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Pollution – Jude 1:1-16

Pollution – Jude 1:1-16
By Pastor Lee Hemen
May 6, 2018

I always laugh when the media does a story on pollution and they show pictures of steam coming from “smoke” stacks. Few realize that there are very few real “smoke” stacks within the US and Canada and this is why the media has to use billows of steam in order to make you think it is smoke. It’s like when they would write dire warnings about radiation from nuclear power plants and they would show us pictures of the water cooling towers and the huge plumes of steam coming from them.

Is there pollution? Does it occur today? Absolutely! And there is also a spiritual pollution that is just as harmful that many do not realize has affected the way they think about the Bible, salvation, and even Jesus. Most of the New Testament writers had experienced spiritual pollution firsthand. Jude, Jesus’ brother, meets this contamination head on and dramatically reveals it for what it truly is. Let’s discover for ourselves what he wrote concerning pollution…
READ: Jude 1:1-16

Many in our day and age let others do their thinking for them. They are not good at discernment and rely on others to tell them truth when in fact these folks may not have their best interests in mind. As believers we must be willing to find the truth, especially when it concerns Jesus. Jude writes that…

I. Pollution occurs when believers stop contending for their faith! (Vv. 1-4)

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, to those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance. Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

1. Jude introduces himself right away as “a servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of James”. He is not someone who speculates about Jesus because he declares he is a “servant” a “doulos” or bond slave. Someone who willing bound himself to the one he served and in this case for Jude it was Jesus. Jesus was his Master but also notice that he writes that he is the “brother of James”. There are three differing arguments as to who Jude was: 1) Jude the Apostle but he never mentions being one, 2) Jude an early leader in the Jerusalem church and one of two nominees to replace Judas who betrayed Jesus, but early church history and evidence does not support this, and finally 3) he was Jesus’ half brother which most historians support. He calls himself a “servant” because he had not always believed in Jesus. He now was writing “to those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ”. He wanted them to know the “mercy, peace, and love” of Jesus as he now did “in abundance”. He wanted to write them about their shared faith but instead he “felt” that he “had to write and urge [them] to contend for the faith that was once for entrusted to the saints”! Jude was worried because “certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago [had] secretly slipped in among” the believers! Like wolves in sheep’s clothing these ungodly men camouflaged themselves in the flock of Christ. They were “godless men” meaning they did not care about the Lord at all. Instead they wanted to “change the grace of God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord”! Wow, things have not changed much have they? These guys wanted to add to or subtract from what Jesus taught and who he was! Sound familiar? In fact they wanted to do so, so they could excuse their immoral behavior! Jude knew that pollution occurs when believers stop contending for their faith!

EXAMPLE: The word “contend” is an old-fashioned word that isn’t often used anymore. It means to fight for, stand up for, or stand firm for. The idea is someone who is willing to stand their ground for what they know to be true! Here is a good example: 71% of Americans identify themselves as “Christian” but 51% of those who identify themselves as “churchgoers” have never heard of the Great Commission! Many in our day consider themselves “spiritual” but not religious. The Barna Group writes that “The twin cultural trends of deinstitutionalization and individualism have, for many, moved spiritual practice away from the public rituals of institutional Christianity to the private experience of God within.” It is a faith based solely on feelings rather than actual facts. It can excuse the immorality of murdering babies in the womb, living together before marriage, and same sex marriage. Why has this occurred? Jude writes that pollution occurs when believers stop contending for their faith!

Can there be consequences for not “contending” for our faith? Jude writes that there certainly can be and in fact the consequences can be dire. James in fact goes on to write that…

II. Pollution carries its own consequences! (Vv. 5-9)

Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home–these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

1. What James was writing them wasn’t anything new but he wanted to remind them what their inaction could cost them if they were not willing to clean up their spiritual act so-to-speak. So, he writes, “Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.” Say what!? Remember the little incident with the bronze snake on a pole? And how those who made and worshipped Golden Calves died in the wilderness without ever seeing the land promised to them? “And the angels” Jude writes, “who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home–these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.” You mean God holds even angelic being accountable? Yep! And “In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion.” All of these “serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire”! Jude knew that “in the very same way” those who slithered into the church and corrupted the gospel that “these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings” just as the perverts of Sodom and Gomorrah did! Curiously Jude then cites a pseudepigraphical book, The Assumption of Moses, in showing that these false teachers had no respect for even heavenly beings: “But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” These folks had deliberately brought the gospel, Jesus, and who he was down to their level on purpose. They wanted to excuse their polluted spirituality but Jude reminds us that pollution carries its own consequence!

EXAMPLE: Rates of church attendance, religious affiliation, belief in God, prayer and Bible-reading have been dropping for decades. Generation Z, those born between 1999 and 2015, is the first truly “post-Christian” generation and what they don’t believe is alarming. They do not assert any religious identity. They might be drawn to things spiritual, but with a vastly different starting point from previous generations. And it shows: The percentage of Gen Z that identifies as atheist is more than double that of the US adult population. It appears that today’s youth struggle to find a compelling argument for the existence of both evil and a good and loving God. More than one-third (37%) believes it’s not possible to know for sure if God is real. More than half of all Americans, both teens (58%) and adults (62%), agree with the statement “Many religions can lead to eternal life; there is no ‘one true religion.’” This is the result of believers not contending for their faith at home, in the classroom, at work, and in the market place. Jude reminds us that pollution carries its own consequence!

Spiritual ignorance is at an all time high. People often place more credibility on what they feel than what is real. Believers spend too much time arguing over the gnat and the world has swallowed the camel. It’s time to stop arguing over biblical minutia and focus on what matters. Jude writes that…

III. The result of spiritual pollution stinks! (Vv. 10-16)

Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals–these are the very things that destroy them. Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion. These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm–shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted–twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

1. Interestingly when people no longer have a spiritual core they distrust and even hate anything spiritual. Jude writes that “these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals–these are the very things that destroy them. Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.” Cain killed his brother in jealousy, Balaam tried to get rich by selling his gift to the highest bidder, and Korah said that they could worship God anyway and anywhere they wanted! Jude writes very descriptively about these deceptive individuals: “These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm–shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted–twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.” Interestingly Jude quotes another pseudepigraphical book of Enoch where “the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: ‘See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’” While Jude used books his audience would be familiar with he wasn’t endorsing them as holy or spiritual. He wanted his audience to realize that “These men [were] grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.” Jude knew that the result of spiritual pollution stinks!

EXAMPLE: In partnership with Summit Ministries, Barna conducted a study among practicing Christians in America to gauge how much the tenets new spirituality, secularism, postmodernism and Marxism have influenced Christians’ beliefs. They found strong agreement with ideas to nonbiblical worldviews among practicing Christians. For instance 28% strongly agree that “all people pray to the same god or spirit, no matter what name they use for that spiritual being.” Further, the belief that “meaning and purpose come from becoming one with all that is” has captured the minds of more than 27%. The New Spirituality worldview has also inched its way into Christian ethics; 32% strongly agree that “if you do good, you will receive good, and if you do bad, you will receive bad.” Almost 23% strongly agree that “what is morally right or wrong depends on what an individual believes.” And it was noted that younger believers were willing to embrace Marxism alongside their faith! These things are ungodly, unbiblical, and heretical. Jude reminds us that the result of spiritual pollution stinks!

Conclusion:

Jude reminds us that pollution occurs when believers stop contending for their faith! Jude reminds us that pollution carries its own consequence! Jude reminds us that the result of spiritual pollution stinks!

This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Do you go to Sunday School?

Do you go to Sunday School?
By Pastor Lee Hemen
January 29, 2018

The apostle Paul wrote his friend and young cohort Timothy these words: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV)” Yet sadly in our day many think that by just attending a worship service they have done this; handled the word of truth correctly. Nothing could be further from the truth. We live in a time when things like Wednesday Night and Sunday Evening Services have gone by the wayside and now for many churches they are doing away with Sunday School Classes or promoting Bible Study. It has created a flux of folks who think they know all about the Bible by simply listening to the latest pithy relevant message by their prognosticating preacher, using the Internet to garner spiritual insight, or by reading the latest Christian fad found in their local bookstore.

Paul correctly understood the human condition that it was like water in that it has a tendency to always flow downhill so-to-speak. We are lazy lots who would rather diet and exercise an easy way rather than put in the hardcore self-control and workout that is needed. A pill or prepackaged food will not create the life change needed and the same is true for the Christian who should be growing in their knowledge and understanding of Scripture.

As a pastor I try my best to be in a Sunday School Class on Sunday mornings. I enjoy not only the give and take of lively discussion, I enjoy the friendships formed, and the insights given me by fellow believers. It goes to the basics of what does this passage in the Bible mean, what does it mean for me, and what is its history and context?

Because of the lackadaisical attitude of most Christians there is a spiritual shallowness rampant within Christianity today. Many do not know what they believe nor why they should believe it or not. Most are influenced by society rather than being the salt and light they are supposed to be in an ungodly world. In the 80s and 90s it was the heresy of end times theology that crept into believer’s lives, in the early 2000s it is a worldview that is totally contrary to biblical truth and personal holiness. Worship was never meant to be where one is taught the deep spiritual truths of Jesus. It is where we are to worship. Depending upon a message in a moment will not suffice to make an individual one who is “approved… who correctly handles the word of truth”. Christians need to be in Bible Study or a Sunday School Class, whatever you want to name it, in order to mature and understand the word of God correctly. Paul also told his friend Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:16 NIV)” And I am reminded of a beautiful little comment by Luke who wrote about a tiny church who saw the importance of getting together with their fellow believers to learn the word of God: “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11 NIV)”

My advice then is this: Get your body to Bible Study or Sunday School Class on Sunday mornings and if your church does not offer them, find one that does. Therefore, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV)”

This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Honoring God’s servants! — 1 Timothy 5:17-25

Honoring God’s servants! — 1 Timothy 5:17-25
By Pastor Lee Hemen
January 21, 2018

Recently the news has had several truly horrendous examples of pastors gone bad both of which either had or are pastoring mega churches. One had sexual relations with underage girls and the other deliberately misappropriated tens of thousands of dollars of church money and was caught smuggling hundreds of illegal pounds of marijuana in his car. These examples are by no means how the vast majority of pastors humbly serve in their ministries but these ungodly few leave a bad influence and taste with those inside and outside the church. Part of the problem is when too much power is given to an individual who is supposed to be a servant of the Lord and not a sovereign.

Paul understood that how a pastor follows through in his ministry reflects on the entire body of Christ. The same is true in how the body of Christ honors their pastors. While respect is earned, honor is to be given to those who serve. For whatever reason Timothy’s congregation needed a lesson in honoring God’s servants, let’s see what Paul told Timothy…
READ: 1 Timothy 5:17-25

Just as love begins at home, shouldn’t the love of God begin within the church? In fact, we learn from Paul that…

I. Honoring God’s servant begins at church! (Vv. 17-21)

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.

1. The “elders” Paul mentions here are not just those who are older but rather those men who held specific positions within the local church itself. Many therefore believe that Paul is probably referring to pastors here. So he writes Timothy to remember that “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” These men were actively involved with the oversight of the affairs of the congregation and they had to serve “well” – literally with honesty, morality, and integrity. Their work involved both “preaching and teaching” which is not just speaking the words of the Lord but also being able to handle correctly the instruction of his word as well. It is paramount that the pastor who is leading a church not only intimately know the word of God but be well trained himself in the ability to speak ans teach it! But part of the “double honor” Paul was referring to here is making sure these men were compensated well for their labor. Why? “For the Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,’ and ‘The worker deserves his wages.’” Paul had learned from the Old Testament about making sure a pastor was taken care of and he had written “In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:14 NIV) and Paul got this from Jesus who related that “the worker deserves his wages”. (Luke 10:7 NIV) Paul also knew that the pastor could become an easy target for those who were disgruntled and he wanted them treated in the same way anyone would be: “Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.” Jesus had taught that if a brother in Christ sinned against the church then “take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses”, (Matthew 18:16 NIV) however those leaders, “who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.” Honoring God’s servant begins at church!

EXAMPLE: On Lifeway.com Michael D. Miller writes that “God asks the church today, ‘Where is My honor?’ Where is God’s honor in the conflicts over power in the church? Where is God’s honor when a church and its ministers cannot work together? Where is God’s honor when we don’t give Him our best? God asks, ‘Where is My honor?’ when there are broken relationships in the church. The church has forgotten what God called us to be Jesus prayed, ‘I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me’ (John 17:23). Jesus’ prayer for the church today is that it will demonstrate the glory of God by unity of purpose and spirit. Church conflicts don’t honor God. Individual disobedience in our Christian lives dishonors God. When we do not treat the ministers God has given the church with honor, how can we say we honor God? The giving of honor is practiced in the context of relationships. It is demonstrated through submission and obedience to those who are called to places of authority and responsibility. Honor for God is the basis of all honor. Obedience to God is coupled to the honor we give to God. When God asks the church, ‘Where is My honor?’ – what is your answer?” Honoring God’s servant begins at church!

Sadly people remember the bad thing that occurs rather than the good that happens most of the time. And if they have one bad experience at church or read about a bad acting pastor, this is the one example they remember concerning the church and its pastor. This is why Paul would teach that…

II. The servant of God needs to be worthy of honor! (Vv. 21-25)

I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden.

1. What Paul was writing Timothy was not to be dismissed because Paul viewed it as extremely essential. So he writes “I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels” — God and his messengers were witnesses! Paul knew that people could exert pressure on a new pastor especially someone they thought of as being too young and easily swayed to do what they wanted done instead of what God desired to do through him or the church. So Timothy was “to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.” I know in the past I have been saddened by how believers can sometimes be petty or childish. This should not occur and especially within the body of Christ. In fact Paul continued by telling Timothy two things: 1) “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands,” and 2) “do not share in the sins of others.” Timothy was not to give honor to someone who did not deserve it nor was he to give them a position in the church they had not shown they were worthy of. Remember when the church sets someone aside to do the work of the Lord the church comes together to “lay hands” on them in recognition of their ability to serve Jesus. He wasn’t to be too quick in doing so. Also Timothy wasn’t to share in the sins of others but instead he was to “keep [himself] pure.” It is a second reminder by Paul. Paul would tell the leaders in the church in Asia as he said goodbye to them, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28 NIV) Paul reminded Timothy he was to keep watch of himself as well and that “The sins of some men are obvious; reaching the place of judgment ahead of them” and sadly “the sins of others trail behind them” leaving in their wake spiritual destruction. However, Paul continues by reminding Timothy that “In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden.” The servant of God needs to be worthy of honor!

EXAMPLE: One of the most honored men of God is Billy Graham. One of the many reasons is his integrity as a man of God. Throughout his entire life he has maintained his integrity by keeping himself pure. He rarely got involved in things he shouldn’t and only took stands on such things as politics when he saw it as absolutely necessary. He saw a greater need to reach the masses and knew he could not if he got too politically involved. In fact Graham would write that “Integrity is the glue that holds our way of life together. What our young people want to see in their elders is integrity, honesty, truthfulness, and faith. What they hate most of all is hypocrisy and phoniness. That is why it is important for us to go to church, to read the Bible, and to say grace at the table. Let them see us doing what we would like them to do.” The servant of God needs to be worthy of honor!

Conclusion:

Honoring God’s servant begins at church! The servant of God needs to be worthy of honor!

This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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How to treat others! – 1 Timothy 5:1-16

How to treat others! – 1 Timothy 5:1-16
By Pastor Lee Hemen
January 14, 2018

One hurdle a nonbeliever has to jump over is when “Christians” do not live like it. Paul had just gotten through writing Timothy to “Watch your life and doctrine closely” because he knew that a true faith results in a changed life. Believers are to act like Jesus. Remember believers are to be “blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe”. (Philippians 2:14-15 NIV) How we treat others speaks volumes about our faith.

Although Timothy was not to dwell on his youthfulness, he was to be mindful that he was still a young man; especially in dealing with folks who are older than himself, and also in his bearing towards young women. Paul begins with the treatment of older men and returns to it again later on. Between these two passages about men he gives directions for Timothy’s guidance respecting the women in his church, especially respecting widows. In this Paul teaches us how to treat others, let’s see how…

READ: 1 Timothy 5:1-16

Remember the lyrics to the Ghostbusters song? “If there’s something strange in you neighborhood, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! If there’s something weird and it don’t look good, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!” Well if there is something strange in your local church, who you gonna call? Paul writes Timothy that…

I. The family of God is to take care of the family of God! (Vv. 1-6)

Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.

1. One would think that with age comes wisdom but this is not necessarily true. We all have met older folks who have squandered their lives and made really ridiculous decisions and are suffering the consequences. Foolishness knows no age limit and this is why Timothy needed to act as to exemplify Jesus. Both those inside and outside of the church would be watching his life very closely. Paul tells him to “not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father” and he was to “treat younger men as brothers”. Timothy was part of the family of God and he was to treat other believers as family. So gentleness, kindness, and morality were to be his motives so that “younger women” were to be treated “as sisters, with absolute purity”. In a world that chewed up people and especially the weak, the orphaned, and the widowed Timothy as a believer was to “Give proper recognition to those widows who [were] really in need. But if a widow [had] children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.” Family was to take care of family. Paul told Timothy, “The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.” Paul is writing about a person’s focus in life. In that day widows had very few options; either they had family who could care for them, they begged, or if they were young enough they became prostitutes. Note Paul’s emphasis is on their spirituality. Someone who focuses on her spiritual growth is to be commended while the one who focuses on only her own pleasure is spiritually “dead” without even knowing it already. The family of God is to take care of the family of God!

EXAMPLE: Over the years I have counseled folks who had to leave their church for varying reasons and in each case they experienced loss. Some would confess that it was worse than leaving family behind! What they forgot is the fact that this is exactly what it was! This is why Paul writes that “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV) A close knit family loves and cares for one another and so does a close knit church family. Paul let Timothy know that the family of God is to take care of the family of God!

We can forget that our faith is not just about ourselves. Others are watching our actions, our lives, and the way we treat one another. This is why Paul would teach Timothy that…

II. The family of God is to have an impact on their family and community! (Vv. 7-10)

Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame. If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.

1. Paul’s whole focus was on how Timothy could be a positive influence on his church and community. He didn’t need to worry about his age but instead about how he would be an example to his flock! Therefore he was to “Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame.” The world of Paul’s day was not family oriented in that it did not see the need to take care of widows and orphans. So when Paul wrote that “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever”, he was espousing a whole new concept. If one was changed by the power and presence of God then it had better affect their family life as well! The same is true for all believers. We are to take care of family. Paul continued by giving some practical advice in that “No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.” Evidently the early church began to keep a list of widows in order to help them out during difficult times. Paul knew younger widows had a greater chance to find employment or the ability to get help and he wanted the entire church to realize the benefit of being “faithful” in marriage and in one’s life. His emphasis then was encouraging older widowed women to not be involved with the things of the world like gossip, idleness, or being meddlesome or nosy. Instead they were to focus on their families, their church, and their neighborhood! For Paul being a believer was more than what happened after death, it was about how one lived their life here and now. Paul was encouraging Timothy to lead his church to understand that the family of God is to have an impact on their family and community!

EXAMPLE: We had a mean old grumpy neighbor who would yell at us if we cut the corner of his yard. One day we all deliberately ran across his yard and laughed at him when he came out to yell at us. We thought it was funny; little did we know my Dad had seen us. He came outside later on and called me and my friends over. “Boys”, he said, “in life you will either be seen as good men or bad, which do you want to be seen as?” We all agreed that we wanted to be known as “good men”. “Then go and apologize to Mr. Anderson for cutting across his yard and laughing at him.” Then without another word, my Dad turned and went back in the house. We knew what we had to do. Paul told Timothy that the family of God is to have an impact on their family and community!

We live in a day and age where most focus on themselves. As believers in a church we are more than a “village” we are the family of God. It can be difficult at times but we must take responsibility for one another and Paul taught Timothy that…

III. The family of God is to focus on one another! (Vv. 11-16)

As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to. So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan. If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.

1. For Paul again it was a matter of focus. A believer should focus on the Lord and allow him to be displayed in every area of life. So Paul gives Timothy some practical advice: “As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list.” They probably could find a way to provide for themselves or they had children who could help. Paul sympathized and understood that younger women “when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry”. This was natural but these women needed to be aware of what they did after being widowed or they could “bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge”. I do not think Paul was referring to the widow’s list but rather to her pledge to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30 NIV) “Besides,” Paul explains they might “get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house” and if they did “not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busy-bodies, saying things they ought not to”! Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop. Paul was aware that there had arisen some kind of problem in Timothy’s church where he needed help and evidently it was with younger women not conducting themselves properly. “So I counsel younger widows to marry”, Paul related, “to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.” Paul not only wanted Timothy to spiritually succeed but he desired the entire church be successful as well but sadly “Some [had] in fact already turned away to follow Satan.” A lot of folks have misunderstood Paul’s words to Timothy thinking he was stating this was the only role for women but nothing could be further from the truth. Paul believed that both women and men who possessed the means were to take care of their families! This is why he finishes this section to Timothy by writing, “If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.” The family of God is to focus on one another!

EXAMPLE: I received a phone call one afternoon from a lady who was experiencing both verbal and psychological abuse from her husband. Her children were as well. She related her pastor and church had told her to stay with her husband. Needless to say she was beside herself. I told her to pack a few of her and her children’s things and get out of the house immediately. I told her that her husband had broken his vow to love, honor, and protect her. She needed to do whatever it took to protect not only herself but her children. A huge emotional and spiritual burden was lifted from her. Later she discovered her husband had begun to physically abuse her daughter. They came here for a time to be spiritually and emotionally healed. Now, years later, she is happily remarried, a grandmother, and her son is in Special Forces. Paul taught Timothy that the family of God is to focus on one another!

Conclusion:

The family of God is to take care of the family of God! The family of God is to have an impact on their family and community! The family of God is to focus on one another!

This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Mystery of Godliness! — 1Timothy 3:14-16

Mystery of Godliness! — 1Timothy 3:14-16
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 19, 2017

If you only had one letter, email, or text to send someone that explained how important their faith in Jesus was what would you write? We live in an age where real writing has gone by the wayside. The conveying of ideas no longer relies on the logical progression of argument but rather on the emotional response invoked instead. Politics, science, morality, philosophy and or religion have been reduced to a visceral response garnered for the gain of the speaker and not the audience involved. In other words writing has been rendered to gain the reader’s or listener’s empathy rather than being based on actual facts.

For Paul the gospel message was the single most important message ever given to mankind. Timothy needed to have a firm grasp of what this actually meant because if he did not he would fall into doubt, personal speculation, or worse the hybridization of the truth! Therefore in the following verses Paul makes an appeal to Timothy concerning the mystery of godliness, let’s discover what he wrote and why…

READ: 1Timothy 3:14-16

Jesus established his church because he was going back to where he has always existed, at the right hand of the Father. This does not mean he is actually present standing or sitting by God’s right hand but rather that he shares all that God is because he is God and he returned to where God always is. This can be confusing for our little liner minds but Paul reminds us that…

I. The mystery of godliness established the church for a reason! (Vv. 14-15)

Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

1. Paul has brought to a close some of the principal guidelines which he has to give respecting the preservation of pure teaching concerning the gospel, the church, and the qualifications for ministry. Before going on to other topics Paul halts in order to insist upon the importance of these things, by pointing out what is really involved in them. Their importance is one main reason for his writing. Paul “hoped to come… soon” to Timothy and the churches that were in the area where Timothy ministered. And he was “writing” these “instructions” so that if he [was] “delayed” in any way, Timothy and thereby those Timothy ministered to would “know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household”. A lot of teaching or lack thereof within the American church “God’s household” today is not based on actual biblical teaching concerning “the church of the living God” or what it means. Paul knew this could happen and was warning Timothy and thereby us as well. Jesus established the church when he taught his disciples about how it was supposed to function as far as disciplines were concerned; they were to “tell it to the church”. Then he related, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20 NIV) This is not in some esoteric sense for feel good purposes. The church is not a social gathering, a weekly seminar, or a place to train your kids concerning godly things. Jesus used the word ekklēsia (ek-klay-see’-ah) which literally means “called out ones”. The church is made up of folks who were called out by God from the world and into his body. Paul would write his fellow believers, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV) So, when Paul wrote Timothy concerning these instructions he was sharing how “the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth” was supposed to function. The mystery of godliness established the church for a reason!

EXAMPLE: Do you like a good mystery? I do; in fact I like a good mystery where you are given clues and you piece them logically together one after another in order to solve it. This is why Sherlock Holmes has survived the decades. Sadly today’s world can be presented all the clues and still not logically think through the consequences of rejecting or accepting the truth God has left us to find him through Jesus. The mystery of godliness established the church for a reason!
The church of God is the body of Christ in the world. We are his called out ones to do his will in this world. To be a part of this great mystery is a tremendous thing indeed. Paul would often wonder why God in Jesus considered him worthy of his sacrifice and grace. He was often in awe of its mercy and his calling and related to Timothy that…

II. Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great! (v. 16)

Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.

1. What had personally occurred to Paul was a mystery to Paul until he had begun to understand exactly what had happened. Remember he had written, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.” (1Timothy 1:12-13 NIV) And so now with complete confidence Paul could declare, “Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great!” God coming to earth as Jesus was miraculous however what Jesus did of his own free will was beyond description. Paul would write that Jesus “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8 NIV) Jesus did this in order that we would be saved from our sin condition. The choice is ours to make: “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (Romans 3:22 NIV) Jesus could do this because “He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.” In fact it is “Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34 NIV) Thhis is why Paul would write his friend Timothy, “He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.” Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great!

EXAMPLE: Far too often folks have reduced Jesus to being their friend, buddy or daily Daniel Boone who guides them through their times of trouble rather than who he truly is meant to be in their life. Now certainly Jesus can be these personalities but that is not who he is. He is the Alpha, Omega, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He is the Creator of all things. Paul knew that beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great!

Conclusion:

The mystery of godliness established the church for a reason! Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great!

This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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A deacon! — 1Timothy 3:8-13

A deacon! — 1Timothy 3:8-13
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 12, 2012

Often all you hear about, read about, or see in the movies and TV is a gross characterization of evangelical church leadership. In fact so much so that there is a societal mythos that is completely false concerning Christian leadership in evangelical churches; especially concerning deacons. The truth is there are literally tens of thousands of pastors and hundreds of thousands of deacons who serve in evangelical churches all across America and worldwide with grace and compassion as the servants of Jesus they are called to be.

Paul is writing to his young friend in the ministry Timothy on how a church is supposed to function and how congregations were to choose their leadership. Were Paul’s suggestions supposed to be the absolute law for all time and all churches everywhere concerning how a local church chooses its leadership? No, I do not believe so, however, since his writing is Spirit-inspired we as believers would do well to give it the weight it deserves and see it as extremely important guidelines in choosing a church’s local leadership. Let’s see what Paul writes concerning a deacon…

READ: 1Timothy 3:8-13

I believe if churches truly followed Paul’s suggestions to Timothy in choosing their leadership we would have fewer problems within churches. The problem is that pastors and deacons have been given authority they were never supposed to have and are often seen as a hierarchy rather than the chosen servants they are supposed to be. In fact Paul writes Timothy that…

I. Deacons are to be men worthy of their calling! (Vv. 8-9)

Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.

1. You would think that if Paul held the standards for a church’s pastor in high regard that he would do so for other leadership within the church and we discover he does. He immediately refers to his assessment for pastors by writing Timothy that “Deacons, likewise, are to be men of respect”. He is telling Timothy that in the exact same way Deacons are to be like their pastors in that they should also be “men worthy of respect”. Remember, respect is earned not automatically given. The idea is one of honest and deep devotion to the Lord. There should be no question as to where his spiritual allegiance lies. The deacon should be “sincere” not double-tongued, saying one thing and meaning another. Deacons have to be straight-shooters and therefore “sincere”. A leader cannot be sincere or worthy of respect if they are influenced by outside stimulates so they should “not indulge in much wine”. In our day and age there is a segment of the Christian church that is rebelling against past teaching that wasn’t necessarily biblical but not necessarily wrong either. One of these is the willingness of millennials and others to justify drinking alcohol. Churches for centuries never taught against drinking alcohol such as wine and the Bible does not teach against it. It was during America’s prohibition when many evangelical churches adopted a strict no alcohol policy because alcoholism was so rampant. People have forgotten that it was the American voter who demanded Prohibition in the first place. Alcoholism was a national problem. Personally I believe this is a good standard since so much grief comes from alcohol. And Paul did write, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18 NIV) This is the idea Paul was writing concerning pastors and deacons imbibing. However the deacon should not be consumed with worldly wealth “pursuing dishonest gain” either. Paul summarizes this section by stating that deacons “must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.” This should be the man of God’s focus in life, not booze or dishonest gain. Deacons are to be men worthy of their calling!

EXAMPLE: In the past there were those who did not think that being called to a ministry by the Lord was necessary, that instead it was simply an office conveyed or passed on by the church to certain people whom they thought of as deserving. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being called to be a deacon in a church by God is an awesome and noble task. Churches are to be very careful in whom they set aside for deacons because these will be the men who will serve you as literally God’s waiters. Therefore deacons are to be men worthy of their calling!

Deacons are not to rule their churches nor are they to be seen as mini-pastors. They are to be the called out servants of the church that the church can depend upon to minister to its particular needs. The Book of Acts gives us an example of some men who were chosen by the Jerusalem church to literally “wait on tables” in taking care of the needs of widows in the church. (Acts 6:1-7) “They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.” (Acts 6:5 NIV) Paul writes Timothy that…

II. Deacons should be weighed in the balance! (v. 10)

They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.

1. Deacons are not deacons for life as some churches teach just as pastors are not pastor for life. It is not some worldly rank conferred by the church. A deacon should be a man of God who is called by God to serve his church. We realize then that deacons are called out men of God for a specific local church to serve that church. Therefore these men “must first be tested”. Literally Paul meant these men who are being considered should be proven by their actions, attitudes, and lifestyles. Their lives should be an open book and they should be ready, willing, and able to have their lives examined by the church they are gonna serve. Sadly there are always examples of deacons who were poor examples, authoritarians or self-indulgent men who focused on themselves and the personal power they gained from their title of being a “deacon”. Yet there are many more deacons, as I shared before, who serve graciously and with great humility, honoring Jesus with their lives and service. The writer of Hebrews reminds us to “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7 NIV) And this is what Paul was trying to teach Timothy, namely that a church’s local leadership should be made up of men who the world, new believers, and the church would want to emulate. Therefore, “if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.” As we look at those who want to serve us in our church we should remember that deacons should be weighed in the balance!

EXAMPLE: King Belshazzar is one of those tragic figures of biblical history. The Bible relates that he “gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them.” And that “he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them… As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone. Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall… The king watched the hand as it wrote.” (Daniel 5:1-5 NIV) He called for Daniel to interpret the writing and was told “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.” (Daniel 5:27 NIV) Paul knew if men are called to serve him as deacons, they should be weighed in the balance!

Leadership in the local church will be the example the local community sees as leading the church. How they equate the men who serve says a lot about the church itself. The title “deacon” is the
Anglicized form of the Greek word diakonos, meaning a “runner,” “messenger,” or “servant” and like pastors must also be men of quality, even though their function in the congregation is significantly different. Paul writes Timothy that…

III. Deacons should be good family men! (Vv. 11-13)

In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

1. Continuing in his directions to Timothy Paul writes “In the same way” referring to the guidelines he had just laid out for pastors. In the same way deacons, if they are married, should have wives who “are to be women worthy of respect” as well. Some believe this to be a pronouncement that deacons should be married and this is possible under the way the original language is constructed. His wife is worthy of respect because she is honorable, honest, and not one of those “malicious talkers but temperate (meaning even keeled) and trustworthy in everything”. In fact I believe that the wife has a lot to offer in her support, insight, and encouragement to her husband who is a deacon. A wife that makes poor choices or is a gossip can be a huge detriment to their husband who desires to serve the church. Deacons and their wives must be able to keep things to their selves and not spread rumors or gossip. And again, like with a pastor Paul relates that “A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well.” A person’s spiritual skills begin in one’s home and how they are respected and honored by their own family reveals a lot about a man’s ability to serve his church. Paul knew that “Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.” Paul reminds us that deacons should be good family men!

EXAMPLE: Early in ministry I was exposed to a deacon whose family was well let’s just say not the best example in the world. I caught his son on top of the roof of the church yelling at and making improper finger salutes to passing cars one Sunday morning. The deacon’s response was to yell at his wife and his son in public and humiliate both of them. Needless to say he was not the best example of a deacon. Paul tells Timothy that deacons should be good family men!

Conclusion:

Deacons are to be men worthy of their calling! Deacons should be weighed in the balance! Deacons should be good family men!

This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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An overseer! — 1Timothy 3:1-7

An overseer! — 1Timothy 3:1-7
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 7, 2017

When we think of leadership in our day and age we sometimes do not have a very good opinion or view of it and it is only natural considering what we see in politics, in entertainment, in business, or in sports. In fact there are religious leaders that have left a sour taste in our mouths as well. But should leadership get such a bad rap from us? Paul would say, “No.”

Continuing his instructions to Timothy on how a church should act Paul relates who should be considered as leaders. He knew the entire world would be looking at the early church. Christians would need to be above any criticism. In other words they had to be like Jesus if they proclaimed the gospel message of Jesus to the world. Let’s see what Paul said about being an overseer…

READ: 1Timothy 3:1-7

The word overseer is not used much in our day and age and when it is used we have a tendency to think it means a slave driver or task master, nothing could be further from the truth. Here we will discover that it means the leader of a local church, a pastor. Paul gives Timothy several guidelines for when a church is looking for a pastor and he relates that…

I. An overseer must be well-balanced! (Vv. 1-3)

Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

1. Paul begins this section by stating “Here is a trustworthy saying” which was a familiar phrase people of his day used in order to acquire the listener’s or hearer’s attention to what the speaker is about to teach. So Paul is writing to Timothy to listen up because what he is about to teach him is important. “If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble” or good “task.” The term overseer (episkopos) is sometimes translated “bishop”. It is one of several words used in the New Testament to describe church leaders. “Elders” (presbyteroi) is the most common. Other words are “rulers” (proistamenoi), “leaders” (hēgoumenois) and “pastors” (poimenas). They are seen as interchangeable. So Paul is writing to Timothy a pastor about what it takes to be a good pastor. He continues by writing that “the overseer must be above reproach” in the world they would minister. Jewish husbands would divorce their wives for burning their dinner and the Greeks or Romans hopped from one relationship to another without a thought of the emotional, mental, or spiritual toll it took. Therefore the pastor should be “the husband of but one wife” meaning that he should only be a one woman man when the church would consider him for service. This phrase prohibits both polygamy and promiscuity and Paul didn’t write a man could never be divorced or that divorce was the unpardonable sin that some churches make it out to be, but rather the man they were considering should be married to one woman! He should also be “temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, [and] not a lover of money”. Leaders of the church must be self-controlled, ethical, moral, godly men who can lead not just through their speaking ability but through the wisdom they garner as they follow Jesus! An overseer must be well-balanced!

EXAMPLE: As my mama was making biscuits one day I came into the kitchen to gripe about my brother bugging me. With flour, eggs, baking powder, and salt my mother made the best biscuits ever. As she listened to me she reminded me that “You and your brother need to strike the right balance with one another instead of always trying to strike one another. You both are made of the same basic ingredients just like my biscuits, but not all biscuits come out the same even if they have the same ingredients. You have to be the one to strike the right balance in life.” Paul knew that a life that is spiritually proportional that is defined and in the way God desires is a life that is worthy of respect. In a world that was often guided by its own lusts, desires, and personal wants Paul knew that the early church would face an uphill battle. An overseer must be well-balanced!

There are men who can direct large companies, invest large amounts of money, or invent all kinds of things but are not able to lead their own families. Paul knew that a pastor who was entrusted with the church of Jesus must have certain qualities and one essential was that…

II. An overseer must direct his family well! (Vv. 4-5)

He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)

1. I have often found it amusing that churches will put a humongous emphasis on a leader’s marital situation or his ability to speak well but ignore what kind of a husband, person, and parent the man is! However Paul related that this is a very important part of considering someone for leadership as a pastor! Notice again the emphasis on the leader of the pastor as being a male: “HE must manage HIS own family”. Paul did not say that women could not be leaders in the church but the pastor should be a man. It goes back to the idea of who is the leader and assumes responsibility for the direction of the church. The church is like a family. After writing about how a marriage and family is to work and how husbands are to love their wives and wives honor their husbands Paul writes that just as a man leaves his mother and father and forms a home with his wife, the individual leaves behind the world and becomes part of God’s family the church! “This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:32 NIV) The idea here in 1Timothy is that the man should be able to stand before his family as an example of what a husband and father are supposed to be. He is to maintain and preside over his family as a consistent figure “and see that his children obey him with proper respect”. Now I have learned that respect is earned and not forced. It is earned over days, weeks, and years of being the father and husband a man should be. Far too many churches suffer because their pastors cannot lead their own families. Their children are disobedient, disrespectful, and disloyal. Paul rightly suggests that “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?” And the answer is that he can’t. Pastors should have families that reflect their Godly leadership and not their sinful tyranny. An overseer must direct his family well!

EXAMPLE: Families are like symphonies. There are highs and lows, sometimes they can be fast-paced or slow but they are always on the verge of reaching a crescendo. The beat goes on. And like a symphony a family needs a conductor to make sure all the participants are in sync. Paul knew that the church was like a family and needed someone to direct, lead, and keep it safe. Paul knew that an overseer must direct his family well!

Just as we would not want a brand new graduate that has had not been an intern and assisted in surgeries do heart surgery on us for the first time we should not want someone that has not had some kind of experience or background in ministry, preaching, and leading to be our pastor. Plus we should want a surgeon that has a good reputation just as a pastor ought to. In fact, Paul writes that…

III. An overseer must be well thought of! (Vv. 6-7)

He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

1. How a pastor walks within their personal relationships is important but so is how they are seen in the community around them. Also, in order to be well-acquainted with spiritual teaching and spiritual matters one should have some kind of track record. You can often hear or read it in the immature wisdom of the newly indentured seminary student as they express their myriad of theological opinions they have recently been exposed to. In other words as Paul would write, “He must not be a recent convert”. And there are several reasons for this: “he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.” Of course Paul is referring to the conceitedness of Satan whereby he thinks of himself as an equal with God! How his knowledge and standing corrupted his very nature and made him into the evil and corrupted being he is. The Devil forgot he was created and not the Creator! Mankind can do this as well. Paul saw this in the edicts of the Roman Emperors his world had to deal with in viewing themselves as gods – kind of like Congress. Overseers in the church should never ever see themselves as above their congregation or the community they minister to. In fact this is why I am glad that a lot of pastors are electing to preach from the main floor of their churches rather than being “high and lifted up”. This was and is from medieval times whereby the congregation was to be separated from the minister and the minister “above” his flock! They would even elevate the pastor and he would climb a special stairway to his pulpit! However, Paul reminds us that the pastor should also be seen in his community as approachable and writes that “He must have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and the devil’s trap.” Paul writes that an overseer must be well thought of!

EXAMPLE: Abraham Lincoln said that “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Joseph Hall a 15th century English preacher wrote that “A reputation once broken my possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep an eye on the spot where the crack was.” And my dad reiterated that “our reputation is what others think of us but our character is what God knows about us.” In his letter to his friend Timothy Paul wrote that an overseer must be well thought of!

Conclusion:

An overseer must be well-balanced! An overseer must direct his family well! An overseer must be well thought of!

This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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