Monday, December 5, 2016

Improve - Tuesday with Timothy #56

1 Timothy 4:13-16  Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.  Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

 The thrust of this section is for Timothy to labor to take care of his soul. As a man who has the charge to under-shepherd the church, Timothy has a lot of responsibilities to watch and care for the souls of others. But he can't do this if he doesn't first take care of His own soul.

The pastor has to give himself to development and improvement and care first for his own soul. He needs to be improving in his preaching, learning in the study of God's Word, meditating on His duty to God and God's people. He needs to look at his life, his preaching, his doctrine and seek to grow. It is really easy to start going through the motions. It's easy to fall back on old sermons and old themes and just repeat without going over them again for the profit of your own soul.

Church, are you ensuring your pastor has the time and the resources to give himself wholly to the work?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Gospel Preaching is a Noble Office

Barnes Notes on Colossians 1: 24-29
Ministers ave a noble office. It is their privilege to make known to men the most glorious truths that can come before the human mind; truths which were hidden from ages and generations, but which are now revealed by the gospel. These great truths are entrusted to the ministry to explain and defend, and are by them to be carried around the world. The ministers of religion strive not for gold and honor and worldly pleasures; they strive in the noble effort to show to every man that he has a Saviour; that there is a heaven to which he may come; and to present everyone perfect before God. With all its sacrifices and self-denials, therefore, it is an inestimable privilege to he a minister of the gospel - for there is no man who diffuses through a community so much solid happiness; there is no one, the result of whose labors reaches so far into future ages. To a benevolent heart there is no higher privilege than to be permitted to go to every man - to the poor, the tempted, the oppressed, the slave, the penitent, and the dying sinner, and to say to him that he has a Saviour, that Christ died for him, and that, if he will have it so, he may have a home in heaven. 
No matter whom he meets; no matter how debased and degraded he may be to whom he ministers, no matter though it be the poor slave, or the lonely wanderer on pathless sands, or the orphan, or the outcast, the herald of salvation may tell him that there is a heaven for him - a Saviour who died for him - a God who is ready to pardon and save his soul. In such a work it is a privilege to exhaust our strength; in the performance of the duties of such an office, it is an honor to be permitted to wear out life itself. Doing this, a man when he comes to die will feel that he has not lived in vain; and whatever self-denial he may practice in it; however much comfort, or however many friends he may forsake, all these things will give him no pang of regret when from a bed of death he looks out on the eternal world.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Trinity

The God of the Bible is the Triune God, He is God in three persons.  The study of God is the highest pursuit that we can have. Though we might have a difficult time wrapping our mind around the Trinity, we can Biblically define it. Usually, when we try and explain something, we use analogies. If you are trying a new dish and you ask someone what it tastes like, nine times out of ten, the answer will be "it tastes like chicken". We describe the unknown by relating it to the known. But there is nothing like the Trinity and every example you try to use will end up going off the rails. When it comes to the Trinity, we need to just receive the truth and believe it in faith.

So how do we know about the trinity? The only way we know is from the Bible. Any concept that you have of God that does not come from scripture, is an idol. I’m a Trinitarian because the Bible teaches the trinity. The only way you can know who God is in character and nature is by what God has told us about Himself (1Corinthians 2:7-12). Lots of people want to tell us who they think God is or tell you what their tradition says God is. But only in the Bible does God tell us who He is.

The Bible teaches that God is Trinity, or He is one eternal, infinite being of God, shared fully and completely by three persons, Father, Son and Spirit. Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity means that there are three persons, united in one being and the whole undivided essence of God belongs equally to each of the three persons. That's a mouthful, but it is worth our time and our effort to understand.

Let's think of those terms. To have being is to have existence. This paper has being, it exists. You are a human being, you have existence. Unlike inanimate objects, we humans exist as personal beings. I have being and I am a person. God is one, infinite, eternal being of God who eternally and at the same time exists as three persons. God is eternally, fully, equally God, yet undivided. There is only one God, as written in Deuteronomy  6:4  "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD." There is within the one being of God three co-equal and co-eternal Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three persons, in the one divine being have eternally and simultaneously existed, each fully and completely and eternally God. The Godhead is not divided into parts or thirds, and God isn't sometimes the Father and sometimes the Son. As the Athanasian Creed states "We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance."

Monday, November 28, 2016

Chiastic Structure of Psalm 1

Chiasm is a literary structure that repeats ideas in a passage in reverse order. In the example below outlined by Alec Motyer, you have three ideas (in bold), A, B, C and those ideas are repeated in reverse order, C, B, A. Scripture is full of chiasm and it is helpful to recognize to understand and grasp the meaning of the text.

 Psalms 1:1-6  Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 

(2)  But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 

(3)  And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. 

4)  The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

(5)  Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 

(6)  For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Preaching another man's sermon

Jeremy Walker asks " How do we ensure that we preach our own sermons, and not the sermons of men past or present? Why are we tempted to preach another man’s sermon?"

Read his answer here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Be an Example in Word - Tuesday with Timothy #55

1Timothy 4:12  Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

The pastor should be an example in his words. It should go without saying that a man of God should not have a filthy mouth. Not merely in preaching but his everyday, normal conversation.

He should be an example in his conversation, or his behavior.  The pastor needs to labor to live in a way that reflects the glory of God in all walks of life.

The pastor needs to be an example in love. His love for God. His love for his neighbors. His love for goodness. His love for God's Word. His love for the lost. 

In spirit. He should be an example in his inner life. He should be an example in meekness of spirit and humility. 

In Faith. During trials and hardships, the man of God needs to be stalwart in the faith, looking to God's promises and clinging to Christ. 

In purity. The pastor should be an example in his chasteness. He should flee fornication. 

These virtues are to be pursued by all Christians, but especially the pastor. These are the great needs of churches, to have men who will live godly lives as they minister to the churches. There have been great orators whose life out of the pulpit was a far cry from the messages preached in the pulpit. If the ministry is to be despised, don't let it be on your account. If men will not hear the Word of God, don't provide them with an excuse with a life out of order. Churches have lists and ideas what the pastor should be and how he should act. There are countless opinions of how the man should dress and spend his time. God's concern is his inner life.

The pastor needs to be the example, not the imitator. Some churches want the pastor to conform to the image they have of what a pastor should be, when in reality, it is the other way around. The pastor should live in such a way that the church can look to him as an example. Of course, no man is perfect and no man ever was the perfect example, except our Lord. But of the followers of Christ, the men of God should be always striving to follow the example of Jesus. This was the way Timothy could overcome his disadvantage, to live a life for God's glory. No matter what physical disadvantage you may be up against in your ministry, physical weakness, too young, too old, you can overcome that weakness with your people by being an example of a godly man. If preaching the truth and being steadfast in holiness isn't enough for a congregation, nothing ever will be.