about a man that wants to be a deacon. This is not a task for a novice, or for someone who has just joined the church. A deacon has to prove himself worthy of the office because this is a leadership role that is essential to the church. It is a role of service to others, so this person must be one who has shown he is willing to serve,

It is no light thing to be a deacon. I am sure many of my readers have been in this position at one time or another during their journey with Christ and they will attest to the fact that it carries a lot of responsibility. This brief description offers some insight into who Timothy should look for when asking men to be deacons in the various churches he was in charge of. Let us also search out such men to lead our own churches.

The Office of a Bishop

1 Timothy 3:1-7

3 This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

The word bishop here is most often translated overseer. It denotes someone who oversees more than one particular church or group of churches. In our modern language an overseer is someone who watches over the work of others. The person Paul is addressing here is Timothy whom he had left in charge of making sure many churches were taken care of and that the pastors of those churches were preaching the things they are supposed to preach. Thus he was the overseer, or bishop, to those churches.

There are some protestant groups today who believe there should be a bishop in each church. I am not sure that is an appropriate use of this word. Although a pastor does oversee the workers of the church the way Paul uses this word denotes a larger responsibility for a bishop. The bishop is not the pastor and the pastor should not be called a bishop. They are two distinct offices within the church. This is one place where the Catholic Church does get it right. Their use of Bishops to oversee the work of the priests is exactly how this word correctly applies. In my church, we are affiliated with Kingsway Fellowship International, not a denomination. We have one bishop who oversees the fellowship and makes sure things run the way the fellowship is intended to run. He is not so involved in day to day operations as he is in visiting the churches in the fellowship and discussing things with the pastor. The bishop is someone our pastor can turn to when he faces troubling situations and wants some advice.

This is why the bishop must have a character that is above reproach. If a bishop does not have the type of character Paul goes on to describe he will bring dishonor to all those who he oversees because leadership is seen to reflect the people who report to that leader. Again using the Catholic Church, many bishops have been charged with troubling accusations and we can easily see how that affects the view of the Catholic church by society. The men who did these abhorrent acts did not understand their duty to what Paul describes their office to be. They forgot the solemn responsibility they had to maintain their job description and it is sad. They used their office to influence young people to do things that are unthinkable. May God have mercy on their souls.

A bishop must be blameless. There can be no hint of impropriety with him. There can be no reason to find fault or blame him for anything that would even remotely be considered sinful behavior. This is not an easy thing. In fact, it is easily the hardest thing on this list. In our society today people are always looking for fault,. They are looking for the least little thing to find wrong with us. There are numerous ways we can access information so anything we have done in the past is readily available for someone to find out. There is a very good reason for this attribute and I outlined that in the above paragraph. The bishop is at the top of the fellowship or group that is accountable to him. If there is found to be something at fault then the whole group can be brought to shame. In reality, we all should be blameless.

A bishop must be the husband of one wife. This shows a quality of faithfulness and commitment. We all know the condition of marriage in our country and our world. Divorce is rampant, many people marry a second, third or even fourth time and there is a loss of the whole idea of a covenant relationship. It takes commitment to make a marriage work. Commitment to each other, commitment to God and commitment to our vows. But people today do not want to make that type of commitment. Instead, they desire to be unfaithful. Extra-marital affairs are everywhere. In fact they are almost to the point of acceptance. Many people consider you abnormal if you are not “fooling around.” A bishop must be above all this. So should all of us that call ourselves Christians. Unfortunately even in the church divorce is on a par with the world around us. Let us pray the church can start getting it right. Because in all reality, we all should only have one spouse for life except when death interrupts that possibility, or when one of the pair becomes physically abusive. Come on church, let us be more faithful!

A bishop should be vigilant. Vigilant is defined as keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties. A bishop is much like a shepherd, always keeping guard over those in his charge. If he senses danger or trouble coming he warns those who may be affected by it. If trouble rises up within a church assigned to him, he is to do whatever he can to be a peacemaker and bring things to a good conclusion. In light of this, he also must be keenly trained in scripture, knowing false doctrine when it arises and able to bring his flock back in line with scripture. One of the biggest dangers facing our churches is false teachers and false doctrine. We all must be vigilant against this creeping into our house of worship.

A bishop should be sober. This speaks of more than just not being a drunkard. It also means not given to frivolity and irreverent jokes and conversation. He does not have to be a prude, but he must keep an even disposition in all circumstances and present himself as one who takes his position seriously and his task as important to God. One who is constantly joking around would not be considered a sober person. Sobriety is having control of ones demeanor in a way that shows others this person has everything under control. We should all be sober as Christians.

A bishop should be of good behavior. His driving should be lawful, not speeding, weaving, texting, calling or anything else that might cause him to get a ticket. His manners would be immaculate, with please and thank you topping the list. This is a lost art in our society today. He is one who would open a door for a lady or anyone else for that matter. He would be careful with his words and his actions not to cause offense or trouble. He is not careless in any way, always seeking to do what is best for others. Actually, we should all be doing these things.

A bishop should be given to hospitality. He would be willing to have people in his home and joyfully treat them to the best things he has. He would be one to visit the churches under his care regularly and greet them with a smile and kind words. He would join in a meal with them if invited and would make the dinner seem like a wonderful time, with good conversation and fellowship. He would do anything to make others feel welcome and comfortable. We should all be hospitable like this.

A bishop be apt to teach. He should instant in season and out of season. There should be a lesson in his heart wherever he goes. If called upon, he should be ready to share with the people and churches that he visits at a moment’s notice. There should never be any hesitation if asked to share a few thoughts with the people, but there should be an air of knowledge and wisdom surrounding a bishop. Not that he is arrogant or prideful, but that he speaks with authority and the people recognize that. He is one who is well taught and who teaches well. He is not only apt to teach, but is also teachable. He will give good comments to anyone who brings a lesson to him, knowing that all souls need to be edified. The scripture says we should all be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15), and that we should be instant in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2). We should all be apt to teach.

A bishop must not be given to wine. This does not say he should not drink wine at all. I know there are many who think a Christian should never drink wine, but I do not see where the Bible says no wine. It says not given to wine, which means that he does not have a need for it. It would be best if he did not drink at all, but then a bishop would not have been able to partake after Jesus changed the water into wine. Let us not be too strict in our legalism!

A bishop should be no striker and not a brawler. I put these two together because they talk about similar things. He should not be known for hitting people, either with his fists or with fiery darts of words that cut to the bone. Remember our words can do much more damage than a physical blow can ever do. A brawler with words is one who argues regularly and disagrees aggressively. A bishop should be temperate in all things.

A bishop should not be greedy of filthy lucre. His goal should not be money. He should not be able to handle his own finances without having to find money in questionable ways. He should not be one who is always looking to make money, but rather one who is willing to give what God has given him. He must also be sure any money he does gain is in a righteous way. There is no place for taking what he did not earn.

A bishop must be patient. I would have listed this attribute earlier because many of these character traits must be carried out with patience. I only know of one true bishop and I have been aware of many things that have come before him that take much patience to sort out. Decisions cannot be reached too quickly, but must be thought out and all sides carefully considered before making a judgment, which a bishop often has to do. Without patience, I can see one drawn into arguments, poor behavior, and lack of vigilance. Patience is a must in our lives as well.

A bishop must not be covetous. This is a man who comes to the place that Paul came to in Philippians 4:11. He has learned in all situations to be content. He does not have to have what others have, or do what others do, or be gifted the way others have been gifted. He knows his purpose for the Lord and he knows the Lord has equipped him for that purpose. There is no need for more because he knows God will give him what he needs when he needs it. There is not a constant search for bigger and better because he knows God will provide that when His time is right. There is a confidence in God that he has supplied all the needs in his life. We should all be in such a state!

A bishop must rule his own house well. Paul even gives the reason for this. If the bishop cannot rule his own house, how can he have authority in the church? There would always be a question of what goes on in his house if his children are out of line. This is an area where I fell short. I did not raise my children to love the Lord. I was not an effective priest in my own house and my children now waver in and out of church. They all know their dad loves the Lord, but they were not taught how important that was in their lives. We continually pray their lives will be drawn back to a deep relation with Christ. A bishop has done those things that have instilled a love for the Lord in their children.

A bishop should not be a novice in the Lord. He should be one that has been through the fire of trials and temptations and has learned from those things. He should be one that has studied to show himself approved unto God, rightly dividing the word of truth. He should be one that has served the church for years and knows many of the pitfalls that can happen to a person of authority in the church. He should be one who has put aside pride for humility in all things and who prefers others before himself. Paul says that if someone is raised to this position too early, pride can sweep in and become a big problem. Young people need to sit under the authority of a pastor before beginning their ministry, I believe. This is prudent for all.

A bishop should have a good report outside the body of Christ as well. We have touched on this before. People look on any Christian with increased scrutiny. They expect us to be above reproach. A bishop is even more so because they represent several churches. If the bishop goes down, the churches are all looked upon as dirty as well. This should never be so. A bishop must keep a good report among everyone, not just the church.

Timothy was charged with appointing bishops and deacons in the churches. He was a bishop himself in a way. These requirements, and the ones that follow in the next lesson on deacons, are needed today just as much as they were back when the church was first forming. It is essential that our leaders put forth an image of Christlikeness that is not tainted and not corrupt in any way. Our world needs such leaders. I am glad our fellowship is led by Bishop Jenkins, who fills this role to the biblical standard every day. May he be blessed in all he does. And may we all strive to be as a bishop, living the lifestyle that a bishop must live.  This would bring glory to God and His church.