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!

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The Mystery of Godliness

1 Timothy 3:14-16

14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:
15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

We see now the purpose of Paul’s letter. He wanted to make sure Timothy knew how he should behave in the house of God. I would say that not only Timothy, but all should behave this way. We talked about this as we went through the characteristics of a bishop and deacon, that all these things should also apply to us. I believe we often think those who are in the pulpit or serve as deacons or elders in our churches should live to a higher standard than we common folk do. Nothing could be further from the truth. We should all live holy lives, set apart for God. Jesus did not die so we could still live in sin. He died so we could be free from sin! He died to give us the strength and power to say no to sin. Living the way Paul describes in this chapter is for all of us.

I challenge you to go back to the beginning of this chapter and read it several times. See where you stand with each characteristic Paul describes. Are you grave, keeping things serious and truthful? Or do you joke around a lot and poke fun at people? Are you living in a way that people cannot blame you for something that would be ungodly? Are you apt to teach, ready to give a good word when someone needs it? Do you have your own house in order and are you faithful in all things? Are you not given to much wine and do you have a good report from those outside the church? There are a few here that I need to work on. How about you?

Why are these things important for all of us? Because we are the church and this church is the house of the living God. Paul says the church is the pillar and ground of the truth. Why is the world caving in around us right now? Why is morality falling to desperate lows? Why are things like abortion and gay rights winning the battle for our children? I believe it is because the church has been in a shifting position on these things. They have not spoken out enough on these issues, and the pillar of truth that the church must be has shifted to a lie that does not line up with the Bible. When the church falls into a lie, the world will gladly follow and embrace it. If the church becomes ungodly, the world will go further into ungodliness.

It starts with each one of us. What do you have to do to become more like the bishop and deacon described here? Once you get it right, then you are ready to teach others what is the right way to go. We can turn the church around one person at a time, but it will take all of us. It will take a concentrated effort on the part of every true believer and follower to make this happen. If we do not act now, the church will continue to crumble and turn from the righteousness of God to the ways of the world. I realize that we are all the church, and not the buildings that sit all over this world. But there are so many in this church that are walking contrary to scripture. They must be shown the right way.

What is the right way? What is the mystery of godliness? It is Jesus Christ and what He did to redeem us and give us eternal life. He is the central figure for all of history. He came and showed us what godliness was. He came and healed everyone he touched. He delivered every person who came to Him. He always taught the truth and did not back down from the pious religious leaders. In fact He challenged them to follow the spirit of the law and not the letter if the law. Every time they met with Him, they were baffled by His answers to their questions. His godliness showed in everything He said and did because He was justified in the Spirit. Are we?

The mystery to me is why we don’t follow His example more often? Why don’t I pray for the sick people that come into my life so they can be healed? Is it because I lack the faith to really believe God will heal them? Or is it that I don’t want to risk offending them by praying for them in public? Or is it because my pride says that if I pray and they don’t get out of that wheelchair, I will look bad? Jesus just knew they would be healed if He asked the Father. He had no doubts, so He did not worry about the result of His prayers. Once He prayed, the matter was in the Fathers hands. Every time, His Father answered. I need to have that kind of faith so that God will be glorified every time I pray.

The mystery of godliness is that He was preached unto you and I, the Gentiles, and we believed. We believed that He did what the word says He did. We believe he was born of a virgin in a manger, baptized by John and tempted in the wilderness. We believe He healed the sick, cast out demons, opened blinded eyes and deaf ears and raised the dead. We believe the words He preached and the parables that show us how we should live. We believe He was betrayed, beaten, scourged, rejected and crucified for our sins. We believe He died, was buried and rose again to give us eternal life. We believe He is coming back for the redeemed one day and that we shall rise to meet Him in the air. We believe it all.

It is a mystery to the world. There are so many out there who may believe one part or another, but not all that Jesus did and said in His life. That is a shame, and will cause them to miss heaven because they did not understand the mystery of godliness. They did not understand why He came, what He lived for and why He died. He came, lived and died to show us what godliness was. Jesus Christ is the mystery of godliness to the world, but not to those of us who know Him personally. To us, He is the way, the truth and the life. We come to the Father through Him. We know godliness, and can live godly lives, because of who He is in our lives. It is no mystery to us!

If you do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, now is the time. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins, then repent and turn away from them. Give Him authority over your life by making Him Lord. Get into the word of God and start fresh with it, reading it like you have never read it before. Soak it in and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal it’s truths to you. Allow Him to guide you every step of the way. Be born again today!

Purchase a Good Degree

1 Timothy 3:11-13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Office of a Deacon

1 Timothy 3:8-10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Office of a Bishop

1 Timothy 3:1-7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Woman’s Place

1 Timothy 2:9-15

9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

These verses are probably some of the most divisive in all of Paul’s writings. They are used many times to say that women have no place in ministry, but should be quiet in church and not even consider being a teacher or, heaven forbid, a preacher. They are used to say that a woman should be subordinate to a man in all cases. This is really sad because these verses reflected the women of that day, not the women of today. These verses served a purpose when women were uneducated and underappreciated. They still serve a purpose today, but it is vastly different in today’s world than it was in Paul’s time..

Let’s start at the top. The first verse speaks of a women’s appearance. I agree with Paul here. A women, much more than a man, can wear clothes that may reveal too much of their bodies which in turn can be a stumbling block to a man. Men typically have much stronger sex drives then women and when we see a women with a short skirt, or a blouse that is cut deeply down the front or that clings tightly to the body, we can easily get aroused. It is a natural disposition and is very hard to program out, even if we have been saved. God made us to be attracted to the women’s body for a reason, but our society has taken it way overboard. Clothing can cause us to become voyeurs in a way, and I guess that was true even in Paul’s day. Paul knew that clothing that was not modest could cause problems for the men so he said the women should not wear it. He also suggested minimal jewelry and simple hairdo’s.

In many of todays churches and youth groups these rules are not followed. I have seen skirts that are much too short and blouses that fall loosely in the front. I have seen skin tight clothes that leave little to the imagination. I agree that men should be able to control their sexual urges. I also think that woman should not wear such suggestive clothing. It is not modest and can lead to unwanted advances. We see so much emphasis put on men sexually misusing women but little is said about the fact that women just tease men with their clothing choices. I still think the men are wrong, but women should be more modest in there apparel and not invite this type of behavior on a man’s part. That is exactly what they do by wearing suggestive clothing.

Women should be more concerned with good works than appealing apparel (verse 10). It’s not that they should not strive to look nice. We should always look appropriate in our clothing, but there is no need to go overboard. It is much more important to be seen dong good works before the Lord than to have an appealing appearance outwardly. Remember the rebuke to the Pharisees? Outwardly they looked all clean and pretty, but inwardly they were full of dead men’s bones. We should never be that way as Christians. Our inward beauty should always outshine out outward appearance. This is where many in the holiness movement get it wrong. They out so much emphasis on the outward appearance that the inner man gets left behind.

Before I tackle verse 11 and 12, I want to talk about verses 13 & 14. While it is true that Eve was tempted by Satan and succumbed to the temptation, the Bible clearly tells us that Adam was with her and he ate as well (Genesis 3:6). We are never told if Adam correctly explained to Eve that she should not eat of that fruit. He may have told her not to touch it at all, thinking if she did not touch it she could not eat it. Guys tend to overstate things like this to make sure others don’t even go close to the problem. I know – I’m guilty of this quite often. Whatever Adam told her he obviously did not make the point strong enough. Then there is the question of why did Adam not stop her from eating it when he was right there with her. Do you suppose he thought to himself “Hey, I’ll watch her eat it and if she doesn’t die, I can take some?”. These questions have been on my mind forever and I blame the man just as much as the woman for what happened in the garden. But we have taken these verses in 1 Timothy and made it the whole reason man is superior to women and why women should be subservient to men. I think we have taken it all wrong myself. I may be wrong, and I know I am debating one of the greatest biblical teachers of all time, but this where I stand.

So now back to verses 11 & 12. There are many churches where they are adamant about women not being preachers because of these verses. They are strict in that belief and will not bend. Yet they have many women teaching their Sunday School classes, women’s groups and couples classes. My best friend says he will leave his church if they bring in a woman preacher yet his wife is the head of the whole Sunday school department and teaches a class there. This makes absolutely no sense to me! If they are not able to teach and preach from the pulpit, why on earth would we want them teaching our children?

These two verses were written in a time when women kept to the house. They weren’t taught in school like the boys were and they weren’t expected to speak in the way a man speaks. They were expected to be silent unless spoken to and they certainly would never be seen as someone who is smarter than the man. In many ways they were seen as property not people. A man could file for divorce for any reason he wanted, but a women would never even consider filing for divorce because she would be mocked and ridiculed and possibly stoned for bringing dishonor to her husband.

Contrast that with today’s woman who fill roles as doctors, teachers, lawyers, congresswomen and business leaders. These are not the same women as in Jesus day. They are intelligent and confident and in many cases smarter and wiser than their male counterparts. How can we possibly apply the same standards to these women as to the first century women? Yet big name preachers like John Hagie continue to perpetuate the feeling that women are inferior when it comes to their ability to study and preach the word. He may be very knowledgeable but in my book he has this wrong. I would guess Mr. Hagie has plenty of women teachers in his church.

The other factor that comes into play here is pride. Men naturally have a higher susceptibility to pride than women. They do not want to admit that women might be able to teach them anything or be better at anything then they are. They do not want to feel inferior in any way to anyone, but even more so a woman. This would be the ultimate slap in the face. “A women preacher trying to teach me about spirituality? No way!” That is pride pure and simple. God hates pride (Proverbs 6:16-19). In all accounts that we see, Jesus treated women fairly and equally. Many women, including his mother, followed his group of disciples on a regular basis. Even in the case of Paul, several women are given commendation for their work in the church of the day, including Junia, Phoebe, Syntyche and Priscilla. I am not going to go into their roles but all were esteemed by Paul.

Let’s stop beating the drum that women should not be leaders in our churches today. If they have taken the proper steps and submitted themselves to God, they can be used by God in the same way as men and in the same capacities. If you are one that has always put women in a subordinate role I ask you to really study it out with an open mind. Once you do, I think you will stop putting God in a box by thinking women cannot fill these roles. Let’s put women in their rightful place!

Ordained to Preach

1 Timothy 2:7-8

7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.
8 I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

What are you ordained to do? The word ordained here means to put or place. Where have you been put or placed by God. I bet you never even knew you were ordained! Well, think again! God has ordained you as well.

Now Paul mentions three things he was ordained as: a preacher, an apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles. We will get to these later. This shows that we can have several different callings. So now I want you to think about your different callings, your different ordinations! How many are there. Can you think that big.

Let’s start with your family. What are you called to do in your family? If you are the head of the house, whether male or female, you are called to provide for your family (2 Timothy 5:8). You are called to raise your children in the ways of the Lord (Proverbs 22:6). You are called to teach your children as you rise in the morning and sit to eat and walk by the way (Deuteronomy 6:7). If you are a husband you are called to love your wife as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). You are called to not provoke your children to wrath (Ephesians 6:4) or discourage them (Colossians 3:21). Husbands, you are called to understand your wife and honor her (1 Peter 3:7). Wives, you should respect your husband (Ephesians 5:33). Proverbs 31 lists 17 characteristics you should be following on a daily basis. Children of any age you should honor your father and mother (Exodus 20:12).

Each family member has a different call on their life. Living within this dynamic group so closely knit together can be very rewarding and very trying. Similar personalities usually clash, and similar callings will do the same. We must all recognize the gifts, talents and callings of the other in order for the family to fully function. We must also realize that one person can bring dishonor to the whole family, and the father especially can bring the whole family down (see Joshua 7). Let us all search out the best in each member of our family and edify them in a way that makes them want to share their calling with the world. Your work is never done.

What are you called to in your community? You are called to witness to the lost, to heal the sick, to deliver those that are oppressed and to preach the acceptable year of the Lord (Isaiah 61:1-2). You are called to clothe the naked, visit the sick and those in prison, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty (Matthew 25:34-40) and do unto others as you would want them to do for you (Leviticus 18:19). You are to work as unto the Lord, not unto man (Colossians 3:23-24). You are to honor and respect those in authority over you (Romans 13:1-10). You are to pray, intercede, supplicate and give thanks for everyone around you and for all those in authority over you (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Your work is never done.

How about in your church? Usually we think this is where our calling lies. Are you on the worship team, the worship leader, the one who runs the overhead projector or puts together the bulletins? Do you teach Sunday School, play the piano, help in the nursery or greet at the door? Are you an usher, a deacon, an elder or the church secretary? Do you help clean, cook, wash dishes or do yard work? Work around a church is never done.

We are all called to many types of ministries. We all have many types of gifts. We are all able to minister in many different ways. Yet we all must function together. Romans 12 talks about many gifts the body of Christ should be endowed with. 1 Corinthians 12 does an excellent job of showing the various gifts and talents the body of Christ is empowered with and explains well why we should work together similar to the way our human body does. Yet even after this description Paul says love is the more excellent way (1 Corinthians 13).

I challenge you this morning or evening or whatever time of day you are reading this, to make a list of the ways you are ordained, or put or placed in a position to serve God. I’ll start. Psalmist, writer, dishwasher, clothes washer, house cleaner, chauffeur, grocery shopper, lay minister, evangelist, worship leader, songwriter, edifier, peacemaker, witness, neighborly, husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, friend– I think that does it fairly well.

Paul lists three things. First he says he’s a preacher. The word used here is one that denotes a person like a town crier in the old days. Someone who goes around the street telling them news items. In Paul’s case, he was heralding the wonderful news about Jesus Christ and the salvation He offered. I can about see Paul walking down the streets of a city saying “Jesus Christ died for your sins” or “Get saved today” or “Be filled with the Spirit of the living God”. The crowd would gather as he walked along reciting various things to get them interested in what he had to say. And by the end of the day he had a crowd to preach to and he would share the wonderful gospel message. He was a master preacher.

Second, he was an apostle. This denotes someone who is sent by another. In Paul’s case, he was sent by Jesus himself when travelling on the road to Damascus. He received a clear calling when his eyes were opened that day in the house of Ananias. Jesus told Ananias Paul would suffer much for the kingdom of God that he had put through such suffering. He was sent by Jesus Christ to deliver the message to the Gentiles. He went to city after city taking the message to the Jews first and they rejected him. The stoned him, the mocked him, they left him for dead. But the Gentiles heard him, repented and were saved. He was a master apostle.

Lastly, he was a teacher of the Gentiles. Who of us can argue with that statement. Paul’s writings are used by every denomination and every church at some time or another. Countless books and blogs and sermons have come from his teachings. He wrote more of the New Testament than any other author. We who are not Jews are all considered Gentiles and he has taught us for centuries. I would guess Paul had no idea what his words would be used almost 2,000 years later to instruct newlyweds, used at communion, to save the lost, to give instruction in righteousness, holiness and Godliness. If you told him then that his words would still be teaching non-believers to accept Christ, he probably would have said “Yeah- right!” He was and still is a master teacher.

Do you have any idea how far your legacy will reach? What have you produced that can last that long? Have you trained up your children to love the Lord, and are they training their children? Perhaps generations down the road they will look back and point to their great-great-great-great-great grandparents as the ones who started them off right. Do you write a blog that teaches Christian principles? Perhaps decades down the road someone will come across one of your writings and give their heart to God. We need to reach out whenever and wherever we can to touch hearts and minds for Jesus Christ.

Lastly, Paul charges us to lift up holy hands and pray without wrath or doubting. I am curious here why he says without wrath. I understand the part about not doubting. We should never pray in doubt, but always in faith. Prayer is our faith put into action! Doubt has no place in prayer. It also has no place in worship and the lifting of our hands. Those who come to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Doubt has no place here. Neither does being angry at God, and perhaps that is what the wrath stands for. We can be angry at God, just don’t pray to Him or praise Him in the middle of that anger. Pray when you have cooled down and have a level head. We do not effectively communicate when we are angry, do we? How can we expect anything from God if we don’t come to Him on His terms? That would be like walking into your bosses office when he was in the middle of a very important meeting and arguing with him that you deserved a better raise then you got. That would not sit well, would it? It might even get you fired! God is not going to fire anyone, but He also will not respond to your prayer if you come presumptuously. It’s easy to come on His terms. Why do so often refuse to do that?

This day might be a day of discovery for you. Perhaps you never thought much about all the various ways you serve God. Maybe you have never looked at your family like I have described. Maybe you have never taken into consideration your role in the lives of those around you. We are all ordained into His service. He has put us where we are for a reason. Find that reason and then do it with all your heart. There is nothing in this world more satisfying than know ing you are walking in the will of God!