I have decided that in this pre-season to the West Valley PCA church plant, that I will spend my summer morning study time in the books of 1st and 2nd Timothy. I have read them numerous times, but if yesterday and this morning are indicative of the timely application by the Spirit – than this time around in this season of life will be both grounding and groundshaking.
I have always felt like Timothy – for no other reason than age and stage. Young pastor. No apologies. Preach the Word. But as I have re-entered Timothy’s world, the way Paul exposes himself through his letter engages my need and my church plant context well.
In ch.1, Paul charges Timothy (who he has left in the important city of Ephesus to revitalize the church – in safeguarding doctrine and in encouraging the saints) to “wage the good warfare” of the ministry (1:18-19). I wonder at the kind of warfare in which Timothy was engaged. Obviously it was doctrinal and within the church (1:3-11), among other things. At the moment, while I am called to doctrinal integrity in leading WVPC and as a PCA pastor, I am thankfully not waging doctrinal wars within our core. At the same time, I know that the minute we formulate a gospel-kingdom vision that is Word grounded (over the next month), we open ourselves up to “identity warfare” from within and without. God knows I need these Words to Jimothy.
But what hits me is not as much Paul’s instruction to Timothy about doctrine and loving God’s flock (1:5), rather, it is his own confidence in his calling to disseminate the gospel and shepherd God’s church. Without even calling Timothy to “confidence in his calling” (which I need), Paul begins his letter by modeling such confidence. How can it be that the apostle Paul is so confident in his weakness to defend truth, to engage culture, to shepherd Ephesus through shepherding Timothy, and to lead a missionary movement of gospel-church planting – all with the Word of God central and powerful with no apologies?!? In reading yesterday and this morning, in the 1st chapter alone, I am encouraged to find 4-fold reason for his confidence… the same reasons I MUST confidently tread forward as a churchplanting leader (of lay-churchplanters) at West Valley PCA.
The ministry confidence of Paul, modeled for Timothy and Jimothy:
- God his Savior had COMMANDED him (1:1). I am either commanded of God to serve in his ministry as an agent of reconciliation to a broken world/church, or I am not. I am.
- God had ENTRUSTED him with the gospel of the glory of God (1:11). The same gospel is for WVPC, for Emmaus, for Lower Macungie, for the Lehigh Valley, for the nations, for my family, for me. Same entrusting.
- God his strength-Giver had APPOINTED him for his particular service inspite of all he had been (1:12). I have been appointed in this moment of time, in spite of all I am, to lead gospel-centered, God-centered church planters to plant WVPC (inspite of all they have been as well).
- God had DELIVERED him from his sin (1:12-17). All of it. The Gospel changes the message-bearer before it engages the message receiver (Psalm 51:13). I am equally delivered in Christ from the worst of all I am.
So I ask myself: Jimothy – has God COMMANDED your life into existence, ENTRUSTED you with the gospel of salvation, APPOINTED you to the particular call in the Lehigh Valley, and DELIVERED you daily from your worstness of sins?
Yes he has. (say it with confidence please)