April 2013

The Pastor’s Home-pt.4

Last time…

we considered the fact that Paul left Timothy in Ephesus, and Titus in Crete, in order to deal with teaching that contradicts sound doctrine. Part of that work is to confront leadership in the church and call them to repentance. That is quite a work for a man to do, but the church is a precious thing and needs to be cared for by godly leadership. If a man in leadership is teaching error, he needs to be removed. However, that will create a gap. So, what are Timothy and Titus to do? They are to appoint new leadership. That is why Paul gave these instructions in these chapters (1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 respectively). Both of these men must appoint leadership. The assumption is that this activity is a priority because God has appointed men to lead the sheep and tend the flock of God. If a church has no leadership, or has unqualified leadership, they are not being cared for.

In 1 Timothy 3:4-5, and Titus 1:6, Paul makes sweeping statements that are determinative of whether a man should be a pastor or not. Paul wrote,

1 Timothy 3:4–5

4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity

5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?),

And in Titus,

Titus 1:6

6 namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.

These passages instruct us in the necessary qualification of a man to leadership in the household of God, the church (1 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 2:19). The point of this series is to attempt to bring to light that the condition of a man’s home is a qualification for service in pastoral ministry. This is not negotiable, any more than being able to teach is negotiable. A man’s efforts, heart, abilities, failures, repentance, and overall righteousness through the obedience of faith (Romans 1:5; Philippians 2:12-13) are all on display in the home and those things affect everyone else in the home.

We have seen that Paul says that if a man cannot lead his home, he cannot lead the church. This is because both the church and the home are essentially made of the same categories of people. In the church, there is a Father (Ephesians 4:6) and there are children. Where does the wife and mother fit in? She is one with the father of the children (Ephesians 5:28-33). Men and women who obey Christ are made children of God, and He becomes their Father. The collection of these children all under the care and instruction of God the Father is what Paul refers to as a “household.” Jesus Christ is to have preeminence in that household (Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:18). Therefore, that body of people, in Christ, is as precious as any household. In fact, given the One who is Head of the household, the church is even more precious. These are great realities and, unfortunately, very little is being written about them (although this was a refreshing reminder of these things).

Now…

we come to the similar phrases found in 1 Timothy and Titus involving the children. As with many passages of Scripture, there are a number of disagreements over what Paul wrote here. The reasons for these disagreements are varied. But the disagreements are not caused by the lack of clarity in the text itself. It does not appear to be vague, nor meant to be. I will work through these things here and delineate some conclusions.

Paul wrote that Timothy (and Titus) are to look for men for leadership who are appropriately raising their children. That much is clear. In fact, in 1 Timothy, the indication is that the condition of the children is the litmus test for the ability of the man to lead his home. In other words, to see if a man can lead his home, look at the fruit of that leadership, the hearts and lives of the children (this is evident by the participles “manages” and “keeping” which would modify the main verb, “to be”). Interestingly, there is nothing explicitly written here about the condition of his wife. The assumption is that she would fall into the category of his household. Everything that the man is head over, wife, children, and resources, are his “household.” However, if you want to see the fruit of that man’s know-how of raising children, and managing his home, look to the quality and condition of his children.

His children should be “under control” (the phrase “with all dignity” refer to the man and his quality of training his children to be under control). The phrase “under control” is the Greek prepositional phrase, ἐν ὑποταγῇ. The preposition “ἐν” is usually translated “in.” That is not possible here because Paul is not insisting that the children be “in control” of the household. The next word “ὑποταγῇ” also has a preposition on the front of it, hupo, which is usually translated, “under” as in spatially, or logically, under something or someone else. It makes sense with this particular word “ὑποταγῇ” because the other half of the word is the word for obedience, or submission. In fact, it would, together, indicate a willing, voluntary submission under the authority of another (Jesus, of course, exemplifies this precious and powerful truth in Luke 2:51). Coupled with the preposition “ἐν,” Paul is driving home this reality. The fact is, a father and mother have authority in the home, with the husband as the head, or leader, of the two. He has the right from God to instruct, and care for, all the others. Children should be in such a condition of heart to choose to submit to that authority.

This kind of humbling is not natural to a child (Proverbs 22:15; Ephesians 2:1-3; Romans 3:9-18) and is only produced through the gospel of Jesus Christ. The will of a child despises God’s authority. They welcome the care and benefits of God (Acts 17:25b; cf. Matthew 5:43-45). But, they naturally reject His righteousness. Essentially, the man of God should know how to bring his children to the point of obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. This cannot mean to simply control the children externally, without any repentance and submission in the heart. God expects more than that out of His children (Mark 7:6-7). God’s expectation of His children is as much submission and obedience from a pure heart as Jesus Himself has (Matthew 5:48). Otherwise, the New Covenant would be unnecessary since the target of that covenant is the heart and the product of that new heart is obedience to God’s instructions (Ezekiel 36:26-27). If the good news of Jesus Christ is that God’s eternal plan of making sinners into sons (Revelation 21:7) has come to earth, then that should be most evident in the homes of the leaders of God’s church (Romans 8:28-30; cf. Ephesians 3:8-11). Paul reiterates this in Titus as well.

Paul wrote to Titus that an elder should "[have] children who believe.” Again, since Paul taught that the condition of the home determines whether or not a man knows how to lead, it would be basic to assume that Paul expects the children of the elder/pastor to believe in Christ. The adjective “πιστά” describes the children. This description coincides with 1 Timothy 3:4 that the children are obedient and voluntarily submissive to their father. This kind of faithfulness to their father is demonstrated by their behavior. And just as there is a list of behaviors for elders, here is a little list for his children as well. In other words, the behavior of the children (as well as the elders and deacons/deaconesses listed in 1 Timothy 3) demonstrates their hearts.

The question for many is whether or not this demands that the children of the pastor need to be believers. Is it Paul’s intention to instruct Timothy and Titus to only approve men whose children are following Jesus Christ? I believe that Paul is instructing just that. Whether the children are simply faithful or believers, the point is the same. A faithful person is one who adheres to a kind of expectation. That expectation for a Christian is contained in the Scripture. If a man is teaching these instructions of Scripture to his children, the assumption is that the children are faithful to those instructions. To rebel against those instructions demonstrates an unbelieving heart. To obey and submit to those instructions demonstrates a believing heart. James would say that faith in Christ necessarily evidences itself in “works” (James 2:14-26). The works of faith are ultimately evidenced in submission to teaching. If you believe something, you obey it (Romans 6:16-18).

The assumption is that the man’s aptitude in teaching shows itself primarily in his home. This teaching, with wisdom and skill, will accomplish what God intended. Paul told Timothy later in his second letter,

         14      You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them,
         15      and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. –2 Timothy 3:14-15

According to Paul, the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, as well as the entirety of Scripture (3:16), is able to produce the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Men, do you understand Scripture well enough to train your children in this wisdom (cf. Deuteronomy 4:5-6; Job 32:7–9; Psalm 119:100)? Do you understand the eternal gospel well enough to expose their hearts by the appropriate wielding of the Word of God?

Some would object to this understanding insisting that to expect this is to limit God’s election. That is absurd. First, nothing limits God’s election, whether entire cities (Jonah 3:5-10; cf. Matthew 12:41; Luke 11:32), households (cf. Acts 16:31-34; cf. Acts 11:14), or individuals. This argument is a philosophical one, not an exegetical one.

Second, some object because they know of a pastor who was faithful for many years over a church and when a child left home and that child renounced Christ, or lives in such a way that denies Christ (Titus 1:16). The question then is, was the father truly faithful? Remember, an elder needs to be one who manages his household well. Did he really do that? To say that we have no control over or children when they are out of the home is a sad thing to say. Of course, as parents, we don’t have control over them (Genesis 2:24-25). However, do you not expect a child to continue in the things that you taught when you taught them? What were you training them for? Solomon wrote,

            6      Train up a child in the way he should go,
      Even when he is old he will not depart from it.-Proverbs 22:6

 

Some would say that is not a promise. Some would even say this is a warning against allowing the child to continue in “his own way.” However, this is a command (Ephesians 6:4). Solomon is instructing his son to train up his child in the way that he is expected to live when he is old. If you do that, even when he has grey hair, he will not depart from that teaching. The failure, then, is not the children necessarily. It is the training they received. That is the heart of the issue.

I believe that the situation in the leadership of the church is dire. Judging by the number of unqualified and disqualified men in leadership over God’s household, I would say that there needs to be a serious examination in this area. I would also assert that the goal is not a witch-hunt. It is to equip where there apparently isn’t any, or at least very, very little. I hope to at least introduce some teaching from the Word of God along these lines.

The Pastor’s Home – pt.3

We have introduced three basics concerning pastoral leadership. First, our responsibility of leadership is a calling from the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a stewardship which we are required to be faithful with (1 Peter 4:10). As such, we must understand our calling, the treasure which we have, and how to execute our work. Second, we represent the Lord Jesus Christ in our work. Being subject to the Master as a slave, we no longer represent ourselves. We, in all that we do, represent the Lord Jesus Christ. Third, and most pertinent to this series, our homes represent the Lord as well. The Lord is on display in our homes as much as He is in the church. Why? Because God’s man is head of that home. Thus, it should have the same characteristics as the church he leads.

With understanding that, we move on to some specifics. I want to begin by looking at 1 Timothy 3:1-7. Just like the priests (Leviticus 21) and kings (Deuteronomy 17:14-20) of the OT, those in leadership must meet certain qualifications. However, these qualifications are not like a job qualification. They are not to be considered merely as something that a man has to muster up in order to be a pastor. They represent who the man actually is. Also, these qualifications are the result of the sovereign purposes of God for that man. That is, God qualifies the man. He makes a man qualified or not. Just like making a priest qualified for service in the Tabernacle, so also does God ordain for Himself those who would serve Him in the church. And, in doing that, He qualifies them as well. So, Paul says, when you see a man like this, you see a man who has been qualified of God for the pastoral leadership of the church of God.

1 Timothy 3:1-7

As stated before, the heart of the matter really comes into play with the condition of a man’s home. First Timothy 3:1-7 lists a description of the kind of man who, when he exhibits these qualities, demonstrates qualification for leadership of His church. In general, the description of that man is summarized in v. 2, “(He) must be above reproach.” This word is used 3x’s in the pastoral letter. It is used here in 1 Timothy 3:2. But it also used in 5:7 & 6:14. In 5:7, the teaching from Paul is that the widow should repent from “wanton pleasures” and return to her responsibilities in a marriage or helping other widows. In doing this, she will be above reproach. In 6:14, Timothy himself is called to be above reproach in handling the Word of God and the dispensation of his ministry. He needs to handle these things without spot or reproach until Jesus Christ returns. Both of these extra uses have a general idea of keeping away from scandal. They are the idea of maintaining a level of faithfulness to responsibility. Further, the responsibility is given a higher quality depending upon the task at hand. Handling the Word of God requires a greater degree of godliness than does being a widow. Why? Because, the Word of God is just that-God’s Word. That is not to diminish the value and importance of the widow. However, we cannot diminish the worth of the Word either. Thus, a man of God must also be above reproach, to a very great degree, if he is in the position of leading God’s flock (1 Peter 5:1-5). The reason is that the God whom he serves is holy. If a man does not take his position and responsibility as pastor/elder as a holy position, he has not taken God’s holiness seriously.

To begin this section, we need to start with an overview. Next time, we will look directly into the text, specifically vv. 4-5.

Paul, the elder apostle and father in the faith of Timothy, a young man who is called to a very hostile and volatile post. He is the apostolic delegate to the churches in Ephesus. As a result of Paul’s ministry in Ephesus for 2 years and 3 months, many believed and continued to meet together for learning and worship (Acts 19). Within that group had come some who were leaders, rising themselves into places of leadership as Paul and Timothy were absent. Paul sends Timothy back and instructs him to expose these false leaders and remove them. The authors of the New American Commentary on 1 Timothy have a sound summary of the occasion of the letter by Paul. They wrote,

“Paul had likely left Titus in Crete to finish the task of organizing and instructing the churches there. He proceeded with Timothy to Ephesus and found a church in spiritual shambles. Leaving Timothy in Ephesus, he proceeded to Macedonia. There he wrote 1 Timothy back to Timothy to give additional instructions and to emphasize his initial oral statements. As he wrote 1 Timothy, he probably also reflected on the needs of Titus in Crete. He penned this Epistle at approximately the same time with a view to clarifying and adding to earlier oral instructions” (Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, vol. 34, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992, 42).

Thus, a major component in both letters, 1 Timothy and Titus, is the identification of leadership for God’s people. This brings up an important point. Some teach that since it is unreasonable to expect there to be men who meet these qualifications, especially early in a ministry, then we need to simply settle for what we can get. Thus, we should never expect these qualifications to be taken seriously for a church. That is not true. These are expectations from God concerning those who can lead His church. We cannot disregard them. If there are no men available like this, then there is no leadership. Thus, if a man, who is qualified and is preaching, does not see qualified men around him, then he must shift his ministry priorities to training men who, like the spiritually immature disciples who became the apostles under Jesus’ discipleship, are faithful with what they have and are given and then God will make them more faithful and qualified (2 Timothy 2:2).

Timothy, a younger man filled with his own weaknesses and propensities for timidity and second-guessing, was called upon to do something he had seen Paul do a number of times. He must confront the error of those in leadership in Ephesus. The confrontation was not to be physical, but rather theological. It was to expose the error of those in leadership who were binding the people by their own self-righteous standards extrapolated from Scripture. An example of that is seen in 1 Timothy 4:3. We see that these men, who had an interest in Old Testament regulations, were imposing their erroneous thinking upon the people. Their thinking, although based upon a loose understanding of the OT which itself lead to error, contradicted the sound doctrine that Paul and Timothy had entrusted to the men years earlier in Miletus (Acts 20:17-38). The leaders, no doubt men who were on that shoreline that day hearing Paul, drifted off into a twisting of the dietary regulations of the OT and certain ascetic practices based upon, possibly, the Nazarite vow, and began teaching that as from God. Timothy must expose that and free the people from such heretical teaching. Paul exampled this by confronting Hymenaeus and Alexander and throwing them out of the fellowship of the believers (1 Timothy 1:20; cf. 2 Timothy 2:17; 4:14). Those men were removed by Paul himself once they arrived in Ephesus from leaving Titus at Crete. In doing so, Paul said to Timothy, by example, “Now, finish the work.” This included correcting error and appointing new leadership. Thus, we have these qualifications in both 1 Timothy and Titus.

Men (and women) in church leadership who are their own bosses, doing things according to their own traditions, teachings, and whims, are shams. They have not been sent by Christ, the Head of the church. They are sent from their own imaginations. They have taken the leadership over the people of God and have imposed upon them their own teaching. Thus, in doing so, the faith of the people rest in them, and not in Christ since Christ did not send them nor teach them. Timothy’s are men called to retrieve God’s people back from such men and place them back under the headship of Jesus Christ. This is done in gentleness and patient teaching (2 Timothy 2:24-26), but it is done nonetheless.

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