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August 2, 2021 7:00 pm
Dr. Ken Casillas begins the Seminary Chapel series studying Acts 20 with a message titled “Pay Careful Attention to Your Own Lives,” from Acts 20:28.
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, beginning a study of acts chapter 20 in seminary chapel and today speakers Dr. Ken Casillas, one of the seminary professors in the various emphases of these messages. This is perhaps the most personal one as far as the walk of the man of God in his personal life is godliness and is there at the beginning of verse 28 will read it here in just a moment. Those of you who are parents will appreciate the stage of life that I find myself in and then going through teaching them how to drive and it's got to be so stressful that I put one of them on hold and is focusing on one of them at a time. If you've ever had that experience of being in a car and nearly losing your life and wrecking your property.
You appreciate the stressfulness of that and how intense it can be when you're trying to get somebody to stay on the road to pay attention all the different things that go on and to learn the skill and we take so much for that for granted. Once your driving for a while this is all these different things happening at one of the same time, you'll really think about it, but when you're learning it for the first time really is a bit daunting. It is overwhelming. And a lot of it has to do, which is staying alert. In fact I'm I'm at a point where I just keep saying to my son. You've got to be constantly vigilant and talk to me that way.
Don't be too laid-back about this.
Yes, there's gonna be a day when you're more comfortable and you can sort of assume certain things and I'll be on the edge of your seat so much of a particular right now you're just your new, you don't know what you're doing you got to be attentive to every little thing. Pay attention.
Constant vigilance that really is the thrust of this statement here that we find in acts 2028 when Paul continuing to speak to the elders in Ephesus say it says to them.
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers in the King James version that begins by saying, take heed therefore unto yourselves in the ESV, which I'm using today it says pay careful attention to yourselves as the verb cross echo which has to do with alertness. It has to do with being cautious and staying awake to whatever possibilities may be surrounding you. In fact, a number of times is talking about dangers that are out there and it is actually translated beware like Jesus says in Matthew 715 beware of false prophets who are dressed in sheep's clothing low.
Naida defined this as follows that this is to be, and can in a continuous state of readiness.
A continuous state of readiness to learn of any future danger need or error and to be able to respond appropriately to pay attention to keep on the lookout for to be alert for and to be on guard on one's guard against depending on the subject at hand. The nuance of the verb whether it has this guarding or guarding against idea. It may be that were maybe more general idea of alertness. Dr. Stites is Artie talked to us about being alert as far as the, the flock is concerned, he dealt with as at the end. Last semester today looking at the first part pay careful attention to yourselves those thinking back on the messages been preached in the series. It struck me that we have been doing something that we actually don't do a whole lot of fun around here that will teach very much, and that is textual preaching where you basically pick up a line or an emphasis in a passage and sort of burrow in really deep on one concept, but your pulling your content from all over the Scriptures and it struck me that there are passages in Scripture where there is so much truth packed in and the ideas are so pregnant and there's so much material from throughout the Scripture, that this is a very helpful approach.
There's a lot that the apostle Paul had in mind. And he develops these themes in a lot of other places and so we are slowing down and we're breaking this down and looking at that that the light of the rest of Scripture on these particular statements and as I thought about that for this one to pay careful attention to yourself. It really wasn't hard to think of what would be the place to go where the apostle Paul develops is the most is actually in first and second Timothy and there is some overlap between those two books and what we're looking at here. Next, ever 20 those books written maybe five or six years after this incident where he was addressing the elders of emphasis on the last time that he was in a see them. And as it turns out Timothy in later years would also be in the same lookout and he would have the same responsibilities and of the same challenges and it's almost like Paul took as a theme for that book.
What he said to these men and accepted 20 and and teased it out and and and develop it further. In first Timothy and then in second Timothy. In fact, first Timothy chapter 416 says this. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching persistent is for. By so doing you will save both yourself and your peers in the verb there at the beginning. Keep a close watch. It is not tobacco that were seeing in X. 20 but it is a parallel word processor echo and almost wonder was was Paul reflecting back on what he challenges other men about and picking up on that.
The words mean basically the same thing and he is urging Timothy about this same theme and I think we understand that the pastoral epistles week we look at them as though they were manuals for local church leadership and church structure and that sort of thing and there's plenty of that instruction about how to pastor the church but when you look at it all together you come to realize this book is also and maybe even more so is chock-full of exhortations to Timothy himself about his personal life and how foundational his personal life is to being a minister, you may be familiar with Spurgeon's lectures to my students and he opens those lectures is first one is precisely on this topic and it's entitled the ministers self watch. Here's what he has to say.
It will be in vain for me to stock my library or organize societies or project schemes. If I neglect the culture of myself for books and agencies and systems are only remotely the instruments of my holy calling, that the way that we think about the ministry and even our preparation for here in the seminary and we speak about the tools that were trying to give you the factly that you're gathering up the skills which are developing as Spurgeon looks at all that he says those kinds of things as important as they are really our only remotely the instruments of my holy calling. He goes on to say my own spirit, soul and body are my nearest machinery for sacred service.
My spiritual faculties my inner life or my battle ax and weapons of war goes on to quote the famous line from Robert Murray McShane is not great talents God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus, a holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God. That was Paul's burden here next 20 and it was Paul's burden and for second Timothy and what I've done is to read through those two books is to epistles and just compile all of the different statements that are developing this idea and that to categorize and try to give me some way to think through them to get my mind around them and to begin applying them to my life and as I put all that together, I was reminded of a man in our church is a radiologist and I've been learning a little bit about what he does in terms of staring four hours at images on a screen, and analyzing what's going on inside people's bodies and when you go in force a CT scan you're getting this 360° x-ray of the inner parts of your body will end up working altogether being combined into a 3D image of what's going on in there whatever problem it is a church struggling with and there is a depth to this image and the radiologist will sit there and go through hundreds or thousands of layers of slices of these pictures as I analyze sort of from the outside again and keep going deeper into and more precisely analyzing the problem that people are suffering with was. I put all this together. It struck me that that would be a great way a helpful way to organize this material because some of these teachings about the self watch of the minister there on one level and they are important, but there are other levels will walk us through from sort of the superficial and very visible level to down to the more fundamental elements along the way I want to keep quoting Spurgeon. I don't feel that I'm an authority on the subject by any means, but I think that he probably was. And I think will do well to hear from him to start on the visible when a start on the external the surface. The very obvious and that is first of all here to pay careful attention to your behavior.
Your conduct your lifestyle how you carry out your life and run away.
Perhaps what comes to mind are those are qualifications of Paul gives for elders and first of the chapter 300 is read a lot of Scripture this morning, and in that list of qualifications and hope you're very familiar with. He says an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, respectable, hospitable, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome. He goes on to say, must manage his own household well, first of the chapter 4 verse 12.
Let no one despise you for your youth and it seems to be, he throws that in there because people actually do tend to think little thoughts of young people and it's normal that they should because they are immature.
That's what it means to be young and so people have bigger and greater and more honorable thoughts of older people who have the maturity to have the experience and you Timothy relative to apparently the people in his church. Most of them. He is on the younger end of the scale and what is it going to require was to be required for him to us to have a credible sort of ministry were those people even though he is younger are to be willing to listen to him and to view him as Lord spokesman in that church.
Paul says let no one despise you for your youth and then he gets to the conduct and he says, set the believers. An example specifically here in speech and conduct, and later on in second Timothy chapter 2 verse 24, 25, he says more about the speech part, especially the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind everyone patiently enduring evil correcting his opponents with gentleness. Those going through this. I was trying to think of ways that I could maybe sub categorize these different elements of behavior or whatever else and every bit challenging. I'm sure you could do it if you stared at it long enough, but the reality is that it's hard to separate these things from one another. They are overlapping and they informed each other as Paul develops them in some of his list is just all over the map. There's no real sequence.
A parent or categorization going on but as I thought about the verses that I just read for you. It seemed to me that nevertheless there was an emphasis in what Paul said when it comes to the conduct of the leader of the minister and that is that most of those items have something to do with relationships with people in terms of your conduct. Listen to the sorts of things.
He highlights your speech how you talk to them and how you come across in communicating with them your faithfulness particular to your wife and your devotion that that that that the solid nests of your commitment to her how you manage those who are under your authority, starting with your children. He talks about not being quarrelsome your attitude vertically when there tensions or disagreements or uncomfortable conversations. There's a spirit of gentleness that characterizes the way that you come across when you're dealing with difficult topics or even difficult people and makes the point that there is a lot more that is necessary in terms of our conduct than just what we are doing in ministry here in seminary. In this context were so focused on the content of the Bible on the theology of the Bible on our ministry activities and preaching and so forth, and without minimizing any of that the apostle Paul's concern seems to be more and what we would call soft skills infecting those qualifications in chapter 3 are probably aware of this was only one that has to do with actual ministry specifically that it apt to teach, but everything else has to do with your conduct and especially your interactions with people on a personal level. Maybe that will adjust the way that we think about what is before us in ministry and and what are to be our concern as we strive to prepare for the weather. It is our relationship to these other areas of behavior listen to what Spurgeon had to say. Since so many helpful analogies he says is with us and our hearers at is as it is with watches and the public clock if our watch. Be wrong. Very few will be missed led by it but ourselves. But if the horse guards or Greenwich Observatory should go miss half of London would lose its reckoning. So is it with the minister. He is the parish clock. Many take their time from him and if he be incorrect in all go wrongly, more or less, and he is in a great measure accountable for all the sin which he occasions by his poor example pay careful attention to your behavior. Now that's a critical point and it is the starting point.
But the reality is anything about what I just said any educated, well-trained loss person who grew up in a good home or went to some kind of school, where they emphasized your conduct any loss person could display a lot of those kinds of activities as a member.
Consider what is it that distinguishes what were talking about from just a general secular good or effective person. When you go deeper and so we come to the second category pay careful attention not only to your behavior but to your character.
This is the next level. This is looking at it more from the internal this is what we call virtue. These are internal traits and dispositions that lead you to the right conduct wearing a stop there right now to go deeper. But this is the next level. Pay careful attention to your character and so here much about the verses also from first of the three sober minded self-control again for first of the 412. As far as the example that we said it is not just in our speech in our conduct but also in our faith and our purity is a famous statement for Smitty 612 where Paul urges him fight the good fight of faith take hold of eternal life. This restatement is very stirring is very encouraging to find yourself challenge and wanting to do this I was. I really mean what is it look like to fight the good fight of faith. It seems to me that that is a follow-up exhortation that's more general and it is more metaphorical to describe what he said in the previous verse which was this pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness, and what he says fight the good fight he saying get serious about going after those kinds of character traits in your life.
Here's another famous statement. Second, to the chapter 1 verse seven God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control, then you have the well-known analogies.
The four of them there, and second of the chapter 2 verses 3 to 6 share in suffering as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuit since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the cross and those have their own distinctive emphasis but they're all related as well.
He's talking about enduring under difficult circumstances. He's talking about having a single-minded focus on what the Lord has given you to do he start about your integrity in the process and your hard work like the farmer you're being diligent you're not being laid-back about the ministry and what the Lord has put in your hands on to say about that.
I remember hearing this very often. When I was in the University in seminary as well. When you look at those kind of traits those are not suddenly just going to appear out of nowhere in your life the day you get hard to be a pastor.
These kinds of things take nurturing. They take the time they take instruction they take accountability. Often they come out of failure and that's another way that we need to be looking at our seminary education, even down to the minutia of the academic requirements. This is a calling God has put in my hands and therefore I view it as something I am pursuing with all my heart with the greatest amount of diligence that by his grace I can put into this and is not just about getting a greater is not about impressing people is actually about through this whole process becoming the kind of person developing the kind of character that Paul is urging upon ministers here. You don't just wake up one day with these things in your life and then later on in second Timothy chapter 2, he talks about people naming the name of the Lord departing from iniquity, and he gives another image about these vessels of gold and silver, and some for honorable use and suffered dishonorable using the idea of cleansing from the dishonorable so that would be set apart as holy useful to the master, ready for every good work.
Again, you say let's metaphorical and very encouraging to what does that mean to. He's gonna put it in more concrete terms, so verse 22 very flee youthful passions. There are things that are going to corrupt your character.
There are things that are going to compromise you morally.
There are things you need be running away from as fast as you possibly can in our day and age preachers get weary sometimes almost embarrassed about continuing to bring up these applications about pornography and the Internet and other ways in which we could be inappropriately involved sexually relationship with members of the opposite sex is a reason the Bible keeps talking about this and these temptations are everywhere. You can hardly go a day without being confronted with the temptation we need to be urged as Paul urged Timothy more regularly. Even so flee youthful passions yet you can't live on negatives only of this stop doing certain things. It was all right to say in a positive, here's the other side pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, or as he said in chapter 3 verses 10, 11, looking back on things Timothy had already demonstrated his life. You have followed my teaching, conduct aim in life. A patient's love, steadfastness, endurance and persecution and suffering. Secondly, four, five. As for you, always be sober minded endure suffering a great study to look closely at all of these individual Greek words rundown their usages define them from Alexa can really make them a focal point in terms of your seminary education just like user to click through your checksheet and send out this requirement. In this class and this other thing I can do in order to graduate. Here is sort of the Lord's checksheet when it comes to your character.
He has laid out quite explicitly in great detail in first and second Timothy pay careful attention to your character and we come to another consideration a deeper level here because somebody has to what to seek those things. There is an element of desire of longing and even loving of those qualities that that moves you to seek them and their different words for this, we tend to call them your spiritual affections, but basing on the language of Paul. I would put in these terms. Pay careful attention to your heart. There something more foundational even than your character.
That is, your desires and what drives you to seek these qualities listen to these statements very quickly for Sunday 15 and six.
The aim of our charges law that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith again. He said the first of the one about fighting the good fight of good warfare. How do you do that. Verse 19 of chapter 1 holding by holding faith in a good conscience affect some people have started to ignore their conscience or their conscience becomes compromised and as a result of what happens is they end up making shipwreck of their faith. One of the specific elements of this love aspect is not to be a lover of money for 73 figure 3 he speaks of people on the other side.
In chapter 4, describing them as the insincerity of liars, whose consciences are seared. Also discussing motives to get to chapter 6 and he speaks of people being puffed up with conceit or who think that godliness is a means of gaining money in the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils and so Timothy, you old man of God, flee run away from those things as well. That could end up corrupting the desires of your heart. Paul has a testimony that he himself secondly 13 was serving the Lord of the clean conscience and he's encouraged to think about Timothy Singley 15 as being characterized by a sincere faith.
You think back on all those things and I was struck by how many times the apostle Paul is dealing with this idea of sincerity and keeping a clear conscience that that is a vital part of keeping your heart is responding to your conscience is taking seriously when the Lord brings awareness of some need or some failure and what you can do to respond to his working within you. Part of keeping your heart is to keep a clean conscience. Here's another little vignette from Spurgeon, he says, traveling one day by express from Perth and bro on a Sunday we came to a dead stop because a very small screw in one of the engines. A very small screw in one of the engines everywhere really locomotive consisting virtually of two engines had been broken. A single screw had been broken and when we started again. We were obliged to crawl along with one piston rod at work instead of two. Only a small screw is gone if they had been run out right. The train would've rushed along its iron Road but the absent of the absence of that insignificant piece of iron. This arranged the whole train is said to have been stopped on one of the United States roadways by flies in the grease boxes of the carriage wheels. He says the analogy is perfect. A man in all other respects fitted to be useful may by some small defect. The exceedingly hindered or even rendered utterly useless about those flies in that engine or that one small screw that was messed up embedded that in terms of areas of conscience that we tend to be so slow to respond to the Lord about and how that really does greatly hinder and slow our ministry. You think too much about these categories and your to be overwhelmed. There's a lot here I'm just reading verses make a few comments along the way. One of things.
It was so encouraging to me is to keep in perspective with what Paul said in first of the 415 practice these things immerse yourself in them so that all may see your progress.
It wears on these areas is not about perfection is about whether you are seriously pursuing these elements and whether you're making progress. So much so that people can see that and at the end of the day.
People want a person of integrity, leading them and they're willing to accept failure depending on the nature of it, but they certainly want to see as the foundation for their trust in you that you are person who is making progress is how I make progress when it comes to my heart especially. That's where we come to this last thought I talked about pigpen careful attention to our behavior to our character to our heart and now getting to the heart of the heart pay careful attention to your devotion. That is your own personal relationship with God himself and there a lot of statements about this enforcing Timothy as well. Chapter 2 second Timothy remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I'm suffering, bound with chains as a criminal, may strike us is that he would have been told to remember Jesus Christ that's like the whole point of the ministry. You forget him so he pointed out.
Well, you could put as an epitaph over the nation of Israel.
These were people that soon forgot great works of God and part of what is required in nurturing our relationship to the Lord. It is constantly coming back to the Lord Jesus Christ, the offspring of David, he's a human.
He is a victorious Savior risen from the dead, the more we are in touch with him in our heart stirred by that the more we are willing to do the suffering. To whatever extent the Lord require you on were out of time but I will remind us that when in that famous passage second with a 314 17 Paul is talking about the Bible and how it rebukes and how it instructs in all of this. He gives the purpose in verse 17 he says that the man of God may be completely equipped for every good work.
In other words, all in the first place is saying that is directed to Timothy. He's the man of God and behavior. He's the one that needs these ministries of the Bible. He's the one that needs to be sanctified. He's the one that needs to be equipped and to the degree that he's experiencing that, then he is ready to turn around chapter 4, and preach the word that other people might experience it as well. Spurgeon said that of the various secret snares for the preacher. The worst is the temptation to ministerial is him the tendency to read our Bibles as ministers to pray as ministers to get into doing the whole of our religion is not ourselves personally, but only relatively concerned and it and so on, and with his encouragement among spiritual requirements. It is beyond all other things needful to know him who is the sure remedy for all human diseases. No Jesus sit at his feet. Consider his nature and his work, his sufferings his glory. Rejoice in his presence communed with him from day to day, our father, we are far from where you want us to be and were far from or even we will. We pray that your word would keep spurring us on in this direction that our progress would be evident to all, and that most of all we would grow in our godliness by growing our walk with Jesus Christ we pray in his name.
You been listening to a sermon preached in seminary chapel at Bob Jones University and today's speaker was Dr. Ken Casillas. Thanks again for listening. We look forward to the next time as we study God's word together on The Daily Platform