God says this to the man who would be our next pastor—
Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:16, HCSB)
Now Paul is not using the word “save” in a soteriological sense here (i.e. salvation from sin). He uses it in a temporal sense and perhaps it would be better translated “rescue.”
“Rescue from what,” you ask? Rescue from the kind of doctrinal chaos he had just described earlier in the chapter and the common local church problems he would be describing in the next. To do so, he must “take heed . . . to the doctrine.”
You see, all problems local churches experience are, at their core, theological problems. We do what we do because we believe what we believe. If our church, or any church, is to be rescued from these problems it is imperative that we be taught sound theology by our new pastor who, by virtue of his office, is our chief theologian.
In my previous posts I have been making the case that our new pastor must be a man who will preach the Word and not merely preach about the Word. In doing so, he must be an able theologian who will not only promote sound theology but warn about doctrinal error. In Paul’s day false teachers would move from town to town and house to house on foot promoting their error. Today, we have false teaching streamed into our homes over the internet. Christian bookstores sell books that promote a prosperity gospel, Unitarian doctrine, and those cursed authors who claim, “I died and went to heaven but Jesus sent me back to tell you something.”
When Paul wrote to the Ephesian church (where Timothy served as pastor) he told them that God had given pastors and teachers to them so that they would mature in their faith and would no longer be “children tossed here and there by waves and blown around by every wind of doctrine.” (Eph. 4:14)
In the midst of theological chaos, God’s kind of people seek doctrinal clarity. Calvary should be well known in our community as a haven where the refreshing teaching of sound theology can be heard each week from a pastor who understands his role as a theologian. If Calvary will not bring sound theology to believers in Simpsonville, who else will?
There is much we will want to know about our next pastor before we vote on whether to call him. Is he a godly man who loves the Lord, loves his family, and will love his flock? Does he have a good reputation? Does he pray? Is he kind, irenic, and meek? But these things alone do not qualify one to be a pastor. Many men who would seek the office of pastor are all these things. Paul lists an additional qualification. He must be “able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2). The word translated “teach” here has the same root as the word “doctrine” in the above passage. Our new pastor must be able to sort good theology from bad theology and teach us not only what is true but warn us about the false. In doing so, as Paul told Timothy, he will be—
a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished by the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed closely. (1 Tim. 4:6)