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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

Ministerial Qualifications

C.H. Cayce

From the Primitive Baptist

Part 1

June 20, 1935

This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous, one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.-(I Timothy 3:1-7). It seems to us that the above language is as plain and clear and positive as it is possible for language to be. The apostle here tells what a bishop MUST BE. That is, a man is to have the qualifications here laid down, or else he is not to be put into that office. He MUST have these qualifications. He must meet these requirements. He must be blameless. That is the first thing the apostle puts down in the catalog. To be blameless is to be free from blame or fault. Not to be blameless is to be guilty of that which is worthy of blame, or deserving of censure or disapprobation; culpability; fault; crime. His life must be above reproach. Unless his life is above reproach, and yet he is ordained to the work of the ministry, the church utterly disregards the plain requirements of God's inspired word. It is true that every man who makes anything makes mistakes. No man reaches a state of sinless perfection here in this life. There has never been but one who lived a life of sinless perfection here, and that was Jesus, the God-man, the anointed Saviour. But He was God as well as man; He was God manifest in the flesh. While it is true that no man can or does reach a state of sinless perfection here in the flesh, yet God's children can and should “through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body.” They should keep the body under subjection, and thus live a life above reproach; and unless one does this he is not to be ordained or set apart to the office of an elder or bishop, or to the work of the ministry. To go contrary to this is a flagrant violation of the word of God,” The husband of one wife.” This does not necessarily mean that he must be married. The Apostle Paul, who wrote this letter to Timothy, was not married. But he must be the husband of one wife only-or the husband of only one wife. That is, he may have a wife; but he must not have more than one wife. This does not mean that if he has a wife and the wife dies he must not marry again. If the wife dies, then he does not have a wife. He did have a wife, but the wife died and then he has no wife. There is no law of God forbidding a man having a wife, so he may marry again, since he has no wife after the death of the one who was his wife. There is another point here which we shall not discuss at length in this place, as it has been “threshed out”  heretofore; and that is in the case of fornication or adultery. If a wife commits adultery or fornication she breaks the marriage bond and thereby becomes dead to her husband. Being dead to him, he is left without a wife. As there is no law of God forbidding a man having a wife, but the marriage state being honorable in the sight of God, the man, in such a case, is free to marry again, and is no adulterer-no more so than if the first wife should die and be put under the ground and he then marry again. But no man is to be set apart to the work of the ministry who has more than one wife. He must not be an adulterer. He must not be living in adultery. This is God's law, and we cannot disregard it without bringing trouble and distress upon ourselves and upon the church. He must be vigilant. To be vigilant is to be alertly watchful as one keeping vigil; circumspect; alert; attentive to discover and avoid danger, or to provide for safety. See Webster. The true minister-the one the Lord has made-is a watchman. “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.” -(Ezekiel 3:17); (33:7). As a watchman he must be vigilant. He must be alert in watching. He is not to be “asleep on the job.”  He must be attentive to discover and avoid danger, and he must give the alarm when he sees danger approaching. If there is, some departure from the principles of truth in doctrine or practice making any sign of approach, it is the business of the watchman, the minister, to detect it, and he must give the cry and warn the house of Israel of the threatened danger. It is dangerous to the Lord's house to depart from what God has authorized. If one does not possess this qualification he has no business being set apart to the work of the ministry. He must be vigilant; he must be watchful. This does not mean that he must be watching for an opportunity to find fault with his brethren, but he must be watchful to warn the brethren against every false way. He must be sober. Sober means, 1. Not so influenced by alcoholic liquors as to have one's faculties materially impaired; not drunk; also, habitually temperate in the use of liquor. 2. Temperate or moderate in thought or action; exercising cool, dispassionate reason; self-controlled. 3. Characterized by dispassioned reason or judgment; rational; as sober judgment. 4. Serious or subdued in demeanor, habit, appearance, color, etc.; solemn; grave; sedate. See Webster. How important this requirement is. How disgusting for a man professing to be a gospel minister to be under the influence of intoxicating liquor. Even if he is not so drunk but what his legs will walk straight, yet it is disgusting in the extreme, to us, for his breath to be smelling like an old rotten whisky barrel. The filthy smell of whisky on the breath of any professed follower of the Lord is bad enough, and much worse on the breath of one professing to occupy the sacred desk as a minister of the gospel of the grace of God. It is enough to “turn the stomach”  of any decent person on earth, much less a poor hungering child of grace, who longs for the way to glorify God. Lord, deliver thy kingdom and thy poor saints from such professed leaders! But there is more than one way for one to be drunk. “They are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.” -((9:9) (Isaiah 29:9). When one staggers he does not walk straight; he is drunk; he is not sober. But the minister must be sober. He should be sober in his demeanor-that is, in the way he conducts himself. If he is not living that way, to begin with, he should not be set apart to the work. If he has already been set apart, and ceases to be sober, gets drunk, and begins to stagger, or walk crooked, he should be deposed from the office by the church. The church should remember, and not forget, that the minister MUST BE SOBER. And they should act accordingly. Thus much serious trouble in the church may be averted. Let us be faithful and true to our Lord, and not have the favor of men to control our actions. But what we do in the service of God should be in love and tenderness and humility, having the good of the cause at heart and in view. Do nothing in the spirit of malice, hatred or revenge. He must be of good behaviour. “These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” -(I Timothy 3:14-15). The apostle wrote Timothy that he might know how he ought to behave himself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God. He was given proper instruction. We find that instruction in the Book. If we follow the teaching, or instruction, given therein, we will behave ourselves in the church of God. If one does not behave it is because he is not observing the instruction given. But the apostle tells us the minister must be of good behaviour. He must behave himself. If he does not, he needs to be “taken to task,”  if he has already been set apart to the office. If he does not behave before being set apart, the church has no Scriptural right to set him apart. How careful the church should be in this matter of ordaining men to the work of the ministry. We feel satisfied that much of the trouble that has come in the church has been on account of the failure to observe and take heed to the plain and positive instruction the Lord has given concerning this all-important matter. We have just begun to hint at some of the things concerning this subject, but our space is taken up for this time, and we will have to continue the subject, and will try to write more for the next issue. C. H. C.