Saturday, January 28, 2012

defend sound doctrine

1 Timothy 1:3-4 ESV
As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.

One of the primary charges of a pastor is to defend sound doctrine. In order to defend sound doctrine that we must recognize sound doctrine. In order to recognize sound doctrine we must first encounter sound doctrine; whether by teaching or reading. In order to encounter sound doctrine we must first define sound doctrine.

According to Paul, sound doctrine is not founded on myth, heritage or speculation. Our gospel is not clever, exclusive or mysterious. It isn't reserved for a few, intelligent and genetically blessed individuals. It is a message of reconciliation that is to be shared, stewarded and passed on through faith. Faith is the means of sound doctrine, the goal of sound doctrine, the measure of sound doctrine and the reward of sound doctrine. By faith in God's Truth we will grow, grow strong, grow fruit, grow vineyards of fruit-producing believers and present that growth back to the vine dresser as an offering.

False doctrine produces none of this. False doctrine is arrogant, self-centered, internally focused and presumptuous. False doctrine divides. It draws lines of not only who is in and who is out but also who may be in and who may be out. Falsify doctrine exalts a few at the expense of others. Falsify doctrine discourages true faith and makes impossible what God made possible through faith... to find a way to Him.

My charge as a pastor is to know and discern the truth of God and the doctrine that brings definition to it. My job is to confront and defeat those who would proclaim another Gospel other than Christ crucified on behalf of and in place of the world... the whole world and accessible by faith alone.

The question for me is this... am I defined by sound doctrine? As a follower of Jesus and a pastor entrusted with His Gospel, am I committed to His truth alone? Have I allowed a Gospel of any other kind, variety or shade other than grace alone through faith alone to Colorado my doctrine and ministry?

Secondly, am I willing to take a stand and remain where God has positioned me in order to defend this doctrine? Am I willing to go toe to toe with false teachers, humanistic philosophy and worldly wisdom? Am I willing to stand alone knowing that I alone may be charged to define and defend the precious promises of God which come by faith in His Gospel?

This is Timothy's charge as a pastor. Will I accept it too?

Father, teach me sound doctrine. Teach me to define it, defend it and display it clearly in the ministry you have entrusted to me. Let me be courageous and strong to stand even if it may be alone. I want to be your pastor for this generation. Amen.

Friday, January 13, 2012

true son

1 Timothy 1:2 ESV
To Timothy, my true child in the faith:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

True sons in the faith are more than mere converts. True sons and daughters in the faith are those we care for and nurture and protect and teach,etc... after guiding them through spiritual rebirth. Spiritual sons and daughters are those who, when mature, bring us great joy as the walk in obedience to Christ. True sons and daughters will reflect the faithfulness of their spiritual parents and the holiness of their heavenly Father.

In my ministry I've had many converts but have I had many true children in the faith?

Father, teach me to be a pastor, a shepherd, a father who guides those entrusted to my care with perseverance, dedication, love and joy. Amen.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Who has called me?

1 Timothy 1:1 ESV

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

Paul's calling was from God. It didn't come from an earthly authority, a communal expectation or a vocational obligation. His obedience was not to a church, denomination, creed, or council. At the end if the day, Paul didn't answer to elders, congregants, members or opinionated parents. Paul was under the authority and approval of One. Of this he was clear.
It's important to keep straight who has called us and who we have been called to. If we confuse those we are called to with the One who has called (our authority)... we will only speak what itching ears want to hear, for the approval of men.
However, if we keep our ears sharp to the voice of God and keep our eyes focused on Him as our authority and humanity as our audience, we will not wander from our calling. The Gospel of God will be powerful and effective and lives will be changed through obedience to that Gospel.

Father, keep my ears sharp for your voice and my eyes focused on You. Let Your Word dwell in my heart and fill my mind. Guard me from the persuasions and flattery of men and let my joy and approval come from only You. Help me keep my calling clear. Amen.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

By Command of God...

1 Timothy 1:1
"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope"

Paul was commanded in a vision by Jesus Christ to be His tool for building His church (Acts 9). His calling was direct and clear. His encounter on the road to Damascus was so real and so profound that it he never wavered from his calling. While Paul felt compelled to remind his readers of his calling as an apostle and the authority given him by Jesus Himself, I believe he was equally reminding himself; to set the tone and direction for his ministry.
As a pastor, as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it's important to remind myself regularly of my calling; the reason I jumped into ministry at first. Over time, my calling has been strengthened by innumerable experiences but my initial calling (like Paul's and every other pastor) is uniquely powerful. It was my love for God's Word and people that first set my heart in the direction of full time church work.
As a high school student I was energized by reading my Bible each morning and sharing what I read later in the day with friends at school, church or work. (I find that even today when I wander away from that habit I lose my momentum and/or passion for ministry.) God's calling came through many godly people in my life who identified the unique ways that God was using me and directed me toward honing my gifts and employing them in the church.
So, along with Paul, I need to remind myself of my calling and who it is that has called me. "Pete, a pastor of Jesus Christ my the calling of God."

Father, teach me to be a better pastor. Remind me of my calling and who it is that has called me. Keep me focused on You and the ones You have entrusted to me. Amen.