An Overview of Habakkuk

Have you ever noticed that strange and terrible things are happening in the world? The answer to that question is really obvious. It would be really hard not to notice. But what’s not always obvious is why strange and terrible things are happening. Sometimes things happen and we simply have no answers. One of the most common questions we ask is “Why?” Continue reading An Overview of Habakkuk

RefNet – The Best of Christian Internet Radio

RefNet

RefNet is a 24-hour Reformed Christian internet radio featuring Biblical preaching and teaching. Be enriched by the ministries and teaching of R.C. Sproul, Alistair Begg, John MacArthur, Sinclair Ferguson, Albert Mohler, John Piper and many more. Continue reading RefNet – The Best of Christian Internet Radio

Why I Love Going to Church

Why I Love Going to Church

I am really excited about the first day of the week. As Sunday morning and evening comes by my family gets ready and we go to church. Going to church ought not to be a mere routine or something to fill in time. Going to church ought to be an exciting occasion that we count as a privilege and anticipate the blessing that awaits us. When I say I love going to church, I am not referring to the building (though the church will be in a particular location or building). I am referring to the local gathering of believers – my local church. Why do I love going to church? Though there are many reasons that could be provided, I would like to share three broad reasons that contain many implications as to why I love going to church. Continue reading Why I Love Going to Church

How to Pray for your Pastor’s Preaching

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Like all Christians, pastors need prayer. In an earlier post I wrote about how you can pray for your pastor. In this post, I want to specifically look at how you can pray for his preaching. God in His wisdom has appointed the greatest means so as to reveal His character and will to the church, and that is the preaching of His Word (). Because the preaching of the Word of God is an important and influential task, we must take time to pray for those who preach it.

 

PRAY THAT THE WORD WOULD INSTRUCT HIM 
Pray that as your pastor reads and studies the Scripture, that the Word of God would grip his heart. Pray that his eyes would be opened and that he would behold wondrous things from God’s Word ().

 

PRAY THAT HE WOULD APPLY THE WORD
After God’s Word grips his heart, pray that he would apply it to his life. We read this concerning Ezra, “Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel” (). Make this your prayer for your pastor.

 

PRAY THAT HE WOULD BE DILIGENT IN STUDYING THE WORD
Pray that he would be diligent in his study. Sadly, all too often some pastor’s can be distracted or lazy. Pray that your pastor would make a disciplined effort as he carefully handles the precious Word of God. Paul commanded Timothy,

 

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” ().

 

PRAY THAT HE WOULD BE HUMBLE
Pray that he would prepare his sermons in a humble manner knowing and understanding, that apart from Christ he can do nothing (cf. ). Pride is an ugly and consuming sin that God hates (Prov. 6:16-17; 16:5). Pray that your pastor would be humble before God and would not preach for show, but rather “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” ().

 

PRAY THAT HE WOULD BE FAITHFUL
Pray that when he stands in the pulpit, that he would faithfully preach the Word of God in fullness and in truth. Pray that his boldness and words would be driven by what God has said. Too many pastors fall prey to the pressure of needing to be popular and pleasing to the ear. Paul called for the preacher to,

 

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” ().

 

R A Torrey asked, “Do you want a new minister?” He went on to say, “I can tell you how to get one. Pray for the one you have until God makes him over!” Pray for your pastor’s preaching and this will be a blessing for you and others.

and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;

18 Open my eyes, that I may behold
wondrous things out of your law.

10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.

15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Paul’s Purpose Statement

Purpose

The purpose statement of the apostle Paul’s ministry can be found in ,

Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me“.

The ultimate goal of his ministry is to, “present everyone mature in Christ“. The means in which he would accomplish this purpose was to proclaim Christ (cf. ). This indicates the central theme of what he preached. He was not interested in promoting himself, or in announcing some new system of thought. Paul’s chief concern was to publicly “proclaim” the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul carried out this proclamation of Christ in two ways, “warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom“. Warning and teaching need to go hand in hand. One without the other is not useful and can lead to error in the Christian life. Warning without teaching can lead to a form of legalism, whereas teaching without warning can lead to fruitless Christianity.

If the gospel minister is going to fulfill all found in , he is going to need power. In Paul reveals the power for ministry from both the human and the Divine side. The word “toil” means “to work to the point of weariness”. Many people are attracted to the ministry because they think that it is going to be easy. You can start whenever you want and the hours are great. Such a view of the ministry was foreign to Paul. Unlike many lazy pastors, he laboured in his serving. Paul not only worked to the point of weariness, he also struggled. This is an athletic term (the word “agonize” is derived from it). Ministry for Paul was hard work. He devoted himself to it with great seriousness and faithfulness.

Even though Paul put his all into the ministry, if that was the only enabling factor his ministry would be a waste of time. The ultimate enabling power for the minister is the Lord. Paul says that he laboured and strived, “with all his energy that he powerfully works within me“. Paul’s philosophy of ministry ought to be the same for all pastors. By God’s help, it ought to be their goal to labour in the gospel in proclaiming Christ with the view of seeing His people become mature in Christ. Determined in duty and dependant on God for help.

28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

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Beware of the Seeker Sensitive “Jesus”

Beware

Who is Jesus? Despite the clear testimony of Scripture concerning who Jesus Christ is, sadly many people serve the seeker-sensitive “Jesus”. He is a “Jesus” that makes them feel comfortable in their way of life. He is nothing more than a “Jesus” of their own making and He is powerless to save. You need to know the Lord Jesus Christ – the eternal Son of God. He is Lord and He alone can save.

What we need to know about Jesus is that He has Divine authority. This authority was seen in His teaching (), in His ability to forgive sins (), to cast out demons (), to judge (), to lay down His life and raise it up again () and in His future rule over the nations (). Just prior to His ascension Jesus said to His disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” ().

Secondly, His has Divine awareness. The Lord Jesus Christ is able to look at people and see their true spiritual condition. He is aware of every thought and action that they have done. In each letter to the seven churches in Revelation, Jesus says, “I know your works” (). He knows all that we do and don’t do and nothing is hidden from Him. He is fully aware of all that takes place in our church even if we don’t know about it. Every action that takes place in the church, every act of service for the Lord – menial and prominent, known and unknown – He sees it. He sees our service, suffering and sin. This act confirms His deity (cf. ).

We need to move beyond stereotypes, movie portrayals, and Christmas card depictions. He truly was the Jesus you can’t ignore. His authority, anticipation and awareness are unparalleled and make Him worthy of our worship and obedience.

29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.”

15 and have authority to cast out demons.

27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.

18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.

Revelation 2:9

“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

Revelation 2:13

13 “‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.

Revelation 2:19

19 “‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.

Revelation 3:1

3:1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.

“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.

Revelation 3:8

“‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

Revelation 3:15

15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!

39 then hear in heaven your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways (for you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind),

An Elder’s Calling and Character

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In an earlier post, I looked at what the Bible says concerning the meaning of an elder. In this post, I will consider what an elder’s calling and character is like.

It is the duty of an elder to lead (; ), teach (), and shepherd (; ; ; ; ) the congregation in a local church. The elders are from the congregation and are given the task of an under-shepherd who will one day give an account to the Chief Shepherd of the church (; ).

It is important to understand what an eldership is and what God’s intention for the church’s leadership is. It is the duty of the elders to care for the congregation and it is the duty of the congregation to respect and submit to the elders (). This brings us to our passage in . In this passage we will consider two aspects of the position and function of an elder – the calling of an elder () and the character of an elder ().

The Calling of an Elder
contains the second of five “trustworthy” sayings (1:15; 4:9; ; ). Each of these contains an important pithy truth that was familiar to the redeemed. He proceeds to say, “If any aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. This verse provides an essential element to the calling of an elder, and that is aspiration. The word “aspires” does not refer to a selfish aspiration of power and status, but rather to the pursuit of the task of shepherding God’s flock. This is critical because as he shepherds God’s flock, it must be done with willingness and eagerness (). He is not driven by power, money or prestige – he is compelled to shepherd. This “desire” is “a noble task” because it is the oversight of those that Christ purchased with His own blood (; ).

The Character of an Elder
In , Paul provides a list of fifteen character qualifications of an elder. This list is not exhaustive, but provides the essential qualities of a biblical elder. When looking at a list like this, it is important to consider the following observations.

Firstly, an elder must be a male. The repetition of the masculine pronoun “he” is repeated throughout this passage and also the qualification “husband of one wife” (3:2) clearly indicates an elder is to be a male. Secondly, these qualifications have nothing to do with the man’s rank in society or his achievements. Instead, these are all descriptions of his devotion to the Lord. Finally, an elder will not be able to perfectly adhere to these qualifications, but his overall pattern will display a pursuit of these things in faithfulness. These qualifications reveal the kind of man the Lord desires to serve as an elder in the church. This is the man the church is to respect and submit to ().

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church. Within the church are a people who are gifted in unique ways so as to glorify God and edify their fellow brethren. Yet in the Lord’s design He has called for certain members to function as leaders. These leaders are the elders of the church and they have an important task to lead, teach and shepherd God’s flock.

Recommended Resources:

9 Marks

40 Questions about Elders and Deacons

17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.

17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

1 Timothy 5:17

17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.

28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.

12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.

for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?

14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

5:1 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;

17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

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

17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

3:1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

3:1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.

Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

3:1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.

3:1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.

11 The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;

The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

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

28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Plagiarism and the Pulpit

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In God’s blueprint and design of the church He has gifted certain individuals to be teachers of the word of God. This is an important and weighty responsibility that ought not to be considered lightly. For this reason the apostle James counselled his readers, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” ().

It is the preacher’s duty to take the Scriptures and rightly handle them (). He is to carefully, with great precision accurately handle the word of truth. This refers to God’s word, the Scriptures (cf. ). How is this done? This will come a result of one who carefully studies the Scriptures and applies specific principles in interpreting God’s word. This is called exegesis (from a Greek term meaning “to lead out”). Exegesis is the practice of carefully studying the Bible and drawing a conclusion that comes from the passage you are studying. The preacher is to be a diligent workman. This process will involve hard work and time! The preacher/teacher is to be an approved workman who is diligent in handling the truth. Of course, throughout the duration of his study he will need to consult other writers (commentaries etc.) who have given themselves to this practice of biblical exegesis as well. This is will be helpful and encouraging.

At this point, I want to discuss the problem of plagiarism. Many preachers and teachers seem to bypass the process of study by simply crafting their sermons by directly using the work of others. What is plagiarism? Plagiarism is the act of taking someone else’s words or ideas and making them look like yours. This practice is an issue of theft and trickery. It is wrong for preachers and teachers of the word to neglect their study of the Scriptures and substitute it for plagiarism. Powerful preaching will occur when the man of God, in full dependance on the Lord, gives himself to prayerful study, consults with other men of God and preaches the word. Plagiarism is a poor, lazy and deceitful substitute.

For further reading please see:

TGC Asks Don Carson: When Has a Preacher Crossed the Line into Plagiarism in His Sermon?

3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.