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Guarding the Deposit of Faith
Why is it important that our church household becomes fully established?
- Because it is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth
- Pillar (one of many supports – each church does its part in holding up the truth)
- Bulwark, buttress: Not foundation, but supporting wall – hedging the truth in.
- 16: “And we all agree, our religion contains amazing revelation” (NET)
What is Satan’s plan to destroy the household?
- By infiltrating the teaching ministry of the church –veering us away from the truth! Thomas Oden in his commentary notes that within the pastoral epistles alone the following challenges to sound doctrine can be observed – these still with us today.
- Spiritual Elitism: People were promoting what is falsely called knowledge (6:20). Salvation and spiritual knowledge were only available to an elite few. Today: clericism, new age movement, Oprah’s Secret
- Body/Spirit dualism: In 2 Timothy 2:18 Paul singles out two teachers who were teaching that the resurrection was exclusively a past event and that there would be no bodily resurrection. This stemmed from a mind/body dualism – if the body was evil how could it be redeemed? Today: spiritualized view of heaven, low view of earthly labor.
- Asceticism: 1 Timothy 4:3-4. If matter is evil, it must be rejected – sex, marriage, pleasure, food. Today: Hyper-spiritualism, pietism. Paul has to confront this 4:4
- Antinomian license: 2 Timothy 3:2-7. Today: Cheap grace
- Fascinations with Myths and Genealogies: 1 Timothy 1. Today: Bible Code stuff, Sometimes end times views get to this extreme.
- Divisive, speculative controversialists: 2 Timothy 2:23; also called “godless chatter” Taking marginal things and making them central. Today: so called worship wars, KJV only,
- Out-of balance egalitarians: Titus 1:10-11; Today: some house-church movements which downplay the role of spiritual leaders.
Who participates in stabilizing the household?
- Every member pressing on to maturity
- Paul starts 1 Timothy 2 with calls to all men and all women:
- All are called to pray, to learn, to admonish one another
- All are responsible for the stabilizing of the household
- Godly and mature husband/fathers overseeing the household
- Some are entrusted to overseeing the local households
- They had to be able to teach, men of character, who led their families well.
- This was Paul’s final step in establishing churches – local indigenous leaders that would continue guarding the deposit – spiritual oversight, assisted by deacons who were also tested in the faith and holding on to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.
- Called and gifted ministers of the Gospel establishing and equipping the household
- Go from church to church establishing and equipping the saints.
- Timothy: raised in Lystra, taught the scriptures early, well commended by his home church, recruited by the missionary band, prayed over and sent out by the local elders, mentored by a master builder.
- Sent to Ephesus not to be an elder, nor to usurp the authority of the elders over the church, but to further equip them for their ministry in the church, while teaching and equipping the saints for the work of the ministry.
What are the marks of a good minister? Really for me – but also for you, because it is the natural temptation to follow teachers that either tickle our ears, or that draw a crowd, or that have a natural charisma. 2 Timothy 4:3-4. It’s important for both you and I to know the fickleness of our hearts and to know what God’s mark of a good minister are. Also, there are some of you here that are considering whether or not God is calling you into this sort of ministry. Finally, just as the marks of an elder were marks that we all should emulate, the marks of a good minister we do as well. 8 Marks each flowing into the next.
- Declares the whole counsel of God (6: put these things before the brothers)
- Acts 20:26-27: I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole council of God.
- Has tested the Word of God through their ministry (6: being trained in the words)
- Training comes through teaching and testing the Word of God.
- A person of one book
- Biblical vision and strategy
- Avoids Theological Speculations (7: Have nothing to do with)
- Disciplined for Godliness (7-10)
- Train yourself for Godliness: Discipline yourself, gumnadzo, exercise, gymnastics, gymnasium comes from this root. It implies rigor, it implies strenuous training, self-abnegating, self-denying discipline in the direction of godliness - pulling up the loose ends, girding up the loins of your mind, as Peter would say it, beating your body into submission, lest in preaching to others, you become a documas, disqualified. Maintaining a pure, unaccusing conscience so that when you are accused of evil or a hidden life of shame like the apostle Paul, you can say, "My conscience is clear." – McArthur
- We live in a day in which people devote themselves to physical exercise.
- Labor and strive : Copiaou, to work to the point of exhaustion. Agonidzmi, to agonize in a struggle. Those are words that are associated with ministry. It is sweating labor. It is agonizing struggle. There's no other way to define it. It is relentless.
- Leads by example (11-12: Command and teach: let no one look down on you – set example.
- Timothy was still young man – mid thirties (I like that)
- Not age – example and teaching
- Bible-centred exercise of gifts (13-14)
- A life marked by progress (15)
- Persistance (16)
How to help your pastor be a good servant:
- Appreciate when we speaks the whole counsel of God to you, even the parts you’re uncomfortable with.
- Resist the temptation to only listen to preachers who tell you what you already know, or what you want to hear.
- Be obedient to the Word of God – test it and approve it.
- Focus on the central truths of the faith.
- Evaluate him by his labor, not by the results