In Which I Try to Shave and Play a Man (1 Timothy 4:11-16)

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. —1 Timothy 4:12

Along with any verses in the Bible that mention fire, 1 Timothy 4:12 ranks high on the list of verses mangled by youth groups. But for a teen to spout off this verse is akin to a high school quarterback bringing an edited copy of a NFL contract to his coach saying, “Here are my terms.” Sure, there is some correspondence between the document and your reality, but you’re trying to put a kitty in a lion’s den. Timothy is a minister of the gospel, an apostolic delegate. Can you wear those tennies? Further, “youth” here refers to a man under forty in contrast to the older men Paul mentions in 5:1. Basically, by youth, Paul intends men who aren’t sage grandpas; men who don’t have enough salt in their pepper to be a respect magnet in the way that Paul was with all his gospel battle scars. Taking what we have in Acts, and our best guesses at when Paul wrote this letter, Timothy was probably in his mid thirties at this time.

Dear teen, I’m not scolding you as much as I’m wanting to take this sword from your hands so that the weight of it rests against my own big fat head. Hilt in hand, blade to my noggin. This isn’t suicide; this is surgery. Are there principles that a teen could glean from this field? Yep. But this food is meant for the “clergy,” young ministers to be more exact. All may get nourishment here, but ministers are to get full. Full on humility, which means empty of themselves. The gospel minister wants respect not because he is a big deal, but because the Word that he is to command and teach is (1 Timothy 4:11). See the connection between v. 11 and v. 12? The young godly pastor wants respect so that he won’t be hindrance to the ministry of the Word. He wants respect so that he isn’t a big deal.

If you quote this text in an attempt to garner some R-E-S-P-E-C-T, be you a seventeen year old who is on fire for Jesus, or a young pastor, you’ve demonstrated your stupidity and shown that you don’t know what you’re talkin’ bout. You’ve not only failed to understand the text, you’ve sinned against it. Rather than standing under the Word, you’re trying to stand over it and use it for unholy purposes and the seasoned saint is wise to warn, “Kid, put that thing down before you hurt yourself.” The Word of God is a holy sword. Woe to those who try to wield it for unholy purposes. You aren’t Arthur, and Excalibur is a butter knife by comparison. The Sword of the Spirit is for His glory, not yours ours.

Timothy is to see to it that no one despises his youth, but how is he to do so? By setting an example. So when the arrogant lad demands, “Don’t look down on me for my youth!” it is good to lovingly and firmly respond, “It’s not because you’re young. It’s because your speech is often foolish or filthy, it’s because your conduct is erratic, it’s because your love is selfishly conditional as demonstrated by your demand for respect, it’s because your faith comes in spits and spurts, and it’s because any purity you do have clearly seems owing to lack of opportunity. You’re not respected for the same reason the fifty year old man who lives just like you isn’t—you’re not respectable.”

John Stott summarizes the point well, “People would not despise his youth if they could admire his example.” Young minister—self included, I know I’m pressing this blade most firmly to my own skin, trying to act like a man by shaving with it—if you don’t want to be looked down on for your age, live so that you are looked up to for your maturity in Christ. That’s a principle that will apply across the board, and that’s so, because in living this way, Timothy would be an example.

By grace, as I look at this text, I don’t see it as something my church needs to read. I get more cred than I should. They are a loving and generous people. As I read this I pray “God help me!” because I want them to be better than I am, and that means that I must be better than I am. God help me.

The Gospel Sandwich (Matthew 28:16-20)

Matthew 28:16–20 is made like a sandwich where it’s the bread that excites you more than the stuffings. More than the meat, cheese, sauce, or anything else in-between, it’s the bread-brackets that make this sandwich so delicious. Take away the bread and the meat is unpalatable, but with it, it’s unsurpassed.

Jesus said that His meat was to do the will of the Father. The meat, the will of the Father we are given to do in this text is known as the Great Commission, but it is surrounded by bread. Take away the bread and you can’t handle this sandwich, it all falls apart. Without the bread this task is beyond you, but with the bread, the Great Commission becomes doable and a delight. The bread is the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ.

The Great Commission is surrounded by the great declaration (“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”) and the great promise (“I am with you always, to the end of the age”)—the only bread that can hold this sandwich together. If the Great Commission were not sandwiched by the great declaration and the great promise it would be the great impossibility.

Actually this sandwich is Bread all the way through; Jesus from top to bottom. Jesus is on top as the authority, He is underneath empowering, and He is all through the middle. He is the gospel we declare—the Savior we call for them to trust, the Rabbi we call for them to follow, the King we call them to obey. This isn’t a sandwich, it’s a loaf; it’s Jesus all the way through. Let us eat with joy and let us tell others of this all-satisfying Bread. The eating will lead to the telling.

The Sheep’s Wool (Matthew 25:31-46)

When Jesus separates the sheep and the goats pronouncing judgment upon them, neither one is shocked by the destination, but the reasoning given. The sheep are blessed for the ministered to Jesus in His need, whereas the goats are cursed because they failed. But we shouldn’t mistake this for saying the sheep merited their destination.

The decisive grounds upon which the sheep and goats are divided is that one is comprised of sheep and the other of goats. The deeds of mercy act as an outer mark that identifies the sheep. They are the evidence, not the grounds. Some similar language about those who eat sheep may help.

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. —Matthew 7:15-20 (ESV)

The eating of sheep does not make one a wolf; the being a wolf means an appetite for sheep. The bearing of good fruit does not make one a good tree; the being a good tree means bearing good fruit.

The King/Shepherd says, “All sheep may enter,” and then He turns to you and says, “Come, for you are covered with wool.” The wool didn’t make you a sheep. The last thing any sheep will say on that day is, “I got in by the wool on my baaack, baaack, baaack. Yes this wool, I did it.” If so, an interrogation would commence. “Were you always a sheep? Who then transformed you into a sheep? Who gave you the only food, and water (the Spirit and the Word) that then can cause such wool to grow? Who gave you health and life so that the wool could grow? Who protected you and led you beside still waters so that the wool could grow?” The Shepherd gets all the credit. When He says, “Come for you are full of wool,” He is saying, “Look at what I did. See. This one is mine.”

What is the distinctive wool specifically mentioned here are a mark of those who are the Good Shpeherd’s? Love for the church. Shouldn’t we as Christians love all who are destitute? Certainly. Is that the point of this text. By no means. “The least of these,” are “my [Jesus’] brothers.” This language echoes Matthew 10:40-42 and Matthew 18 where the “little ones,” are Jesus’ little ones, His disciples.

One evangelical pastor wrote a popular book titled They Love Jesus but Not the Church. He had some legitimate criticisms of the church, but he missed it with his title. You cannot love Jesus and not love the church. If you fail to love the church, you do not love Jesus. You are a goat.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. …If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. —1 John 4:7-8, 20-21

Steward Kings (Matthew 24:14-30)

God created man a slave, yet, a king. Man is a vassal king, a king under the Emperor. God created man. God gave man everything man has. God named man. God commanded man. God is God. Man is man. God is king. Man is slave. Yet, God turns to man as man’s King and says to him with full and rightful authority, “have dominion.”

Man is made in the image of God. Lots of hypothesizing goes on as to what the imago Dei consists in but I think the Genesis 1 is really quite clear. One of the things spelled out for us there is that the King made a king. This incorporates so many of the imago Dei theories.

Man has dominion. This is why man’s plummet (fall seems too trite a word) impacts creation. As goes the king, so goes his kingdom. But, man’s role was secondary. We little kings cannot curse this earth more than the King can bless it. The second Adam’s rule has a glory that surpasses all that the first Adam’s destroyed. It is His rule that transforms ours, so that we more truly image Him forth with sincere hearts.

Every man, from the lowest to the highest, is a king. Some men have smaller realms, others have bigger ones, but we are all kings. Yet, we are slaves always. Sinners don’t mind the king role so much. Adam was aiming for more of that. The slave part is the rub. Man is to rule the little domain he has been given for a little time as a steward king of the eternal Emperor of the cosmos.

From your career to your hobbies, from your driving to your bedtime hour, from your public persona to your virtual one on Facebook, from your clothes to your innermost thoughts and dreams, from your wish list to your owned possessions, from your leisure to your labor, from your television viewing to your reading, from your app choices to your courting choices, from your casual encounter to the children you raise—all, no exceptions, not one square inch, not one spare second are yours. All are gifts entrusted to you to use for His glory.

Tolle Lege: Family Shepherds

Family ShepherdsReadability: 1

Length: 179 pp

Author: Voddie Baucham

“If you can’t say ‘Amen!’ you can say ‘Ouch!’” so Voddie often says. Well I say “Ouch!” and “Amen!” to his book Family Shepherds. Convicting but not condemning, men, you will not only be encouraged but equipped to shepherd you family after reading this book.

Ask any Christian, “Who is responsible for discipling children?” and you’re likely to get the right answer: “Their parents.” However, probe further and you’ll find confusion, conflation, equivocation, and perhaps downright indignation toward any approach to discipleship that’s actually predicated on this unquestioned premise. While we all agree on the clear biblical mandate for parents to disciple their children, we’re unclear as to what that entails. We’re even less clear on the role the church is to play in offering instruction and support in this endeavor.

Part of the problem lies in that we usually begin from the wrong starting point. Virtually all the debate over the discipleship of young people begins with the assumption that church structures and programs such as the nursery, children’s church, Sunday school, and youth group are foundational discipleship tools, and whatever happens must take place within that framework. But what if those things didn’t exist? What if there were no nurseries, or youth groups, or Sunday schools? How, then, would we propose a plan for one generation to “tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done” (Ps. 78:4)?

Fortunately, we don’t have to invent such a scenario from scratch. All we have to do is open the pages of the Bible and begin reading. There we find a world where the aforementioned programs and ministries did not exist; there we find a disciple-making model that looks almost nothing like the institutional structures with which we’ve become so familial. And there we find family shepherds.

WTS Books: $11.42               Amazon:$11.58

The Pilgrim: If I Had a Thousand Gallons of Blood

CHR. This was a revelation of Christ to your soul indeed; but tell me particularly what effect this had upon your spirit.

HOPE. It made me see that all the world, notwithstanding all the righteousness thereof, is in a state of condemnation. It made me see that God the Father, though he be just, can justly justify the coming sinner. It made me greatly ashamed of the vileness of my former life, and confounded me with the sense of mine own ignorance; for there never came thought into my for there never came thought into my heart before now that showed me so the beauty of Jesus Christ. It made me love a holy life, and long to do something for the honour and glory of the name of the Lord Jesus; yea, I thought that had I now a thousand gallons of blood in my body, I could spill it all for the sake of the Lord Jesus.  -John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress