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1157. Saying the Hard Things in Ministry

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
January 4, 2022 7:00 pm

1157. Saying the Hard Things in Ministry

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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January 4, 2022 7:00 pm

Dr. Alan Benson, Executive Vice President of Student Development and Ministry Advancement at Bob Jones University, is continuing a seminary chapel series entitled, “A Ministry Worth Pursuing.” The scripture is Acts 20:20-21.

The post 1157. Saying the Hard Things in Ministry appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform. Our program features sermons from chapel services at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Every day, students are blessed by the preaching and teaching of the Bible from the University Chapel Platform.

We're continuing a series from Acts 20 preached in Seminary Chapel. Today's speaker is Dr. Alan Benson, the Executive Vice President of Student Development and Ministry Advancement at Bob Jones University. It is a distinct privilege for me to be here, first of all, because I have the opportunity to open and share the Word of God. That is always an overwhelming privilege. But then in particular, to have the opportunity to do it here with people who I've had the privilege of have pouring into my life, it's amazing that for me, in a sense, there's been a shift in my life that I never anticipated. I always have seen myself and in my experience always have been a student at Bob Jones University. Twenty-five years of working on education here and other places while in ministry, having started and did my undergrad here, did a Master of Ministry here, and have been in the Doctor of Infinity here, Ministry here in that journey. But to have friends who have been mentors and teachers, have become over the years colleagues, to have here one of my very first pastors, Neil Cushman was my pastor in Nova Scotia, Canada. And I still don't remember.

I remember a very, very distinct day where he and I went together to a university in our town and we played one-on-one. And I still, maybe it's just a mental block for me, Neil. I don't remember if you beat me or if I beat you, but we'll leave it there.

We'll leave it there. Anyway, it is a joy for me to be here. And it's a joy in particular to be here while in these chapels we're exploring this theme. And so take your Bibles and turn with me, if you would, to Acts chapter 20, which is the text that throughout this semester different speakers will be coming to work together on. And I think it's being approached, I think I'm the second one in this text, but it's being approached thematically. That is, we work through this passage in pieces that it's being looked at as though there are themes then that are touched on in the passage. And in light of that, I want to focus on a particular theme that has been asked of me to deal with in considering a ministry worth pursuing. And I hope today that as we touch on this particular piece in Acts chapter 20, verses 20 and 21, that I can leave you with the tone that while ministry is challenging, in fact, it's beyond our capacity, that it is worth pursuing with all your heart. And I hope that that's where we end today as we consider this passage together. I think as you probably had introduced to you in the passage, Paul is touching base again on a return visit, if you will, with the Ephesian elders.

He calls them to him. And it's an interesting dynamic because I think there clearly has been a handoff of ministry responsibility. And he summons them and they come and they undertake really a pretty lengthy journey, which by them probably was by foot, to come and sit and listen to Paul. And in a sense, the pathos, if you will, of the communication with them is really of a friend, of a mentor, of sharing a heart and a burden for ministry and sharing with them. Ministry is. It is worth pursuing.

It is worth giving your life to. And that's what he calls them to. And in the midst of that, he says this in verse 20. And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you and have taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

The ESV says it this way, how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable. And there we get the idea that what Paul was saying to them is there were things that were really hard. In fact, those things were of a nature that it really would have been easy for me to not say them, to step back, to stop short of saying them to you. And so in this passage of scripture, I want us to consider that part of ministry, and I want you to see maybe an essential part of ministry, is the fact that at some point we are called to say the hard things. If you talk to my family, even before we were saved, Neal may be able to speak to this. While it might be shocking to some that I am spending my life in gospel ministry, it is not shocking to them at all that I would be spending my life in a sense getting paid to talk.

That would not shock them at all. And there's a sense in which that is very much what ministry is, and we'll see that in just a minute. But you have some incredible things to look forward to, and it's interesting that Paul talks at the beginning of this passage about serving the Lord with all humility of mind. I will tell you, if you're going to speak for a living, there really at some point needs to be some humility because you're going to blow it.

With all humility, you just have to be prepared. That there are times when you are going to speak, it just isn't going to come out right. So speaking in ministry alone, just speaking, can be hard. But there are times and events and things that have been a part of ministry that I will just tell you from the beginning, I never prepared my heart and my life to think about what I was going to have to do or say, the places and times that I would need to speak the challenges. Primarily I think here Paul, as you look and see him say that he is testifying both to Jews and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, I think he is innately declaring that the gospel proclamation itself is difficult because of how it's received. That it's difficult just to be obedient to declaring the gospel to an unfriendly world. That is hard in and of itself.

That is a challenge that honestly you don't realize sometimes how easy it is maybe to back off of that. But in light of declaring God's truth, there are times that we have to speak the truth and it's very difficult. I am thinking about this just thought back over my last three years in particular and some of the conversations that the Lord leads you to where you are called to speak truth and some of them are just difficult times. How do you speak truth whenever you're the one now that needs to go to the parents of the 14 year old daughter who just died? And yes you're going to tell them the truth that she is dead but what other truth do you bring to that difficult conversation? Can you really stand before them in that moment and tell them but you know what God is good. God is just.

His way is perfect. Conversation with a totally unexpected wife and children as you go and sit in their home and you're the one that shares with them that you now have discovered, uncovered, explored and that their husband a deacon is involved in a committed affair. How do you speak truth? Yes you tell them the truth but but what else do you tell them and how do you share that with them and what does that look like?

All kinds of hard truth. And so in light of that I want us to consider our office and so if I'm licensed to do so in order to do so I want to move away from this statement this theme in Acts 20 and look in a sense at ministry as Paul describes it for us in another passage of scripture so that we can see why how important this statement is that he would even say here say one of the things I want you to know one of the things I want you to remember is that I didn't shrink from telling you the truth. When we consider ministry we often know and explore and think of particular titles or what I see as descriptions of what ministry is to be three primary functional titles you would know them Shepherd, Bishop, Elder, Poimane, Episcopas, Prosperis. But there's another title that among these ones that tend to get debated often doesn't get talked about a whole lot and it actually is the one that captures this idea of us speaking and speaking truth it's it's the word K'ruchs or what we would know as herald in Hebrews 13 7 it says this remember those who led you how they lead you who spoke the word of God to you and considering the result of their conduct imitate their faith those who spoke the word of God to you Paul actually in dealing with the church at Corinth rests much in this word this understanding of ministry understanding that is he's writing first Corinthians in particular he's being challenged to defend his own ministry not just what he said but how he said it and particular did he have the right to say it and so he is in the midst of this sense of debate when he talks about the foolishness of preaching and it gives us some insight into the methodology as well as the message it is by the preaching of that which was considered foolish and so not just the message but even the methodology and throughout that passage he uses the words to describe the message as well as the messenger and the word that he uses there is this word for herald the theological dictionary the New Testament says this apart from the predominant question of the voice certain qualities of character were required in many cases heralds are very garrulous and inclined to exaggerate they are thus in danger of giving false news it is demanded then that they deliver their message as it is given to them the essential point about the report which they give is that it does not originate with them behind it stands a higher power the herald does not express his own views he is a spokesman for the master and this is the terminology that Paul uses to describe our office or as I was greeted by one this morning hey preacher that's kind of where we get that expression he could have easily has walked in and said hello herald now not h-a-r-o-l-d I do have a brother-in-law who always seemed to call me herald but herald h-e-r-a-l-d one who is to proclaim one who is to declare one who is to set forth unadulterated by bias or opinion the message of the king one who is to set forth unadulterated by bias or opinion the message of the king so if you would quickly turn over with me to Ephesians chapter 4 because I want to key on a phrase there in Ephesians chapter 4 that that captures for us the whole of ministry and and Ephesians tends to do that for us we know it as the epistle of the church and I think when you carefully study throughout it and we don't have time to do all of that today you see that this is a book that brings everything that we know of with regard to church back to a truth basis and so you see in the opening three chapters belief and you see then at the latter part of the book then behavior as a result of that belief or some have said doctrine that leads to duty and in looking at that you see in those opening three chapters of doctrine the essentials of the church that the church in a sense derives its doctrine from the New Testament chapter 1 that it develops its principles in practice from the New Testament chapter 2 that it displays the life of Christ as presented in the New Testament in chapter 3 and I think intentionally in all that the church is seen doing it's connected back to a source of truth and then you see then the behavior or the duty or the practice that comes in the second half of the book and thus when you come to chapter 4 you have Paul saying I therefore the prisoner of the Lord beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called and I want to I want to move quickly because I want to get to the last phrase but you see here as he is looking then at the church he says your identity is provided someone has given you an idea of what it is you're supposed to do and how it is you're supposed to do it walk worthy of the vocation or the practice or occupation that has been given to you and I would say to you that in light of a ministry that is worth pursuing that is marked by saying the hard things or telling the truth that we have to come back to the scriptures and say God in the first place what is it that you say I'm supposed to do and so I would challenge you in light of that come back to the word of God as the authority not just for what you declare but the life that you live and the ministry that you do and settle in your heart in your mind in the New Testament this is what ministry is this is what the local church is supposed to be like because he says that we're to walk worthy of a calling to which we've been called and so there's a sense that ministries identity is provided and then in two through six I won't walk through that but that in light of that we are to work to see that it is preserved. He moves on through this passage to that which is more familiar to us and he talks about then in light of this ministry that that it is it is energized by the ascended Christ that grace verse seven was given to each of us and so that in the actual functioning of ministry the ascended Christ is engaged and that that looks like people doing that which he has empowered them through giftedness to do but that we can rest in confidence that if we allow God to identify what ministry looks like that he then will supply that which is necessary to carry out that work and so you can have confident hope in that as you pursue doing that which God has called you to do in ministry that God will supply all that is necessary for the ministry to do what he's called it to do. What encouraging truth in thinking about ministry but he moves on from there to the equipping of the church and you understand I think this passage with regard to how God structured it Ephesians 2 and verse 20 tells us that all of these offices were still there in the New Testament and so you see in a sense the apostle the prophet the evangelist the pastor teacher verses 11 and 12 and I again I'm not intending to take the time to do that but what I want you to see is I believe that there is a connection to each of those New Testament offices with regard to the truth. I think all of them dynamically have a connection to the truth I think I look at them and I see the first three as descriptions of those that are part of bringing the truth to us before it actually is extant and then you come to the last one which is one office pastor teacher and you have in the very nature of the description shepherd and teacher that it's someone who is teaching out of a basis of authority there has to be something to teach and so almost the sense that this last ongoing office is not one about bringing truth to people but it is presenting the truth that already is to people and thus this office that is used by God to equip the saints so that they can do the work of the ministry and build up the body of Christ approximate and ultimate connection in what they are doing and I walk us through that to say in this passage of scripture all of us would nod our heads yeah yeah what a description of church what an understanding of church I see God's purpose in church I understand how God is about the church how God equips people for the church how God sends people in ministry so that they can equip people for the church and the question that I have is this how does he intend to do that? And I want to bring us down to one statement and that is in verse 15 rather or but speaking the truth in love may grow up into him in all things which is the head even Christ from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supply and what he does here in this description after this little phrase speaking the truth in love is he takes us back through all of the truth in the chapter before that and what he says is all that God is doing in the church he will accomplish in bringing about unity and bringing about maturity in connection with truthing in love that's actually the way it's used here is a verb form it's not actually speaking the truth as much as it is truthing in love and I really want to challenge you with three simple thoughts with regard to what this says one speak give the truth and it calls us if you will to braveness or to boldness in ministry there is this challenge that whenever it's not easy that we shy away from speaking the truth and I share with you from experiences those challenges that sometimes it becomes so much easier to not speak the truth to just not speak but with confidence declare the message speak speak I would challenge you to make it a priority someone wisely whenever I was an assistant pastor said to me Alan always remember this in the busyness of ministry the one thing a church will never forgive you for is bad preaching that always stuck with me in other words no matter how busy it got that the key in body life was that a body would gather at selected times and at those times they would come together for a singular purpose to worship God and to worship him in connection with truth make that a priority declare the truth speak but then secondly another very simple thought speak truth speak truth this demands of us that we know the truth that we learn the truth so that we might teach the truth to study or to give yourself in a workmanly manner word study actually isn't in the text that you might demonstrate in that workmanly manner a life approved by God by rightly dividing the word of truth speak truth that calls you to study get all the tools you can get use all the tools that God gives you but in light of that there is a demand and that is that we are careful in the fact that we're declaring truth that we are not broader or narrower than that which is truth and somehow carry with it the same level of authority that the truth actually has you see when we move beyond the truth either broader or narrower we actually step outside the truth and there has to be a fairness in ministry that it is it is not something wrong that you make a decision and present a direction that is based in principle but it is wrong whenever you make that decision and present it as though it's a precept thus cause confusion so speak truth but thirdly speak truth in love truthing in love and the key to times having to say hard things in ministry that there are times that you just sit with people and at some point in light of leading them to the truth you have to say to them you're wrong you are not thinking clearly you don't understand what the text says those are not easy things because why pride rises up and contention comes by pride but as one who is called to declare the message of the king there are times that we have to stand in defense of that message and we have to declare this is what God actually says and I want to help you to understand that but but you are wrong and sometimes that is wrong over an issue that you're debating and sometimes it's just wrong about the way that they are living and how they want to interpret the scriptures in light of the life choices that they make and those confrontations are hard when you come to those times have a life that is marked by love the context in which you get to share the hard sayings ought to be a life that has demonstrated the love of Christ a demeanor in the confrontation that demonstrates the love of Christ it means keeping your own pride in check and can I share with you sometimes that's challenging you have poured your life into understanding what a text says and I mean that literally you've gone through seminary and everything else as well as that week pouring yourself into a text and then you get that email right it comes on Monday you're exhausted and it says pastor I just don't think you handle that text right well I can tell you that somewhere before lunch it is really easy for your heart to say who do you think you are what right do you have to question me you sat in Sunday school for how long and you think you now can tell me how to understand this but it's easy for her heart to do that but I will tell you if that's how you respond you will have all kinds of issues in speaking the hard things if that's the atmosphere in which you endeavor to speak at those times you go to your Lord and say Lord you know what I'm just a herald and it's your truth and I in an unadulterated way without bias or opinion want to declare your truth for your glory God let me just see myself as a herald and in love go back and have what is now a necessary conversation but have it with a different demeanor you know what is amazing about this passage of scripture about Paul coming back and encouraging the Ephesian elders is that it actually makes clear to us that if we will speak the truth God through his truth will accomplish all that we are so desperately longing to see accomplished in ministry to those who need comfort God through truth by his spirit will bring comfort to those who need exhortation God by his spirit through his truth will bring exhortation those who need challenged confronted we have this confidence you know what if I will rest in just telling the truth and that demands that I know the truth demands that I declare the truth demands that I love in telling the truth God will do all through the truth that I long to see him do in ministry and as he does it as he produces the fruit you will look with rejoicing and humility and say God you are worth serving this is a ministry worth pursuing let's pray Father the truth is not easy sometimes there are people as we encounter them with truth who would much rather error because it fits the way they want to live it's challenging for us to know the truth at times it's difficult for us to tell the truth God I pray that maybe coming out of this chapel today a very simple thought but you would encourage us all to say I need to know the truth in such a way that I with confidence can declare the truth so that in ministry I can rest in the truth so that God will glorify through the truth God I pray that we would be encouraged that that is something by your grace we can do that that is a ministry worth pursuing. You've been listening to a message preached by Dr. Alan Benson, the Executive Vice President for Student Development and Ministry Advancement at Bob Jones University. Join us again tomorrow as we continue the series from Acts 20 here on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-01 22:07:19 / 2023-07-01 22:16:41 / 9

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