Read the series so far.
What on earth should a congregation look for in a Pastor? A hip haircut? A charismatic personality? A minimum number of FaceBook followers? A guy who posts cliched Instagram pictures of his open Bible and a cup of coffee, just like this one? A man who looks “relevant” and “edgy,” like this guy? A man who’s “woke,” as they say?
Let’s return to reality for a moment or two; a safe space where the bistro table pulpits are donated to Goodwill, the pathetic posturing is dropped, the virtue signaling ends, and the weird, hipster clothes are burned in a pyre, just like Darth Vader.
Let’s return to the real world, where we need real Pastors who provide real leadership to real people who face real problems, in the real world.
Let’s do the most un-“woke” thing possible to answer this question. Let’s go to the Bible …
Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus (2 Tim 1:13)
Paul taught Timothy everything he knows, with a bit of help from his mother and grandmother along the way. He told Timothy to follow his example about “sound words.” Now, brace yourselves, but Paul is dead.
Yes, it’s true.
He didn’t leave any YouTube videos or mp3 recordings behind for us to find, and Nero deleted Paul’s FaceBook page once he had him executed. This means the only place we’ll find Paul’s words, so we can follow them, is in the preserved Word of God – the Bible
The Bible was written by over 40 men, over the course of 1500 years, and we believe God moved each of those men to record and write exactly what He wanted them to write. As one Baptist confession puts it:
We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction; that it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture of error for its matter; that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us; and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried (1833 NHCF, Article 1)
God then preserved these books (through the thousands of copies and their mass distribution, and the reverence God’s people have always had for them) down through the centuries so we could have them on our laps, phones, or tablets today.
So, Paul is telling us a Pastor has to be a guy who’s completely committed to following what the Bible says. This might seem obvious, but it isn’t so obvious. Just consider the four “big questions” I mentioned in the last article; how can you answer any of these questions unless you’re committed to interpreting and following God’s Word, in God’s way?
Creation: how did we get here?
Were Adam and Eve real people, or just story figures created by a writer to make a point? Are men and women really the highest of all God’s creations, and made in His image, with all the implications for human dignity, value and worth this implies? Did God actually create the world, or did it somehow come into being out of nothing? Is our world designed by an intelligent Creator, or the product of random chance?
There are people who claim to be Christian today who deny every one of these things, and some of them even claim to be conservative!
If you believe God’s Word speaks today, and is relevant, then you’ll be laughed at by the world – if a man can’t handle that, and isn’t prepared to have a conversation about why God’s right and the scoffers are wrong (more on that in a moment!), then he can’t be a Pastor
Fall: why are things the way they are? Why do bad things happen?
Does Satan actually exist? Does God have laws, rules, and the power, authority and jurisdiction to hold His creatures accountable for them? Are men and women really ruined by sin, born as children of wrath who are under the power and control of Satan, whom Paul calls the prince of the power of the air? Hurricanes, floods, famines, tsunamis, murders, rapes, domestic abuse, child abuse, robbery, death itself – is all this the way God made the world? Is this what He desires for the world?
There are people who call themselves Christians today, who claim to love and follow God’s Word, who couldn’t answer those questions in a straightforward way
Redemption: how can things be fixed? How can they be set right?
Did Jesus actually exist? For over 100 years, some alleged Christians have argued that we don’t know who the “real Jesus” actually is. Did God really send Jesus to willingly and voluntarily die in our place, as our divine substitute, for God’s wrath to be satisfied, to atone and pay for sins, and to reconcile us to Him?
Some Christians hate the idea of substitutionary atonement, calling it “divine child sacrifice.” Did Jesus really obey God’s law perfectly, because we can’t? Did Jesus really rise from the dead, to destroy Satan’s power over men and women, “and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage,” (Heb 2:15)?
Was He really seen by hundreds of eyewitnesses, and then ascend back to the Father’s side in heaven, to intercede and be the eternal advocate and High Priest for everyone who repents and believes in His message of eternal forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation?
Some “Christians” believe the miracles in the Bible are just “stories,”
Restoration: will things ever be fixed?
Is Jesus coming back to defeat Satan and set things right? Will there be an eternal state, where Satan is in hell, everything is made new and “good” again, and Father and Son rule and reign together, and there is peace on earth? Will there be a final judgment, where everyone will stand before Jesus Christ, Lord of Lords, and give an account for whether He’s obeyed or rejected the command to repent and believe the Gospel?
So, when Paul says “follow the pattern of sound words,” he means Timothy has to commit himself to preaching and teaching the same message Jesus taught, and Jesus’ message is grounded in the Old Testament and all the precious promises it contains!
The Pastor can’t be a slave to church traditions that are unbiblical. He also can’t be an innovator who wants to “update” the Gospel for today’s culture, because we allegedly “know more” than Paul, Peter, John and Jesus did.
Instead, he must be committed to follow the pattern of sound words we find in the Bible:
- A Creation that was made perfect in the beginning, to glorify and honor God;
- The rebellion that ruined everything in the world, including us;
- God’s plan to redeem and remake Creation, and to save some of us from ourselves along the way by way of His eternal son, who lived a perfect life for us in our place and willingly died for our sins, in our place, as our substitute, and rose from the dead to defeat Satan and the curses of sin and death;
- And, he must be committed to and believe the promise that Jesus is coming back one day to defeat all enemies, establish His kingdom, and rule over a new and better creation, and all of us who repent and believe in the Good News will be there with Him, to worship and serve Him for eternity.
In short, the Pastor has to be committed to following the Bible!
Audio Part 1 –
Audio Part 2 –
Audio Part 3 –
 The various quests for the “historical Jesus” are complicated. I commend folks who spend their scholarly careers interacting with these revisionists, but I don’t feel the need to offer a “nuanced” view of this controversy here.