“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and 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 Tim 2:1–2
These words from Paul to Timothy capture the essence of what we do in our Pastoral Apprenticeships at Bethlehem Seminary. We believe that men who aspire to be pastors in a local church should be trained by a pastor or pastoral team in a local church so that faithful men can be entrusted to teach others rightly.
No doubt, Timothy heard Paul say many things and watched him do many things in his life. But what is the message that Timothy was to guard and entrust to other faithful men?
First, righteousness is by faith. Paul quoted Habakkuk 2:4 “The righteous shall live by faith” in Galatians 3: “it is evident that no man is justified before God by the law; for ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.” (v. 11) The only gospel worth preaching is the same gospel that Jesus and Habakkuk preached, especially to those, like the Galatians, who are being persuaded to embrace a different gospel, which is no gospel at all.
Second, there is a universal need. Paul states this in Romans 3. “None is righteous, no not one.” (v. 10) “Every mouth may be stopped and the whole world held accountable.” (v. 19) “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (v. 23) If there is to be any hope for mankind at all, something (someone) must replace the moral bankruptcy mankind affirmed before God. In this respect, Gentiles and Jews stand on the same level.
Third, the way of salvation for Jews and Gentiles alike is to have their record of sin blotted out completely by an act of divine amnesty and to have the assurance of acceptance by God for no merit of their own but by his spontaneous mercy, provided in Christ’s redemptive work. “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.” Romans 10:12 (cf. Gal 3:28) Christ’s self-sacrifice and death has made full reparation for our sins and the only way to appropriate the benefits of the atonement is only by faith, regardless of their racial origin.
Fourth, no one should argue that sin should go on increasing. Such an argument shows that one fails to grasp the meaning of the gospel and the life of faith. Romans 6:1 “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” Believers in Christ have entered a new life: Death with Christ to the old existence, resurrection with Christ to newness of life (Rom 6:4). Believers are emancipated from sin.
Fifth, there is freedom from the law as Paul states in Romans 7. The same act of grace that broke the chains of sin simultaneously freed those who were under the constraint of the law. With awareness of the law comes consciousness of sin.
Sixth, when the deliverance through Christ is experienced, there is freedom from death. For those who are in Christ, the Spirit is received and the Spirit of Christ sets in motion a new power — the spirit of life — which frees them from the dictates of indwelling sin (Rom 8:2). In fact, we long for the day when all of creation will be set free from its bondage to corruption. Sensing this should call us to confident trust in God.
Lastly, in view of all that God has done for his people in Christ, our lives should be devoted to his service. (Romans 12:2; Galatians 2:20) Believers are members of the body of Christ and we should practice our respective functions for the well-being of the whole, owing others the debt of love as Jesus did (Rom 13).
Future Pastors and Teachers
Future pastors and teachers, instruct people in the gospel. Avoid at all costs watering down the gospel so that it is more desirable or more palatable to your audiences. Be warned that church members might encourage their pastors to dilute the gospel’s bold message in order to be “relevant” and “successful”.
Knowing these temptations, Paul himself encouraged Timothy to “entrust to faithful men” what he heard from him. Timothy was to guard all the teaching that Paul provided and pass on the unchanged word of God to others who would do the same because the true church is found where the gospel is preached faithfully.
We, like Timothy, must carefully guard the oracles of God, and ensure care is taken to make sure only qualified men preach the Word.
Jon Hedger, M.Div.
Director of Seminary Discipleship
- A prayer of thanks for the faithful, dedicated partner church pastors who guide and lead Bethlehem Seminarians through their practical church experience;
- That our first-year seminarians and their families would be refreshed and encouraged in their new environment and community;
- For all seminarians and their families to increasingly see and savor our one and only Savior;
- That our Apprentices will learn and grow to be faithful and trustworthy so that they can go forth and teach others.
- For the full funding of The Serious Joy Scholarships that supports our students.