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11. God Conquers Spiritual Complacency (Judges 14:1-15:17, Samson)

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Judges: A Drifting People, A Delivering God (part eleven)

Have you ever been diagnosed with spiritual complacency? This disease seems especially to prey on modern Christians. Several conditions can result from spiritual complacency, and none of them are good. When Christians coast we become more vulnerable to temptation and sin. We experience discord in our relationships with others. We settle for far less than God's ideal for our lives. When considered in this light, it quickly becomes apparent that there is no such thing as coasting in the faith: we're always moving either forward or backward. Which direction are you heading?

Related Topics: Christian Life, Discipleship, Sanctification, Spiritual Life

12. God Conquers Selfish Indulgence (Judges 16:4-31, Samson)

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Judges: A Drifting People, A Delivering God (part twelve)

Are you known for your selfishness or your sacrifice? Sometimes God has to take things away from us so that we'll recognize our tendency toward selfish indulgence. Such was the case for Samson. God had to "prime the pump" by removing something precious to him. Only then could Samson offer a willing sacrifice. Christians should strive for God's pleasure rather than our own, willingly offering ourselves for the good of others and the glory of God. As we prepare through Lent to celebrate the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus this Easter, may we learn what it means to sacrifice for God and others.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Sacrifice, Spiritual Life

An Urgent Call to Shepherd God’s Flock — Peter’s Instruction to Shepherds (1 Peter 5)

Biblical Eldership Resources is dedicated to helping believers understand: 1. What biblical eldership is (Teaching) 2. How to implement biblical eldership in your local church (Implementation) 3. How to become more effective in the pastoral care that elders exercise over the local church (Effectiveness). Learn more at http://biblicaleldership.com

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This six part series contains an urgent call to the leaders of the church to shepherd the people of God. Based on an exposition of 1 Peter 5, Alex Strauch challenges leaders to take seriously their responsibility. In this series Alex explains in detail how Peter writes as an elder to fellow elders, how he gives a specific charge to elders, how he calls them to shepherd God's flock in God's Way, how he shares a promise of future rewards for elders, and how he reminds them of the importance of the shepherd's presence among the flock.

Each of these six lessons is a 15 minute video presentation (audio is also available), and has a detailed outline to accompany it. For the official introduction to the series listen above to the short audio introduction by Chuck Gianotti.

Related Topics: Discipleship, Ecclesiology (The Church), Issues in Church Leadership/Ministry, Leadership, Pastors

1. An Urgent Call to Shepherd God’s Flock

Biblical Eldership Resources is dedicated to helping believers understand: 1. What biblical eldership is (Teaching) 2. How to implement biblical eldership in your local church (Implementation) 3. How to become more effective in the pastoral care that elders exercise over the local church (Effectiveness). Learn more at http://biblicaleldership.com

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Detailed Outline
Part 1 of 5

“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight.” (1 Peter 5:1-2a ESV)

Introduction

A. So often, Peter is over-shadowed by Paul. We don’t even think of Peter’s instruction to the elders.

1. But may I remind you that the first church was held together, taught, and protected by Peter and the eleven other apostles? Peter was a great man and a gifted teacher and leader.

2. If we want to understand eldership as God intends, we need Peter as much as we need Paul. And we need Luke’s teaching in Acts, and the teaching of James, who was also an apostle.

B. Background

1. Up until this point in the letter, Peter has been addressing the suffering, persecuted churches. He has told them how they are to handle suffering and persecution in a hostile world. Now he turns to the leaders of all the congregations. They are usually the first to suffer persecution or be targeted by the opposition.

2. Peter is writing to many churches throughout northern Asia Minor. He assumes there is a body of elders in each church. This is the consistent pattern throughout the NT – a body of elders in each congregation.

3. When believers are suffering and under pressure, the leaders of the church make all the difference. In times of persecution or trouble, leaders are most needed to keep the flock united, encouraged, rested, and growing.

I. Peter — an Elder — to Fellow Elders (v. 1)

A. A Fellow Elder

1. By identifying himself as a “fellow elder,” Peter establishes a special bond of affection with the church elders. He creates a sense of colleagueship and mutual regard.

a) At one time Peter was a local church elder. He served with eleven other men during turbulent times in the church in Jerusalem.

b) At the time he wrote 1 Peter, Peter was an active shepherd caring for many churches. Hence, Peter has every right to call himself a “fellow elder.”

2. As a fellow elder, Peter sympathizes with the problems and dangers the Asian elders face.

a) He knows spiritual warfare and the practical problems of shepherding a church.

b) He serves daily on the front lines of battle. He knows how difficult the work is and is well-acquainted with the many pitfalls, abuses, and temptations of leadership.

c) He, too, feels the daily pressures and strains of pastoral responsibility.

B. A Witness of the Sufferings of Christ

1. The “sufferings of Christ” to which Peter testifies are the sufferings common to all believers as a result of confessing Christ and living in a Christ-like manner in an unjust, sinful world.

2. It is similar to 2 Corinthians 1:5, where Paul talks of sharing in Christ’s sufferings. Peter himself will face death soon, so he is a fellow sufferer.

3. This phrase could mean, however, that Peter witnessed the many sufferings of Christ over a period of two years from his opponents and ending at the cross.

C. A Partaker in the Glory to be Revealed

1. The future glory that Peter shares with the Asian elders is the joyous anticipation of the glory that will be revealed when Christ returns.

2. In the same way they have shared in Christ’s sufferings, so, too, they will share in the glory to come. This is a very encouraging promise (1 Peter 1:7, 11; 4:13).

II. Peter’s Charge to the Elders (v. 2)

A. Do all that a shepherd should do.

“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you.” Peter exhorts the elders to be what good shepherds should be, or, as one commentator says, “do everything that shepherding requires.” Peter’s charge encompasses the full shepherding responsibility of feeding, folding, protecting, and leading.

1. Peter knows people and the common temptations leaders face. He knows how often leaders:

a) Fail to be alert,

b) Do not push themselves to grow and change,

c) Get preoccupied with self-interests,

d) Are passive in their work,

e) Are minimalists,

f) Fail to be the kind of leaders that connect with the people,

g) Are not hands-on shepherds.

2. Reality is sad.

a) The Galatian elders and the Ephesian elders all failed to guard the church. False teachers entered in with minimal resistance.

b) The religious leaders of Jesus’ day failed the people. In Mark 6, when Jesus saw the people, He said they were like sheep without a shepherd. And He began to teach them. The problem was, the religious leaders had failed to shepherd the people with good teaching.

3. What Peter said needs to be said today. There is always this problem of elders not doing their job as they should. Do the job. Be effective. Be diligent. Be skilled. Know what you are doing.

a) On the authority of the apostle Peter, I say to you: Be everything that a shepherd should be to the people. Be like the Chief Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ. When he saw the people, he felt compassion and taught them many things (Matt. 14).

b) These are the words of our Lord to Peter 35 years before: “Shepherd my sheep,” and “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-19).

c) Lord loved the church and gave himself for her (Eph. 5:25).

Related Topics: Discipleship, Ecclesiology (The Church), Issues in Church Leadership/Ministry, Leadership, Pastors

2. An Urgent Call to Shepherd God’s Flock

Biblical Eldership Resources is dedicated to helping believers understand: 1. What biblical eldership is (Teaching) 2. How to implement biblical eldership in your local church (Implementation) 3. How to become more effective in the pastoral care that elders exercise over the local church (Effectiveness). Learn more at http://biblicaleldership.com

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Part 2 of 5

II. Peter’s Charge to the Elders (v. 2) (cont.)

B. What Shepherds Do

Peter, like Paul, uses the powerful, vivid imagery of shepherding sheep. This imagery appears throughout the Old Testament, and thus, is ready-made for explaining the tasks of elders. Elders are to shepherd sheep. However, they are not literal sheep but people.

1. The imagery of shepherding sheep pictures the following concepts:

a) Hard Work – Shepherding is hard work. It’s a busy life. Paul says to the Ephesian elders, “In all things, I have shown you that by working hard in this way, we must help the weak” (Acts 20:35).

b) Long Hours – The shepherd’s task is really never done. It starts early in the morning with taking the sheep out of the fold, being with them all day, returning to them to the fold in the evening, and guarding them at night. As elders you may get phone calls at any time of day. The state of the church is on your mind 24 hours a day. It is an intangible aspect of the work.

c) Sacrifice – There is a great deal of sacrifice on the part of the shepherd. He gives his life for the sheep. He must be dedicated to them. They are dependent upon him. In some cases, the shepherd will literally give his life for the sheep.

d) Dangerous Work – Sheep have many predators, and the shepherd must be constantly alert to danger. This means the shepherd must have courage. The chief enemy of the church of Jesus Christ is the false teacher. But the false teacher is only an agent of Satan. Like wolves, they never give up and never rest. Shepherds are in the direct line of Satan’s attacks. He will always attack them most viciously.

e) Skills – Shepherding entails many skills. It requires management of land, water, and the sheep’s health. There is a great deal of knowledge that goes into raising a healthy flock. Elders have to be good managers of the people, to be sure their gifts are not squandered. They have to know how to motivate and guide people and solve problems. In other words, good shepherd-elders are effective in their work.

f) Presence – One of the most mysterious parts of this job is the presence of the shepherd with the sheep. The sheep only rest when the shepherd is present, and the sheep know instinctively if the shepherd is not there. In other words, the sheep and the shepherd build a relationship. You cannot be a cold, unfriendly, absentee elder. The people will not follow you.

g) Love – Ultimately, the shepherd must love the sheep because he has to be with them all the time. This implies care, tenderness, gentleness and at times, toughness.

h) Authority – The shepherd has authority over the sheep to lead, discipline, teach, protect and care for them.

All of these ideas are entailed in the phrase “Shepherd God’s flock.” Thus the image is rich in its meaning for an elder. Some leaders today don’t like this old-fashioned image, and they would rather use the image of a CEO of a corporation. But this does not fit the nature of the church. It is the wrong imagery for the family of God.

2. What Shepherds Actually Do

a) Protecting

1) The church has many enemies. Satan and his merry band of false teachers are constantly attacking the church. If elders are sleepy, the church will be devoured.

2) You need to know who the wolves are who are surrounding your church and in your culture. It is our job to protect the church from the wolves that now attack our flocks. This means you need to be knowledgeable of the present-day theologies that will divide and ruin your church.

b) Teaching/Feeding

1) One of the best ways to protect the church is through feeding it nourishing food to make the sheep strong. In Acts 20, Paul tells the Ephesian elders that he did not shrink from declaring to them the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).

2) Feeding is the first and most important job of the elder. Everything the elders do is by means of the Word of God. That is why an elder must meet the Titus 1:9 qualifications.

3) You need to know how to feed the flock, and how to teach the whole counsel of God. This requires a clear philosophy of feeding the flock. This will include knowing how to teach the Word of God accurately, how to deliver a message in an interesting and challenging way. Just filling in the pulpit with a warm body is not teaching the people.

c) Leading

1) Sheep must be led in and out of the fold. They must be brought to fresh pasture in the hot summer months. They also have to be found when they are lost.

2) The biggest complaint I hear about elders is that they are not leading. They don’t solve problems. They don’t confront issues that are hurting the church. They have no fresh vision, no mission. They are caretakers, maintaining the past. They are not in touch with the people or the problems and they may not even know what to do.

3) People want to be led! They want their leaders to solve problems, to challenge the church, to take the church forward, and to be attentive.

d) Healing

1) This is the healing ministry – the many practical aspects dealing with disease, the sheering of sheep, keeping them from fighting, and keeping them clean.

2) For the elders it is counseling people, marrying people, burying people, and ministering to families.

Related Topics: Discipleship, Ecclesiology (The Church), Issues in Church Leadership/Ministry, Pastors

3. An Urgent Call to Shepherd God’s Flock

Biblical Eldership Resources is dedicated to helping believers understand: 1. What biblical eldership is (Teaching) 2. How to implement biblical eldership in your local church (Implementation) 3. How to become more effective in the pastoral care that elders exercise over the local church (Effectiveness). Learn more at http://biblicaleldership.com

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II. Peter’s Charge to the Elders (v. 2) (cont.)

C. The Church is God’s flock.

Since the elders are to “shepherd” the local church, those they tend are figuratively called “the flock [poimnion] of God among you.” What makes this flock special is that it is God’s flock. The flock metaphor signifies the Church’s true ownership and recognizes its dependence and need for feeding, protection, and care.

1. Ownership

a) As Paul reminded the Ephesian elders, this flock is the one “He [Christ] purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). Elders must never forget that the flock is not their own.

b) They should never be indifferent toward a single one of the sheep. The sheep are of immense value to God because of the price paid for them. It is a great honor to be under-shepherds of God’s blood-bought flock. Do you see it that way?

c) Cranfield draws out the implications of this truth when he writes,

“A church that could be ours would be only a false church. So the sheep are not ours for us to use or misuse as we like. If we lose one, we lose another’s property, not our own; and He is not indifferent to what becomes of His flock.” – Charles Cranfield

2. Dependence

a) The Bible teaches that people are like sheep (1 Peter 2:25), and sheep cannot be left unattended. Their well-being depends on a great deal of care and attention.

b) As God’s sheep, Christian people need to be fed God’s Word and to be protected from wolves in sheep’s clothing. They need continuous encouragement, comfort, guidance, prayer, and correction.

c) Elders, you are needed. The people need you to do the job that the Holy Spirit has called you to do – to shepherd them effectively. Don’t let them down. Give your life, your time, your energy, and your efforts for the sheep. Give them your all.

D. Exercising Oversight

1. Following the imperative command to shepherd God’s flock, Peter further describes the elders’ duty: “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight.” This word is the verbal form of the noun, “overseer.”

2. The terms shepherding and overseeing are often closely associated because they are similar in concept. In this passage, overseeing is equivalent to shepherding.

a) Shepherding is the figurative expression, while overseeing is the literal term, which can be used to clarify the first.

b) To shepherd the flock entails oversight--the overall supervision and watchful care of the flock.

III. Peter’s Call to Shepherd God’s Flock in God’s Way (vv. 2-3)

God is preeminently concerned about the motives, attitudes, and methods of those who lead his people, so Peter considers the attitudes or motives that should or should not characterize the elders to be very important. Therefore, he carefully describes how the elders are to serve.

A. “Not Under Compulsion, but Willingly, As God Would Have You”

1. God doesn’t want reluctant, unwilling shepherds to care for his people, so Peter warns against an elder serving “under compulsion.”

a) If a man serves as an elder because his wife or friends pressure him to serve, or because he is trapped by circumstances, or because no one else will do the work, he is serving “under compulsion.”

b) Lenski captures the spirit of Peter’s thought well when he says elders are not to serve “like drafted soldiers but like volunteers.”

2. In contrast to serving under compulsion, Peter emphatically says that elders are to shepherd the flock “freely,” “willingly,” and “voluntarily.” Those who oversee the church “voluntarily” do so because they freely choose to serve. It is what they want to do.

a) The willing spirit that Peter speaks of is “according to the will of God” (literally, “according to God”). Glad, voluntary service is God’s standard. It is the way God expects things to be done. God is not a reluctant, unwilling shepherd. He cares for his sheep gladly, willingly, freely, and graciously. In the same way that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7), he loves cheerful, willing elders.

b) This motivation comes from the Holy Spirit, according to Acts 20:28. When the Holy Spirit moves a person to desire eldership, he gives the motivation, energy and desire.

B. “Not for Shameful Gain, but Eagerly”

Peter next addresses what Cranfield terms “the spirit of hirelings.” This is a big problem worldwide.

1. I have collected over the years many newspaper articles about the Lord’s servants stealing or misappropriating money.

a) This is why, whenever money is handled, it must be done by a group of people and accountability, open to the church. Even the best of people are tempted to steal.

b) Example: one pastor was caught playing golf every week and charging it to the church’s credit card. When he was caught doing this, he said it was ministry he was doing with other men. The problem was no one knew the money had been appropriated to this so-called ministry. There are many other ways people can misappropriate the Lord’s money and excuse petty theft.

2. In contrast, Peter describes the right spirit in which to shepherd God’s flock as “eagerly.” The word means “readily,” “zealously,” and “enthusiastically.” “Eagerness” emphasizes, even more than the term “voluntarily,” personal desire and passion. It is this kind of eagerness--a strong desire and motivation--that is endorsed by the “trustworthy statement” of 1 Timothy 3:1.

a) Eager elders are driven to care for the sheep. The sheep are their life, their chief concern. Hence, they are not concerned about the personal sacrifice they make or their own financial gain.

b) Like Paul, who at times provided his own income through tent making, they gladly serve without pay or recognition (Acts 20:33-35). They go beyond minimal duty, self-interest, and money. They love to shepherd God’s people. They are eager to do the work of an elder.

Related Topics: Discipleship, Ecclesiology (The Church), Issues in Church Leadership/Ministry, Leadership, Pastors

4. An Urgent Call to Shepherd God’s Flock

Biblical Eldership Resources is dedicated to helping believers understand: 1. What biblical eldership is (Teaching) 2. How to implement biblical eldership in your local church (Implementation) 3. How to become more effective in the pastoral care that elders exercise over the local church (Effectiveness). Learn more at http://biblicaleldership.com

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III. Peter’s Call to Shepherd God’s Flock in God’s Way (vv. 2-3) (cont.)

C. “Not Domineering over Those in Your Charge, but Being Examples to the Flock”

The third unworthy motive for an elder is a far more subtle and widespread temptation than that of greed. It is the desire to rule over others.

1. The verb for “domineering over” (katakyrieuo) means “ruling over” or “lording it over.” This term is used here in a negative sense. The idea is seeking to control people.

2. Jesus, on the other hand, in what has been called the “great reversal,” taught servant leadership and modeled it for his disciples:

“I am among you as the one who serves” (Luke 22:27b ESV).

a) He taught that leaders are to serve one another, to act humbly toward one another, and to live in loving brotherly community. It is others-oriented leadership, not self-oriented leadership. It is giving one’s life for the building up and advancing of others.

b) Jesus Christ, thus, taught a style of leadership that emphasized service and humility. This does not mean people do not have authority to shepherd and oversee people. It means they are to exercise their authority in a way that builds up other people and is not abusive.

3. The clause, “those in your charge,” further strengthens the concept that the people are not the elders’ possessions to be ruled over. The people do not belong to the elders; they belong to the One who assigned them to the elders’ care, that is, to God.

a) Kleros means an “allotment” or “portion assigned to someone” (Acts 1:17; 8:21). Kleros, then, is something given, not earned. In this context, it is not land, money, or responsibility that is allotted, it is God’s people. Thus the elders are prohibited from ruling over them as a lord rules over his subjects. The people are not the slaves of the elders.

b) Peter is saying that God has allotted portions of the whole flock of God to various groups of elders (John 10:16; 1 Peter 5:9). In a similar way, Peter refers to the specific flock of God in which the respective elders function as “the flock of God among you [in your care]” (1 Peter 5:2; italics added). The elders, then, are not to rule over their allotted portions of God’s flock. Peter’s warning against ruling over others certainly demonstrates that elders had authority to govern.

4. In contrast to ruling over others, elders are to be examples or models of godly living.

a) Much of the Bible is biographical, demonstrating by example how and how not to live for God. Jesus is the greatest example of all and the chief example to follow (1 Peter 2:21).

b) So in the church, the elders’ primary style of leadership is to model Christ. They are to be role models. Ultimately in the end, people follow those they respect and love. People don’t care what your title is. They care about how you live and minister to others.

5. Throughout this epistle, Peter emphasizes the importance of humility and submission (1 Peter 2:13-3:12; 5:5). If elders are petty rulers over the local church, others will follow their example, fighting one another to gain power and recognition. This is the wrong role model, as we will see in the next verse.

Related Topics: Discipleship, Ecclesiology (The Church), Issues in Church Leadership/Ministry, Leadership, Pastors

5. An Urgent Call to Shepherd God’s Flock

Biblical Eldership Resources is dedicated to helping believers understand: 1. What biblical eldership is (Teaching) 2. How to implement biblical eldership in your local church (Implementation) 3. How to become more effective in the pastoral care that elders exercise over the local church (Effectiveness). Learn more at http://biblicaleldership.com

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Part 5 of 5

“And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”” (1 Peter 5:4-5 ESV)

IV. Peter’s Promise of Future Rewards for Elders (v. 4)

A. The Chief Shepherd

Peter appropriately calls Jesus Christ the “Chief Shepherd.” According to the New Testament there is only “one flock with one shepherd” (John 10:16) and Jesus Christ is that one, incomparable, irreplaceable Shepherd. Someday he will return in all his glory to take his flock to be with him forever. At that time, the “Chief Shepherd” will fully reward his under-shepherds.

1. The imagery of the “Chief Shepherd” or “Arch Shepherd” (archipoimenos) emphasizes Christ’s relationship to all other shepherds. Because he is “Chief,” all other shepherds are his under-shepherds.

2. As under-shepherds, all elders are under the authority and rule of the Chief Shepherd. Thus, the elders’ shepherding work must be done in complete agreement with his ways and teaching. And that is just what we learned in the above verses.

a) Like their loving Chief Shepherd, shepherding elders must shepherd the flock eagerly and willingly, as models of godly disposition.

b) Shepherding elders are not free to speak or lead the people in any way they wish, for they must answer to the Chief Shepherd. “Christian leadership is thus a sharing in the leadership of Christ under his direction.”

3. What could be more encouraging to faithful shepherds who face many heartaches, problems, trials, and persecutions than to look forward to Christ’s return as the “Chief Shepherd” and to share in his divine glory? When elders think of Christ as “Chief Shepherd,” their present work is enhanced and his return becomes even more personal.

B. The Unfading Crown of Glory

1. Peter states that upon Christ’s return the faithful elders will receive an “unfading crown of glory.”

a) In this context, “crown” is used symbolically to represent reward or special honor. The reward is for faithful, honorable achievement as under-shepherds of God’s flock.

b) This crown is unlike any earthly crown made of precious metal or ivy because it is “unfading.” It will never wither like a laurel wreath or tarnish like gold.

2. The reason for this crown’s unfading quality is that the material used to make this crown is divine, heavenly glory. The adjective “glory” tells us of what the crown consists.

a) In Greek, “glory” is a genitive of apposition, meaning that the crown consists of glory. The glory is the reality, and the crown is the metaphor.

b) This glory is Christ’s glory that will be displayed at his appearing. He will give the “crown of glory” to his under-shepherds.

3. What a time of victory, vindication, and joy Christ’s appearance will bring to lowly, unnoticed elders who have faithfully shepherded God’s flock!

a) Hard-working, selfless shepherds may not have many earthly goods to show for a lifetime of toil, but some day the Chief Shepherd will come and fully reward his under-shepherds.

b) Their work will no longer go unnoticed or unappreciated, for he will reward them publicly before the hosts of heaven. He will bestow on them heavenly honor and glory. All elders are to keep their eyes steadfastly fixed on his appearing, for reward day is coming!

V. Peter’s Exhortation for Mutual Humility (v. 5)

A. The Call to Submission

1. Peter has just exhorted the elders not to lord it over the flock. Now he feels compelled to instruct the younger members to subject themselves to the elders.

2. The younger adult members who are diligently working – eager for change and further service – are the ones who are most likely to conflict with the church elders.

a) If the eldership is stagnant or ineffective, the younger adult members are the ones who are most likely to be discontent.

b) Such younger people are often (but not necessarily) junior leaders, ready to learn from and assist those directing the church. But their very readiness for service and commitment can make them impatient with the leaders, who either due to pastoral wisdom or the conservatism that often comes with age are not ready to move as quickly or as radically as they are.

c) It would be quite fitting to address such people with an admonition to be subject to their elders. Indeed, particularly in a time of persecution their willingness to take radical stands without considering the consequences could endanger the church.

3. The best training a Christian young person can have in preparation for church leadership is to first learn to submit to those in spiritual leadership. A spiritually keen young man can gain invaluable wisdom and leadership skills through the experience of older, godly men, even if they are not paragons of leadership excellence (which most are not).

B. The Call to Humility

1. Knowing the ever-lurking potential for disagreement, fighting, and division between all parties in the local church, accentuated by the pressures of a hostile society, Peter offers the best possible counsel. This counsel is both for the junior leaders and for the elders. Elders are included in the command to wear the proper “clothing” when gathering together with others:

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)

2. Only when everyone wears the garments of humility--elders, young men, women, and deacons--will peace and unity prevail.

3. This is excellent advice for all churches, for all elders, all younger, junior leaders. It is not possible to live and work together without humility. And we should be very concerned about the attitude of humility because of the frightening statement, that God opposes and resists the proud and his grace comes to the humble.

“What a blessed influence is the holy character and conduct of Christian elders calculated to diffuse through the church.” – John Brown

Related Topics: Discipleship, Ecclesiology (The Church), Issues in Church Leadership/Ministry, Leadership, Pastors

The Importance of the Shepherd’s Presence (1 Peter 5:2)

Biblical Eldership Resources is dedicated to helping believers understand: 1. What biblical eldership is (Teaching) 2. How to implement biblical eldership in your local church (Implementation) 3. How to become more effective in the pastoral care that elders exercise over the local church (Effectiveness). Learn more at http://biblicaleldership.com

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“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you.” (1 Peter 5:2 ESV)

Introduction

A. Peter exhorts the Asian elders to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you” (1 Peter 5:2).

B. One of the most amazing aspects of shepherding sheep is the presence of the shepherd among the sheep.

C. In his book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Philip Keller writes:

In the course of time I came to realize that nothing so quieted and reassured the sheep as to see me in the field. The presence of their master and owner and protector put them at east as nothing else could do. Continuous conflict and jealousy within the flock can be a most detrimental thing. The sheep become edgy, tense, discontented, and restless. They lose weight and become irritable. But one point that always interested me very much was that whenever I came into view and my presence attracted their attention, the sheep quickly forgot their foolish rivalries and stopped their fighting. The shepherd’s presence made all the difference in their behavior.” – Philip Keller

D. Of course this applies supremely to Christ’s presence among his people.

1. He promises us his continual presence. He is the shepherd and we are his sheep. We know he is always with us. And this is comforting and reassuring to the troubled believer.

2. In John 10, Jesus is the Good Shepherd. And it says, the sheep know his voice (10:4) and he knows their names (10:3). There is a wonderful intimacy between Christ and his people.

E. In a similar way, the elders’ presence makes a big difference to the flock.

You need to know and understand, that your presence is important to the people and it makes a big difference in how they act and feel. This is a true reality.

F. Illustration

I remember once we had an all-church picnic. A number of the elders did not show up. Others showed up late. As I was circulating among the people, I was asked by almost everyone, “Where are the elders?” They were not saying that to be critical. They really wanted to know where they were. They love the elders. I don’t even think they realized they were saying what they did.

I. Invisible Shepherds

A. They have a title and an office, but they have no presence among the people.

B. They come to church on Sunday morning, and see their friends and relatives, but do not understand the importance of their presence among the entire flock.

C. Illustration

1. In a church near ours, the pastor was caught for the second time in an adulterous relationship with someone from within the church. The elders said, “This is too much. We are going to fire the pastor.” The pastor on a Sunday morning told the congregation that the elders were dismissing him from his job, even though he had fully repented of his sin. The people became very angry. They said, “We don’t know who these elders even are. They are not our pastor. You will stay and they will leave.”

2. You see, these men were elders, but they were invisible elders. They were not present among the people. They were just there, like any other church attendee.

3. Maybe they had some legal or formal position in the church, but that’s all it was. They weren’t biblical shepherds.

II. Suggestions for Making Your Presence Known and Felt

A. Greet the people as they come and as they leave.

1. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of you elders being present when people come into the assembly to be greeted by you and of course others.

2. One of the most important things is for all the elders to be at the door as people leave. Many important encounters happen at the door. People want to tell you about their problems or needs. For some of us, this is the only time we even see these people.

3. See the one-minute shepherding article by Church Gianotti.

B. Reach out to the people with friendly gestures, a smile and warm Christian greetings.

1. It is important that the elders display friendliness to the people, joy in gathering together, and true brotherly and sisterly relationships. If the elders are cold and aloof, the people will become that way.

2. Friendliness and greeting are very important in the family marked by Christ’s love. Yet many churches are not friendly to new people.  People are standoffish or afraid to reach out to new people.

3. Learning people’s names is part of being friendly and loving church. John says, “The friends greet you. Greet the friends by name” (3 John 14).

4. Five times in the New Testament, believers are told to greet one another with the holy kiss. Paul loves to send greetings.

5. I believe we should have a strong greeting ministry. I am not talking about handing out bulletins, but greeting people and directing them.

C. Circulate among the people on Sunday morning.

1. I call it “circulate and percolate” among the people.

2. See those who are alone. The seniors love to be kissed and hugged, especially widows and people of advanced age. 

3. Before the meetings start, people may be sitting alone and need a greeting.

D. Have people over to your home.

We will talk about this in another section, but if you really want to get to know the people, have them at your table to eat and talk about your lives.  Elders are to be hospitable!!

E. Visit people.

Another way to get to be in the presence of the people is to visit them in their homes. You will see them differently after you have been in their home.

F. Ministering to people when they are suffering is an important way that we all connect.

People when they are hurting are most touched by their shepherds. This is when the relationship is built into deeper sheep-shepherd relations.

III. Some Principles Regarding the Shepherd’s Presence

A. When you love the people, you will want to be with them.

1. Shepherding means being with people. Your life revolves around them.

2. A real shepherd begins to smell like the sheep because he is around them. The same should be true of spiritual shepherds.

B. When you love the people, you will feel a deep sense of responsibility for them.

1. You think about them, you wonder how they are doing. You miss them if they are not around.

2. You can’t rest if one is not showing up to church. When they are facing an operation you call or visit. When they hurt you hurt.

3. Seeking lost sheep –This is something we are all bad at.  We give up too easily.

C. When you love the people, you will feel compassion for them.

1. The great scholar B.B. Warfield said that the key emotional word describing Jesus Christ is compassion, and shepherd must have compassion for people: blind, lepers, outcast women, poor people, children, and the multitudes.

2. We need to be continually helping our congregation to reach out to new people, to be friendly and genuinely concerned, and not just in a holy huddle.  This is something you must model and exhort continually.

Conclusion

The point of all this is for you to understand your influence in the flock. Your presence is vitally important to God’s people. God has called you a steward of his household (Titus 1:7). The steward must be present in the household.

So I am calling upon you to have a renewed understanding of your presence among the sheep. They can tell if you love to be with them or if you just do things out of rote habit.

Related Topics: Discipleship, Ecclesiology (The Church), Issues in Church Leadership/Ministry, Leadership, Pastors

The Net Pastor's Journal, Eng Ed, Issue 10 Winter 2014

Winter 2014 Edition

Produced by ...

Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,

The Institute for Biblical Preaching

Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

www.tibp.ca

C:\Users\Roger\Documents\My Documents\Institute for Biblical Preaching\Forms, Binder Cover Page, Logo\IBP Logos\IBP Logo.jpg

“Strengthening the Church in Biblical Preaching and Leadership”

Part I: Preparing For Preaching

“Selecting Texts And Topics”

By: Dr. Roger Pascoe

The Institute for Biblical Preaching,

Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

One of the questions that is often asked by preachers is, “How do you select the text you are going to preach on?” The other question is, “When should you select the text you are going to preach on – well in advance, just a few days before you preach, or when you stand up to speak?”

Text selection is a very important part of preparing to preach. First, let me point out two dangers to avoid:

1. Too short a text – a single verse or sentence. If the text is shorter than the author’s unit of thought (which we would usually call a paragraph), you must be aware of its immediate context in order to properly understand and preach its meaning. That is the danger of preaching from a single verse or sentence – you run the risk of wrongly interpreting and applying it by missing the particular emphasis in the text.

2. Too long a text. If the text is too long you run the risk of just giving an overview by generalizing a large text without due regard to the flow of thought.

Selecting your text forces you to think through what preaching is all about:

  1. What it is supposed to do - how it meets the needs of your congregation.
  2. What the role of the Holy Spirit is in planning sermon texts and topics.
  3. How God sovereignly uses your preaching to minister to situations that you know nothing about and didn’t plan the sermon to address.

Ultimately our responsibility is to preach what the Holy Spirit directs us to preach, but how does this work in practice? How do you decide what to preach on? What is the right text? Which comes first, text or topic? How do you respond to a crisis (e.g. in world events or in your church) that does not fit with the series of sermons you are currently preaching? When do you decide what to preach on? Do you decide each week what to preach on next Sunday or do you plan a preaching calendar? If a preaching calendar, for how far in advance?

Preaching Plans

The Debate About Preaching Plans

The value and rightness of planning your sermon topics and texts in advance has been debated down through the years. The question is, “How do you plan a sermon series in advance and at the same time be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit concerning what you should preach on? Is there a conflict between pre-planning a sermon series and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you as to what to preach on?”

Some preachers would say, “Yes, there is a conflict.” They would argue that you should not pre-plan your preaching series and texts, and that the preacher must daily and weekly seek the leading of the Holy Spirit as to the text to preach. If that assertion is true, that would mean you could never plan on preaching a series through a book of the Bible or a particular theme.

I would say: “No, there is no conflict.” Those who oppose pre-planning your sermon series assume that the Holy Spirit only leads you from week to week and not month to month, or year to year. But there is no reason why the leading of the Holy Spirit is restricted to a certain time frame - i.e. that the Holy Spirit will only lead you from week to week in your text selection and not for a longer period of time in advance. I believe that the Holy Spirit can and does direct preachers to a specific text for a particular need for this week and that He directs preachers to a book of the Bible or theme from the Bible for a sermon series over a longer period of time.

A pre-planned preaching series does not mean that you are not sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, nor does it mean that you would not deviate from your series in order to address a certain crisis or need in your church or in the world. For this reason, if you decide to preach a series, I would recommend that you not publish the passages and titles of your sermons in advance, so that you are at liberty to change your preaching plans as you sense the leading of the Holy Spirit.

I agree with Martin Lloyd-Jones who said: “Having asserted that we are subject to the Spirit, and that we must be careful to make sure that we really are subject to Him, I argue that He may lead us at one time to preach on odd texts and at another time to preach a series of sermons” (Preaching and Preachers, 188-189).

The important principle concerning text selection is:

  1. that you always be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit
  2. that the freedom of the Spirit to lead you to preach from a different text than the pre-selected passage be preserved
  3. that you always select your preaching texts and topics prayerfully, being sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

From a practical viewpoint, I would argue that preaching demands as much planning as it does study in order to be as effective for God as you can be. Since we would not think of approaching any other organizational task with no planning, how much more should we plan our preaching. Why should we approach such a serious task as preaching and think that we can do it without any planning?

A preacher who preaches without planning is guilty of:

  1. not taking his preaching task seriously
  2. not serving his congregation well
  3. approaching it haphazardly
  4. confusing his congregation who will not know from one week to the next what he is going to preach on
  5. failing to teach his people systematically.

The Advantages Of Preaching Plans

Here are four advantages and good reasons to adopt preaching plans:

1. Planning will help keep your preaching balanced and intentional. It will be balanced in that it will take into account the biblical priorities for preaching and not dwell on your pet themes or popular topics. It will be intentional in that your sermons will cover the full scope of Scripture, exposing your people to Scriptural truth that will build them up in their knowledge of the Scriptures, their relationship with God, and their spiritual maturity.

2. Planning will help your efficiency in preparing sermons. It helps your efficiency because:

  1. you will know where you are going in advance and not have to spend time figuring out what to preach on each week
  2. you will only have to prepare background material once for the whole series
  3. you will gain more insight and material for preaching because you are concentrating on a particular series.

3. Planning will help you meet ministry needs. When you plan your sermon series in advance, you can take into account the long term and short term ministry and spiritual needs of the church.

4. Planning will help you assess your ministry progress. Whether you are in a church ministry, para-church, or mission, you will have a yardstick to measure yourself by and you will be able to say that you have proclaimed the full scope and balance of Scriptural truth – i.e. that you have fed your people balanced and nutritious spiritual food; that your preaching is Christ-centered; and that you have not been negligent.

Part II. Leadership: Being A Godly Role Model

“Your Personal Devotional Practices”

By: Dr. Roger Pascoe

The Institute for Biblical Preaching

Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

As we have seen in the last few issues of The NET Pastors Journal, being a godly role model extends to every aspect of our lives. We have looked at “your personal holiness” and how it impacts your ability and effectiveness as a godly role model. Holiness cannot be properly maintained or pursued without disciplined spiritual practices in your life. Spiritual disciplines are vital for us to become more like Christ - for our own relationship with God; for personal spiritual growth; for personal purity and for personal spiritual power and vitality.

Godly character stems from spending time with God. Disciples spend time with their leader (cf. Mk. 3:13-14). Our character is to be an expression of Christ’s character (Gal. 4:19) and our conduct is to be an expression of Christ’s conduct. How we live, what we do, and who we are must reflect how Christ lived and who He is. We can only reflect Christ’s character and conduct if we know him intimately. And we can only know him intimately if we spend time with him.

We talk about “doing” our devotions. In one sense we shouldn’t “do” devotions – rather, we should live in a constant state of devotion, so that “doing” devotions does not become merely a mechanical act or duty, but a delight.

1 Timothy 4:7 instructs us “to discipline (ourselves) for the purpose of godliness.” Spiritual disciplines are the means by which spiritual growth is developed in us through (1) reading, memorizing, and meditating on the Word; (2) prayer; (3) worship; (4) evangelism; (5) and service.

It is vitally important to set aside a certain time and place for a daily quiet time with God – a daily routine for reading, meditating, praying. For most of us, this is a difficult practice because so many other things that seem to be more important constantly compete for our time and attention. I find that if I don’t spend a quiet time with the Lord first thing every day, the chances of doing it later in the day dwindle as the day wears on. This is probably true for you as well.

If you are like most Christians, you probably find prayer specifically to be a difficult daily, consistent practice. Satan does not want us engaged in daily quiet times, particularly prayer. So, let me outline what I think are the basic components of a daily quiet time with the Lord. You may vary this to suit your own practice, but these are the main items.

Personal Meditation

1. Waiting quietly on God - in solitude. This is where we truly get to know God. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” In those times when God forces us to wait (particularly in the dark, hard times of our lives), I believe that we learn more about God and ourselves than we do during the good times. We need quietness, stillness, a time apart from the routine and rush of life in order to meet with God. You need a place where you can shut yourself away, and you need a time that you schedule for this purpose.

2. Listening attentively to God – in silence. Talk as little as possible and listen for God to speak through his Word. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as He influences your mind, heart, conscience.

3. Reading meditatively – in Scripture. Take time every day to read, meditate, and pray through the Scriptures. Eastern meditation requires the emptying of the mind, but Christian meditation requires the filling of the mind with the thoughts of God as he has revealed them to us in his Word.

This is not studying Scripture. This isn’t preparing a sermon or a Sunday School lesson - that focuses on how you are going to explain it and apply it to others. But this is a different form of reading that focuses on your own spiritual life and personal application. This is the time when you allow Scripture to speak to you, when God nourishes your heart and soul in the Word, when you become saturated in the Word, such that it prompts you to praise to Him, to understand Him better, to love Him more.

The daily reading of the Scripture was one of the ingredients that gave George Mueller such a powerful life. He knew the truth that “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).

Be systematic, purposeful, and sequential in your reading. Plan your reading schedule. Try to read from various parts of the Bible: from Proverbs or Psalms; from an O.T. book; and from a N. T. book.

Think through what you read. As you read, ask yourself some questions to stimulate your response:

  • Is there a command you need to obey?
  • Are there connections with other Scriptures you hadn’t noticed before?
  • Is there a lesson you need to learn?
  • Is there a new teaching you need to believe or adopt?
  • Is there a blessing for you to enjoy?
  • Is there a practice, attitude, or relationship you need to change?
  • Is there a blessing for you to embrace?
  • Is there an encouragement for you to take heart in?
  • Is there an error you need to avoid? It’s very comforting to know that if I have unknowingly stepped in a wrong direction or made an unwise decision, God’s word can reveal that to me. It’s easy to see mistakes others make, but much harder to see our own mistakes. This is where the Word of God becomes like a mirror (James 1:23-25).
  • Is there an example for you to follow? Does something jump off the page and prompt you to say, “I want to be more like that!”
  • Is there a duty for you to perform? Is God’s word calling you to act? Are you neglecting something in your home or where you work or in your personal life? If so, you want to know what it is so you can work on it.
  • Is there a promise you can claim? As you study the Bible, you will hear the Lord committing himself to certain things or to act in certain ways. As you come to those promises, you acknowledge, “Yes, God! You are like this and you’ve promised to be this way for all my life, and I trust you.” Your faith will be strengthened as you learn and review the promises of God.
  • Is there a sin you need to confess? You won’t read the Bible long until you come across passages that reveal the error of your ways. One promise that helps me with this is, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jn. 1:9).

Let the words “abide in you” (Jn. 15:7). From your reading, pray your thoughts back to God in adoration, confession, thanksgiving, intercession, and supplication. Memorize Scripture as you read it. “Your Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Ps. 119:11).

Let the words produce fruit in you. Share what you have learned at the appropriate time with others.

Be obedient to the word you have read. Throughout the day, put into practice what you have read that morning.

4. Drinking deeply – from devotional books. I find devotional books to be very helpful in nourishing and stimulating my heart toward God. Examples of books that I have found helpful in my quiet times are:

  • John Piper: “Hunger for God”; “Desiring God”; “A Godward Life”.
  • A. W. Tozer: “Knowledge of the Holy”; “Pursuit of God”.
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “The Cost of Discipleship”.
  • R. C. Sproul: “The Soul’s Quest for God”.
  • Oswald Chambers: “My Utmost for his Highest”.
  • John MacArthur: “Truth for Today”; “Drawing Near”.
  • Ken Gire: “Intense Moments with the Saviour”.
  • Tricia Rhodes: “Contemplating the Cross”.
  • V. Raymond Edman: “They Found the Secret”.
  • Walter Walker: “Extraordinary Encounters with God”.
  • James G. Lawson: “Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians”.
  • C. H. Spurgeon: “Morning and Evening”.

These kinds of books stir you to a deeper relationship with God. They generate in you a deeper knowledge of Him.

Personal Prayer

1. Repenting contritely - in confession…to God, to your wife, to an accountability partner, or perhaps a pastoral colleague.

2. Conversing intimately - in prayer. Your prayer life is fundamental to spiritual power and vitality. It’s mandatory for a meaningful, relevant, powerful, Christian life. And yet, it is one of the most difficult practices in which to be consistent and it is one of the most lacking in the lives of Christian leaders.

Most of us find it hard to be disciplined in prayer. There are so many other things we would rather do and that crowd in on us. Martin Luther prayed more when he was burdened down with extra duties. He said: “Work, work from early to late. In fact, I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” When Jesus was very busy and preoccupied, he spent whole nights in prayer (Lk. 6:12).

Prayer is the channel through which we converse with God. We can’t know him without conversing with him; we can’t speak well of him publicly to others if we don’t extol him privately ourselves. Discipline yourself to pray. Get into a habit. Always try to combine Scripture reading with prayer.

Pray intentionally – e.g. at a specific time each day. First thing in the morning is usually best before you get absorbed with other things. You can’t be powerful in public prayer if you aren’t committed to regular, intentional, private prayer.

Pray unceasingly – i.e. throughout the day (1 Thess. 5:17). Pray whenever something or someone comes to mind - in your car or while you’re walking. Pray out loud or silently.

Pray methodically by using a prayer journal or list of prayer items. My prayer journal is broken down as follows:

  1. Prayer verses – verses that magnify God; prayer passages. Pray through special verses that are meaningful to you. Pray Scripture back to God.
  2. Permanent prayers to pray every day – for family, missions, special people etc.
  3. Temporary prayers - issues, situations that come and go.
  4. Daily prayers. I assign a different prayer topic to each day:
  • Sunday – Sunday church services and pastors I know; salvation for various people and relatives.
  • Monday – missions and missionaries.
  • Tuesday – thanksgiving, answers to prayer, encouragement, our government and authorities, our Bible study group.
  • Wednesday – ministries and ministry workers.
  • Thursday – my own ministry, my supporters, upcoming ministry commitments.
  • Friday – families, marriage relationships, people with health issues.
  • Saturday – young adults, young married couples, and young families who have been a significant part of our lives.

Pray mutually – i.e. with a partner. Pray with your wife or with a colleague or a friend.

Pray responsibly. Pray as though you are the one responsible, but knowing that God is the only One who can bring it about. Wrestle in prayer (Col. 4:12; Eph. 1;16). Intercede on behalf of other people (e.g. pray through your church directory). Supplicate God for needs. Adore God for who He is. Pray in the energy and power of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 6:18).

Pray attentively. Listen to God. Let him speak to you through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:26-27).

Part III. Devotional Thoughts

“The Ministry of Earthen Vessels, Pt. 2: The Motivation for Ministry” (2 Cor. 5:10-13)

By: Dr. Roger Pascoe

The Institute for Biblical Preaching

Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

In 2 Corinthians 4 and 5, the apostle Paul points out three motivations for ministry:

  1. the motivation of future transformation (4:16-5:9)
  2. the motivation of accountability to God (5:10-13)
  3. the motivation of Christ’s love (5:14-17).

We discussed the motivation of future transformation in the fall 2013 edition of this journal. Now we are going to look at the second motivation for ministry: THE MOTIVATION OF ACCOUNTABILITY TO GOD (5:10-13). Here Paul has two sources of motivation...

1. The accountability of believers at the judgement seat of Christ (5:10)

The motivation of our future transformation reminds us of our present responsibility to be conformed to Christ’s nature and character even now on earth, “for” (9) our motivation to be well-pleasing to him is that “we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may receive the things done in the body according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (5:10). We are responsible for how we live. The present expectation of being with the Lord ought to heighten our desire to please him now and our awareness of the future judgement seat of Christ.

Christians face a day of accounting. In that day, everything we have done down here will be exposed. “All things are naked and open to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13). This prospect of future accountability ought to motivate us to holy living, so that our outward actions are consistent with our inner thoughts and beliefs. We are not exempt from the standard and scrutiny of God's moral law. We have been justified (Acts 13:39; Rom. 8:1) and cleansed, and now we are responsible to glorify God in our bodies (1 Cor. 6:20). Hence, the evaluation by God of everything we have done here on earth, whether good or bad.

As one commentator puts it, this is an “assessment of worth” not a “declaration of doom”, in order for Christ to assign or withhold rewards. This has nothing to do with condemnation but everything to do with commendation. Every Christian is responsible not for earning salvation (for we cannot), but for building on that foundation that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (see 1 Cor. 3:10-15). Our foundation is absolutely secure: if we are true believers we cannot lose our salvation. But we are accountable to God for what we have built on that foundation – whether it is “gold, silver, precious stones” or wood, hay, straw. Every believer will stand before Christ’s judgement seat, not to determine one’s salvation or condemnation, but to receive either rewards for deeds done for Christ or to have burned up those things not done for Christ – i.e. bad things. For “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26) and our works will be exposed for what they truly are. Only now in this life do we have the opportunity to glorify God in word and deed, in our bodies which are his (1 Cor. 6:20).

This surely should be a great motivation for our ministry – the accountability of believers at the judgement seat of Christ. Then, secondly, there is...

2. The accountability of unbelievers at the Great White Throne (5:11-12)

“Therefore” (in the light of the judgement seat of Christ before which all believers will stand), “knowing the terror of the Lord we persuade men” (11a). This motivation of future accountability to God motivates Paul to do his ministry of persuading men (unbelievers) of the truth of the gospel. The prospect for believers of the judgement seat of Christ where our deeds done in the body will be assessed as to whether they were good or bad is serious enough. But how much more serious is it for unbelievers to stand before God in the final judgement at the Great White Throne? That will be abject terror. No wonder Paul says, knowing the terror of the Lord we persuade men. That is a serious motivation for our ministry of preaching the gospel.

Nonetheless, Paul is not trying to justify himself and his ministry activities for, he says, “we are well known to God and I also trust are well known in your consciences” (11b). God knows Paul’s genuine motivation for ministry, so he does not need to justify what he does and why he does it. And, he hopes that his motivation for ministry is equally well known in (the Corinthians’) consciences also. He hopes that his labours among them will convince them in their consciences of the validity and purity of his calling, as they consider his life and ministry in the light of all the accusations brought against him by false apostles.

“For we do not commend ourselves again to you” (cf. 3:1) “but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart” (12). He isn’t trying to convince them of his trustworthiness all over again, but rather to give them an opportunity to come to his defence and to actually boast about him. He doesn’t just want them persuaded in their consciences as to his authenticity as a minister of the gospel, but rather that they will actually speak up for him against those who are the exact opposite of himself - viz. those who “boast in appearance and not in heart”. That is the quintessential definition of false ministers – hypocrites who look good on the outside but in their innermost being are corrupt; who care more about show, money, and power than they do about “persuading men” or shepherding God's people.

This is exactly the opposite of Paul who counted all those things rubbish (money, power, heritage, religious lineage etc.) for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ (see Phil. 3:1-11). “Most gladly, therefore, will I boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:9). Paul boasted in the cross (Gal. 6:14). He didn’t try to impress others with high-sounding intellectual speech but he came to them in fear and weakness (2 Cor. 5:1-5). Thus, the genuine minister of Christ glories in heart and not in appearance. His values are spiritual and internal, not material and external.

Conclusion: “For (because) if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you” (13). Paul says, “If I am out of my mind as my accusers say (Acts 26:24; 2 Cor. 11:1,16;12:11) – i.e. a religious extremist who takes risks and hardships that a sane person would not - it is to serve God. But if I am sane, I use it for your benefit in the preaching of the gospel.” May we also use all the abilities and opportunities God gives us for his service. May our future accountability to God motivate us to minister for God out of the pure motive of benefitting others.

Part IV. Sermon Outlines

John 8:1-11, Jesus’ Dialogue with the Pharisees

For the English audio version of these messages, click on these links: Link 1 - Jn. 8:1-5; Link 2 - Jn. 8:6-7; Link 3 - Jn. 8:8-11

Title: A Confrontation with Hypocrisy

Point #1: The accusers defy Jesus (8:3-6a)

1. The set-up of the woman (3)

2. The show-down with Jesus (4-5)

Point #2: Jesus discredits the accusers (8:6b-9a)

1. Jesus refuses their demand (6b, 8)

2. Jesus reveals his divine wisdom (7)

3. Jesus reaches their consciences (9a)

Point #3: Jesus deals with the accused woman (8:9b-11)

1. Jesus deals with her personally (9b-10a)

2. Jesus deal with her protectively (10b-11a)

3. Jesus deals with her pastorally (11b)

Related Topics: Pastors

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