Category Archives: Christian Leadership Principles

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!

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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.

Lead a Quiet and Peaceable Life

1 Timothy 2:2

1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

Have you ever wondered why there is such turmoil in our country recently? We have seen mass school shootings increase many fold. People are blaming different things for this. Some say we need more gun control, yet in the cities with the highest gun violence they also have the strictest gun control laws. Others say it is a result of the mental health system in our country and want to spend money to fix that. Still others blame the parents of the children and even adults that are doing these things, saying there is trauma that is unresolved in their lives. We simply cannot agree, so no solutions are found.

There is the cry of the LGBTQ community. Many say they should be normalized in every area of our society and given the same rights as any other citizen, including marriage, pastoring a church, and being boy and girls scout leaders. Others say it is clearly a sin according to the Bible. Christians should not be made to bend their beliefs to serve their needs or incorporate them into society. Some states make laws that you cannot even counsel a person with thoughts about these varying lifestyles because of the trauma it will cause. Others say we must counsel them on the dangers of some of these lifestyles. We simply cannot agree, so no solution is found.

There is the climate change community. They say we are rapidly destroying this earth by our human consumption, putting dangerous gases into the atmosphere that will eventually warm it up to the place that the polar ice caps will melt completely and weather will be more dynamic than ever before. Others say climate change has been going on since the beginning of time and climate will continue to change in cycles. It has nothing to do with human interference. We simply cannot agree, so no solution is found.

There is the thought that police target people of race more than whites. Those who believe this say this is the reason there are a higher percentage of blacks and Hispanics in prison per capital than white people. They say police will go after a person of color for no reason and provoke them to act wrong, then take it out on them all the way up to the point of killing them. The other side says perhaps it is because those communities carry out a higher percentage of crime per capita than other races and that they tend to defy authority, which causes a problem when police try to arrest them. Race relations go down the tubes steadily. We simply cannot agree, so no solution is found.

There are many more issues: abortion, immigration, terrorism, cyber security and more that fall into the same problem area. There are two sides to the story and we just cannot come to the place of agreement. The congressional approval rate was 20% in January of 2019. 62% believe our news is biased. The President’s approval rating is 45%. We don’t trust anyone in public office to look out for the needs of the greater population, and we don’t trust the media to truthfully tell us what is going on. Is it any wonder our lives are not peaceful and quiet. Why is it like this?

I would proposed to you that it is the churches fault. It is not the fault of the politicians, the media or the president. It is not the fault of your state and local governments. It is not the fault of the school board or the county superintendents. It is my fault. It is my pastors fault. It is my church boards fault. It is my denominations fault. It is the fault of the Christian church. Yet this fault can be corrected.

We have for too long criticized, made fun of, put down, degraded and laughed at what goes on in politics and the media instead of taking up prayer for them. We have exhibited our pride, thinking we can do better than them when we know nothing about why decisions are made the way they are made. We have deluded ourselves into thinking an election will change things. There is only one way we can change what is going on in this country, and that way is prayer.

I included verse 1 here because it completes the thought of verse 2 and it is worth looking at again. We are to make supplications, prayers, intercession and giving of thanks for kings and all that are in authority. We cannot separate these two verses. Supplications should be given when an urgent bill is before our congress and they are making decisions. Prayer should be given when they are mulling over legislation in a committee. Intercession should be made when they face accusations such as our president is facing right now. Giving of thanks should be made regularly for those who are giving their lives in public service.

This doesn’t just apply to your party and your ideals. Paul says to all men (we can include women here as well). To all that are in authority (both sides of the aisle and from every state). For our President, who would be king in this context. Not just in our country, but around the world. All is an all-inclusive word and we have no right to leave anyone out.

Many of you know the formula for revival but I will review it here. According to 2 Corinthians 7:14, we must first humble ourselves. This is our biggest stumbling block in the church. We want to criticize and all those other things listed above. But none of those things come from a humble heart. They come from a prideful heart. Before the church does anything else, if they want to see true revival, we must humble ourselves. This comes before we pray, before we seek God, and even before we repent. That is how important it is. Yet we come to God with our head high and our scripture verses saying God must do this or that because He says if we ask He will do it. We come telling God what to do instead of beseeching Him on our hands and knees, knowing we are not at all worthy to receive an answer. Humble ourselves and think about everybody else and not ourselves. We have not gotten this first step right and that is why this country and this world is in such disarray.

Next we must pray. Pray with all our heart, desiring God’s will not ours. Pray, supplicate, make intercession every day for all men. Our ongoing prayer is effective as James 5:16 tells us. Then we must seek His face. Not seek our own way. Not seek what our party line wants to do. Seek Him, Jesus Christ. Be in His word regularly, seeking His wisdom and guidance in your prayers and supplications. Then we must repent. Individually we must repent. We must repent for our nation and it’s evil ways. We must stand in the gap. Do this and God promises He will hear our prayer, forgive our sins and heal our land. I do a much better job of breaking down this scripture and the concept of prayer in my book called “The Ask Principle”. I pray you have picked up a copy from Amazon.

What is that biggest prayer that is needed for those in authority? That they would know the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. That every one of them would come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and turn their lives over to Him. That they would study the scripture on the decisions before them and follow God’s will in every decision. If this would happen, we would not only be living quiet and peaceable lives, but we would see revival spread across this country faster than a wildfire in a field of grain.

It’s time church. Don’t take the wrong path any longer. Do what you are called to do and pray! We can make a difference!

The End of the Commandment

1 Timothy 1:5

5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:

What a mouthful this little verse is. It seems Paul wanted to sum up all of the commandments regarding our relationship to one another with one sentence, and I think he did a superb job. The words penned in this verse resonate to every aspect of our interpersonal relationships and we would do well to practice these simple things every day. He even says this is the “end of the commandment.” This means that once you put them all together the result is found in three simple steps. As we go through these steps, evaluate how you are doing with each one. Ask God to help you do better if you struggle in one area or another.

First we have charity out of a pure heart. As you all know, charity is the same as love when it comes to the Bible. Charity is the word used in 1 Corinthians 13, where love is defined as well as any college textbook or psychologist has ever defined it. Practicing love out of a pure heart takes into account all the attributes of love found in that famous chapter. Let’s take a quick look at what Paul says there.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8:

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. We use all kinds of flowery words and sound so sentimental when we tell someone we love them. In our world today, love is one of the most overused and misused words in the English language. “I love that dress you’re wearing,” I love the way you did your hair,” I love the Patriots (Yes, I really do), or ” I love meatloaf.” Love is used to lure women and men into doing things they would rather not do. An old saying days that men use love to get sex and women use sex to get love. It is a word that has no meaning behind it when used in this context. It’s just a sounding cymbal, a noise amidst all the other noises of the band. Unless there is loving action with it and expects nothing in return, the word love is misused.

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. I can have all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, walk around performing miracles in Jesus name. I can have all the knowledge in the world and a vast knowledge of the Bible and it’s implications for life. My faith can be as powerful as possible, able to move obstacles that are in my way because I believe it can happen. All these are great things, but if love is not attached to them they are nothing to God.

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. I can give away all that I have to help others in their time of need. This is a good and honorable thing to do. Or I can give my life for the Gospel. But if I do not have the love of God as my driving force, these things will only add to my pride, and they are not profitable to my spiritual life,.

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, People with love are patient with others. They does not get anxious or upset if someone else is blessed and they are not. They wait on God without demanding of Him. They do not think of themselves any more than they think of others. They understand that they are supposed to put others before themselves and do not get boastful about their accomplishments.

5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; The kind of love we should have will never behave in a crass or vulgar way. It will not cuss or speak rudely at any time. This love will look out for the other person before thinking of themselves and will not get offended or upset very easily. It also will not even think of bad things about people.

6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; This kind of love does not take pleasure when someone else falls into trouble, and does not think kindly to any type of sin in their own lives. They strive after the truth in all things.

7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. This love bears with anything that might happen around them because they believe and have faith in those people around them and hope for the best at all times. They endure anything that might come their way without offense.

8 Charity never faileth: This charity that we are supposed to have will never fail to do what it says it will do in light of all these characteristics. It will always be there for our friends and our enemies. It will not fail to reach out to someone else with a pure heart.

This charity Paul is speaking of is a high calling to all who take the name of Christ. We cannot do it in ourselves, but only by His strength and with His love shining through us like a beacon. Jesus said the world will know we are His disciples by the love we show to others (John 15:35). I personally have a lot to work on when I look at this list.

The second point Paul makes to Timothy is that he must have a good conscience. There should be nothing he is doing that would need repentance or forgiveness from someone else. We get a guilty conscience when we wrong someone or deceive them. This should never be done by a Christian. We should walk in such a place that all can know what we do day to day. God knows! Does He approve of everything you do, or is there an area of your life where you have a guilty conscience?

This pure conscience extends to the people around us. When we do good deeds, do we do it to gain favor, or to hold it over their heads or to make ourselves look good? None of these type of acts are done with a good conscience unless your conscience has been hardened through repeated defiance. If the love you are extending to others is for greedy purposes and you are not hearing that still small voice in your head saying you must repent and make it right, I think you better examine yourself. You should feel guilty when you take advantage of someone else. If you don’t, something is wrong.

The third attribute Paul wants to see is faith unfeigned. Unfeigned means that there is no hypocrisy or impure motives. It is faith in other people that is genuine and authentic. No one will question the sincerity of this person to minister the Gospel only for the sake of helping other people see the way to Christ, not for reasons of self-indulgence or self-promotion. I have a real problem when I hear countless advertisements for books or CD’s or teachings from a preacher on the radio. I know that is how they make the money to be able to do the shows, but sometimes the promotion is longer than the actual message. They could keep these promos separate and short. The constant harping for funds is one of the main reasons people are turned off by the church.

We need to step back and see ourselves as the world sees us. We need to look in the mirror and understand exactly what others see in us and in the actions we take from day to day. Then we need to compare what we see with these three simple things Paul asks of Timothy. I have a lot to work on in order to be seen ion the pure light of the gospel. How about you?

No Other Doctrine

1 Timothy 1:3-4

3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.

Paul faced a constant battle with false teachers everywhere he went. He would set up a church, explain to them that salvation is by grace through faith, and they would all rejoice that they did not to do anything to earn their salvation. After he left the area, false teachers would come in and tell them they were not saved until they were circumcised or baptized or some other work of the flesh that was needed. It was happening all over the new church and it was deceiving many into thinking they actually had to do these things to be part of Christ’s church.

As we explained in the last post, our salvation was secured at Calvary. The only thing you have to do is accept the free gift. Jesus paid the price. He took the penalty for sin once and for all. There is nothing you can do, or have to do, to earn your salvation. It can’t be earned, It can only be taken as the free gift it is. If you are depending on anything else, or any work of the flesh, to obtain your salvation, then you have been listening to false teachers.

Paul decided to leave Timothy in Ephesus so he put down some of these teachings. He specifically mentions two things. Endless genealogies and fables. Timothy had a task ahead of him. The teachers in the church were teaching these things and Timothy had to put a stop to it. Paul wanted to make sure that the teachers were teaching things of God that would edify the people and their faith. Paul went on to Macedonia to check on the churches there and possibly start more.

Endless genealogies points to teaching that says our lineage is what makes us acceptable to God. In those days, being a son of Abraham was a big deal, and claiming that you were a son of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was an even bigger thing. There are many places in the Bible where God is described as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We have top remember that Jacob was later named Israel, and thus the father of the nation. Isaac was also the father of Esau, who was the father of the Edomites, arch enemies of the Israelites. We could spend days hashing out genealogies and get nowhere.

The fact is that we are part of the faith covenant with Abraham. Abrahams seed includes all who by faith accept Christ’s sacrifice since Christ was the fulfillment of the law. We are blessed, just as the nation of Israel is blessed, when we have this faith in God because without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). The Bible says that Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6). This is the faith we must have. Not faith in genealogies, but faith in God and His Son Jesus Christ.

In today’s world, many think that they can hang on the coattails of their parents and grandparents. They think that their genealogy can get them into heaven. The believe that because they go to their parents church and have been good all their lives, they are assured a place in heaven. This could not be further from the truth. We all make heaven our home by our own personal decision. We must believe that Jesus died as an atonement for our sins and that he rose again to give us eternal life. We must act on that belief by accepting the sacrifice He made and making Him the Lord of our lives. We must relent of our sins and leave them at His feet. This is what brings salvation into our lives. Once saved, we must obey His commandments in order to even see the Kingdom of heaven. Nothing in your genealogy can save you. Your parents cannot take you to heaven. Only you can make that decision.

Fables speaks of things made up that falsify the truth. One of the chief examples of this in Paul’s time was the Judaizers. They preached that circumcision must be done to those who accepted Christ. This was a subversion of the truth of the gospel. Paul tells Timothy here that anything that ministers questions in the mind of the believer should not be taught, but things that minister grace.

We have to remember the times they were in. The gospel was preached to the people, not read by the people. The heathen, or Gentiles, did not know the Old Testament either. They had to take the word they were told and process it. It is so different today. When Paul preached, people took him at his word. It was all they knew about what happened. When false teachers came in and told them something different, it raised questions in their minds whether Paul was telling the truth. This is what Paul was trying to stop.

Today we have a lot of examples of false teaching that raises questions. Some would say that all Protestants are following a fabrication of the truth and that Catholicism is the only way to God. Of course, I disagree because Christ is the only way to God, not any church organization. Some would say that once you are saved you are always saved and cannot lose your place in heaven. Jesus clearly says otherwise (Matt 7:21). Some would say if you want something, anything, just claim it from God and it’s yours. If you don’t get it, you don’t have enough faith. I do not believe that for a minute because God is sovereign and He will decide what is best for you. You really don’t know what is best for you at any given moment. God knows you better than you know yourself and he will always do what is best for you.

Then there are some who say once you get saved, grace will cover anything you do after that. Jesus also contradicts that belief by saying we should be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matt 5:48). As stated above, He says that not everyone who calls Him Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of the Father. What is that will? It is found in Matthew chapters 5-7. We are under grace, but we are also told we must do you best to follow Christ’s commands. We can’t just go and do anything we want and expect grace to cover us. Even Jesus knew this as shown by His testing in the wilderness. Satan came to Him three times tempting Him and Jesus did not fall for his charms (Matthew 4:1-11). If anyone would have been covered by grace it would be Jesus. Paul says God forbid that we should continue in sin so grace can cover us (Romans 6:1-2). Let’s not fall for the grace covers all gospel.

These and many more “fables” are around in the church today to lure even the very elect away from the gospel message (Matthew 24:24). The NAR (New Apostolic Reformation church is the latest in trickery. I am not going to get into all the various ways that this cult is drawing people away from the gospel, but I suggest you study it out yourself. It is very deceptive and is sweeping through churches around the globe. I am saddened by how easily people are drawn away from Christ and the pure Gospel message.

Let us be ministers of grace. Grace that leads people to repentance. Grace that tells people of the cross and the price that Jesus paid for them so many years ago. Grace that says you can accept this sacrifice of love by faith if you’ll only believe. It is a simple message that is as profound in so many ways. Christ crucified, the hope of glory. Let us never forget the Gospel message and let us preach it wherever we go.

A Son in the Faith

1 Timothy 1:1-2

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;
2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

The word Apostle used here is the Greek word apostolos which means a messenger, one sent on a mission or one commissioned by another to represent him. This same word is used of the twelve disciples, or apostles, that followed Jesus around for His three and a half years of earthly ministry. The twelve disciples were chosen by Christ specifically and in person. He asked each one of them to follow Him. They traveled with Him, prayed with Him, ate with Him, slept with Him and watched over Him all that time. There were also times that Jesus sent them off to minister on their own while he was still on this earth. Jesus trusted them with His life and with His message, and they did not fail Him.

Paul puts himself on a level playing field with these twelve disciples when he uses this word to describe himself. How could this be, seeing Paul came on the scene a good 3 years after Christ died? How can Paul say he was an apostles by the commandment of God and Jesus? I bet most of you can answer that question, but I’ll help you out.

Paul was quite a leader, and he was commissioned by the Pharisees to put an end to this so called church that had sprung up after Jesus died and supposedly rose from the dead. Paul’s job was to search out Christ’s followers and bring them to the judgment hall where they would be punished for following this Jesus. The first we see of him is at Stephens stoning, where it says he consented to Stephens death. Paul, whose name was Sauk at the time, even picked up Stephens robe after he died.

Shortly after this, Paul was headed to Damascus to find other followers there and either bring them back to Jerusalem or kill them. While on the road, he was suddenly struck down from his horse and a bright light shone down from above, blinding him. Out of that light spoke a voice that all those who rode with him heard. It said “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Paul had no idea what was going on or who was speaking so he yelled back “Who art thou Lord?” And the voice said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” Paul was afraid and surprised. His only reaction as to say “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” The voice, who Paul now knew was Jesus himself, said “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” This is the commission of Paul. Paul was never the same after that day. He went into the city and was met by a man just as God said he would be. That man prayed for his eyes and they opened. Paul was then told he would suffer much for Jesus, and he certainly did see (2 Corinthians 11).

Has Jesus ever confronted you? I don’t mean through the words of the Bible, or through the Holy Spirit, but Jesus Himself come before you and spoken to you, in a dream or in person. I know He has never confronted me, but He has given me a vision of Himself on the cross. I was at Pure Life Ministries in the summer of 2008. This is a place where men go to get their eyes back on Jesus. I had wandered far away, yet was still professing my faith. Pride was eating me up. This place had us doing intense bible study and devotions, as well as in church 9 times a week. One day God confronted me in my Spirit with the question “Do you now how many people were affected by your sin?” As I thought about that, I fell to my knees sobbing. I was restless the rest of that evening and had a hard time sleeping that night. Finally at around 3 in the morning, I headed out into the meadow and down to the life-size cross that sat above the trail. I knelt before it weeping and slowly prayed Psalm 51 over and over again. Very slowly, allowing the words to sink into my soul.

The words of that Psalm penetrated deeper than they ever had. A Pastor of mine had urged me to memorize that [prayer years before, and I was so glad he did. On that morning, after I had finished praying that prayer, I looked up at the cross. That is when I saw Jesus, blood dripping from His brown where the crown of thorns lay. His body was covered with bruises ands scars from the lashes He had received. His hands and feet were nailed to that cross, blood dripping down. I could almost smell the stench of the blood. I looked up and His eyes were on me although He was not alive in this vision. I looked into those eyes, weeping large tears, and asked Him to forgive me. My spirit was suddenly at ease, knowing that from that cross he spoke the words “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I was forgiven. I was a moment in my life I will never forget.

Paul’s call came directly from Jesus on that road and he took it very seriously. The result of that day cannot be overstated. Paul went on to travel throughout Asia starting churches and preaching the Gospel to all. He suffered much, but said he counted it all joy to suffer for Jesus. There was no one who did more to advance the Gospel than Paul did. He was truly a messenger sent by Christ.

Then he names Timothy as his son in the faith. The Bible never mentions Timothy’s real father, although it does mention his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois in 2 Timothy 1:5. Many believe that Lois and Eunice had received the gospel message and helped Timothy to see the truth about Jesus. Since they are not mentioned elsewhere, one can only speculate about their faith, but the scripture says that faith “dwelt in them.” Most likely Timothy benefit from the influence of these two women and learned about faith from them.

Who do you have in your life that was a mentor or a teacher? Who led you into deeper faith by their example? Make sure you take time to thank those people who raised you in the faith. Often we forget to show our appreciation for all they have done for us. Paul mentions these ladies to show how much he appreciated their contributions to Timothy’s faith. Timothy was valuable to Paul, and these two women helped him become the man he was.

Paul took Timothy under his wing as a son. Fathers have an awesome responsibility to help their sons grow in the knowledge of God. We read in Deuteronomy 6:6-7

6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Paul and Timothy traveled together on many missionary journeys. I have no doubt that while on these missionary journeys Paul would instruct Timothy in the things of God. Paul knew the law of God and he knew how Christ fulfilled that law. He also understood the grace and mercy of God probably better than most of us understand it today. Walking beside Paul all those years must have been an incredible experience for Timothy. I imagine it would be like walking beside Billy Graham when he was still alive. All he preached was Christ crucified. This is what Timothy needed to know. That is what we all need to know.

In our world today, preachers are teaching all kinds of things. We have books abounding to teach us how to walk in the Spirit, how to have a secure financial future, how to this and how to that. There are teaching out there on how to start churches and how to grown churches. There are books on building accountability groups and how to have a better marriage. Books about all kinds of subjects. But not very many about Christ crucified.

We have a responsibility to teach our children and those who we mentor. We have a responsibility to teach them Christ crucified. We don’t have to dress it up and we certainly should not get off subject. The only message that is important is Christ crucified. We shouldn’t talk about end time theology or all those other subjects that seem to be so prevalent around us. Just Christ crucified.

Christ crucified explains the Garden of Eden Christ crucified explains the sacrificial system. Christ crucified explains the prophets. Christ crucified opens up the Old Testament to the eyes of our children. It opens up who God is and how much He loves us. It explains His mercy and His grace. It explains the salvation He provided when He gave His life on the cross. It explains that He rose again to give us eternal life.

As we go through this book, we will see a lot of teaching about church leadership and discipleship. Timothy was on his own often and Paul had given him the task of developing leaders in the early church. It was an awesome responsibility and it still is today. These letters to Timothy and used by many churches as criteria for their own leaders. What is in these letters is as relevant as anything in scripture, and we should be teaching these things. But let us never forget the message of Christ crucified. None of this matters without that!