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It's Time to Man Up

By: Pastor Ricky Kurth

 

Note: This article originally appeared in the September 2016 edition of the Berean Searchlight

 

Whenever Pastor Paul M. Sadler spoke about the birth of the Lord Jesus, he would always say that He left Heaven's glory and "stepped across the stars" to come dwell among us. I always liked that phrase, for it paints in our mind's eye the image of the unfathomable greatness of the One who said, "Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool" (Isaiah 66:1).

 

The night after Pastor Sadler left us to go serve his Savior in person, I went out to pray in my yard by the moonlight as I do most evenings. As I looked up into the stars, I remember thinking, 'You did it, Boss. You stepped across the stars going the other way.' And I bowed my head to thank God that His Son was willing to step across the stars to pay for our sins that we might one day step across them to live eternally with Him.

 

Now that our beloved president is with Christ, I can think of no better way to honor his life of service for the Lord than to issue a call to arms, a challenge to men of God to follow in his footsteps by entering the ministry. God Almighty needs another generation of men like Paul M. Sadler to champion the cause of Paul's gospel, and so in the months to come we will be issuing a call to arms based on texts found in Paul's first pastoral epistle. In this epistle, the apostle reminds young Timothy of his call to arms, an epistle that begins with a reminder of the authority of his apostleship:

 

1 Timothy 1:1

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;

 

A New Apostle

 

The word apostle means sent one, someone who is sent by someone to do something. Since the Lord already had twelve apostles, Paul knew that not everyone would be willing to accept his apostleship, so he insisted that he was an apostle "by the commandment of God." This made his apostleship of equal authority to that of the twelve. Remember, when the Lord "sent" then forth, He "commanded them" (Matthew 10:5), and since He was God in the flesh (John 1:14), that made them apostles who were sent forth by the commandment of God the Father, for whom the Lord spoke during His time here on earth (John 12:49). Thus Paul was "not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles" (2 Corinthians 11:5) since he too was "an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God."

 

So now we have to ask why God would send forth twelve apostles and then send forth another? It's not like they were sent to two different groups of people, for while the twelve were originally sent only to the nation of Israel (Matthew 10:5-6), the Lord later sent them to "all nations" (Luke 24:47). You know. The same "all nations" to whom Paul was sent (Romans 1:5). So why would God send the twelve to all nations and then send the nations yet another apostle?

 

Well, let me ask you, did the twelve ever reach all nations? We know they didn't, because the first nation God sent them to refused to believe. You see, the Lord had sent them to "all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47), and it wasn't a case where they could just move on to greener pastures among the Gentiles if the nation of Israel had to be "filled" with the bread of God's blessing, not just fed with it (Mark 7:27). They were filled with something when they crucified the Lord and stoned His prophet Stephen, but it was more like wrath and hatred than the blessing of God!

 

Now do you see why God sent another apostle to the nations? God was not about to let His obstinate chosen people stand in the way of blessing all the other nations.

 

A new Plan and Program

 

But this means that God not only had to introduce a new apostle, He had to introduce a whole new plan and program to reach the nations. Remember, the old plan was to get Israel saved and use them to reach the Gentile nations (Isaiah 27:6) from a base of operations in Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:30). The fact that the nations today have been reached without Israel proves that God started a new plan and program with His new apostle, Paul.

 

That's the only way it makes any sense for Paul to tell the Corinthians, "the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 9:1-2). Paul had led them to the Lord, but that's not what proved he was an apostle. I've led people to Christ and you probably have too, but that doesn't make us apostles. It was the fact that Paul was able to have a God-ordained ministry among Gentile like the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:22) before Israel was saved that proved God had introduced a new program with His new apostle, a program that didn't have to wait for Israel to get saved before the salvation of God could go to the Gentiles.

 

When Paul adds that he was an apostle "by the commandment of God our Savior," this tells us that something else is new, besides a new apostle and plan and program. You see, in time past, God was the Savior of the Jews. When God told Israel, "I the LORD am thy Savior" (Isaiah 49:26), the word "thy" is singular, and it expressed how God was a Savior to Israel only. And despite what many Christians think, that didn't change at Pentecost where, speaking of Christ, Peter said,

 

Acts 5:31

Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

 

As you can see, nothing changed when Israel's Savior became a man. Nothing changed for us Gentiles until "God our Savior" gave a new message to the Apostle Paul, who then said:

 

1 Timothy 2:3-7

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; [4] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. [5] For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; [6] Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. [7] Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.

 

A New Message

 

As you can see, the reason God appointed Paul to be an apostle was to testify that Israel's Savior was not the Savior of all men. This was not a message that was made known at Pentecost, it was preached "in due time" by God's new apostle:

 

Titus 1:2-3

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; [3] But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;

 

This means that God our Savior not only introduced a new apostle, plan, and program, He gave His new apostle a new message which said Israel's Savior was now the Savior of all men in all nations, and that the forgiveness of sins that belonged exclusively to Israel in time past now belonged to the Gentiles as well.

 

Paul also insisted he was an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 1:1). The day the Lord saved him on Damascus Road, He spoke to him of "the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee" (Acts 26:17), making Paul an apostle, a "sent one" of Christ as well as of God the Father. In commissioning him that day, the Lord added that he was sending him forth as an apostle to the Gentiles "that they may receive forgiveness of sins" (Acts 26:18).

 

Our text provides us with still another proof that Paul was given a new message for the Gentiles when the apostle calls the Lord Jesus "our hope" (1 Timothy 1:1). In time past, we Gentiles had "no hope" (Ephesians 2:11-12). Do you know how people act when they have no hope?

 

Jeremiah 18:12

And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.

 

While that described Israel in Jeremiah's day, it pretty much sums up the history of the Gentiles in time past (Romans 1:21-32). If you want to know why that sounds a lot like the world you live in today, it is because more and more the world we live in is ignoring the hope that God is offering the people of the nations of the world through Paul.

 

A Humble Apostle

 

While Paul always introduced himself as an apostle in his epistles, he sometimes also referred to himself as "a servant," as he did in the first of his epistles found in our Bibles (Romans 1:1). This was his way of introducing the kind of apostle God sent him to be. He wasn't the sort of spiritual leader to sit in an ivory tower mailing out epistles to "the great unwashed." As a servant, he was humble enough to roll up his sleeves and be involved in the hands-on service of the Lord.

 

That's also why he addressed himself as a servant in writing to the Philippians (1:1). There were pride issues in the Philippian church, and Paul knew that nothing strips a Christian of pride faster than taking on the humble attitude of a servant. In the event that they weren't impressed that he as their apostle was willing to take the place of a servant, Paul provided them with an even greater example of humility when he spoke to them about "Christ Jesus: Who took upon Him the form of a servant" (Philippians 2:5-7). If you have a problem with pride, consider that if your apostle was willing to humble himself enough to become a servant, and your God and Savior was willing to humble Himself enough to become a servant, you may want to consider dropping your pride and taking on that same servant's heart of humility.

 

Paul also alluded to himself as a servant in his letter to Titus (1:1). Titus was an intimidating man (2 Corinthians 7:14-15), and men like that need to be reminded that a good leader has to be willing to be a good servant of the Lord.

 

But our text was written to Timothy, who was a more timid man (1 Corinthians 16:10). When Paul speaks to him about his mother and his tears (2 Timothy 1:4-5), we are led to believe that he was a mamma's boy.

 

A Mamma's Boy Mans Up

 

But don't ever think that a man like that can't be used of God! That mamma's boy was already well respected in two local churches when Paul met him (Acts 16:1-3). And in case you have any doubts about his manhood, let me remind you that during Paul's visit to Timothy's hometown, the apostle was stoned (Acts 14:19). Seeing that, when Paul later asked the young man, "How'd you like to help me preach this same message in other towns?" you'd think this timid young man would have said, "Thanks, but no thanks," especially when Paul added that Timothy would have to be circumcised so he could accompany Paul into the Jewish synagogues they would encounter. Circumcision was an extremely painful procedure as an adult (Genesis 34:25), but when asked to submit to it, this timid mamma's boy manned up, and showed himself to be the man of God Paul hoped he would be.

 

This means that it doesn't matter if you are an intimidating Titus or a timid Timothy, if you would like to serve the Lord in the ministry, God can use you. There were places where Paul was more comfortable sending Titus than Timothy. The church in Crete was afflicted by "liars" and "evil beasts" (Titus 1:12), so Paul left Titus there to "set in order the things that are wanting" (v.5) and stop the mouths of those "who subvert whole houses" (v.11). That assembly obviously needed a strong personality to tame the troublemakers.

 

But the church in Philippi grew out of a women's prayer meeting (Acts 16:11-14), and women are mentioned prominently in the church (Philippians 4:2), suggesting it may have been a church of mostly women. If Paul sent Titus to Philippi, he would have been like a bull in a china shop! If only Paul had a man who was raised by women oh wait, he did (2 Timothy 1:4-5)! This may explain why Paul selected Timothy to go to Philippi (Philippians 2:19), and it may be at least part of what he meant when he said that Timothy would "naturally" care for their state (v.20).

 

Pastor Paul Sadler used to say that for every church there is a pastor who is "a good fit." God doesn't believe in cookie-cutter pastors who all look and sound and act the same. Men sometimes do, and because of that churches will sometimes miss out on a good pastor because he doesn't look, sound or act like they think a pastor should. But no matter who you are, if you "desire" to be a spiritual leader (1 Timothy 3:1), why not man up and become the leader that God would have you to be? Get in touch with our Berean Bible Institute, and plant your feet firmly on the road to a lifetime of Christian service. If you're already trained for the ministry but are not currently pastoring after a bad experience in your first pastorates, don't give up! Somewhere there is a church in which you'll fit like a hand in a glove, so don't give up until you find your glove.

 

If you are a Christian parent hoping to raise up the next generation of grace preachers, did you notice that Paul called Timothy "my own son in the faith" (1 Timothy 1:2)? This phrase tells us that while Timothy's mother raised him in the Hebrew faith, he didn't get saved until Paul came to town. If you're a parent raising your children in the faith, don�t be surprised if they don't take an interest in spiritual things until someone else comes along. It sometimes just takes someone besides parents to draw children to the Lord.

 

May God Have Mercy on His Men

 

Finally, while Paul always extended "grace" and "peace" to the recipients of each of his epistles, did you ever wonder why he adds "mercy" when writing to pastors (1 Timothy 1:2, 2 Timothy 1:2, Titus 1:4)? It might be because, like Paul himself, Timothy and Titus did not appear to be married, so he may have been proffering them the kind of "mercy" that would allow them "to be faithful" to the Lord as single men (1 Corinthians 7:25). Or, knowing firsthand that churches don't always support their pastor the way they should, Paul may have been extending them the kind of financial "mercy" that he knew the house of Onesiphorus would need after the breadwinner in their family died (2 Timothy 1:16). It is also possible that Paul was thinking of the kind mercy God gave Epaphroditus when he was sick (Philippians 2:25-27). Of course, it may have been a combination of these mercies that the apostle may have been eager for these pastors to have after they had given their lives wholly to the Lord.

 

Have you given your life wholly to the Lord? If not, why not? If not now, when? If not you, then who? Why not answer God's call by saying with the prophet "Here am I; send me" (Isaiah 6:8).




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