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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.
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 were continuing the series from acts 20 preached in seminary chapel today speaker is Dr. Alan Benson, the Executive Vice President of student development and ministry advancement at Bob Jones University 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 had 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 25 years of working on education here and other places while in ministry, having started and did my undergrad here in the master ministry here and have been in the doctor of infinity here ministry here in that journey, but they 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, Nova Scotia, Canada, and I still don't remember. I remember 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 believe it. There 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 were exploring this through 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 on the second one in this text, but it's being approached thematically as we work through this passage in pieces that it's being looked at as though there are themes than that are touched on in the passage and in light of that, I I want to focus on a particular theme that is 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 and ask chapter 20 verses 20 and 21 that I 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 that that's where we end today as we consider this passage together, I think, as you probably had introduce 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 are clearly has been a handoff of ministry responsibility any summons them and they come innately undertake really a pretty lengthy journey which by then 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 heart and a burden for ministry and sharing with them. Ministry is, it is worth pursuing is worth giving your life to and 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 if showed you and if 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 do not shrink from declaring to you anything that was possible 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 are of a nature that it really would've been easy for me to not say them to to step back tip to stop short of saying them to you. And so, in this passage of Scripture. II want us to consider that part of ministry and I want you to see may be 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. Neil 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 that is very much what ministry is and what will see that in just a minute, but you have some incredible things to look forward to. And it's interesting that that Paul talks at the beginning of this passage about serving the Lord with all humility of mind I will tell you to speak for a living there.
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're going to speak it just it just isn't going to come out right. So speaking of 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 I never prepared my heart in my life to think about what I was in a have to do or say the places and times that I would need to speak the challenges. Primarily, I think your Paul has you look and see him say that he is testifying both the 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 that honestly you don't realize sometimes how easy it is. Maybe back off of, but in light of declaring God's truth. There are times that that we have to speak the truth and and it's very difficult. I been thinking about this to stop back over my last three years. In particular, in some of the conversations of 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 yesterday to tell the truth that she is dead but but what other truths do you bring to that difficult conversation. Can you really stand before them in that moment and tell them what God is good God is just his way is conversation with a totally unexpected wife and children. As you going sit in their home and you're the one that shares with them that you not 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 how do you share that with what is that look like all kinds of hard truth so in light of of that II 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.
The steam and asked 20 and and look incense at ministry. As Paul describes forcing another passage of Scripture so that we can see why how important this statement is that he would even say hearsay. One of things I want you to know one of 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 is descriptions of what ministry is to be three primary functional titles you would know them at Shepherd Bishop Elder point Main cost per scooter us. But there's another title that among these ones attend to get debated often doesn't get talked about whole lot and it actually is the one that captures this idea of us speaking speaking truth, it's the word K roots or what we would know as Harold in Hebrews 13.
Seven it says this. Remember those who lead 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 his writing. First Corinthians in particular is being challenged to defend his own ministry, not just what he said but how he said it, and particular, they have the right to say it so he is in the midst of the sense of debate when he talks about the that the foolishness of preaching and it gives us some insight into that the that 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 but even that the methodology and throughout that that passage he uses the words to describe the message as well as that the messenger and the word that he uses. There is this word for Harold.
The theological dictionary of the New Testament says this apart from the predominant question of the voice certain qualities of character required in many cases Harold are very garrulous and inclined to exaggerate. They are thus in danger of giving false news is demanded then that they deliver their message as it is given to them.
Essential point about the report which they give is that it does not originate with them. Behind it stands a higher power that Harold 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 walked in and said hello. Harold now not HAROLDI do have brother-in-law who always seem to call me Harold, but Harold H ER ALD one who is to proclaim one who is to declare one who is to set forth on adulterated by bias or opinion. The message of the King. One is to set forth on adulterated by bias or opinion 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. Ephesians chapter 4 that that captures for us the whole of ministry and in Ephesians tends to do that for us. We know what is the epistle of the church and I think when you carefully study throughout it.
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 in you see then at the latter part of the book then behaviors result of that belief are some of said doctrine that leads to duty and 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 and practice from the New Testament chapter 2 that displays the life of Christ is presented in the New Testament and chapters. I think intentionally in all that the church is seen doing it's connected back to a source 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 I want to move quickly because I want to get to the last phrase, but you see here is, 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 it, how it is you're supposed to do it. Walk worthy of the vocation or or that that the practice or occupation that is been given to you and I would say to you that in light of the ministry 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, 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 in 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 where to walk worthy of a calling to which we been called so there's a sense that ministries identity is provided in the two through six. II 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 than in light of this ministry that that it is it is energized by the ascended Christ grace. Verse seven was given to each of us, so that the actual functioning of ministry. The ascended Christ is engaged in 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 identify what ministry looks like that he them will supply that which is necessary to carry out that work so you can have confidence, hope, and that is you pursue doing that which God has called you to do in ministry that God will supply all that is necessary for the ministry duties called when encouraging truth.
Thinking about ministry but he moves on from there to the equipping of the church and you you understand.
I think this passage with regard to how God structured it. Ephesians 2 in verse 20 tells us that all of these offices were still there New Testament and so you see, in a sense possible to profit the evangelist, pastor, teacher versus 11 and 12 and I again I'm not intending to take the time to do that but what I want you to 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. I see the first three, as descriptions of those that are part of bringing the truth to us before it actually is expanded and then you come to the last one which is one office pastor, teacher, and you have in the in the very nature of the description. Shepherd and teacher that someone was teaching out all of a basis of authority. I asked me something to teach and so almost a sense about 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, proximate and ultimate connection and what they are doing and I walk us through that to say in this passage of Scripture. All of us would nod her head Sagal you. What a description of church when 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 up how God's sends people in ministry so that they can equip people for the church and that 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.
What he does here in this description. After this little phrase speaking the truth in love, as 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 in bringing about maturity in connection with screw thing in love. That's actually the way it's used here is a verb forms on exit speaking the truth as much as it is sluicing in love and I really want to challenge you with three simple thought. With regard to what this says one speak give the truth that calls us if you will to greatness 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 those challenges that sometimes it becomes so much easier to not speak the truth, 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 the church will never forgive you for his bad preaching that always stuck with me and I was 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 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 your self in a workmen lien manner word study actually is in the text that you might demonstrate in that workmen lien manner of life approved by God by rightly dividing the word of truth speak truth 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, there is a demand and that is that we are careful in the fact that we are declaring truth that we are not broader or narrower than that which is truth and somehow carry with the same level of authority that the truth actually has increasingly moved beyond the truth, either broader or narrower.
We actually stepped 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 presented as though it's preset thus cause confusion.
So speak truth, but thirdly speak truth in love. True thing in love, and the key to times having to say, hard things in ministry that there are times that you to 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 white pride rises up in contention comes by pride but is one he was called 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 understand that but but you are wrong, and sometimes that's wrong over an issue that your debating and sometimes just wrong about the way that they are living and how they want to interpret the Scriptures in light of 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 is demonstrated the love of Christ, a demeanor in the confrontation that demonstrates the love of Christ 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 the text says and I mean that literally you gone through seminary and everything else as well is that we poured herself 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 handled that text right, but I can tell you that somewhere before lunch is really easy for your heart to say who do you think you are right you had to question me. You said Sunday school for how long you think you now can tell me how to understand it easy for her 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 never speak at those times you go to your Lord and say Lord you know what, I'm just a hero that your truth and I in an unadulterated way without bias or opinion wanted to clear your truth for your glory. God let me to see myself as Harold and in love, go back and have what is now necessary conversation 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 if we will speak the truth God through his truth will accomplish all that we are so desperately wanting 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 acceptation of SUNY challenged confronted we have this confidence. You know what I will rest in just telling the truth 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 doing ministry and as he doesn't. As he produces the fruit you will look with rejoicing and humility say God you are worth serving. This is a ministry worth pushing other truth is not easy sometimes there are people as we encounter them with truth, would much rather error because it fits the way they want to live challenging for us to know the truth times it's difficult for us to tell the truth.
God, I pray that may be coming out of the chapel today have very simple thought, but you 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 be glorified through the God I pray that we would be encouraged that that is something by your grace, we can that that is a ministry worth pursuing. You 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 for March 20 here on The Daily Platform