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January 4, 2021 3:00 am
The church is the most blessed institution on the earth. The only one built by the Lord Jesus Christ, the only one he said he promised to bless our not saying the church doesn't have difficulty in the it's not a place for perfect people. It's a place for people who admit they're not end until the church admits that begins to move in the right direction.
With that in mind, what should the mission statement of your church be what the Scriptures say consider that as John MacArthur kicks off his study called the Bible driven church here on Grace to you will John the year is still new and this is our first day in the office this year so welcome back and I know you're looking forward to our first study of 2021.
We begin a new one today. So, talk about all that God has in store. And what's ahead. What we do have a wonderful new series and it's titled, the Bible driven church. One of the things that happened. Certainly in our church last year with the covert issue was the churches were closed in our church never closed. We were open fully and people were pouring into our church and at the time I was saying this is a sifting time. There are people who are leaving churches that weren't really answering their hearts cry that word analyzing the issues in the world that weren't bringing the word of God to bear superficial ministries at a hard time getting their people back and I know in our church.
We had hundreds and hundreds of people coming every week and most of those people.
It appears stayed because they found out that we were proclaiming the word of God which gave them hope and truth and nothing nothing is important is that in the time when you question what's on the horizon.
So it was a great time for the growth of faithful churches. Now it's time to take a look at the Bible and see what of faithful church is like what what does a Bible driven church look like that when I did that title. Originally, I was playing off the seeker driven church and try to make the point that we aren't designing a church to fit the nonbeliever were designing the church to fit the Bible because it's the Church of Christ, so it's a study on first Thessalonians chapter 5 and will be looking at is the fact that the church is not a business in need of a fresh message is not an updated marketing plan that the church needs. It's not about style or programmer strategy or some catchy campaign. The church needs to be what the Bible defines it to be what the Lord of the church desires it to be and we gotta go back to the biblical blueprint and let the church be the church, particularly in times like this. So in this series on the Bible driven church were going to be looking at the pastor's responsibility.
The congregation's responsibility of rejoicing, giving thanks dealing with problem people dealing with the Holy Spirit responding to God's word prayer can be a great series. Don't miss a day. Yes friend. This series shows you what God expects from your pastor or elders other leaders and from you. So what should your church look like what kind of leadership should you look for in a local fellowship. Consider those questions now.
As John begins his study titled, the Bible driven church. So join now to study together the word of God. Open your Bible if you will to first Thessalonians chapter 5 they have to do is practical life in the church.
I've entitled this series.
In this section growing a healthy flock from chapter 4 verse 13 all the way down the chapter 5 verse 11 that entire section has to do with the return of Christ is return for the church is return to judge the ungodly, which is called the day of the Lord and we are a church like the Thessalonian church that waits for his coming but is looking for the return of Jesus Christ. In that sense we we live in future hope we are looking forward to what is coming, but at the same time, the anticipation of the second coming of Jesus Christ cannot make us in different to the present, and so transitioning right out of the great discussion of rapture and day of the Lord.
The apostle Paul begins to talk about the practicality of how we live in the church today we're looking at a section that begins in verse 12, and runs all the way down to verse 22 is really a long series of exhortations, commands, and so this section will be instruction for life in the church. Very practical, very basic, very straightforward, very direct in the church needs a good healthy dose of this kind of instruction. Believe me there's anything that grieves my heart across America. It is the fact that we have so many unhealthy churches. So many churches that do not know the power of God. The presence of God the peace of God, the joy of God. The do not experience all of the blessings of God that he pours out to those who are walking according to his will and moving ahead toward being like Jesus Christ. We have many, many unhealthy churches.
It's a continual grief to me to talk to pastors who are so deeply burdened because they are in a church that demonstrates a lack of spiritual commitment.
It also is a grief to me to hear from people who are in churches where their leadership is not committed to spiritual growth and development. This country is filled with busy churches and some big churches, but many unhealthy churches one rather cynical writer looking at the church said that the church reminded him of Noah's Ark, of which he said if it weren't for the storm outside. You couldn't stand the stench inside that's a cynical view of the church that the jaded view of the church is far from the reality of what the church should be and what the true church is the church is the most blessed institution on the earth.
The only one built by the Lord Jesus Christ, the only one he said he promised to bless and the gates of hell would never be able to hold it in my were not saying the church doesn't have difficulty in the reason the church as difficulty is because the church as people were all fallen and were all sinful and will all imperfect and we have weaknesses we face difficulties fallen and sinful people make up the church we can people make up the church and in many ways we have to say the church is a hospital. It's not a place for perfect people. It's not a place for people who imagine they're perfect.
It's a place for people who admit they're not and they want help and it isn't until the church admits that that it begins to move in the right direction. Certainly the church as false real knowledge of it was a lot I want to join the church are too many hypocrites to which the proper responses will come on and we got room for more. Sure, we have false the admission of that the recognition of that is is the basic stance from which you begin to grow from what you begin to move in the right direction. We have to start with the confession of our failures in our weaknesses. We acknowledge church is going to have trouble I've never seen a church that didn't. That's because people have problems and leaders have problems. Relationships therefore stretched and strained and made difficult, then you can add to that the reality that Satan works hard against the church and so his supernatural agents and so to his human agents but still the true church is far better than any other organization, Association or institution on the face of the earth because it moves toward being like Jesus Christ because it represents him in the world because it's life is energized by the Holy Spirit because it lives under the instruction of the word of God because it applies spiritual power mutually through fellowship and service among its members. It therefore is the greatest Association organization institution in the face of the earth, but it is, admittedly, people in process it were not where we ought to be, but we're not where we were were moving in that direction. Go back to chapter 4 verse want to be reminded of what Paul said there there really is a good summary of life in the church halfway down through the verse he says, you ought to walk and please God. Then he says, just as you actually do walk that you may excel still more now there's a church in progress you're doing well. In fact, you're excelling but I want you to sell more. You are walking in pleasing God, but I want you to do it more.
That's a summation of the process.
Now remember, he had commended the Thessalonian church on a number of occasions in this letter. Back in chapter 1 verse two he says we give thanks to God for you all, making mention of you in our prayers. He was thankful for all of them.
He tells why in verse three. Their work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope was consistent and then down in verse six he says you became imitators of us and of the Lord you received the word in much tribulation with the joy, the Holy Spirit, you became an example to all believers. Then in verse eight, the word of the Lord sounded out from you in verse nine he said you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. In verse 10 he says you're even waiting for his son from heaven and over again in chapter 2 in verse 13 he says we constantly thank God that when you receive from us the word of God's message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is the word of God which also performs its work in you will believe and then again he says you became imitators of the churches of God and Jesus and you endured the sufferings that come at the hands of your own countrymen, they were dedicated folks and then believe the truth and their faith was real in their love was strong there. Hope was firm down in verse 17 there were such a beloved church that he wanted to see their face so badly he had desired. He had tried to come.
He says in verse 19 you're my hope, my joy, my crown of exultation in verse 20 you're my glory or my joys and over in chapter 3, verse six, Timothy came back from a visit and brought us good news of your faith and love and that you always think kindly of us longing to see us just as we also long to see you. Verse eight indicates that they were standing firm in the Lord. In verse nine he says what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account. They were good church. They were wonderful church. They were an excellent church. They were moving in the right direction.
They were in process and yet he can say in chapter 3 verse 10 we still want to come and complete what is lacking in your faith you're doing well, you could do better your moving on the right track. You could even go faster and farther. But whatever spiritual deficiencies existed in Thessalonica.
They were not life-threatening to the church.
They were not fatal. There was just room for growth there was a truly saved church here was a sanctified church.
They were moving toward the direction of holiness here was a surrender church yielded to the Lordship of Christ and following Christian duty to do the will of God with excellence. Here was a soul winning church evangelizing sounding forth the word of God far and wide. Here was a second coming church waiting for the return of Jesus Christ. All things being considered. This is a noble group they could do better. They hadn't arrived. They were perfect, there was still process to follow. There was still progress to make and even though they were anticipating the coming of Christ, and it to super eight in his gathering together of the church and anticipating the judgment of the day of the Lord that final coming they needed to live continually in the present tense moving along the path of spiritual progress. So here you have in verses 12 through 22. Some very straightforward direct exhortation as to how they are to live within the church here and now we will find it. Beloved very instructive and very encouraging to our own hearts as we look closely at it.
Another section falls into four categories. There is a discussion of responsibility regarding leaders responsibility regarding brothers and sisters mutually responsibility regarding worshiping God and responsibility regarding the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Those four dimensions are discussed in giving them instruction as to how they are to live in the church in order to work toward being a healthy flock.
He starts with the relationship between the sheep and the shepherds.
Let's look at verse 12, but we request of you, brother, and that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work, live in peace with one another.
At that point.
Those two verses speak of the issue of the relationship between pastors and people shepherds and sheep, beloved, I say to you. This is where health and the church begins. Nothing is more devastating to the spiritual progress of the church, then an unwholesome relationship between the shepherds and the sheep. You can't have a healthy flock with that kind of problem shepherds are not fulfilling their proper spiritual responsibility to the sheep and sheep are not fulfilling their proper spiritual responsibility to the shepherd the church can never be what God intends it to be. It cannot break down at that very very significant level and frankly devastation of a massive proportion occurs in churches where there is a breakdown of confidence, trust, love, affection between shepherds and sheep when integrity goes and credibility goes in confidence goes in trust goes and love goes and affection goes at the point of that relationship.
You've devastated the life of the church. Even though there only two verses committed to this.
The truth is herein are replete throughout the New Testament we could literally spend months just tracking out the things that you're going to see in these two verses whatever the church is a beauty. Whatever the churches of joy.
Whatever the churches of effectiveness. Whatever the churches of power is dependent initially upon the relationship between the shepherds and the sheep. The sheep and the shepherd. There have been times when some of the shepherds of Grace Church have been major disappointments to the sheep the disintegration of relationships. At that point has been the most severe trauma. This churches ever experienced, and there have been times in this church when the sheep have been a major disappointments of the shepherds again. The trauma of those occasions has been the most severe. The churches ever experience. If we have ever had difficulty in our church if we have ever had chaos in our church to any degree. And it's always been somewhat minor, but when we have hatted we have had it because there has been the disillusionment in the minds of people at this particular point of relationship. This relationship is crucial is very clear that the apostle Paul in these two verses makes a major point out of that. Now we need to do is focus on two points.
Let's talk about the responsibility of the shepherds to the sheep the responsibility of the shepherds to the sheep.
What do we owe to you with the recognition that whatever problems there are in the church can really be laid in one way or another at the feet of this particular relationship we have to give careful attention to it. What then is the responsibility of the shepherds to the sheep. Let me give you little bit of brief background, as the New Testament unfolds we need to make a point of identification or as the New Testament unfolds, it becomes clear who the leaders of the church are the leaders of the church are identified under four basic titles for basic New Testament descriptions or words, terms, and you're familiar with the number one the very familiar term elder presbyter us now that identifies a church leader as one characterized by mark this spiritual maturity and wisdom. Spiritual maturity and wisdom. Leaders are those who are spiritually mature spiritually wise that term elder is used over and over and over again in the New Testament very early on as the church is being established in the book of acts is a high priority to make sure that those churches have elders. That is, men who are characterized by spiritual maturity in spiritual wisdom who can lead the church and you find it very clear characteristics required of such men given in first Timothy chapter 3 Titus chapter 1 there duties are outlined without any lack of clarity throughout the New Testament, we understand very clearly what an elder is a spiritually mature spiritually wise man. Given responsibility, lead the church is another word that is used to describe this man, this leader that is the word overseer sometimes translated by the old English word bishop is the word Episcopal Austin. The Greek means to look over to oversee. This indicates that the church leader is not only characterized by spiritual maturity in spiritual wisdom, but by spiritual oversight and spiritual authority in this world you have oversight and authority. They go together and you find. For example, that word used in first Timothy three and in Titus chapter 1 as the word to describe church leaders they are overseers is also used in Philippians 11 acts 2028 then you have 1/3 word that were all familiar with, and that's the word pastor. It means shepherd comes from point Main. This indicates that the leader of the church is characterized by spiritual feeding and spiritual protection here you're looking at the duty that he has to feed the flock and protect them from the wolves, so the leader in the church is characterized by spiritual maturity. Spiritual wisdom spiritual oversight spiritual authority spiritual feeding and spiritual protection. And there's 1/4 term is used is the word hate do Manas, which literally means those who lead do you and will just use the word leader or chief. This indicates that the one who is responsible as soon overseer elder pastor should be characterized by spiritual discernment and spiritual guidance. In other words, he is effective as a leader because he can assess the condition and move people to a better condition. Guide them in a right path. What then is the leader of the church. He is a man with spiritual maturity spiritual wisdom spiritual oversight spiritual authority who spiritually feeds spiritually protects people who provide spiritual discernment of their condition is spiritual guidance to a better place. That's the leader not putting such shepherds in place was crucial in the early church, and so it acts you have in chapter 14 verse 23 Paul ordaining elders in every city. It was crucial that the church had shepherds shepherds to provide the wisdom and the discernment in the direction and leadership in the guidance and the teaching of the protection all of that that was their responsibility. Now a very important footnote about the Thessalonian church. We all know that this churches only months old so you have a lot of brand-new Christians.
How in that kind of congregation.
Can you find elders who are spiritually mature and spiritually wise and who are profound articulators of truth and who can give people great direction for the future and all that you find that in a congregation like that you probably won't.
The least you won't find people who have arrived but you will find people who are in process and while there is in this letter. No mention of elders. No mention of overseers. No mention of pastors are no mention of leaders. There is definitely in verse 12. The mention of people who have charge over you, so call with apostolic authority led by the Holy Spirit had identified certain men and given them the leadership and they were really sort of like elders in process.
They don't bear the title but they were certainly given responsibility and were moving in that direction and someday no doubt would be called elder overseer pastor leaders not yet bearing the title. They were learning the roles of leadership that wouldn't of been easy and I'll tell you what they were all young Christians they were all sort of equally old in the Lord, which makes it difficult for someone to take the leadership role when others know that he is no more mature in terms of time than they are. It would also be difficult because very likely this church came for the most part from the common people and many, many of them may have been slaves and then when they were selected for spiritual giftedness and by the apostles identified through the working of the Holy Spirit as those gifted by God to be leaders in the church they would come out of a kind of a lifestyle where they were used to leadership they wouldn't come out of the culture as leaders. They would not have had positions of authority in their society so they were learning all about leadership and and all about spiritual wisdom at all about spiritual maturity. All in one process of development, so it was not an easy thing and it could've been that there was a point of conflict in the Thessalonian church and some were wondering why these others had charge over them and they were a little bit non-submissive and it was that somewhat conflict thing situation that promotes these couple of verses encouraging people to live in peace with each other.
Verse 14 says there were some unruly people.
There were some fainthearted.
There were some week and there were some who demanded patients. Verse 15 indicates that some people rendering evil and you want to give evil back so there was some conflict in the church. As I said it wasn't fatal and life-threatening, but it was there and that kind of conflict in the church could be remedied if the shepherds and the sheep did their proper duties. Beloved, when there is conflict in the church and when churches split in a split constantly is conflict usually at this level, and Paul wants that resolved immediately so there have been some men identified as leaders by the way, no doubt Paul did that and he did it out of the direction of the Holy Spirit. And I submit you that even though we don't have apostles today to do that elders, pastors, overseers and leaders are still to be put in place by the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can raise up shepherds in the church. They are self appointed like geographies elect to have the preeminence. They are appointed by popular vote, the plurality of godly shepherds in the church become known to the church because it is so obvious that they are Holy Spirit led God gifted men who function in that role, we don't have apostles to identify them now but we do have mature godly pastor elders to identify others. Even the congregation can assess and see because this relationship was so new in Thessalonica and because they were doing so well and growing so well called and want to overstate the case. He didn't want to threaten them as if there was some kind of fatal flaw and so the words that open verse 12 are very gentle.
Look at verse 12, but we request of you, brethren, very amiable. This is a this is a gentle kind of approach from the apostle. It lacks that the apostolic dictum that sometimes he can give. It's more the request from a friend. Use the same phrase by the way chapter 4 verse one. Again, not threatening them because they were doing so well. Here he is saying the same thing you you're doing well in your relationship shepherds to sheep and sheep, the shepherds you're doing well. I just want to encourage you to do better. So there's a general request.
Here rather than a threat faithful shepherds or to discharge that responsibility. This is grace to you with John MacArthur. Thanks for being with us today.
John outlined what God expects from those who lead his church. It's part of the series is titled, the Bible driven church. Now if you want to own this study.
It comes with a lot of material.
We won't have time to err on the radio. You can download it for free at our website.
What does God expect the church to be and what should you look for when you're choosing a church. This study answers those important questions to get your copy of the Bible driven church. Contact us today to find our email@example.com you can download all eight lessons from the Bible driven church as well as every sermon from John's nearly 52 years of public ministry. The sermons are available in both audio and transcript. There's a lot of video as well. You can also check out our blog with more than 1400 articles plus many other resources that will help you dig into God's word the address again. GT Y.org and friend.
Let me just reiterate the goal of grace to you what this ministry is about.
We are committed to unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on this radio broadcast on our website and books on television in everything we do.
You know, we have all just come through a year of unprecedented difficulty in no doubt, 20, 21 will be filled with fresh talent. Just know that we will still be here doing everything we can to connect with the only source of real comfort and encouragement and direction that is biblical truth. So I hope you join us as often as you can.
This year, including tomorrow for John and the staff on Phil Johnson inviting back another half hour of unleashing God's one verse at a time on Tuesdays. Grace the