Title: What Does An Ordained Pastor Do?
Text: II Timothy 3:10-4:8; Revelation 2:1-7
FCF: We are often tempted to abandon the Word of God for lesser wisdom.
Prop: Because the Word is our only anchor in turbulent times, we must cling to the word of God.
[Slide 1] Turn in your bible to II Timothy chapter 3. It occurred to me that going into an ordination service, I may be preaching and teaching people who had never been to an ordination, know what an ordination was, or perhaps, even realized it was the ordination Sunday. Therefore, I really approached this message from the question, What is an Ordained Pastor? I had intended to speak about the qualifications, but was moved by the Spirit to speak not of the pastor himself… but rather… what he is to do. What does an Ordained Pastor do?
And there really is no better place to find that, than to go to First and Second Timothy.
A little background on these books. Paul and Timothy knew each other quite well. Paul was Timothy’s spiritual mentor. Timothy was his disciple. Timothy in various letters and at several points in Acts is found following Paul to this place and that, helping him and learning from him.
The first letter to Timothy is while Paul is under house arrest in Rome, probably in the early 60s. The second letter to Timothy occurs probably after Paul was released and went on and unrecorded 4th missionary journey and was then imprisoned again. This second letter is written probably in the mid-60s.
Timothy has been installed as the Elder of the church of Ephesus. As such, he is given a great deal of oversight and responsibility for the growing church there.
It doesn’t take us long to understand that Paul desperately wants to insure that the church is protected and functioning the way a disciple making community ought to function.
Today, we will focus on some of Paul’s final words to Timothy. Paul knows he is approaching his own execution, and he wants to instruct Timothy one last time to be the kind of Elder, and man that God wants him to be. It is in this letter that we will find the answer to the question… what does an ordained pastor do? And with that answer – I think we will find that ordained pastor or not – Paul’s words are authoritative for every genuine believer.
I am in II Timothy 3 starting in verse 10. I’ll be reading form the ESV but follow along in whatever version you prefer.
What I have found in this text are 3 primary words of wisdom that Paul is giving to Timothy. These words of wisdom and warning are all built on the foundation of the Word of God. What it is, what he must do with it, and what he should expect if he does what is being advised. Let’s look at verse 10 and 11.
I.) The Wisdom necessary to obey God for yourself and others is the Word of God, So we must cling to the Word
a. [Slide 2] 3:10-11 – You however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra – which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.
i. An old disciple maker commends his pupil
ii. Timothy has always been faithful.
iii. Even in the midst of persecution which God saw fit to bring Paul through, Timothy remained faithful to the Lord and to Paul.
iv. It is this faithfulness that Paul wants to put on display. And Paul thinks he knows why Timothy was so faithful. But as Paul typically does – he goes down a little tangent before he gets there.
b. [Slide 3] 12 – Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
i. First an axiom that he wants to convey to Timothy and even all who Timothy would minister to.
ii. It is an axiom that we would do well to hear in this nation, and an axiom that should not be taken lightly by anyone seeking a role of oversight such as a Pastor.
iii. That warning is that if you plan to live a godly life in Christ – you WILL be persecuted.
iv. Perhaps it is stretching the text to say – if you are not persecuted then you are not living a godly life in Christ – but if it is, it would not be by much.
v. All Christians everywhere will be persecuted for their faith. Not because they have earned it by being obnoxious or by being unloving. Instead – the gospel, the Word of God, is offensive in and of itself. It divides. It pushes away.
vi. To be a follower of Christ – whom the world has rejected – is to guarantee that you also will be rejected.
vii. If the world accepts you, loves you, doesn’t have any problem with the way you live your life or what you talk about – then you have cause for alarm my friends. Beware! You may not be what you think you are.
c. [Slide 4] 13 – While evil people and imposters will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
i. The righteous, the godly will be persecuted. In contrast to that, evil people and false teachers will only get worse.
ii. And Paul specifies what getting worse is – and it is their own deception. That they who have been deceiving will continue to do so – but they too will be deceived.
iii. For Paul – falling into false teaching was a judgment in and of itself. Not necessarily something to be pitied or even reasoned with – but an inevitable end of the evil and heretical.
d. [Slide 5] 14-15 – But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
i. Finally back to the faithfulness of Timothy. Why is he so faithful?
ii. He has been grounded in the scriptures.
iii. These scriptures he has learned, and is confident in. His grandmother Lois and mother Eunice taught Him from infancy the Holy Word of God.
iv. This word is the only thing capable of imparting the wisdom necessary to save a man. All of which are gifts from God.
e. [Slide 6] 16-17 – All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
i. Now Paul gives us a theological gem here. A beautiful expose of the WISDOM available in the Word of God.
ii. Every scripture is breathed out by God. From His mind to the minds of the writers. It is authoritative and it is profitable or useful. But useful for what?
iii. Teaching – Which means to be shown what is good and pleasing to God.
iv. Reproof – Which means to be shown what is in someone’s life that is inconsistent with that good and pleasing will of God.
v. Correction – Which means to take someone from being out of step with God’s good and pleasing will and get them back on the right path.
vi. And training in righteousness – Which means to establish discipline through the Word of God to avoid stepping off the path again.
vii. The Word of God is what makes it possible for any man or woman to be equipped to perform every good and pleasing work that God has chosen them to perform in Christ.
f. [Slide 7] Passage Truth: Paul commends Timothy for his faithfulness, but then explains to him that the scriptures are the source for him to continue to be godly.
g. Passage Application: So he encourages timothy to cling to the scriptures that he has been taught.
h. [Slide 8] Broader Biblical Truth: Broadly speaking we see from this text and beyond that the scriptures are our guide for life and godliness. The Word of God is sufficient to equip us for every good work we have been designed to perform.
i. Broader Biblical Application: So for Ken specifically, if you wish to remain faithful and godly – do not abandon what you have learned. Cling to the scriptures. Don’t turn to fables. When you live life by the scriptures plus something else, you live life by something that is infinitely less than the scriptures alone. And for us – we too ought to cling to the Word of God. For the Word of God holds the wisdom to equip us to continue to obey our King.
[Slide 9 (blank)] But this is only the beginning. Not only must our lives be firmly rooted in the truth of the scriptures, but our mouths must speak its riches.
II.) The Protection for the church from disobedience and false teaching is the Word of God Preached, So we must cling to the Word
a. [Slide 10] 4:1 – I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:
i. Paul moves from the discussion of Timothy remaining godly in his character, to giving him a charge as the pastor of the church of Ephesus.
ii. Paul puts that charge in the context of the court room of the righteous judge who will judge the living and the dead – King Jesus.
iii. To say this is a solemn charge would be a great understatement. This is the greatest charge of those who would shepherd.
iv. Not visiting the sick, not marrying, not burying. Not going door to door evangelizing. Not having a big youth group. Not having a lot of programs. Not having a big church. Not even being a good leader or administrator.
v. The greatest charge for the pastor, in the presence of Christ Himself – the author and finisher of our faith – the cornerstone of the church… is what?
b. [Slide 11] 2 – Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, and exhort with complete patience and teaching.
i. Preach the Word of God!
ii. Those scriptures and ONLY those scriptures that you have known since you were little… shout them from the rooftops.
iii. Whisper them in a dank basement
iv. Be ready to speak them at any time, in any place.
v. If it costs you everything, if it is wanted, if it is hated – Preach it!
vi. Correct sin! Harshly when needed.
vii. Encourage and counsel.
viii. And do so patiently and with the heart of a coach, desiring that all should rise up in godly submission to the Words of God.
ix. Why? Why is this necessary? Why must pastors, ministers, Christians in general – why must we be preaching God’s Word? Is it because the world outside the assembly needs it?
c. [Slide 12] 3 – For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulated for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.
i. It is not because the world outside the assembly needs it! It is because the Assembly needs it!
ii. Why? Because the natural tendency of the heart of man is that it is “prone to wander “
iii. My friends – the church – inside these walls we need the Word of God Preached. Why?
iv. Because men naturally desire to have our ears tickled. Men naturally want to run to this new thing and that new thing.
v. The ear yearns to be tickled. And in that yearning they will seek out teachers that will do just that. That will tickle their ears. That will give them some new revelation.
vi. Paul describes their need for new teachings as – insatiable. Unquenchable.
d. [Slide 13] 4 – and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
i. And suddenly we force the bible to say what we want it to rather than understanding what it meant to the original readers.
ii. Why must the Word of God be the focus of all people doing the ministry? Because it is the only protection there is against ungodliness and apostasy.
e. [Slide 14] 5 – As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
i. But Timothy is told that this ought not to be him, nor his church.
ii. Instead he ought to be self-controlled or sober minded. It takes great self-control to not be blown about by doctrinal fads. It takes Spirit gifted self-control and discipline to evaluate EVERYTHING you hear by the Word of God. We do not do that naturally.
iii. Endure hardship – Do you think it will be easy to resist doctrinal winds? Do you think that it will be easy to stand up against aberrant theological teachings and broadly accepted doctrines redefine salvation? Who has such courage, such gumption to stand up and say - but the Lord has said otherwise!
iv. Do an evangelist’s work – in the midst of so many accepting false gospels – we must begin anew with the basic teachings of our faith. Living in a world where all truth is relative and there is no absolute – all ministers inherit the work of an evangelist.
v. This, in Paul’s mind, is the sum total of Timothy’s ministry. Amid all the things we have assigned as necessary tasks of pastors and shepherds, this is the truest and fullest description of any would be pastor or elder. To steadfastly preach the word and protect the flock from false teaching.
vi. A pastor can be a great many wonderful things – but if he is not this – he has failed his ministry.
f. [Slide 15] Passage Truth: So Paul tells Timothy that in no uncertain terms, the Word of God preached is the best defense against the winds of doctrine. The Word of God preached is the anchor that holds our hearts to truth. Because His Word is truth
g. Passage Application: And so for Timothy – the fulfillment of his ministry was to preach the Word of God at all times, to all men, lovingly, steadfastly, basic to deep. The whole counsel of God.
h. [Slide 16] Broader Biblical Truth: The broader biblical truth is simply this… that when people abandon the word of God – whether that be adding to it, taking from it, or ignoring it completely – all protection from false teaching has been removed. And no one is immune. Even those who walk in these doors each week. If they abandon God’s word, they have opened themselves up to the attack of the enemy.
i. Broader Biblical Application: An so, Ken, for the sake of any you may be entrusted to minister to over the course of the rest of your life, you must never cease to preach the word of God. As a shepherd it is the only weapon you have to cull the hordes of false but pleasing doctrines that are beating upon these walls, even now. And for us – we must recognize the desire for the “new”. May we be content with what this book teaches. May the Lord bless us all to be faithful minsters preaching only what God has said.
[Slide 17 (blank)] But preaching the word has a cost. It is a cost that Paul will vividly illustrate using his life as the example.
III.) The Cost of Ministry is everything, but the reward is Christ, So we must Cling to the Word
a. [Slide 18] 6 – For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.
i. Paul as Timothy’s spiritual father in Christ has come to the end of his life.
ii. Soon he will be executed for being self-controlled, enduring hardship, doing an evangelists work and fulfilling his ministry.
iii. He will be executed for preaching the word.
b. [Slide 19] 7 – I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
i. &nbnbsp; I don’t think we often see our Christian lives the same way Paul saw his.
ii. Paul envisioned the Christian life as a competition. A race.
iii. Races are hard and it takes a great deal of discipline to finish one. To stay on course and to not turn to one side or the other.
iv. Many of us no doubt see the Christian life as a comfortable bus station as we await the coming of the Lord. But Paul saw the end of his life as a finish line, in a long and hard race.
v. And to Timothy, his son, he says – I made it!
c. [Slide 20] 8 – Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award me on that Day,
i. And what is his prize?
ii. It isn’t heaven. It isn’t peace and comfort. It isn’t seeing loved ones again. It isn’t no more pain or no more tears. It isn’t even rest.
iii. What is the prize?
iv. RIGHTEOUSNESS! Being what God wanted him to be.
v. Standing before his Lord and being told well done!
vi. I would go so far as to say that the true prize Paul speaks of – is to be counted worthy, FINALLY, to stand face to face with his KING!
vii. That is the GRAND prize for winning this race. All other prizes are but consolation prizes.
d. [Slide 21] and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.
i. And it is not a prize that he alone will get. Who else will get this prize?
ii. All who have loved His appearing. What does that mean?
iii. Any and all who look at the Lord’s second coming with love and hope.
iv. True and genuine followers of Christ.
e. [Slide 22] Passage Truth: Paul tells Timothy that he is at the end of his spiritual journey. And that it has cost him everything. But it was a cost that he was glad to pay. Why? Because in the end, He gets Jesus. He gets righteousness. He gets to see His Lord – face to face.
f. Passage Application: For Timothy then, I think we go all the way back to verse 10 of chapter 3. Paul said that Timothy had mimicked him – and I think Paul here in so many words is saying… You have mimicked me in how to LIVE for our King… Make sure you mimic me in how you DIE for our King.
g. [Slide 23] Broader Biblical Truth: For us the truth is evident in all of scripture… this life is a vapor. This life is a mirage. This life is full of pain and suffering for those who follow Christ. We should expect trouble from the world we live in, because the world we live in is opposed to Christ. Christ was broken and spilled out for us, and so we who bear His name will be broken and spilled out for His glory.
h. Broader Biblical Application: So Ken… being a shepherd will demand everything from you. All of you. Are you prepared to spend every ounce for the sake of your King? And for us –as Paul cleverly puts it at the very end, the call to be spent for our King is not to pastors only… but to all who follow Christ.
[Slide 24] Writing to Timothy in the mid-sixties, we can’t help but wonder what happened to Timothy and the church of Ephesus. How did they fair with these final exhortations from Paul? What became of them? Turn with me to Revelation 2. John writes 30 years after Paul wrote his final letter to Timothy. Paul is long dead and Timothy will die soon. What does John say about the church at Ephesus?
IV.) The Danger in Ministry will be Neglecting to Speak the Truth In Love, So we Must Cling to the Word
a. [Slide 25] Revelation 2:1-3 – To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: “The words of him who holds the seven starts in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your works your toil and your patient endurance and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.
i. From a historical perspective of the letter of John, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, we see these as actual comments to actual churches.
ii. Rather than trying to understand these as ages of the church, it would be best to understand all these churches as having something that we need to learn from.
iii. What has become of Timothy’s church?
iv. Indeed, Christ commends them for a great many things.
1. They ran the race well. Timothy led them well. They hated sin. They would not tolerate it.
2. They were on their guard against those who were false teachers – even discovering them out.
3. They have endured hardship. Suffering greatly for the name of Christ. And they have not grown weary in this.
v. Basically we see a church that followed most of what Paul told Timothy to demonstrate to his people.
b. [Slide 26] 4 – But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
i. But they have departed their first love.
ii. Now what is that?
iii. Some interpreters think that this is talking about their love for Christ. I question if that is really what is in our Lord’s critique here. If they are defending against evil and standing for truth, enduring for His name – although it is perhaps still possible for them to not love Christ as they should – it seems unlikely.
iv. However what is entirely plausible, and indeed is a warning Christ spoke of often in His earthly ministry, is the temptation for the love for other believers to grow cold. Jesus warned this would happen in the Olivet discourse.
v. Indeed, logically it makes a great deal more sense, that in their lack of tolerance for evil, their sniffing out false teaching, and their grit and endurance – that they would grow cold and hard toward one another.
c. [Slide 27] 5 – Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
i. Go back to where you started.
ii. Go back to demonstrating to others that you are my disciples by your love for one another.
iii. Repent of your lack of speaking the truth in love.
iv. Perhaps there was suspicion and paranoia, or even, as Paul warned in I and II Timothy, squabbling over non-essential and unprofitable discussions.
v. In any case, our Lord calls them to repent lest he remove the lamp stand – or cause them to crumble. Probably in a now and future sense. The church fails and they also prove they are unbelievers because of their lack of repentance and will be judged.
d. [Slide 28] 6 – Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicholaitans, which I also hate.
i. Another commendation from our Lord
ii. Nicolaitans are a group of people following Nicholas, who was a deacon turned apostate that encouraged license and freedom to sin. Because after all, God will forgive. That sounds familiar…
iii. The Ephesian Church stood against this man. They hated the practices that these people stood for – which is something that Christ hated too.
e. [Slide 29] 7 – He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
i. The final word of warning is to heed the Spirit’s words.
ii. To those who repent and conquer this first love problem – they are promised the tree of life.
iii. Again – real Christians love other Christians.
f. [Slide 30] Passage Truth: John to the church at Ephesus communicates the words of the glorified Christ, and those words are primarily commendation with one warning. That they had neglected to love one another.
g. Passage Application: Christ instructs them to repent and produce the work of love toward one another that they once did.
h. [Slide 31] Broader Biblical Truth: For us then, this serves as a cautionary tale that while clinging to, preaching, and suffering for the sake of the Word of God, we may be tempted to speak it without love.
i. Broader Biblical Application: So Ken, do not become a sheep abuser. Love your flock, with the love of Christ love them. That does not preclude you from speaking harshly to the arrogant, but deal gently with the humble. Be a doctor. Massage what needs to be massaged, heal what must be healed and cut when you must cut. For us, we must understand also that the Word of God is sharp. Let the Word do the offending, not our attitude or demeanor. Be meek and kind, and speak the truth but in love. Always seek restoration until it is impossible. Then seek the purity of the church.
[Slide 32 (blank)] So what have we learned today and how then shall we live?
There is so much here so let me remind you of the main ideas.
The Wisdom of God to help you continue to be godly flows from the Word of God.
The Protection of God against disobedience and apostasy flows from the Word of God Preached.
The Cost of Fulfilling the ministry of the Word of God is everything, but the reward is Christ.
The Only Caveat to Ministering the Word of God is to do so in love.
This message applies to Ken as it did to Timothy, but really is not limited to him. For all Christ followers are ambassadors of Christ’s Kingdom. All Christ followers are called to preach His gospel. So in that way this wrap up application is for everyone.
Speak the truth in love. To speak the truth you must cling to the truth. To Speak the truth you must preach it when it is popular and unpopular. Most often it will be unpopular and you will pay a great price to Preach it, but preach it you must. But do so in gentleness, meekness, kindness, and love for all who would hear.
[Slide 33] Perhaps Charles Spurgeon said it better…
“Far better for a man that he had never been born than that he should degrade a pulpit into a show box to exhibit himself in. Aim at the right sort of effect; the inspiring of saints to nobler things, the leading of Christians closer to their master, the comforting of doubters till they rise out of their terrors, the repentance of sinners, and their exercise of immediate faith in Christ. Without these signs following, what is the use of our sermons?”
May God give us grace, because He has called us to do impossible things. Things we cannot hope to do without Him and His Word.
Ken, may the Lord bless you and help you to fulfill your ministry.
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