Infancy is back-to-basics time! It is during that era that we set the cornerstone and fix in place the initial blocks, upon which we develop the balance of our lives, spiritually speaking. Because of the essential nature of these truths, it is helpful for us to return to them periodically and be reminded of their importance.
In Israel's northern city of Caesarea Philippi, among the ruins of a worship centre dedicated to the Greek god Pan, a cave exists that was long believed by those who worshipped there to be the doorway into the netherworld. It was in the vicinity of this grotto, the alleged gateway to hell, that Jesus promised: "Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it" (Matthew 16:18).
From Pentecost in the first century to the present day, Satan has attempted to destroy Christ's Church—yet it endures. From a small group of Jewish outsiders in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, Christ built His Church to reach even the remotest parts of the world. Despite controversies, wars, and denominational splits, the Church continues to be the means through which God announces to a dark and dying world that light and life have come in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.
For these reasons, and many more, we learn about and appreciate the body of Christ, the Church.
All who work with babies and bottles, toddlers and high chairs, building blocks and toy boxes enjoy one of the special delights life offers. Yet with all the thrills, there are also the threats unique to newborns. Being so tiny and dependent, their little lives often hang perilously close to danger and death. What is true of infant humans is equally true of infant believers in God's family.
There is one common analogy used throughout the New Testament regarding the local church. It is not a business, farm, team, school, or hospital, though those word pictures are frequently used by us to convey various dimensions of congregational life. The most often used analogy is that of a family. God is our Father; we are called His offspring—sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, even fellow heirs.
Jesus was the master teacher. Against relentless and hostile opposition, and in spite of many who followed Him for all the wrong reasons, He spoke with wisdom and taught with skill. Among the methods He preferred to use, the parable was one of His favourites. By placing a familiar and simple word picture before His audience, Jesus was able to draw out profound analogies that have intrigued even the brightest minds for centuries.
Because churches are populated and pastored by imperfect people, we should stop every once in a while to administer an examination against the standard of God’s Word. As we close our study of 1 Timothy, let’s do that—let’s evaluate your ministry.
It can be difficult to follow God’s clear commands. However, obedience doesn’t have to involve a grin-and-bear-it kind of attitude, not if we keep in mind that obedience is always for our good and God’s glory.
If a pot of gold is found at the end of a rainbow, contentment is only found there if you bring it with you. And that’s the trick—to possess it, regardless of your possessions. To find contentment, let’s take into account some of Paul’s warnings on how we might miss contentment.
Submitting to authority was just as difficult in the first century as in the 21st century, which makes 1 Timothy such a practical letter. So, let’s hear and heed Paul’s teaching on how to respond correctly to authority.
We could consider 1 Timothy the handbook on biblical ministry within the church. The first half focuses on the work of ministry—the service. The second half focuses on the workman who performs ministry—the servant. The interlude between these two halves (1 Timothy 3:14-16) focuses on the why of ministry—the soul. The ministry may be theologically and biblically correct, but it’s all head and no heart.
God doesn’t always spell things out in such stark “thou shalt” terms. When we get to the epistle of 1 Timothy, however, we discover virtually a whole chapter devoted to a black-and-white list requiring little interpretation but a lot of application. In 1 Timothy 3:1-7 Paul puts his finger on the essential qualities God is looking for in pastors and elders. Qualities applicable for church leaders in the 21st century as they were in the first century.