Pastor like Paul, part 1

“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.”

‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭3:10-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

New York Magazine ran an article in January this year entitled “Yet Another Person Listens to GPS App and Drives Car Into Lake.” The story reads:

“A driver in Vermont steered his car right into Lake Champlain on Friday. The driver says he was using navigation app Waze, which apparently insisted that driving into the lake was the right way to go. “The app directed the drivers to turn onto the boat launch near the Coast Guard station,” the Burlington Free Press reports. “By the time they realized what was happening, the car had slid 100 feet onto the lake. The three people in the car managed to climb out.” Another passenger in the car described conditions as “dark and foggy.” The car remained at the bottom of the lake before it could be retrieved by divers. A Google spokesperson said that it would be “impossible to comment here without seeing the user’s driving file,” and that the company hadn’t “received permission to do so.” She also reminded people that while using Waze, they should still “use all environmental information available to them to make the best decisions as they drive.” As in, if it looks like a lake and quacks like a lake, don’t drive into it because it’s a lake. The unnamed driver certainly isn’t the first person to blindly follow technology to a watery end. In June 2017, there was a guy who drove into a lake in Massachusetts and blamed his GPS. He’s joined by a woman in Ontario who similarly navigated into a pond and … blamed her GPS.”[1]

The first nine verses of 2 Timothy 3 contain a detailed description of false teachers who seek to lead people astray spiritually. The warnings signs are there and we need to be vigilant. But now in the next two verses, Paul is going to turn things around and point to a positive example–himself. Paul is a faithful leader, one who will assure that Timothy is on the right path.

This call by Paul to Timothy to continue to follow his example acts as a strong counteraction against the false teachers from vv. 1-9. The activities of the deceivers are to be replaced by the continue example of timothy as he followed the Apostle Paul.

The verb “followed” (‘fully known” in KJV) means to give careful attention to something, “to conform to someone’s belief or practice by paying special attention, to follow faithfully, follow as a rule.” [2]

We are going to begin seeing how Timothy had been doing this with the Apostle Paul. Paul had been ministering for years, but there was a need for Timothy to continue to be faithful to practice what had been modelled for him so that he would be able to set an example for those who would follow him in the Church because Christian faith depends upon not only faithful discipleship, but on faithful disciples who continue in the pattern they have received.

1. Follow the Same Doctrine

The word here is “teaching” meaning that Timothy was well aware of the content of Paul’s doctrine. This teaching is the basis of everything else that will follow.

Everyone has doctrine, and the content of that doctrine affects one’s conduct, aim in life, faith, patience love, steadfastness and how they handle persecutions and suffering. Paul knows that if Timothy, or anyone veers from biblical doctrine in even a small way that this could lead to a massive shift in everything else.

Not long ago I read the sermon by the famous liberal pastor Harry Emerson Fosdick, entitled “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?” Fosdick, like many theological liberals, didn’t think that doctrine was a bid deal—as long as we can all just love one another and get along. Now remember, this was preached back in 1922, and yet it sounds like many liberal theologians today.

Read what he said in that sermon about those who would do what Paul said to Timothy, and guard the trust of doctrine:

“It is interesting to note where the Fundamentalists are driving in their stakes to mark out the deadline of doctrine around the church, across which no one is to pass except on terms of agreement. They insist that we must all believe in the historicity of certain special miracles, preeminently the virgin birth of our Lord; that we must believe in a special theory of inspiration…; that we must believe in a special theory of the Atonement—that the blood of our Lord, shed in a substitutionary death, placates an alienated Deity and makes possible welcome for the returning sinner; and that we must believe in the second coming of our Lord upon the clouds of heaven to set up a millennium here, as the only way in which God can bring history to a worthy [finale]. Such are some of the stakes which are being driven to mark a deadline of doctrine around the church…. It was a wise liberal, the most adventurous man of his day—Paul the Apostle—who said, “Knowledge puffeth up, but love buildeth up.” [3]

To Fosdick, and those like him, correct doctrine cannot be known and it is unbelievable and unacceptable for anyone to fight for such things as the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the inerrancy of Scripture, miracles and the physical return of Christ. To him, love trumps everything else. Since Fosdick called the Apostle Paul a “wise liberal” like himself, let’s test that and see what Paul actually wrote about doctrine:

  • “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.” (Romans 16:17, ESV). Paul is warning the church in Rome that there are divisive men who want to argue—not about the truth, but cause division and obstacles to the doctrine already received by the church at large. They want to bring change to doctrine—it is not doctrine dividing here, it is heresy that is bringing division! Must a Christian sit back and do nothing while the truth is attacked? We must be on guard, Paul warned!
  • When addressing those who were immature in the faith, Paul wrote, “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Ephesians 4:14, ESV). What tosses the immature around? It is the changing of doctrine that Paul warns against. It throws the spiritual children of the church to the ground hoping to drag them away into the surf to drown them. It is human schemes and craftiness that wants to sound like reasonable dialogue and Christian love, but it is destruction masked as love.
  • “As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine,” (1 Timothy 1:3, ESV). When Paul was made aware of false teachings in the Ephesus, he didn’t call Timothy to get along with them because they simply had a difference of opinion. He didn’t say, sit down and get to know them. Paul, the supposedly wise liberal called upon Timothy to rebuke them and command them to stop teaching this “different doctrine.”

You see, Paul was not a theological liberal! He was a fundamentalist—he held to the doctrine as delivered to him by Jesus Christ himself. He believed it all, every word!

And this doctrine he had taught in every church, synagogue, marketplace and home he could. And that was what Paul told Timothy to do himself. “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” (1 Timothy 4:13, ESV)

Paul’s ministry was a Christ-centered ministry because it was a Bible-centered ministry. Liberalism wants to put a wedge between people and the Bible because the devil knows that if people are taught the Bible they will be taught about Christ.

Paul told Timothy—you know that as you followed me, that I have taught the Bible—I read it, I explain it, I apply it. Do the same. His word to Timothy is his word to us as well. Read it, explain it, apply it.

[1] http://nymag.com/selectall/2018/01/waze-app-directs-driver-to-drive-car-into-lake-champlain.html

[2] BDAG, parakoloutheo.

[3] http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5070/

4 thoughts on “Pastor like Paul, part 1

  1. Pingback: Pastor Like Paul, part 2 | Always Reforming

  2. Pingback: Pastor Like Paul, part 3 | Always Reforming

  3. Pingback: Pastor Like Paul, part 4 | Always Reforming

  4. Pingback: Pastor Like Paul, part 5 | Always Reforming

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