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A biblical journey through the epistles

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Gods authority is challenged by the serpent – Genesis 3:1-7

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Gods authority is challenged by the serpent – Genesis 3:1-7 – 04/19/2016

Genesis 3:1 (ESV) Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

This article is designed to be a slightly more in depth article than I did in the “creation series” elsewhere on this website, Lord willing I hope to look at the full creation week and examine the case for a Biblical creation from the mindset that the bible is accurate and a honest and truthful source of history in how we came to be here. I am not here to attack other mindsets as I appreciate that not everyone shares my view of a biblical history and I do welcome lively debate on the subject regardless of your thoughts or beliefs on how the earth was made.

In order to look at this from a biblical context we must first look at the text in question starting in chapter three verse one…

V1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

As the title suggests this was the first challenge to the authority of God and although the text does not clearly state that this was Satan, however elsewhere in the bible it does make it clear, let’s look at the book of Ezekiel…

Ezekiel 28:13 (ESV) You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. 14 You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. 16 In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. 17 Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. 18 By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you. 19 All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever.”

And we read that the serpent was crafty and cunning and this is a warning to us today not to engage Satan in a battle of wits or attempt to even outsmart or try to do battle with the word of God against Satan, he knows the word of God and knows how to twist it to suit his ends and we see this in this text that this is what he tries to do with Eve. It is important to recognize that Satan is a created being; he is not equal or equivalent to God. To elevate him to such stature is giving him what he desires most, to have the power of God. He can be defeated and Jesus is more than a match for him.

He understood the woman and understood that by going to the woman and attacking the one that the command was not explicitly given (see Genesis 2:15 onwards) to he may expose a weakness in the relationship of the man and the woman. The question is not a friendly one and exposed by Satan’s purpose in all of our lives that is explained in John 10 where he is listed as “the thief”…

John 10:10 (ESV) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

I know all about Satan’s plan in this area as often times we have been attacked as a family unit when either myself or my wife has been at their weakest and here is how he attacked “He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” He decided to go against the very word of God and whilst this may be a bold assertion for us mere mortals, Satan genuinely believes that he is equivalent to God and will attempt to place himself in that place.

He would have had foreknowledge of whether Adam did a good job telling Eve God’s plan for the garden and he approached it in a manner taking what God had said as a positive (He gave them so much to eat and a perfect paradise to roam in) and the devil focused in on the ONE LIMITATION that was given and even then he asked the question in a manner that was designed to trip up Eve.

V2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

Eve was really proud to be asked this question and answered him in the first place and secondly that she answered in her own pride and here is the first mistakes made in this whole unfortunate encounter. She also does not name the tree by name and lastly she adds her own addition to the end of the command from God. Here is what God actually said…

Genesis 2:15 (ESV) The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

No-one expects Eve to repeat the command verbatim but she was not supposed to add to the words of God and this is what Satan jumped on. She added the “nor shall you touch it” and whilst it may have been a sound policy to avoid temptations she was not bound by that recommendation by God and I see that a lot with Christians who bind themselves up in a whole bunch of traditional dogma that is not actually biblical and have been passed down as a tradition as opposed to sound theology. Eve really had a poor understanding of what God had actually said and did not understand the heart behind it. This for me as a man, husband and father falls squarely on Adams shoulders as he was the one who was supposed to take care of that.

V4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

As stated prior, Satan jumped on this like a flash exposing her false doctrine he had planned this and from the first moment asking the question in the way he did he opened up this situation to his benefit. He did not have to discredit God’s word; he just had to make Eve doubt and want to defend it. That is how he got a foothold in that conversation and from this he then went on the attack.

He stated “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” He starts with questioning to make sure that Eve did not know what she was talking about and now moves in for the kill by contradicting God’s word. God’s word shows two good ways of dealing with the devil…

Jude 1:9 (ESV) But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”

Ephesians 4:27 (ESV) and give no opportunity to the devil.

Basically the bible states that we should not be tackling him dead on and instead leaving him to the Lord because greater is he that is in us than the one who tempts us. The devil concentrates on what he believes the benefits would be to them if they carry out this sin. The most dangerous part of this that there was a little truth in that their eyes would be opened…to their sin and just how inferior and different they were to God. Satan promised the opposite, he played on the pride that was in the heart of the woman wanting to be like the one who created them and made them fall in the same way he did, by wanting to be equal with God.

V6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Satan focused on how good the food was and Eve looks at the food and is enticed by the very thing that we are warned about in the epistle that we call First John…

1st John 2:15 (ESV) Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Eve did all of that…

  • She gave into the desires of the flesh – when the woman saw that the tree was good for food
  • the desires of the eyes – was a delight to the eyes
  • and lastly the pride of life – desired to make one wise

Now the seed was sown Eve was sunk, she had backed herself into a corner and now wanted to go against God. This is a common story because every sin, whether it is a small sin like disobedience or a slightly larger one like lusting after another, they all start in the same manner, they start with pitching your tent closer and closer to the place of sin until the sin overtakes you. Whether that is a look that gravitates to a thought that cultivates a desire and concludes with an obsession it is all the same.

Up to this point it was all temptation and Eve still had to make the choice to sin and she chose that path but before you get to hard on Eve please note that it does state that her husband was with her and he took the fruit from his wife and ate it. As the man of the house he should have covered his wife and protected her from the devil. Eve was deceived but Adam had all the information direct from God and he chose to willingly rebel against God.

V7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

True enough their eyes were opened and the promise was fulfilled, they saw their nakedness and understood shame for the first time. They understood exposure, they understood vulnerability and they were experiencing things that God did not want them to have to go through. We know this as guilt, suddenly everything was worse and they had realized that they had done something wrong and they decided to cover their shame with leaves and for the first time they had a desire to be modest. God made us to be beautiful in who we are, our sin and fallen nature is the reason we wear clothes.

Lord willing, in our next article in Genesis we will look at verses eight through thirteen in chapter three when we look at what happens the next time Adam and Eve talk to God. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

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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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

Qualifications for Deacons

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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 eight of the third chapter of First Timothy.

Qualifications for Deacons

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.

In our last article we looked at the qualifications for overseers (or bishops) but that is only kevel of leadership that Paul tells Timothy to look out for. He tells him to look for “Deacons” and then explains the qualities that they must have. Similar to the “overseers” article I plan to go through the qualifications one by one.

Where do we get the name deacons?

Deacons are introduced in a way in Acts 6:1-6 when they made members in charge of fulfilling the needs of others in order to allow the overseers the ability to do their job. Let’s look at Acts 6…

1 Now in these days when the disciples we increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

People throughout the ages have seen one as “more prestigious” than another, like many things in Gods church it is a calling rather than a job. Being a deacon is a tough job and it is a timely reminder that they need to be prayed for as much as your pastors are.

The qualifications for a deacon are as follows…

1) Be dignified – Like the overseers, the person has to be respectful, reverent and has an appropriate level of respect for God and be well thought of by men.

2) Not double-tongued – Not a deceiver, an honest man who can be trusted with no guile or intent to lie or mislead in any way.

3) Not addicted to much wine – Again goes hand in hand with being dignified, if he is addicted to any other spirit than the spirit of God, what use is he going to be in God’s church. The deacon should be one who is looked at as an example.

4) Not greedy for dishonest gain – Like the overseers, you have to ask what the heart is for service. Is it for profit? Likewise in their daily lives are they conducting their business affairs on the level? Are they charging a fair price for their trade? There is nothing more grievous than brothers ripping other brothers off! Also, would you want that kind of man leading in your assembly?

5) They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience – Someone who can hold on to having their doctrine straight and have convictions about the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Someone with a firm faith.

6) And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.  – Let them be recognized by their conduct rather than seek volunteers for a vacant post. I am always impressed when a Pastor appoints his own deacons based on prior unrecognized service. (Usually done with little recognition given or sought!)

7) Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, sober-minded, faithful in all things – Paul goes on to say that in addition to the men being dignified and being above reproach, they also must marry well. Does she fulfil these qualities as well? Does she respect the husband as the head of the home? Is she faithful in all things?Husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well – Like the overseers the deacon is expected to show good management in the home prior to being invited to be a head in Gods church!

It’s a service not a position

Verse 13 is the only verse that doesn’t deal with the qualities required when discussing deacons, we read in verse 13…

V13 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.

Which reiterates that when you come on board as a deacon it is a service and not a position, you are coming on board to be a chief of servants, an example to the lay community in how to serve. No task, regardless how small or unrewarded it is should be below the deacon to do, really they are expected to serve with little regard or gratification apart from a job well done. It is not really a job for the “look at me” brigade.

The good standing that Paul speaks of is usually not in this life, the effective deacon serves to serve, knowing that he is storing up treasures in heaven. It is a noble calling but certainly is a calling and is not for everyone. My hope is that if you sought to be a deacon that this article may help you in your choice. My hope is to help people grow in their walk with Christ and not discourage them.

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

Careful who you put in charge

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Careful who you put in charge

This has been on my heart for a while, today the LORD has me write about this subject.

This is not aimed at one particular church and pull examples from several I have witnessed, of you see your situation below then pray thanks if you are in the “what you should be” and pray also if you see any of the “what you should not” category.

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.

A lot has been said of church leadership, especially in the movement that I belong to where a leader can yield quite a bit of power locally.

I love that Paul was called by God to write on this subject in his letters to both Titus and Timothy. It is as if God had the foreknowledge (which we know that he did) that society and the standards of society would change.

What must a leader be?

We read from both passages that a leader (some texts say Bishop, some say overseer) must be the following:

THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE – not a man into polygamy, not a man who is in a series of lewd relationships, not a man given to same sex attraction.

This also discounts women leaders.

ABOVE REPROACH – not subject to questions about how he could possibly have been chosen as a leader, this one gets cloudy in our modern day church, we have people getting positions they were never called into and people serving in areas that they either do not wish to or feel obligated to because they were just honoured to be asked in the first place. (Or because they are in a certain family or legacy)

I am not referring to the missionary church or the church plant as in many cases, people help out based on need and gradually develop their calling from there. This happened to me as I was able to teach small group bible studies as developed a will and a calling to learn and later to teach.

This goes hand in hand with what is said in Timothy about the leader not being a recent convert, I have seen folks be elevated too quickly, become proud of their new status and fall from grace, truly sad and both parties (both leadership and the man who fell) need prayer in that situation.

ARROGANT – The leader should be someone you come to for counsel and should be of a gentle spirit.

We all all fallen creatures who ALL have an issue with pride, (if you say you don’t then you also have a problem with lying) one of the hardest parts of leadership is to not exalt yourself as an example when someone is bearing their soul to you. We are commanded to be humble, to treat that person with the gentleness that Jesus has treated our many sins.

SOBER – the text says “not given to much wine” I would go further and link the verses in Romans about not causing a brother to stumble.

In the Western world we have a culture of excess, we claim poverty but have riches that 30% of the world will never see in ten lifetimes. When we get into something and make it into a demi-God, like the almighty bottle (take it from a guy who used to bow at its altar at least 4 times a week) that grabs you slowly, entices you in with the taste and by the time you realise it has you, you are already too far gone down the path to ever enjoy it responsibly again.

If you can do it, then more power to you, if you are drunk or buzzed a lot, then you have the beginning of a problem, if you got to my stage and was annoyed he had to defer my first drink long enough to do a days work, then you are in idolatry and God does not want his leaders serving two Gods.

HOSPITABLE – if you are going to lead people then you have to get to know them. You have to be willing to show your home and your lives as an example to those you wish to serve in leadership.

Also, in order to give good counsel and not to bear false witness or give options that are not factual about believers in your body that you know little about. I have had this happen to me and it leads to your estimation of that leader as well as the reliability of his facts with other leadership members called into question.

Lastly, if you are not hospitable to all then how will you know who requires extra prayer, who requires more from you, we have a culture of just “skating through” and it does not cut it anymore.

GREEDY – he has to be temperate, not after money, he has to be honest. Can you imagine trying to respect someone in leadership in your fellowship who has a wide reputation for being a crook. It just does not add up.

HOLY – his life must show a “set apart” for Jesus Christ nature, he cannot be the one in the cheap seats telling off colour jokes during the lesson.

He must be an example to the newer believers, one who attracts folks coming to him for discipleship.

SELF-CONTROLLED/DISCIPLINED – is probably the hardest one (as if there is an easy one) as when you are a leader, you have so many more eyes on you than before, you have other leaders and also church members.

What I am trying to say is, it is not just the appearance of these things, it’s the actual living them out on a day by day basis.

ABLE TO TEACH – you will notice this is the last one on my list, but when people try to make themselves available for leadership positions in the church, this is usually top of mind for them.

In my mind it was the last thing I wanted, I love to teach, however I don’t want it to be about me as in the man, I want it to be Jesus being centre stage and like being refreshed on a hot day, you don’t thank the LORD for the jug, simply the water.

1 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.

What he shouldn’t be.

(Here is where people get upset)

INVISIBLE – he should be attending things that the church puts on, have folks over (not just the ones he likes) and actually wish to find out where the prayer points are.

CONNECTED – Pastors need to be connected with others in their movement in order to identify trends and share from the wisdom of their peers.

Elders/Deacons need to be the conduit for connection between the body and upper leadership, this whole Sunday facade that has become commonplace really needs to stop.

The facade goes as follows 1) Shake laypersons hand 2) give warm greeting 3) smile a lot 4) advise that you will see them next week.

TOO BUSY – if you are too busy to do what someone has asked you then you need to pray about stepping down. Leadership is a calling, not just a kudos point or a way to show you are holy, so if you are there because of who you know or because you like seeing your name on the bulletin, then it perhaps should be time to prayerfully back out.

The layperson in the church buys into what the leadership are doing and there is only so much that folks without position can do, if the leadership by in large does not show a certain element of buy in, then the church as a whole wont either.

An example of this is hospitality, if the boots on the ground don’t see the ones who are called to lead see it as a priority, then they won’t either. End result is the church remains fragmented and never grows together as it is harder to break up clicks once they have started. Many churches in the US today are just a gathering of groups under the one building.

This spreads like a cancer, and it starts from leadership down. in the end you end up with falsehoods such as the smile on a Sunday/but secretly hate you the rest if the week mentality. We are supposed to be one body, can you imagine the state of your body if the brain didn’t talk to the hands or feet.

How do you measure up?

Now you have read all about leadership in the church and what the bible states that it should be, how is your ministry application coming along? Has it developed prayer points? If you have anything you would like to add then please let us know below

Thanks for reading and please share or comment as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE