Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Shepherding Christ's Church involves emphasizing doctrine - 1 Timothy 4:4-10

1 Timothy 4:6 "In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following."

Paul instructs his young protege Timothy to prepare himself for what will be his pastoral tenure at Ephesus. As Paul instructs Pastor Timothy, we find five key responsibilities that describe what it takes to shepherd or pastor the local church. We considered yesterday the first responsibility of a pastor shepherding Christ's church - namely exposing error. We noted three "isms" that must be guarded against and exposed: spiritualism (opening oneself up to false doctrine, spiritual darkness); egotism (ministries centered around personalities or approaches that base the ministry on people's preferences) and  ritualism (a Christianity that is performance based or centered around religious ritual). Exposing error is thus the first responsibility a pastor has according to 1 Timothy 4:1-3. Today's post will feature a second responsibility - emphasizing sound doctrine.  

Shepherding Christ's Church Emphasizes Sound Doctrine. 1 Timothy 4:4-6
1 Timothy 4:6 tells us: "In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following." When Paul wrote "these things", he was pointing out to Timothy what he had instructed him about in 1 Timothy 4:1-5, namely to expose error and emphasize sound doctrine. 

Sadly today many churches and many Christians frown on doctrine. Doctrine is viewed as something that unnecessarily divides Christians from one another. Most would even say "it doesn't matter what you believe, as long as your sincere." Within these verses we discover that doctrine is necessary for spiritual nourishment. Other scriptures explain how important sound biblical doctrine is to the Christian life:

Doctrine promotes healthy Christianity. Acts 2:42; Ephesians 4:14; 1 Timothy 1:19; Hebrews 13:9

Doctrine protects against error.
2 Cor 2:17; Col 2:8; 2 Timothy 2:14, 3:13; 1 John 4:3

Doctrine points us to Jesus Christ
Matt 5:19; Matthew 28:18-20; John 14:21-23; 1 Cor 3:11; Titus 2:11-14 

Doctrine promotes evangelism
Romans 1:1-4; 1 Peter 3:15; 1 Timothy 1:19

Out of all the scriptures that speaks on the important connection between practical living a doctrine, none perhaps is more clear than Titus 2:10 "not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect." This particular verse is so important because it shows how beautiful Christianity can be when it is living out the doctrines of the faith. Doctrine is the pearl necklace that drapes itself around the church. So having labored about importance of sound teaching from the Word of God, what are some of the doctrines needing to emphasized by the pastor who shepherds Christ's church every week? In 1 Timothy 4:4-6 we find four such doctrines:

a. Creation - 1 Timothy 4:4 "For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude."

b. The Bible - 1 Timothy 4:5a "for it is sanctified by means of the word of God"

c. Prayer - 1 Timothy 4:5b "...and prayer". 

d. Person & Work of Christ - 1 Timothy 4:9-10  "It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. 10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixedour hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers."

When I think about these four areas, they are among the major battlefields that Christians experience the greatest attack. The relentless pursuit of evolutionary theory and naturalism postures itself as an alternative to the doctrine of creation. Many Bible Colleges, Seminaries and even some denominations have fallen for the temptation to mix together evolution with Biblical creationism. The danger of course is the erosion of Biblical authority in favor of taking one's cue from current scientific inquiry. Arriving at the truth not only requires sound answers, but also the right questions. Creation insists that the questions of "who made everything?" and "why is there something rather than nothing?" be included in among two other questions asked by science: "how does it all work?" and "what is happening?" Sadly, non-creation ideas eliminate the first two questions.

The second doctrine, the Bible, is under more assault today than ever before. Persistent denials of not only inerrancy, but even the Bible's clarity in expressing itself require a response from pastors who shephered their flocks. 

The third doctrine, prayer, is attack more so with the lack of practice. Satan's strategy here is to convince Christians of either praying less or not praying at all. 

Then the final doctrine that Paul commands Timothy to emphasize is the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. We can never separate the Person of Christ from the work He achieved. The current trend among skeptics is to deny the historical existence of Christ. The pastor's responsibility is to preach, teach and proclaim Who Jesus truly is. The other heresies of denying either His Deity or humanity persist. Every generation of pastors must expose such errors and emphasize what the Bible truly teaches. The work of Christ in regards to not only His atoning death on the cross but His physical resurrection must also be defended and proclaimed. 

Closing thoughts:
Today we considered the second area every pastor must shepherd in the local church, namely the area of emphasizing sound doctrine. We saw that Paul mentions four key doctrines: creation, the Bible, prayer and Jesus Christ. 

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