Truth Warrior

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Controversy: At the Earnest Contender Blog???

Elder Rule vs. Congregational Authority

My pastor, bishop Philip De Courcy, and I have found some room for a bit of disagreement between us. No! It’s not the kind that separates friends. I didn’t call him names and he didn’t give me a black eye. We just have a different perspective of the role of elders and deacons in our Baptist church. Now I am not trying to hang out the dirty laundry for the neighbors to see. I do want readers to understand that there can and is room for disagreement among friends. Perhaps you dear reader would like to engage and tell me how you feel I may not always respond, but I’m sure there are those who would. Then again that may be assuming an awful lot.

Let me say up front I reject the elder ruler model of government in favor of a congregational model (to greater and lesser degrees). I do not think the church needs to weigh in on all decisions. I do think the church should be informed and led. I do believe that the church should finalize major decisions such as affirming her officers, selecting and sending out missionaries, and of course spending (if the amount exceeds the amount I have in my wallet, NOT). I think officers should then serve/lead in their God given capacities and in the dignity of their office. I also muse that the church be open to paid and/or non-paid, non-seminary trained elders, and that a significant amount of ministry should be to train (disciple) such men for His service. My pastor and I are really not too far apart on these ideas.

If you would like to hear his take visit pastor’s archives and help yourself to any of these messages.

Another brother and faithful elder has also helped me work through some of my views. You can read all about it at Anvil and Fire.

Brother Joe, who is an all-round great guy, offered this wisdom. You can always find followship at Joe's Jottings.

What is your view, elder rule or congregational authority?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Two Offices: Deacon, the Second of Two Offices (part 2)

We are continuing our focus on the second of the two church offices of biblical Baptists; the first, as you recall is the office of pastor the second is the office of the deacon. Having done the etymology on the word deacon, we are now prepared to look at the texts on the deacon’s qualifications (or qualities), and his responsibilities.

The Qualifications (or Qualities) of the Deacon

Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:2-7)

Many scholars agree that this passage describes the birth of the office of the deacon. This is where the apostles charged the church to… “choose” (NIV) or “select” (NASB) seven men who would tend to the business of “serving tables”. What kind of men were they to be? Did the apostles suggest they be men who had successful carrier paths? Can you imagine the apostles saying, “choose seven financially successful men. We think you should get, a banker or two, an attorney, a couple of wealthy land owners, an entrepreneur, and what about a carpenter? Naw, get an Oil man instead… that should do it.”? This may seem somewhat humorous, but sadly it seems, even Bible believing churches look to these outward experiences of men to determine their qualifications. However, if the passage above is indeed speaking of deacons (and I believe it is), then the church should pay attention to the qualities mentioned to determine the metal of a man. We see here that they are to be “…men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom.”(v.3)

The development of this progressive organism called the church was given further instruction in 1Timothy 3:7-13; The adverb “likewise”, is held by some to refer to the office of bishop (eg. like the office of a bishop, the office of the deacon is to…), to others it is applied to the bishops standard of quality (eg. just as the bishops must be blameless, etc. so deacons must also be blameless etc.). Either way, deacons, “are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.” (1Tim.3:8-10; NIV)

The Responsibilities of the Deacon

J.N. Darby makes an interesting observation in his Synopsis of the Old and New Testaments,

It will be noticed that the apostle speaks of the wives of deacons, not those of bishops (except to say that these must be the husbands of one wife only). Bishops had a charge, in which they were occupied with souls and exercised authority in the church, in which women were not to act. Deacons were necessarily occupied with family details and circumstances. In these women might well be concerned and often very useful. In the spiritual cares of elders they had nothing to do. It was requisite therefore that the wives of deacons should possess qualities which would cause their husbands to be respected, and at the same time guard themselves from becoming busybodies and tale-bearers.

This points up the fact that deacons had an important role in the life of the early church, and they do in the life of churches today too. Their responsibilities then and now, is to serve the pastor/s and the local church.

I asked the ABF class “In what ways do our deacons serve the pastor/s and the people of EBC?” We came up with this list of the ways deacons have touched our lives personally:

Visitation; prison, hospitals, homes of visitors, and shut ins
Caring for the widows and the needy
Assisting in the administration of ordinances
Keeping up the building and grounds of the church property
Assisting many in financial accountability and stewardship
Assisting in the programs and functions of the church
Advising and assisting the Pastor/s on various matters
Interviewing candidates for membership
Advising the church in various matters (to many to list here and maintain any interest)
Assisting the pastor/s and the church in seeking pastors to fill certain areas as needs may arise

These servants free the pastor/s to minister in areas of higher priority (i.e. prayer and the ministry of the Word of God), and help the church organize in other areas. In reality deacons are servants to the pastor and the church.

One last note, deacons:

Serve not dictate!

Serve not govern!

Serve under not over a pastor!

Minister not master!

Can I hear a deacon say, “Amen?”

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Two Offices: Deacon, the Second of Two Offices

For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. (1Tim.3:13)

Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (Phil.1:1-2)

Without appology, biblical Baptists recognize two offices; the office of pastor, and the office of deacon. These two offices are not really distinctives of Baptists; almost every church has a pastor and deacons. The biblical distinctive is that Baptists have only two offices within the local church*, pastors and deacons. Biblical Baptists recognize no church offices outside of, or over the local church. The aim of this post is to highlight the second of the two church offices of biblical Baptists; that is the office of the deacon.

The Etemology

A. Diakonos

Thayer Definition:
1) one who executes the commands of another, especially of a master, a servant, attendant, minister
1a) the servant of a king
1b) a deacon, one who, by virtue of the office assigned to him by the church, cares for the poor and has charge of and distributes the money collected for their use
1c) a waiter, one who serves food and drink

Part of Speech: noun masculine or feminine

Simply put the word diakonos means servant or minister. English translations of the Bible sometimes translated this word and other times transliterated this word. The words “servant” and “minister” are examples of the word translated. When it is transliterated the word employed is deacon.

In the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, the noun deacon only appears twice (see the key verses above). The possible and probable reason for this is that the translators used the word “deacon” when they believed that the context referred to the office of deacon, and “servant” or “minister” when they felt the context indicated a more general use of the word.

B. Diakoneō

Thayer Definition:
1) to be a servant, attendant, domestic, to serve, wait upon
1a) to minister to one, render ministering offices to
1a1) to be served, ministered unto
1b) to wait at a table and offer food and drink to the guests
1b1) of women preparing food
1c) to minister, i.e. supply food and necessities of life
1c1) to relieve one’s necessities (e.g. by collecting alms), to provide take care of, distribute, the things necessary to sustain life
1c2) to take care of the poor and the sick, who administer the office of a deacon
1c3) in Christian churches to serve as deacons
1d) to minister
1d1) to attend to anything, that may serve another’s interests
1d2) to minister a thing to one, to serve one or by supplying any thing
Part of Speech: verb

The verb diakoneo means “to serve” or “to minister” it is thus translated about 30 times in the NT. In 1Tim.3:10 and 13, however, it is rendered “use the office of a deacon”. Here again, the translators of the KJV must have felt that the context dictated a distinction between a servant in general and the office in particular.

C. Diakonia

Thayer Definition:
1) service, ministering, especially of those who execute the commands of others
Part of Speech: noun feminine

The texts we will use for this study contain some form of the Greek word diakonos. These verses (with the probable exception of Acts 6:1-7) do not necessarily speak of the office proper; they do, however, use the same word (or form of it) that is transliterated elsewhere as “deacon”. These passages and their contexts will help us understand what a biblical deacon is and what he does.

Having done the etymology we are now in a better position to look at the texts on the deacon’s qualifications (or qualities), and his responsibilities. This we will do if God permits in future posts as we continue to focus on the second of the two church offices of biblical Baptists; that is the office of the deacon.

As always I am open to questions, comments, and even snide remarks.

*Disclaimer: Since these two offices are found in the NT, a local church must have both offices to conform to a Scriptural pattern. That is not to say that it is wrong to have other offices within a local church such as treasurer, trustee, Sunday School Superintendent, as the need arises, but the Bible doesn’t insist on these and they are not to be equated with the two under examination. It may also be presumed, for our purposes here, that these other "offices" are often filled by pastors and/or deacons.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Functions of a Pastor: Part Two

The sheepfold of a local church is ONE of the pastor’s primary concerns. We have noticed that a pastor is to feed, protect, and lead the sheep. This involves planning and executing Spirit controlled direction. How is this to be done? There are at least two other responsibilities that should take top priority in the man of God’s choosing, even above his calling to the office of pastor. These two top priorities will serve to answer how a pastor is to feed, protect, and lead the sheep. We will draw these principals from the Word of God.

Acts, as you may know is a historical book of the birth and growth of a new organic phenomenon called the church. The church is both an organism and an organization. Acts 6 describes one of the early growing pains of this new organism:

And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. (Acts 6:1)

“What can be done?”, the young church must have been asking. The wise apostles had an idea…

Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude… (Acts 6:2-5)

The apostles had great wisdom in this matter and realized that this organism needed further organization. They called the church to a Baptist business meeting to present the situation and propose the solution. The multitude of disciples somehow, we are not told exactly how, expressed their approval. What principals can we draw from this passage as to the primary priorities of a pastor? What are the tools the pastor should employ to feed, protect, and lead the church of the living God?

Yes Acts 6:4 is speaking specifically of the apostles; however it offers practical application for pastors as well. The two top priorities of a pastor should be prayer and the ministry of the Word.


Nothing can sustain powerful preaching like prayer. There have been many books written on the subject of prayer and much could be said on this topic. It is my conviction that one can not grow much without this line of communication, that God has so graciously opened up, for all who trust in His finished work on Calvary. This is no less true for pastors. What it all boils down to is this talking and communing with God. I recommend any of the following books to the reader on the topic of prayer:

Power in Prayer (C.H. Spurgeon)
Pray (Ben Haden)
Praying With Authority (Theodor H. Epp)
Sense and Nonsense About Prayer (Lehman Strauss)*
Spiritual Warfare (R.C. Stedman)
The Necessity of Prayer (E.M.Bounds)
The Power of a Praying Wife (Stormie Omartian)**
The reality of Prayer (E.M.Bounds)
The Teaching of Jesus on Prayer (Lewis MacLachlan)
What God does When Men Pray (William Carr Peel)

The two top priorities of a pastor should be prayer and the ministry of the Word.

The ministry of the Word of God

The pastor of a church should be skilled in the ministry of the Word of God. That means perhaps among other things and or along side of other interests he needs time to pray and be ministered to, through the Word. Acts 20:28 gives this admonition, "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."

A pastor needs to spend time in the Word if he is to be effective in the ministry of the Word. A pastor will:

Read the Word
Study the Word
Teach the Word
Preach the Word
Live by the Word

Perhaps one has a desire to be a pastor, such a one desires a good work! If one is called to preach he is also called to prepare. Preparation occurs in a variety of ways, we dare not limit God. For some it may mean Bible collage or seminary. It may involve mentoring from a more mature believer. If you have a desire to preach you may gain experience by volunteering at a local mission, take a friend with you to offer realistic and constructive criticism. Do some street preaching, or ask to conduct services to nursing homes (this usually involves a team). Most importantly be yourself, develop your own homiletic. On this topic I would recommend the book, Lectures to My Students (C. H. Spurgeon).

A pastor is to feed, protect, and lead a congregation in the onward and upward God given direction. That is why I believe the top priorities of a pastor are prayer and the ministry of the Word of God. It is best, in my view, if a church can afford to pay their pastor/s. The idea is that a pastor be unencumbered as much as possible by the cares of this world. However, there are Baptist pastors who support themselves with employment as well. In this situation the church, then, should take further responsibilities to support their pastor. The way a pastor is treated by the church is so important. Sheep support their shepherds in many ways, they are not vicious animals... have you ever heard of an attack sheep? In a latter post we will look at the flip side of being a pastor, that is, the treatment he is to receive from the church.

* My personal favorite, especially for those who like an easy and simple and practical read.
**Good one for the ladies.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Fuctions of the Pastor

Pastor… this is one office with three titles. The words bishop, elder, and yes, pastor, are used interchangably in the Bible (cf. Acts 20:17-38; Titus 1:5,7a; 1Pet.5:2; 1Tim.5:17). For a review of this biblical expose’ see this post. We have also made lengthy exposition about the character of the pastor here and here if one should wish to read more.

The very words employed by the Holy Spirit are suggestive of the various functions of a pastor. One of the pastor’s primary concerns is to care for the sheep. He is to feed the sheep. He is to protect the sheep. He is to lead the sheep. This involves planing and executing Spirit controlled direction. This must be done with patience and determination. Being a pastor is not for the weak.

One of the pastor’s primary concerns is to care for the sheep. It is the view of this Baptist, that a pastor should be free from the cares of this world as much as posible. This is one reason the apostle Paul wrote, 1Co 9:9 and 1Ti 5:17-18 Let me reiterate… one of the pastor’s primary concerns is to care for the sheep! This means he is not to be out looking for work ... not under sinks, fixing cars, selling “stuff”, walking a beat, delivering a route, flying a plane, building bridges, designing “things”, paving roads, or repairing military jets. A pastor should not have to be a tent maker! If those in Corinth were really spiritual they would not have to be told “…who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?” (v.7) He writes as though this was something that should have been plain to them. Paul gave no less than nine (9) examples of how this should work out. When a church is obedient to her Lord they will have a mutually symbiotic relationship with the pastor that God ordains to lead them.

The pastor, being free from the cares of this world, will be able to view the sheep as one of his primary concerns.

He is to feed the sheep. That is, provide spiritual nourishment. This involves timing, training, and teaching.

He is to protect the sheep. That is, be on the look out, ready to defend from the wolves and bears of ungodly fads, false teaching, and worldly practices.

He is to lead the sheep. That is to set a course and follow it through. A pastor is to be a leader not a pusher. He must go out ahead of the flock and take them were he already is, not tell them were to go. A flock of sheep cannot, and will not, be able to follow one who is standing still. Sheep will wander.

One of the pastor’s primary concerns is to care for the sheep. Feeding, protecting, and leading involves planning and implementing Spirit-controlled direction. This must all be done with patience and fortitude. A favorite book of mine that details the function of the pastor is A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by phillip Keller.

One of the pastor’s primary concerns is to care for the sheep. Feeding, protecting, and leading involves planing and executing Spirit controlled direction. This must all be done with patience and fortitude. One may ask, “How is this to be done?” We may draw several principals from the Word of God on how this is to be done. The sheepfold of a local church is ONE of the pastor’s primary concerns There are at least two other responsabilities that should take top priority in the man of God’s choosing even abbove his calling as a pastor. These two functions are…

Next post: The Top Two Priorities of a Pastor

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Qualities of the Pastor Delineated

These should be plain enough to understand:

"A bishop then must be blameless..." NOT SINLESS, all the pastors said, "Amen!"

"...husband of one wife..." there may be some debate on what is meant by "one wife", it is not my purpose here to debate this.

"...vigilant..." the Greek word for this means, "vigilant". Webster's says, "Watchful; circumspect; attentive to discover and avoid danger, or to provide for safety."

"...sober..." means clear minded. A pastor needs to be a clear thinker.

"...of good behavior...", or orderly [in conduct].

"...given to hospitality..." Dear pastors (who may be reading this post) are you inviting?

"...apt to teach..." this may include the spiritual gift of teaching, but the quality is in the word "apt". In other words instructive.

"...not given to wine..." Thayer's says,"given to wine, drunken", is the meaning.

" striker..." Pastors should not be quarrelsome.

"...not greedy of filthy lucre..." I am no longer surprised when well dressed "pastors" beg for a seed of faith offering (meaning one's life savings) from the TV audience, with the "promise" of prosperity quoting, " is better to give than to receive...". I don't know anyone who has ever received a check from any of these religious shysters who live like kings.

"...patient..." You want me to leave the pastors alone and move on to the office of deacon right now... don't you?

"...not a brawler..." Webster's says this is "A noisy fellow; a wrangler." Not contentious would be a better rendering, meaning not given to angry debate; not quarrelsome. In other words, pastors, don't be an argument waiting to happen.

"... not covetous..." Not avaricious, in other words not greedy of gain; nor immoderately desirous of accumulating property, (esp. that which belongs to others).

"... One that ruleth well his own house having his children in subjection with all gravity..." The charge here is that a man must be able to establish and maintain order in his home. The man must be the head of his home and must have the respect and honor of his children which will be apparent by their behavior. Why is this important? The following verse explains...

"...For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God...." Here is where the Bible puts the shoe leather to the pavement. Paul encapsulates all he has said up to this point and makes it very practical indeed. If you are a pastor (or if you desire to be a pastor) you have the responsibility, duty, and mandate to be one in your home as your first and primary priority. Paul's statement plainly says you are to rule your house and implies that this how to properly care for the church of God! The word care (Gk.epimeleomai) is a verb or action word it means to care for (physically or otherwise):-take care of. This word seems to be unique to Paul and his companion Luke. It is the word employed in Luke 10:34-35 the context of which is the good citizen. It is a pastoral word. This is all the more true when speaking of the oversight of the church of God.

"...Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil..." You may be talented, gifted, hold a prestigious position in your field of expertise, but if you are a new believer, or if you are immature in your faith... you are not yet ready for this office! If, however, you desire this "good work" pursue it! How? First become a pastor in your character.

"...Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil...." The pastorate is not for those who can't do anything else very well. It is for those who by virtue of doing well have a good reputation outside of the church.

I once asked a former Sunday School teacher how he could treat people so harshly in his position as vice president of a small company. His reply: "This is work, not church! There is a difference." Yes, there is... your reputation is important outside of the church. God cares how we treat unbelievers, not just the variety that visit the church service. God cares about how we work. He cares about how we conduct business. Listen, brothers and sisters, God's reputation is on the line too! He's living in your life to draw others to Himself, not just so He can be glorified by means of your personal satisfaction in Him. This may fly in the face of some popular theological idea, but this is the Word of God! Not many of us are as satisfied with God's purpose for trials as we are saatisfied with a juicy steak; that's OK. He is still just no mater what He serves us, and how we respond to everything matters. This is especially true of pastors.

The Parallel Passage

Titus 1: 6-9
"If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly."

Paul here throws children into the mix. He says that it is important for pastors to have faithful (our word pis-tos' remember? objectively trustworthy; subjectively trustful) children on the positive side. On the negative side they are to be of such character that they would not be accused of being profligate or being abandoned in moral principle and in vice. Children of pastors should be good kids not insubordinate, or disobedient. Why is this? What do you think? Is this because children are reflective of parents? Could it be because a pastor has enough to deal with in his church, so he doesn't need added burden of the constant care of bratty kids? Is it proof that he rules his house well? ????

"...For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God..."

We have seen in 1Timothy that blameless does not mean sinless. Paul mentions it twice here in Titus. In conjuntion with his wife and in conjunction with stewardship. "There are two things Satan will use to bring down a pastor..." an old timer used to tell me, "...women and money." Brother pastor (reading this post) fly from these unsatisfying luers. Brothers and sisters (reading this post) pray for your pastors, that Satan would not cause them to fall. This is not funny bussiness left for sitcoms... this is Christ's reputation! Again, and quietly, I urge the saints to pray for their leaders.

"...For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre..."

Does any one see a conection here? I know for me, I get the most ticked-off when I don't get my way... that is, when I think I deserve to get my own way yet don't. I also know some guys and gals (not that you, dear reader, fall here) that, when they don't get thier own way, they get angry, then cling to the bottle, then pick a fight or start a fight. The pastor is not to behave like a hocky player, nor a brawling drunk! He is, however, to be...

"...a lover of hospitality [fond of guests] a lover of good men[fond of good, that is, a promoter of virtue: - love of good men.], sober[curbing one’s desires and impulses, moderate as to opinion or passion], just [rightious], holy, temperate [strong yet self controled].

The pastor is to be "...Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught..." Why?

"...that he may be able by sound doctrine [healthy, uncorrupt, true, teaching that flows from a faithfull hermenutic of Scripture].

"...both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers." Why would God want "any man" to do this? Drop down to Titus 1:13, "...that they may be sound in the faith..."

The prophet Jude wrote, "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."

This is the ministy.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Vote

In Acts 1:26 we read:

“And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”

The word numbered is sugkatapsēphizō

Thayer Definition:
1) be depositing a ballot in the urn (i.e. by voting for) to assign one a place among, to vote one a place among
2) to vote against with others, i.e. to condemn with others
Part of Speech: verb

In Acts 14: 22-23 note:
“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.”

The word ordained is cheirotoneō

Thayer Definition:
1) to vote by stretching out the hand
2) to create or appoint by vote: one to have charge of some office or duty
3) to elect, create, appoint
Part of Speech: verb

The role of the local churches not the apostolic office is emphasized in Acts 18:16-24:

…thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.
For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you. And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches; And not that only, but who was also chosen
[or voted, cheirotoneō as we have previously looked at in Acts 14:23] of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind: Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us: Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you.
Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ. Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.

Doing church, as instructed in 1Corinthians, should be decent and orderly (cf. 1Cor.14:40). If you are a member of a local church you have a responsibility to God and the church to fast pray and vote, this is how the church moves forward.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Qualities of the Pastor, NOT the Qualifications of a Pastor

The office of a pastor is misunderstood by many. Some may view the pastor as one who carries the load of the church. To some he is an employee of the church to perform certain spelled out duties such as a CEO, and/or CFO. To others he is the president of the board of directors that call themselves deacons (another misunderstood office). The Bible points up that a being a pastor is not so much about what a man does, as much as it is who he is. It’s not his position in the church described, it is his profession of Christ defined. It’s not about his certified qualifications, it's about his character qualities. Some may ask, "What is a biblical pastor?” To answer this question our appeal must be to the Scriptures.

If this were an expositional piece on Acts (and it is not) one may perhaps lay it out like this:
Paul's example to pastors (please read Acts 20:17-27).
Note: Paul is not using mere words here. Paul is not being haughty, with a "looking down his nose" attitude. Instead, Paul has lived the life he is talking about. Paul is a fine example of a pastor. May God raise up more like him in our day.
Paul's exhortation to pastors (please read Acts 20: 28-35).
Note: Keep in mind that Paul is exhorting these elders in words also. Paul is bringing to their memory what he did and how he has lived, etching in their mind the training they have received (v.31). Paul is saying in effect, "...this is how to be a good minister ... so be a good minister!" You and I can, and should be good ministers in our day.

These thoughts of Paul were expanded, and delivered to one of his young protégés... Timothy.

This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1Timothy 3:1-7)

Paul parallels these thoughts when he addressed the following shipment to another one of his protégés, Titus,

If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. (Titus 1: 6-9)

Let's unpack these thoughts of Paul so we too can value the tenacity of our pastor/s. Incidentally, taking a closer look is not the same as inventing hidden meanings in our texts. There is enough here to convey just what the Holy Spirit intends.

In 1Timothy 1:5; 3:1; 4:9; Titus 3:8; Paul uses the exact same segue from one thought to the next. It is, in effect, an introduction to a new body of ideas he wishes to convey. It is Paul's way of arresting our interest so we will pay attention to what will follow. He comes out like the quickest draw in the west, with two six guns bold and blazing... "This is a true saying..."! The word in the Greek is pis-tos' it means, "objectively trustworthy; subjectively trustful: - believe (-ing, -r), faithful (-ly), sure, true." (Strong's) With our attention captured, and focused on what follows Paul says, "...if a man..." (ei tis GK. it means "any man." I take this to mean any man: when this was first written, when this was first read, when it is being read in our day, and when future generations read it till the Lord comes) "...desire the office of a bishop..." (Strong's says, "episkopē ...specifically [means] the Christian 'episcopate':- the office of a 'bishop', bishoprick, visitation." he desireth a good work.")

In both letters it is clear that Paul is speaking about the office, position, responsibility, or, more biblically, the stewardship of a bishop.
This is a true saying, if a man (ei tes, any man) desire (oregomai) the office of a bishop, he desireth (epithumeō) a good work. The fact that the first word translated "desire" oregomai is in the middle voice and carries the meaning, to stretch oneself, that is, reach out after (long for)... and the second word translated "desire" from epithumeō to set the heart upon, that is, long for (rightfully or otherwise):- covet, desire... lends credence to the proposal that this is a permanent office of the church that any man through the church age may desire. "What kind of work is it?", one may ask. It is a good work! John Darby has commented on this saying, "The apostle next points out to Timothy the qualities necessary for a bishop or a deacon... He supposes here that there were some who desired to undertake this work. It was a good work." (Synopsis of the Old and New Testament J. N. Darby) I would add that, " still is a good work!"

The qualities are then listed these should be plain enough to understand: read them trough carefully. Highlight the one's that are in both passages note the ones that are not. It may also be worth while to notice the positives and negative (eg. what a pastor is and what a pastor is not). See if you agree with me that a biblical pastor is who a man is not what he does. It is who a man is (inwardly) that determines what he does (outwardly) not the other way around.

The next post: The Functions of a Pastor


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