"A GOOD MINISTER OF JESUS CHRIST"
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 PAUL, using the term "minister" (diakonos) simply in a non-technical sense as a servant of Christ, plainly told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:6, "If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourshed up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained." In "remembrance" of what? The verses right before in this chapter are the antecedent to what he says here. He foretold and warned of a departure from the faith (1 Timothy 4:1-6). This was of deep concern to the apostle Paul. In fact, verse 3 of chapter one of this epistle tells us why that Timothy, an associate evangelist with the apostle Paul, had been left at Ephesus. It reads, "I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine." "If" (thatís the word Paul uses) Timothy was to be found faithful as a servant of Jesus Christ, taking heed to this injunction was absolutely necessary.
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 Yes, carrying out the Great Commission involves delivering a message decidedly with a positive thrust (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16). The word "gospel" itself means good news, and a mistake is made when the negative is dwelt upon in an inordinate way. But even in heralding forth the good news of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and how it relates to our salvation, the negative has to be dealt with. In preaching Christ, Paul asserts, "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect [complete] in Christ Jesus" (Colossians 1:28). Sinners must be brought to repentance. And genuine repentance can only be realized when they are brought face to face with their sins. 
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 And the negative must be dealt with in other ways, too, although many would back away from doing this. We have heard preachers say that their job was to bring people to Christ and it was His job to take care of them thereafter. But the instrumentality through which Christ does this is the leadership of the church (and other Christians). To not teach and warn new converts is to leave them like babes in the woods to fend for themselves. Jesus said there would arise false Christs and false prophets. The prospects of false teaching and apostasy was a continual burden upon the hearts of the apostle Paul and other New Testament writers like Peter, John and Jude (and they didnít hesitate to write and talk about it). Check out their writings. But today in a multicultural society preoccupied by what they call the "positive," and with being politically correct, this is a "no! no!" It is either, "Iím okay. Youíre okay." Or, we are all sinners, therefore it behooves none of us to raise our voices and talk about the rest of us. So, no one says anything in a negative way about anyone or anything (except politicians running for office).
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 On another occasion when Paul was gathered with the Ephesian elders, reminding them of how he had preached to them the Word of God from the beginning, he said, "Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:26,27). Then he admonished them to "take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flockÖ" (20:28). With this said, he soberly continues, "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears" (20:29-31). Paul practiced what he preached (1 Timothy 4:6). Paul conversed with the leaders of the church, warning them. (To be forewarned is to be forearmed). It was not just with the elders of the church alone. For "three years," he said, "I ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears." Would that we had leaders who loved the truth of God and the Lordís church that much today. (Where are the tears? Where is the concern?) But some preacherís "imbalanced" preoccupation with the positive makes them tongue-tied. Consequently, Christians are never warned about false teaching, and so many donít even look upon "false teaching" as being all that bad, or even false, nor do they notice questionable infractions slipping into the church that are leading straight to apostasy.
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 In conjunction with 1 Timothy 4:1-6, the big picture immerges before us in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 (one of Paulís earliest epistles). Paul warns of a massive falling away from the true church with the appearance of the man of sin, who exalted himself as God. The Protestant reformers had no trouble in understanding this as referring to the papacy. Here it says that he "opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped: so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." From the New Testament perspective, the temple is the church. The pope would usurp the position of God, being called Lord God the pope (and Holy Father) (Ephesians 4:6; Matthew 23:9), and usurping the position of Christ, being called the head of the church (Colossians 1:18). And with this, the Scripture in 1 Timothy 4:1-6 paints a picture of celibacy and asceticism, all perverted tenets of Catholicism (and kindred bodies). With the onslaught of the Dark Ages, this apostasy came into being in its fullest. Even Protestant denominations, which appeared in time in protest, were unable to fully loose themselves from the shackles of this apostasy (carrying over many of their errors and now gravitating back to their origin). We live in the aftermath of this great apostasy, but its representation is still with us in denominationalism. Add to that the modern apostasy of unbelief (even in the ranks of professing "churches") and moral decay, there should be "big time" concern for the well being of the Lordís church. With many who are supposed to be the church of Christ, adherence to the simple concept of the nondenominational church of the New Testament is outdated.
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 These things being heavily upon Paulís heart, he repeatedly wrote about them, as well as teaching and personally talking with Christians about them. He loved the Lord, he loved the church, and he loved the truth. People needed to be informed. In 2 Thessalonians 2:5, he said, "Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things." To the Ephesians elders, he said, "Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears" (Acts 20:31). To Timothy he wrote, "If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained" (1 Timothy 4:6). Notice such Scriptures as 2 Timothy 4:1-8.
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 Preachers, elders, we individually ask you. From the viewpoint of the apostle Paul, are you a "good minister of Jesus Christ nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine"? Indeed, we are living in perilous times. Let us watch and pray.

 
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