Friday, April 12, 2013

Take Heed To Thyself And Unto The Doctrine


Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1Tim 4:16

Who pastors a pastor? It is true that the saying is true – ‘physician heal thyself’, eh? PASTORS ARE TO PASTOR THEMSELVES! Just as a shepherd of the sheep does not need another shepherd to shepherd him, so the pastor does not need anyone else to look after him. It is very interesting that the Shepherd of the church, while pastoring the whole universal church gives a very clear command for the preacher to keep a close or close watch on oneself. This is a command, it is an imperative, not an opinion that you may or may not take. This is what I would like us to maul over this time:
Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1Tim 4:16
The Lord acknowledges that every mortal man, preachers included, always stand in need of good counsel and advice. This is because everyone is so limited in knowledge and wisdom. Everyone is finite in thinking. No one can conceive and think of every single detail and implication. Therefore we all must appreciate that we are ever in need of wise counsel. And we value those who will counsel us in the way that will make us the best we become. This is passage is particularly gives the most excellent counsel to the ministers of the gospel. 
The statement in this instruction that calls for our attention is “Take heed,” which appears in the pages of the Bible 55 times! Pay careful attention (an Imperative – it is a command of God, He wants us to take heed to ourselves as preachers, how we live and what we think, and desire and live for)

Two instructions that we must not overlook or miss in this godly instruction and counsel from the all-wise Lord:

1.     Take heed to thyself:

We are told, “Take heed to thyself,” or in my translation, “Keep a close watch on yourself.” We have to recognize that we have a duty to look over ourselves – Spurgeon called it – Ministers’ Self Watch. Watch over yourself and your teaching. you must notice the order because the order is important – many are interested in the doctrine and theological arguments and have heart knowledge but not the heart knowledge.
This instruction presupposes that you and I are in danger of going astray, and in danger of getting into spiritual problems to the detriment of our hearers, to the loss of the kingdom of God. Look at how many things you do wrong – how many wrong decisions have you made this year? How rush decisions that have brought untold suffering to the church. This should alert you the need to be able to self-watch. I want to speak this as a fellow elder as Peter spoke to His fellow elders in 1Peter 5:1. Because we must be alive to what we are.

Pastors are faced with many dangers.

This statement assumes that pastors are in danger. It is true that there are many dangers that pastors are to watch themselves over.
We are in danger of pride. To think that we are the best that this world can afford – the best in the church. There are many times that I have been humbled members of TBC Greenfield, for their godliness.
We are in danger of syncretism. To mix our own culture and religious background as well as denominational hangovers with the Word of God and so adulterate it. We have to be alive to the fact that we are in danger of pragmatism. Seeking to import into the church of the living God all sorts of drama and video.  We are in danger of going astray to the point of not even knowing that we are lost.
May point out a number of things that you need to be particularly vigilant about:
There are many things that you need to watch over, starting with your soul, your time, your talking, you desires, your eating, your dressing and your whole life, so that you live a life of consecrated submission.

What are we to take heed over?

Take heed of your soul:
Are you saved? You cannot take things for granted when the Lord would have us take heed to ourselves. We have to take it seriously prayer and reading the Word, and in cultivating all manner of godliness.
We have to take heed of our time:
How much time do you spend with God in prayer? Do you make excuses on why you can’t pray as that you are too busy, taking your children to school or in your business or far too involved with the new church project.
We have to take heed on our worship:
We have to live a life of worship of God as the first priority – not to lead others to worship while we spectate, but to actually involved in the worship of God. Worship God in fear.
We have to take heed to our desires and our longings:
We have to long for that which is of eternal worth – David desired to live in the presence of the Lord, Paul desired to know Christ.  Love that which is good – love God, love His people, love the church, love your wife, love your children and care for them, love the brethren, love the needy.
We have to take heed of out talking:
How many instructions there are in the Bible about being careful in our talking? How many times we are told to watch our tongues and words? You need to take heed of your talking. Watch your words so that you only produce words that build and edify. Words that make your hearers better Christians, better citizens of heaven. Better lovers of God.
Take heed to your eating:
 Watch you eat before you have health issues and you are unable to carry on with ministry. Be careful not to be extravagant in spending all you have on food. Be careful not to eat while others starve. Be careful not to starve yourself and your family as well.
Watch what you wear:
We live at a time when preachers are clad in the most expensive clothes, so that the image they cast is that of CEOs of multi-national companies, yet they have some of their members sleeping hungry! Others dress so indecently that the pastoral reputation is gone to the woods. It could be that you need to dress modestly or take heed to everything that we do or do not do.
Watch the media
We live at a time when media has taken some part of our time… most of you own TV sets, Radios, use the internet etc. So much time is spent that way. But even worse some contents are not to be watched by Christians because they do not foster godliness. There those people that you watch, whom you would not invite to speak in your house! Yet you allow them to take your time and that of your family! You have to temper or censure whatever you watch, you listen to, the (video) games, etc.
It is possible that we may have started very well in the right path but at some point found a crossroad that required us to take one or another. If you may have taken the wrong one, it starts only a centimeter apart but expands to kilometers and miles and before long you find out too late that you have gone astray. May I ask you, do you call Jesus your Saviour, your Lord and Master? It is not enough to call Him by word only… do you actually follow Him, do you serve Him, do you live for Him? I don’t want you to be among the number of those who will stand before the Lord at the last day and stake their claim upon the Saviour in terms of the works they did but the Lord will tell them that He never knew them regardless of all they did. What a shocking loss it will be? What a dismay to spend all your time in vanity?

2.     Take heed to thy doctrine:

The doctrine here stands for both what we profess and believe as well as what we confess and teach. We live at a time when the world has no use for books, no time to study, no time to devote to study.
But a minister of the gospel has been given clear instructions by His boss: Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2Tim. 2:15). Many would rather have experiences than devote themselves to study. People do not read anymore. This means that we are to endeavor to find good books and literature and read them.
Many of you have had the privilege of having passed through the PTC and you got many books to read. Please remember that people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. They teach falsehood based on their sincere experiences and so lead many astray and so fail to save their hearers. Notice how much easy believism is preached now. Bear in mind that we live in the last days when many do not endure sound doctrine.
How do you watch over your doctrine? How do you make sure that you remain confessing the mystery of the gospel?
1.     By daily study of the Bible. Let your Bible be your daily bread and drink. Eat from it and drink from it daily. May you never go without a serious study of the Word of God. Do not wait until you are preaching through a passage to study.
2.     Make it your habit to study well in preparation for your ministry. Do not be like those who do not prepare and yet dare go up the pulpit. I know of a man who opened his bible to preach two minutes before taking the steps up the pulpit! Do not be like that men because as we talk now he made shipwreck of his faith!
3.     Pray earnestly that the Lord may open up your eyes to see all the wonderful things hidden in His word.
4.     Inquire from seasoned godly preachers.  I had not put much study on the subject of fasting and so recently I have had to go back to Pastor Underhill and find all the help I could from him. I have gone on the internet to find out more from other preachers.

Persist in this
As we conclude the passage, would you notice the continuation in the doctrine. This is not something that you do as New Year resolutions that are soon forgotten. This is something that you have to steadfastly continue. The bible speaks of fellowship. This persistence and consistence is what shows the word that we preach is what we live.  The early church did not forsake fellowship (Acts 2:42).
What do you do when the church members stopped coming for prayers? Do you bang them with the bible? Do you also give up? Our evening service is not very well attended. Do we cancel it and say that after all only a few turn up. Do not be discouraged. Rather the Lord has given you a few to work with like Gideon.

… for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers
When you are persistent in being the instrument of administering the God-appointed means of grace, there is a promise that you will save yourself, and your hearers. What does this mean? Is that a preacher saves? No, rather it's the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. It means that this misunderstood doctrine that underlines that the grace of God is efficacious able to help to lead the elect of God, the Redeemed of the Lord and the Saints to glory. This is what it means that you will show that you are persevering in the faith by partaking of the sovereignly appointed means of grace to the end so that you receive. It is here presented from the human point of view with human responsibility in bold, underlined and in italics. It is simply point saying, “You shall save yourself if you endure to the end.” “You shall save yourself if you will persevere and hold fast to the end.”

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