Posted on March 23, 2009 by Chris
I’m wrapping up a 6-part series entitled “Guy Talk” that has focused on men as the leaders of our homes and churches. Yesterday I wanted to deal with the character of a godly leader, and I wanted to preach expositionally through a male equivalent of Proverbs 31. Does the Bible contain such a passage? Sure. I’d suggest at least two, in fact. But we usually dust them off only when we’re electing elders and deacons. In 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 God has given to us inspired “scales” by which to weigh potential leaders. Such scrutinizing of character is a crucial thing, for choosing leaders is probably the most important decisions a church makes. That said, if that’s all we use 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 for, we’re doing our men and churches a disservice.
1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 provide an inspired list of virtues God values in Christian men—virtues the gospel produces in all Christian men by the Spirit. As such, they list character qualities for which all Christian men (and women, for that matter) should strive. If we preach them only with leaders in mind, we rob the church of helpful instruction. Indeed, we run the risk of unintentionally dividing our assemblies into “the haves” and “the have nots,” communicating that some men naturally meet these standards, though most never will. What a devastating and debilitating thought! Instead, we should point men to these Spirit-produced virtues as the ideals for every Christian man, whether he is an officer in the church or not. And as we do this, we must encourage men that whereas they may not currently manifest these virtues to a sufficient extent to qualify as an elder or deacon, they can and should as they grow in Christ.
Put it this way: the virtues described in 1 Timothy 3 are essentially a description of the “godliness” for which we should be training ourselves in 1 Timothy 4:7. With that in mind, let’s preach them as goals, not just prerequisites; targets, not just scales.
Filed under: Bible Exposition, Biblical Leadership, Devotional Thoughts, Ministry Musings, Preaching, The Local Church | Tagged: 1 Timothy 3, Christian growth, Christian virtues, Deacons, Elders, Titus 1 | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 6, 2008 by Chris
The radical nature of regeneration and its effects has been much on my mind lately. My good friend Andy Henderson has been thinking along the same lines, and we recently had a great time of phone fellowship around the idea of “Impossible Christianity.” The gist is that the life that Scripture calls Christians to is impossible to accomplish or counterfeit in the flesh. Thus, any definition of Christian living that can be pulled off by the unregenerate (e.g. a code of conduct that may be practiced by Muslims or Mormons as effectively as by Christians) falls short of the biblical ideal. We’re hoping to sharpen each other around this theme in the future, but a message I recently preached from 2 Peter 1:1-11 on a Sunday evening communicates at least the seed of the idea. You can listen to the message “Christian Virtues are Genetic” here.
(Note: Andy kindly made his notes on the passage available to me for study, and I referenced them like a commentary.)
Filed under: Bible Exposition, Devotional Thoughts, Ministry Musings, My Sermons | Tagged: 2 Peter 1, Andy Henderson, Christian growth, Christian virtues, Impossible Christianity | 8 Comments »
Posted on February 8, 2008 by Chris
A young man in our ministry has been a particular delight to my soul during the last decade. Dave came to know Christ during the first few years of Tri-County Bible Church’s existence, when he was a senior in high school. He immediately began to grow like a weed (or, as Joe Tyrpak insists, “like a tree planted by rivers of water”). He grew in his understanding of the Scriptures, his love of the gospel, his desire for holy living, and his burden for souls. By God’s grace, he was instrumental in seeing his uncle and his (seventy-plus year-old Italian Catholic!) grandmother come to Christ.
Dave is now a deacon in our church, as is his uncle Joe. He’s also a godly husband and a soon-to-be father. His knowledge of Scripture and theology continues to amaze me. The zeal and skill with which he preaches the Word is a testimony of God’s grace. He’s leading in our church through his ministry to our teens, his ministry as a deacon, and his example. What a joy!
Here’s the thing: Dave is a biologist. Following his conversion, I pushed him toward BJU. He visited the campus and loved it, but he decided to stay in Ohio, where he graduated from Kent State University—not exactly a bastion of Christianity or even secular conservatism. Besides pushing him toward a Christian college, I also pushed him toward the ministry. It seemed like a no-brainer: certainly a young man with his love for the Word of God and the souls of men should devote his life to full-time ministry, right? I mean, “Duh.” (more…)
Filed under: Devotional Thoughts, Ministry Musings, My Sermons, Notable Quotes | Tagged: Christian growth, Christianity, laity and clergy, ministry, Philip Graham Ryken, Tri-County Bible Church | 7 Comments »