Category Archives: Edifying the Saints

The Quick and the Dead

2 Timothy 4:1-2

 

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.

So which are you?  Are you among the quick or the dead?  This is not a reference to how fast you can run!  This is a reference to the nature of your spirit!  Paul tells us that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead will quicken your mortal body!  That word quicken means to make alive!  The Spirit of God, otherwise known as the Holy Spirit, brings life into our spirits when it enters in at the time of salvation.  It is a similar life giving as when God breathed life into Adam into garden.  He had formed the body out of the dust of the ground, but as of yet, there was no life, no part of God, in that body.  But when God breathed life into him, he became alive.  We need the breath of God in our lives as well. 

There is coming a day when God will judge us all.  The quick he will judge according to our works on this earth and we will gain our heavenly rewards.  The crowns are mentioned throughout the Bible, and we will receive those crowns we have worked for.  There are five crowns.  The Crown of life will be given to those who persevere under trials.  The. Imperishable Crown is given to those who demonstrate self-denial and persistence in their faith.  The Crown of Righteousness is given to those who everyone who is in an intimate relationship with God.  The Crown of Glory is given to those who shepherd others and lead a life that is a good example for others.  The Crown of Rejoicing goes to men and women who work as evangelists, or who wins souls to Christ.  These crowns are then cast down at Jesus feet in a sign of submission and worship in Heaven.

The dead will also be judged.  Those who do not have their name written in the Lambs Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire, along with the devil and his demons. This is the final judgment on mankind.  They will never have an opportunity to leave that burning lake of fire.  For all eternity they will feel the flames of torment that were never, meant for mankind.  All because they refused to accept Jesus Christ as Savior.  This is the only way to get your name written down – a personal confession of faith in Jesus.  He said that no one goes to the father except through Him.  Please, if you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, ask Him to forgive you today, and accept Him as your Lord and Savior.  He will hear your prayer and wrap His loving arms around you if you do!

Then comes the call to our hearts.  Paul declarers the mission Timothy has in dealing with the churches he has been assigned to.  But this mission can be passed to all of us.  It is a microcosm of how to bring people to Christ. and how to disciple those who come to Christ. If we follow this simple formula, we will see our churches grow, our friends saved, and disciples rising up to follow Jesus.  I fall short in utilizing these steps too often.  I must learn to incorporate these things in my daily living and conversation.  Let’s take a look at how this works out in our lives. 

Preach the word.  I think often we get intimidated by that word preach.  We think it means to be a great orator and to together a stirring sermon that will touch the heart of a person.  We think we have to study hard to get the message just right.  Our minds tell us we are not preachers – far from it. We are too imperfect to preach.  But our imperfection is the key to the whole message!  God loves us just as we are, and we can tell that truth with conviction, we are preaching.  Sharing what God has done for me is the best preaching anyone can do.  It does not have to be a long, studied out argument on the merits of being a Christian and all that it takes to become one.  Just a simple testimony of what He has done for me, for you!  Preach that message and the world will listen.

Be instant in season and out of season.  Here is where the study comes in.  This is really where the rubber meets the road, so to say.  If someone comes up to you and asks you why you are full of joy, or why you have such peace in the midst of turmoil, are you ready to give them an answer?  Are you a student of the word of God?  Can you defend your position with solid scripture?  You don’t have to know the address, although it is helpful to give validity to what you are saying.  But knowing the word is helpful what times are good or bad – in season or out of season.  Have a read through the Bible? Do you have the word of God somewhere in your brain?  If you do, then the Holy Spirit can bring the right word to your remembrance when you need it.  I can’t tell you how many times He has done that for me.  And he will give you the words to say when you are asked about your faith.  But they must be inside you in order for them to come to your remembrance.  Study to show yourself approved!

Reprove, rebuke and exhort.  These three things are essential ij discipling others in the way of Christ.  If we are not doing these, we are not properly leading people down the path to holiness in Christ Jesus.  I need to do these to myself as well.  But we must do them with two key elements always in mind.   The first is longsuffering, or patience.  It is easy for me to want someone to change their ways now, to take my rebuke or reproof now, to grow up and mature in Christ now.  But I must always remember that God was patient with me and I must exhibit the fruit of longsuffering with others.  The old saying says Rome wasn’t built in a day!  Well, neither was a mature Christian!  These things take time and we must bear with those who are trying to find their way.  The second element is with all doctrine.  I have a friend who loves to tell me what a particular preacher says.  I want to hear what God says in His word, not what some preacher says.  Sharing a message someone has given is OK, but give me the word of God if you are trying top build me up or correct me.  The word of God is what can change a life, not the word of some preacher.  Preachers can get it wrong, but God’s word is always truth and life.

To reprove is to show someone the error of their ways, or to correct them.  This has to be done with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  You should never just walk up to someone and say they are doing this or that wrong.  And it should never be done in front of anyone else.  This is a private matter, and you must use wisdom m and the word to show them the error of their ways.  Remember that if they have offended you for some reason, that reproof can only come after forgiveness is granted.  Forgiveness to them for the offense, forgive ness to you because you took offense.  You should never give reproof if there is an offense that has not been corrected properly.

The same is true for a rebuke.  A rebuke is more of a warning that going a certain direction can cause one harm.  I get caught up on certain things from time to time and if I don’t get them under control, that can cause me harm.  One example is chocolate!  Once I start eating chocolate, it is hard for me to stop.  But if I don’t stop, or at least use temperance, I will balloon in my weight, which I do not want.  So, I must rebuke myself and remind myself that this is bad for me to keep doing.  This is a simple example, but I think you can see what I mean.  The spiritual applications are many.  Perhaps someone is listening to bad doctrine, or they have fallen into a pattern of sin, or they had stopped attending church.  All of these can be cause for rebuke.  But remember the lovingkindness and doctrine part!

To exhort is to uplift or encourage someone.  This is a positive thing but still must be done with patience and doctrine.  Too much of this can instill the wrong kind of pride in a person, and that is dangerous.  Exhortation should be true and justified, not just pretty words flowing off our lips.  If you enjoy your pastors’ message, tell them and tell them why!  Often, we just say “Good message”, but we never tell them, how it affected us.  Exhorting explains why it is a good message.  Exhorting lifts a person spiritually, not in the flesh.  Exhortation should come sparingly, but it should always come.  This is a sure way to see someone grow in Christ. These two verses show us how we should conduct our everyday conversations with others.  I pray you will go out and keep these words in mind as you go about your day.  Find someone to peach the word to.  Be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in you.  Have the right words to say to those around you, and use them sparingly and lovingly.  If you do thisl sopuls will come closer to Jesus Christ all around you.

Consider This

2 Timothy 2:1-7

2 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
6 The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.
7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.

This admonition to Timothy still lives today. We can all take a lot out of this. I have a friend who sometimes tells me that certain passages of the Bible that are spoken to an individual are only for that individual, or group of individuals. I tend to believe that the Bible speaks to all of us in every way. These verses can teach us a lot of wisdom if we read them as if they were spoken to us. Remember that the Bible was given to teach us the ways of God. That is why I entitled this lesson “Consider this” because Paul tells Timothy to consider what he says and asks that the Lord give him understanding in all things. I pray today I can add just a little bit to your understanding, or at least throw a spark into your thinking.

First, Paul says to be strong in grace. Boy, I fall short there. I do not always speak things that minister grace to the hearer (Ephesians 4:29). I can get rash and hasty when trying to make a point and that is wrong of me. I am far from perfect and often the pride rises up in me and wants to prove my point for me. I confirm that I can’t be wrong and that the other must be in error. That is not grace
Grace has compassion and empathy in its language and conduct. Grace is often explained as an acronym – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Jesus had compassion and put Himself in our place, giving us the greatest gift ever given, our salvation and eternal life. We should do everything we can to share that gift with others around us. This is also being strong in grace. We should not continue to sin so grace will abound (Romans 6:1-2). His grace provided a way of escape from our sin, and being strong in grace also means we are standing strong in the eternal battle between our flesh and the spirit within. In Timothy’s day, as in today, there are plenty of diversions and evils that can whittle away at our faith. Stay strong in grace.

Paul then tells Timothy to make sure he is faithful to commit his teachings to others. Isn’t this a job for all of us? Isn’t it important that we take Pauls’ teaching and commit them to others, that they might know the mind of Christ? Of course it is! His teaching on love in 1 Corinthians 13 is certainly much needed in our world today. His teaching on the relationship between husband and wife in Ephesians 5, the words about the amor of God in Ephesians 6, the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12, the teaching on the body of Christ in Ephesians 4 and so many others are there for us to share with others. This is not just to Timothy, but to all of us. Be diligent to help others understand the truth of God’s word.

Then Paul tells Timothy that he must endure hardship just like a soldier in a battle does. I have a friend who served in both Vietnam and Iraq. Living in the jungle, hiking through pouring rain not knowing where the enemy was lurking, the bugs that were everywhere and the snakes that hung in the trees. You never knew when trouble would come. Then they were in the desert, with bombs going on in seemingly the safest places. Trouble all around. You had to be prepared for it and willing to endure it. We, as soldiers of the cross, must do the same. For most of us, the hardest thing we face is rejection and ridicule when we stand up for Christ. People will mock us and make fun of us but we must endure that. Christ didn’t say a word during parts of His trial. Why should we get so boisterous! Minister grace, even in the hardest times!

Paul next compares this walk with an athletic event. We don’t enter a competition to lose, and we don’t compete with the attitude that we will break the rules. I find it fascinating and frustrating how some think they have the right rules and I have the wrong ones. The rules of this race are quite clear and they are in God’s word for all of us to live in and walk in. It’s not just the rules of conduct and character I am talking about. It is the rules of who goes to heaven and who does not, of who has salvation and who does not, of who receives God’s blessing and who does not. Baptist differ from Catholics. Methodists differ from Evangelicals, Lutherans differ from Pentecostal, and so on. Yet we all follow the same God! The rules to be a Christian are simple. Jesus explains it in John 3. Paul goes into it in Romans 8. The rule to keep our salvation is in Matthew 7:22. Obedience is the key. Other than that, all other rules are secondary. Let’s make sure we put first things first!

Lastly, Paul says that a farmer who works hard must partake of the crops first. I like that thought. I planted a garden this year and I hope I can be the first to partake of the fruit in bout 90 days. I am a bit at loss as to how this fits in with the rest of Paul’s admonishment here so I’ll leave this one up to you/ If anyone would like to leave a comment on how this fits, please do so!

These are the things Paul tells Timothy to consider. Be strong in grace, willing to witness, ready to endure hardship and fight the good fight, ending the race knowing that you followed the rules. I’ve been honest with how I am doing on these things. How are you doing? Consider this today!

Stir Up the Gift

2 Timothy 1:5-6

5 When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.
6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

One of the things Paul remembered about Timothy, while he was sitting in that Roman prison, was the faith that Timothy had. The word unfeigned is used in the KJV while sincere is used in the NIV. Some other ways this Greek word is translated are genuine and without hypocrisy, which is the most literal translation of the word. This says a lot about Timothy’s faith and makes me wonder if someone would say the same about my faith. Paul says this faith was first seen in both his mother and grandmother so it was a heritage in his family. What a great heritage to pass on!

I had a wonderful conversation\n with my oldest daughter last week. She really has not been active in church and her faith did not show very much through the years. At times she even said she didn’t know how she believed anymore. She is currently going through a big change in her life. She has always enjoyed travelling by car and bought a conversion van once her daughter had graduated school and gone into the National Guard. There were some changes happening in the company she worked for which she did not like, so she gave her letter of resignation. She sees this as an opportunity to carry out her dream. She has always been very frugal and has a good sum of money pout away for that “rainy day.” Even after her job ends in May, she has enough put back that she can go 6 months without working and be okay.

She has a double master’s degree in accounting and is looking for an accounting job that is 100% remote – and she says there are plenty of them out there. She made the statement that she has bene praying to God about finding the right job and knows that He will bring that to her. What music this was to her father’s ears. But there’s more! She told me she remembers that she felt called to be a traveling evangelist when she was at teen camp (I thought it was a missionary) and that perhaps this was God’s way of helping her fulfill that call! She mentioned that she thinks she will start attending churches as she travels and if people need help she will help them. I was in tears! What a precious thing to hear from one’s child!

I am sure Lois and Eunice felt the same way. Imagine if Billy Graham wrote your child a letter telling you that he remembers the faith of your mother and grandmother being in you. Paul was kind of the Billy Graham of his day. I am sure, if your parents had a strong faith, that they would be elated and overjoyed by such a statement. Timothy had sincere and genuine faith. He was not faking it. His life was lived according to the faith that he proclaimed to have and Paul could see that. What a testimony about Timothy’s life! I can only hope people see that kind of faith in me.

One of the big problems in the church is hypocrisy. I think we can all agree on that. Many people claim to have faith but their life shows just the opposite., They worry about everything, they complain incessantly and they mistrust everybody, including God. They walk around saying they are Christians and the world wonders what good it is to be a Christian if this is the attitude it produces. They don’t stay with their commitments, they identify with the ways of the world and they walk in sin on a regular basis. This has given the church a black eye! It is no wonder the world has no attraction for the church anymore. It is not wonder the world sees no advantage to being in the church anymore. If the church exhibited the sincere and genuine faith that Timothy had, I think we would see a more vibrant church today. Let us each make sure we are displaying this kind of faith!

I love to bake! I make some awesome cookies (not my words, but everyone else’s). I am one of those people that always follows a recipe when I bake. I want to make sure the ingredients are correctly measured because I know that the baking soda will only affect the amount of stuff in the recipe. If it is not right, the recipe will not rise correctly and it would taste different. Al of the ingredients are important. But most important of all is that you stir them together and not just let them sit separated and try to make cookies. That would be one ugly mess in your oven!

This is what I think of when Paul tells Timothy to “stir up the gift.” On a daily basis I am meeting all kinds of people. I am talking with them, listening to them, helping them, offering advice to them, being kind and considerate to them and many other things that come into my life. Among the things I do I need to stir up my spirit so the gift of God is blended in with everything else I do. It is not isolated inside me so I use it only when I am in church or in a Christian setting. The gift of God should be used in our daily conversation. People need to see and know that God is working in our lives. They all need Jesus more than anything else, and the gift within us is what will draw them to Christ. The gift must be evident in everything we do.

What is the gift that is given by the laying on of hands? It is the infilling of the Holy Spirit as happened ion Acts 2. He is the power of God that comes and falls upon us to make us more effective witnesses. This is another reason we must stir Him into our daily activities. The Holy Spirit will give us power. He will bring God’s word to our remembrance. He will teach us the truth. He will speak to us and give us the words to say when we are faced with difficult circumstances. He will always be with us. There are also gifts that the Holy Spirit gives us. These gifts come by the same laying on off hands. In contrast, these gifts need to be stirred up within us so that they rise to the top. We cannot let them stay dormant. Like stirring up a sleeping child, these gifts will minister to people as needed. The gifts of wisdom and knowledge, healing and discernment, miracles and faith, tongues and interpretations. All of these are useful not only in our churches but in everyday life. We must be attentive to the Holy Spirit as He helps us understand when to use these gifts.

Paul calls these two things to Timothy’s remembrance and He also calls them to our remembrance. He asks us to keep in mind the faith we have received from those mentors in our lives. Those who have guided us through this journey. Those who have a special place in our hearts because of their devotion to Christ. And He asks us to always be mindful to stir up the gift of God, the Holy Spirit, so that we can faithfully minister to those around us. Is your gift stirred up?

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!

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.