It makes sense that, if the enemies of the church, human and spiritual, wish to destroy her, they will subvert her from the inside. Persecution from outside usually has the opposite effect, strengthening the church and fostering growth. Modern China is the great example of this. Attack from the inside is far more deadly. For this reason, the elders are in the front line.Read the entire post HERE.
As the public face of the church, both externally and internally, the fall of an elder is always more devastating in terms of its impact than a church member. In addition, the false teaching of an elder will foster false professions of faith among those who hear; and false converts will encourage the appointment of more false teachers and the propagation of more error. The elder, then is going to be the primary target in the church of evil. The church, humanly speaking, needs vanilla men who will stand firm, morally and theologically.
Further, the teacher is the herald of good news. Like a messenger from a battlefield, he brings the goods news of the triumph of the king against the armies that seek to destroy the church. That makes him a target for those who would wish that such news never be proclaimed.
It should also make him an object of honour for those who hear and rejoice. It is hard to imagine that the villagers would not honour that man who brings word to them that the army which threatened their destruction has been destroyed. The herald did not win the victory but he would no doubt be carried shoulder high through the village that night.
So it should be for the one who proclaims God's word each week. He should be honoured not for who he is or what he has done but for the glorious good news which he brings.
This brings me finally to the way in which such vanilla men should be honoured. It seems probable that Paul had finances in mind in 1 Timothy, presumably because he was aware of some particular local conditions. But honour should not be restricted in that way. For me, the best way I can be honoured is that people pray that I fall not into sin and bring disgrace upon the church but finish well. And then they can honour me when I preach by listening to what I have to say. Not that they should believe it because I say it; they should always search the scriptures to see that these things are so. But when a man stands up to tell you about the victory of the great king, that is vitally important news; and the ones who do not hang on his every word are presumably the ones who are really clueless - or really careless - about what is happening.
Lloyd-Jones put it pungently in Preaching and Preachers (page 172): '[I]f a Christian man, however able and learned and knowledgeable he may be, is not ready to sit down and listen to the man whom God has called, and appointed, and sent to perform this task, with joy and with keen anticipation, I take leave to query whether that man is a Christian at all.'
Monday, May 7, 2012
"Honor such men"
From Carl Trueman: