Act Eternally

How do you get to do a good work? Number one: be a good man: be a godly man: be a Bible-filled man: be a praying man: and be a calling man. And then, every week lead somebody to Jesus.

Scripture: 1 Timothy 3


Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Yes, this is your friend, Bob Cook. I’m glad to be back with you, bless your heart. Hope everything’s alright at your house. I’m feeling fine. I have no complaints in the world. God has given me good health, a precious wife, and a happy family, and more work than I can do, and more challenge that I can stand up to. As a human being, I have to get on my knees and cry out to God for help, and that’s the way it ought to be. And He’s given me you, my dear friends. I’m grateful for that. Yes, I am. How grateful I am for the people that have worked with me and stood by me through the years. Some folk, for years on end, have just given of themselves in making possible the ministry of yours truly. Boy, am I glad. I’m grateful.

So here we are with the Word of God, and it’s 1 Timothy, chapter 3, and now we’re talking about the qualities of a pastor. It’s a good job. If you, if you can be called to the pastorate or to evangelism or to be a missionary, my dear friend, it’s the highest calling in the world. And, he says, it’s “a good work.” Don’t let anybody ever look down on you if you’re a pastor. You be the kind of person people can look up to.

I want to do a little detour here, if you don’t mind. How do you get to be the kind of a person concerning whom people say, “That’s a good work that he’s doing?” Well, you have to be the right kind of person. Number one, Paul says, you have to, you have to be clean. “Blameless.” You have to straighten up your act, clean up your act. There doesn’t need to be anything that, that can be quoted about you that will make you withdraw from the, the race. That’s first thing.

But, beyond that there needs to be the essence of, of godliness and greatness about you. How do you achieve that? Well, you achieve it – number one – through the Word and through prayer. A practical application of God’s Word in your life will grow you up spiritually and give you caliber, give you stature. And a prayer life that’s regular; spending extra time in prayer and intercession for your members and for your friends and for acquaintances and for yourself, that God may enable you by His Holy Spirit to preach and empower. Praying over your sermons, praying over your calling. Who are you going to call on today? Pray, really pray. That, my friend, will give you the essence of greatness in your life. A good work.

What else? To get out among the people and to share their lives. My rule while I was 18 years full-time in the pastorate was to call three times a day on somebody; three calls a day, 1,000 calls a year. Go tell somebody about the Lord Jesus Christ. Share their needs, cry with them, laugh with them, and pray with them. That’s the way to do it. A good work always has to be with people. You can’t sit in your ivory tower and do God’s work. Well, if you’re called to be a writer, perhaps you can, I don’t know, but if you’re a pastor… We’re talking about pastors now, and that includes – as I broaden the definition a little bit – it includes missionaries and Bible teachers and, and full-time Christian workers of one sort or another. Your job and mine is to get the gospel out and to bless people and to help them and to be with them, and you don’t get very far unless you have constant contact with people where they are. “A homegoing pastor makes a churchgoing people,” they used to tell me in seminary, and that’s pretty good.

Incidentally, one of my pet peeves is they don’t seem to be teaching in seminary anymore, that you ought to call on your people. I asked a young man who had just graduated from a certain seminary – I won’t name it, really doesn’t matter – but he’d just graduated from a certain, pretty well-known seminary. I said, “What did they teach you about how to carry on pastor work?” He said, “Oh, I’ve got to study and I’ve got to pray, I’ve got to preach good sermons, and I’ve got to organize.” I said, “What about calling?” “Oh no, I don’t do that. I get a congregation to do that.” I thought to myself, “Oh boy, are you in for it.”

Well, anyhow, preacher, go call on the people. Get out where they are, and, and you’ll, you’ll preach better sermons.

Charles G. Finney used to walk through a town – when he was going to preach in a given town, at night, he used to walk through the town – having in his hand a piece of brown paper and a pencil, and he would write down different thoughts that came to him as he talked to people and found out about their needs and burdens. And that night he would preach, bringing into the sermon all of these different things that he’d found out about the people during that day. One sermon, they tell me – I read all I could about Charles G. Finney once one summer, and I read this – one of his sermons had 39 points. Can you believe it? Well, I tell you that he got right in where the people live. No wonder they fell under conviction and cried out for salvation, because the Word of God was being applied to their lives.

A good work. How do you get to do a good work? Number one, be a good man, be a godly man, be a Bible-filled man, be a praying man, and be a calling man, and then every week lead somebody to Jesus.

I learned this from J.C. Massey, who was one of my professors when I was in seminary. Dr. Massey had been called to Tremont Temple in Boston as pastor. He, at the time of the call, he was an evangelist, and all of his friends said to him, “Don’t go, don’t go. That will be the end of you. Boston is known as the graveyard of evangelism.” They told him, “Don’t go.” Well, he felt that he must and he did, but he told us fellas as he was talking with us there in the seminary one day, he told us, “I made up my mind that I was going to win one soul a week, myself, to the Lord Jesus Christ, and I’d have that person ready to confess Christ publicly when I gave the invitation.” He smiled broadly and he said, “You know fellas, there were always people that followed that one when I gave the invitation. There never was a time when we didn’t have people coming to Jesus.”

Well, of course. And I, I tried that same practice myself. Win somebody to Christ every week and have them ready to confess the Savior publicly when you give the invitation, and oh, how wonderful it is to find other people following. Train your deacons and trustees and elders and teachers to do the same thing. Train them to be soul winners. If you want to do a good work, hook it to soul-winning. If you want to do a good work, hook it to soul-winning, and you’ll find that God blesses it. Jesus promised His presence to people who would get the gospel out. “Go ye into all the world,” said He, “and preach the Gospel and, lo, I am with you.” When? When you’re preaching the gospel, that’s when. He promised His presence to people who are obeying His command to get the gospel out. Win one soul a week and bring them to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Well, that was a seven-minute detour, wasn’t it? But I enjoyed it and hope you did, too.

A bishop must be “blameless.” We talked about that. “Husband to one wife.” We talked about that. “Vigilant.” We talked about that. Then this word “sober,” a “saved mind.” Has your mind been to Calvary? I guess we talked about that the last time we were together. A mind that thinks God’s thoughts, a mind that’s been to Calvary, a mind where every thought is under control of the Lord Jesus. “Brought every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”

Then, he said, “of good behavior.” Now, you wouldn’t, you wouldn’t think that Paul would have to, to tell these people to behave themselves, would you? The fact is that you can get away with some things that are not conducive to a good ministry, as a minister. You know that? You can get away with some things that are not conducive to blessing other people.

A friend of mine had a church out in the country, and he had country ways. He went to a, he went to preach in some church on a summer’s day, and he was preaching away, and suddenly he had sort of a frog in his throat. And so he, he went over to the open window, coughed and coughed and coughed, and spit out something, and went back up on the platform. The congregation looked a little offended. He said, “Don’t bother, that’s just Baptist liberty.”

Well, “good behavior.” You don’t have to be a dedicated clod. You can know what it is to be a gentleman or a lady. You can have good manners and you should develop them. You can learn to say “please” and “thank you” and “if you please” and “I beg your pardon.” Yes, you can. You don’t have to be like a human bulldozer running over the feelings of others in order to be spiritual.

So, he says, “of good behavior.” Learn to be courteous. Courtesy is one of the things that opens the door to people’s hearts. Did you know that? Thoughtfulness and courtesy open the door to people’s hearts, and you can get in with the gospel, if you’re, if you’re, if you’re courteous. Generosity. Thoughtfulness linked with generosity – that is to say, a thoughtful gift or a thoughtful greeting card – makes such a difference. There are some people who make a habit of this, and, and their friends are legion. People, people just appreciate them so very much because they’re always doing something thoughtful and generous for other people. “Of good behavior” – courtesy, thoughtfulness, generosity, compassion, showing that you care.

Middle of the night, I went over to see one of my students, many years ago, who had had an emergency operation, and they removed his appendix and the contents of his Father’s wallet, as I recall. Well, I went to see him. He was feeling pretty rocky, was just coming out of the anesthetic, and he was hurting, and I sat down beside him and put my hand on his forehead. Talked with him. Prayed with him.

Now, this was a boy that really hadn’t given me the time of day before. He didn’t care too much about Dr. Cook. He saw me as the president of the school who was engaged in keeping him from having as much fun as he wanted to have. I think that that had been the image he’d had of me. But anyway, there I was, and I was sitting beside him, and I was giving him a little love and compassion and prayer, and when I finished praying for him, he looked up and looked at me. Said, “Gee, hey Doc, you do care, don’t you?”

Well, of course I cared, and I did then – I do now for people – but you have to, have to show, you have to prove it. You have to be on the job with it. You have to do whatever is necessary in order to show that you do care. You go and call on a lady that’s sick and say, “I’m sorry, Mary, that you’re sick.” That’s, that’s good. But if the baby needs, needs diapering – you know, a change of seat covers on that little chassis – or if there’s a sink full of dirty dishes, why don’t you file in and be helpful without saying a word? That’ll show that you care. You understand me?

So, good behavior is more than just courtesy. It ought to start there. Ought to learn to be courteous and thoughtful and, and generous and compassionate and trustworthy and dependable. Good behavior means being on time. Good behavior means keeping your, your commitments. Good behavior means behave yourself when you’re on a date, young fella. Good behavior means a right relationship with the opposite sex. All that and probably a good deal more, as the Holy Spirit of God that indwells the believer speaks to our hearts. Good behavior.

Now, the next time we get together we’ll talk about this word, this word, “given to hospitality.” It takes three words to translate one Greek word, and it’s going to be interesting – I promise you – so tune in.

Father God, walk with us today. By Thy Holy Spirit, guide us. By Thy Word, make us think and say and do things that are worthy of eternity, I ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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