“Ministry Expectations” is a teaching series comprising principles from the book of 1 Timothy. In discovering the expectations God had for Timothy and the church at Ephesus, we uncover the expectations He has placed upon us as well.
This is part two of this article. Please click here to read part one.
For what purpose had Paul instructed Timothy to abide at Ephesus? It’s true, Paul had challenged him to faithfulness, but faithfulness to what?
“As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do” (1 Timothy 1:3–4).
I’m so glad that Harvest Baptist Church is a busy church. Admittedly, a danger does exist in busyness, but properly prioritized, any God-honoring church will inevitably be busy. If, however, in all of our busyness, we see the need to pare down the number of activities we conduct at our church, which activities should go and which should stay? Tough question, huh?
It is my contention that the most important ministry and exercise of any local church, one that simply cannot be shunned or shortchanged, is that of preaching and teaching the Word of God. Paul underscored this priority when he soberly challenged Timothy to “preach the Word.”
How quickly churches become entangled with activities that choke their effectiveness and trip up their progress! The church at Ephesus was in danger of just that kind of entanglement. In the place of solid, edifying preaching, teachers arose who were more concerned with their status and popularity than they were with the truth. Their man-centered approach to the truth was causing confusion among the hearers and eroding the foundations of that good assembly.
Instead of offering straightforward, powerful teaching and preaching, they were engaging in “fables and endless genealogies.” Fables, by their nature tend to focus on fanciful traditions and spurious stories, a tendency that has unfortunately emerged in our generation as well. Too often our sermons are based upon stories, illustrations, and traditions. As appealing as these can sometimes be, they ought never to serve as the foundation for a message to God’s people. Simply put, people need the Word of God! God has promised that His Word will not return void; He makes no promise concerning the effectiveness of our opinions, regardless of how logical and persuasive they seem to be.
Moreover, their preoccupation with “endless genealogies” posed a dangerous trend as well. Jewish teachers especially were fond of establishing their teaching authority by making much of their biological or educational family tree, neither of which guarantees a person to be a true Bible teacher. Sometimes we fundamentalists fall into a similar trap:
“I attended such and such school.”
“My father was a famous pastor.”
Thank the Lord for your alma mater. Praise God for your godly family pedigree. But neither your degree nor your surname guarantees the scriptural validity of your message. Each church, along with each message delivered at that church, must stand the test of the eternal Word of God.
How do we apply this ministry expectation in our church? Every Sunday school teacher, junior church worker, adult Bible class leader, Wednesday night childrens worker, bus captain, etc., must recommit himself to the chore of preparing and presenting Bible-based, Bible-saturated messages. By the way, Preacher, it is your job (for which you will be held accountable) to ensure that your church is Bible-centered. Church members simply will not and cannot be edified orbiting anything else.
This is part two of this article. Please click here to read part three.