“If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good
doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained” (I-Timothy 4:6).
I remember the hard lessons of seminary education, especially, some of the hard and direct teachings of Bishop Phillips, a man not known to mince the Word. The Bishop is an accomplished man in many areas and never reluctant to share how he became so, his favorite explanation “I remember.” He placed emphasis on the necessity to “be a good minister” saying it requires teaching the people (congregation) what “thus says the Lord versus thus thinks the Minister.” You must remind them, put them in remembrance of what God says based on revelation(s) the Spirit of God impart unto you the Minister of the Word.
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (I-Timothy 4:1-3). Jesus revealed many important things to Paul and he became a devoted Apostle of the founder, and Minister of the very Gospel he had so violently persecuted. Just as Paul experienced, we must be put into remembrance from time-to-time to gain God’s perspective of who we are and what we are doing to the Church Body of Christ. From God’s perspective, the holy relationships between Christ and the Church, as well as, the Church and the Word are very close and dear and He has done many extraordinary things to protect both.
The Apostle Paul’s attitude toward sin was one of “regretful remembrance” of his own sinful days and ways. He deliberately repented in obedience to Christ; continuously taught that repentance is the first step to discipleship, and gave assurance that in every form of sin and sinfulness Christians are to repent and follow the teachings of Christ Jesus in our daily life. Paul was fully persuaded the people will not rise to a level higher than their teacher, but they will follow the example of their leaders. So, if we (Ministers) love God’s
Word, our people will also. If we do not, they will not either!
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (II-Timothy 3:16). In these challenging times we must focus on teaching the Bible—deeply, consistently and accurately. Paul in his letter to Timothy reminds him and us that times change, people change, but God changes not. We must remember and sometime be reminded of our commit-ment to do whatever faithfulness requires so that the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ remains clear, plain, straight, understood and biblically faithful.
“But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise
of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (I-Timothy 4:7-8). Remembrance of the high cost of righteousness is an inheritance of Christians and Christianity. As devoted followers of Jesus Christ and faithful believers in the faithfulness of Jehovah we cannot continue to live as if nothing has happened, “we are new creatures in Christ.” As such, we must be mindful of who we are and whose we are, and when our Christian brethren forget it is our responsibility to remind them.
“For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach…but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in
spirit, in faith, in purity. (I-Timothy 4:10-12). Regretful remembrance is repentance, Jesus commands that we repent and be forgiven, allowing a change of direction on a path of personal spiritual-destruction and separation from the mercy, grace and love of God. God’s word is rich and detailed, hope-giving, life-affirming, sin-denying and sacrifice-requiring, especially of those who teach and are willing to listen. Beyond that we must be determined to rely on the Lord.
“Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine…..give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all” (I-Timothy 4:13-15). The word of God is clear and when it is explained accurately the people (congregation), they understand it. That understanding is the first and most important step toward building their lives on the wisdom that comes from above. People cannot and will not believe or obey truth they do not understand. A clear under-standing of God’s Word forms the convictions that allow us to remember and shape our lives in a way that leads to a deep affection for divine truth.
“The latter times” Paul speaks of are here, the prophecies of God are being fulfilled; because we forget to live by the Word does not mean that He will not remember. Paul reminds Timothy the Minister must pray and think until a part of God’s Word which seemed simple and obvious becomes fresh and powerful; “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee” (I-Timothy 4:16). That means all we should be doing is bringing the revealed truth of God to bear on the minds of men, on every issue, in every place and era.
This is an important lesson Paul taught Timothy and I thank God for Bishop Phillip’s insistence, that as a Minister, I have an obligation to Jesus to put myself in remembrance first and then the brethren. Lesson learned.
Grady Norman Greene, Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Our Christ
- Salvation through Jesus Christ (michaelgaither.wordpress.com)