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1046. Pay Careful Attention to Your Own Lives

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
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August 2, 2021 7:00 pm

1046. Pay Careful Attention to Your Own Lives

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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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.

The post 1046. Pay Careful Attention to Your Own Lives appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. We're beginning a study of Acts chapter 20 in Seminary Chapel, and today's speaker is Dr. Ken Casias, 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 and his personal life is godliness, and it's there at the beginning of verse 28.

We'll 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 going through teaching them how to drive, and it's gotten to be so stressful that I put one of them on hold and just 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 to all the different things that go on, and to learn this skill. And we take so much of that for granted. Once you're driving for a while, there's all these different things happening at one and the same time.

You don't really think about it, but when you're learning it for the first time, it really is a bit daunting. It is overwhelming, and a lot of it has to do with just staying alert. In fact, I'm at a point where I just keep saying to my son, you've got to be constantly vigilant.

Talk to him in that way. Pay attention. Don't be too laid back about this. Yes, there's going to be a day when you're more comfortable and you can sort of assume certain things and not be on the edge of your seat so much, but particularly right now, you're just, you're new.

You don't know what you're doing. You've 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 20, 28, when Paul continuing to speak to the elders at Ephesus 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. And this is the verb prosecco, 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 it's talking about dangers that are out there, and it is actually translated beware.

Like Jesus says in Matthew 7, 15, beware of false prophets who are dressed in sheep's clothing. Lo and Nida define this as follows, that this is to be 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 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 or it may be the more general idea of alertness. Dr. Stikes has already talked to us about being alert as far as the flock is concerned.

He dealt with that at the end of last semester. Today, we're looking at the first part, pay careful attention to yourselves. As I was thinking back on the messages that have been preached in this series, it struck me that we have been doing something that we actually don't do a whole lot of around here, that we don't 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 you're pulling your content from all over the scriptures. And it has 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 the light of the rest of scripture on these particular statements.

And as I thought about that for this one, pay careful attention to yourselves. It really wasn't hard to think of what would be the place to go where the Apostle Paul develops this the most. And it's actually in 1 and 2 Timothy, and there is some overlap between those two books and what we're looking at here in Acts chapter 20. Those books were written maybe five or six years after this incident where he was addressing the elders of Ephesus on the last time that he was going to see them, and as it turns out, Timothy in later years would also be in the same locale, and he would have these same responsibilities, and he would have these same challenges, and it's almost like Paul took as a theme for that book what he said to these men in Acts chapter 20 and teased it out and developed it further in 1 Timothy and then in 2 Timothy. In fact, 1 Timothy chapter 4, 16 says this, Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching.

Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. And the verb there at the beginning, keep a close watch. It is not epocho that we're seeing in Acts 20, but it is a parallel word, prosecco, and you almost wonder, was Paul reflecting back on what he challenged these 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, 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 just 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, his first one is precisely on this topic, and it's entitled The Minister's 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. Is that the way that we think about the ministry and even our preparation for it here in the seminary?

And we speak about the tools that we're trying to give you as a faculty that you're gathering up, the skills that you're developing. As Spurgeon looks at all of that, he says those kinds of things, as important as they are, really are 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, are my battle, acts, and weapons of war. Then he goes on to quote the famous line from Robert Murray M'Cheyne. It is not great talents God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.

I believe that was Paul's burden here in Acts 20, and it was Paul's burden in 1 Timothy. And what I've done is to read through those two books, those two epistles, and just compile all of the different statements that are developing this idea, and then to categorize them, 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 who's a radiologist, and I've been learning a little bit about what he does in terms of staring for hours at images on a screen and analyzing what's going on inside people's bodies. And when you go in for, say, a CT scan, you're getting this 360 degree x-ray of the inner parts of your body that end up working all together, being combined into a 3D image of what's going on in there, whatever problem it is that you're struggling with. And there is a depth to this image, and these radiologists will sit there, and they'll go through hundreds or thousands of layers of slices of these pictures as they analyze sort of from the outside in and keep going deeper into and more precisely analyzing the problem that people are suffering with. Well, as 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, they're on one level, and they are important, but there are other levels. I want to walk us through from sort of the superficial and very visible level to down to the more fundamental elements. And along the way, I want to keep quoting Spurgeon.

I don't feel that I'm an authority on this subject by any means, but I think that he probably was, and I think we'll do well to hear from him. So we're going to start on the visible. We're going to 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 right away perhaps what comes to mind are those qualifications that Paul gives for elders in 1 Timothy chapter 3.

I'm going to just read a lot of scripture this morning. And in that list of qualifications that I 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 he must manage his own household well. 1 Timothy 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, who have the experience, and yet 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? What is going to be required for him to have a credible sort of a ministry? To where those people even though he is younger are going to be willing to listen to him and to view him as a Lord's 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 in conduct. And later on in 2 Timothy chapter 2 verses 24 to 25 he says more about the speech part especially.

The Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. As I was going through this I was trying to think of ways that I could maybe subcategorize these different elements of behavior or whatever else and it got to be a 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 inform each other as Paul develops them and some of his list is just all over the map.

There's no real sequence apparent 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 particularly to your wife and your devotion, the solidness 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 particularly when there are tensions or disagreements or uncomfortable conversations. There's this spirit of gentleness that characterizes the way that you come across when you're dealing with difficult topics or even difficult people. And it 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 we're 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 on what we would call soft skills. In fact in those qualifications in chapter 3 you're probably aware of this there's only one that has to do with actual ministry.

Specifically the idea of 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 what ought to be our concern as we strive to prepare for that. Whether it is our relationships or any of these other areas of behavior listen to what Spurgeon had to say.

He just has so many helpful analogies. He says, it is with us and our hearers as it is with watches and the public clock. If our watch be wrong very few will be misled by it but ourselves. But if the horse guards or Greenwich observatory should go amiss 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 then 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 when you think about what I just said any educated well-trained lost person who grew up in a good home or went to some kind of school where they emphasized your conduct any lost person could display a lot of those kinds of activities. And so we have to consider what is it that distinguishes what we're talking about from just a general secular good or effective person. We need to 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 leads you to the right conduct.

We're not going to stop there we're actually have to go deeper but this is the next level pay careful attention to your character. And so here a bunch of other verses also from 1 Timothy 3 sober minded self-control. Again from 1 Timothy 4 12 as far as the example that we set it is not just in our speech and our conduct but also in our faith and our purity. There's a famous statement 1 Timothy 6 12 where Paul urges him fight the good fight of faith take hold of eternal life. And you read that sort of statement it's very stirring it's very encouraging you find yourself challenged and wanting to do this like what does that really mean what does 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 when he says fight the good fight he's saying get serious about going after those kinds of character traits in your life. Here's another famous statement 2 Timothy chapter 1 verse 7 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 in 2 Timothy 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 crops. 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's talking 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. I want to say about that I remember hearing this very often when I was in the university and in seminary as well when you look at those kinds of traits those are not suddenly just going to appear out of nowhere in your life the day you get hired to be a pastor these kinds of things take nurturing they take 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 it's not just about getting a grade or it's not about impressing people it's 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 2 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 some for dishonorable use and 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 that's metaphorical and very encouraging but what does that mean so he's gonna put it in more concrete terms so verse 22 very next line 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 to be running away from as fast as you possibly can and in our day and age preachers get weary sometimes and 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 and relationships with members of the opposite sex there's 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 and we need to be urged as Paul urged Timothy more regularly even so flee youthful passions and yet you can't live on negatives only I've just stopped doing certain things he goes on right to say in the positive here's the other side pursue righteousness faith love peace or as he said in chapter 3 verses 10 and 11 looking back on things Timothy had already demonstrated in his life you have followed my teaching conduct aim in life faith patience love steadfastness endurance in persecution and suffering second thing four five as for you always be sober minded endure suffering be a great study to look closely at all of these individual Greek words run down their usages to find them from a lexicon and really make them a focal point in terms of your seminary education and just like you sort of click through your check sheet and say I've got this requirement in this class and this other thing I got to do in order to graduate here is sort of the Lord's check sheet when it comes to your character he has laid it out quite explicitly in great detail in first and second Timothy pay careful attention to your character and yet we come to another consideration a deeper level here because somebody has to want 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 there are different words for this we tend to call them your spiritual affections but based even on the language of Paul I would put it in these terms pay careful attention to your heart there's something more foundational even than your character and that is your desires and what drives you to seek these qualities listen to these statements very quickly for something one five and six the aim of our charges love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith again he says the first thing one about fighting the good fight of the good warfare how do you do that verse 19 of chapter 1 holding by holding faith in a good conscience in fact some people have started to ignore their conscience or their conscience becomes compromised and as a result 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 first Timothy 3 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 he gets into chapter 6 and he speaks of people being puffed up with conceit or who think that godliness is a means of gaining money and the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils and so Timothy you oh 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 second really one three was serving the Lord with a clean conscience and he's encouraged to think about Timothy second of the one five 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 and that that is a vital part of keeping your heart is responding to your conscience and taking seriously when the Lord brings an awareness of some need or some failure and what you're going to do to respond to his working within you part of keeping your heart is to keep a clean conscience and here's another little vignette from Spurgeon he says traveling one day by express from Perth to Edinburgh on a sudden 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 every railway 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 was gone if that had been right the train would have rushed along its iron road but the absence of absence of that insignificant piece of iron disarranged the whole a train is said to have been stopped on one of the United States railways by flies in the grease boxes of the carriage wheels and he says the analogy is perfect a man in all other respects fitted to be useful made by some small defect be exceedingly hindered or even rendered utterly useless you think about those flies in that engine or that one small screw that was messed up think about it 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 you're gonna be overwhelmed there's a lot here I'm just reading verses and making a few comments along the way one of the things that was so encouraging to me is to keep in perspective what what Paul said in first Timothy 4 15 practice these things immerse yourself in them so that all may see your progress in other words on these areas it's 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 a person who is making progress you say how do I make progress when it comes to my heart especially that's where we come to this last thought I've talked about Peggy paying 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 are a lot of statements about this in first Saint Timothy as well chapter 2 of second Timothy remember Jesus Christ risen from the dead the offspring of David as preached in my gospel for which I am suffering bound with chains as a criminal and may strike us as odd that he would have to be told to remember Jesus Christ I mean that's like the whole point of the ministry how could you forget him somebody pointed out well you could put as an epitaph over the nation of Israel these were people that soon forgot the great works of God and part of what is required in nurturing our relationship to the Lord is just 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 and the more we are in touch with him and our hearts stirred by that the more we are willing to do this offering to whatever extent the Lord requires you go on we're out of time but I want to remind us that when in that famous passage second Timothy 3 14 to 17 Paul is talking about the Bible and how it rebukes and how it instructs and all of this he gives the purpose in verse 17 he says that the man of God may be complete equipped for every good work in other words Paul in the first place is saying that as directed to Timothy he's the man of God in view here 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 four 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 ministerialism 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 in it and so I want to end with his encouragement among spiritual acquirements it is beyond all other things needful to know him who is the sure remedy for all human diseases know Jesus sit at his feet consider his nature his work his sufferings his glory rejoice in his presence commune with him from day to day our father we are far from where you want us to be and we're far from where even we want to be we pray that your word would keep spurring a song in this direction that our progress would be evident to all and that most of all we would grow in our godliness by growing in our walk with Jesus Christ and we pray in his name you've 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.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-18 07:35:07 / 2023-09-18 07:45:45 / 11

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