Entrusted With Doctrine
January 31, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
When Paul was saying goodbye to the Ephesian elders, he gave them this charge:
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)
Paul’s love and concern for the Ephesian church did not end, however, on that beach of Miletus. He didn’t “pass the baton” and quit looking back. Even while he suffered in prison, his heart was drawn to protect the Ephesian church. He writes to Timothy, “As I urged you, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:3).
The primary role of Timothy, as a minister of the gospel, and the elders of the church was to guard the teaching of the church. The teaching, namely the truth of Jesus Christ revealed in the gospel, is the means of saving, purifying, and restoring the people of God. If this teaching is compromised, the people of God are compromised. Therefore, guard this teaching and “entrust” this teaching “to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).
As a Presbyterian church we stand in a long tradition of “faithful men” who have “rightly handled the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15) and entrusted this word to future generations. One of the ways they sought to guard the truth and entrust the truth to others is through confessions and catechisms. These carefully crafted documents are a means to preserve God’s people in the gospel. If our teaching of the gospel is compromised, we will be compromised as God’s people.
The Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger & Shorter Catechisms are the statements of faith for our church. They help us understand the nature of Scripture, the work of God, the person of Christ, the means of salvation, and the ways we can glorify God in life. Our church and denomination hold to these standards in order to guard God’s people from error which could cause any of us to fall away from the living God.
They keep us safe, however, only if we learn from them, if we are familiar with them. A statement of faith is not meant to be framed and hung on the wall to “look nice,” but to train us how to understand Scripture, our God, and our relationship with a Savior. The Confession and Catechisms are highly practical for our pursuit to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
So, I encourage you to become familiar with our statements of faith. They are the boundaries that shape your leaders’ thinking of Scripture, the gospel, and the church. They are means to help expand your understanding, and appreciation, of all that God has done for you through Jesus.
To help introduce the Westminster standards, I am writing a weekly “brief” on one or two questions from the Shorter Catechism. My aim is to help unpack this rich document so that we all can benefit from its clarity and truthfulness. If you have never read anything from Westminster, I trust that these briefs will aid you to appreciate and grow from what has been entrusted to us. These briefs will be found in the bulletin each week and we’ll keep an archive of all the briefs on our website. I pray that you are blessed as you seek to understand better your God and His ways.