A Solemn Charge to BPCWA (Part 2)

Dear BPCWA worshipper, We continue this week with the concluding summary of the sermon commemorating our 36th church anniversary. Last week, we saw how God has indisputably purposed for the Church to be part of His eternal plan in Christ Jesus, who loved her and gave Himself for her. This being the case, then Christians should have high regard for the church and make it part of their duty to ensure that it continues as God’s plans. Sadly, many Christians today don’t care much about the church. Some others who do express concern about the church instead are more concerned about the church meeting their personal preferences or desires. But the church is God’s, and we must follow God’s purpose for it. This week, we need to understand the serious charge by God for His churches.

God’s charge to the church pastor.  What the Bible charges the pastor of the church with is God’s measure of the pastor. The Apostle Paul charged the pastor to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim 4:2). 1) Constant preaching and teaching of the Word. This is what the church needs, not a pastor who keeps going out, visiting houses, being kind, and helping the people. While it doesn’t mean that the pastor should not be like this and shouldn’t do these things, the core measure that God requires of the pastor is first and foremost to preach and teach. That is what the pastor must focus on and must do well because it builds up God’s people and hence His church. 2) Reprove, which means to expose errors. This is not just about erroneous doctrines, but also sins that imperil lives. The pastor cannot be a man-pleaser, saying only nice things to the people and avoiding displeasing anyone. As we saw last week, God’s purpose for the church is to have godly Christians. This is where reproving is needed to point out your sins so that you will know how to live. If the church is made up of ungodly individuals, there will be no godly church. These sins go beyond doctrinal errors and heresies, including sins such as those listed in 2 Tim 3:2-5, sins that trouble the church in the perilous end times. 3) Rebuke, which means to scold severely and even to warn of discipline.  This is needed when you won’t respond to reproof. It is just like parents who may tell their children to change their bad behaviour. But if after repeated times of reproving the child refuses to change, then the rod of chastisement may be the next needed step. This is part of the charge on the pastor to prevent sins that will spread like leaven in the church. 4) Exhort, which means to go alongside and talk to them, encouraging them with longsuffering and doctrine. While it means that the pastor should not get upset even if they get angry responses, it does not mean tolerating ungodliness. Sadly, while many agree with these concepts in principle, it is altogether a different matter when that same principle is applied practically to their lives. Despite that, it is important for the pastor to address these since ungodliness in the church spreads. This is the pastor’s charge before God and the Lord Jesus Christ. The soundness in doctrine and living depends on the pastor fulfilling these charges, though they can certainly be unpleasant to the flesh. Will you vote for a pastor who fulfils these charges?

God’s charge to the church. God’s church is for His people. In conjunction with the charge to the pastor, there is a corresponding charge to the congregation as well. Everyone in the church must respond and not be what God warns in 2 Tim 4:3-4 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 1) Endure sound doctrine. Endure means to stand for and to change to do what is right. Every worshipper must compare their lives with the Word. If any part of our lives deviates from God’s Word, we must straighten it and walk aright again. The spiritual growth of the church depends on whether people will respond to walk in the truth after learning the Truth. 2) Put away your lusts. Lusts are to fulfil our own flesh. Putting aside lusts means you will not hold on to your own ideas and personal desires to live for yourself, but instead live according to God’s Word and live for God. You make up the church and affect the church, so you cannot just think that “it’s my personal / family choice.” Our disobedient ways have an impact on God’s church. Is this a hard saying? 3) Turn your ears to, not from the truth. This is a ploy that Satan uses very frequently and very effectively. You listen to the teaching and like the teaching only when it agrees with you and your life. Conversely, you have itching ears if you reject, turn away, and refuse to change when you hear your own sins being preached about, following “your own heart” instead. When the pastor touches on something that isn’t so soothing to your ear, you get offended and may even leave the church. Or even if you do not leave the church, you may inwardly reject everything that is preached from the pulpit. None should ever seek to introduce contemporary music to satisfy the younger generation. Moreover, for the Truth to continue to be heard, the church must be militant to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered (Jude 1:3). If you don’t contend, there won’t be truth and there certainly won’t be a sound church. Every generation must be contending for the truth. My great concern for BPCWA is whether the next generation will be interested in defending God’s Word. Will they just have a “live and let live” attitude?

The centrality of the church in believers’ lives. As you have seen from the above, the church is central to God’s plan and eternal purposes. It is no wonder that Satan would continually seek to plot and scheme to diminish the importance of the church, especially to Christians. When he succeeds, the Christian will have little of God’s Truth in his life, will consequently reject faithful preaching, and will fail God as a result. In the Old Testament, the instruction for the tabernacle and worship was central to all the tribes. God instituted the priests and Levites to teach the children about Him and His Word and to pass on His truth to successive generations. Today in God’s plan, the faithful local church must be the centre of worship and instruction of the Christian.

Our duty of care to those that follow.  Paul was concerned for the future of the churches after his death. Do you and I have such concern for the next generations? We all must if we love Christ. When our generation fails, the future generation will also fail Christ more miserably. A faithful church exists and survives only if the pastor fulfils the charge upon Him and the congregation responds accordingly. God gives pastors now to teach His word in the church. I pray that through the understanding of God’s eternal design and purpose, every worshipper in BPCWA will understand and be fully convicted that the church is not an optional appendix to their life. Knowing this, may we work together to keep BPCWA faithful to His purpose. Paul did what he could to ensure sound churches perpetuate. We too must have such a spirit. We can do our part by ensuring that BPCWA always has pastors that will fulfill these charges instead of seeking those who will not so that we can our lives as we like on earth. It is fully in our control to live lives that respond aright to the Word if it is faithfully preached.

What we have covered was Paul’s charge to Timothy, the pastor of the Ephesian church. Paul fought the good fight and finished his course well. Timothy didn’t fail. The Ephesian church had a stellar number of pastors. It was pastored by the Apostle Paul, Timothy, and the Apostle John. But where is the Ephesian church today? Along the way, it stopped loving the Lord and His truth. May every generation learn from this church that failed, and stand up to uphold and live out God’s truth in BPCWA out of love for our Lord!

Ho, my comrades, see the signal, Waving in the sky!
Reinforcements now appearing, Victory is nigh.

“Hold the fort, for I am coming,” Jesus signals still;
Wave the answer back to heaven, “By Thy grace we will.”  

Yours in our Lord’s service,