It's Time to
Get Charged Up
By: Pastor Ricky Kurth
Note: This article originally appeared
in the October 2016 edition of the Berean Searchlight
BBS founder Pastor C.R. Stam's brother
John and his wife Betty were brutally murdered by the Communists in China in
1934, hundreds of students from Moody
Bible Institute volunteered to take their place on the mission field, with
many of them asking to be sent to the very village where this young couple had
that same vein, I'm issuing a call to
arms to men in the grace movement to step up and train for the ministry in
the wake of Pastor Paul M. Sadler's recent homegoing,
a call based on texts found in Paul's first pastoral epistle. Paul began this
epistle by insisting on the authority of his God-given apostleship (1 Timothy
1:1), an apostleship that came with a new doctrine that God introduced with His
new apostle. Paul then went on to remind Timothy that Pauline doctrine is the only doctrine that should be preached in
the dispensation of grace, saying
1 Timothy 1:3-4
As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went
into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that
they teach no other doctrine,  Neither give heed to fables and endless
genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in
faith: so do.
Paul the Beggar
We must begin our study of this
passage by asking why an apostle
would beseech Timothy to abide in
Ephesus instead of ordering him. Many
modern denominations have a religious hierarchy wherein men at the top have the
authority to determine where a pastor ministers, and for how long a tenure. But
this is just another area wherein today's religious leaders demonstrate a woeful ignorance of the way the ministry
functioned under the Apostle Paul. Paul told the Corinthians,
As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the
brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come
when he shall have convenient time.
Picture a denominational pastor
responding like that to a superior who notified him that he'd been reassigned
to a church in a distant city! "You know, it's not at all my will to change
churches at this time, but I'll consider it when it is convenient for me!" Such
a man will likely find himself washing dishes in a denominational soup kitchen
rather than pastoring a church!
By contrast, Apollos
has the liberty to say no when an apostle
constrained him. Thus if you are an aggressive type of personality who is
thinking of getting into the ministry so you can rise through the ranks and
begin to boss people around, you should most assuredly look into another line
of work! God can use an aggressive type of personality in the ministry, just
not in that way.
Timothy the Timorous
If, on the other hand, you are of
a more timid temperament, God can use you as well. Notice that Timothy agreed
to abide in Ephesus only after Paul begged
him to do so. This indicates that Timothy was not eager to remain behind in a
city that had incited such a fearsome riot in an attempt to expel Paul from
their midst (Acts 19:23-41). This timid young man had originally manned up and
agreed to accompany Paul on his apostolic journey even after seeing the apostle
stoned (Acts 14:19), but remaining behind alone
in a volatile city was asking much more! But when his apostle begged him to
become the leader in Ephesus that Paul needed him to be, Timothy manned up again.
It's not hard to understand why
Paul would beg Timothy to remain behind in a city that had a school (Acts 19:9)
and was known for its books (19:19), for it seems Timothy was a bit of a bookworm. We know he had studied the books of the Bible since childhood
(2 Timothy 3:15), and it's not likely Paul would have left his books and
parchments (2 Timothy 4:13) with anyone but a bookworm who would use and
treasure them as highly as he did. Pastor Paul M. Sadler used to say that for
every church there is a pastor who is "a good fit," and Timothy was obviously
the perfect fit for the scholastic
types in Ephesus.
But if you're thinking that Paul
was stashing this mamma's boy[i]
in some dead-end, out of the way ministry, think
again. The Ephesian ministry spearheaded a ministry that reached all of Asia
(Acts 19:9-1)! Does that tell you anything of the confidence Paul had in the leadership ability of a timid bookworm?
No matter who you are, God can use you if you are willing to man up and get charged up.
A Serious Charge
Notice that Paul besought Timothy
to "charge" some that they "teach no other doctrine." A charge is a serious thing in Scripture. When the Philippian
magistrates arrested Paul and Silas, "they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:
who having received such a charge, thrust
them into the inner prison" (Acts 16:23-24). The jailor knew if he didn't keep them safely that he would
pay for it with his life. Now that's serious!
It was also a serious thing when
God charged Abraham to go to the Promised Land to start a new nation (Genesis
26:2-5), and when God later charged Moses to lead the nation out of Egypt
(Exodus 6:13). And if it wasn't an equally serious thing to bring that nation
into the promised land, God would not have told Moses
to "charge Joshua" to do it
(Deuteronomy 3:28). Finally, it was an eternally
serious matter to keep our Savior safe until He could finish His course before
dying for our sins, so God promised Him that He would "give his angels charge over Thee, to keep Thee in all
Thy ways" (Psalms 91:12 cf. Matthew 4:6).
So when Paul told Timothy to "charge some that they teach no other doctrine," we have
conclude that this God-given responsibility is equally as serious as any of the charges that came before it in the
eyes of Almighty God. That's because the doctrine committed to Paul was "the
preaching of Jesus Christ according to
the revelation of the mystery" (Romans 16:25), the preaching that revealed
all that God is free to do for us through the finished work of Christ.
How Serious Are We Talking Here?
How serious is it for spiritual
leaders to preach "no other" doctrine? Well, how serious was it when God
commanded Moses "Thou shalt have no other
gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3)? If God uses that exact same phrase in both instances, we
can only conclude that He takes obedience to both these commandments to be
equally important. Yet Paul must have heard that some in Ephesus were teaching other doctrines, just as
he'd predicted (Acts 20:29-30), or he wouldn't have reminded Timothy here in
our text that he'd been left in Ephesus to charge them not to teach other doctrine.
Here we must add that Paul's
injunction to teach no other doctrine than Pauline
doctrine does not mean that pastors should only teach Paul's epistles. Paul
himself insisted that "all Scripture" is "profitable" for "doctrine" (2 Timothy
3:16), so if a pastor fails to teach
all Scripture, then God's people are robbed of some of the doctrine by which
they may profit. If you aspire to "preach the Word" (2 Timothy 4:2), you will
never have to wonder what to preach on next Sunday, as is so often the case
with pastors who do not preach the
Word, for there are 783,187 words in the Bible, and you only have one lifetime to preach them.
But if teaching no other doctrine
doesn't mean limiting your ministry to teaching Paul's epistles, what does it mean? Well, the only other time
the Greek words for "no other doctrine" are used in the Bible is later in this
epistle where Paul tells Timothy not to teach "otherwise," that is, other than what Paul taught him (1
Timothy 6:2-3). Thus we know that teaching "no other" doctrine means to teach
nothing that is contrary to Pauline
More Serious Charges
Paul also left Timothy in Ephesus
that he might charge some to give no heed to "fables and endless genealogies" (1 Timothy 4:4). The word "fable" means a story designed to teach a lesson. When we hear the word fable we
generally think of Aesop's fables such as "The Tortoise and the Hare." But it
is doubtful that any of the Ephesians to whom Timothy ministered were forsaking
sound Pauline doctrine to give heed to Aesop's fables. It is more likely that
Paul is warning Timothy about the same "Jewish
fables" about which he warned Titus (Titus 1:13-14). But what sort of fables
might the Jews have been telling in those days?
Well, when Paul began to preach
that we are not under the Law, but under grace (Romans 6:15), some Jews found
this impossible to accept (Acts 15:1). Even after the Jerusalem council
acknowledged that Paul had been given a new message of grace, some Jews
troubled the Galatians with the Law (Galatians 1:7). To prove that God's people
were under the Law, I personally
believe that these Jews begin to tell "fables" designed to prove their point, stories designed to teach the lesson that we
are still under the Law. For instance, under the Law, God told the Jews:
"if thou shalt hearken"unto the voice of the Lord"all these blessings shall come on thee "sheep" thy storehouses, and "the
Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods" (Deuteronomy 28:1-11).
Disable the Fable
Believers today are not under
this law, of course, and so cannot depend on God's blessing in material and
financial areas as a reward for good behavior. But if a Jew in Paul's day
wanted to prove that we are still under this law, it would be a simple thing
for him to come up with stories that prove God is still blessing those who obey
Him. "Why, Brother Alexander is good, and look how God
has prospered him!" Paul as a word for stories like that; he calls them fables. A story that is told to teach
the lesson that we are still under the law.
In our own day prosperity
preachers have picked up where Jewish storytellers have left off, and are never
hard pressed to produce success stories to show that God is still honoring this
promise that He made to the Jews under the law. This is reminiscent of what
happens when you tell someone that no one today has the gift of healing. What
do you always hear when you share the truth? "But Brother John went to a healer
and was healed!" More fables! Stories that are told to teach the lesson that
the gift of healing is still being given.
But if a man begins to feel
better after seeing a healer today, it isn't because the healer healed him. And
if a man is prosperous today, it isn't because of any covenant he has with God,
despite all the fables that prosperity preachers might tell to the contrary.
All such stories fall under the category of what our courts call "anecdotal
evidence," and anecdotes don't make very good evidence. If you plan to get into
the ministry, remember that, and preach
the Word instead of stories!
Shaking the Family Tree
Of course, if the "fables" in our
text are Jewish fables, it stands to
reason that the "genealogies" here are Jewish as well. Especially since we know
from the many genealogies in Scripture that the Jews kept careful records of
who was born to whom, and for good reason.
First of all, genealogies were
needed to determine who was a Jew, a
child of the covenant that God made with Abraham (Acts 3:25). After that, priests in Israel had to come from the
tribe of Levi, and were "put from the priesthood" if they could not verify
their lineage "by genealogy" (Ezra 2:62). Next, kings in Israel had to come from the tribe of Judah (Psalms 60:7),
so this important office also had to be reckoned by genealogy. Finally,
Israel's Messiah had to stem from the
tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10), making it easy to see why God's earthly people
would maintain meticulous genealogies.
But all Bible genealogies are
part of the law of Moses, and the only "lawful" use of the Law in the present
age is to bring conviction of sin on unbelieving sinners (1 Timothy 1:8-9).
After using the Law for this, it is supposed to "perish with the using" (Colossians 2:21-23). It's "not made for a
righteous man" to help him to be good.
And when it comes to the
genealogies in the law, the need for these has perished as well. There is no
need to identify who is a Jew in the present dispensation of grace, "for the
same Lord over all is rich unto all
that call upon Him" (Romans 10:12). Likewise, there is no need to distinguish
who is a priest in an age where there is no priesthood, there's no call for
identifying who is a king at a time when Israel has no king, and there's
certainly no purpose in identifying Israel's Messiah now that He has already
Perish the Thought
So once the genealogies in the Law
had been used for these ends, the use of these genealogies was supposed to
perish with the using, for they were then of no further spiritual value. But
Jews who thought they were saved simply because they could trace their
genealogy back to Abraham (Matthew 3:9) were still around in Paul's day, and
were no doubt citing genealogies to substantiate their claim to eternal life.
Jews like this are still around today. This writer knew one personally.
We know there were also Jews who
felt that they were better than other Jews because of their genealogy gave them
a better pedigree, for Paul himself was one of them (Philippians 3:5).
Similarly, today there are Jewish members of the body of Christ who believe
they are somehow spiritually better than Gentile believers simply because they
can trace their genealogy back to Abraham.
It is because Bible genealogies
no longer serve a practical purpose that Paul warned about "endless"
genealogies. The word "end" can mean purpose
or goal, as when you might ask
someone, "To what end are you doing
what you are doing?" All Jewish genealogies have an end; they end in Abraham.
But none of them serve a purpose in
the dispensation of grace. So these endless or pointless genealogies today can only "minister questions" (1
Timothy 1:4), questions like who is a Jew, who is a priest, who is a king, and
who is of a better stock in Israel, but none of these things matter in the
A Better Stock of Believer
But if you want to be a better
stock of Christian, Paul says that
the alternative to these questions is "godly edifying" (v. 4). The word "edify"
means to build up, and Paul says that
"the word of His grace" is "able to build you up" (Acts 20:32), the word that
is found in Paul's epistles. This grace is available to edify Gentiles as well
Paul calls the message of grace "godly
edifying which is in faith" (1
Timothy 1:4) because "as ye have therefor received Christ" by faith, so we are "rooted
and built up in Him" (Colossians
2:6-7) by continuing to place our
faith in the instructions given to Paul after we are saved.
After reminding Timothy of the
things he had let him in Ephesus to do, Paul concludes this charge by saying, "so
do" them (1 Timothy 1:4).
So how about it, man of
Are you willing to man up, get charged up,
and become the kind of pastor who will charge others that they teach no other doctrine? If not you, then who? If not now, then when?