1 Timothy: Biblical Foundation for Pastoral Ministry, Part 1 :: By Dr. Donald Whitchard
Setting the Scene
Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), the famed English pastor and teacher of the Victorian era, once said that if the Lord Jesus Christ calls a man to the gospel ministry, he should not stoop instead to become a king.
It is my conviction after over thirty years of service to the King of kings that being a minister of the Gospel is not a career choice, but a Divine summons to proclaim the riches of the Scriptures and the wondrous grace and mercy of Almighty God towards us who have rebelled against His rule; yet it offers us forgiveness and salvation if only we come to Christ and submit to Him as Lord.
The true man of God is to stand firm on the Word and not bow to the ideologies and pressures of a wicked society to compromise what God has decreed and established. He is the absolute standard for all of life and its order, and there is nothing in this universe that is not under His Sovereign control and will.
A man of God will tell people that to follow Jesus Christ is not something that can be taken on and off at random depending on how one feels or thinks. He is to insist that the authentic Christian life is one of complete obedience and surrender to what the Lord Jesus demands and expects of us in this life as well as the life to come.
The man who is called to serve Christ will face adversity and hardship, and often be subject to abuse, neglect, slander, and in some cases, martyrdom as we have seen all too often in these past few years with our brethren around the world, and will come here sooner than later. He may often have to stand alone for the sake of the Gospel and the holiness of God, knowing that his crown awaits him at the end of his days, which he will place before the feet of Jesus on that great day of reward.
The man of God will often find himself in places where there is no chance of notoriety coming his way. He will not be asked by his denomination or council for an observation or comment on an issue because he doesn’t walk in the inner circle of decision makers and noteworthy ecclesiastical figures within the realm of contemporary Christianity. There have been many ministers who have served in anonymity and solitude, glad to be seen by an audience of one. There will be no one to write his biography or quote him for a scholarly work or consult him for a problem facing the church. He will end his life of service more likely than not by hearing his Lord say to him, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, welcome into the joy of thy LORD.” In the end, that is what matters.
Many men of God have been instructed by seminaries, mentors, quiet times with God Himself, godly parents and grandparents, other ministers, and others that God has put in their life in order to be worthy of the office to which the LORD has called and entrusted them. This is true for the young man whom we will be devoting time and study to these next few presentations.
When we read the section of the New Testament known as the Pastoral Epistles, we learn about what a man of God is to be and do in accordance with the model given to us by our Lord Jesus and the man who had, at one time, hated and despised His very name and those who followed Him. This was Saul of Tarsus, who was gloriously transformed by the risen Christ while on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-6) and became the apostle Paul, who would go on to write one-third of the New Testament and be responsible for establishing churches and boldly proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, all the while enduring a flood of persecution and suffering from the world and the devil.
Paul did not go out into the world alone to do his Lord’s bidding. He had a faithful group of supporters and co-ministers who assisted him in preaching, teaching, admonishing, pastoral care and service, and provided comfort when the burdens of ministry caught up with him. He mentored young believers and pastors who would care for the churches established across the Roman Empire, and wrote the letters of instruction and admonition that became the foundation of how to do the work of Christ in the power of the Spirit and to diminish any thought of operating the things of God in one’s own strength and mindset.
One of Paul’s “sons in the faith,” Timothy, was the young pastor of the church located in the port city of Ephesus, which was located on the western shore of Asia Minor, now known as the nation of Turkey. Ephesus was a major city of commerce and trade. It was also the city where the Temple of Diana stood as one of the wonders of the ancient world. Paul’s early ministry there caused a disturbance (Acts 19) as well as an influx of new converts to Christ and the establishment of a major church that became a major influence on Christianity for the next few decades of the first century A.D.
Timothy is mentioned in Acts 16:1, 3, 17:14, 16:5, 19:22, 20:4; Romans 16:21; 1 Corinthians 4:17, 16:10; 2 Corinthians 1:1, 19; Philippians 1:1, 2:19; Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 3:2, 6; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:2, 18; 2 Timothy 1:2, 5, 3:15; Philemon 1:1; and Hebrews 13:23.
His father was a Greek (Acts 16:1), his mother was a godly woman (2 Timothy 1:5), he was trained early in the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:15) and became Paul’s associate (Acts 16:3).
The letters to Timothy from Paul were written towards the end of Paul’s ministry and were a call to remain faithful to the work of the LORD. They are the picture of what a godly ministry and life of service is supposed to be; but, unfortunately, in these last days, seems to be neglected or downplayed by some pastors and churches. It seems that many modern church leaders get their direction from social expectations, denominational preferences, “personal revelation” as opposed to the written Word of God, misinterpretations of roles in the church, attempts to please the world, and the roles of leaders based on business models and not the teachings of Jesus or the apostles.
The specter of feminism is rampant in some churches, with the growing acceptance of women pastors in predominantly charismatic circles and some mainline denominations in what can only be interpreted as defiance of Scriptural standards and a tool for liberalism to corrupt the effectiveness of the church upon the area around them. Now, this might not set well among some readers, but it is something that needs to be addressed in this series, especially in light of a publicized controversy that erupted in the Southern Baptist Convention concerning one particularly well-known female Bible teacher and her growing attitude of defiance and compromise with the world. She has been both rebuked and defended by evangelical leaders and ministers, and has sparked a discussion on women’s roles in the church.
The issue, and that of other dilemmas in the modern church, is not that we are to focus on the roles of people in churches as expected by influential individuals, but what the Scriptures directly tell us on how the work of the LORD’S church is to operate so as to give glory to Him. It is also to advance the cause of the Gospel throughout the nations and the world as the time comes to a conclusion predestined by the act of Almighty God that brings all things under His will and glory. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ will be triumphant; and while the day is here, we who are the called and elect of the LORD need to do what He says and expects, using the Scriptures to give us the instructions that will see all things done to His will and bring in the harvest that is in the field even now.
We will start our journey next time by focusing on Chapter 1, verses 3-11 and deal with a problem that has plagued the church since the first century and was told to us by our Lord Jesus on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21), that of false doctrine. Paul will hit this issue first and be relentless, as should every man who is called to shepherd the flock of God.
If you’re a pastor reading this, I pray that what will be presented here will be a source of encouragement and strength to you as you labor for the LORD. If you’re under the leadership of a godly pastor, then I ask you to read these lessons and begin praying for your pastor that he might follow in the steps of Jesus Christ and be faithful to Him as the days grow near for His arrival. Let’s read what God’s Word has to teach us as we progress, and be enriched in these last days.