Lessons from the Life of Philip

Philip illustrates two lessons for us today from a handful of passages in John. These lessons may not be the primary points of the passages that we will consider, but they are nonetheless good reminders for us today.

Those who seek the Lord will find Him. 

Jeremiah 29:13 promises, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” When telling Nathanael about Jesus, Philip claimed, “We have found Him” (John 1:45). He must have been searching for Jesus to say he had found Him.

Perhaps we could say that Philip found Jesus in multiple ways.

First, Philip found Jesus through the message of John the Baptist. Philip was from the same city as Andrew (John 1:44), a disciple of John the Baptist. Philip likely heard John the Baptist preach and was waiting for the Messiah as a result.

Second, Philip found Jesus in the Scriptures. When Philip went to bring Nathanael to Jesus, he motivated him to come by identifying Jesus as “Him of who Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote―Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45). Philip knew what the Old Testament said about the coming Messiah. Whether from the synagogue, John the Baptist, personal study, or all of the above, he believed truths and was waiting for the Messiah.

Third, Philip found Jesus in person. Jesus first “found Philip,” and when He did, Philip later said, “We have found Him” (John 1:43, 45). Philip’s wait was over. Now He followed Jesus who he found and followed Him in person.

Like Philip, we find Jesus in the Scriptures and biblical sermons. Though we do not presently see Him with our eyes, we love Him and will see His face one day (1 Peter 1:8–9; Revelation 22:4). May God help us to see Jesus now in the Word, and may we persevere until we see Him in person in time to come.

Jesus is greater than we often think Him to be.

As one of the twelve apostles, Philip learned many things about Jesus. From passages that specifically record Philip interacting with Jesus, we see Philip learned that Jesus was greater than he thought in three ways.

First, Jesus is greater in power. John 6:1–14 records Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the five thousand. Just before His miracle, He asked Philip where to buy bread (John 6:5). Philip apparently forgot Jesus’ power to turn water to wine at Cana and focused only on the magnitude of their dilemma—it would cost a fortune to feed so many (John 6:7). Then, Jesus performed His miracle, and Philip saw His power again.

Second, Jesus is greater in love. John 12:20–21 recalls the request by some Greeks to see Jesus. Perhaps unsure of whether he should let them meet Jesus or whether Jesus would want to meet them, Philip sought Andrew instead (John 12:22). Andrew knew Jesus would love these Greeks and gladly speak to them about how to have eternal life (John 12:22–26; cf. 1:41). Whatever doubts Philip had about letting these Greeks meet Jesus, they were laid aside when Jesus received them and gave them the words of life.

Third, Jesus is greater in person. In explaining His coming departure to the disciples, Jesus taught them that to know Him was to the Father as well, which further meant that they would one day be with Jesus again (John 14:1–7). Philip responded by asking to see the Father, prompting Jesus to teach on the matter again—to see Jesus was to see the Father because Jesus was in the Father and His Father in Him (John 14:8–11). Jesus was greater than Philip realized, and Jesus patiently taught him more of who He was.

Summary

Like Philip, we often forget how great Jesus is. We forget how powerful He is, how loving He is, and truths about Him in Scripture. May we often remind ourselves about His power, love, and person and know Him as the Bible reveals Him to be.

All quotes ESV

Eight Lessons I Learned from Having Covid-19

I started having chills on Tuesday, December 1. Over the next couple of weeks, I had Covid-19 with just about all of its symptoms, and it developed into Covid-pneumonia. It is by far the worst illness I’ve had in decades, and I thank God that my family did not get it to the degree that I did. After a few days of losing weight (almost 10% of my body weight), getting worse, and having difficulty when I moved around (especially after going up or down stairs), my wife took me to the emergency room at a local hospital. They took me in right away, gave me a round of fluids, steroids, and antibiotics through an IV, and they sent me home after a few hours with pill forms of steroids and antibiotics to continue the healing process. That was my turnaround day, and the Lord continued to heal me over the next few days. Why this thing poisoned my system so severely and barely bit the heels of my family, I may never know.

Like anyone else on earth, I did not want to get Covid-19, especially to the degree that I did. But, now that it’s all done, I’m thankful for the lessons that I learned through this ordeal. God taught me much through suffering this virus. As you read on, you’ll find eight lessons for why I’m thankful that God allowed me to suffer Covid-19.

#1: God’s plans are always better than our plans.

I had writing plans, study plans, preaching plans, family plans, etc. for the first half of December (and after). I’m a type-A personality who enjoys planning as much as executing. But for all my planning, especially for December, God had other plans (cf. Proverbs 16:1, 3, 9, 33). And for all of the lessons I’ve learned and relearned, I’m so glad He did. His plans are better than mine.

#2: Nothing satisfies the soul more than God.

Between having cottonmouth and not wanting to eat, I could do little more than sleep in my bed or vegetate in my chair. The fevers and headaches kept me from being able to read. Whether checking the news, trying to play a game on my phone, or watching a video (sports bloopers and the like), what I enjoyed most was reading a psalm, and especially Psalm 110. Christ is my Great High Priest, He is coming again, and His people will follow Him in that day. God’s Word gave me the greatest pleasure in the midst of my great displeasure. Covid-19 parched my body and gave my soul a thirst for my God.

#3: God values personal sanctification more than our practical goals.

There was something worse than the virus in me when I was ill. There was anger for missing goals and frustration for not knowing why I got Covid-19 and why I got it so severely. I spoke like Job several times. Just ask my wife. (And she did not tell me to curse God and die, in case you were wondering.) God let me suffer so I could see that He was sovereign and that I needed sanctification. I am ashamed of some of the reactions I had. I am glad that He mercifully exposed my sin so that I can better show the fruit of His Spirit in time to come.

#4: God is merciful and compassionate to heal the sick.

Speaking of Job, not only do we learn that he was steadfast in his trials, but God was also compassionate and merciful to Him in the end (James 5:11). I wondered for a good week if God would be merciful and compassionate to me. He was. And His mercy and compassion was to do some healing to my soul along the way. If only I could have realized that better at the time.

#5: Fellow pastors are gifts from God.

My church only has about 50 people, but God has graced us with two pastors. While I was out of commission, my fellow pastor stepped into the helm and put his previous lead pastor experience to good use. It was a great comfort to me in sickness to know that my fellow shepherd was leading our flock. And I’m thankful that God was able to spotlight his gifts to our congregation during this time. He’s a good man, my church knows it, and I’m eternally thankful for him.

#6: God’s people are full of love.

The dear folks in my church called, texted, sent notes, made meals, gave us money for meals, and prayed for healing. They did all the little things I do to prepare for our services and filled in the gaps. Somebody watched our kids when my wife took me to the emergency room. They came to our house and caroled at our front door, bringing both me and my wife to tears. I’ve never seen such love, and without suffering through Covid-19, I might have never seen it. I’m overwhelmed by the privilege to serve such a wonderful church.

#7: A godly wife is the glue that keeps the family together.

I’m convinced I’d die in three days without my wife. Day 1 – I’m in the fetal position in my bed. Day 2 – I’m shriveled up like a raisin. Day 3 – I’m in heaven. Okay, that’s a bit ridiculous, but it’s probably not too far off the mark. During this time, she managed our children and me, kept the house going, and did it all with a heavy load and heart. She did it while working through her own bout of fevers and headaches as well. Her kindness and diligence overwhelm me. I know I don’t deserve her, but I’m so grateful that she said “yes.”

#8: I love Bob Jones University.

This lesson may seem out of the blue when compared to the previous seven, but I say “I love BJU” for two reasons as it relates to my time with Covid-19. First, when I was able to start reading again, I slowly worked through 172 pages of student papers I had to grade for a Doctor of Ministry class that I recently taught for BJU, “The Theology and Development of Leadership.” If I could paraphrase 3 John 4 with respect to teaching at BJU, “I have no greater joy that to read what my students are writing of the truth.” Perhaps a parallel joy, though, would be to hear of their service for the truth as well. I not only had six students, but I now have six more colleagues in ministry. Praise God for these diligent men. Second, one of my brothers told me to read a biography while I was sick, so I grabbed Dan Turner’s Standing Without Apology: The History of Bob Jones University. Until I gave this book a read, I never knew the heritage of BJU in depth, just how broad the ministry of BJU was, and the intensity of its battles over the years. Reading this book at this time motivated me all the more to conquer Covid-19 and get back to serving my church because God’s work is worth every ounce of effort we can give it, whether at a college, church, or wherever. I hope to fight for God’s work in every corner just like those who have served at BJU. I’m thankful for God’s preservation of this school and its role in my life over the years. I love BJU. (And for full disclosure—I am admittedly biased. I went to college at BJU and teach as adjunct faculty. The ministry of fellow students, my brothers, faculty, and staff made a lasting impression upon me— spiritually, culturally, and ecclesiastically. I am forever indebted to the school for what I received during my time as a student and grateful to teach in its seminary.)

Well, there you have it. I thank the Lord for giving me Covid-19, and you can see why above. If you happen to get it yourself, pray and see what the Lord might teach you as well.

Spiritual Soldiers Standing Strong: Ephesians 6:11–17

Ephesians 6:11–17 gives us the necessary commands and picturesque language to prepare us for spiritual battle. What follows below is a brief summary of four themes from this passage.

First, stand ready and firm in battle. We ready ourselves with God’s armor in order “to stand” (Ephesians 6:11), “to withstand” (Ephesians 6:13), and “to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13).

Second, God empowers us for battle. We are “strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” when we “put on the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10–11). As we do so, we are “able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11), “able to withstand in the evil day” (Ephesians 6:13), and “can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16). (The Greek word dunamai is translated “able” or “can” in the verses just cited.)

Third, God equips us for battle. Paul itemizes the whole armor of God into six pieces of protection, teaching us how to ready ourselves and to engage in spiritual battle. (1) We fasten the belt of truth (Ephesians 6:13). As a belt holds extra fabric close to ready for movement, so also we ready ourselves for battle by knowing the truth. (2) We put on the breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:14). As the breastplate protects the heart and vital organs, so also our practical righteousness shields us from further temptation. (3) We ready ourselves with the shoes of the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15). As the right footgear allows a soldier to stand firm, so also we find our peace in the gospel when the enemy attacks. (4) We take up the shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16). As a shield protects its bearer from the enemy’s arrows and spears, so also our faith fends away the enemy’s many blows. (5) We take up the helmet of our salvation (Ephesians 6:17). As a helmet protects the head from enemy’s sword, so also we ready our minds with the truths of salvation lest we reject them and fall away. (6) We take up the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). As a sword blocks the blows of the enemy and wounds the enemy in return, so also the Word of God is our sure defense and may even pierce an enemy’s soul to bring him captive to Christ.

Fourth, our struggle is against Satan, demons, and evil. Our struggle is not “not…against flesh and blood” but various demonic powers (Ephesians 6:12). Our day of battle is evil as a whole (Ephesians 6:13). Our fiercest opponent is Satan himself (Ephesians 6:11, 16).

Other Scriptures brace us for battle as well. “Wage the good warfare (1 Timothy 1:18). Use your “weapons of…warfare” enabled with “divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4). “Share in suffering as a good solider of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3). “Fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Timothy 6:11).

From all the passages above, be a spiritual soldier who stands strong in the battle while fighting for Jesus Christ. May God strengthen us for the struggle!

Lessons from the Life of Andrew

What follows below are three simple practical lessons illustrated from the life of Andrew. These lessons may not be the main points of each narrative cited below, but they come to mind when we observe the various texts describing the life of Andrew. As simple as they may be, I hope they encourage you today.

Be willing to serve in the background.

We see Andrew in the background in a couple of ways in his ministry. First, in half of the instances that his name is mentioned, Andrew is described as “the brother of Peter,” implying Peter was more well-known than him (Matthew 4:18; 10:2; Mark 1:16; Luke 6:14; John 1:40; 6:8). Andrew faithfully served in Peter’s shadow to some degree. Second, Andrew served close to those who were closer to Christ during His earthly ministry than he was. Often called the “inner three,” Peter, James, and John were with Christ at His Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–8) and in Gethsemane the night before His death (Matthew 26:37). John MacArthur calls Andrew one of the “inner four” because his name is always included with these three in the first set of four names in all of the lists of the disciples (Matthew 10:2; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13). He also joined the three to see Peter’s mother-in-law healed (Mark 1:29) and hear Jesus teach about end times (Mark 13:3).

Whether serving in his brother’s shadow or being close to the three but not one of them, Andrew still served his Lord. We should likewise serve the Lord in whatever role the Lord gives us.

Be willing to serve others on a personal level.

Andrew was one of the first two disciples to follow Jesus (John 1:35–40) and personally connected people to Jesus in two instances noted in Scripture. First, he went and brought Peter to Jesus as well (John 1:41), and, second, he later brought some Greeks to Jesus (John 12:20–22), allowing them to hear from Him how to have eternal life (John 12:23–24).

All it takes for someone to meet Jesus is for us to speak to that person and bring him to Christ. We can introduce him to Christ through the Scriptures, and if they believe, they, too, will see His face one day (Revelation 22:4).

Be willing to serve in tough circumstances.

Andrew showed himself faithful in an interesting way in the feeding of the five thousand. This crowd listened to Jesus teach long enough to need food (John 6:1–6, 10). When Jesus pressed the disciples with the people’s need, Philip could only think of the money involved while Andrew searched for food and pointed out a boy’s meal of five loaves and two fish (John 6:7–9). While Andrew himself was perplexed at what to do with such a small number of items for so many people (John 6:9, “What are they for so many?”), he at least did something. It was these same loaves and fish that Jesus used to miraculously feed the crowd (John 6:11).

Like Andrew, we must be willing to serve in tough circumstances, even if we do not know a difficult situation will be resolved. Faithfully serve, and God is perfectly capable of resolving any situation in His own time and in His own way.

Jesus Christ, Our Great God and Savior

Titus 2:11–14 gives us the reason for why we should live as godly men and women, old or young, and in our places of service (cf. Titus 2:1–10)—the saving grace of God has appeared in the person of Jesus Christ to teach us how to live godly lives. Part of this godly life is to expect our Lord Jesus Christ to appear again. Titus 2:13 describes us as “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” In the last phrase of this clause, we find one of Scripture’s strongest declarations of the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is not just our Savior and the Christ, but He is also “our great God.”

Some prefer to understand “our great God” to refer to the Father. If this is the case, Jesus is identified as both the glory of the Father and as our Savior Jesus Christ. However, five reasons suggest “our great God” also refers to Jesus Christ.1

First, one article before both “God and Savior” ties these two titles together as one and the same. The text literally reads “the glory of the great God and Savior of us Jesus Christ.” The glory that appears, then, is Him who is God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Second, several passages similarly identify Jesus as God. John 1:1 and 1:18 identify Jesus as the Word who is God at the Father’s side. Thomas identified “him” as “My Lord and my God!” in John 20:28. Acts 20:28 mentions “the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” Romans 9:5 identifies Christ as “God over all.” 2 Peter 1:1 speaks of a righteousness that belongs to “our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Third, using references from just the Pastoral Epistles, while it is true that the Father is identified as our Savior (1 Timothy 2:3; Titus 1:3; 3:4), Jesus is identified as Savior as well (2 Timothy 1:10; Titus 1:4; 3:6).

Fourth, if it was the Father’s grace in Christ to appear in Titus 2:11 and not the Father Himself, so also would we expect the “appearing” in Titus 2:13 to refer to Christ as well. Just as Mathew 25:31 refers to the final descent of Christ as when He “comes in His glory,” so also Titus 2:13 refers to Christ’s coming appearance as glory itself.

Fifth, Paul likely used a well-known phrase and applied it to Jesus Christ. “God and Savior” could refer to leaders or even the emperor, and Paul’s use of the phrase identified Christ as the only One who should properly receive such a title.

Whether using Titus 2:13 or one of the passages above, one truth is certain—the man Christ Jesus is also God. May the Father’s grace through Him continue to change us to be more like His Son, especially as we wait for Him to come again.

  1. See especially William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles (Word Biblical Commentary 46; Dallas, TX: Word, 2000), 426–31, and John F. MacArthur, Jr., Titus (MacArthur New Testament Commentary; Chicago: Moody Press, 1996), 120–21. []

“The Wonder and Walk of Being in Christ”: An Overview of Ephesians

Background and Setting for Ephesians

Paul first visited Ephesus towards the end of his second missionary journey, leaving Priscilla and Aquila behind (Acts 18:18–19; AD 51). They likely evangelized in Ephesus, and Apollos made some disciples as well (cf. Acts 18:24–19:7). Paul returned (AD 54) to find this core of believers (Acts 19:1–7), evangelized further (Acts 19:8–10), and saw the hand of God at work (Acts 19:11–20; cf. 19:10, 20). Unbelievers there greatly opposed the gospel (Acts 19:21–41; 20:19), and Paul left shortly thereafter (Acts 20:1). Paul had lived Ephesus for three years (Acts 20:31). He bid a final farewell to the Ephesian elders at Miletus during later travels (Acts 20:17–38).

Paul wrote Ephesians during his first Roman imprisonment (Acts 28:30–31; AD 61). He would later wrote 1 and 2 Timothy (AD 64 and 66), both obviously to Timothy who was in Ephesus at the time (cf. 1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:18; 4:12). The apostle John later addressed Ephesus and six other churches (Revelation 2:1–7).

Tychicus, likely an Ephesian (cf. Acts 20:4), carried Ephesians (Ephesians 6:21–22) along with two letters written at the same time, Colossians (Colossians 4:7–8) and Philemon (cf. Colossians 4:9 with Philemon 10). The ministry of Tychicus was similar to that of Timothy (cf. 2 Timothy 4:12) and Titus (cf. Titus 3:12).

In writing to the Ephesians, Paul likely heard from Tychicus how the Ephesians were doing and of their angst for him in prison (cf. Ephesians 1:15; 3:1, 13; 6:21–22). Having known them for 6 or 7 years at this point, and having been with them for about half of that time, Paul wrote to encourage them in a very doctrinal and practical way—his suffering was for their glory and the promotion of the gospel (Ephesians 3:13, 6:19–20).

Overview of Ephesians

If I could boil Ephesians into a few words to say to us today, as simple as they may be, it would be this: You are in Christ—know what this means, and walk like Him.

What follows is an elaboration of this summary. I try to briefly capture the major thoughts of each passage in Ephesians, spoken to us today.

We wish all the faithful in Christ grace and peace (Ephesians 1:1–2) and especially bless the Father for all the salvation blessings that He gives to us in Christ (Ephesians 1:3–14). Knowing these blessings, we should pray for one another to better understand the hope, riches, and power that are to us through Christ (Ephesians 1:15–23). Whereas we were once dead in sins, God made us alive in Christ in order to know His saving grace both now and forever (Ephesians 2:1–10). As Gentiles, our new life resulted in peace with God and becoming joint-citizens with all who are in the household of God (Ephesians 2:11–21). This amazing display of God’s wisdom to the heavens is the basis whereby we pray for one another to be spiritually strengthened in order to understand more fully the love of Christ to us (Ephesians 3:1–21). Being united in salvation, we must walk together in spiritual unity, serve according to God’s grace to each of us, and thereby bring all to maturity in Christ (Ephesians 4:1–16). We therefore walk not as we were without Christ but with love, being like Him in every way (Ephesians 4:17–5:2). We walk not in darkness but wisely, as children of light who are filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:3–21). This Spirit-filled walk extends to how we relate as husbands and wives (Ephesians 5:22–33), children and fathers (Ephesians 6:1–4), and servants and masters (Ephesians 6:5–9). We stay strong in the Lord by wearing His armor (Ephesians 6:10–20), encourage one another, and wish each other peace, love, faith, and grace (Ephesians 6:21–24).

Wisdom and Instruction Concerning the Kings of Men

Proverbs and Kings

What follows below in this section is simply a brief summary of the verses in Proverbs mentioning a “king” or “kings.”

  • The glory of kings is their people, and their ruin is to lose them (14:28; 30:31).
  • To keep the favor of the king and to avoid his wrath, one should be wise, righteous and gracious in speech, pure in heart, skillful in work, and respectful of his office. One should not be shameful, disloyal, or self-promoting (14:35; 16:13–15; 19:12; 20:2; 20:26; 22:11, 29; 24:21–22; 25:6–7).
  • God expects a king to rule with wisdom (8:15), uphold His Word in judgment (16:10), do no evil (16:11), rid the land of evil (20:8, 26), investigate matters diligently (25:2), listen to righteous counsel (25:4–5), be just, refuse bribes (29:4), faithfully judge the poor (29:14), be prepared (30:22), and forsake immorality and drunkenness (31:3). Kings should be those whose bits of wisdom are proverbial for the land (1:1; 25:1; 31:1).
  • God is sovereign over kings (20:28) and their hearts (21:1) and is the only One who truly knows their motivations (25:3).

From the NT, whoever our kings may be…

The Life of Paul After Acts

What follows below is an attempt to figure out where Paul went after his first imprisonment in Rome.1 These travels of Paul are based on statements in Acts and the letters of Paul that indicate his intended or actual travels at this time. Especially helpful are the Prison Epistles since they were written during Paul’s two years in Rome, AD 60–62 (Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, Philippians; Acts 28:30), just before his release. Also helpful are the letters written after Acts and during the time of these travels (1 Timothy and Titus  in AD 66, 2 Timothy in AD 68). If Paul was released in AD 62 and wrote 2 Timothy just before his death (cf. 2 Timothy 4:6–8), then Paul’s life after Acts continued for 5 or 6 more years.

After the events in Paul’s life in Acts 28, Paul stood before Caesar (Emperor Nero) in Rome as promised (Acts 27:24), probably in AD 62. Tradition tells us that he was released from his imprisonment, probably due to his innocence (cf. Acts 23:29; 25:25; 26:32). Already in Rome, he could have visited the believers there as he intended (Romans 15:24, 28), having met some of them already (Acts 28:15–16; cf. 28:30).

Being on the western coast of Italy, Paul may have then taken the gospel further west to Spain (Romans 15:24, 28) and stayed there for some time, maybe a year or two (AD 62–64), taking the gospel where it had not gone before (cf. Romans 15:14–21). Or, if Philippians 2:24 and Philemon 22 indicate Paul’s haste to visit Philippi and Philemon, Paul’s trip to Spain may have taken place later. Either way, we lean on tradition and not an explicit statement in Scripture that the trip indeed took place. But tradition suggests that Paul went to Spain just after being released.

If Paul did complete a missionary trip to Spain, he could have then sailed east along the northern coast of Africa and under Cicily to eventually land on Crete where he and Titus evangelized the island (Titus 1:5). Leaving Titus there, he could have gone north to Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20) and visited Philemon in Colossae thereafter (Philemon 22).

Not stopping in Ephesus (cf. Acts 20:38), Paul sent Timothy there while Paul traveled to the region of Macedonia (1 Timothy 1:3). While on the way, he left some items at Troas (2 Timothy 4:13) and then stayed in Philippi as he intended (Philippians 2:24). Paul may have then stayed in Nicopolis during the winter as he had hoped (Titus 3:12). He could have also visited Corinth at this time (2 Timothy 4:20), or maybe he traveled through there after being arrested and taken to Rome. Though many did not stand by him at this time (2 Timothy 4:16), the Lord Jesus did (2 Timothy 4:17; cf. Acts 23:11). Tradition tells us that Paul stayed in the Mamertine Prison and was beheaded in AD 68.

  1. The years and timeline here is primarily based on traditional, conservative dating for the NT’s events and letters and especially on William Combs, “The Life and Ministry of Paul” (course notes, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, Spring 2007), 79, and Robet E. Picirilli, Paul the Apostle (Chicago: Moody, 2017), 241–62. []

Developing Teachers and Leaders in Our Church

The church’s mission church is simple—make disciples (Matthew 28:18–20). Within this mission, pastor-teachers teach others to teach the Word: “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).

Teaching takes place formally and includes directly teaching doctrine, but teaching takes place informally as well. A family teaches the leader when he is young, the church instructs him as well, and leaders then train these men to take their place in time. Consider two examples from Scripture.

First, consider Jesus and the disciples. Mark 3:13–15 speaks of how Jesus developed the disciples according to preference (“those whom he desired”), presence (“so that they might be with him”), preaching (“send them out to preach”) and power (“send them out…to cast out demons”). He singled out potential leaders, shared His life and ministry with them, and trained them to serve others.

Second, consider Paul and Timothy. Thanks to the ministry of Timothy’s family and his church (Acts 16:1–2; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15), Timothy earned for himself a good reputation of character and being knowledgeable of the Scriptures. As a result, “Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him” (Acts 16:3). Then, Paul’s teaching and example developed Timothy all the more (cf. Philippians 2:19–24). Like Jesus and the disciples, Paul chose Timothy, shared his life and ministry with him, and trained him to serve others.

It is easy to plan formal teaching. Informal training—letting one’s life impact another by spending time together—this training must be planned as well, something formally informal. If our church is going to develop leaders, both formal and informal training are essential. The pastors teach those who can teach, and by building relationships with these men in other settings, they pass on their way of life as well—their character, their wisdom, and more.

Seeing the value of formal and informal training, our pastors will begin a program next year entitled “Entrusting Faithful Men.” Those who teach the church will read through a volume a year of Rolland McCune’s Systematic Theology and meet at least six times each year to discuss what we are learning. Any men besides are welcome to join. Our church has a fund to provide these books to the men in order to invest in them and thus our church. Our pastors will meet informally with these men as well.

As it applies to the church, expect somebody new to try his hand at teaching from time to time. Pray that God would raise up teachers and leaders in our midst. If nothing else, just as we pray for our women to faithfully serve, love their husbands, and raise godly children, pray also for our men to know the Word and be better husbands, fathers, and examples. May the Lord bless our church as we are mindful to develop teachers and leaders in our midst.

A Testimony from Teaching Some Teachers

What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2 ESV).

This past week, I had the privilege of leading six men through a Doctor of Ministry class at Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC: “The Theology and Development of Leadership.” They were from Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. The time zones from my location in Rockford, IL, were either two hours back, one hour ahead, thirteen hours ahead, or fourteen hours ahead. While some were just seeing the sun, some had already seen it go down. Their roles as leaders include the following: a “retired” missionary from Paraguay, now serving in the States; an assistant pastor who also presides over a Bible college; an assistant pastor who oversees a counseling center in two locations; a senior pastor who also has a counseling center in his church; an assistant pastor who might become his church’s senior pastor within the next few years; and a pastor who recently relocated from one country to another.

I stayed up late each night, compiling as much as I could for these men. The best resource was simply the Scripture itself. We looked at the Testaments Old and New and especially focused on New Testament passages that taught about leaders and their development. We met together for thirty hours over the course of five days—four hours on Monday, eight on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and two on Friday.  Due to COVID-19, instead of meeting in Greenville, we connected via Zoom, a video program that allowed everyone to see and hear each other at the same time. We could even share our computer screens as desired, which was helpful when the men gave presentations about leaders from church history and when I simply taught through my own notes for the majority of the time.

The presentations and class discussions taught me much as well. I may have been the instructor, but these men had been called by God to teach in their churches and therefore had something to offer themselves. I was especially glad to listen to the “students” crowned with gray.

The greatest thing that prepared me to teach this class was simply becoming and being a pastor. Parents, brothers, pastors, and others invested their lives in me, especially the senior pastor at my previous church. Preaching the Word, pastoring, and being sharpened by others—these things and more go into what makes a pastor a pastor and a Christian leader a leader.

From the missionary now in the States: “This class has transformed my thinking, increased my understanding, and burned in my heart the desire to study God’s Word more.” Teachers should teach teachers. Iron sharpens iron-sharpening iron. All of us have something to teach and learn from one another. All glory be to God.

May the Lord be gracious to raise up leaders in all of our churches, and may we be mindful to teach these men so that they can teach others as well.