Sunday, April 25, 2010

April 25th - Shepherd the Flock

Prayer Requests
Pastor Aaron Preaching
Dave Sloan Preaching Next Sunday
Students going to Disney
Taste of Marietta
Tyler Preaching Next Friday
Hannah's Soccer Injury (toe)

Text – 1 Peter 5:1-5

We’re coming near to the end of Peter’s First Epistle. Peter has been exhorting us in many ways: to be holy, to entrust ourselves to a faithful Creator, to do good, to not do evil, to use our gifts to serve the church, to proclaim the excellencies of Christ, and probably most importantly to show Christ is holy in our hearts by the lives we live and the hope we have in him. So, he doesn’t give us a summation of the letter, only keeps giving exhortation, and I think you’ll see when we finish this letter in two weeks that it packages up nicely.

Our Awtrey students will be at Disney next week, so we will skip a week in Peter because I think it will be very important for everyone to be here for the conclusion. Next week we will look at Paul’s testimony in Acts 26, there is a ton to learn from it and it is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. Awtrey students, after next Sunday take a look at the website because I will post the lesson and two testimonies to watch.

So the passage we’re going to look at today jumps off of the idea that there is persecution towards Christians by the world. Many who heard Peter’s Epistle would go through fiery trials and suffer for doing good. This is certainly not a thought that is confined only to Peter’s Epistles:

John 15:18-19 If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

2 Timothy 3:12-13 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

Matthew 24:9-11 Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.

So with these things happening, there is a major need for godly leadership and examples within the church, and here is what Peter is going to say now. This passage starts with “Therefore” or “So”, which ties it back to the persecution, so if you have an NIV Bible I ask you to write “Therefore” at the beginning of verse 1.

1 Peter 5:1-5 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: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 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."

v.1 So I exhort the elders among you

This is to the elders, the Presbyters, which is sort of the supervisory pastors, this isn’t just the people that Summit calls Elders, but can be read as all pastors. Sort of a rabbit trail: Peter calls himself a Presbyter here, which is lower than a bishop, and this is just one more evidence that Peter gives that he was never a pope, let alone the first pope. This is very near to the end of Peter’s life, as evidenced by the end of chapter 5 and Second Timothy, so there was no time for him to become pope after writing this.

Here it is not evident that Peter is only talking to men unless we compare to Paul’s writings, but Paul is very clear that men should be the presbyters over the flock (1 Timothy 3 if you want to read it), but he also opens the office for women to be presbyters over women;

Titus 2:3-5 Women elders likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Most of your translations probably say “older” but I believe that is a mistranslation, this is “older” in faith, not necessarily in age, albeit a lot of wisdom comes with age. But this is important because the word for “younger women” and in the next verse, “younger men”, is Neos which means newly regenerate, you can be neos at 90 years old, and you can be a Presbyter at 16, like Charles Spurgeon who took his first pastorate at 16.

This is important because beloved, you are growing up to be some of the most spiritually mature people in the world. In a world where most churches are producing little girls of their youth you will excel above your peers in your biblical knowledge. For this reason it is vital that you prepare to be in this position, whether you go into full time ministry or just volunteer, you can be a Presbyter at 16: men to the church and ladies to ladies.

So pay extra close attention to what Peter is about to say:

v.1 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:

I like that Peter gives his credentials here in giving this exhortation, it is him saying that these things I’m about to say will effect me as well, so you can’t say I’m being too strict or unfair or that I don’t know what I’m saying. He is actually very close to quoting Jesus Christ verbatim.

Here Peter returns to a command he received over thirty years prior, in John 21, which we’re not going to read for times sake and because it is spread out over several verses, Jesus told Peter that if Peter loved him, then he ought to feed his lambs and sheep, and tend to the flock. Here’s how Peter paraphrases it:

v.2 shepherd (pastor) the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight (bishop)

Since I mentioned presbyter earlier I have to also point out that pastor and bishop are in this verse. This is one reason we have Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and Congregational churches because the Bible is not totally clear on the preferred church structure; Summit is between Presbyterian and Congregational in church government, but here in this verse Peter is almost pushing the importance of government away in order to show that the individual sheep and flocks are more important than church structure. A well run Congregation house-church or a well run Episcopal megachurch are glorifying to God if the lambs and sheep are rightly taken care of.

The way they are taken care of is in this verse, two major things, feeding (shepherding) and caring for (oversight). Sheep are interesting animals, not particularly dumb I’m told, but with some interesting mannerisms. One of the most interesting is that they have no sense of direction. If a sheep gets lost a quarter mile from home it can’t find it’s way home, someone must go find it. If a sheep with a full wool-coat falls over it can’t get back up and must be helped back to its feet. A sheep will eat where you put it, and if it eats all of the grass it will continue to eat into the dirt to get to the roots. A sheep will not drink from running water, but needs still water, but then will drink anything that is puddled, even if it isn’t water. The sheep is the most defenseless animal in the world, it has no ability to kick, bite, or run, it is at the mercy of predators. They need constant attention to make sure they are well fed, watered, taken care of, protected, and accounted for.

This is how the Bible speaks of all people; it sounds quite insulting but it is spiritually true of our souls. Having gone astray from God we have no idea how to find our way home, having fallen into sin we are helpless, consuming whatever we can find, drinking in iniquity like it was water, devoured by enemies, and desperately in need of oversight from someone who knows what they are doing.

So the pastor must have a good grasp of the scripture and be able to teach it and be willing to look after his people. Notice that in chapter 4 it was a sin to be involved in others business, to be a gossip, but here the pastor is to be overseeing his flock, it’s nearly the same word. I want to make sure you understand the distinction; the gossip spoken of in chapter 4 is things which have nothing to do with you, unimportant things to you about others, but the oversight of the pastor are the important things that do concern him and the spiritual health of his flock. For example, it is good for a shepherd to watch out for predators:

1 Samuel 17:34-35 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him.”

On the other hand, sometimes problems are internal and the pastor can’t see it, in which case it is vital that you bring it to our attention so that we can address it. For example I read one story of a real sheep that died because one day it wouldn’t walk anymore, the shepherd went and looked and found that the sheep had cut its leg and it had gotten infected and the infection killed the sheep. If the sheep had limped or shown some sign of injury then the shepherd could have probably saved the sheep. We’re on the look-out for limping, but it’s easier if you tell us. If you have questions about the Bible or doubts or whatever, I promise there is an answer, but I can’t answer it if you don’t ask it.

The idea of a shepherd is listed all through the Bible, and when it speaks of the church it is a command that the shepherd loves the flock so much that he would even die for them,

John 10:11-14 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me…

Peter seemingly remembers this idea of not being a hireling in the rest of the verse;

v.2 not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you;

Peter is saying that this isn’t something to be done just to do it, but because it is a high calling, a worthy calling, a job with eternal rewards. God doesn’t want pastors who do it because they think it should be done or because they have to, but willing participants who love their job and love the flock.

v.2 not for shameful gain, but eagerly;

Various places in the Bible say that the pastor should be paid, but here Peter is saying that this is not the motivation of the pastor. I love my position because I do everything I do at Summit voluntarily and beloved let me tell you that the benefits far outweigh the time. We’ll see why in a few verses.

v.3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

This is beautiful language, because you drive cattle, behind them forcing them to go where they go, but sheep cannot be driven, sheep have to be led, but when led they will follow their shepherd anywhere. The Amish church believes that only the pastor has the authority to evangelize, but this passage is clear that the pastor sets the example. In my evangelism I hope you are motivated and desirous to proclaim the excellencies of your Saviour.

Likewise, have you noticed that I say, “This is my favorite verse.” A lot? Why do you think I say that? Is it just to be silly? No, it’s because every verse is inspired by God for a purpose, and I love every word in this Bible because none of it is superfluous, none of it is there on accident, all of it is there for doctrine, reproof, and training in righteousness. I want you to be excited about it so that you may be competent and equipped for every good work.

I hope you see my example of how seriously I take God, the Bible, and souls, and that you will follow me as I follow Christ. This is why various scriptures say that the person who will be punished the most in Hell is the one who has led souls astray; this extends from bad pastors to false religious leaders to teachers who don’t teach with God in view, and so if you become a teacher/leader in any capacity I pray that you will do everything you do with Christ as your final goal. And that leads to my favorite verse:

v.4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

When Jesus Christ returns to call of his sheep to himself then the shepherds will be rewarded for their good work, not good work leading to Heaven, but good work of stewardship. This is the fruit of repentance, and Paul identifies this crown as dealing directly with converts and the church. I’m fairly certain this will be both a physical crown and symbolic of something worth more than gold, which is the souls of the flock. If you could choose between the most beautiful and valuable crown in the world or a good friend for eternity which would you choose? In Heaven you get both, but the point I’m making, and I believe Paul makes is that the eternal soul is our true reward; let’s read my all time favorite verse:

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.

The word for “chief Shepherd” is neat, it is archipoimenos, it’s the ultimate shepherd, the greatest shepherd, the head of shepherds. Think of every good thing a shepherd does, from finding good pastures and still water, to overseeing what every sheep needs, to protecting them from all danger, and Jesus Christ performs all of these to perfection in his coming, which means the day this age ends and eternity begins.

v.5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders.

And now for your direct application for today before you become presbyters, is that those who are neos, those who are new or younger, be subject to the mature and the older. The implication is that the elders must do everything in verse 1-4, and in their obedience and care, the younger will be raised up. In this it is vital that you make sure your elders are teaching from the Bible, for example if I tell you to shave your head, or worse to do something against God, you ought to ask the reason and the Bible verse, because your chief shepherd is not me, it’s not Dave, it’s not Pastor Aaron, it is Jesus Christ, the archipoimenos whose command and authority far overrides ours.

Your obedience and subjection will greatly facilitate your growth. And in this, you ought to pray for your pastors that they are blessed with the gift of teaching, discernment, and love so that in their blessing they pour out on you their lives and holiness so that you may grow into this high calling for pointing others at Heaven, feeding the lambs and tending the sheep, and willingly and eagerly loving the church who ought to be your joy and crown of boasting at the coming of our Lord Jesus.

Prayer – Psalm 23:

Lord Jesus, I pray that you would be the chief shepherd of these precious lambs,
That they should not want.
Make them lay down in green pastures.
Lead them beside still waters.
Constantly restore their souls.
Lead them in well-worn paths of righteousness for your name’s sake.

Even as they walk through the valley of the shadow of death, let them fear no evil, knowing that you are with them;

May your rod and your staff comfort them.
Prepare a table before them in the presence of their enemies;
anoint their heads with oil;
may their cups overflow with every good thing.

May goodness and mercy follow them all the days of their life,
and may they dwell your house forever.

I pray all of these things because you are the Chief Shepherd of our souls, who sought us and bought us, and who will lead us home, amen.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

April 18th - Your Best Life Then

Prayer Requests
Pastor Aaron Preaching
Big Shanty Festival
- Elonce'
- Ariel
- Brianna
- Paige
- Andy
- Jim
- Tyler's Brother's Friend
Taylor's Cousin's Marriage
Steve Goforth's New Prison Ministry
Cecilia Smith's Tooth
Canyon's Chaplain Interview on May 3rd

Text – 1 Peter 4:12-19

So a review, what has Peter been talking about in chapter 3 and the beginning of 4? The resurrection and the Christian life. Now he is going to put the two together with living with the resurrection in view. This passage contains a ton of good information and it would be very easy to get off on a rabbit trail and miss Peter's intention, so I want us to keep remembering that this is pointed at eternity and not just how to live a happy life; albeit doing this will, as Peter said in chapter 3, lead to a happy life.

1 Peter 4:12-19 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And "If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

v.12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you...

This verse is personally convicting to me, even though trials I've been facing are not fiery at all. The Christian has aligned themselves with the enemy of the world, and for us to expect for the world to just ignore that fact is ridiculous. If we are living a Christ radiating life we are going to be persecuted.

Dr. Ergun Caner, who I took three classes from, claims that the best way for you to test how you are doing with evangelism is to see how many unbelievers call you friend. Caner is wrong on a multitude of things, but none so much as this anathema belief. If the world has no problem being friends with you, then you really ought to test yourself to make sure you're in the faith.

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

I have a lot of "friends" on facebook who are unbelievers, and they are constantly getting offended and upset by things I post and posting rebuttals from their worldview. All of these friends don't really get along and I don't hang out with them nor talk to them about normal stuff, because we're from two different worlds.

This is why we aren't supposed to be surprised when trials come on us, but it isn't apart from God, because remember nothing can happen to you that God has not allowed, and he is working all things together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purposes.

v.12 it comes upon you to test you...

This isn't for malicious purposes or because God doesn't like you, but to improve your faith. This is to test our faith, ensuring first of all that we have it, and second of all to purify it.

1 Peter 1:7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

In order to keep moving through this passage we're going to leave it at that, but Peter is going to do an awesome follow-up in chapter 1 of his second Epistle.

v.12 as though something strange were happening to you

In 2009, 176,000 Christians lost their lives for Jesus Christ, we are very sheltered and privileged in the United States not to constantly be in danger of death for our faith. Jesus Christ was crucified for living a Christlike life, we must expect no better if we are obeying his gospel.

The reason that this convicted me so much is because I've been running into issues with police and security guards a lot recently, and I was surprised, but this verse says don't be surprised. I guess I let the idea of freedom of religion become an idol that the world wouldn't persecute me and the Word of God because I was preaching in America. Christianity is only allowed in America today when it is watered down and weak and doesn't offend anyone. Yet true Christianity should make you enemies with the world, them even going so far as doing evil things to you.

In 2009 an older Christian in Pakistan, I think he was 65, was caught smuggling Bibles from Kashmir into Pakistan, his whole trunk was filled with them. So they bound him, stacked the Bibles up, and burned the pile with him on top. This is the sort of thing a Christian preaching garners in most of the world, and should garner in the United States if we were preaching a true gospel, not one like "Jesus loves everybody," or that the Christian shouldn't judge; Which verse is that?

v.13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

When we are persecuted with Christ Peter says we are blessed, which means happy, among other things.

Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

While it's not Peter's intent here to go into the Trinity, we see one of the greatest verses for the divinity and personhood of the Holy Spirit in this verse about him being the Spirit of Glory and of God. Jesus is called the Lord of Glory and King of Glory in James 2 and Psalm 24, and the Holy Spirit called the Spirit of Christ in Philippians 1:19. John's Gospel is without a doubt the best place to discern the divinity of the Holy Spirit, especially chapters 14 and 16.

So we're going to suffer as Christians, Peter says it is practically inevitable, and remember in chapter 3 that Peter said that we suffer for doing good, and in doing so those who are doing the persecuting will be put to shame. Verse 15 completes the thought of suffering for doing good,

v.15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.

The Christian should be mindful of the laws of the land and obey them as much as they don't contradict the laws of God. God's law will almost always be more strict, albeit when Peter and John were told not to preach the name of the Jesus this is what happened:

Acts 4:19-20 But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard."

When we break the laws of the government the punishment should fit the crime. One of the beauties of a Christian government is that it should be just and have fair punishments. For example I just read the book Sounder and in it the father steals a ham, which is definitely against the law, and goes to prison for three years, which is an excessive punishment. As the crime increases, so does the punishment:

Genesis 9:6 "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image."

But that's a rabbit trail, the point is that suffering for doing bad is warranted, and so the Christian does their best not to suffer for doing evil. The word for meddler is something that we don't see in English, but is a point Peter is going to make in chapter five, the word for meddler is allotrioepiskopos. Here is a Greek review, what does epi mean? On top of. And skopos? See-er. What is an episkopos in the church? He is the overseer, the bishop, the senior pastor. Now we add allotrio which is someone else, or another. So a meddler, busybody, or gossip is someone who is overseeing someone else's life, being on top of the affairs of others, being all involved in other peoples' lives. It is very interesting that Peter draws a direct line between murder and gossip as being things worth punishing.

v.16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

One of the Apostles, Bartholomew, was crucified upside down and flayed alive. A few years ago Hindus crucified upside down and flayed a Christian in India, as he was dying he thanked them for removing his body of death since in Heaven he had prepared for him a body of life, imperishable. This is an extreme example, but it totally captures the intent of this verse, that in our suffering we glorify God. This is reminiscent of chapter 3 where Peter says that we honor Christ as holy by not being afraid of men or even being troubled by them. We have an eternal hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and so in everything that happens to us we can rejoice and bear witness to the saving work of Jesus Christ.

v.17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

Some of the ways that Christians are killed are quick and painless, others are extremely painful. Peter is speaking of the pain that the Christians will go through to test and perfect their faith, then how much more will be the pain of those who are doing the afflicting when they are punished in Hell.

Revelation 6:9-10 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"

And who is this house that is judgment begins with. Many people will argue with you that it is the temple that was destroyed in AD70, or the Jewish nation, but when we read Peter in context we see that it is the church of God;

1 Peter 2:5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

The idea is that both believers and unbelievers are subjected to suffering and pain, but the reaction is radically different, as evidenced by verse 18;

v.18 And "If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"

Does anyone remember how gold is refined? In the fire, in the crucible, you heat it up to a ridiculously hot temperature and all impurities burn off and you'll left with pure gold. Our faith is more precious than gold, and is tested through adversity. Imagine we had two massive piles of wood stacked in front of the classroom, in one is an ounce of gold, it represents those whom God counts righteous, the other is pure wood. We light them both on fire. What is going to be left? In the unbeliever pile nothing is left, but in the believer pile all that is left is an ounce of gold.

It was scarcely saved, almost nothing was left, but the imperishable parts were left. This is the outcome of our faith; the salvation of our souls. Our sin will be burned off, our impurities gone, everything that is not God glorifying is removed from us when we pass from this life to the next. But for the ungodly, the conflagration is complete, nothing is redeemed and nothing will be saved from the fire of Hell.

Our application is verse 19,

v.19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Through all of Peter's writings he is pointing us at both how to live a happy rejoicing life, and how to set our affections on Heaven for eternal joy. There are certain preachers who seek to have us live our "best life now" here on earth, and for those that follow them, they will have their best life now, but we have a much better life waiting in eternity. So here we focus not on our ultimate happiness and avoiding pain, because if Jesus had sought to avoid pain to the exclusion of all else we would be without hope, but entrust our souls, which is the same word that would be used to deposit money into a bank.

We put our trust on God, knowing that he will bring us through safely through the fire, burning off every impurity in the testing of our faith. And so doing then we turn our efforts towards extending our Redeemer's Kingdom, to preaching the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ's death and resurrection. If we are to suffer we ought to suffer for doing good, and not for doing bad.

In this we can enjoy life and see good days, but we know that stored up for us is our best life then in Heaven when all of our impurities are shed, when sin and death die, and when we have full communion with the Spirit of Glory, the Lord of Glory, and the Father of Glory.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

April 11th - New Orleans Summary

We looked at Matthew 25:35-40 as well as four witness encounters with a Reformed Jew, an Agnostic, a Gnostic, and an Atheist. Due to scheduling constraints I did not prepare a manuscript.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Friday, April 2nd - PasXa


We watched/listened to this video/song:

The Resurrection was preached at the end of the night for students who may not attend on Sunday Morning.