In my last several posts, I have been exploring those things that a pastor should do and the church should expect, encourage, and allow. While we have explored those things, we haven’t answered the why question. In other words, we still need to explore and answer the question:
What is the benefit of a pastor consistently practicing these fundamentals and the congregation expecting, encouraging, and allowing him to do so?
What difference is it going to make in his life and the life of the church?
Paul concludes this section of his letter to Timothy by saying,
“Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Ti 4:16b)
So by consistently practicing these fundamentals, a pastor will not only help secure his own salvation but that of his congregants as well.
How does that work?
We have to understand the scope of salvation. When we come to Christ, we are said to be both saved and being saved. You can picture the Christian life like a race. When you believe in Jesus, you enter the race. But in order for us to experience true and lasting salvation, we must finish the race. We can’t walk off the track at some point and still expect to call ourselves a Christian, just like a runner can’t call himself a professional if he quits a race and never returns to the track again. You see, true Christians press on toward the heavenly prize that awaits. They don’t go half or even 3/4 the distance and quit. They make it to the end. They persevere; they cross the finish line, and in so doing, they obtain true and lasting salvation.
Now, of course, true Christians have the Holy Spirit, and He is the main reason Christians persevere to the end. So I am not advocating a works-based salvation where believing in Jesus gets us into the race and then we have to finish it on our own in our own strength. We are saved, sanctified, and glorified by God. Romans 8 makes that clear.
While that is true – it is God who empowers and motivates us to finish the race – one of the ways He motivates us to persevere and grow in our faith is through the efforts and example of others. One of the persons God uses as an example is the pastor.
So Paul’s argument then is that as pastors:
- consistently practice right speech, right living, right affections,
- as they lead the congregation to the Word of God through right worship,
- as they use their spiritual gifts to build up the church,
- and as they serve as an example to the church in spiritual growth,
- they help the congregation persevere and grow in their faith so that they make it to the end of the race.
So that is how a pastor can save both himself and his hearers.
Hopefully, by now, you see why it is important for a pastor to consistently practice the fundamentals of the faith. It is one of the ways God saves and sanctifies both the pastor and the congregation.
So may we remember that it is the fundamentals God uses, not something new and revolutionary, but the fundamentals. May they be our bread and butter. May they be the things we practice and desire as we move forward as a church.
Question for Reflection
- What do you think about this series? Give me some feedback.
Post adapted from my sermon How Can Both the Pastor and Congregation Continue in the Faith?