Church Order: God's Way, or Ours?

Evangelical Hubris (4)

… shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight … 1 Peter 5:2

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The Work of Pastors
The work pastors and church leaders do in building-up the local congregation is consistently described in Scriptures as the work of “shepherding.” Peter used the term, as we see, and the Apostle Paul captured the idea of shepherding in his exhortations to the elders at Ephesus (Acts 20:28, Eph. 4:11, 12).

The idea of shepherding as the work God’s leaders do in caring for the people entrusted to them has deep roots in the Old Testament. It borrows on the idea that God is the great Shepherd of His people (Ps. 23:1; Ps. 80:1), and picks up on the promise of God that He would come to shepherd His people, and would bring other shepherds to assist Him in this task (Ezek. 34:11ff; Jer. 23:3, 4).

From the Old Testament we get the idea that shepherding is a specific kind of work, assigned first of all to leaders in the Church, and that it is the Lord’s preferred way of building-up His people. And everyone has at least some idea about the kinds of things shepherds do in leading their flocks, defending them against predators, and making sure that each member of the flock is healthy and productive (Prov. 27:23).

Discipleship: God's Way, or Ours?

Evangelical Hubris (3)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” Matthew 28:19

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Our Mandate
Certainly this command could not be more clear. Jesus, through His disciples, laid down an irrevocable and undeniable mandate: We His people are to engage the work of making all the nations disciples. Making disciples is the work to which we are called as followers of Jesus Christ.

Now a disciple is just that, someone who follows Jesus. Like Jesus, a disciple pursues a close relationship with the Father, is filled with the Spirit and Word of God, and follows the path of righteousness marked out by the Law, loving God and neighbors. A disciple contributes to the needs of the saints, develops gifts and fruit for ministry in the Church, bears witness to Christ in the world, and does everything in every area of his life in order to bring glory and honor to God. Disciples work out their salvation in fear and trembling so as to bring holiness to completion in the fear of God.

Disciple-making is what churches are for. Thus, wherever we see a church, we should expect a vigorous effort of disciple-making to be a primary focus of everything it is and does.

Worship: God's Way, or Ours?

Evangelical Hubris (2)

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24

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For God’s Glory
The primary reason God has called a people out of the darkness of sin and disobedience into the glorious light of the Kingdom of His Son is so that we might glorify and exalt Him in all we do. In everything, Paul insists, even down to such mundane, everyday activities as how we take our meals, we are to seek the glory and honor of God (1 Cor. 10:31). Unless God is our focus and unless we are concentrating on pleasing and honoring God, we will not be able to glorify Him as He intends.

Nowhere is this more necessary than in our times of corporate worship. Here, when the people of God are assembled, in their clear and unmistakable identity as a people set apart unto the Lord, nothing is more important than that we exalt the Lord and give Him the honor, praise, and glory due to His holy Name. And we must do this according to all that He has commanded as appropriate in worshiping Him.

God's Way, or Ours?

Evangelical Hubris (1)

And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” Mark 7:9

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The Scriptures teach that the Bible is “profitable” to prepare those who rely on it for “every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). Would we consider that the work of building the Church a “good work”? After all, building the Church is the stated agenda of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the reason He has given pastors and teachers to local churches (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 4:11, 12). Surely this is a good work?

If so, and I think we can agree on this, then it stands to reason that, in the work of building the Church, we should rely first and foremost, and above all else, on the teaching of the Scriptures. It would be the height of hubris, would it not, to do otherwise, and thus to suggest that we know better than God how to build His Church? The Word of God is profitable and clear about how we are to take up the Lord’s agenda and build the Church. It remains for us to ensure that this is, in fact, what we are doing.

Reponding to Sin

The Tragedy of Sin (7)

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

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More than Words
I don’t want to give the impression that the tragedy of sin is something that can be overcome merely by beginning to talk about it.

That would be a start, of course, but it’s only part of a broader strategy we in the Christian community must adopt if we hope to overcome the evil of sin with the Good News of the Kingdom of God. We have to start talking about sin, and we have to get back to talking about the Gospel. We must proclaim the Good News, and we must do so against the backdrop of the bad news that everybody knows about but no one seems to want to name.

The Evidence of Sin: The Slippery Slope

The Tragedy of Sin (6)

Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. Psalm 73:18

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Turning and Turning in the Widening Gyre
In his 1919 poem, “The Second Coming,” Irish poet William Butler Yeats envisioned the world spiraling away from its master and perch, deaf to the call to return home and headed on a course of dissolution and oblivion.

He might have been explicating Paul’s teaching in Romans 1.

As we saw previously, when people flee their perch on the arms of God – when they deny Him Who makes Himself clearly known to them – then they’re on their own to erect some deity agreeable to their thinking and desires, even though this is nothing but the product of their own best ideas.

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