In the last few verses of 1 Timothy 4: 11-16 we discover the beginnings or pattern of the Christian Church service. We do have a description of  a church service written by Justin Martyr in defense of Christianity in the year AD 170. (First Apology, 1:67) We learn from this that there were four things in these first services. There should be readings and explanation of the Scripture. People gather together to hear and learn God’s word, not the opinion of the day or even the preacher’s opinions. A Christian service is to be Bible centered. Those of us who read and study the Bible know it is a difficult book and explanation or well structured study is necessary to understand the written word. The Christian doctrine is not easily understood or applied to our everyday lives. Encouraging others to live a christian life requires that we have a hope and a reason to believe that we can articulate to others. We must share a lasting faith brought about and grounded in a teaching ministry. In the Christian worship service there should always be exhortation with a call for action. The Christian message should always contain something to be done. Our faith should be one that leads to action and does not lie dormant until next week with the closing hymn. William Barclay writes this“Christianity is truth, but it is truth in action.”  Lastly but not by any means the lesser of the other three is the importance of prayer. We meet in the presence of God,  seek the Spirit of God and when we part take the power of God out into the world. There will be no action or accomplishment without the help and leading of the Spirit.

As we bring this chapter to close we have four things of a more personal nature. There are a few unusual points here and I leave them to your discernment. A christian leader is set apart for a special task by the church. Their duty is to work to grow and strengthen the church and the faith. The current commentary I am using stresses that this work cannot be done away from the church because their commission came from the church. The building of the church is best done by a settled ministry, not a traveling ministry. I think here is a warning to not be close minded, becoming lazy not thinking things through. Becoming stuck in one groove and ignoring the possibilities of new truths, new methods, or a fresh way to restate the faith in a modern contemporary way, can lead to stagnation. I for one believe that there is a limit to such thinking and I will leave it at that. The important thing here is to not be so closed minded that we do not seek the leading of the Holy Spirit. The next is focus… we must not lose our ability to concentrate on those things God has charged us with. We should not waste our time on those things that are not central to the faith. It is the duty of a Christian leader to concentrate on those things that build the church, its people and Glorify God. There is the duty of progress or as Methodists leaders are asked, “are you going on to perfection?” Have we grown enough in Christ that others can see that and can we lead others to Christ better this year than last? Progress in mind, body and soul is necessary to serve Christ, we must grow more daily to be like him. I hope this short journey through Timothy has been enlightening for you and you will come back next week as we turn the page and move on through the Good News!

Life is Good