"THE PREACHER'S IDENTITY"
First Corinthians 4.1-2
1. Folks, do you realize that our nation is just about 8 months short of the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence? That declaration plunged 13 small British colonies on the Northeastern seacoast of the North American continent, that were already engaged in conflict, into a real shooting war with the most powerful nation in the entire world at that time.
2. For many years following my conversion I honestly believed that the colonists who revolted against British rule were in violation of the 13th chapter of the book of Romans, which stated that every soul is to be subject unto the higher powers, for the powers that be are ordained of God.
3. My reasoning was that you do not involve yourself, legitimately, in a revolution just because the government increases your taxes on tea. You do not violate the clear command of the Word of God simply because you have taxation without representation. After all, there is nothing in the Word of God stating that it is God's will for His children to live in a republic, or a democracy, for that matter.
4. In the back of my mind I had a thought that maybe those men who instigated revolution were simply anarchists who would be opposed to anything. After all, some of them were known to be that way. Others, I thought, were sincere, but quite at odds with the Word of God.
5. But a few years ago I came across a magazine article which pointed to evidence that the colonists had discovered which indicted that the English crown and parliament were preparing to make the Church of England the required religious institution of the colonies and that all others would be outlawed.
6. Indeed, it may be that religious freedom was the powder keg that set off our revolutionary war. After all, I've discovered, most of our founding fathers didn't want to form a new nation when they began to argue against the crown. They simply wanted to redress their many grievances. But the British reacted so wrongly to their legitimate complaints that the matter escalated.
7. As well, did you realize that at the head of the lists of those leading the movement that was opposed to any restraint of religious liberties were the pastors of small Churches throughout the colonies, pastors who were not afraid to speak out on all kinds of issues which affected the lives of those they pastored and ministered to?
8. Folks, events of this past week have served to confirm my opinion that we are again approaching a point, within the land we live, where our religious liberties, which have been all but eroded away, may be in even more immediate danger than I had imagined. We are approaching the point where we are ruled over by a government which is increasingly eroding, piece by beloved piece, our constitutionally guaranteed liberties. I am afraid our next president may be a man for whom the rule of law carries no meaning.
9. We will, in the near future, once again go door to door in this city of ours, but we will be seeking to evangelize the lost in a manner quite different than we used to. Thanks to a Supreme Court ruling that was handed down some years ago, however, door to door evangelism is no longer a constitutionally guaranteed right in our nation.
10. Few contemporary so-called Christians seek to evangelize the lost anymore. Instead they are really interested in attracting as many members from other Churches to their Churches as they can. So, if the numbers who are observed to engage in real evangelism is any indication, the legality of going door to door is quite unimportant to most Church members these days, since so few bother to do it.
11. On another tack, we now have the right in our country to join together in holy matrimony, being fruitful and bringing children into the world without interference. But thanks to other Supreme Court rulings handed down over the years, stating that abortion is even legal while the infant is being born, we can't be sure how long it will be before our nation will require mandatory abortions for women with more than one child, as is presently the case in China.
12. And what about the same sex marriages that will inevitably be legalized everywhere? Environmentalists will favor same sex marriages for the simple reason that they are marriages that do not produce more children, thereby reducing what the environmentalists say is the overpopulation problem. But what about Christians? So few Christians are interested in having as many children as God wants them to have that they won't care much, one way or the other. Too self-centered.
13. Already in government schools teachers have been trained to subject children to so-called values clarification. More than 25 years ago there were already 6,000 public school teachers who performing this exercise, with thousands more being trained every summer in summer school courses which all teachers enroll in.
14. Folks, in each city's neighborhood elementary schools children are subjected to questions and answers in which their beliefs are ridiculed and criticized by their teachers and their classmates. This happens whenever the abortion question is raised. And how does this happen? By stating that the whole issue with abortions is whether a woman has the right to control her own body or whether her rights are going to be denied by men.
15. And how many little children are sophisticated enough to point out that the issue is not control of a woman's own body, but the life or the death of another's body who lives inside the mother? Not many grade school kids that I've known can handle that kind of propaganda. And teachers are routinely trained to encourage their students to not tell their parents what's going on in the classroom.
16. Folks, I love this country, according to Biblical principles of patriotism. Prior to my salvation I was prepared to spend my entire life in the armed forces as a professional soldier, so I don't think my patriotism is a real issue. The child of God must, however, realize something. This nation is being subtly taken away from us and we've got to fight to get her back.
17. We must engage the forces arrayed against us using a strategy that is provided in the Word of God. We must begin to function in the way in which Christ intended for us to function so that the Gospel message will get out.
18. "What we should do, pastor? Should we march in the streets? Should we stand up and demand our rights?" Perhaps on rare occasions such measures might be called for, but usually that's man's way of doing things. Not that we should roll over and play dead and not exercise our civil liberties. But in addition to using good stewardship with our citizenship, we need to take action in a distinctively Biblical way so that we might preach to the world our distinctively Christian message.
19. I draw your attention to the Corinthian Church. In many ways those people found themselves in a situation similar to the one we find ourselves in today in America. Christianity is in the minority . . . at least Biblical Christianity is. Government is the enemy, if not yet the declared enemy, of our faith. And the cultural and educational environment in which we live attacks our faith, our families, and our children from every possible angle.
20. So what do we do? Devise a special plan? No, the plan that we've been given is quite good enough to do the job. It was good enough to turn the entire world upside down in Paul's day and it's good enough to turn the world upside down in our day, as well.
21. The key is not to come up with a good plan. The key is to work the good plan we already have. But most Americans are so adjusted to humanistic culture, and most Christians are so accustomed to the bland and anemic form of Christianity produced by decisionism, that they are quite unprepared to fight the good fight of faith, because they aren't really converted.
22. On one hand, we are so independent and self-sufficient, and so used to functioning as if we lived in this world by ourselves, that we don't know how to cooperate with each other as we should. On the other hand, we don't know how to take upon ourselves the responsibility of being a functional part of a local Church. In short, many here at Calvary Road don't know how to serve God in harness with other Christians. And that's exactly the same kind of situation Paul had to deal with.
23. Now remember, last week we saw that the Word of God is flatly opposed to glorying in human leadership, establishing and maintaining inappropriate relationships with preachers and thinking they are superior. Keep that in mind, because Paul's next assertion is going to boggle your mind.
24. Though you are not to glory in men, it is God's plan for Christians to follow human spiritual leadership. God's plan for turning the world upside down involves Churches in which committed Christians serve Christ, in part, by following the Spirit-led pastors within those Churches.
25. If there is any hope of retaking the United States of America other than by a deep and penetrating revival it will be by having Churches of Jesus Christ functioning in the way He designed them to function in the first place. But because the Corinthians Church members, and even American Church members, are so afraid of being dictatored by pastors, we must identify what a pastor is.
26. To those independent Corinthian Christians, as carnal and unwilling to follow leadership in the proper way as they were, Paul established the identity of the preacher. When this was done, they were ready to take on the city of Corinth. I hope we respond the same way here at Calvary Road Baptist Church.
27. When you find out the identity of your pastor, perhaps you will be more inclined to serve Christ through His Church according to His plan. Understand, this does not involve glorying in men. It does, however, involve realizing that the pastor is accountable to God, and that unless you understand the implications of the pastor's accountability you will never properly get the Gospel message out.
28. In First Corinthians 4.1-2 this is twice proven. Let's stand and read those two verses together: "Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."
1B. First, A Pastor Is To Be Accounted As The Minister Of Christ
1C. Now, the word "minister" comes from a Greek word that is also translated servant, attendant and deacon. It refers to a slave who functions under the watchful eye of the master. It speaks of a slave who hasn't quite reached the point where he doesn't require constant supervision.
2C. Do you realize what that means? It means that the pastor of a Church is never out from under the careful scrutiny of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is never in a position where he cannot be dealt with by the ever watchful Lord Jesus.
3C. If you remember Revelation 1.20 then you will also remember that a pastor is described there as an angel, or messenger, and also as a star which the Lord Jesus Christ constantly holds in His right hand.
4C. Those so-called Christians who are so afraid of the abuse of power by the pastor need to understand from the Word of God that things are under control. Jesus Christ is the Head of His Church.
5C. Know what that means? It means that the Lord will deal with His pastors, and that they are never far from His correcting guidance.
2B. Next, A Pastor Is Also To Be Accounted As The Steward Of God
1C. What does the word "steward" mean? In Paul's day it referred to a servant, either a freeman or a slave, who managed a household or an estate. The term implies such trustworthiness that constant oversight by the owner was considered typically unnecessary, with no need to worry about the care of his domestic affairs.
2C. This is amazing! While the Son of God is constantly overseeing the activities of the minister, God the Father is unworried about the trusted steward. And yet the minister and the steward
3C. This means that God the Father trusts the pastor to conduct his ministry. If God trusts the man who holds the office of bishop, and if you believe the method by which your pastor was selected was according to God's will, then you'd better trust God to use him. Amen?
4C. Folks, the way to reclaim our liberties, the way to best serve God, the way to achieve the greatest amount of joy and peace of heart, is to go to bed each night knowing that you've done the will of God.
5C. But how can you be sure about the human leadership which plays such a prominent part in your daily lives, especially in the spiritual realm? Simple. Realize, from the description of the man who is your pastor, that he is very much accountable to God.
1B. The First Thing Relates To The Necessity Of His Duty. The Bible Says It Is Required. Why Is It Required?
1C. It's required because the pastor is the under shepherd of the flock, whose job it is to protect the sheep assigned to him from the marauding wolves who have come in disguised in sheep's clothing.
2C. It's required because the pastor is the nursemaid who feeds the sincere milk of the Word to spiritual newborns and infants.
3C. It's required because the pastor is the spiritual leader who draws upon himself, by his position, the violent attacks of Satan.
4C. It's required because the pastor is the experienced sailor who outfits the Christians, by perfecting them, so that they can navigate on the storm-tossed seas of Christian life.
5C. It's required because the pastor is one who strives to be, like Paul, a wise master-builder who lays and builds upon that only foundation which is Jesus Christ, the Lord.
6C. It's required because he is the man who is to hold fast the faithful Word, who is to teach the Word, and who is to preach the Word of Almighty God.
7C. Is the ministry of the pastor required? You'd better believe it's required. The lives of Christians who try to serve Christ without the ministry their pastor show that it's required. The lives of Christians who try to serve God with the ministry of their pastor show it's required. But most of all, it's required because the infallible Word of God says it's required.
8C. For too long so-called "Christian America" has told pastors to stay in their pulpits. For too long we've suggested that he confine his sermons to topics which are "religious" in nature.
9C. But if there's any hope for this country of ours, Americans had better begin to realize the necessity of the ministry of the pastor in the life of each and every human being.
10C. And if we ever expect for folks to listen to and believe that our Lord and Master and Savior, King Jesus, has indeed risen from the dead like the Bible says He did, then we'd better get back to God's plan for living resurrection power Christian lives. And those lives, my friends, are lives in which old fashioned Bible preaching and authoritative pastoring play an important role. Yes, pastoral faithfulness is necessary.
2B. Finally, Notice The Nature Of The Pastor's Duty. Faithfulness.
1C. God help this unfaithful nation of liars. God help our country of men and women who will not shoulder their responsibilities, nor keep their words.
2C. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that you're going to lose your job if you don't show up at work faithfully. And no athlete can hope of being a winner who isn't faithful in practicing. Further, we know no athlete has any integrity who insists on renegotiating before he has completed his contract.
3C. Yet in the Christian realm we are a society of believers who are unfaithful. Unfaithful to our Lord Jesus Christ, but faithful to mow our lawn every Saturday morning. Unfaithful to seek the salvation of the lost, but faithful to go have fun whenever possible. Unfaithful to give to the cause of Christ, but always careful to faithfully buy the nicest goods and wear the nicest clothes and have the nicest knick knacks in our cars. And the list could go on.
4C. Well, maybe you think you can live that kind of life and ignore the consequences. Maybe you can thank God that this second verse of First Corinthians chapter four doesn't apply directly to you.
5C. As for me, I thank God that this verse applies directly to me. I am grateful for my calling which so definitely sets forth my place in God's divine plan of the ages.
6C. I magnify my ministry, like Paul. I realize the role that my ministry is going to have if this nation ever experiences revival and turns back to God. I know what the nature of a pastor's ministry is supposed to be. He must be faithful.
7C. Why? Because his ministry is spiritual, not material. Because his ministry is scholarly, not mediocre. Because his ministry is separate, not mingled. Because his ministry is surgical, not men pleasing. Because his ministry is sincere, not masqueraded. Because his ministry is supernatural, not manufactured.
8C. With all of these things being true, you can see why the man of God's duty is to be faithful. Someone has to be faithful. And it had better be the leader.
1. If this Church is going to influence this city, this valley, for Christ then people had better understand what God's plan of attack is for waging war against the god of this world by seeking the salvation of the lost.
2. You do absolutely no good to anyone, Christ or yourself, if you try to stand alone. You have been equipped to stand in formation with others in the Lord's army. The basic fighting unit in this spiritual warfare is the local Church. And the human leader of this Church, and the leader God wants you to follow, is your pastor, and not some other preacher.
3. Certainly I am not the captain of your salvation. Certainly I am not anyone to whom you owe any loyalty. And I most certainly am not anyone who is supposed to be thinking on my own, as the pastor.
4. I am simply someone in God's scheme of things who is used to provide human, visible leadership, and exhortation and instruction and preparation for the battle that lies before you. And to win the battle you have to follow the battle plan.
5. To allow me, as your pastor, to function, without improperly and sinfully glorying in some other preacher on one hand, and without unduly restricting my ministry in your midst on the other hand, you must realize that I am in every sense of the word, accountable to God for you. I am in God's hand.
6. We have seen this in our text by both the description I am given and the duty I am given. How foolish I would be, to think myself called of God to be your pastor, were I not faithful to properly portray myself as a minister of Christ and a steward of God. How wicked would I be if I did not faithfully perform the duties and responsibilities I am given charge over in this Church of Jesus Christ.
7. Is God's calling also upon your life, Christian? Since Christians are called according to His purpose, live up to this description. Live up to the faithful performance of your duty. Repent of your sin, if need be, and get your house in order before you go one step farther in your Christian life.
8. Maybe God is dealing with you about service in the Gospel ministry. If He is I'd like to talk to you about it. I want you to tell me what you think God's plans for you might be, or what you hope those plans will be.
9. My friend, I hope and pray that God wants this country back for His glory. But He won't get it back by allowing those who pretend to be His Own children play in the streets in open rebellion.
10. For God to be glorified He doesn't need your obedience, but He does demand it and command it. He wants you to be a good steward of what you've been entrusted with . . . your time and your talents. He wants you to be faithful in your Church and in your Christian service. If you want your kids to still be able to go to Church when they are adults then you'd better get into real time Christianity now. Amen?