Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Pastor/Teacher

11 "And he gave … the shepherds and teachers,
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes."
(Eph 4:11-14 ESV)

In other bible translations (KJV, NKJV, NAS, etc) the phrase “the shepherds and teachers” is translated “pastors and teachers.” The Greek word ποιμένας (Eph 4:11 BGT) doesn’t look familiar to us. But when you look at the Latin Vulgate, you will find a word that does look familiar: pastores (Eph 4:11 VUL). It is an easy step into the English language to find the plural noun – pastors.

So, why have we taken the time to give this little lesson in word origins? It’s simple. Without the clear understanding that a “Pastor” is really to be a “Shepherd,” then God’s people will not clearly understand what to expect from their Pastor. Stay with the above text and you will see how the meaning helps you understand what a Pastor does.
1. Instead of being the janitor, the church-greeter, the hospital visitor, and the driver to youth camp, the Pastor is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry.”
2. Instead of building up his own power base, to secure his own ministry, and to guarantee good financial packages, a Pastor is to be “building up the body of Christ.”
3. A Pastor is to be focused on growing God’s children into strong people of faith, knowledgeable in the Word of God to the point of reflecting Christ Jesus in every aspect of their lives.
4. A successful Pastor is one who has fed God’s people on the whole counsel of God; their lives will not easily be swayed by false teachings or crafty schemes that continually come down the denominational turnpike. The Pastor will have trained God’s people to test everything by the Word of God – to be good “Berean Christians” (Acts 17:10-11).

To understand what Pastor really means is to fully appreciate what Jesus was saying to Peter in John’s Gospel:

15 “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs."
16 He said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep."
17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.”
(Joh 21:15-17 ESV)

Knowing that Pastor means Shepherd, it now makes sense why Jesus would say to Peter
1. in verse 15 – “feed my lambs.”
2. in verse 16 – lit. “Shepherd my sheep.”
3. in verse 17 – “Feed my sheep.”

Along with prayer (Acts 6:4), there is no greater task of the Pastor than to “shepherd” God’s sheep, by feeding them the whole counsel of God – The Holy Scriptures!

To fail in feeding God’s people, is to fail as a Pastor/Teacher.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I Will Give To Each of You As Your Works Deserve

The title of this literary piece is taken from Revelation 2:23 where Jesus is speaking to the Church in Thyatira.

18 "And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: 'The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
19 "'I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.
20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.
21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.
22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works,
23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works”
(Rev 2:18-23 ESV).

Many will be surprised when they read of this Church in Thyatira. Jesus commends them for their love, faith, service, and patient endurance – and that their latter works exceed their first. That is no mean accomplishment. Yet, for all that is right with this church, there is something terribly wrong – the practice of sexual immorality and spiritual idolatry. Is it possible that this can happen in a Christian church?

Wherever you have saved sinners filling the pews, you have the potential of having unrepentant sin in the pew as well. The same holds true for so many pulpits in today’s churches – there are pastors who have no holy unction in their preaching because they carry unconfessed sin in their hearts.

In the Thyatira Church they had a woman Bible teacher, who passed herself off as being a prophetess with special knowledge. She is leading believers away from the truth with her false teachings. This is happening in churches today. God will bring judgment against churches who put up with such false teachers in their congregations, as He did the Church in Thyatira. God will bring sickness and illness upon the false teachers and all those who follow their teachings. The Lord also promises to bring great tribulation to those churches who are committing spiritual idolatry.

God will not tolerate any of His churches to fool around with sin. The Lord made it very clear:

7 “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life”
(Gal 6:7-8 ESV).

God will not be mocked. And He won’t play the fool. And anyone who tries to play God as the fool is a fool, indeed. What you sow is what you will reap – this principle applies both to churches as well as to individuals.

You will reap what you sow!