Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Instructions For A Young Preacher #6

After telling young Timothy that all men must lift up their holy hands without wrath and doubting and instructing that the women should keep silence with all subjection, he gives this striking insight in 1Tim. 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless . . . . This word blameless is an interesting Greek word. It is ANEPILEPTOS, and it has a special meaning. It literally means to not be able to take hold of or to lay hold upon. It has the general meaning of "irreproachable, not open to censure."

Therefore, the preacher should be irreproachable, keeping himself in a position where no one will be able to rightfully point a finger at the preacher and accuse him of some wrong that is apparent in his life. God's preachers are to live a notch above all others, not because they are any better, but they have been called to a higher standard of life. The idea of being "just like everyone else" sounds pious, but it is not biblical.

Paul delineates the clause "a bishop then must be blameless" by giving some particular items which should be present in the preacher's life: the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach, etc. These are the things that will keep a young preacher irreproachable.

Paul mentions in verse 6 that a preacher should not be a novice, acting as if he has just recently come to the faith. There must be steady growth in a preacher's life. There should never be a time when the preacher stops working or stops learning. He must be prayed up and powered up to continue the work of God, for if preachers do not lead the battle, where will the soldiers be who follow behind?

Blameless! That is a hard bill to fill. We are not blameless before God except in the sense of justification, since God has declared us to be just before him. But we are to be blameless before our peers, our followers, and before a Lord who watches day and night not only what we do but also the condition of our hearts.

People are watching the preacher. If anyone else does anything wrong, very few people may notice; but if the preacher does one little thing wrong, it seems that everyone knows. That is the calling the Lord has given us, so we must be sure to keep our lives above reproach. I have sadly in my 45 years of preaching seen too many young preachers neglect to protect their lives, and today they are not serving the Lord because of some tragedy of morals to which they succumbed. Our church members deserve more than this. When we let our morals down, we let God's people down.

Paul said it well in 1 Cor 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

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