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Ray Stedman - December 31, 1980
A Good Minister
Scripture References: 1 Timothy 4:6-10
From Series: "Studies in First Timothy"
Never yet published in book form, these studies are packed full of help for young pastors and all those being discipled and trained by the Lord Jesus Christ. "the apostle is obviously seeking to open Timothy's eyes to the importance of what he is called to do. Paul flings back the boundaries of time and space to reveal to Timothy the unseen realities before whom every Christian lives and labors, reminding him of the great personages who are involved in his witness in Ephesus: 'I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead,' Paul says. There is nothing more helpful to us in the midst of pressure than to realize that what we are doing is a very important thing; yet there is nothing harder for us to understand about our own Christian ministry than that fact. Like Timothy, we see ourselves as a tiny minority amidst an overwhelming, mounting majority committed to evil and unbelief. Our voice seems to be a mere whisper in the tumult of chaos and the clamor of voices that speak and echo other things today. Most of us think of ourselves and of our day to day commitment to walk with Christ as being almost insignificant, that we are contributing nothing to arrest the downhill slide of our day, that we cannot speak with any impact at all against the voices of unbelief we hear on every side...What the apostle does here is roll back the separation between the visible and invisible worlds and show us in whose presence we are laboring, who are the powerful forces observing us and working with us in everything we do and say as Christians. Paul reminds Timothy that he is laboring in the presence of God the Father, the Creator, the One who holds in his hands the life breath of every human being, the One who is Sovereign over all human events. Timothy is also reminded that he carries on his ministry in the sight of Christ Jesus, the One who is to be the Judge of all men, before whom every human heart is exposed, the One before whom everyone, believer and unbeliever, must ultimately stand and give an account, although not at the same judgment. Jesus himself said that the Father had committed all judgment into his hands. So Timothy carries on his ministry before the One who thoroughly understands all of human history. This is what I hope we capture here in this passage---a consciousness of who is watching and before whom we labor."