Some Thoughts on First Timothy (7)

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The church today should be patterned after the church one reads about in the New Testament. This is not to say those who identify as Christians and are a part of a church should pattern themselves after the behavior, for instance, of the Corinthians. But it is to say, the church we read about in the New Testament was set up by the Lord, taught to others by His apostles (cf. 2 Tim. 2:2), and established in communities where they taught.

Are you aware the word “bishop”, “overseer”, “pastor”, “presbyter” and “elder” are different words that speak to the same thing? A bishop is an overseer, one who oversees the work of the congregation and the spiritual health of the saints. A pastor is a shepherd, one who feeds the flock (or the congregation) their spiritual nourishment. In Acts 20:17-35, Paul called for the elders (presbuteros; presbyters) of the church (20:17) to Miletus to visit with him for some exhortations. The elders are also identified as overseers (KJV, NASB; “bishops”: ASV), called upon to shepherd (pastor) the congregation in their care (20:28).

Each church patterned after the New Testament are to have holy men lead as bishops, elders, pastors, presbyters, or overseers (note the plural) of the local congregation (Acts 14:23). Each congregation is autonomous, that is, self-governing. They are not ruled or overseen by another congregation or religious board in some other location. In addition to elders, the local congregation is to have deacons (Phil. 1:1); these are holy men with families serving the congregation in works associated with the congregation’s spiritual health.

In 1 Tim. 3:11, the Holy Spirit identifies women, without giving them a “title” or work assignment. Some translations, taking note of that, will render the Greek word with the English “wives”, and of course this fits contextually. On the other hand, it may be the sister saints have a work that is, otherwise, not identified in a corresponding way as “elder” or “deacon.” If that is so, their work falls under the leadership of the bishops of the congregation or, perhaps, they may work alongside the deacons, giving attention to the sisters of the church for practicality and propriety reasons.

Some Thoughts on First Timothy (6)

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Leadership

We are still in the context of the Holy Spirit’s exhortation (through Paul) to Timothy about how the church should be structured (3:14-15). In the Lord’s church, the church modeled after the New Testament pattern, those in leadership are called “overseers” or “bishops.” Before men can serve in this role the following must be in place: a desire to serve (not a despot), he must be married, self-controlled, discerning, respected, have a spirit of hospitality, competent to teach, not controlled by outside artificial influences, not quick-tempered, gentle, free from the love of money, and peace-loving (cf. Eph. 4:3).

A few additional thoughts on some of the above. Those who serve must be holy men (males only) of God, no holy women of God are authorized to serve in this role. The word “overseer” (bishop) is not a religious title, but a servant role, a work of God amid those living as saints of God. These holy men of God must be married (thus no unmarried male). Some try to mitigate the phrase “must be” in relation to marriage, but if that is so, then “must be” loses its force in relation to everything else in this context Paul says.

As a holy married man serves the church, he must first learn to serve his family. Again, he is not a despot, one who directs without regard to the sensibilities of his family. Too many churches have been irreparably harmed by men who want a title and not a work. Neither is the holy man of God to serve in leadership without experience in the Lord’s way. It takes time to learn to navigate one’s spiritual walk in a dark world. Having knowledge of the Lord’s will is one thing (and very important), but having experience in living that knowledge will go a long way in helping others do the same.

Some Thoughts on First Timothy (5)

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As mentioned in my previous post, what Paul wrote to Timothy, he wrote for the benefit of the congregation Timothy worked with in Ephesus (3:14-15). While the letter/epistle was written to Timothy in Ephesus, it was not to Ephesus only. The church in Ephesus was the recipient of instructions that pertains to all churches connected to the Lord Jesus.

In this contextual setting (2:8-15), the following is learned from the Holy Spirit. First, in a mixed assembly of males and females, the Christian men are to lead in prayer. Not just any male who identifies as a Christian, but one who lives a holy life, and it is reflected in the life lived. Second, in a mixed assembly, the women are to adorn themselves with modesty, that is, they are not to bring undue attention to themselves in that which they wear or in that which they do. Just as women can underdress, they can overdress also. Third, in a mixed assembly, the Christian men are to do the leading and teaching. In a mixed assembly, the women are not authorized to do either.

The Holy Spirit, through Paul, gave no qualifications to His instructions being limited to a first century setting or in a culture that has a different view of women than those in the days following the first century. Those who alter the Lord’s word on this matter will face these same words on judgment day. The males and females have roles in the family and in the body of Christ. Just as a male can’t be a mother, so a female can’t be a father. In the Lord’s church, with regard to leadership, the body of Christ would be for more harmonious and unified if each of us accepted the God-ordained roles set forth in Scripture.

Some Thoughts on First Timothy (4)

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In chapters 2 and 3, the Lord’s apostle gives attention to what should be done in a “church setting” (3:14-15). Thus, what Paul writes is from God, not something generated by him simply because of the culture in which he lived at the time (cf. 1 Cor. 14:37). The importance of this will be seen as we progress.

In a “church setting” or when the saints gather to worship, let prayer be offered to the Lord for those in positions of responsibility (2:1-2). This is not simply a cultural matter, but always appropriate regardless of a cultural context. The reason to do this is stated: that we may live in peace, according to godliness. In this setting, the Lord’s influences go far.

The influences of the Lord are to go far and wide because the Lord does not want any to perish, but for all to come to a penitent heart (2:3-4). The importance of this point, among other reasons, shows that the religious doctrine associated with Calvin can’t be more wrong than that which originates with God’s great adversary. The doctrines I have in mind are “unconditional election” and “limited atonement.” Both are deadly.

I will explain.

Unconditional election is directly tied to the doctrine of limited atonement. “The doctrine of election declares that God, before the foundation of the world, chose certain individuals from among the fallen members of Adam’s race to be the objects of His undeserved favor” (Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented; p. 27).

Why is this so deadly? The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9, ASV). These two statements are opposed one to another. Just in case you may not see it, notice the quote from the book on Calvinism. God chose certain individuals, in other words, He chose a select number of people (a number only He knows) apart from the will of those chosen being involved (“He chose to save some and to exclude others.” This was not based on any foreseen decisions or responses they would make; p. 27).

Clearly, from the perspective of Calvinism, God only desired SOME to be saved and come to repentance. The Holy Spirit said God desires ALL to come to repentance. The two are directly opposed to one another. Which one is the right doctrine?

Some Thoughts on First Timothy (3)

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Was Paul the “chief of sinners” (1:15)? He was not, and neither did he say at the time he wrote that he was.

To start, think about the terminology. “Chief” of sinners. To be the “chief” is to be the head, the leader, the foremost. At the time in which Paul wrote, was he a man that conveyed anything like being at the head of the class in the involvement of sin? Did he give this sense in any of his writings? He did not. If he was not at the head, what are we to make of the terminology? Before we answer that, consider the word “sinner” and what it means. To be called a “sinner” is to live a life of sin. Was Paul, at the time of his letter to Timothy, living a life of sin? There is no reason to think he was, and the onus is on those who think to the contrary.

Paul was not saying that he was at the head of the class of those living in sin, but he was saying that when the Lord saved him, he considered himself to be at the head of the class. The Lord saved him from the darkness that he realized not that he was in, and when he did come to realize it, he submitted to the Lord Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection (cf. Rom. 6:3-7).

What about when Paul said he was the least of the apostles (1 Cor. 15:9) and least of the saints (Eph. 3:8). Two things to remember: first, there is a difference in measuring yourself to be the least in comparison with the most (chief); second, in both references, Paul did not say he was guilty of living a life of sin, only that he humbly recognized that in comparison with the other apostles, he was a man untimely born and full of gratitude the Lord recognized in him a reliable servant.

Do Christians sin? They do sin, but not one of them should be called a sinner, for then one would be living the life of sin, and that is not the life the Lord called each to live.

Some Thoughts on First Timothy (2)

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Timothy was left in Ephesus because there were some teachings things that ought not to have been taught (1:3). This means there is a right teaching and any teaching that is contrary to that correct teaching is a teaching not from God. This plays a significant role when we get to C-2, and in today’s 21st century.

What is that right or correct teaching? Rather than identify particular points, we can learn more when we notice the words of Peter, “if any man speaks, let him speak the oracles (words) of God” (1 Peter. 4:11a, ASV). From this we learn that one must say nothing more than that which the Lord said in Scripture. Paul lived by this way of thinking, “For I will not dare to speak of any things save those which Christ wrought through me, for the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed” (Romans 15:18). So serious was this to Paul, that he wrote to the churches in Galatia, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema” (Galatians 1:8; cf. 1:6-9).

When Paul wrote to Timothy, there was a problem being addressed that was peculiar to his time, but the under-girding way to address that problem, as he did, was to begin with a standard that is not fluid, a standard that does not come from man, a standard that has its existence is the holiness of God.    

Some Thoughts on First Timothy (1)

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When Paul addressed his epistle / letter to Timothy, he wrote by the authority of God. This means, he did not write his opinion, but he wrote that which the Lord expects those who read to hear and heed.

How can one be sure that he wrote by the authority of the Lord and not just his opinion? First, consider that he identified himself as an apostle of the Lord by the command of God (1:1), one who was guided into all truth, Jesus said (John 16:13). Second, he wrote to Timothy about a command he entrusted to him (1:18). Third, he made it clear the purpose and authority under-girding his writing (3:14-15). Fourth, he said to Timothy, “These things command and teach” (4:11, ASV). Fifth, he understood what he wrote to be the authority of God (6:3), something similar to what he wrote in Galatians 1:6-9.

Why is all this important? Because there are some well-meaning and misguided people in the religious world who say Paul wrote only for his time, in matters related to his culture. It is certainly the case that Paul addressed his words in a specific culture, but God’s word is not exclusive to a culture of the first century. It applies to the many and all cultures since that time; it applies today.

We have all things that pertain to life and godliness through Him that called us. As it was then with this message, it is the same today with the exact same message. No alterations, no additions, no subtractions.

Gender, Trans, Science, and Confusion

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Isa 5:21  Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! (Isaiah 5:20-21, ASV).

What is the meaning or definition of the word transgender? Merriam-Webster defines the word, “of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity differs from the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/transgender). What about “gender-identity”? This is defined as “a person’s internal sense of being male, female, some combination of male and female, or neither male nor female.”

To this point, with these definitions, the gender, the natural sexual orientation set forth by the Lord is discarded for a desired sexual orientation based on a morality of one’s own making. Transgenderism is, necessarily, connected to homosexuality. Both are immoral, self-defeating, and corrupting of society. They are immoral because the standard to judge it aright belongs to man, and when man determines what is right, morality is fluid and never stationary. They are self-defeating because apart from artificial means, neither can perpetuate (continue) humanity. They are corrupting to society because not only are the participants deviant and delusional in what is right, they teach others to be the same.

Harsh? It might be considered as such, but it is not nearly as harsh in words as it will be in experience on Judgment Day. And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment (Heb. 9:27).

What makes this terribly sad is that one political party seems to be in the forefront of promotion. On pages 42 and 43 of their national party platform, the Democrats speak in favor of homosexuality and transgenderism. They hide their support in language that speaks against discrimination, but in their political practice and promotions they are very much on the side of immorality. “Democrats will expand mental health and suicide prevention services, and ban harmful conversion therapy practices. We will ensure that all transgender and non-binary people can procure official government identification documents that accurately reflect their gender identity” (2020-Democratic-Party-Platform.pdf).

Does science support the transgender way of thinking? See the following, which gave thorough attention to this: https://apologeticspress.org/homosexuality-and-transgenderism-the-science-supports-the-bible-5350/

This post was originally written on https://www.veteransunitingasone.org/post/gender-trans-science-and-confusion

The Wood is Missing

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For lack of wood the fire goeth out; And where there is no whisperer, contention ceaseth (Prov. 26:20, ASV).

It is hard for people to stop talking. It is no less hard when it involves Christians. People enjoy talking, and this may include talking about others when others ought not to be talked about.

Sometimes when Christians talk about other people, they stoke the fire. Fires stoked, wounds are deep, and memories are long. Separation occurs and other problems are generated.

Remove the wood from the fire, the fire dies, and the problems begin to move toward a resolution. Maybe not on its own, but certainly not if wood is thrown on the fire.

Apples Do Not Fall Far

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Your children only do what they are allowed to do. They become what they are allowed to become. The children reflect the parents. As parents, what are you teaching them? We live in a society that has a philosophy of victimization. “It’s not my fault! They did what they wanted to do.”

We teach children to become what they become when we employ a discipline (or lack of) method to shape them as they grown up. In my growing-up years, the law was laid down by dad, and “Brother, you’d better not break that law!” There was accountability. The role my mother played was crucial. She was firm and tender. As a boy going into a young man, her tenderness took more of a shaping route to help me understand things I only thought I understood.

When I was young, I went to college to play football. I did not go to school to learn, except in so far as I needed to play my favorite sport. While in college my interests varied (like a lot of young people), and some of that interest was in the opposite sex. If there was a way for me to spread my wings, I would have traveled that path to do so.

Compared with some of my peers, I was rather tame. Still, I had my head in these worldly activities that were of great interest to me. As it turned out, the worst of my activities was that I dated two girls at one time, one of them a daughter of a preacher. Of those two, I married the better one (she was merciful to me) and 41 years later (married 38) we have two daughters and four grandchildren.

As I was shaped in my earlier days, while on my own in college, it took root.

Here I am 61 years old reflecting on my course and the paths I see many others walk.

Apples do not fall far from the trees upon which they hang. I reflect my parents, and our daughters are a reflection of us. That is not to say that everything I do and did as an accountable adult directly reflects on my parents (deceased), but there is a reflection. Years ago, I heard a preacher say, “You carry three names: you own, you parents, and the Lord’s. Be sure you honor each.”

Regrets are part of life; but many of the regrets we have, how many of them need not to have occurred if only a better decision was made? Can you think of any? I can, and still do think of them every now and again. Why did we make them? There is really only one reason: because we wanted to make them. There are many now who are still paying for those decisions.

The apple does not fall far, let us not be rotten apples.