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Building a Ministry that Lasts - Joshua's Ordination Service

Tom Pennington 2 Timothy 1:13 - 2:2


One of the great joys of being in pastoral ministry and one of the great joys of our church is that the Lord continues to raise up young men who desire to serve the Lord in His church, both here and around the world. We're grateful to have a part in The Masters Seminary, to have a distance location here on the campus. But even beyond that, within our church and those who have grown up here continue to be called by the Lord to serve Him in His church. And tonight it is a great privilege for me and for our church to have the opportunity to ordain Joshua Scarborough, one of those young men, to the ministry.

I want us to look at a passage in preparation for that that while it is very much appropriate to the occasion, it really is appropriate for all of us. And it's a reminder of the responsibility that we as God's people have, in the context of His church. It's found in 2 Timothy. I invite you to turn there with me, 2 Timothy 1. Shortly after he was released from his first Roman imprisonment, two years after the events at the end of Acts 28, the Apostle Paul visited Ephesus with Timothy, his son in the faith. Paul decided that the church there in Ephesus needed the constant influence of his teaching. But it was impossible for Paul to stay and so he decided to leave them his best substitute. Paul left Timothy in Ephesus and went on to Macedonia, hoping to return soon, but Paul wasn't able to return soon and said he was delayed. And so, from Macedonia he wrote Timothy the letter that we call 1 Timothy.

In 1 Timothy, keep your finger there in 2 Timothy, but turn back to 1 Timothy 3:15. Paul explains why he wrote 1 Timothy. Notice what he writes, 1 Timothy 3:15, "in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God." Now, at the end of this verse Paul makes a remarkable statement about the church. He calls it the "household of God, which is the church of the living God," the assembly of the living God. And then he says this, "the pillar and support of the truth."

Now, first of all, by the truth Paul obviously means the entire content of the Christian faith, the body of doctrine that lies at the foundation of the faith that we hold. We could even substitute for the truth here the Scripture, that's what he means. But notice how he describes the church's relationship to the truth or to the Scripture. And he does so with two architectural terms. He says, "the church is the pillar of the truth." The pillar is the column that holds up the roof of the building.

Now, this would have been very significant for the believers in Ephesus, where Timothy ministered, because there was the great temple of Diana held by these huge, massive columns that supported its roof. And he says the church is like that pillar that holds up the roof of the building. And then he says, and it's the support. This is a word that only occurs here in the New Testament. There's a lot of debate about exactly what it means, but the idea is that it provides a firm base.

Now don't misunderstand, the church doesn't create the truth. It doesn't add to the truth, as Roman Catholicism would teach. Truth exists separate from the church. Instead, what Paul is saying here is that the church is responsible to hold up the truth in the sense that it is to hold it up in its teaching as well as by guarding it. It's to hold it up in that sense. And, it's to support the truth. That is, the church is to serve as the firm base, or perhaps even foundation, from which the truth is taught. So the church is all about the truth. It's all about the Scripture.

Now, in light of that duty of the entire church, it's not surprising that Paul ends 1 Timothy by making the truth part of the job description of the pastor and of Timothy. Look at 1 Timothy 6:20, "O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you." That's a reference to the truth. With the role of pastor we have many responsibilities, but our chief responsibility is to be a steward of the truth. There are many passages that set forth this stewardship of the truth, but I think the most poignant and the most compelling is found in our text in 2 Timothy.

Paul writes this letter, 2 Timothy, from a Roman prison. Now fast forward a number of years after his first letter to Timothy and this letter is written shortly before his death in 67 A.D. It was the last inspired letter that the Apostle Paul wrote. Timothy was still pastoring in Ephesus. Paul needed Timothy to come to visit him in Rome because he knew that his life was short and he wanted to see Timothy.

But Paul also knew that Timothy needed encouragement. Think about that. Here is Timothy serving away in Ephesus as its pastor, and his mentor, the Apostle Paul, has been arrested. He's been imprisoned, his execution is looming, and in addition to that, Timothy is facing the normal trials and troubles of ministry in Ephesus. And because of all of that, Timothy has lost some of his heart for ministry.

And so, for those reasons, Paul writes 2 Timothy. Beginning in chapter 1 verse 6, Paul begins to issue a series of instructions, but I want to concentrate on the imperatives that begin in verse 13 and run down through chapter 2 verse 2. Let's read it together, 2 Timothy 1, beginning in verse 13,

Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. And the Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains; but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me – the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day – and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus.

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Joshua, this is the perfect text for this occasion when we ordain you to ministry. Because here is the inspired instructions from Paul to his young son in the faith pastoring in Ephesus. In one sense, though, while this is specific for a pastor, in another sense, the church as a whole, our entire church, each of us, is to be a "pillar and support of the truth." But as a pastor, the truth is at the top of the job description. As Paul's life and ministry comes to a close, he underscores for Timothy what matters most. Paul had given Timothy the truth as a sacred trust. There's nothing more important that I can remind you of tonight than this stewardship.

In the verses that we read together, there are four clear directives regarding our stewardship of the truth. Let's look at them together because out of these directives comes a ministry that is truly spiritual, that truly reflects the heart of the New Testament, a ministry that will last. The first directive is this, preach the truth, preach the truth. Look at verse 13, "Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me." Notice how Paul refers to the truth in this verse. He calls it "sound words." Literally, "healthy words" is how it reads. In other words, words that produce spiritual health. It's in contrast to bad or false teaching, which weakens or destroys spiritual health.

This is kind of a theme Paul flirts with throughout his letters. In 1 Timothy 6:4 he says that there's a person there who is sick, is literally what it says in the Greek text, because of other kinds of teaching. It's a marginal note, even in our NAS. In 2 Timothy 2:16-17 he says false teaching "spreads like gangrene." That's a powerful picture. And again, he connects bad teaching to the destruction of spiritual health.

Timothy, on the other hand, is to be committed to words that produce spiritual health. Specifically, Paul commands Timothy to retain the standard of healthy words, literally, to be continually having or holding to the standard of sound words. Paul is telling Timothy that as the regular practice of his ministry, he is to follow the pattern or the model of teaching sound doctrine that he witnessed firsthand in the ministry of Paul. Paul said basically this, Timothy, you need to know that there are other patterns and models of ministry out there, don't follow them. In fact, in 2 Timothy 4, you remember, he warns in verse 3 that "the time will come when the church will not endure sound doctrine." It's not going to endure teaching that produces spiritual heath,

but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

Listen, people, he says, who are connected to the church of Jesus Christ are going to clamor for teaching that's actually going to destroy their spiritual health. He said, be warned, that's out there Timothy. But instead of following that kind of model, Paul says, you follow the model or pattern that you saw in me of teaching sound or healthy doctrine.

What is the source of sound words or words that promote spiritual health? Look again at verse 13, "sound words," healthy words, "which you have heard from me." Timothy is not only to copy Paul's model of teaching sound doctrine, but he is also to get his content solely from the apostle. The only words Timothy could teach, the only words I can teach, Joshua the only words that you can teach that will produce spiritual health in our hearers are the ones received from the apostle. It was true of Timothy in the first century. It's true of us today.

Sadly, the church of Jesus Christ is desperately sick. It's in a terrible state of health. And tragically, there's one primary reason. And that is, the leaders of the church have substituted words that produce spiritual health, God's Words, for many other kinds of words, their words for God's Word, their ideas in place of the apostles' doctrine, their stories in place of Scripture, their jokes in place of Jesus, their cleverness in place of God's wisdom, their mind instead of the mind of Christ revealed in the pages of God's Word.

The only words we can teach that will promote the spiritual health of those who listen are the words that we have received in the Scripture. Paul makes that point again and again in 1st and 2nd Timothy. The chief duty of shepherds is to feed their sheep. You can fail in a lot of things as a shepherd, but if you don't feed your sheep you're not going to be a shepherd very long. This is the primary way also, by the way, that we as undershepherds show our love for the chief Shepherd.

I have often been reminded of this. This stays with me when those long hours that I spend in my study, and love by the way, it's the joy of my life. But, you know, I'm teaching twice on Sunday two different messages. It's some 30 hours that I spend in my study, and I love those hours. But I'm reminded often in those hours of study that Jesus said to Peter, "'If you love Me, feed my sheep.'" You want to show your love for Jesus Christ as the chief Shepherd? Then feed his sheep, feed His sheep healthy life-giving words. If the Apostle Paul were teaching here tonight, I can guarantee you, in this setting, he would remind us of the stewardship of the truth. That is all of us, for all of us, but especially for those who enter the ministry; he would demand that we preach the truth.

But there's a second imperative in these verses, and it is to live the truth. Look again at verse 13, "Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me," and then he adds this, "in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus." The first half of verse 13 deals with Timothy's teaching. He is to follow the model of the apostle's teaching, he is to teach the apostle's doctrine. But the second half of the verse deals not with Timothy's teaching but with his life. As you teach healthy words, make sure your own spiritual life is healthy. Make sure your own life is characterized, notice, by what he says, "by the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus." When Paul says that Timothy is to accomplish his ministry in faith, he means that he himself is to believe and to be fully convinced of the truth he teaches. In other words, make sure the truth first impacts your own life before you try to teach it to others.

And by the way, this is true in every setting. If you're trying to disciple someone, if you're a dad teaching your family, if you're a mom teaching your kids, if you're a teacher in this church in any capacity, don't even think about teaching until you have been gripped personally by the truth. You need to respond to that truth in faith before you try to help others respond to it in faith. You need to be nourished by the same truth that you teach to others.

Look at 1 Timothy 4, 1 Timothy 4:6. Paul says to Timothy, "In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus," and notice this, as you point them out, you yourself will be "constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following." It's not enough to teach others. We have to be impacted by the truth as well. As you've heard me say before, tragically, too many preachers are like hypodermic needles, who deliver the medicine but seemed to be unaffected by it themselves. That is not appropriate. As Johann Albert Bengal wrote, "Apply yourself wholly to the text and apply the text wholly to yourself." Live in faith. Believe what you teach before you teach it to others.

Paul adds, "Retain the standard of sound words in love," live a life of faith in God and His word and a life of love toward God and others. Essentially, Paul is repeating what he's already said. Look back in 1 Timothy 1:5. He says, "the goal of our instruction," this is what we're aiming for, "is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." Love. Paul continues to address this theme in his second letter. Look at 2 Timothy 2, 2 Timothy 2:22, "Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, pursue love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart."

If we're going to be faithful stewards of the sacred trust given to us, we must preach the truth. But we also must live the truth, so we don't undermine the message that we preach. How in the world can we do that consistently? You know, if your wife is like mine, she actually expects you to live what you teach, and well she should. And well mine should. How can we do that? We teach so much. We study so much. I stand up here and present so much truth to you. How in the world can I live in the light of all of that? Certainly not in my own strength. Notice the small phrase at the end of verse 13, "in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus." The ability to walk in faith in God's Word and in love of God and others can only come from our Lord. It's a reflection of abiding in Him and seeing His character produced in us.

Paul's third imperative comes in verse 14 and it's guard the truth, guard the truth. Preach the truth. Live the truth. Guard the truth. Verse 14, "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you." You know, there are many different images that describe the Scripture, but this verse contains one of the most beautiful in all of Scripture. Notice how he describes it, "the treasure which has been entrusted to you." In reality, there are just three Greek words that that translate. Those three Greek words are literally translated, and you can see the marginal note there in your NAS, literally translated, the good deposit, the good deposit. I'm glad they chose the word treasure in our translation because that doesn't quite capture the same thing. But it's an important concept because it's a word picture.

This is a word picture drawn from the culture of the first century. If you had items of value, there usually weren't banks that you would take and deposit that item of value in. Instead, you would keep it somewhere in your home, somewhere within your home, buried within the inner sanctum of your home, would be some room that was specially prepared to protect your valuables. But if you were going to travel, if you're going to leave your home for any period of time, it wasn't safe just to leave those valuables in the center of your home. Thieves would know you were gone, and they could easily break into a first century home and quickly make off with those things that are of value to you because homes weren't very secure.

And so, if you were going to take a trip, you would leave those things that were truly your treasures in one of two places. Sometimes you would leave it at the temple or the synagogue. There would be places where things could be guarded in that way. But most of the time you would leave it with a family member or with a close and trusted friend. They were responsible to guard what you had entrusted to them until you returned, and then they were to give it back to you. In that culture, if you received that deposit, that good deposit, the treasure of your friend, you took it upon yourself as a sacred trust to guard it and make sure that it was returned to them as you had received it.

I understand a little of that feeling. I've traveled a lot internationally and often when I've traveled missionaries have wanted me to bring with me the maximum amount of cash that is allowed to travel with, and that's a lot of money. And I always felt this heavy weight on me, knowing that I'm walking around with all of this cash, and knowing that this is for a ministry and this came from people's gifts, and there's this responsibility. And I felt that weight until I had handed that money over to the one to whom it belonged.

That's the idea behind this word treasure. It's the good deposit. Paul says, the church is God's family, and the truth, it's like the family treasure. In one sense, the treasure has been entrusted for safekeeping to all of us. As Christians, we are to guard that truth. That's why you are to be like the Bereans. I mentioned that even this morning, you're to be like the Bereans, and you're to listen to what I and others teach, and you're to then measure it against the Scripture to make sure that it's so. Because all of us have that responsibility to help guard the good deposit. But in this context, it's the special duty of teachers called to shepherd Christ's church, guard the deposit, guard the treasure, guard the family treasure.

The word guard is a military word. It gives the idea that we are sentinels, whose job it is to protect the treasure, and the treasure is the truth. It's the truth of God. It is the truth of Scripture. Why do we have to guard it? Why is it in danger? Well, the threats to the truth come from false teachers and false teaching from outside the church, you see that in chapter 3 verses 1 to 9, and from false teacher teachers and apostates within the church. You see it in chapter 2 verse 17. He even mentions two of them. And we have to be on the lookout for both.

You remember what Paul said to the elders in the church in Ephesus in Acts 20:29-30? He says,

I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.

He said, you have got to guard the truth. You've got to guard the family treasure. Because it will be in danger from outside the church and it will be in danger even from some who arise within the church.

But specifically, what are the threats to the treasure? First of all, there is the threat of distraction. Here's what we're to guard against, the threat of distraction. I've often thought of this, you know, in Acts 6. You remember, there was a problem with the care of the widows, and we read this in Acts 6:2,

the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word."

We cannot allow even good things like ministry to get in the way of the truth. It can distract us from the truth and we have to be careful. We have to guard against that.

We have to guard against distortion. Chapter 2 verse 17 says,

there's Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they have upset the faith of some.

So they come in and they say, yes, we believe the Bible, and here's what we believe, just like you do, but, and then there's this variation, and there's a distortion. We have to be on guard, Peter writes in 2 Peter 3:16, "as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand," speaking of Paul here, " some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of Scriptures, to their own destruction." We have to be on guard against distraction from the treasure as well as the distortion of the treasure.

We also have to be on guard against deletion or addition to the treasure. Deuteronomy 4:2, "'You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor should you take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.'" Of course, the New Testament ends with a similar command. Revelation 22:18,

I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; if anyone takes away from the words of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

And of course, there's an example of what this sort of addition or deletion looks like in 1 Timothy 4. You remember, 1 Timothy 4:1, he says, here's what it looks like, "the Spirit explicitly says in latter times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons." And they will be, notice verse 3, "men who forbid marriage," so they're adding to Scripture, "and advocate abstaining from foods which God created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth." So there's always this danger of people deleting from or adding to the truth.

And another danger we have to guard against is destruction, the destruction of the truth. You see, if you distort the Scripture enough, you destroy it. That's what Paul says in Galatians 1, he said, you know, there's this other gospel, this works based gospel, that's being that's being taught and being championed. And he said, but it's not the gospel, it's something else entirely. And that's what happens, if you distort it enough you actually destroy it. We have to be on guard.

If you doubt that there is a need to guard the treasure, go back to 2 Timothy 1, because Paul provides evidence in verses 15 to 18. Here's why you need to guard the treasure, verse 15, in the context of those mentioned in this verse you have an illustration of those who didn't guard the gospel, they "turned away." And, of course, what follows in verse 16 and after is an illustration of one man who was faithful, faithful to Paul, but faithful to the truth, faithful to the treasure. Paul says, "Guard the treasure that has been entrusted to you." Guard it from being lost in your distraction, from its truths being distorted, from those who would take away or add to the Scripture, and from those who would so change it that they would actually destroy it. Guard.

There's one final imperative regarding the stewardship that we have of the truth. You're to preach the truth. You're to live the truth. You're to guard the truth. You're to pass on the truth. Chapter 2 verse 1, "You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." Here Paul continues the series of commands to Timothy. The point of this command, as Paul has already made clear in the previous chapter, is that Timothy is completely unable to perform his assigned task in his own strength. And so he begins verse 1, "You." That's emphatic. "You," Timothy, in contrast to all of those that he's just mentioned back in chapter 1 verse 15, "my son," that's a term, of course, endearment, a gentle reminder that God had used Paul to bring Timothy to faith. He says, "be strong," literally, "be continually strengthened." It's interesting. It's not a command to be strong. It's actually a call to allow God to empower you with the strength required to carry out these commands, "be continually strengthened."

What's the source of this continual strength to accomplish this mission? By "the grace that is in Christ Jesus." It is through the grace available to us that we are in Christ, and it's only by grace that we're able to minister. Again and again, Paul says, it's the grace of God that's accomplishing all these things through me.

Now come to verse 2, "The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." The main verb in that sentence is translated with the English word entrust. What's interesting about that word is it's the verb form of the noun deposit from chapter 1 verse 14. It's to entrust something to someone for safekeeping or transmission. What Paul is saying is this, take what has been deposited with you and deposit it with other faithful men.

Ultimately, to entrust here includes both teaching and modeling. For example, in 1 Timothy 4:11-12 he says, "Prescribe and teach these things." And be an example. It includes both of those, be faithful to teach, be faithful to model. Notice, this isn't a suggestion. It's a biblical mandate. Entrust is an imperative for Timothy and for all church leaders, and by application, folks, for the entire church. We are all to do this. Have you ever realized that you have a responsibility, along with the rest of us, to take the treasure that has been passed to us and make sure it's passed on to the next generation? Shame on us if the truth we have received and the truth we love isn't passed on to those who come behind us.

What is the church responsible to impart to the next generation? Notice, Paul begins the verse, verse 2, with the direct object, "The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses." That's what you're to entrust. That means the whole package of all that Timothy had heard from Paul over the years. I mean, think about this, Timothy was probably converted on Paul's first missionary journey, and he joined Paul for the others. He was with Paul during his first imprisonment. He ministered with Paul in Ephesus and, of course, was eventually sent there to pastor. That's where he was when he received 1st and 2nd Timothy. By then, by this time, Timothy has been Paul's disciple for 20 years.

There was so much that Timothy had learned from Paul, but notice that added expression, "that which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses." That shows us that Paul here is not talking about his personal interactions with Timothy. He's talking about his authoritative teaching as an apostle. Paul is directing Timothy to invest the inscripturated truth that he learned from Paul into men who will teach and live and guard and pass on the treasure as well. This is a sacred trust we're given.

Think of the truth as a baton. We're in the race. Those who ran before us passed that baton of truth to us. And that's why we believe what we believe. If you're here and you're in Christ, somebody has passed the baton of truth to you. You have a responsibility to take that baton and make sure it's passed to the next generation.

How should you choose the men with whom you will deposit the treasure of sound doctrine for the next generation? Paul gives three criteria to help us choose wisely. First of all, give it to men of commitment. Verse 2, they must be "faithful men who will be able to teach." Faithful men, that means the church and the leaders know enough about these men that they can affirm that they are faithful and able to teach. In other words, they have to be men who have already shown commitment in the life and ministry of the church, men whom the church can affirm. Pass on the truth to men of faithfulness, men of commitment, men who have already shown that pattern.

Secondly, to men of character; they must be "faithful men." In other words, they're not merely believers. They're not merely believers who, you know, are breathing, but they must be reliable. They must be dependable. Men who can be trusted to guard the treasure. Negatively, they're not going to neglect the truth for their own ideas or distort the truth, like many that Paul refers to in this letter. Positively, they can be trusted to accurately handle the word of truth.

Why is it important for the men who get the treasure to be faithful? Well just think about what Paul has described in these letters. In chapter 1 verse 15, there are defections from the faith. In chapter 2 verse 18, there are leaders who go astray. In chapter 2 verse 25, there are people who oppose the truth. In chapter 3 verse 8, there are church leaders who will oppose the truth. In chapter 4 verses 3 and 4, the church membership at times will turn from the truth and desire teaching that isn't sound, that isn't healthy. So these men have to be faithful because they're going to face a lot of struggle with the truth.

One additional criterion for picking the right man is make sure you pass on the truth to men of capacity. Verse 2 says, they must "be able to teach others." The Greek word translated able means sufficient for a task, competent, qualified. Sufficient for what? Teaching. This isn't mere human capacity. This, instead, is acknowledging that these men have been gifted by God. They must be competent to teach others because they have been gifted by God Himself to this end.

Our perspective is to be long range. We're responsible to pick men who will be able to carry on the process of teaching, living, guarding, and passing on the treasure to the next generation. And you and I must make sure that they are adequately equipped. That's your responsibility as a pastor. It's mine. It's the elders of this church. And folks, it's the responsibility of every one of us. That's why we have a children's ministry. That's why we have youth. That's why we have young adult. That's why we have adult Sunday school. That's why we have discipleship. That's why we have teaching venues. That's why we gather for corporate worship and study the word of God together.

Folks, we have a family treasure. We need to understand that treasure. We need to live that treasure. We need to make sure that treasure is passed on to the next generation. We must disciple them in their character and holiness. We must provide them with the knowledge of the Scripture, provide them with a developed, systematic theology. We must ensure that they have necessary ministry skills. All of that happens within the context of a church. Oh, we can use other people to help us in that task, like seminary profs, but in the end, it's the mission of the church. It's our responsibility.

Paul's point to Timothy, and mine to you, is that we stand, listen to this, we stand here today in a long line of godly men and women. Think about this. God the Father gave the truth to Christ, according to John 14:24. Christ passed that truth on to His apostles, 1 Timothy 1:11. The apostles, in turn, passed that truth on to the New Testament church in Scripture, and to leaders like Timothy. And those leaders, in turn, passed the truth on to faithful men who would be able to teach others also, and on, and on, and on. That is how the truth, the treasure, the good deposit, has been protected and passed down for 2,000 years of church history. In fact, there have been many people in our lives who have passed the treasure onto us.

If you were raised in a Christian home you can think all the way back to the youngest ages, of people who took that truth and kept depositing it with you, depositing it with you, until you have the treasure. For some of us that started with faithful parents, there have been teachers, disciplers, seminary profs, men whose books we've read, whose messages we've heard, some of them living and some of them long since with the Lord, who have all passed on the deposit of the truth to us.

And Joshua, what I want you to understand tonight, and feel the weight of, is that we are, in essence, passing the treasure on to you, and you are to feel the responsibility for that. We are formally depositing the truth, the treasure, with you. And now, you, along with the rest of us, are part of "the pillar and support of the truth." Our chief responsibility is the treasure, and someday our Lord is going to evaluate our stewardship of that treasure.

Look at 1 Corinthians 4, this passage looms large over my mind often. First Corinthians 4:1, Paul says, you want to think about us accurately, here's how you should think about us, "Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God." This is just another expression for the treasure. "In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found [what?] trustworthy," faithful.

You've been passed, or I should say, you have had passed to you, the treasure. It's now a stewardship that you have, and someday Christ is going to evaluate your trustworthiness as a steward of the treasure. Verse 5, "do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God." For what? For your stewardship of the treasure, the good deposit, the baton, the family treasure, that we have received. So, preach the truth, live the truth, guard the truth, and pass the truth on to the next generation. That is the job description of a man ordained to gospel ministry. Let's pray together.

Father, I thank You for Your faithfulness to ensure that the treasure has been passed down to us. We thank You, Father, all of us here who are in Christ, we thank You for those who invested in us, who took the baton, and week after week, day after day, year after year, kept depositing that truth and treasure with us until we understood it, our arms were able to go around it, and we were able to comprehend that truth well enough to begin passing it on to others. Lord, we thank You for Your goodness in doing that.

I thank You for this church. I thank You for its elders and pastors who are all that this text commands us to be, who do teach the truth faithfully, who live the truth faithfully, who guard it, and who are engaged in passing it on to the next generation.

And Lord, tonight it is our joy, our privilege, to formally ordain Joshua to ministry. Lord, impress upon him that this is now his responsibility. And I pray that you would make him faithful to that end. We pray in Jesus' name, amen.

Well, this is a joyous occasion, but at the same time a solemn and serious one. Let me just briefly remind you what we're doing. Ordination is a formal ceremony in which a biblically qualified and tested man is set apart for a life of full-time ministry. In the New Testament three groups ordained, the apostles ordained elders, the close associates of the apostles, such as Timothy and Titus, ordained elders, and in the third phase, the existing elders in a church ordained other elders. First Timothy 4:14 describes that very thing happening in Ephesus.

Obviously, today there are no longer apostles. There are no longer close associates of the apostles. Instead, the responsibility falls on the elders of the church, the elders of this church, to ordain those who are called and gifted to serve as pastors and elders. In the New Testament that was accompanied usually by the laying on of hands, has its roots in the Old Testament. You're going to see that in just a moment. It has its roots in the Old Testament, when a worshipper would lay his hands on the sacrificial animal in order to identify with that animal.

But to lay hands in the context of ordaining them is not to make them a sacrificial lamb. Rest easy. Instead, it is to affirm their suitability for and acceptance into public ministry. It's to express our identification with them, and it's to, in a sort of picturesque way, to show that we are transferring the same authority that God has given us, as that of elders, to the person on whom we are laying hands. It's to set that person apart for ministry.

Paul says this isn't to be done quickly or hastily. Thorough investigation has to come first. Joshua has been through a long process of testing, including his testimony, his character, his call to ministry, his ministry skills, his theology, his biblical knowledge, and he has done extremely well in all of those areas. At this point, he is not becoming an elder in our church. Rather, we are acknowledging his call, qualifications, and gifting for ministry, but of course we have the full expectation and plan that he will become an elder of this church in the future.

So, with that background, I'm going to ask Joshua and Erin, his wife, to come up here and come right here to the center, down on the main floor. And I'm going to ask the elders to come as well. And we're going to lay hands on Joshua and we're going to have three elders pray. Brian Chandler is going to pray for his personal holiness, his walk with Christ. Justin is going to pray for his family. And then Jonathan is going to pray for his ministry. So let's pray together.

Father, we do desire to recognize Joshua tonight and the work that he has put in, Lord, to be in front of us today. Lord, we are so thankful for the way in which You have led him in this endeavor. And Father, I pray for Joshua's personal holiness. That Lord You would give him the wisdom, the discernment, the courage, and the strength to pursue, Lord, his own disciplines in his own life. Lord, that he would be one who grows in his faith and love and exhibits that in his own life.

That Father, truly he would be a model of the one who walks with You, that is a leader in the church, one who doesn't just proclaim the truth, Father, but one who lives out in his daily life the virtues and the fruit of the Spirit that You've placed within him. Lord, that he wouldn't be one who is without testimony of what he's learned, but one who would be demonstrating these qualities, these characters, in his daily life because he pursues them, he pursues, Lord, with diligence, to be sincere, to be genuine, Lord, to reflect the love that You've shown him to others, Lord, in a way that would please You, that would bring glory and honor to Your name.

And Lord, that there would be within his daily disciplines, time with You in prayer, time with You in Your word, Lord that as he seeks to instruct others that, Lord, first the work would be done on his own soul. And Father, we pray that these qualities wouldn't be evident, but they'd be growing as well as You sanctify him, as You make him more Christ like. And Father we pray that that would be his first priority, is his relationship with You, his love for You, and his love for Your word. We pray these things in Christ's name.

Most gracious heavenly Father, we have been blessed so much as a church for many years to know this man, Joshua Scarborough. And it has been just an incredible testimony of Your goodness to see him grow up to be so faithful to You, Lord. We thank You, Lord, for the blessing of Erin in Joshua's life. Thank You that she is a woman who loves You, loves Your word. We thank You so much for the beauty of their relationship and how there's a clear picture of Christ and the church in how he loves her and how she submits to him, and we pray that that would continue. We are so thankful to see them grow up in love for You and in love for one another, Lord. We pray that their marriage would continue to be blessed and that they would continue to serve our church here and be a great testimony of Your gospel truth Lord.

We thank You, Father, for the blessing of Alice. And we ask, Lord, that she would grow up strong in the word and that she would love You and trust You. We thank You so much for gifting her to Joshua and to Erin and to even the whole Scarborough family, Lord. And we just ask that You would protect her and guide her, Father. We pray that Joshua would balance well the different demands of ministry, but also making sure he's shepherding and loving his wife and raising his daughter well, Lord. We have been so blessed to see Joshua grow into the man that he is, and we continue to ask that You would bless him and his family.

And Father, we thank You for the ways that You are and will continue to use Joshua. We're grateful for the variety of gifts that You have given him and that You have entrusted to him the ministry of pastoral ministry. And Lord, we pray that You would equip him and that You would continue to develop those gifts in him as he pursues serving You faithfully, and that You would use him powerfully. And Lord, pray that as he has opportunities to teach Your word that he would be diligent and faithful in his study, that he would be careful to understand the truth as You have revealed it in Your word, and to clearly communicate that in a way that is faithful to the text and that is clear.

And Lord I pray that he would do that both publicly, as he teaches in various settings, and that he would do that privately in the personal ministry that he has of providing counsel to others and directing them to the truth of Your Word. Lord, might he just have insight not only into speaking sound doctrine, but appropriate truth to those that he interacts with and those that he ministers to in the variety of circumstances and situations that they find themselves.

And Lord, we pray for Joshua as a shepherd. Lord, give him a tender and compassionate heart for Your people as he interacts with others. Might he love them and might he serve them faithfully. And Lord, give him patience with those that he cares for and those that he serves. Give him joy in the ministry that You have entrusted to him in those ways. And Lord, thank You for the gifts that You've given Josh in administration as an overseer. And we pray that You would continue to instill wisdom in him as he leads and directs and seeks to direct ministries for the good of the church here and ultimately for Your glory and for the sake of the kingdom of Christ.

And so, Lord, we just pray that You would continue to help him to be a faithful steward of these gifts. And, Lord, might he focus ultimately on being faithful and being trustworthy and might You do the work of bearing fruit through him in the lives of those in this church and through that influence throughout the world.

And, Lord, we pray as well, as we were reminded of tonight, that he would be faithful not only to minister himself, but to equip others and to pass along this truth to others, as is his heart. And Lord, at the end of his life of ministry might he leave behind a legacy of other faithful men who have been impacted by him, by his example of ministry, and by the truth that he has been intentional to pass along to them, both in his words and in his life. And Lord, let him be what we heard tonight, one who is faithful to preach the truth, and faithful to live the truth, and faithful to guard the truth, and faithful to pass on the truth as well. Lord, we are grateful that he has been a faithful man and that he is indeed able to teach others also. And we pray that You would continue to bear that fruit in his life.

And so, Lord, we entrust him to You. And we interest Erin to You, pray that You would continue to use her as his helpmate, that she would spur him on in those things, that she would be his greatest encourager and his greatest help. And that You would use her in the ministry as well as she and he serve faithfully together, in their family and in the church. Lord, we look forward to all that You have in store for him. We are eager to see Your continued work in his life and through his life. And so, we entrust him to You, for Your glory and for the sake of Christ, in whose name we pray, amen.