Shepherds’ Conference 2020 Notes: Session 4 — H. B. Charles

Shepherds’ Conference 2020

General Session 4

H.B. Charles

Preaching is to be measured by biblical truth, not pulpit style.

2 Timothy 2:15

A worthy workman

Many pastors and churches suffer from a ministerial identity crisis.

Many are confused as to what the church is to be and do.

What is the bottom line of Christian ministry?

2 Timothy 2:15 tells us.

Guard against false teaching that will lead to ungodliness.

Paul calls Timothy to practice careful, pastoral oversight.

He is to watch the church to protect against dangerous teaching.

But in 2 Timothy 2:15, the passage is not about watching the congregation.

It is a call for pastors to watch themselves.

Watch your own motives and conduct and doctrine.

Paul wants Timothy to watch himself.

Work to please God in everything you do.

The bottom line of Christian ministry is to please God in everything you do.

3 Requirements of God-pleasing ministry

God-pleasing ministry requires personal earnestness

Present yourself as one approved…

Study to show thyself approved…

Diligence in ministry requires study.

The word means to make haste, be diligent, make every effort.

Quote: Doing your best is more important than being the best.

Paul is not calling Timothy to be in competition with other preachers.

You are to give God your best.

Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else, give God your best.

Why be earnest?

Romans 12:1 calls us to present our bodies as living sacrifices.

We want to present others complete in Christ.

We want to have ourselves presented to God as one approved.

Every act of ministry should be done as an act of worship.

If your ministry is going to be pleasing to God, there will be times when you have to go through the fire.

You will have to go through the fire to be reminded that it is not about you.

God-pleasing ministry requires ministerial excellence.

This has nothing to do with size, style, or sensationalism.

It has to do with being a worker who has no need to be ashamed.

Ministry is hard work.

You are to be a worker, a laborer.

You cannot please God if you suffer from ministerial sloth.

The man of God should be known for hard work.

Colossians 1:28

We want to present people to God.

Verse 29 says that Paul toil to this end.

If you want some nice, leisurely life, you need to go do something else. Ministry is hard work.

Ministry is holy work.

Paul actually motivates Timothy with shame.

Paul uses the word shame in many places.

It would be worth it to study Paul’s understanding of shame.

Here, Paul says to Timothy that he wants to be a worker who has no need to be ashamed.

Not ashamed before God.

You can be a smashing success before men and a complete failure before God.

God sees all that we are and all that we do.

We need to live in light of the fact that our lives are clear before the Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:10 says that we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.

God-pleasing ministry requires faithful exposition.

…rightly handling the word of truth…

The term means to cut it straight.

The primary, definitive, and central function of the Christian pastor is to preach the word.

We do not have editorial authority over the content of the message.

We preach in season and out of season.

Our times despartely need faithful men who will preach the word in season and out of season.

Preach the word, not personal opinion, motivational talks, self-help advice, political perspective, trendy theology, health and wealth blasphemy, pop psychology.

You must rightly divide the word of truth to preach faithfully.

The word of God is sharp. Handle with care.

Cut it straight.

Tell the truth.

Stand your ground.

Don’t sell out.

Give God your best.

A Faulty Measure

How much of a pragmatist are you? If you do not know that word, to be pragmatic is to be someone who measures the goodness of an activity by whether or not it works. A pragmatist will evaluate what he or she does based on whether or not it gets the results he or she intends.

You might think to yourself that everybody ought to be a pragmatist. We all want to do things that work. But the problem is, there are things that will seem to be working, productive solutions to the problems of life, but those things can often times be wrong choices.

Of course, the place I find this discussed most is when we talk about activities and practices in a local church setting. By what standard do we measure the kinds of songs we sing, the kinds of sermons we preach, the kinds of outreach we do, or even the way we manipulate the setting of the worship service? Is our goal to get the most people in the room? Is our goal to get the biggest number of people regularly in the church building? Or is there another standard, a greater standard?

There have surely been times in my life when I thought like a pragmatist regarding the worship of the Lord. I thought that whatever promoted strong emotion or whatever drew more people to the service must be a good thing so long as I could not point to specific violations of clear commands. But as time has gone by in my life and in my Christian walk, I have discovered that God has not commanded us to measure our services by a pragmatic measure of greater numbers equals greater success or greater emotion equals greater success. Instead, the Lord has shown us that the exaltation of him, his glory, his holiness, his majesty, in accord with his word, by people genuinely committed to him, these are measures of success. Are we being faithful to the word? Are we painting a true picture of the Lord and his ways?

I thought of this topic as I read through the rebellion of the people of Judah who ran to Egypt during the days of the Babylonian captivity. It seems that part of the reason that God had judged Judah was that the people had been worshipping false gods and goddesses. The people had picked up that evil practice while in Egypt. And they were measuring the rightness or wrongness of that activity, not by the word of God, but by the seeming success or failure the practice was bringing to them.

Jeremiah 44:15-19 – 15 Then all the men who knew that their wives had made offerings to other gods, and all the women who stood by, a great assembly, all the people who lived in Pathros in the land of Egypt, answered Jeremiah: 16 “As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not listen to you. 17 But we will do everything that we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we did, both we and our fathers, our kings and our officials, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no disaster. 18 But since we left off making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine.” 19 And the women said, “When we made offerings to the queen of heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, was it without our husbands’ approval that we made cakes for her bearing her image and poured out drink offerings to her?”

Imagine, God says to these people that they must stop worshipping this false goddess. They turn to Jeremiah, and with a straight face say that they will not obey. Why? When they worshipped the false goddess, they had more stuff. When they stopped, they went hungry and captive to Egypt. So they will worship her again.

Jeremiah, of course, will follow up this section with the truth of God. They were captive because of the worship of the false goddess. The Lord had been merciful to them for a season, even in their rebellion, but they would not turn from their evil. Their measure was wrong. Their actions were not OK when they had more stuff or wrong when they had less. The proper measure for their actions is the command of God, not the amount of food on the table.

Friends, be very careful measuring your choices or the choices of your church by pragmatism. The only measure of the rightness or wrongness of what you do and the attitude with which you do it is the word of God. What does Scripture tell us worship is about? What does Scripture show us that the church is about? What methods does God prescribe for Christian living, evangelism, social engagement, etc.? Growing in number is no proof of God’s favor. Diminishing in social influence is no sign of God’s disfavor. Faithfulness to Scripture leads to the favor of God. Ignoring the word of God will lead to his disfavor. So be sure you do not use the wrong measure.