From the Pastor’s Study – September 9, 2021

Sunday Sermon. We’re fast approaching the end of the 1 Timothy! My plan is to finish 1 Timothy this Lord’s Day and then pick up where we left off with Isaiah. As I thought about the fact I’ve almost preached through 1 Timothy, I was reminded of what a privilege it is to study systematically books of the Bible in my sermon preparation. If only I remembered all I’ve studied (and even more, if only I put it all in practice)!

The sermon on Sunday (from 1 Timothy 6:11-16) was in part an exhortation. Paul urges Timothy to “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” (v. 11). Though all believers should purse these things, Paul especially had in mind Timothy’s service as a pastor. As I’ve continued to listen to the excellent podcast The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, I’ve considered how these qualities are not the same as those that make for a celebrity pastor (qualities such as charisma, giftedness, and personal magnetism). Of course not every famous pastor lacks righteousness, godliness, faith, and so on. But the culture of celebrity can easily produce a church leader who has nothing like the character that Paul describes to Timothy. In fact, it seems to mitigate against these very qualities that make for a humble, Christ-like shepherd of God’s people. Most likely, the best pastors are the ones we’ve never heard of.

A sad anniversary. Twenty years ago, as I was sitting in a classroom at Westminster Theological Seminary, learning from Dr. Vern Poythress about the book of Revelation, terrorists flew the first plane into the World Trade Center towers. That being the time before smartphones and Wi-Fi, no one in the class knew it. After the class ended, I went down the hall to chapel. At the start of chapel, the speaker (of whom I just remarked to my classmate looked very somber for some reason) announced to the students the terrorist attack. And if I recall correctly, it was during that chapel service that both towers fell.

Strange, I remember it was a gorgeous fall day – cool and clear, not a cloud in the sky. A perfect day, it turns out, for flying jets into buildings and murdering thousands. There are questions about 9/11, and about every instance of evil in the world, that we cannot answer. But I am so grateful to know that God maintains his wise and absolute sovereign rule even over this. As we remember that day, may the families of the victims find comfort in the true God, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. May we grieve as we remember the suffering the events of that day brought to so many. And may we be ever mindful that our lives can be brought to a sudden end, even on a beautiful fall day. To know Christ is not to have the answer for the problem of evil, but it is to have the ability to live and die with hope in this world plagued by evil.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Pastor Johnson