Monthly Archives: March 2020

1 Timothy 4.6-10

Title: The Servant’s Struggle

Text: 1 Timothy 4.6-10

CP: A good servant of Christ who teaches others, is intentional in receiving nourishment through God’s Word and living out a life of godliness before them.

Intro: With COVID-19 shutting down the way the church practices, I’ve had to sit down and put to paper what I think will need to change. I was inspired by Ed Stetzer’s podcast/blog from his basement this past Monday morning. He said: this is not the crisis!

From there he recommended church leaders work through 4 phases:

  1. Pause and Pivot
  2. Prepare and Plan
  3. Engage and Execute
  4. Recover & Re-emerge

He said too many pastors were stuck in Phase one, thinking the crisis was that they couldn’t worship together in church. But there is really so much more. In Phase Two, he asks: What needs to change? How does it need to change? And I think, for larger organizations, who on the team is responsible to implement that change?

Well, that got me thinking through that process. I don’t want to bore you with the details, but I quickly jotted down a few items. Worship together changes, Communication changes, and the way we serve changes.

Some people serve more naturally than others. It’s their gift. But according to Scripture, we’re all to be servants. We’re supposed to be like Jesus, our Master – ‘who came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.’

So, as I looked at this particular area of service, I began to work through what service will be like for Christians during this pandemic. If you’ve served as an usher for 30 years, that isn’t going to be happening during the next few weeks. So how do we adapt?

I’ll have more on this on Wednesday night. For now, let’s talk about Service and being a servant.

We’re in 1 Timothy 4 this morning. We’ll pick up in verse 6-10.

The immediate context is godliness. I’m reminded of how Becky coined the phrase: Context is King.

Can I say a quick word about that? Lots of ‘preachers’/’teachers’ are putting out their devotionals because they can’t meet with their folks. There is some crazy stuff out there. Some people bringing devotionals without any Scripture. Others, using Scripture way out of context. Now, I’m not trying to dog on pastors and leaders trying to stay in touch with their congregation. But, remember: Context is king. Don’t just read one verse and assume you know what it means.

For our context: Godliness (εὐσέβεια) appears 15x’s in the NT; 14 of those in the Pastoral Epistles and 10 in this letter alone. When considering what the context of this letter is all about, you’ve definitely got to put godliness up at the top of your list.

But we also find it in our immediate context, godliness is mention in 3.16 (the mystery of godliness). And it appears twice in our text (4.7, 8) this morning.

Paul gives his purpose for writing the letter in 3.14-15. In v 16, he gives this beautiful Statement of Faith in Christ – the mystery of godliness. You’ll remember from two weeks ago that as we looked at this ‘Statement of Faith’ we find that Godliness isn’t gained from obeying and doing the works of the Law. It is gained through the work of Christ on the Cross.

But in chapter 4.1, Paul demonstrates to Timothy that false teachers are teaching falsely about what godliness is. They were evidently teaching Asceticism – don’t eat, don’t drink, sex is bad. He warns of false godliness.

Now, he turns his attention toward the servant of God who demonstrates godliness in their lives. And this is where it hits home for us – especially at this time. Read with me:

A Good Servant of Christ Jesus:

If you put these things before the brothers,

you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus,

being trained: nourished

in the words of the faith

and of the good doctrine that you have followed (Lk 1.3; 2 Tim 3.10).

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths.

Rather train yourself work out; gymnasium for godliness;

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

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.

10 For to this end, we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. (it is work)

Transition: I’ve outlined three areas of life where a good servant of Christ is intentional:

  1. A Good Servant of Christ Jesus is intentional in being nourished in God’s Word (6).
  2. A Good Servant of Christ Jesus is intentional in how they live out their godliness before others (7).
  3. A Good Servant of Christ Jesus is intentional in sharing their faith with others because they have eternity in mind.

So let’s begin with our first point:

I.     A Good Servant of Christ Jesus is intentional in being nourished in God’s Word (6).

exp.: rd 6a; What are ‘these things’? 3.14-15 – how they are to behave, who they are, what they are to believe. Rd 6b; trained; in our text, we find this word ‘train’ 3x’s; but, there are two different words in the Gk; this word is the word meaning ‘to nourish’; the root of this word is found in Mt 6.26; 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Added to this, this word means to continually be nourishing yourself; It’s a present passive participle; continually being nourished;

  1. Nourished in two ways:
    1. In the Words of the Faith; this is the ‘Apostolic’ faith; there is a definite article here. You’ll note a particular faith – the faith; you and I have that here; The Bible.
    2. Of the Good Doctrine, you have followed; Doctrine could be translated teaching. You have followed. Paul has mentioned some of these people who taught Timothy in other places in his letters. 2 Tim 1.5 we learn that he first followed the teaching he received from his mama and his grandmother. 2 Tim 3.10-16;

Ill.: my examples:

my Nana – every morning and every night;

my Paul was Bro. Bill;

My practice for reading the Bible through in 1 year.

  1. The Law
  2. The History
  3. The Writings
  4. The Prophets
  5. The New Testament

app.: Children, ask your momma how she reads the Bible. Ask your Grandmother, how she reads the Bible. Ask your father, also. Learn their secrets. Can I make a recommendation? The Big Picture Story Book, by David Helm. Also, Kevin DeYoung’s The Biggest Story. Great for devotional reading with your kids and grandkids.

app.: Christian, you need to be intentional about your nourishment. Maybe this lockdown has your schedule all messed up. It has me. I get up and go straight to the Coronavirus reports in the News. How many more cases? How many more deaths? Where are we in the #s? Before I know it, my time is slipping away.

t.s.: As a Good Servant of the Lord, be intentional about your spiritual nourishment.

II.    A Good Servant of Christ Jesus is intentional in how they live out their godliness before others (7-9).

exp.: rd v 7; First, they avoid irreverent, silly myths. 2nd, Rather train yourself… this word ‘train’ is different than the previous one. It is the word from which we get our English word Gymnasium. Now we usually say: Are you going to the Gym? Whereas in the previous section you ‘work in’ that nourishment; here, you ‘work out’ your godliness before others. You practice it. You exercise it.

Wouldn’t it be nice, if we just became godly when we accepted Christ? All addictions, all bad habits, all ungodliness was gone? Yeah, it doesn’t work that way. It is something we have to be intentional about. It ain’t at all-natural.

And this workout – it serves a dual purpose:

  1. The here and now, for the present.
  2. The hereafter, for the future.

Rd v 8; verse 9 tells us this is some kind of statement that was popular in Paul’s day. Rd v 9;

app.: now, how are we godly in a lockdown? 1st of all, not all of you are in lockdown. We have some folks in our church who are on the frontline of this defense. EMT’s who are having to make ambulance calls to the sick; Nurses; Doctors (Andrew O’Kelly); These people are our heroes; They’re leading the fight in a different kind of War;

Thank you, heroes, for your service. Thank you for your example of bravery.

But for many others, you’re limited in your activity toward others. Well, as Christians, I think we should be brave, too – and help those who need help. I’ll talk some more about this Wednesday night, but there might just be opportunities for you to serve those around you – in your neighborhood or your neck of the woods (without putting you or your family at risk). Sure, there are risks, but you can practice good hygiene and practice smart actions toward the sick.

t.s.: Let’s conclude this… A good servant of Christ Jesus is intentional:

  • In being nourished in God’s Word
  • In how you live out your godliness before others


III.   A Good Servant of Christ Jesus is intentional in sharing their faith with others because they have eternity in mind. (8-10)

exp.: rd v 10a; toil and strive; toil has to do with work/labor; it something we continually work at. No one really gets there this side of heaven. The Gk word here for ‘strive’ is the word from which we get our English word meaning to agonize. Think of that striving and straining in your exercise. Many people do exercise. I mean, they’re crazy about it.

ill.: Personally, I like to summit 14ers in Colorado. Someday, I hope to stand atop all 54. In order to climb a mountain, I have to be intentional about being in good physical condition when I go there. I hike and climb. I try to drop some pounds. I’m very intentional. I tell you – when you’re striving like that, you get your sweat on!

app.: Do the same for your spiritual training. Get that nourishment from God’s Word. Practice your godliness – work that out. And keep in mind that all of this is about your salvation and the salvation of others. We have set our hope on God… Hope doesn’t mean being wishful. It is certain knowledge of what is to come and knowing it will one day be.


  1. True godliness is deeply rooted in the Mystery of Christ (3.16). It is because of Christ’s work that we’re godly. So, nothing you do makes you godly. Only by what Christ has done are you godly. Please don’t confuse your ‘exercise’ and ‘nourishment’ as making you godly. With that in mind:
  2. We do what we do because of the hope we have – and the hope we want others to have.
    1. Your service – your godliness, born out of a life nourished in God’s Word and mentored by godly men and women, is a testimony to others.
    2. Your service isn’t ‘a work’ that makes you godly, but rather a result of your godliness.
  3. Being a good servant isn’t easy
    1. Personal nourishment is required, and this takes discipline
      1. From God’s Word (not Christian music; not inspirational stories)
      2. From those who’ve gone before
    2. Godliness is something you work out in your life.
      1. There is great value here and now.

There is great value in the hereafter. – and this helps us with the big picture.

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1 Timothy 4.1-5

Title: Asceticism: The false appearance of godliness

Text: 2 Timothy 4.1-5

Introduction: We’ll begin in 2 Timothy 4 and at some point look at 1 Corinthians 7 & Mark 7. So, go ahead and find those other texts.

We all filter our experiences through our worldview. You have one, whether you know it or not. Hopefully, it is a Biblical Worldview. That is the main reason I love Starting Points. It is a great class for helping your children develop a Biblical Worldview. In that class, a student creates a filter, a colander of sorts. This filter is based upon God’s Word. Then, as life goes by and these students watch movies or read books or articles, they will filter what they hear through their worldview.

Story of Peter: This is what happens to Peter in Acts 10. God is at work in the lives of two individuals: Peter and Cornelius. Tell the Story.

God is changing Peter’s worldview. He is seeing that Gentiles could get saved. He’s seeing that Gentiles could get saved and not have to become Jews first.

That illustration, that example, that story was experienced and written down for your and my benefit. The Holy Spirit was at work in the lives of those men to teach us. If you keep reading in Acts 11, you’ll see that Peter reports back to the leadership in Jerusalem. By the time we get to Acts 15, so many Gentiles are being saved that the Jews must deal with this issue of OT laws. Their worldview was changing.

But not everyone could get on board with this new way of thinking. Too many Jews, who had become Christians, just couldn’t give up the law. For one reason or another, they held to their Jewish worldview of legalism.

Now, fast-forward a couple of decades to where the Gospel has spread… well, all the way to Rome. And even though it had been concluded that Gentiles did not have to become Jews before they could get saved – the old worldview still corrupted the church through false teaching.

Review of last week’s message and how we got to this place.

Who the Church is! What the church does (behavior)! What the church believes! And when we do these things – live out what we believe, they call us “Christians”. You’re just like your ‘Savior’, Jesus.

But there is a problem, in our text – this isn’t what the false teachers were preaching and teaching: This faith – the mystery of godliness. Their view of godliness was earned. Godliness came through regulation and rules, through abstinence and denial. It came through following Old Testament Laws that no longer were required because Christ had fulfilled the Law.

So Paul gives Timothy three actions of the believer to combat against False Godliness (Asceticism). Look with me at our text in 1 Timothy 4.1-5; it actually begins in the verse before – that statement of faith. The mystery of Godliness is that godliness no longer comes through rituals and rules! Godliness comes through Christ. We become like him. He is the fulfillment of all righteousness.

So Paul says to Timothy that Ungodliness will infiltrate teaching in the church. Expect it to be taught, here are a couple of examples, and recognized the error in that teaching by knowing the Truth. Repeat. False Godliness

  • Expect it to be taught
  • Identify it when you see it. Here are some examples of it (What it is…)
  • Understand what it does: it steals your joy! (What it does…)

Transition: So, let’s take these actions one at a time.

Three actions to combat against False Godliness (Asceticism):

I.     Expect it (1-2)

exp.: rd v 1; Really? People will actually do this? Yes, and you know this because the Holy Spirit has told you so. You should expect this false teaching to promote false godliness. It will be preached and taught and there will be those who will listen and follow – and as a result, they will be led away. The Holy Spirit expressly says, declares, and makes it known to us. It is going to happen, so don’t be surprised, expect it. Timothy repeats this in his next letter: cf. 2 Tim 3.1-7;

This is the beauty of our faith: we have the Holy Spirit to guide us. We don’t walk alone and we don’t walk in ignorance. When you become a believer by faith, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in your spirit. This is one of the foundational, rudimentary doctrines of our faith. And we experience him in various ways as he guides, directs, teaches…

A thing or two about false teachers and those who follow them:

  • They don’t lose their salvation – they leave the faith (1a) as opposed to losing their faith; is there a difference? You bet there is! 1 John 2.19 – 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
  • Their devotion is to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons (1b)
  • They ignore the foundation of truth and they follow the insincerity of liars (2)
  • Their false doctrine leads to your false godliness: these people devote themselves to the wrong people and wrong actions thinking that those actions or behaviors are what makes them godly.

Transition: as a Christian, you’ve been forewarned of this invasion of the enemy: Expect it. Now that you know it is going to happen, how do you prepare for it? And this is our 2nd Action:

II.    Identify it (3)

exp.: You should be aware of what this false teaching looks like, in order that you might avoid its pitfall. Rd v 3; these folks were told that marriage was forbidden and sinful, as well as, they were required to abstain from certain foods. For sure, this isn’t an exhaustive list, it isn’t every doctrine that is false – it is only two of them.

  • Lies about marriage: Celibacy/Single; today it would be cohabitation; sex outside of marriage; Gay marriage

exp.: We see this doctrine of marriage being misunderstood from the beginning of Christianity. Consider Paul’s counsel for people to remain single – in order that their devotion might be single-minded. 1 Cor. 7.1-9; rd v 1; just that alone, appears to say that marriage shouldn’t happen. But, when you read more, you realize that just isn’t the case. Rd 2-5; Sex is to be enjoyed within the confines of marriage. Outside of that context and you have misery. Look at 6-9;

Paul says within the confines of marriage, sex is good. But false teachers say, no – sex is bad. This is Satan’s greatest victory over Christians: he takes what God gives us and perverts it in one of two ways. First, he takes the gift of God and expands the boundaries to include everyone and everything. Or, 2nd, he goes the other way and limits the gift of God to the point that you never find joy in God’s gift.

Did you know that throughout most of the history of Christianity that sex has been seen as bad? R Kent Hughes has done some great research on this subject. He identifies many teachings throughout Christian history which identify sexual love as being wicked and evil. Tertullian, Ambrose, and Augustine wrote of the evils of sexual love. He quotes Ambrose: married people ought to blush at the state in which they are living. Augustine said that the sexual relationship in marriage was innocent, but the passion which comes along with the act is always sinful. The early church fathers praised virginity as superior to marriage. The Council of Trent denounced any who would deny such a thing. And the reformers didn’t help matters! Do you know who actually began to turn the tide on this thinking? The Puritans! Hughes quotes Dr. Leland Ryken: The Puritan doctrine of sex was a watershed on the cultural history of the West. The Puritans devalued celibacy, glorified compassionate marriage, affirmed married sex as both necessary and pure, established the ideal of wedded romantic love, and exalted the role of the wife.

I’ve got to be honest – I was so not expecting that! To be declared Puritanical is to declare a rigid, frigid, and presented in a negative way. When one thinks of Puritans, they don’t think of sex education. So, to clarify: I like what the Puritans had to teach! Let’s get this straight. Sex is great when understood as within the context of God’s design. That’s right, I said that from the pulpit. Sex is a wonderful gift from God. Enjoy it within the confines of marriage. Here is your warning: If you engage in this activity outside of that context, then you will experience pain, destruction, sorrow, depression, and all such misery. If you’re listening to me right now, please identify this false doctrine.

Paul then gives us a 2nd doctrine to identify.

  • Lies about foods: Don’t eat and Don’t drink

exp.: These two examples seem to be right out of the beginning of Genesis, don’t they? I think of Eve’s words – Don’t eat it, don’t even touch it. There are denominations that exist today that take the Old Testament Laws on forbidden, unclean food and apply it to their people. It is a lie that has been perpetuated throughout time. And Southern Baptists aren’t any different. We still apply traditional prohibitions to people – we say if you’re saved you can’t… eat this or that, or we say you can’t drink this or that.

It reminds me of the old country song from the ’70s that was sung by the Imperials as a dig toward conservatives: if you have long hair, then you can’t be saved. That was the big thing in the ’60s and ’70s: cut your hair and shave your beard! Some of you know what I’m talking about…

ill.: the big joke was of the boy who wanted to get a car. He begged his dad. His dad said that his grades were low, his room was a mess and his hair was too long – it needed to be cut. The son agreed to work on those things. The next report card came out and he had all A’s. His father acknowledged his room had been clean and looking really nice. The Dad said, “But son, you didn’t cut your hair.” The son said, “Yes, sir, I know, but Jesus had long hair. And without missing a beat the Dad said, “Yeah, but he walked everywhere he went, too.”

app.: I’m so glad we’ve moved beyond the coat and the tie requirement. And I’m glad you don’t have to cut your hair and your beard to be saved. But we still aren’t there if we put requirements of food and drink on people to declare their salvation and godliness.

Transition: Teaching on False Godliness – expect it, identify it and 3rdly…

III.    Understand what it does:

exp.: it steals your joy – You should know the truth about these doctrines. You should know and identify their parameters for your own health and safety; whether marriage or food – both are created by God and to be enjoyed by his people! Rd v 4-5; Everything God made is Good! Everything! 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.

Turn with me to Mark 7.14-23; rd Mk 7.14-23; when you choose to put limits on God’s gifts, then you miss out on the joy God intended for you to experience. Here’s our problem: we over-indulge in the gifts of God – and that can be a bad thing. Whenever you over-indulge in the gifts, you begin to seek the gift more than the giver of those gifts. Over-indulgence is a bad thing, just as exclusion is a bad thing. There is a happy medium that we need to find.

So, let’s bring the pendulum back to the middle. Let’s stop the extremes of God’s gifts: denial and abstinence or license and debauchery. And instead, enjoy all that this life offers as given by God. Amen?


  • Fasting can bring you closer to God. But this is a serious endeavor and should not be embarked upon without preparation. May I be bold enough to say, yes – many of us need to fast.
  • Paul said in 1 Cor 7 that abstinence from your marriage partner for a time can be beneficial to your soul. But don’t use this as an excuse and don’t hurt your spouse with it. Sex isn’t a tool to use for getting what you want. It is a wonderful experience of intimacy in the marriage as created by God.
  • But God gave you these gifts to enjoy in life. Wow… go figure, God wants you to find pleasure in this life and you will find your pleasure in life when you are most satisfied in Him.


  1. If you are not enjoying God’s gifts, get some help. Get help for the sake of your marriage. Get help for the sake of your sanity. Get help for the sake of your family.

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met with and offered counsel to over these issues. Many of us bought into the lies of the world and the false doctrines brought into the church and we experienced the depression, the sadness, the anger, the abuse, and the emotional rollercoaster that comes with disobedience. And, we carried that baggage into our marriages. Husbands and wives have fought over these issues because they still feel guilty. Hey get help, get forgiveness, forgive yourself and live life to its fullest. Stop wallowing in your misery. It’s not healthy.

  1. Understand the beauty of moderation – The pendulum extremes are indulgence or abstinence. No, let’s find a happy medium here.

Here’s the thing about moderation – don’t impose your rules upon others. And, don’t confuse your activity or your inactivity with godliness. Just because you’re skinny doesn’t mean you’re godly. Just because you don’t physically cheat on your spouse, doesn’t mean you’re godly. Here’s the big problem with these false teachers – they impose a set of rules as requirements for godliness. Don’t do the same thing.

  1. Never confuse godliness with ritual or routine. Yes, it is important to come to church every Sunday, but that doesn’t demonstrate godliness either. Don’t confuse the two.

I wonder if it saddens the Father to see us missing out on the wonderful life he has designed because we fall for the lies of Satan? I wonder if he thinks that he made it so simple and we complicate it all. I wonder if it breaks his heart to see

  • a young woman destroyed by her decisions;
  • a young man suffering from his decisions;
  • a family broke apart by someone outside that family
  • a person’s understanding that they are godly because they do this or that and avoid this or that.

Can I just conclude with this plea: God has created life to be enjoyed to the fullest possible extent. He created it, he designed it and wrote the manual on how it should be run. Will you trust him with it all?

If you’ve been trying to obtain godliness through all of your action or inaction, can offer you a moment to repent of that? Maybe you’ve never come to Christ and found the forgiveness of your sins. You’ve played the game of life and you’ve lost. Come to Christ. You can email us at

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1 Timothy 3.14-16

Title: Church Matters

Text: 1 Timothy 3.14-16

Intro: What is the church? Why does she exist? And why should you care? I mean, why all of this organization? Do you really want deacons or elders? Does a statement of faith really mean a whole lot? Why should you be a member here? Does “church” even really matter?


There was a period in my life when I did not like the church of God. I loved God. I still do! But the church, it just turned me off. I decided I did not want to go to another church as Pastor. If I left the First Baptist Church of Worland, Wyoming, then I would go and plant a church. I didn’t want to deal with people and their traditions. I wanted to start fresh.

Well, I didn’t. I went to Calvary in Tyler. And once again, I said to myself, if ever I leave here, I’m not going to an established church.

There have been many times the church has left me frustrated and disillusioned. I tell you this today because I want you to know that if you’ve ever felt that frustration toward church – I get it. But that isn’t the way it is supposed to be.

I don’t feel that way anymore. I’m not so much ashamed of the church anymore. I think the church is a beautiful place to be. Sure, she isn’t perfect. But she is God’s design. Now, I have a special place in my heart for her. That’s why I’m here with you guys – I hope to help us be the church God has designed.

Do you remember KAL-007? I’m guessing you won’t from those numbers and letters. KAL (Korean Airlines) Flt 007; it was a New York City to Seoul, Korea flight that had a stop in Anchorage. Back in 1983, GPS was in existence, but not everyone had that capability. The Pilots had made a technical error in charting the flight path and ended up way off course – actually, over Russian air space. The airliner was shot down by the Russians and ended up in the Sea of Japan.

Today’s message is all about the church: Who we are. What we believe. How we ought to behave. My message is about the course that has been charted out for us – by one who knows the way. My hope is that you’ll have a greater affection and a deeper appreciation for the church when we’re finished this morning. And, what’s more, you’ll desire to be a strong part of her existence – because she matters!

God has given us a map to follow, but too often, we don’t follow it. We want to chart our own path. He has charted our course, but too often, we think we can do a better job. The results can be disastrous.

This text is Paul’s Purpose Statement for the letter. Let’s read this together (rd 14-16): His purpose in writing is so that they would know how they ought to behave, who they are in Christ, and what they ought to believe. Those are the three points for today, by the way.

This is near and dear to me because I’ve been working on the Church’s Constitution and Bylaws with the Trustees. These documents declare who Tarpley Baptist Church is and why Tarpley Baptist Church exists. These documents present your statement of faith and the polity by which you function and are organized. These documents answer the questions: What is the church? Why does she exist? And why you should care?

For the previous two weeks, we’ve covered the two separate offices of a church: Elder & Deacon. We pick up in v 14-15 where we see the answer to this question:

  1. What is the Church?


  • The Household of God: God’s family; I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God. Last week in Bible Study the Men looked at Romans 8 – I was so grateful to be reminded of the fact that we’re heirs with Christ because we’ve been adopted into the family of God. In Romans 8, from verse 12-17, you’ll find so many references to us being in this new family: brothers, sons of God, adoption as sons, we cry, “Abba, Father”; 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. I think it’s interesting that Paul adds that 2nd We love the “children of God” part, but don’t like the “provided we suffer” part. 1st, we’re members of the household of God. 2nd,
  • The Church of the Living God: The Word church in the original language is a compound word that means, “called out”. We’re the “called out” ones. God has called us out of the world and invited us to become his own people. But there is more here! The Church of the … Living God! If you go back to Paul’s first experience at Ephesus, he was harshly treated. I’m guessing many of these people would have been in the crowd of thousands upon thousands of people who were screaming for Paul’s head. Do you remember reading of the story in Acts 19, where Paul was accused of turning people from worshiping the idol, Artemis of the Ephesians? This phrase here, in this letter to them, would have caused many of them to remember Paul’s teaching that Artemis was a fabricated god of stone and wood. The man who started the riot at Ephesus was a Silversmith who created silver shrines of Artemis. He was losing business. So, he got the people all riled up and they rioted. Paul is declaring: Our God, he is the living God! His presence is with us! Where 2 or more are gathered in my name…rd 15c;
  • Guardians of the Truth – God’s Word; You and I have something absolutely incredible that has been preserved for us for 1,000’s of years. It’s truly amazing. We have the Truth of God in the Word of God! Jesus, when praying in John 17 said, “Your Word is Truth”. Paul, as he wrote to these same people in his letter to Ephesus wrote: 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

app.: You are the Household of God, you are the church of the living God, and you are the guardians of the Truth. That’s why the way you live is so very important for the rest of the world to see.

t.s.: which is point # 2; Point # 1, the Church, Point # 2…

  1. Her Conduct: How she ought to behave

exp.: This has been each of my sermons to this point; that is what this letter has been about: 1st, pray for:

  1. Kings and all who are in high positions (2.1-2)
  2. Toward their pastor (4.12; 2.11-15; 5.17)
  3. Toward the elderly in their congregation (5.1-3)
  4. Slaves toward their Masters (6.1-2)
  5. The Rich toward others (6.17)

refuting false teaching and false doctrine; respecting and honoring those in positions of authority; respecting and honoring those who are older; organizing the church’s leadership; recognizing and fulfilling roles and responsibilities within the church;

app.: there is no need to spend more time on this here, but for now, just note the call for them to act like the Christians they claim to be!

t.s.: 1st, the church and who she is; 2nd, how she should behave; 3rd, Her Confession

  1. Her Confession: What she believes

exp.: Gk a compound word that means ‘to say the same thing”.

ill.: A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God: Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow.

app.: So it is when 100 believers are tuned to the one same confession. Tozer says: So one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become “unity” conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.

Paul, then mentions the tenets of this faith – the same faith we all possess. The tenets of this confession:

  • Manifested: Christ, though he was in nature God, chose to let go of his position in heaven and ‘emptied’ himself and came to earth to live as a man – and not just any man, he became the lowest form of a man – a servant. He humbled himself. And, as Philippians says, he became obedient, even unto death. He was buried in a borrowed tomb.
  • Vindicated: or justified, or declared righteous by the Spirit. The Bible teaches that although Jesus was dead, he didn’t stay that way. The Holy Spirit vindicated him and brought life to his dead body, displaying for all of us that Jesus is God’s Son. Jesus was raised from the Dead! More than just dying for our sins, he was raised to life again. Paul opens his letter to the Romans with this: Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord…
  • Seen by angels: at his birth, at his resurrection, at his ascension. All of heaven offered praises to Him testifying to who he is – the Risen Son of God! But it could have another meaning: messenger. The word ‘angel’ a transliteration of ἄγγελος is Messenger. The Hebrew word is Malachi; So, could the Confession, then, be a statement of the apostles who witnessed the resurrection and testified about it? They are the messengers mentioned here. Scholars disagree.

Manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit who raised him from the dead, seen by angels, or by messengers – and this fits well with the next part of the confession – proclaimed among the nations…

  • Proclaimed among the Nations: this is what the apostles did starting in Jerusalem, then to Judea and Samaria and even to the uttermost parts of the world. And what is their message? Just this: Jesus Christ, God with us, God who became flesh, who lived and died for our sin. Buried and raised to life again. This was their commission as given by Christ himself: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Mt 28.18-20
  • Believed on in the World: This is the message of the book of Acts: They start with 120 persons in the upper room and expand to thousands as the Gospel is proclaimed to the World. Acts 1.15; 2.47 – and the Lord added day by day to their number those who were being saved.
  • Taken up in glory: This, of course, refers to the ascension of Christ, but I think hints at the future. I say this because everything seems to flow in progression until you come to this phrase. It seems out of place unless of course, it is referring to the future. Ryken says this denotes, in particular, the glory, majesty, and sublimity of God. By virtue of his resurrection, Jesus is exalted and enthroned. He radiates the glory of God. What better way to end a hymn than with the glorious praise of the glorious Christ? He continues: Epiphanius had this glory in clearly in mind when he composed his “Second Creed” – a confession of praise that strikes a joyous chord in every believer’s soul: “The Word became flesh; the same suffered in the flesh; rose again; went up to heaven in the same body, sat down gloriously at the right hand of the Father; is coming in the same body in glory to judge the quick and the dead.

t.s.: Let me close this section with: The mystery of godliness. We spent some time last week talking about the mystery, so I don’t want to belabor the point this week. But the mystery is this faith we possess – hidden for ages, revealed in Christ. And, as individuals, we come together with this same faith – One Faith, One Lord, One Spirit – There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Conclusion: Most of you are old enough to remember the South Korean Airliner being shot down by the Russians in 1983. I remember it for a couple of reasons. The main reason is that my mother is from South Korea and so it was bigger than just news to my family. My mom was scheduled to fly to Korea just a few weeks after this happened. Tensions in the Cold War were high and pessimism toward Russia and the USSR was higher than it had been in some time.

I remember watching the news over the next couple of days as so many of those people were in anguish: falling on the ground, flailing about, screaming and crying at the same time. I had never witnessed anything like that before. It really made me sad because people who have no hope see death as the end. I’m telling you, watching the news and seeing their hopeless response just broke my heart. Sometime later I read where Paul wrote that we don’t respond like people do who have no hope (1 Thess 4.13: 13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.)

That’s when I understood what I had seen.

C.S. Lewis: “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

Takeaway’s: Why are these important? That is: Our Conduct and Our Confession

  1. They give us hope. They constantly remind us of our Hope in Christ. His Resurrection means our Resurrection. That these struggles are not the end for us. The Corona Virus could kill millions of people. But our hope isn’t in the surgeon general or in the president. Our Hope is in Christ and our eternal destiny. And when the rest of the world panics – we don’t.
  2. They give others hope. When the lost and confused in this world struggle with a world-wide crisis and they see us living differently, they want to know why!
    1. Aren’t you afraid of the stock market crashing? No, we’re not. These possessions aren’t the totality of our lives.
    2. Aren’t you afraid of getting sick? No, we’re not. This health isn’t the totality of our lives.
    3. Aren’t you afraid of dying? No, we’re not! We understand life differently and we understand death differently.
    4. Aren’t you afraid that things are out of control? Well, no, we’re not. Because while things may appear out of control, we know the One who is in control. And when you think you’re in control, it is only an illusion.

I can’t promise any of you that you or I won’t die from this dreaded Virus that has the World in such a panic. If we’re honest, the statistics are not in our favor here at Tarpley. Most of our congregation is in the ‘high risk’ segment of society. But, as we view this situation, as those who don’t really belong here, we gain a proper perspective.

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Two Offices of the Church, Part II

Title: The Two Offices of the Church: Deacons are like Elders, mostly

Text: 1 Timothy 3.8-13

Deacons: A different group of people.

I want to talk to you today about the greatest need at Tarpley Baptist Church, Tarpley, TX. I’m talking desperation, here. This is a great day to take notes, and if you’re taking notes write this down: for the ministry and mission of Tarpley, right now, our greatest need is for deacons. I say this because we have Trustees who are functioning and we have a pastor (that you love and are excited about having serve here!). So, we need deacons.

Now I wonder, if some of you might be asking at this point: “Really Fred? That’s our greatest need?” Yeah, it probably is. Ministry opportunities are currently uncovered and not happening because we just don’t have the men and women in place to keep up with the need. Others are overtaxed in their load.

And it really shouldn’t be that way. We have enough people to cover our needs. Why is it then, that ministry goes undone and uncovered if we have enough people?

  • My guess is that people just don’t know.
  • Maybe there is a stigma attached to the word deacon – like, someone feels they’re too young; they’re too old.

We as a body need to remedy this. So, today I’m going to talk to you about deacons and ministry in the church as outlined in our text; and, just what we as a church need to be doing about it.

Our text is 1 Tim 3.8-13. It covers the 2nd office of the church (the other being elder). I would like to present my message this morning in two simple parts with one moment in between where we’ll chase a rabbit (an excursus is a digression within a text).

  1. Their Character (8-10)
  2. Their Competence (12-13)
  3. Excursus: Women in ministry (11). And we’ll talk about this when we get to verse 11.

So let’s take a moment and look at our biggest need right now. We need men and women to step up and fill in missing gaps in ministry.

Some of you might be asking yourself if you’re deacon material. That’s a great question. Let’s talk about that. 1st, Paul tells us of…

I.     Their Upstanding Character

Exp.: It’s really a very short list; basically, a review of what’s already been said; rd v8a; Deacons likewise must be dignified.

In the Gk there are three words; there is no verb here in the Gk, but it is supplied by the reader because the reader has it from above (cf.v2); must be, needs to be, it is necessary; Honorable, dignified. It’s not any different than the elders, with the exception of being able to teach. You might even sum it up by saying: these guys are elder-like. They have an upstanding character. That’s what the ‘likewise’ is for; it means in a similar manner or in like manner. To clarify, deacons aren’t to be…; rd 8b not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.

  • Not double-tongued could mean one of two things, and I think both apply.
    • 1st, not to say one thing and do another.
    • 2nd, not to say one thing to one person and something else to another.
  • Not addicted to much wine. This coincides with the elders. There isn’t anything wrong with a glass of wine, it’s when there is no self-control and wine takes control.
  • Not greedy for dishonest gain. I love the KJV: not greedy of filthy lucre. Again, there is control over passion and pursuits when it comes to money.

To say one thing and do another isn’t honorable. To say something to someone and something else to someone else is not honorable or dignified. Getting drunk is not dignified. Being selfish and greedy and doing what you do in the pursuit of money isn’t honorable or dignified.

A simple way to see this is to see them living out what they believe. rd v 9-10; 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. I note two parts to this:

  • An informed faith: deacons are not required to teach like elders are, but they do hold to the mystery of the faith. Mystery simply means that at one time it was hidden, but now it has been revealed. That’s the gospel. Many didn’t see it coming the way it did, but now they see. Now they know. Many still don’t see it. To them, it is still a mystery. But to those of us whom Christ has been revealed – it is faith. And these men, these deacons, not only hold to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience, but they’ve been tested in that faith.
  • An incessant faith: it remains through all of the tough times. Many problems in life and in the church have come and gone, but they remain. They are a constant – like a lighthouse in the bay – their light continues to shine and guide others in spite of what storms rage around them.

Transition: these guys have been tested and tried and have come out on the other side blameless. Now, rd v 11 with me; – 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things.

II.    Aside: Women who serve

Exp.: I want to be careful, but very clear. I mentioned last week that there are basically 4 words used in the NT for the office of overseer. You see it in the English translation in 6 possible words: elders, pastors (shepherds), overseers (bishops), leaders. For deacons, there is just one: διάκονος (noun) διακονία (verb). Where there is only one word in Greek, it is sometimes translated with different English words: servant or minister (noun); service or ministry (verb). In the text, Rod read for us this morning, Acts 6.4. This word is translated ministry. That one isn’t so confusing. But what about Romans 16.1. Where Paul writes: I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae. NASB, CSB, NIV, ESV, all translate it “servant”. Young’s translates it “minister”. The NRSV, NLT, translate it, “deacon”. The confusion comes when this word is translated for you with meaning (perhaps a meaning not intended by the author). For us, we don’t know for sure what Paul intended. Was Paul telling us that she was a deacon or a deaconess at the church in Cenchreae? We don’t know for sure. And, our problem comes when we take our understanding and beliefs and translate this through that lens.

In our text, the Gk reads literally: women likewise dignified. Grammatically, I want you to note:

  1. There is no pronoun their in the Gk. NASB gets this correct in the literal sense: Women must likewise be. The ESV, NIV, CSB, each put in a pronoun and translate it Their wives. Some scholars do this because they argue that it is That means that previously, it was supplied and so you would supply it here, too. The argument made by those who hold to this would say: that the woman in chapter two is Eve and she is the wife of Adam and so, here it is the wife.
  2. The verb is to be supplied. So, women likewise must be dignified. This is the same exact wording as v 8, only in the feminine form. What does this mean? Well, it isn’t clear.

4 possible solutions:

  1. Women are deacons, too. There are other texts that refer to women who ‘served’ as deacons (i.e.: Romans 16.1)
  2. Women who are not deacons, but rather deaconesses and a different group altogether.
  3. Women are married to the deacons and a part of their ministry. Now there is a 4th option and it is very close and similar to #3…
  4. Women who are servants and assistants to the deacons in their ministry.

Of these 4 possible solutions: I don’t think it is #1. #2 – I like # 2, but really need to explain why I like it. I think one of the last two of these are a real possibility.

  1. Women are deacons, too. I don’t think that is Paul’s presentation. Strike it.
  2. Women who are not deacons, but rather deaconesses and a different group altogether. Possible, but I don’t think this is Paul’s presentation either. You would have an argument with the usage of ‘likewise’ but, Paul returns to the deacons in the next verse. So that probably isn’t the case. He isn’t leaving this issue of being deacons. I guess the reason I don’t like it is that it just doesn’t stand on its own. So strike it too.
  3. Women are married to the deacons and a part of their ministry. Highly possible; but I doubt this one. Many women who are married to deacons willingly volunteer their time and help their husbands. But not all do. If that is the case, then should a man not be a deacon if his wife doesn’t help him? Then it would need to be a requirement to become a deacon. Now there is a 4th option and it is very close and similar to #3…
  4. Women are servants and assistants to the deacons in their ministry. Highly possible; Women who serve; We find one such lady listed in Romans 16.1-2; Phoebe; “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.” I think the term ‘Likewise’ gives them a classification, like their different from the men, but still an important and vital part of the church’s ministry;

So, this is how I understand this teaching and how I plan to lead the church at Tarpley: The deacon body consists of men appointed to this task by the church. There are women and men who serve under the responsibility of the deacons and administrate certain ministries.

Question: Why is it that Baptists are against women deacons? My theory is that a typical Baptist church has its deacons serving in elder-type positions and making elder-type decisions. These deacons give oversight and rule. To be brutally honest, many Baptist churches function on their traditions and ignore the Scriptures. They go back to chapter two and see that a woman shouldn’t have authority over a man, therefore, a woman shouldn’t be a deacon. But, Scripture is very clear that Deacons are simply servants. They were created to serve in Acts 6.1-8. Their job was to ‘wait on tables’.

The job of the deacons is to put on an apron and serve. In John 12.2 – Martha served; Luke 17.7-10 – unworthy servant; Luke 22.26-27; 24 A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25 And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest and the leader as one who serves. 27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

That’s the job of a deacon: to serve. Mark Dever: “Deacons should not act as a separate power bloc or second house of the legislature through which bills need to be passed. If the elders say, ‘Let’s drive to Pittsburgh,’ it’s not up to the deacons to come back and say, ‘No, let’s drive to Philadelphia instead.’ They can legitimately come back and say, ‘Our engine won’t get us to Pittsburgh. Perhaps we should reconsider.’ That’s very helpful. But in general, their job is to support the destination set by the elders.”

When you consider that deacons have no power, except as servants of the body… can women serve like that, too? The answer is yes. And they should…

Finally, Let’s get back to the passage…

III.   Their Outstanding Competence

Exp.: rd v 12; 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.

Their competence is seen in the way they manage their families:

  • Wife: same as the elder; a man of one woman; he is elder like in his faithfulness to his wife.
  • Children: again, just like last week: this doesn’t mean that his children are perfect.

Their family is a priority. As I think about this in my life, I’m reminded of something Mark Dever once said: the church can get another pastor, but my children cannot get another father. My wife cannot simply get another husband. And so it is with the deacon: his family is his priority.

The life of a deacon displays a servant’s heart. Being a servant means managing: managing funds, schedules, supplies, etc. There is a lot to administer and care for when someone serves.  – I think this means you recognize these men because they’re serving already. They have a servant’s heart and that just comes out in what they do.

We are in need of people to serve. Let me rephrase that: we have a desperate need for people to serve.

So, here is my challenge to you:

  • Church, will you pray for the men in our congregation and ask God to show you men who should be serving as deacons?
  • Men, will you seriously pray about saying yes to serve if you’re asked? That’s a big thing for the church to say to you: I see Christ in you, I see your leadership capabilities and we’d be so blessed to have you serve. Will you serve?
  • Women, will you step up and help these men accomplish their duties. Will you be willing to say I’m here and will help in whatever capacity the Lord might want to use me?
    • Will you go visit the shut-ins?
    • Will you help care for the Widows?

*not just on your own, but under the care and guidance of the deacon body?

Some of you (men and women alike) are like: I can do that on my own? I don’t have to be a deacon to do that? No, you don’t have to be a deacon to serve. But can I offer a couple of pointers here?

  1. 1st, organization. The ministry needs to be organized. I’m reminded of the book of Judges where each person did what was right in his own eyes. And, it led to chaos, and rebellion and sin, etc. We’re grateful for when people cover areas of ministry where there is a need. But, can I encourage you to work with the deacons on this – help them keep things organized.
  2. 2nd, accountability. There is accountability when you surrender your personal passions to the leadership of the collective whole. That takes great humility and is most Christ-like. Submitting to the leadership of the deacons can keep you accountable to accomplish what you feel God has led you to do.
  3. 3rd, testimony. It is a great testimony against the lie of Satan when you submit to the leadership of the church. The lie of Satan says that authority can never be trusted because it is always tyrannical and oppressive. But there are wonderful, godly men who need your help. And that help starts by submitting to that leadership. And, it is also a testimony to the world when we function as a body the way God designed us to function.

God created two offices in this body: elders and deacons; pastors and ministers; overseers and servants. For the elders, He has given the responsibility to spiritual matters. To the deacons, he has given the responsibility of the physical, temporal matters. What a great testimony we would be if we functioned as we were designed to function.

I’m so grateful for the godly men who have served faithfully as deacons. They’ve blessed me. Jim Casey, Dave Posey, Harris Tingle, Malcolm Dickinson, James Powell, Bob Ditmer, Johnny Miller, Clint Carneal. I wonder who is here today that I’ll mention 20-30 years from now in this group of men.

Let’s bow our heads for just a moment.

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1 Timothy 3.1-7

Title: The Two Offices of the Church (Part 1)

Text: 1 Timothy 3.1-7

CIT: There are standards by which elders should live.

CIS: The work of an Elder is noble and should not be entered into lightly. The church should recognize these men and appoint them very carefully.


Intro: Last week we dealt with a particularly tough text, but only if it is taken out of context. When understood within the context of the letter, you understand how important our roles and responsibilities are.

Now, here is our biggest problem: people who serve in areas they shouldn’t be serving in! We’ve all experienced deacons and elders who gave those offices bad names. I’m grateful for the men who I’ve had the privilege of serving with who fulfilled their roles with dignity and honor; And, brought honor and dignity to the office.

You don’t know him, and I’ve not spoken to him in 30 years. His name was/is Malcolm Dickinson. Malcolm and his little family went to our church in Copperas Cove. Malcolm was a deacon and he took his responsibilities seriously. I’ll never forget driving down the road and seeing him working on a widow’s porch. Another time I saw him repairing a screen. He took his job of caring for the widows seriously.

Here’s the thing about Malcolm. He was a coach at the local high school and was busy with 4 little boys – 4 little rambunctious boys. And yet he still found time to be a good deacon.

He was a godly man. I loved to hear him pray during the worship service. It was like everyone disappeared and it was just Malcolm and God.

This morning I want to talk with you about the two offices of the church: elder & deacon. In the context of our passage, Paul is writing to Timothy, but for the benefit of the church. So, this is how I’m seeing this. I want to approach this from the perspective of a letter to the church and your responsibility toward your leadership and your potential leadership. Consider this: God has placed men in your midst who are elders and deacons. You recognize them right now by their actions, their demeanor, and their deportment. You see it in the way they carry themselves and how they are around others. There will come a time when you will need to ask them to step up and fulfill the role. Will you commit to praying about it now?

Ill.: I’ve had the privilege of serving on various teams, committees, and boards. I’ve been on some incredible bands. Over the past 40 years, I have sung with and/or played the bass and/or played acoustic in many bands with many people – and this is what I’ve learned: having the right people in the right place is the key.

I played with many singers and instrumentalists who were very good at their job; however, their personalities caused so many problems in the band that we couldn’t function properly. And it only takes one person to disrupt your group. It is the same with your staff or team or committee. You might have a wonderful businessman who has no business serving as an elder. You have to be careful who you select and appoint to these roles. Again, will you commit to pray over this?

App.: the application remains the same for any team or committee or board or staff member: One wrong person can create havoc on you and your work. So, you as a body can select a really good man – who fits the requirements in every way and still fracture your body. And that is the scary part. Our goal is unity for the benefit of our witness.

Remember the context: These folks have been looking down on their leadership. They’ve shown disrespect and dishonor to folks in authority. And because of it, they’ve been a poor witness to the community at large.

Transition: you have a great responsibility – maybe that is why Paul goes into such great detail about who should and who should not serve as an overseer.

Let’s go back to the beginning and identify the steps that got us to where we are in 1 Timothy:

  • A charge to confront false teachers and their false teaching (chap. 1);
  • The role of men and women in the public arena concerning prayer and worship (chap. 2); the lost are watching; it appears throughout this letter that there is a lack of understanding of how you treat your leadership and those who are seniors.
  • Leadership in the church… the role of the church to put the right men in the right spot… all within the context of false teaching and false teachers.

From this text we find that there are two offices in the church:

  1. Overseers (4 terms: Overseers [bishops], Pastors [shepherds], Elders, and leaders) v1-7; interchangeable
  2. Deacons v8-15

Ill.: The opening of Paul’s letter to the Philippians is one great example of this: Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

BTW: this is clarified in our Statement of Faith (BF&M 2000) in Article 6: VI. The Church

A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.

The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.

This morning, I’d like to focus on just the first of these two offices: the elders or overseers. We note first in v.1 that Paul declares this a noble task. Rd v 1; The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. This someone aspires to something good. It is a good work. Overseer is ἐπισκοπή (episcope, i.e.: Episcopalian): epi: over and scope: to see.  He desires a noble task. Lit.: a good work; We saw this phrase a good work up in the previous chapter (2.10), as a characteristic of a godly woman. ἀγαθός and καλός, both are synonymous and are used in Scripture attributes of God.

So, the first step in becoming an elder is: you want to be one.

I.     If someone aspires to be an overseer… he desires a good work. So, because this is a good work, a noble task, the church should not enter lightly into selecting men to serve here. That’s why Paul says in the next verse: Therefore… rd v 2-3;

Transition: So, if someone aspires to be an overseer,

II.    If someone aspires to be an overseer, you will see it displayed in his upstanding character.

Exp.: We’re talking Behavior/Actions; rd v 2-3; Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

I agree with DA Carson who said that there really isn’t anything special in these quality characteristics – except for one – being able to teach. I mean really, shouldn’t these be characteristics of any man or woman who claims to be a believer?

  1. He must be above reproach: in Titus, he uses the synonym It isn’t that he’s perfect and sinless, but rather that he exemplifies Christ in his manner and deportment. Thabiti Anyabwile: Being above reproach means that an elder is to be the kind of man whom no one suspects of wrong-doing or immorality. People would be shocked to hear this kind of man charged with such acts. Above reproach; blameless.
  2. He must be ‘a man of one woman’: that’s the literal translation; most translation read: the husband of one wife. It’s hard to know exactly what is meant here. It could mean that he’s never been divorced. There are a lot of scholars I respect deeply who hold to that opinion. I think there is a principle being taught here, though, that is really important. I’m not absolutely positive that Paul is laying down the letter of the law here, but rather presenting a principle. No matter your view on divorced or even single men serving as elders, I think Paul is communicating that this man has a high view of marriage as between a man and a woman and that marriage is sacred. His marriage is a display of this belief.
  3. He must be sober-minded: the literal meaning here means temperate in his use of alcohol. He is sober. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t drink any alcohol, but rather that he never drinks alcoholic beverages to a point that he is out of control. Baptists like to use this part of Scripture to declare alcohol is bad. You should never do it. But that’s just legalism, too. This man, though, he never lets what he consumes get out of control.
  4. Self-controlled. The negatives in v 3 below outline a man who is out of control. He can’t control his drinking (must not be a drunkard). He can’t control his anger (he must not be violent). He can’t control himself in conversation (he is quarrelsome; he always has to be right!). And he can’t control his appetite for more and more money. Maybe he gambles, hoping for a big windfall. He works too long and too hard to make more money, not observing the Sabbath, but trying to get the extra cash. No, our man is self-controlled.
  5. He must be respectable: these are noted by his family (his wife and children) and the community. We’ll look more at this when we get to those verses in 4-7.
  6. He must be hospitable: this Gk word is a compound word translated a lover of strangers. He is a lover of strangers and not a lover of money. The man who loves his money holds his purse strings tight. The man who loves strangers opens up his moneybag and pours out his money for them. He uses his money to love people instead of using people to satisfy his love of money.
  7. He must be able to teach: this is our first and only requirement that isn’t really universal of all believers. Basically, all of the traits we’ve listed simply outline who and how we should be as Christians.

Now Paul turns toward the negatives, which we already listed with the out of control man.

  1. He must not be a drunkard
  2. He must not be violent but gentle
  3. He must not be quarrelsome
  4. He must not be a lover of money.

So, the only requirement listed here that wouldn’t be an expectation of any man in your congregation is that he be able to teach. I believe the reason for this is his responsibility to communicate sound, healthy doctrine.

Conclusion: If… Someone – aspires to be an overseer – he must display upstanding character. You will have already seen it in his behavior.

III.   If someone aspires to be an overseer, then he has set an example of leadership with his family.

If… Someone – aspires to be an overseer – his example has already been set in his family.

Exp.: rd v 4-5; He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?

This doesn’t mean that his family is perfect any more than it means that the church is perfect. There are problems; there are struggles. You will find it anywhere you find relationships. The issue isn’t that he has the perfect family. Because he won’t and he can’t! It has to do with his management skills in caring for his family. Here is a good question to ask: Does his wife respect him? Do his children hold him with high regard and have that same respect? You can witness this respect through the submissive nature of their relationship. They hold him in high regard. They know him better than anyone else. Their respect speaks volumes.

Conclusion: If… Someone – aspires to be an overseer – his example has already been set in his family. Not that they are perfect, mind you, but that they see him that same way.

IV.    If someone aspires to be an overseer, then the church must determine his fitness based upon his spiritual maturity and positive public perception.

Exp.: If… Someone – aspires to be an overseer – the church must be careful in its appointment of this someone to the position of overseer. Rd v 6; He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

Spiritual maturity will help a man avoid those pitfalls and snares of the devil. Oh Man, if there is anything the devil can do to bring down your elders, he will. So be careful in your appointments. Don’t appoint a man before his time.

So to review:

  1. If someone aspires to be an overseer… he desires a good work.
  2. If someone aspires to be an overseer, you will see this desire displayed in his upstanding character.
  3. If someone aspires to be an overseer, then he has set an example of leadership with his family.
  4. If someone aspires to be an overseer, then the church must determine his fitness based upon his spiritual maturity and positive public perception.

Take-a-ways: As we consider sound doctrine…

  1. Church, your theology drives your methodology. It impacts everything you do. That is why your doctrine is to be pure and sound.
    • Bad theology corrupts a church body. Remember, it was Paul’s purpose in placing Timothy in Ephesus – to protect them.
  2. Church, when you appoint men to serve as elders (and deacons for that matter), you are making a doctrinal statement. Too often, the church wants to pick popular, pretty people. Standards set in the Word of God are cast aside for comfort and popularity.

Ill.: Mark Dever writes: I had made a statement in a doctoral seminar about God. Bill responded politely but firmly that he liked to think of God rather differently. For several minutes, Bill painted a picture for us of a friendly deity. He liked to think of God as being wise, but not meddling; compassionate, but never overpowering; ever so resourceful, but never interrupting. “This,” said Bill in conclusion, “is how I like to think of God.”

My reply was perhaps somewhat sharper than it should have been. “Thank you, Bill,” I said, “for telling us so much about yourself, but we are concerned to know what God is really liked, not simply about our own desires.”

And all of God’s children said, “Ouch”. Dever has a great point: what someone likes to think about God isn’t so as important as what God says about himself. Our theology is important and it must be grounded in God’s Word. The God of Christmas in Luke is also the God of Judgment in Revelation. So, when you appoint men to serve, you’re making a doctrinal statement about what you believe. Finally,

  1. Men, if you aspire to the office of elder, I’d like to close with two thoughts:


First, as a pastor and elder, there are certain texts of Scripture that float around in my head on a regular basis. Scriptures like James 3.1: Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. And Heb 13.17: 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Professor John Brown was sought out by a former divinity student, who had graduated and moved to the country to become the pastor of a very small church. This young man wrote his former professor declaring his impatience in serving the 16 souls in the country church. He stated that he could not wait until he was finally asked to pastor a much larger congregation with greater prestige and publicity. The kindly professor responded to this eager young preacher:

I know the vanity of your heart, and that you will feel mortified that your congregation is very small, in comparison with those of your brethren around you; but assure yourself on the word of an old man, that when you come to give an account of them to the Lord Christ, at his judgment-seat, you will think you have had enough.

Oh, what a mighty leadership team we could build if we selected men with this mindset.

Second, 1 Peter charges the elders to serve the people under their care: So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And then he finishes with this: And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Let’s pray.

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