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Lessons from the Ephesians – Don’t lose your first love!!!! – Revelation 2:1-7

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Lessons from the Ephesians – Don’t lose your first love!!!! – Revelation 2:1-7 – 06/28/2016

It has been a while huh? I bet most of you haven’t noticed but I haven’t put out a blog in nearly 6 weeks and I think that is some sort of record for me. In that time I have not been idle, I have been doing some reassessing and looking at myself and as the church at whole introspectively. This blog article is not dedicated to any particular group of Christians but to Christianity as a whole. The verses I want to look at today are a well-known passage in Revelation…

Revelation 2:1 (ESV) “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

I want to go to this church!

When I look at what the Ephesians had together I am amazed I would want to go to this church!!! They had …

  • Works
  • Toil
  • Endurance
  • Patience
  • A hunger for holiness
  • Enough doctrine to test what was good (They remembered the warning in Acts 20:17-31)
  • Judgment to call those false who were false
  • They were okay to endure for the name of the Lord/They were known as Christians
  • They did not grow weary/remained hopeful despite trials

Sounds like a solid bunch huh? I know from experience when I have been assessing churches to make sure that my wife and I are serving where we are called to be at this time by the Lord I have a list of “must haves” a list of “nice to haves” and a list that are “cosmetic purposes only” and this was from advice from a Pastor I trust that asked me once “what is your deal breakers?”.

Warning to the new church seeker

I say this because there maybe that guy or girl at the moment who is contemplating switching churches, perhaps for a good reason, perhaps not but I would encourage you to watch out for the Ephesian church, they may be the one with the biggest youth ministry, the best programs, the largest congregation, the best sounding worship, the best light display but outside the Sunday meeting they may be a group who never interacts with each other and are strangers apart from a warm handshake and a bunch of promises to meet (which never materialize).

They may have none of those things and may tick all of your intellectual boxes, they may not have worship down, children’s ministry sometimes happens and sometimes does not but the Pastor teaches some of the most intellectually profound, right on doctrine that flexes your spiritual muscles on a weekly basis, the exegesis and hermeneutics are phenomenal and the teaching is at college level theological seminary and new believers learn a lot of spiritual language but is light on application and you see quickly that apart from the weekly lecture, there is no mentoring, no feeding into one another and loving on one another apart from maybe one or two individuals but the culture of love is not present and you know that a year down the line you won’t know these people any better than today.

Those are two extremes of course and the church you are looking at will most probably be somewhere in the middle of those but what they have in common is that while each opposite have vital components that will get people through the door if they are Ephesian in nature and forgotten their first love then all else is in vain. As Shakespeare would say “it is all for nought”.

Beware of the Pharisee Christian

Let’s look at those vitals that are alive in this Ephesian church…

  • Works
  • Toil
  • Endurance
  • Patience
  • A hunger for holiness
  • Enough doctrine to test what was good
  • Judgment to call those false who were false
  • They were okay to endure for the name of the Lord/They were known as Christians
  • They did not grow weary/remained hopeful despite trials

However…you can fall victim to the human nature that thinks that as you progress as a Christian you become “too good” for the things you did as a baby Christian (or the basics) but I would remind you that you would not build a structure without a foundation and even if you become a master builder and have built many fine buildings, imagine turning up a new job and stating to the works foreman that we “would not bother with the foundation as this building will be great because I am the builder”. All you are setting yourself up for is a building that will fall and a reputation ruined… How is your relationship building with Jesus? Is the foundation sure?

Jesus had a lot to say to the Pharisees in the Gospels because they were the ones who know the doctrine, they were the ones who should have known better and they should have been rejoicing at the Messiah, the Pharisees had the works, had the doctrine, they were known as the holy ones, they were supposed to toil, have endurance and patience and many did but some did not… (see a pattern here?)

This I have against you…

God is not saying do not have these things in place but there is an important foundation to have in verse 4 and 5…

“V4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.”

The word “abandoned” is telling here, it is not like losing your keys, they had made decisions to leave their first love, that to me is the saddest part of the passage and even although internally they were like whitewashed tombs (Matthew 23:25-28) They had left the love of God and the love for one another, they no longer had that first love of Jesus, like a marriage that both parties have allowed to become stale they no longer have that new romance spark and they did not allow it to mature so they have a broken relationship.

They are prodigals or wayward sons that have still got to come to that afternoon in the pigpen eating swill and realizing that they could have it much better as the lowest servant in their father’s house. Like the father in that account in Luke (Luke 15:11-32) when they returned to the love of the father there was much celebration, forgiveness and absolution of the sin that cause the son to go so low.

Exhortation and application

We are all sinners and the Ephesian church did not always have it together, read the epistle to Ephesians if you do not believe me. We all need repentance; we all need forgiveness whether your sins are few or many and we all could do with being closer to Jesus and I commend you all to learn the lessons of the Ephesians, take the good in what they do and in the spirit of application we need to do the basics, repent, find our first love and then follow Gods plan!

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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Teach sound doctrine – Titus 2:1-10

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Teach sound doctrine – Titus 2:1-10 – 01/14/2016

This bible study is part of a series on the book of Titus, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of Titus for other studies in this book.

Titus 2:1 (ESV) But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9 Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

Titus begins the reason for his letter after the earlier salutation (see previous blog article) and outlines the reasons for initially writing and set out what the mission for Titus should be in chapter one. It is both a mission and a challenge because Titus would have to be very discerning in who he chose and he would require wisdom to ensure that the correct type of people were installed to help these churches to be strong. Let’s start in verse one of chapter two and my aim (God willing) is to go through the letter to Titus on a verse by verse format.

V1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

Paul states God’s plan for Titus life and these few words show that Titus was set apart for a task that was not for everyone. His task was to teach what accords with sound doctrine, he was given a responsibility that I think we take too lightly today in today’s church. Ask yourself a question, should everyone be allowed to teach in the church? James answers this quite clearly in his epistle…

James 3:1 (ESV) Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.

Those who teach will be judged with greater strictness…Now you see why it is called a calling and not simply a job or an occupation. Often times Paul in his ministry was bi-vocational, he made tents and preached the gospel, I know many pastors who ministry is not their “day jobs” and it is very much a western mindset that we have teachers of the bible as a career choice.

What had he to teach? He is told to teach what accords with sound doctrine, not just an action, going through the motions type deal, but a living example of what the right things are. We read all through chapter one some of the incorrect doctrines that he was being told to correct and we see here that Paul is only interested in him being a teacher of what is sound.

It is an example to us even today, to stand up for what is right and correct and represents Christianity in a true light. The world is good at distorting Christ and his followers and many of the myths I used to spread myself and have heard about Christians are simply stereotypes and are not true. Yes we have the Bible and it is a manual to advise us doctrinally how to live and we do believe that it is the inerrant, infallible word of God. Paul goes on to explain and categorizes the different groups within the assembly.

Older men

V2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.

Titus was a younger man so it is important that when you are teaching these men that it is done with respect and love with a liberal amount of wisdom, it is obvious why because you do not want to cause offense and cause stumbling by things that are not biblical. Despite the fact that these men may be older in physical age, it is more likely that they would not be as advanced and as spiritually mature as Titus.

Despite their lack of spiritual maturity Titus was to teach these men certain standards that they had to adhere to. Titus is commanded to teach these things that might not have come with their life experience so far. If you are saved later in life you have a far bigger past that a new believe who gets saved in his teens, you may not have the following characteristics…

• Sober minded – not a lack of a sense of humor but simply someone who knows when to be serious and when to be called upon as an “elder head”
• Dignified – If dignity did not automatically come with age or if you were undignified in your previous life, then this may have to be “taught”
• Self-controlled – Titus had to teach them to be self-controlled in order to be a good example, they had to be sober, reverent and temperate.
• Sound in faith – They had to get their doctrinal “ducks in a row” in order to be effectively used in the ministry. They had to have good knowledge and be diligent in their studies
• Sound in love – They had to have a genuine love for people, this may have been an issue as I know myself as we get older we get more stuck in our grooves and we will have pre-conceived notions more than someone who is not as advanced in age.
• Steadfast – Unmovable, a word often used for an anchor, someone that is dependable. If you think of the really good elders or spiritual mentors you have had in your lives you will see that they had most of these characteristics.

Quiet a list huh? I am not really confident in which ones I should share about that I am still working on! I would imagine that due to the age difference this may have been met with some resistance however the purpose of this was to do what we should be doing more of in our churches, Titus was equipping his saints for the work of the ministry, once Titus was done with these men he would have them teach these principles to others. They would automatically have people’s ears due to their age but Titus was to make sure that the very people that could influence people are influencing them correctly and in a sound manner. Let’s look at what he had to teach the older women…

Older women

V3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Like the older men the older ladies are given their own expectations, from the text we glean that they were expected to be the following…

• Reverent in behavior – Like the older men they were to show reverence, be that example of reverence, being a woman for all the people that they would be reliant on in any situation and not disqualified due to external behaviors.
• Not slanderers – The woman of God is expected to use her tongue wisely, not to be tripped up by speaking evil of others, they must be able to be trusted to not be flippant in speech and would you confess your deepest darkest sins to one who would spread them around the church?
• Slaves to much wine – She must be sober, you notice that it says “not slaves to much wine” and the culture then, as it is today expressed that alcohol was okay. I have no actual issue with the partaking of alcohol but merely the abuse of it. If the lady was drunk consistently or lived her life according to the bottle and replaced the Spirit of God in her life with a slavery or addiction to wine.
• Teach what is good – The woman of God has to be able to teach appropriate doctrine to establish a legacy in her ministry. She is to be the living example in that she would practice what she preached and preached only sound doctrine and be a mentor to those who are looking to her for instruction.
• Able to train the young women – Again she is looking to train the young women in the precepts and doctrines of her faith, being that example and being a valuable resource in the mentoring and maturing of the young women. In many cases supporting the parents by being a spiritual parent to the younger women.
• Self-controlled – Self-control is a must, I know this is starting to sound like the perfect lady but she will have her faults and I am sure that there will have been people that will have been chosen for ministry that will have been a work in progress, so please if you are reading this do not get down hearted that you are a few categories off. God will work on you should you invite and desire that to happen. I urge you to charge on and not get discouraged!
• Pure – It goes without saying that she would be pure, with no scandal or examples that would lead the younger believer astray, yes she will have her challenges but she will be showing to have overcome them and use the challenges as a testimony to her faith.
• Working at home – In that day the women were expected to work at home and if your finances allow for that then that is wonderful, however there are many reasons why a woman would not be working at home and sometimes you have to do what is best for your family.
• Kind – She is to be kind, able to be kind in situations that warrant a gentle hand, you will notice that there is no category for the younger ladies and they are expected to get their mentoring from the older ladies, that is not to say that they would not learn from Titus, but their principle instruction would be with their husbands and the older ladies.
• Submissive to their own husbands – Those of you who think this is a “blind submission”, “submission to the dictator husband” or “forced servitude” do not have a full understanding of God’s design for marriage, the woman is expected to be submissive and be under the headship of her husband as the keeper of his home but many do not understand the dynamic that is explained in the book of Ephesians chapter 5…

Ephesians 5:22 (ESV) Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Yes she is meant to submit, but the husband is to love her as Christ loved the church, remember that whole “love. honor and cherish” deal on the wedding day?

And this is enveloped in the last sentence “that the word of God may not be reviled” that is beautiful and it shows that they had to be a living example for the generation coming up and the generations to follow of what was expected of a Godly woman. Blessed are the churches that follow this pattern for women’s ministry. It is important that older does not always mean age, spiritual maturity is as vital as life experience and many effective women’s leaders would be regarded as “young”.

Younger men

V6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

Young men are to be the following…

• Self-controlled – Like the older men that are teaching them, they are expected to be self-controlled and be examples to be used for the ministry of God when they are spiritually mature. The Christian faith is a journey, a day by day relationship and often times people transition and you could be called at any time, so you have to be ready to go when you are called.
• Model of good works – If you wished a scriptural example of this I would urge you to read the third chapter of the book of Colossians, the young men are called to diligence, called to be mature, called to be an example of good works to all around them. Show them that despite your youth you are an example to others. Titus had to be more than a mentor, more than a teacher; he had to be an example to these people.
• In teaching show integrity, dignity and sound speech that cannot be condemned – Here is the meat and bones of the text, the mission had to stand up to scrutiny, it had to be permeated in integrity, he had to be dignified and everything that came out of his mouth had to be sound doctrine. This was the legacy he was leaving to the younger people.
• Leave opponents with nothing evil to say about you – Be “above reproach” remember that from earlier? Leave no arguments about you, what you teach or just as dangerously your character.

Servants

V9 Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

Bondservants are to be as following…

• Submissive to their own masters in everything – The church was the one place that servants could mingle with their masters on a somewhat equal footing, this was a culture shock to many as servants sometimes had positions in the church and their masters did not. However the servants had obligations as part of their servitude and they were to fulfill them with all of their heart.
• Well pleasing and not argumentative – Paul goes into a greater detail into the heart of how they were to serve and the heart behind of how they were to serve, they were to be pleasing and not argumentative in spirit or in speech, it wasn’t simply good enough to do the “bare minimum” or simply to “tick the boxes” they were called to exceed and succeed in all that they did (See Colossians 3:23)
• Not pilfering – They were not to steal and that was obvious, but ponder this, what about stealing time, wasting time or loitering so that they are not as efficient as they could be. Another common practice would be that the servants would run errands and this states that they should not profit by keeping change or property from their masters.
• Showing all good faith – Titus must show the servants that they must be an example of their faith in all that they do, they must be markedly different to those who are not of the same faith, they must be honest, trustworthy and a good example.
• They may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior – And here is the reason why, to give a good report to others of the doctrine they possess. What greater testimony than someone who is in servitude living out their life as a Christian and being the best servant he could be? Talk about the ultimate dead end job with no career prospects and they must have a Christ like attitude and work at it with all their endeavors.

We are not bondservants ourselves nor do any of us have servants or slaves so a modern day application is difficult but think on this, many of us are employed or employ others and in our daily employ do we have the above credentials? I am not trying to shame you but merely make you think and imagine what a witness we could be if we were like this. Should the Lord spare us until next time I plan to look at verses 11-15 next time in chapter two.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Qualifications for Elders – Titus 1:5-9

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Qualifications for Elders – Titus 1:5-9 – 12/17/2015

This bible study is part of a series on the book of Titus, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of Titus for other studies in this book.

Titus 1:5 (ESV) This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— 6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Titus begins the reason for his letter after the earlier salutation (see previous blog article) and outlines the reasons for initially writing and sets out what the mission for Titus should be. It is both a mission and a challenge because Titus would have to be very discerning in who he chose and he would require wisdom to ensure that the correct type of people were installed to help these churches to be strong. Let’s start in verse 5.

V5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—

We learn from this verse that Paul had served with Titus in Crete which is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. Titus had been left there in charge of the church movement on the island to a group of people that would be what we would call in the modern church as a church plant. There were many people attending but also many new believers. Crete was a difficult place to be in because the inhabitants of the island did not have a good reputation and it was a difficult place because the attributes listed were not externally what you would associate with the reputation that the island had. It was also great because the ones who met these qualifications would certainly be living as “salt and light” in that place.

I know how this is as when I write this article I acknowledge that even though I live in a town that has a good reputation, the area in town I live in is not the best so I truly have to be “salt and light” to my neighbors and attempt to win them over with love first and then as they question what makes me different then win them over with the gospel. Titus had been left in Crete for the following reasons:

•       Put what remained in order
•       Appoint elders in every town
•       Follow directions

We have no clarification that Titus was being left in Crete so he is there for this purpose and is there to establish the churches there on a solid foundation and appoint those who would equip the saints for the work of the ministry. Like any new ministry, the church in Crete needed structure, order and the right leaders in place to ensure solid doctrine was being preached and that the newer believers were being mentored up in the faith of Christ Jesus. This is why the term “put what remained in order” which tells us that there was something that was not quite in order, it may have been something small but it may have required major intervention, we are not told this and such talk is just speculation. However the main point is that he should appoint elders in every city.

Paul sets out quite clearly the criteria for Eldership, so much so that many churches use these verses and verses in 1st Timothy chapter 3 to

1st Timothy 3:1 (ESV) The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. 8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

The reason I use this scripture too is that in the Ephesian church model the church was more established and Timothy was asked to appoint deacons and elders but only elders are mentioned here in Titus. He had quite a job as the cities in Crete were large in number and he would have to do quite a bit of appointing. We see here that Paul wanted all of the cities to have their own leadership and this shows an immense amount of trust being placed on the shoulders of Titus, it gave him a tremendous amount of authority to be Paul’s man in Crete. Paul lists criteria for leadership that suggests that Titus had a job of ratification as well as selection.

V6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

You will notice that Paul didn’t say to Titus “find me the tallest, the good looking, the ones who have a smooth personality, the winners, the popular, the ones you like or have an instant rapport with” he gives a criteria that is much better. Also he didn’t say “pick the willing, the volunteer, the one who isn’t really equipped but he is keen, the one who tithes the most, the one who compliments” he picks more about the character of the man.

I have grouped the criteria together because there is a lot to go through so I made a list but the overriding criteria that Paul is looking for is Godly character. That should be the entry level requirements for a candidate to get through the door, I notice that we don’t see education or a seminary background and whilst it is good to do these things, that does not always automatically qualify you for leadership.

Lastly and before the list is given, it doesn’t state that the man has to have it all together, I have seen some of the greatest elder appointments were to guys that were 80% there in doing the job already but they knew the criteria that they wanted to meet and they strived at that with all of their heart, not for personal gain but to increase in their service to their Lord.

Paul gave a list as follows:

•       Above reproach – Basically above gossip, not exactly Teflon (Non-stick)  but the congregation cannot be left wondering “why is he up there?” that there should be nothing that can be attacked either by the church or externally from outside the church. Basically one that is obvious in living a righteous life, he is an example to those he is serving.
•       The husband of one wife – It doesn’t say that a leader had to be married, but what it does say is that if the leader is married then he must be married to one wife. The idea is that the leader has the attention and sights set on one woman in the church only. Would you want your elders being flirtatious and causing the ladies of the church to stumble?
•       Children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination – The heart behind this instruction is the same as the one in 1st Timothy is that the man should be in control of his household and the ability to lead his own children should demonstrate his ability to lead God’s church.
•       Not be arrogant or quick-tempered – Arrogance, self-will and quick temper should be checks in the qualifications for leadership, these and the next few would certainly not make the candidate “above reproach” can you imagine the scene if an elder is brawling or arguing with members of the congregation on a regular basis?
•       Drunkard – which means the same as “not given to wine” and that is a just qualification as a man who is in leadership will be called to deal with all manners of people, some may have had issues with alcohol and may justify sin by measure that “well my elder does it” I think that personal sacrifice is a far better example as to not stumble a weaker believer rather than a brutish exercise in ‘personal liberty”. Am I saying don’t have a beer? No, I am saying don’t be drunk with wine.
•       Violent  – You have to be an example to all believers, unless you wish to breed a generation of violent brawlers then avoid this quality in your leadership. I am not referring to those who defend themselves but Paul is stating don’t pick people who are the cause of the fighting and are violent by nature and have not submitted that to the Lord. This goes for those who throw fists as well as those the throw words.
•       Greedy for gain – Do not pick those who were just like Judas! One eye on the prize of their pocket as opposed to doing the will and work of the Lord, I have issues in the past with elders who wanted to conduct business whilst doing the Lords work and it left a bad taste in the mouth and caused me to avoid that brother for a while.
•       Hospitable – Probably the most overlooked criteria for an elder but in my view it should be the first thing that is looked at. Is that ministry candidate willing to open up their home, willing to be scrutinized? Willing to feed the poor? Clothe the needy? Not because he wants to look all holy but because he has a heart to do the work of the Lord in the city he has been planted. Will he invite people into his home and open the word of God and mentor folks? If not then why would you trust him to in the church?
•       A lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined – Men who tell the crude jokes, have the dirty minds, love the debase things, do you want them in charge at your church? What about the jokesters? The ones who you are not sure could be serious when occasion calls? I am not saying that if a man ever told a joke then he should be struck off but if a man cannot be sober minded and mature enough to read a situation well then he may not be ready for leadership. The words just, holy and self-controlled refer to his attitude towards other men, God and himself. Matthew Henry is quoted as saying “How unfit are those to govern a church who cannot govern themselves!”
•       Holding firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it – And lastly he must know his doctrine! If he does not know his doctrine and is sure of it then how will he give instruction, exhort and convict those who either come to him or contradict him. Leaders need to have a solid foundation in the Word of God, which is why Paul commissions Timothy to not pick a novice.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Avoid the irreverent babble

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Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge”

This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book. 

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse seventeen of the sixth chapter of First Timothy. 

1st Timothy 6:17 (ESV) As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. 20 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.

Paul gives Timothy his final command in this letter; he speaks to the rich in this present age and regardless of how many units of currency you have in your bank account at present, if you are living in the West, you are rich. There are many in the second and third world who would pray for the problems that you have in your worst day, so please bear this in mind before you discount this from your mind.

We get wrapped up a lot in our own wee situations and sometimes we look at things in relation to “poverty levels” and what our neighbor has, when in fact if we were to airlift our salary or what we bring in and we were to apply it to a situation where there is extreme poverty, we would see that we are living a rich life.

We have to be careful that we don’t allow money to occupy an unhealthy grip on our lives, whether we are “paycheck to paycheck” or whether we are at “lottery winner” status the money we have in our wallets can become unhealthy as it may become a god in our lives.

Paul deals with the rich man here, but speaking as a man who has lived on both sides of the curb when you are broke and have literally no money, money can be just as much of an idol when every penny is a prisoner. If this is not you then I would urge you to pray for those who you know who are living paycheck to paycheck as you have no idea the stress they are under and how they survive on a day to day basis with their finances.

Rich in this present age

He uses the phrase “rich in this present age” and it is a timely reminder that riches are temporary and that the blessings we have can be removed in the blink of an eye. There is a certain responsibility that God puts on the rich to be a good steward of his money. They are commanded to use their wealth wisely.

We have to be careful that with wealth comes pride and it is very much human nature to assess our worth based on what is in our bank account or the rich possessions that we have. We are no more or less of a man (or woman) because we have more than another man has.

Temporary wealth or everlasting?

Our riches are temporary but trusting in the LORD is security. Much as riches are temporary (well the ones in this life are) if we have riches in heaven they are everlasting. We have to put our future and our trust in him as opposed to some temporary wealth which can be removed in a heartbeat.

If we must boast then boast in the living God, in his grace, in the love that the father has that he sent his some Jesus Christ to die on the cross at Calvary. If we must boast then boast in the infallible, inerrant word of God, the Bible that gives us hope, instruction and is a timeless document of truth. We must not forget as Paul states that God is our provider.

Be generous and ready to share
 

18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

With that great wealth comes great responsibility; God expects those whom he has provided with in much abundance to be generous with their excess. Paul expects them to be as rich in good works as they are in currency, and speaking from a human perspective I have never not been blessed when I have been giving. Yes I may have given a meal or a few dollars, but I have been given more back in abundance.

It takes faith to give, if you have a lot it takes less faith but God knows us and knows our hearts, he made us this way with a need to be generous and to be a giver. God does not need our money and could provide for every eventuality even if we are not compliant, but God desires to bless us and this is my biggest growth area, letting go of the clenched fish and opening my hand to the LORD.

Would I survive without it?

We have to approach material things with an attitude of “if my house burned down, would I survive without it?” I remember this principle from a movie I watched once called “Leap Year” where the question was posed to the main character “Your house is burning down, what would you grab? Or what was important to you?” We can’t be so comfortable here with our stuff that it chokes out what God has planned for us.

Paul commends Timothy to leave that well alone! To be content in the calling that he has and seek the higher pursuits of ministry. I know that one myself as I have seen Pastors take jobs that were less money to fulfill a calling in order to do what God was calling them to do in their life. (In one case taking a job that was a Pastor) That takes faith and obedience.

Paul’s conclusion

V20 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.

Paul cites Timothy by name in this closing of this letter. He commends Timothy to “guard the deposit entrusted to you” which basically means that he is to guard the ministry that he has been called to by God. God has entrusted you with this job, he can do it with our without you but isn’t it so cool that he involved his faithful child Timothy.

When we get into ministry, we can often times think, that’s my ministry, or this is my bible study and in truth we are simply custodians, God is allowing us to be part of something that really has very little to do with us. Paul trusts Timothy and would never have sent him to Ephesus had he not trusted him but Paul also knows that Timothy is a young man and what he is warning of (further in the sentence) is dangerous.

V20b Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,

Timothy, hold on to what is from God and avoid the babble of man! Really is what is being said here. When you teach the bible, you will have folks congratulating you in revealing truths to them please reject that Timothy, reject the talk of men who wish to court your good favor.

This is a word to the pastors also! Check the health of your assembly, if you look around your fellowship and you see those who aspire to be in ministry trying to flatter the leadership rather than serving or caring for the least of these. Obviously the Sunday assembly is only a minute part of the week, but if they are not caring for the ones who need it in the fellowship, do you think they will externally?

POP QUIZ TIME

Jesus said “By this you will know you are my disciples…”

A) If you love one another
B) If you are in tight with the Pastor, elders and deacons

Makes you think huh?

Paul is a careful spiritual father and his careful instructions are relevant to us today, because human nature has not changed, men will flatter those in leadership, we all have a desire to be liked, fit in and be accepted. We all want to be listened to if we have a ‘ministry idea”.

The consequences of this

V21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.

Are simple, Paul states that the ones who are in babble and are not staying true are strayed concerning the faith. It is a slippery slope when you are leaving the church. I know that when I left the church the first time as an 18 year old I was all mad that the church didn’t notice I had gone, when in truth I had tried so many different churches it would be difficult to assess which one would be regarded as my home church.

If your Christianity is based on being tight with the pastor, having a wee social club and not affecting the world outside then you will have no foundation to go on. Paul states that these people who were the worst offenders are no longer there.

For these folks, they have to be treated as unbelievers and we must do all that we can to win them back to the faith in love, teaching them the truth and sound doctrine. Paul closes with “Grace be with you” we cannot do this mission without the grace of God. This epistle speaks clearly on the need to rely on God.

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE

 

 

Timothy’s instruction in ministry

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Timothy’s instruction in ministry

This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book.

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse six of the fourth chapter of First Timothy.

A Good Servant of Christ Jesus

1st Timothy 4:6 (ESV) If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

Paul ties up his previous thoughts and gives the exhortation that if he instructs (or put these things before the brothers) then he will be doing what he is called to do and be a good servant of Jesus Christ. He was calling Timothy to instruct in words, deeds and actions. He had already stated the standard of conduct in chapter three.

For me the greatest leaders or best pastors are those who lead from the front, who not only instruct the word but they live the word and let their lives be a testimony, they pray hard, they trust more and they are more likely to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, they will be mentors, they will be trainers, they will be teachers and they will be shepherds.

Being trained in the words of the faith

This is just the foundation though; the important part comes next…

V6b …being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed…

Timothy will do well if he follows those principles, but he has to remember the main thing that he has to do all these things but he has to use the good doctrine, the doctrine that he got straight from Paul and minister to where he has been planted. He must remain grounded in God’s word, much like a ship with an anchor; he has to use this as his sure foundation. The next part shows what Paul means…

Nothing to do with silly myths

V7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;

As stated prior; we (Timothy also) have to have our priority on God’s word and not the daily rumor mill that will change from day to day. If we have our foundation on something that is so changeable as the words of man, whether it be what we call news, whether it be entertainment, whether it be philosophies that have no eternal value. That is really the crux of what he is saying to Timothy that he has to stay on point. This point that he has to remain focused on God’s infallible word. God is truth and God never changes and man’s word is so unreliable.

Train yourself for godliness

You have to ask yourself, would you base your life’s philosophy on what is said on Fox News? Or what is on the NFL channel? Or is it based on your favorite sports team’s results? Or what movies are playing? Or what your favorite celebrities are saying?  These things will all change tomorrow; it is easy to get caught up in it. (My hot buttons are politics and sports)

What I am asking is “Are you passing time or are you fighting the LORDs fight?” Is your focus on the eternal things or the earthly temporary things? Paul covers this when he states to “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths” and Paul states what should replace that. Paul states that you should “train yourself for godliness” and then explains what he means by this using a culture that was prevalent at that time and one that we can recognize today.

Godliness is of value in every way

V8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Paul is speaking to a culture that placed a lot of credence in body sculpting and personal fitness. The Roman army chose the finest specimens in the empire to serve in the Imperial army! So much so that in that culture having a fit body and becoming fitter and fitter was an overriding passion and an idol in so many people’s lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I would like to drop a few pounds (or 50/60) and I am covetous of (or certainly admire) those who have kept better shape than I have and I do have it as an ambition of mine to become in better shape, but I want to do it for my service to the LORD and in order to better serve my wife and daughter rather than wishing to compete in any competition. This is not the only time Paul talks about training like an athlete, Let’s look at Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth…

Perishable prize

1st Corinthians 9:24 (ESV) Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Explains what I explained although much better!

Finding Godly contentment

We have to be careful that we don’t find our contentment in things that are not Godly! Paul talks about an idol of the day and whilst that gives a temporary accomplishment, it will eventually not be as fulfilling as before.

Paul has a great attitude about this; he equates the training that one does for a competition as how we should train ourselves for godliness. We should have that same desire, same drive for success and same discipline that an athlete has when they are trying to better themselves, not for a crown or a piece of gold, but for eternal reward!

Paul promises that godliness is the only life that holds promise both in this life and the life to come, to those who believe. Our life has meaning and has eternal value once we believe and have faith that Jesus did in fact paid it all. God does not desire that any should perish but have everlasting life. We won’t all be in heaven because some men have hard hearts and will not believe in the lifesaving power of the cross. Which is how Paul finishes this passage…

Set your hope on the living God

V9 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

It reminds me of a story that my father told me about a man who was evangelizing in a big city and wished to find out the effectiveness of handing out flyers for his Christian event, so he and a friend handed out flyers promising that if people met them in a certain place in about 6 hours from when they received that flyer they would receive a free gift of 5 pounds (UK money) all they had to do was turn up at the appointed time with the invite (the flyer) and accept the free gift.

Now he had money to pay if everyone turned up, and he estimated that he handed out about 500 flyers and he stood there and waited at the appointed time and very few people came to claim their prize. It cost them nothing and the price was bared by the man who offered the free gift!

Jesus offered us a free gift too, eternal life! It cost us nothing but cost him everything! The Christian life isn’t easy, when we accept Jesus we are not no longer affected by toil and strife, we will still have earthly issues distracting and getting us down. So Paul is correct, we do toil and strive in this life, being a Christian doesn’t mean an easy life it means that we are forgiven in our sins and will still have issues.

But this life is no longer the end of the road for us; we have our hope set on a heavenly existence eternally with our creator God, for me it sounds awesome and a much better alternative to an existence in the lake of fire!

From my point of view, I have tried a life of sin and it left me really unfulfilled, when I was in alcohol I had a temporary high (that felt good, I am not going to lie) and then came a huge low (when the after effects kicked in) it profited me little as I was destroying myself and it also had no heavenly value.

Which is the question I leave you with, do you live your life in a way that has eternal worth? All that the earth offers, wealth, fame, fortune, notoriety none of that will matter when you pass from this earth, as Greg Laurie says “you don’t ever see a U-Haul following a funeral car!” Which is the truth, you can’t take it with you! What will your legacy be? Will it be a life lived for you or a life lived for Christ?

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE

A warning against False Teachers

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Warning Against False Teachers

This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle”. page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book. 

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse three of the first chapter of First Timothy.

Remain in Ephesus

3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

Paul commends Timothy to remain in Ephesus, as stated earlier Timothy had a really tough job and he was urged to stay there to combat heresy. This encouragement is evident that he had done well so far, but God was telling him to have Timothy stay in Ephesus; continue the work until he was called elsewhere. 

Ministry is hard, you will be attacked both spiritually and mentally, I have seen good Pastors forfeit wealth, material success and sometimes have health considerations due to remaining in a certain ministry. That is faith, true faith to stay the course because all that is telling you to is that still small voice from God guiding your path. This is even more so when all of the material evidence points to escape being the only option.

Affliction goes with the territory in ministry, sometimes it is seasonal, and some of us are blessed with a permanent state of affliction. Whatever God has us go through he will give us what we need to get through it. God will allow us to be in difficult situations, often times it is to show us lessons that we need to learn. One of my failings is failing to pray for patience to get through the trials I face and my prayer usually involves the theme or tone of “Get me out of this LORD!” rather than “Show me what I need to learn and in your own time LORD let me learn and then deem me worthy to be removed from this trial”.

Why had he to remain? Simply to keep the doctrine straight! To teach no other doctrine, to make sure that the church as a whole avoided heresy and to preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul had preached to the Ephesian church and told them straight from the horse’s mouth the correct doctrine. He had set out in his own teachings a certain set of beliefs that were correct and he was keen that the Ephesians stay in the solid doctrine that he established.

Keep the doctrine straight

Paul was very concerned with keeping the doctrinal “ducks in a row” as God is concerned that we believe and what we believe. He is concerned what we believe about him, what we believe about Jesus and also what we believe about truth. Just like the times in which Paul was writing in, (Roman times) they were a very polytheistic society with many “truths”. Paul would be writing in the face of this and advising a singular truth based on the life and doctrines of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This will be offensive then as it is today, there is only one way to heaven and that is through the gospel of Jesus Christ. You cannot get there through the teachings of Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius or the Dahlia Llama. None of these other folks died for the sins of the world, there was only one person in the history of the world able to do this and that was Jesus Christ.

Teach no other doctrine

Paul was not worried about Timothy’s doctrine but the doctrine of those around him. He was commended that “you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine” he was then given his instructions to stand up against those who wished to teach “different doctrine” this doctrine was obviously contrary to the message and it must have been tough for Timothy. You have got to stop these falsehoods in the church, command if you will because this doctrine was not up for debate; he was to charge it to these certain persons.

Like any heresy it grows arms and legs, and Paul states “nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.” Timothy was to cut this out at the root because not only were they deviating from the true doctrine of Jesus Christ, they were taking doctrine and applied untruths, myths and applying things to it was never meant to mean.

I will give them the benefit of the doubt and state that I don’t think in the main it was malicious, they were not preaching against Jesus, but they were focusing on the wrong things. If we get distracted in minor points of theology it can be more distracting and can often times do more harm than good.

Gentiles keeping the Law

A prevalent problem in the early church was the Jewish believer trying to force Gentiles to try to keep the law and applying a further burden upon them. Paul was very vociferous against doctrines like this as it caused more harm than good. We do this today in our over complicating of the gospel message and attempting to over intellectualize the message to make it seem more complicated than it actually is.

Jesus+ doctrine

Another fear is the Jesus+ doctrine, this is where most cults error and advise that in order to attain higher spirituality you have to have Jesus plus something else.  The problem with this Paul states quite clearly that “which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” they are removing the truth of edification from God for the thrill of a speculation from man.

The truth of the edification from God is pure and truthful, where the man is a created being from God and he is not honest and truthful, man is corrupt and will produce a short term thrill while the idea is new, but is nothing but a distraction or a corruption of Godly edification. The rewards are much less and really are profitless and rob you of a much greater blessing.

Pure heart, good conscience, sincere faith

Going on from this we read “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” And Paul shows the loving shepherds heart that he has for these folks, this is important as we have many “fakers”, “part-time believers” or “Sunday legalists” in our bodies today, people don’t change! Jesus called them “white washed tombs” (Matthew 23:27-28) because they looked great on the outside but were dead inside.

We have to check ourselves first and make sure that we are doing this and that we are approaching our doctrine with a pure heart. When Jesus was on this earth, the people he had the most issue is the people who should have known better. It was the ones who knew the law but they approached it with a wicked heart and used it to justify their behavior as opposed to using it to bring you closer to God. It was all about “looking holy” as opposed to “being holy”. Even although we are not Jewish, we still have Jewish type legalists, misunderstanding the doctrines and are “warriors in the church” but “silent outside”.

Examine the harvest

In order to check ourselves we have to examine the fruit in our lives to make sure there is nothing “poisoning the well” A good question to ask is “Are you being changed by God’s word or are we using it as a rulebook that we realize we cannot measure up to and attempt to work our way into God’s good books and deny our sincere faith in order to try to please God by our own efforts.

Vain discussion

V6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

When we get sidetracked, confused and sidetracked into vain discussion (some versions have idle chatter) then we go further down the track of going away from God. Some churches by focusing more on “man-made rules” than “God inspired doctrine” have done this and found themselves in all manners and areas of compromise.

Vain discussion can also be over analyzing of scripture and as stated before taking it into tangents it was never meant to go in or applying man’s wisdom and taking it places it was never meant to go in. It can lead to some interesting discussions but the fruit is questionable as does it really do what it intended to and bring you closer to God? It may very well be entertaining but can erode from the message that God is trying to tell you.

When people get “puffed up” and have something to say about scripture that makes them seem holy, they may desire to be a teacher. In Paul’s day it was the people who were pulling the sheep astray and the very ones involved in the vain discussions (the last people who should ever be allowed near the front of the assembly) they let individual pride, ambition and desire to be known take over from any good they possibly could do as servants because they seek to serve their ambition first and God a distant second.

My or thy will be done?

Please do not confuse this with a holy calling, but anyone desiring to be a teacher should really look at the qualifications in chapter two, examine them with an elder or someone you trust and prayerfully consider whether that it is a calling or whether you are working in “my will be done” as opposed to “thy will be done”. We will go deeper into this when we look at the qualifications much later.

This leads to a conclusion that we could all see coming “without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions” we see these people not seeing their own folly and also not seeing the potential damage they could be doing to the body of Christ as a whole.

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE

Teach no other doctrine

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This book was a letter that was originally written by the apostle Paul, to Timothy as instruction about his pastoral duties in Ephesus. I find it encouraging and wanted to share this portion of what I was reading to you today. This is intended as a gentle exhortation rather than a “mini sermon”

As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: [so do]. 1 Tim 1:3-4 (KJV)

Now the interesting thing about this scripture, is that it tells us to teach “no other doctrine” but literally a translation from the Greek would be to command to not to be deviating from the truth, the truth in this case being the sound doctrine of Jesus Christ.

Also it goes on to say, do not be attentive to inventions, falsehoods (Greek word was mythos – where we get modern day myth from) and genealogies that foster debates, rather than seeking Godly edifying.

Sometimes we are all guilty of showing how “holy” we are by how we can explain theology, or how we can impress by using “holy words” we need to be careful that we are doing it for Gods glory rather than our own.

Please do not thing I am bagging on people who debate all the time, (some are called to do that – that is their ministry!) because in 1 Peter 3:15 we are told to But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

All I am asking is that your heart be right, by all means defend Gods word, but do it for Gods sake!

The Bible is God’s infallible word, in the first part of Genesis we see that the Bible states that there was only one beginning “In the beginning, God.”

The Bible goes on to say that God (‘elohiym – plural of ‘elowahh – The triune god) created the heavens and the earth. There is no debate, this is exactly how it happened. Debates only happen when we try to apply mans ‘wisdom or logic” to Gods word. Which leads us into “sound doctrine”.

The command to teach sound doctrine is one that is used so much; it goes without saying that when we approach God’s word to teach, it must be with reverence and fear. When I teach I am still mindful and prayerful that I do not butcher what I have in front of me.

I do not try to apply my thoughts and bias to what the Holy Spirit is teaching me. (in some cases the lesson is for me, in some cases the lesson is to be shared to help others!)

I guess it all comes down to the heart and only God can see that, when I am wanting a reality check of where I am in my Christian walk, I read the book of James. I then take note of the things that “need improvement” and get set to do them.

Lastly, although it is not mentioned here, a really important thing to be doing for each other is to be in prayer for one another, we need to be lifting each other up and seeking Gods will in the lives of not just ourselves and families, but also the communities that God has allowed us to work in.

I hope this was a blessing
God bless and TGBTG
TTE

Do we treat the Bible as the precious document it is?

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Do we treat the Bible as the precious document it is?

We in the western world are very blessed. We have a Bible in almost every room in our house. I certainly have at least 5-6 Bibles in my house that are either on my bookshelf or have barely been read. If we were to look into impoverished nations, such as those in Asia and Africa where they have only ever owned a few pages at a time in their native language, and see what they look like if they were to get a whole book of the Bible, like a Gospel of John or a New Testament, never mind a whole Bible, will make you think about your faith, your relationship with your Bible and hopefully inspire you to change. Here are a few scriptures I have chosen to ask the question above.

We need reminding to study and why

2 Tim 2:14 (NKJV) Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.

It is a sad indication that we don’t treat our Bibles the way we should. If we did, my new country (USA) would be in a state of revival that would make the Azusa Street Revival seem like a conservative “run of the mill” Sunday.

The graphic is of course amusing but it is meant to cause a point. I borrowed the graphic from a local pastor who I know quite well (Pastor Bob Grenier – Calvary Chapel Visalia) off his Facebook, sorry Bob!

The graphic however got me thinking and made me wonder about my own life, do I “study to show myself approved” as much as I should? I read the Bible sure, but how am I in the areas that really matter. How am I in personal readings? Do I study enough? Do I study with my wife as a couple? Do I lead by example when it comes to Bible reading? How do I engage my child and raise up the next generation of Christians? What example am I to the folks that God has allowed me to be head of that home?

Challenging stuff huh? I am not as bad as the graphic but I am certainly a long way from where I believe God would like me to be. It is not easy to publicly say that and it truly chafes at my inner being to admit. I like to be like everyone else and claim that I have it all down, but I am a fallen man, who fails his wife consistently (let’s be real here) but has been forgiven by God and also by his wife!

Continuing in the Scriptures

2 Tim 3:14 (NKJV) But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Starting a Bible plan is only the start; I have started, re-started and turned over enough leaves to fill an autumn. My wife calls me the “startup guy” because i am great at getting things moving, ministries started (I launched the church I attended since 2007’s Facebook & Twitter in 2009 before passing it on earlier this year) and then pass on the baton to someone else. Of course she is right, but I wish I had more staying power at times.

It is imperative that we teach the precious children the precious scriptures. These are not just words on a page, this book is the most maligned, most attacked, most martyred book ever, it contains the Word of God. The words that should guide your life as a Christian, as the verse says it “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”

The world is going to teach them anything but the Bible, such as programs to ban school bible classes. We have had no official representation in schools for the Bible since 1962. If the kids are not getting the Bible in their homes (whether that home is Christian or Non-Christian) then they most certainly are not getting it at school.

I am a little bit of an enigma in that respect, until recently my dad did not care for the word. I was sent to a Brethren Gospel hall for Sunday School and I learned a basic foundational knowledge from there, I did not get beyond a basic knowledge as I did not follow up in the word (always have had a Bible) and didn’t read it because my parents didn’t. God rescued me from myself by sending a wonderful woman (see my Testimony page)

How deep is the Word?

Deut 11:18 (NKJV) “Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 20 And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth. 22 “For if you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do—to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him—23 then the LORD will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations than yourselves.

This is critical, we have to memorize the word, write it on our hearts, we have to bind them as a fabric of our every being. (I don’t know about you dear reader, but I am being flogged by the words today and realizing my shortcomings) God promises blessings if we abide in his word.

I like the idea of writing them on your “doorposts and gates” having reminders all around your home who you serve and the standards that you must keep. In my house when you walk through the door I see the words “FAITH HOPE LOVE” which of course refers to our family verse 1 Corinthians 13:13, all around my house are different scriptures to help remind our family that when the trials come, and they will, the God is in control and all this other stuff is temporary (see my blog on trials)

The promise to drive out our enemies is one I like, what we have to realize though is that is in God’s time. Often times he will “purify us in the fire” longer than we would like. When I get trials I usually sink to my knees and pray for deliverance. What I should be praying for is open eyes to see what lesson I am being taught here.

Destroyed for rejecting knowledge

Hosea 4:6 (NKJV) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

God has written down his plan for your life (mine too) and we have the same choice as Adam and Eve. We can choose to reject God’s plan, discard the knowledge that is in the Word of God, reject God’s plan for your life and forget God’s law. There are two things I would like to say here, if you are giving up on God completely and going away from the faith, then that is tragic.

Secondly I see people who are in ministry, try to take on more than they were ever equipped to take on, the counsellor is soon in need of being counselled, the preacher should really sit down and learn for a season. The prayer has a dry prayer life and is pumping a dry well publically. The minister is living life based on what he knows of the words of God as opposed to the Word of God and he is falling into a hole that very soon will either lead to apostasy or leaving the faith.

I pray for those folks. I see so many folks sitting with their little “cyber guns” waiting to shoot at a minister, a pastor or someone in ministry that either has gone off the rails or is about to. Instead of getting down, getting humble and praying for those folks, honestly wishing their brother does not fall. They sit with a “Grinch-like smile” and take great glee at uncovering their sin in the same manner as Noah’s son Ham, where he could not wait to tell his brothers of his father’s shame. (Gen 9:20-23) Are you like Ham? Or are you like Shem and Japheth? (There are whole ministries dedicated to being Shem or Japheth’s)

What is the Word of God?

Hebrew 4:12 (NKJV) For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

I pray that as you read this, it is not my words which impact you but the Bible verses. That is the point of this whole blog/website. The word of God is center stage. I have no “show to steal” as i am just a lay person (a nobody) giving what God has put on his heart. I have no official ordination or tie in or promotion to any church/assembly or group. I write just as me.

That being said, in studying for articles like this one, my heart does get pierced. It speaks to me in a way that no other man made document has. It is a refiner, a mirror to show your imperfections and what you need to do to fix it. I am a knucklehead so I need to be told everything many times over to allow it to resonate. This is why I believe that God wrote it down for us. So that we can’t say, well if only God would tell me what he wants for me to do with my life. In the words of Answers in Genesis founder Ken Ham “Well there is this book…”

How to receive the word

Acts 17:11 (NKJV) These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

Now we understand the importance of the word, how do we receive it? We have two options

1) Receive it in a passive way, possibly like you are doing now
2) Receive it in a fashion like the Bereans (v10 states who they were)

The Bereans were studiers of the word, they pulled apart the scriptures and were what we would call these days and Inductive Bible student, they found out what it meant, they liked for ways to apply it to their lives, they examined the evidence and found the truths, they looked for each spiritual nugget and how it meant to their lives.

My prayer is that God make me like a Berean!

Some comfort in the Psalms

Psalm 119:105 (NKJV) Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path

Psalm 119:11 (NKJV) Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.

Some comfort to end on a light note, the Word of God is there to help us be “lights in the darkness” and our Bibles are what keeps the light shining bright, we need to treasure these scriptures as they have been diligently been prepared (by hand until the later part of the 16th century)

We need to have the word engrained in our hearts; it allows us to claim victory over our struggles.

God bless and I pray this was an exhortation and a blessing to you all
TTE