"May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones." 1 Thessalonians 3:13
1 Thessalonians 1:8-10; 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12; 2:9-15; 1 Timothy 3:14-15; 2 Timothy 1:14; 4:2-8; Titus 1:5; 2:10-12; 3:8
Where do you and your church need to be strengthened?
Key point: The purpose of the Christian life and what Spiritual formation is really about is simply to know Christ, encounter Him, worship Him, grow in Him, and then, when we leave those physical doors, make Him known to others. This is why it is critical to have godly leaders, qualified and immersed in the Word to inspire and instruct others. We cannot let a leader, elder or pastors' pride, petty whims, and trends derail us from our core principles distilled from biblical precepts.
Paul in his Pastoral Epistles warns of the heresy of false teachers, divisiveness, diminished the perception of Christ's Divinity and the seeking of real, effectual Truth. Paul places importance in showcasing God's Work in the lives of the leaders who should always teach correctly and apply proper administration in the church, have orderly worship, and proper relationships. Paul also gives the qualification for leadership and teaching in the church (1 Cor. 11:30; Rev 21:8).
Christianity's spread and influence continue, the same problems continue to.
As we have today infected the Church then; the social and political culture that characterized the Roman Empire in those days was counter to the Lord's Work and teachings just as so much of today's society, government, and culture seeks now.
The church grows and moves outward. It is possible that Stephen's followers were a part of the Synagogue in Jerusalem; thus, after he is martyred, they and the other first Christians may have moved to Rome and Asia Minor, now modern Turkey (Acts 6:9-10).
Jews had settled in these regions prior to their Babylonian captivity. Because of their distance to the Temple and the center of Jewish orthodoxy and living in pagan influence, they had been battling unorthodoxy, apathy, and infighting. Now the Christians were emerging; also, being Jews at this time, they were adding their Jewish traditions and mysticisms and Greek philosophical ideas that reflected their culture and personal worldviews. The outcome: A church in division and conflict, like today, with many false teachings that dilute the Gospel were being brought into the Church. This set up the problems Timothy and Titus and others face that Paul addresses (Acts 19:9).
Whatever you do… name of the Lord. This means actions reflect faith. With our lips and lives, all we do must have as a focus the glorifying of Christ and the furthering of His Kingdom. This is also a reminder that God is Sovereign. He is our hope and reason, so we must line up our lives to Him. This is an attack on the pagan religious services that were influencing them; they emphasized ritual observances and negated personal holiness. All aspects of our lives must reflect His Lordship over us! (1 Cor. 10:31; 1 Thess. 5:8)
We in leadership must not be arrogant, or abuse one's power, be controlling; rather, we are to lead by example, to encourage, and to serve.
Humility is essential in leadership to shepherd and show others with wisdom and influence them--not just tell them. (Job 41:34; Psalm 10:5; 18:27; 101:5; 131:1; 6:17; Prov. 16:18; 21:4; 30:13; Mark 10:42-45; John 13:1-17; Phil. 2:5-11; 1 Tim. 4:12;1 Peter 5: 1-4)!
As leaders, we are responsible to care for God's people with faithfulness and honor, and never out of severity or improper motivations (Matt. 23)!
The bottom line with these false teachings was that they were also, of course, blasphemy to our Lord (2 Thess. 2:3-7; Rev. 17:1-5)! Consequently, Paul wrote to correct and to instruct people to stay away from what is false and rather embrace His effectual empowerment and Truth. Thus, the overarching call of God is to have a correct view of Christ, so our lives are aligned with His precepts and character. This way, we can be on guard, and live in a proper, pleasing way to glorify our Lord, so that people will see Christ exhibited in us (2 Pet. 2: 12-16; Rev. 2: 1-7)!
Real Christianity involves a cost and a commitment. Christ must be adored and honored first and foremost--over all else!
Paul encourages the young pastors starting out in ministry in the perseverance of their own faith and spiritual growth first, and influences them not to allow falsehoods and pride to take over or, mysticisms or traditions, or occultism in the Church, period. No additions to the faith is needed or warranted. He uses completed and brilliant logic to make his case, just like the Jewish philosopher, Philo. This is a letter on the run or from dictation while he was in prison; it is not a polished Greek work like Luke or Hebrews. Even so, Paul's higher education is clearly evident in the word usages, and in his personal, rhetorical, and literary styles. It is meant to encourage and support us to pay attention to God's Word and correct doctrine, including correct, godly teaching (Heb. 2:5-11).
The Church must not take in the culture as its gospel; instead, the Church is to trust completely in the Gospel--the Word of God--and be examples of the Gospel. We are to be countercultural! Remember, anything that is of God will cause controversy; those who do not know the Truth will hate the Truth.
The Church is called to be counter-cultural; we are NOT TO succumb to the ways and worldliness of the world. Instead, the whole Church--the entire body of Christ--is to be the example of Truth and live out the faith. It is imperative we heed the instructions of Paul, live worthy, grow in our faith, never compromise the Word and pass it on to others! These pastoral letters serve as a warning for us: How much are we influenced by our culture and new or old philosophical ideas and trends? Do they influence our churches? If so, what are we to do? These Epistles apply to us today just as they did to Timothy and Titus in the original audience and situation (Col. 2:18)!
The bottom line is that we must be willing and able to get rid of anything that contradicts or compromises the Word of God!
It is OK to search and use insights from varying sources. But, we are to seek from the Bible and places to help you grow closer to Christ personally, and run your church more biblically for His glory. Take heart! It is never too late to repent and turn your life or church around! I have undertaken many spiritual setbacks and made many mistakes, personally. I have followed bad teachers and have forsaken my growth in Him at times. I have been prideful and, perhaps, broken all of the above precepts in this series from time to time. Know this: God is a God of grace and forgiveness; He still uses me, and He will use you, too. However, we can be better. Let us be willing to grow in Him and serve Him in love and faithfulness, setting aside our pride and will; only then will our life in Him will we be dynamic and only then will our churches be healthy and vibrant for His wondrous glory!
© 2016 R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/