How Can Both the Pastor and Congregation Continue in the Faith? – Part 5

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.

Conclusion

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

  1. What do you think about this series? Give me some feedback.

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon How Can Both the Pastor and Congregation Continue in the Faith?

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How Can Both the Pastor and Congregation Continue in the Faith? – Part 4

What should pastors do and what should the church expect, encourage, and allow?

I believe the best way to answer that question is to ask: what are some of the fundamentals that Scripture gives for pastors to practice?

(3) A pastor must consistently use his God-given spiritual gifts

In verse 14 Paul tells Timothy,

“Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.” (1 Ti 4:14)

Now we aren’t sure what gift Paul is talking about here. It is something that relates to pastoral ministry, so it is probably teaching, discernment, leadership, care, or something of the like. The problem is that Timothy has neglected his God-given gift that others have affirmed. Because he has neglected this gift, he hasn’t been ministering in the way Paul knows he can. So Paul invites Timothy to remember, so that he will be encouraged and motivated to do what he has been sent there to do — to denounce false teaching and grow the church spiritually in Ephesus.

Just as Timothy was to use his spiritual gifts, pastors are to use their spiritual gifts for the upbuilding of the church that God has placed them over. Which means that a pastor has to first know what his spiritual gifts are. And then he has to make sure that he is consistently utilizing those gifts to their fullest potential.

Again the church has to expect, encourage, and allow that to happen, because that is the way God is using that man to build the church.

(4) A pastor must consistently concentrate on his own spiritual growth

Again, Paul says to Timothy starting in verse 15,

“Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching.” (1 Ti 4:15-16a)

The word “Practice” denotes both hard thinking and doing. “Immerse” means to give yourself to, so that you are completely consumed. Combining these two ideas, we learn that Paul wants Timothy not only to think hard about what he is telling him but to do it as well, giving his whole self to the task at hand. If Timothy does what Paul is suggesting, he will grow spiritually.

Timothy’s spiritual growth will not only be good for himself, but for the church as well. A stagnant shepherd often results in stagnant sheep, which means that pastors have to consistently concentrate on their own spiritual growth.

Now, you may think it sounds funny to say that pastors have to concentrate on their own spiritual growth. After all, pastors are supposed to be professional Christians who are privileged to study the Word of God on a consistent basis. I don’t know about the professional Christian part, but it is true that pastors are privileged to consistently study God’s Word.

Even though pastors are privileged to consistently study Scripture, that doesn’t mean they are always growing spiritually. There is a difference in communing with God through the Scriptures and prayer, and studying to preach a sermon, teach a Bible study, or provide counsel. It is easy to slip into a professional mindset that allows you to divorce your life from what you are studying.

So pastors have to be careful. They too have to concentrate on growing spiritually. They can’t allow the demands of the pastorate to take away from their time with the Lord. And the congregation not only has to expect and encourage him to practice the spiritual disciplines, but they also have to allow their pastor the time.

You see, we are all in this together. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ. We are all a part of a church family. As such, we have to watch out and care for, as well as we have to help one another grow in the Lord. And your pastor has to be included in that as well.

Don’t think just because he is preaching to you every week that he’s doing well spiritually. That he’s consistently growing. As a pastor, there are times when I’m not growing as I would like, just like there are times when you aren’t. So you need to pray for your pastor, encourage him. You need to minister to him, just as he seeks to minister to you. Doing so will help him consistently grow spiritually.

Next Time

Over the last several posts I have explored the things that a pastor should do and the church should expect, encourage, and allow. In my last post, we are going to explore what the benefit of a pastor consistently practicing these fundamentals and the congregation expecting, encouraging, and allowing him to do so are?

Question for Reflection

  1. Are you encouraging your pastor spiritually?

Resources

Image

Post adapted from my sermon How Can Both the Pastor and Congregation Continue in the Faith?

How Can Both the Pastor and Congregation Continue in the Faith? – Part 3

What should pastors do and what should the church expect, encourage, and allow?

I believe the best way to answer that question is to ask: what are some of the fundamentals that Scripture gives for pastors to practice?

(2) A pastor must consistently devote himself to right worship.

Paul tells Timothy in verse 13,

“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” (1 Ti 4:13)

The actions Paul mentions are all centered around the public worship service. At a minimum, then, these elements should be a part of every worship service. Of course, other things are going to be included in the weekly worship service, such as the taking of the Lord’s Supper, Baptism, prayer, and congregational singing, along with fellowshipping with one another. But at a minimum Scripture should be read, the congregation should be exhorted or encouraged to do God’s will, and God’s Word should be taught. If these things aren’t happening, then you need to make it a priority to include them. If you don’t, you may be gathering, but you may not be worshipping.

I believe Paul’s commands to Timothy are just as important for our time, as it was for Timothy’s time. We are often tempted to gain spiritual enlightenment through other means, but we are not going to commune with God, grow in our faith, or learn how to live for God without going to the source, which is His Word. And it is to His Word that we must go. In his second letter to Timothy Paul says,

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Ti 3:16–17)

I believe Paul makes it clear here that God’s Word is all we need for life and godliness. Pastors have to believe that if they are going to center the public worship service on God’s Word. As well as the church has to expect, encourage, and allow that, so that it will take place.

Indeed, God’s Word is all we need for life and godliness. We must buy into that idea. And we must center our public worship services on it.

Next Time

Next time we will explore another thing pastors are to do and what the church should expect, encourage, and allow.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you desire right worship?

Resources

Image

Post adapted from my sermon How Can Both the Pastor and Congregation Continue in the Faith?