“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” I Corinthians 16:13

Reflecting on the history of the ARP Church in America and around the globe, we have witnessed the workings of our great and mighty God and the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Despite the turmoil, intrigue, and volatility that seemingly abounds in the world around us, our God reigns and is building His Church. It is in light of the current climate we face as the Church and as men called to serve that I implore you to take this Moderator’s Challenge to heart.

My challenge to you is a short one and, in fact, really isn’t even my challenge, at all. Instead, my desire is to simply point you to the challenge we have all received from God’s Word and implore you to heed the instructions revealed in it. In his letter to the church in Corinth during his third missionary journey, Paul wrote “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (I Corinthians 16:13) This message is as applicable today for us as it was when Paul wrote this letter some 2000 years ago.

Be watchful. Be watchful of what and when and where? Luke 12:48, “To whom much is given, much is required.” We each have a particular calling to which we will be held accountable. It is imperative that we should be watchful and aware of the circumstances that surround us, so that our witness to others would be fruitful and that God’s will would be accomplished in the many circumstances that we face. We should be watchful for the schemes of the evil one who seeks to divide and conquer. We should be watchful for the opportunities of love and service the Lord brings our way.

Stand firm in the faith. Day in and day out we are confronted with issues that may shake the faith of believers that we shepherd. We certainly live in a fallen world where distractions abound and it seems that evil triumphs over good at just about every turn. It seems that there are more choices and cultural dilemmas confronting us than ever before. So it is important that, as leaders of the church, we be sober-minded, prayerful, and delve heavily into God’s Word, so that our faith may be strengthened as we seek to do God’s will in whatever place or circumstance we find ourselves serving the Lord. Galatians 6:9-10 tells us “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up. So then as we have opportunity let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Act like men and be strong.

In II Timothy 4: 1-5, Paul tells Timothy, “I charge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure ‘sound’ teaching, but have itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

Men, in a world where husbands and fathers have been relegated to serve as instruments of comic relief at best, if they are present at all, and in a world where truth is seen as subjective, where lines between right and wrong are blurred, and where orthodox teaching on biblical manhood and womanhood is often viewed as hate speech or a tool of oppression, it is past time for us to follow the simple instruction to be men who are faithful servants of the Lord. It is past time for us to love our wives as Christ loved the Church and to raise our children and the next generation in the fear and admonition of the Lord. It is time for us to be strong in the Lord, led by the Holy Spirit.

We, as leaders in the ARP Church, whether Ruling or Teaching Elders, have the incredible privilege and responsibility of shepherding the flock wherever God has placed us. By being watchful, standing firm in the faith, acting like men, and being strong in the many circumstances in which we find ourselves, may God find us faithful to fulfill His will. I Peter 5:6-7 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” May we at the appointed time and day, by God’s grace and a, be able to say as Paul told Timothy, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Until the time God calls us home, may the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob endow you with knowledge and wisdom from above so that your call to service will be pleasing to Him.