Grace Bible Church Adult School of Biblical Theology
What a Minister is to Be & What a Minister is to Do
Dennis Gundersen, Pastor 5/14/00 cf. 1 Timothy 4:12-14
We have discovered that although some will depart from the faith, through the trauma of a seared conscience and teach legalistic asceticism, Timothy is to champion the Gospel to his congregation at Ephesus.
Demons promote substitute detours away from the pursuit of holiness. Self-denial of God's gracious gifts (i.e., marriage or eating meats) is a fleshly substitute for the real thing, i.e., to nourish ourselves on the Word of God, expressing humble appreciation through prayer for the blessings He gives us. The Lord has provided life to be enjoyed with thankful hearts, for He has declared them good, hence we can be thankful to enjoy them as believers. But the Apostle Paul calls Timothy to nourish himself and his congregation on these truths, he further pauses to remind him of central aspects of the ministry calling itself.
What an Elders is to Be: An Example in Character
Paul writes Timothy, "Do not let people look down upon you just because you're young, Timothy" for it would be common for people in his times to do just that, i.e., look down upon him, assume he was shallow, inexperienced, and take him lightly.
This would make leadership difficult! He does tell Timothy to not allow people to despise his youth. But in context, it's not in the form of an exhortation to get into people's faces and demand their respect; rather, Paul exhorts Timothy to walk in a way worthy of respect. It was common for the aged to be revered, but some of them should not be. It was common for the young to be looked down upon, but some of them should not be. Today, educators teach our youth to not be taken lightly, by teaching them to have high self-esteem. Paul doesn't care about self-esteem. He cares about a walk that honors God, and that is the path to respectability to which he points Timothy.
Be an Example of Others in Your Speech.
There is no such thing as an admirable man who does not have control of his tongue. We all err in what we say some of the time, James tells us; but the mature man has learned to bridle his tongue, so that sins of the tongue are rare and not a lifestyle. His words are carefully thought out. Timothy should be one whose talk not only refrains from what's dishonorable, but rather is exemplary speech. So not only should his talk be free from corrupt speech, abusive speech, gossip, harsh words or rudeness, but rather what he talks about should be a model of what ought to be on the tongues and minds of others. The way he speaks should provoke others to be wiser in the manner in which they speak.
Be an Example to Others in Your Conduct.
The KJV translates "conversation." It's an old word for the course of one's life, the sort of pursuits you spend your time on, where your days and hours go. What does your time go into? Timothy is to be admirable in his walk in this also. Much of his lifestyle ought to be evidently and decidedly devoted to the traits which follow:
Be an Example to Others in Your Love.
That is, an Elder's life should be filled with deeds of sacrificial concern for others, taking time from what we might like to do for ourselves, to serve others. Love that looks for pressing need to minister to, love that takes on myself the concerns of others, love that covers the sins of others.
Be an Example to Others in Your Faith.
A Pastor is to show himself to be one who learns the Word of God and demonstrates a trustful hope in what he reads, so that he is unmoved from his confidence in the promises of God, whether in pleasant circumstances or challenging ones.
Be an Example to Others in Your Purity.
Obviously, an Elder must be an example in having an obvious delight in things which are clean and having no joy in that which is filthy. A pure heart, Biblically, speaks of a single heart, a heart not divided up in its affection for this, that and the other, but focused rather upon the one True God! Purity is more than just not having filthy thoughts; purity is being devoted in my ways to God.
In each of these categories just named (i.e., speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity), Timothy is to "show (himself) an example of those who believe." We must always keep the high standard of having church leaders who are
in what they talk about, in the course of how they spend their lives, in their loving devotion to others in sacrificial ministry, in their trustful clinging in all situations to the promises of God, and in showing a pure-hearted devotion to the best things.
What is an Elder to Do? Nourish Others in the Word
Here are 3 areas in which churches are so often negligent of the principal matters which ought to occupy the attention of a pastor. Pastors are so often busied with lesser things, they cannot focus on these priorities. Paul insists that Timothy give primary attention to:
He is to Read the Scripture.
It is a pastor's mandate to insure that the Word of God is prominent in all aspects of the meetings of the church. Not only in teaching that Word, but also in publicly reading that Word aloud. There is something very valuable about having time in the meeting of the church in which the Scriptures are simply read, without comment. It has been a long-standing tradition, dating back to Jewish synagogue practice, and then in the Christian church since, to read the Scriptures. It draws special attention to the fact that these words alone are our authoritative word from God, and have an exceeding value, far and above even our best exposition of those words.
It is a tragic reality that too many of the sheep of our Lord's pasture do not spend enough time enjoying the green pastures of His Word. We don't read the Bible as we should! And so the Lord has ordained that the church be a place for us to be reminded of our debt to long for God's pure Word. We are the pillar and support of the truth, emphasizing our duty to hold that Word up high before men. A church which is not a place where the Scriptures are held high is not even acting like a church. It was not a mandate that Timothy necessarily be the public reader of Scripture, but that he see to it being done, either by himself or another.
He is to Exhort with the Scripture.
Here and in other places in the NT we read of a spiritual gift of exhortation which is apparently somewhat distinct from the gift of teaching. cf. Rom. 12:7-8.
The precise difference between "teaching" and "exhorting" is not easy to arrive at. "The
customarily followed the reading of the law; it is a form of public address directed primarily toward the feelings and founded on some passage of Scripture." (Robert Thomas) What does he mean, "directed toward the feelings"? Not that the mind is bypassed, but that we who preach owe it to you to make sure we do more than merely pass on to you precise and correct information about the text; we are to do our utmost to impress upon you your duty towards it; the responsibility to walk with God in light of it. There is to be passion, warmth, fire, whatever you may wish to call it. Exhorting the church makes us all feel the necessity of personal application of the demands of the Scriptures upon our lives. This can also be done one-on-one, for what we might call "counseling" these days - taking the Word to this one or that one, personally speaking to them about it - would fit the idea of exhortation also.
He is to Teach the Scripture.
Here, the point is about the careful presentation of Biblical materials, the verse-by-verse exposition that we must do, to ground a church in the Scriptures.
, then, is the continuing work of instructing those redeemed sinners in the Word, so that they will mature in their walk with God by increasing in the knowledge of God.
Notice that all three aspects of work Paul enumerates for Timothy, the pastor, to do, are verbal. They all have to do with the communication of the will of God in His Word. All views of the pastor which do not keep him primarily focused on being an expositor and communicator of the Scriptures to the church are in error about the essence of the ministry.
Paul knows that the church at Ephesus cannot afford for Timothy, their pastor, to neglect his spiritual gifts and calling, which he received by "prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery." Unfortunately, it is common today for men to conclude that they may seek out and enter the ministry without the approval or recognition of anyone. A man should not be permitted to enter pastoral ministry just because he wants to.
Conclusion and Application
Young Timothy is called, like all Elders and all believers, to be an example in character and in ministry. As he mimics Christ in both, he is not only respected but his work is impacting (vs. 16).
How can a local church cultivate character advancement in their leadership, where the men pursue Christlikeness perpetually? How do we encourage our leaders to keep the pursuit of character central, in the demands of ministry?
How can a local church cultivate ministry skills in their leadership, where the men pursue Christlike service perpetually?
According to this passage, ministry is to clearly proclaim the Word of God and admonish others to apply it to their lives through continual teaching. In what ways are Tulsa fellowships departing from valid ministry?
Teachers for the GBC Adult School of Biblical Theology research various commentaries and sources to glean a precise understanding of the text. No one claims originality and we all welcome constructive criticism to help better understand the Scripture. Our quest is to "search to see if these things are so."
In most societies of our world even today, youth are still not looked at as the Western world has begun to since the 1920's. We have a youth-worship culture. People once did not seek to be thought of as young, but rather were looking forward to attaining age, maturity, and gaining wisdom by experience.