Sunday, May 04, 2014

Live the message - 1st Timothy 4:11-13

"Prescribe and teach these things. Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching." (1 Timothy 4:11-16)
Timothy was left behind in Ephesus to both command and teach the things pertaining to the faith. His teachings were both authoritative and apostolic in that they were the teachings of the apostle Paul. These teachings defined what it meant to be a Christian and what it meant to be part of the church. Those who adhered to the teaching were part of the church while those who rejected the apostolic teaching remained outside. Timothy was an apostolic man, not because he was in succession from the apostle, but because he preached and taught the teachings of the apostle. To be apostolic is to hold to the teachings and traditions of the apostles, not to simply be in some form of "succession" of their appointment.

Today, there is much that is taught, shared, and preached in church, but little of which I would consider to be apostolic. That does not mean that what is shared is not good, beneficial, and useful, but simply that it does not reach to the authority of being apostolic. I personally long for God to restore such apostolic authority and teaching to the churches today. We need this ministry as much today as Ephesus needed it then.

In Timothy's day, young men were easily dismissed as not having the wisdom and understanding to teach. Job once said, "Wisdom is with aged men, with long life is understanding." (Job 12:12) Paul warns Timothy not to let people dismiss him for being young but to continue to teach in the authority he carried as an extension of Paul's ministry in the church. Paul's counsel to Timothy was to "prove them wrong" by demonstrating his wisdom and understanding thought his conduct of life. Timothy's credentials were to be the quality of life he lived among them, showing the reality of the cross of Christ within him. Some people try to demand obedience or to "show" authority in the way they speak and present themselves. However, true authority is seen when one can match the message of a man with the life of a man; when there is harmony between what he says and what he does. This shows true authority, an authority of a message that has been fully lived out in the life of the speaker.

Timothy's ministry was threefold: public reading of the scriptures - in this case the Old Testament scriptures, exhortation - encouraging, comforting, and entreating people to hold fast the message, and teaching - instruction and explanation of the apostolic message. These three forms of ministry of the Word each attains to a different need in the hearer. Each of these ministries are need in each of our lives and we should evaluate to see if one or the other is being neglected in our gathering together. We should also realize that God does not desire just one form of ministry but many. Many churches have become one dimensional; ministering to just one aspect of a person's life. Some focus on salvation, some on evangelism, some on teaching. However, when focusing on only one aspect of the gospel we tend to produce people who are healthy in one aspect but weak in another. We wish the whole body to be ministered to, to be nourished and built up, that the whole man might be made well. To do this we need a multitude of ministries operating on a multitude of forms. 

David Robison

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