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Throughout Paul's letters to Timothy, Paul repeatedly commanded the Pastor to pay close attention to sound doctrine, preach the Word, guard the truth, and so on. Paul also charged Timothy to avoid empty talk, shun worldly wisdom, turn away from false teachers and rebuke those who oppose the truth. Timothy needed to stay alert to the differences between the truth and lies, to seperate the truth from falsehoods and half-truths. Paul was commanding him as a pastor of the flock to be discerning.

Why am I sharing this today? Every elder is required to be skilled in teaching truth and able to refute unsound doctrine (Titus 1:9). As a pastor, I am constantly aware of this responsibility. To the person who is attending any church, it is your responsibility to constantly strive to separate truth from error. When you are presented with any biblical topic, you should be critiquing; you should read that way, you should think that way. If Jesus warns of wolves in sheeps' clothing, ought we not take Him seriously?

Take this quiz if you will. Does your church:

1) Preach AGAINST sin?

2) Preach Jesus crucified?

3) Preach you are not first; instead, Jesus is as He obeys the Father?

Or, does your church sound more like this:

1) God is Love. He understands your shortfalls, your struggles ... and He understands that you will live a fallen life as you rely on Him.

2) Becase God is love, there is no condemnation for anyone. You can have Jesus and maintain the life you desire.

3) God wants you to prosper, to be materially happy. You get yours, if others don't have ... they don't have the faith to receive what God has to offer.

4) Oh, and lest I forget, the word SIN is never mentioned, nor the NEED FOR REPENTANCE.

At your church what takes preeminence? Is it the Spoken Word of God? Or is it the "pre-lude?" Is it the lights, the smoke, the musical performance, The SHOW?

What about reaching the lost? Is the church you're attending more about being "fishers of men," or "keepers of the aquarium?"

What about you? Are you being challenged to face the mirror each day, being honest and admitting that you are indeed the very person that God see's when He looks at you?

God is indeed love. He loved you and me so much so that He saw fit to send His only Son, Jesus Christ, to take a beating He didn't deserve, to hang in your place on a cross that He didn't deserve, just so you could have the opportunity to say "yes" to His Lordship, or "no" and have Hell as your destination. That word "Lordship" carries within it meaning that we would be best advised to acknowledge. It means that my future is now His way, not mine. What He says is right, regardless of my past, my present and my opinions. My sinful desires are Sin; not excuses to justify my behavior. He does have an expectation of me. If He was willing to meet death in my place, then He expects me as a follower of Him to model my life per the letter of His written Word.

My passion, and I hope the passion of your church and your pastor, is to know the truth and proclaim it with authority. That should be the passion of every elder because everything we teach affects the hearts and lives of those who hear us. It is an awesome responsibility.

What about you? From where you're sitting, how does your pastor measure up to the criteria God has established for His Shepherds? 

And finally, if you are one of those church members who never reads their Bible, meditates on the Word of God nor seeks God's directions through a steady prayer life, how would you possibly know the difference?

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Rev. Robert Templeton is a pastor who lives in Orangeburg.

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