Getting Leadership Right – Malachi 2:1-9

Sermon Manuscript . . .

Getting Leadership Right

Malachi 2:1-9

Welcome to Murrieta Valley High School–our summer home. Don’t get too comfortable in these chairs–halfway through I may have to yell to keep you awake. How many of you here live near Bella Vista and had to drive across town to get here? I have zero sympathy for you–I spent 26 years living in Canyon Lake, and have been driving over 30 minutes to church.

I am not sure if this was planned, but the response I have gotten from the pastoral staff about my message was primarily focused on verse 3, where it says, “the Lord will spread refuse on the faces of the priests.” Morgan even mentioned it in the weekly letter! Cameron Lee even told me how a friend of his in college, when competing in a sporting event, put Malachi 2:3 under his eyes–how intimidating is that? Wouldn’t it be amazing to see that verse on an NFL player?

As we continue in our series on Malachi, where the overall theme is Crushing Spiritual Apathy, as a reminder–the spiritual temperature of the Israelites had grown cold. They had become spiritually apathetic. Some of us today are feeling the same way. We feel distant, maybe even cold. We are struggling with our circumstances, wondering where God is in the midst of my troubles?

Some are simply coasting or drifting, coming to church this morning because they should. Maybe you are longing for that fire you had when you were first saved or maybe some of you are wondering why you don’t feel the same way about Christ that others around you seem to feel. If you are not on fire for Jesus Christ, this book of Malachi is a perfect series for you to study and learn from.

Two weeks ago, Nigel taught on how God’s people had forgotten God’s electing love. God chose Christians before the foundation of the world and no matter what happens, we can thank God for the fact that we are saved and thank Him for every circumstance. I have found myself thanking the Lord for all circumstances. Our Future is Heaven and no circumstance on Earth could ever be as bad as one day in Hell. We can be thankful in every circumstance.

We get apathetic because our focus is on us and our circumstances, and not the great love God has for us. We will talk about that verse this morning. Then Malachi turns His focus to the fact that the Israelites were apathetic because the nation was led by compromising spiritual leadership. Last week Shawn addressed how the people and the spiritual leaders were lax in their offering of worship. God calls for complete surrender in our worship. The title of last week’s message was Getting Worship Right and this message is really a part 2 of that message. The title for our message this week is Getting Leadership Right. Turn in your Bibles to Malachi 2, starting in verse 1.

‘And now this commandment is for you, O priests. 2 If you do not listen, and if you do not take it to heart to give honor to My name,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings; and indeed, I have cursed them already, because you are not taking it to heart. 3 Behold, I am going to rebuke your offspring, and I will spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your feasts; and you will be taken away with it. 4 Then you will know that I have sent this commandment to you, that My covenant may continue with Levi,’ says the LORD of hosts. 5 My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him as an object of reverence; so he revered Me and stood in awe of My name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity. 7 For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. 8 But as for you, you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by the instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi,’ says the LORD of hosts. 9 ‘So I also have made you despised and abased before all the people, just as you are not keeping My ways but are showing partiality in the instruction.’ “

The first aspect of getting leadership right is . . .

1.  God’s Commandment  Verses 1 to 2a

In chapter 1, Malachi is speaking to both the priests and the people–but clearly, in verse 1 of chapter 2 there is a shift in focus. “And now this commandment is for you, O priests”–he is directly turning the attention to the spiritual leaders, the priests. The word commandment here is the word mitzvah, which simply means a commandment and could also be a charge–an authoritative direction or instruction to do something.

What is this commandment or charge? I believe it is found in verse 2–“to give honor to My name.” To give honor (kabod) is weight or importance to the great name of God. This is the sixth time in sixteen verses that he used the term “my name”. We use terms like “he has a good name” and that is usually in reference to someone’s character.

But when God speaks of His name, He speaks of all that He is. It is a summation of God’s attributes–all that He is. To give honor to His name is to give honor to Him as He really is in His being and in His attributes. How did they not give honor? Look at verse 2–they did not listen and they did not take it to heart.

The point here is that God has been clear in His commands to them. But they did not listen and obey, taking those commands to heart to honor the Lord. If they were asked, the priests would have testified to knowing and believing the Lord’s greatness–but their actions showed otherwise. We will touch on the aspects of listening and taking to heart later in the message. A great illustration of the importance of God’s name and His glory is found in the life of Moses. Turn in your Bibles to Numbers 20, but keep your place in Malachi.

Have you ever read through the life of Moses and thought of all that he did and wondered–after all he did for God, he makes one mistake and wasn’t able to enter the Promised Land? Leading the Israelites out of Egypt, the ten plagues, Pharaoh, the Passover, he received the Ten Commandments, he saw the backside of God’s glory and glowed such that he had to wear a veil because his face shown. He put up with the Israelites and their grumbling and complaining. He was so faithful for so many years.

Turn in your Bibles to Numbers 20:2 to 12 and let’s walk through the passage. “There was no water for the congregation, and they assembled themselves against Moses and Aaron. 3 The people thus contended with Moses and spoke, saying, ‘If only we had perished when our brothers perished before the LORD! 4 ‘Why then have you brought the LORD’S assembly into this wilderness, for us and our beasts to die here? 5 Why have you made us come up from Egypt, to bring us in to this wretched place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, nor is there water to drink.” 6 Then Moses and Aaron came in from the presence of the assembly to the doorway of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. Then the glory of the LORD appeared to them; 7 and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 8 ‘Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink.’

9 So Moses took the rod from before the LORD, just as He had commanded him; 10 and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. And he said to them, ‘Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?’ 11 Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank. 12 But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.’ ”

Honoring the LORD is of utmost importance–it was enough to keep Moses out of the Promised Land. Turn back to Malachi–he has been clear with God’s command to the leaders. You need to honor my name. But then Malachi follows it with a condition. Listen to me–I have given you a clear command. If you do what I say, the coming judgment can be averted. But if you don’t, a curse.

2.  God’s Curse  Verses 2 to 3

“ ‘If you do not listen, and if you do not take it to heart to give honor to My name,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings; and indeed, I have cursed them already, because you are not taking it to heart. Behold, I am going to rebuke your offspring, and I will spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your feasts; and you will be taken away with it.’ ”

This concept of a blessing versus a curse was clearly laid out for the priests in the Old Testament. Leviticus 26:1 through 39 lays out what will happen if the priests do not listen. Do not make idols, keep the Sabbath, walk in my statutes–if you do, I will bless you. What were those blessings? Rain in their seasons, the land would produce, trees would bear fruit, they would eat food to the full, there would be peace, their enemies would run from them. And get this–“I will make My dwelling among you.”

Isn’t it funny? We look at this and think that it’s not fair–but Moses is in Heaven, which is far better than the Promised Land ever would have been. Look at, “I will walk among you and be Your God.” Then the dramatic turn in verse 14–“But if you do not obey me and keep my commandments, you have broken covenant with God.” Sudden terror, sickness, sowing your seed will be useless, struck down before your enemies, the land will not yield its produce, your land will become desolate and your cities a waste–any priest should have known that obedience brings God’s blessing, but disobedience, His curse.

And yet, they were lax and careless in their worship in chapter 1, and were not obeying the clear command in Scripture to “honor the Lord” here in chapter 2. Covenant unfaithfulness to the name of God brought a curse. In fact Malachi tells us that the curse is already in action. Verse 2, “ ‘I will curse your blessings; and indeed, I have cursed them already.’

The word curse here means “to invoke divine harm or evil upon someone or something”–wow. One commentator said, “The penalty for failing to hear and respond to God was strong: Three times the text mentions a curse that God would bring on the priests for the disobedience and unbelief. God’s name is serious business, and nothing pollutes it more than the misconduct of those whose business it is to honor it.” How were the priests cursed?

FIRST  “I will curse your blessings”

Where the priests were to be a blessing to the Israelites and to stand before the people, stating Numbers 6:24 to 26, “The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.” Instead of standing before the people, representing the LORD, asking for God’s blessing upon His people–they became a curse.

SECOND  “I will rebuke your offspring

Verse 3 is not talking about the seed of the crops, but God will curse the priests’ family, that there would soon be an end to their service.

THIRD  “And I will spread refuse on your faces

There it is. This is dramatic imagery. When animals were sacrificed, the entrails, the hide and the offal (the stomach, intestines–including the bodily waste) were unclean and were to be taken outside the camp and burned. The Lord is so disgusted by the priests’ lack of honoring Him before the people–that the LORD uses a graphic picture to say, “I will take all of that unclean, disgusting mess and spread it on your faces. And take you and all these unclean items outside to be burned.

To put the matter bluntly, God would spread on the faces of the priests animal dung. This imagery expresses both the degree of revulsion the Lord felt for their behavior, and also His attitude toward their hypocritical religious festivals. But what is even more damaging–the priesthood was unfit and unclean to perform their duties and should be taken out of the camp and burned.

The Lord’s purpose in such a warning was to shake them out of their complacency to realize how they are viewed by God. One commentator said, “You will be taken from an exalted position to a place of humiliation.” We have looked at God’s Commandment, secondly God’s Curse, and now we look at thirdly . . .

3.  God’s Covenant  Verses 4 to 7

‘Then you will know that I have sent this commandment to you, that My covenant may continue with Levi,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him as an object of reverence; so he revered Me and stood in awe of My name. True instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.’ ”

Malachi mentions here a covenant with Levi. What is this covenant? Nowhere in the Old Testament is this phrase formally expressed. We know from Jeremiah 33:16 to 22 that there is a continual priesthood through Levi that is preserved. When, however, did this covenant with Levi begin? Nowhere is it formally mentioned in Scripture.

It seems that the tribe of Levi assumed certain responsibilities and came into pre-eminence because of the fact that Moses and Aaron belonged to the tribe of Levi. Historically, however, it is most likely in Exodus 32 when Moses came down from the mountain after receiving the Ten Commandments. The Israelites sinned by fashioning a golden calf as an idol.

Read Exodus 32:26 to 28, “Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, ” ‘Whoever is for the LORD, come to me!’ And all the sons of Levi gathered together to him. He said to them, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, “Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor.” ‘ So the sons of Levi did as Moses instructed, and about 3,000 men of the people fell that day.”

Moses drew a line in the sand and the Levites stepped forward to draw their swords and executed divine justice against the rebels in the camp, by slaughtering those who had been unfaithful to God. Verse 29, “Then Moses said, ‘Dedicate yourselves today to the LORD…in order that He may bestow a blessing upon you today.’ ” The Levites were blessed because they fought for the holiness of God.

Then in Numbers 1, the Levites are set apart by God for service in the Temple. But what is most interesting is Numbers 25–turn there, but keep your place in Malachi. Do you remember the story of Balak, who was the Moabite king? He was fearful of the Israelites, so he called for a prophet named Balaam. Follow along.

Balak was going to pay Balaam money to prophecy against the Israelites, so he sent men to bring Balaam to curse the Israelites. Balaam sought God and God told him not to go, so he didn’t. Balak insisted and Balaam finally went–but God was angry with him. An angel of the Lord was standing in his pathway to stop him from going, but Balaam couldn’t see it. But his donkey did.

He could barely squeeze by on the side and rubbed Balaam against a wall. Then he went down another path where there was nowhere to go, so the donkey laid down. Balaam began to beat his donkey and the donkey spoke and said, “Why are you beating me?” God revealed to Balaam the angel of the Lord. Then Balaam would only bless the Israelites and Balak was frustrated. They viewed the Israelites from different vantage points, but every time Balaam spoke what the Lord told him to and he blessed the Israelites.

We read that and think Balaam did pretty good–he spoke the truth, right? But the very next scene (which is where our text begins) is the Israelites sinning by playing the harlot with the Moabite women. And they began to worship Baal because of the women.

While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. 2 For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the LORD was angry against Israel” (Numbers 25:1 to 3).

Turn quickly to Numbers 31:16, “Behold, these caused the sons of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, so the plague was among the congregation of the LORD.” Balaam couldn’t speak a curse against the Israelites, but he gave counsel to Balak. You want to get the Israelites? Give them your women and get to their hearts. The men of Israel sinned with the Moabite women and began to worship their gods.

We read the story of Phinehas, who was stirred into action because of evil that was being done. A plague had struck the Israelites so that 24,000 people were killed. While the whole congregation of Israel was assembled in repentance before God, a Simeonite named Zimri and a Midianite woman named Cozbi were committing fornication in the name of religious prostitution and worship. But Phinehas “stood up and intervened”–he went into the tent where they were and pierced them through while they were in the very act.

Look at verse 11–God praised Phinehas because he was zealous with the Lord’s zeal. Numbers 25:12, “Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give him My covenant of peace.’ ” Turn back to Malachi 2:5–it says, ” ‘My covenant with him was one of life and [what?] peace.’ ” Peace (shalom) links the narrative in Numbers 25 directly to Malachi 2:5. Phinehas, as a representative of all the Levites, became the recipient of God’s perpetual priesthood because of his zeal for God’s name.

The covenant of Levi was founded upon a zeal for God’s holy name. Oh but how different were Phinehas’s attitudes and actions compared to the priests in Malachi’s day. This covenant was made, look at verse 5, for the purpose of reverence–“and stood in awe of My name.” However, here in Malachi, the priests were dishonoring the name of the Lord. What Phinehas provides us with is a wonderful illustration, by his zeal for God’s name. He was a faithful, zealous priest, whose only concern was God’s name and glory.

In Numbers 25 we have seen laid out for the priests 1) God’s Command–to honor My name, 2) God’s Curse–had begun, and more was coming if they did not turn from their current path, and 3) God’s Covenant–with Levi, that was based in a zeal for His name. So in this covenant of Levi, we see in verses 7 to 9 a contrast between good/successful leadership and a failure in leadership.

Before we jump into that, does this apply today? Are there priests today? The New Testament never uses the term priest to describe a pastor or elder in the Church. There is no official priesthood in the New Testament Church. The reason is clear–Hebrews 7:23 to 25, “The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

Jesus Christ Himself has become a permanent priest for us and the Old Testament priesthood is now obsolete. He is now the one and only priest between us and God. So there is no official priesthood in the New Testament Church. No church leaders are called priests because of their office in the church. But were there other duties that priests had in the Old Testament, besides offering sacrifices for the sake of the people–duties that may continue in the New Testament? The answer is clearly yes.

Look at Malachi 2:7, “For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.” In other words, the priests were teachers. This part of their ministry is continued in the church of the New Testament. Ephesians 4:11, “Christ gave some as pastors and teachers to the Church to equip the saints for the work of the ministry.”

First Timothy 3:2 says that there are to be overseers who are “able to teach.” First Timothy 5:17, some elders in the church are to “labor in preaching and teaching.” This role of teaching and being moral examples for the people is very much relevant today. The failures and success of the priests completely apply to those in leadership today. So we will look at these last three verses and discover in this covenant with Levi . . .

A.  Five Failures of Leadership

First  They didn’t hear the Word of God  Verse 2

If you will not [what?] listen”–this is a failure to hear God in Scripture. The verb listen means to hear with intention, to give attention to. The priests were not listening to Scripture. John Piper says, “God has appointed preachers in the church not simply to lead discussions, not simply to explain problems, not simply to analyze texts, but to herald a message to His people. And you can’t herald what you don’t hear.”

Second  They didn’t have a heart for God’s glory

Found in the second part of verse 2, “and if you do not take it to heart to give honor to My name.” Notice the wording here–“take it to heart.” This is to consider or weigh in your heart. The word heart in Hebrew is the command center of a person’s life, where knowledge is collected or stored, and where decisions and plans are made that determine the direction of your life.

In our usage as Americans, we say things like, “Pursue what your heart desires.” We view the heart as our emotional center, but the Hebrew meaning is about reason rather than feeling. Deuteronomy 11:18 says, “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.”

The point here isn’t that the glory of God simply should be a part of our doctrine and preaching, but that it lies in the heart–a burden to see God glorified in the heart of leadership. It is not just a part of our theology, but a passion of our soul. We as preachers need to be consumed by the glory of God in our heart, and then it will come out in our preaching.

Third  They turned aside from the ways of God

Their lives fell short of the standards of the truth that they were supposed to teach and model. Look at the first line in verse 8, “You have turned aside from the way.” And in verse 9, “So I also have made you despised and abased before all the people, just as you are not [what?] keeping My ways.” Way here is a course of conduct. A leader must live what he preaches–not perfectly, but with integrity.

First Timothy 3:2 says, “An overseer, then, must be above [what?] reproach.” This means they are not deserving or worthy of rebuke or criticism. There should not be patterns of sin that would disqualify.

Fourth  They show partiality in teaching

Look at the end of verse 9, “Just as you are not keeping My ways but are showing partiality in the instruction.” This is preaching to the ears of the people that are listening. This is preaching like they were sacrificing in last week. Give the Lord the sacrifices that will give you the most money and give the preaching that will not offend or step on anyone’s toes. Preaching so that the people will like you–make you feel good, not to offend. And finally,

Fifth  They were causing many to stumble

Look at the middle of verse 8, “You have caused many to stumble by the instruction”–to cause to make an error. Rather than being beacons of truth, summoning God’s people to follow, or shepherd’s retrieving the Lord’s sheep that were on a destructive path–these spiritual leaders had forsaken the path themselves and were leading others to stumble off the path as well. Jeremiah 23:1, they were “shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture.”

Bad spiritual leaders don’t listen to God, don’t have His glory as the cornerstone of the ministry. They have turned aside from the way, preaching to tickle the ears of their listeners, and are causing many to stumble. Unfortunately, that sounds like many evangelical churches today. No wonder so many are experiencing spiritual apathy–their leadership has failed them. We need to pray and remain committed that this would not happen to FBC! Let’s look at the positive side of leadership.

B.  Four Successes of Leadership

First  A ministry focused on the glory of God

Look at verses 4 to 5, and notice the contrast between the success of verse 5 and the failure in verse 2. In verse 2, the teachers “do not take it to heart to give honor to My name” and in verse 5 the teachers “revered and stood in awe of My name.” We hope that if you are new to this church, what you sense when you come here to FBC is that in everything we do, we do all to the glory of God.

FBC must be about the glory and honor of God–in every area of ministry. Not everyone is a leader and not all leadership is the same. For some it might be your home, children’s ministry, a CG. It might be as a missionary or in a pulpit–all ministry is different. But whatever role you are given should be with the desire not to put ourselves on display, but that our great God be lifted up.

I think we would all understand this in adult ministry, right? But it even affects how we present God to our children in children’s ministry–bringing God to their level or teaching them the glories of God that they will one day grow into. Our children’s ministry is systematically teaching through the Bible to our kids, telling them of the glories of God. A church that is not focused on the glory of God leads to an apathetic people.

Second  Faithfulness to the Word of God

Look at verse 6, “True instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips.” Truth here is a true statement, with the implication that the statement is dependable. I love the words used to describe true instruction–they are the words torah emet. The Torah was the Law or God’s special revelation. But by using the word emet means that this revelation is sound and stable and can therefore be counted on as reliable, dependable and faithful.

Nothing in the world is as reliable as the revealed truth of God’s written Word. And this Word was entrusted to the priests, who were to teach them faithfully in Israel. The main task of a priest was to teach the people in Israel the Word of God. Leviticus 10:11, “And so as to teach the sons of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them through Moses.”

Deuteronomy 33:10, “They shall teach Thine ordinances to Jacob, and Thy Law to Israel.” Deuteronomy 17:10 to 11, “And you shall be careful to observe according to all that they teach you. According to the terms of the law which they teach you, and according to the verdict which they tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside from the word which they declare to you, to the right or to the left.”

Their task was to hand down the teaching of Moses–to give instruction, to expound it, to apply it. Ezra was a great example of this. Ezra 7:10, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.” This is what is needed for successful leadership. Unfortunately, many churches today are filled with these same issues that Malachi faced. Crowds gather but the truth is not taught.

The most watched sermon on YouTube in the last several years was Joel Osteen’s, “The Power of I Am”, with over 3 million views. Oprah Winfrey says that this message changed her life. He has his congregation state this pledge all together. He says, “Hold up your Bible, say it like you mean it. ‘This is my Bible, I am what it says I am, I have what it says I have, I can do what it says I can do. Today I will be taught the Word of God. I boldly confess, my mind is alert, my heart is receptive, I will never be the same, in Jesus name. God bless you.’ ”

That doesn’t sound too bad, does it? He hardly uses Scripture in his entire message, even though they say they will be taught the Word of God. Instead, they find out and are told, “Here’s the principle: what follows the ‘I am’ will always come looking for you. When you say, ‘I am so clumsy,’ clumsiness comes looking for you. ‘I am so old,’ wrinkles come looking for you. ‘I am so overweight,’ calories come looking for you.’ It’s just like you’re inviting them. Whatever you follow the ‘I am’ with, you’re handing it an invitation, opening the door, giving it permission to be in your life.”

Our problem is not our sin–it is how we think, or ultimately, our self-esteem. So what is the solution? He continues, “Get up in the morning and invite good things into your life. I am blessed, I am strong, I am talented, I am disciplined, I am focused, I am prosperous. When you talk like that, talent gets summoned by Almighty God, go find that person. Health, strength, abundance, discipline starts heading your way.”

We ought to look in the mirror and see not our amazing God, but our own amazingness. The solution is to change our “I am’s”. Osteen says, “What we believe, we speak, and what we speak, we create.”

This isn’t Christianity at all–this is a worldly, man-centered, feel good about yourself, name it and claim it message. This is heresy. This is showing partiality in your preaching, rather than the truth. This is wickedness.

Listen, this is the God-breathed, inerrant (without error), infallible Word of God. Second Peter 1:20 to 21, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

Second Timothy 3:16 to 17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Here at FBC, our desire is to simply teach what it says–to find the author’s intended meaning. Second Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the Word of truth.”

First Timothy 6:3 to 4, “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing.” When we take Scripture and twist it to mean something that it doesn’t, we are arrogant–we know better than God. Our hope and prayer is that we collectively as a body come underneath this Word. We need to study God’s Word daily, to learn and apply it to our lives, to become more like Christ. We give so that our pastoral staff can devote their full time to studying the Bible in depth to teach it to us.

Third  Personal life of devotion to God

Look at verse 6, “He walked with me in peace and uprightness.” Walk here is simply living life–to live in full accord and harmony with what God has taught in His Word. Walked is a very intimate word for not just following God, but walking in daily sweet communion with God. Enoch and Noah walked with God. The faithful leader walks with God in peace–full harmony with the will of God.

And a wholesomeness in both His pursuit of God and his public life in ministry. Uprightness is a moral integrity of both his behavior and conduct. We want the leadership here at FBC to not be hypocrites–that they would live lives of integrity. When you have 1) a ministry focused on the glory of God, 2) a faithfulness to the Word of God, and 3) a personal life of devotion to God, the result is . . .

Fourth  People get saved

Verse 6, “He turned many back from iniquity.” Another word for turned back is to restore, to bring back into original existence, use, function or position. Listen, folks–you take the power of truth, in a vessel of integrity . . . that is a mighty weapon in the hand of God and lives will be transformed.

Some of you might be trying to figure out this Christianity thing. Keep coming–I can tell you, we are committed as a church to strive to be as accurate as we possibly can by the help of the Holy Spirit to get this right. To be accurate about what the Bible says and to honor and glorify the Lord. Oh that God would raise up a number of men here to be faithful priests and leaders here at Faith Bible Church. Amen?


1.  Pray for the leadership here at Faith Bible. We want our leaders at FBC to be filled with truth and integrity. This is at every level of ministry.

2.  The Word is being taught here at FBC–you need to be here consistently. The best way to fight apathy is to be faithfully under the Word of God being taught. We are so blessed to have the ministries we have committed to teaching the truth. Be at church consistently–it should be a priority. Hebrews 10:25, “Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

Parents with youth kids–have your kids at both services, worship and then high school or junior high. You can serve in children’s or take an equipping class. Our youth need to be at the worship service. We often say in high school, “If you didn’t go to the worship service, we would rather you be there.” We want them at both, but our kids need to be consistently taught as well. Have them consistently be at youth group–don’t sacrifice your child being at church for any extra-curricular activity. It doesn’t guarantee the salvation of your child, but think of the message you are sending to them.

3.  We want to see new leaders develop. In every area of ministry, we are striving to develop leaders. Be a part of TC, youth ministry, children’s (talk about what teaching does for your development), CG’s, leading a small group.

4.  You need to hold the leadership accountable. Be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11, “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”

About Robert Dodson

Robert serves as an elder at Faith Bible Church

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