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1160. Care For the Church of God

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
January 7, 2022 10:30 pm

1160. Care For the Church of God

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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January 7, 2022 10:30 pm

Seminary professor Dr. Greg Stiekes is concluding Part 1 of a seminary chapel series entitled, “A Ministry Worth Pursuing.” The scripture is Acts 20:28.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, including a series from acts 20 which was preached in seminary chapel at Bob Jones University today speaker is Dr. Greg Stites we've been going through this section. In acts chapter 20 and you notice if you're following Paul speech up to this point that Paul is really been focusing on himself. But in the middle of this speech. The apostle Paul challenges the pastors he exhorts them he urges them and it's actually the only instruction in the whole speech takes he pay careful attention to best the governing imperative at the beginning of verse 28 Prost Seco and a means to give great attention to something in the negative sense is often translated beware.

Don't neglect don't be distracted from your duty, your duty to what will if you look at the text.

Paul calls them to give great attention to two areas you see them there. First of all, take heed to yourselves, and secondly, take heed to the flock, watch yourselves and watch the flock.

Now Dr. Casillas I believe has been charged with the first of those charges watch yourself and easy to do that at a later time.

I'm in a focus on giving attention to the flock and primarily, this is an admonition to pastors. In fact, all of the major New Testament terms for the pastoral office are in the context here is that if you go back to verse 17 Paul calls for the elders of the Prez Buddha Roy of the church to come and then in our verse, verse 28. The word overseer here is use the Piscopo ass and then the word feed or care for the ESV point Mino is to shepherd or the pastor so the new American Standard translates this shepherd the church of God, but I might to keep in mind as we unpack this text that God has called many people, both men and women to minister to the flock of God and whether you are called to function formally in a pastoral office or maybe you're just lifting the arms of those in ministry through teaching and counseling and discipling admonition is clear to every single one of us, take heed to the flock. Watch out for them give to careful attention to them and this imperative goes right along with the word flock and shepherd because a shepherds number one job is to watch the sheep to guard them so you can protect them and nourish them and lead them two years ago in Spain in the dark hours of the morning, 1300 sheep wandered into a town not making this up, you can actually watch the video online where all the sheep are there and you can see the police cars trying to herd the sheep and everybody trying to corral them and when they finally got to the bottom. What was going on and went back to the place where the sheep seem to have come from.

They found the shepherd sound asleep on the ground are not making this up.

The shepherd just went to sleep in. The sheep said okay and they just wandered away into the town that have a lot of help to get them back to the shepherd shepherding is a watchful business.

You have to stay awake. You have to always be on the job, not later Paul is going give us a practical reason for this in verse 29.

He says wolves are gonna calm false teachers in a calm and try to make disciples. So beware of this morning. I want us to just consider verse 28.

How do we genuinely care for the church of God. How can we pastor or assist in pastoral ministry to lift the hands of those who are ministering well after the imperative take heed to all the flock you look at the text. You notice that there are these three phrases that help us understand what it means. The shepherd what to do here is I'm actually going to reverse one of these phrases to put them in chronological order. First, the Lord purchases his church sack and the Holy Spirit appoints ministers and finally the ministers tend the sheet and we look at it that way. I think that we can see at least three dynamics of what it means to care for the church and what is more, if we can see these dynamics understand them.

They will keep our ministries in biblical perspective. So what are these three dynamics while the first is this the dynamic of a precious possession. The Lord treasures his sheep because he refers to the church of God which he purchased with his own blood now because of the seminary chapel and you all think a little more deeply than most crowds. I think that we can take a minute to unpack a little bit about happening here that there's an issue that comes up right away. Can you tell what that is. The verse seems to say that God the father.

Turk purchased the church with his own blood, and I'll even put the rig up there for some of you and everywhere else in the New Testament, it specifically the blood of Christ which redeems in the ancient Christian scribes appear to agree because so much all of our menus So many of our manuscripts actually add this word instead of God. They add the word Lord the church of the Lord, which he purchased with his own blood. Papyrus 74 and Alexandria tax both have Lord assign Atticus and Betty canis have God and and really it's kind of a balance with the external evidence which way you go, but there are two problems I think with the reading church of the Lord. First, when you're evaluating a textual variant of those of you who have had NT I know you would lean toward the reading which best explains the presence of the others.


It seems likely to me that a scribe would have changed church of God to church of Lord in order to alleviate the notion of the blood of God.

But secondly, keep in mind that this is Paul talking in Paul's epistles. We never see church of the Lord. We often see almost 10 times. In fact Paul using the phrase church of God. So what we do with this reading. Well, we can assume that when Paul says he purchased with his blood.

He's referring to Jesus Christ as sort of an invisible antecedent or we can reason that Paul refers to the blood of God being the Godhead in general.

So the second person of the Trinity over the Godhead is the one exactly shedding his blood or we can take the path that Sandhu and translate the Greek phrase. This way the blood of his own. That is, his own son whatever direction we go first Peter 119 rings out. We are redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot and when verse 28 says that God purchased the church. The verb he uses means to obtain for oneself, to hold onto with care and personal interest.

It's a rare verb in the Greek New Testament. But Luke uses it in Luke 1733 where Jesus says if anyone desires to save his life to hold onto his life to possess is like to lose it. You know how clingy we are to our own life.

Do not self protective.

We argue that you know a lot of you may be that if you ever find somebody was drowning in you jumping to rescue them. You're not supposed to go near them. You know what will happen right they will glad grab onto because our panicking they're trying to save their lives. If you get this training your your your train to push them away and get behind him and grabbed him from behind and and and and get them to the short because they're not thinking there only trying to preserve themselves. Wheat we grab on preciously to our lives. And this is somewhat of the idea here in this word purchased. Jesus did not shed his blood to rescue his sheep from their sins we could merely put them as a trophy on his shelf. He treasures them. He holds them close.

He embraces them. Ephesians 525 says that Christ loves his church and gave himself for her. Paul says in first trillion 316 through 17.

He says don't you know the year they may ask, that's that that's the temple itself not be here on the outer court but the temple of the Lord, and he says if anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him, which in short could simply mean God is going to deal with anybody who messes with his church because his church is precious. He loves his church as a pastor or layperson or one who counsels or ministers in the church and teaching and leading this really has incredible implications for us and apply what they are giving us two of them here.

First of all we have to realize these are not our sheep.

They belong to the Lord. There his flock and attitude that some pastors may have. I think this is may be stereotypical, but it's my church. I'm not going anywhere. I heard a preacher want say if you try to kick me out and bring a shotgun into this pulpit because this is my church and and even bless God we had a backdoor revival and and and all that kind of think I don't see that anywhere in the New Testament because we don't own those sheet we're not there. Lord and Master. There, the Lord sheet and what is more, those sheet are precious to the Lord. He paid dearly for them because he loves them and we can see this theme in Scripture that the Lord judges the wicked shepherds who were not caring properly for the sheep but the sheep are cared for by the Lord who becomes the good Shepherd because this is his flock and it was his flock long before you or I showed up to jump in and help minister to them and they're gonna be his flock.

Whether we are there or not. Now that understanding would certainly lead us to ask a question. Well, if there's a Lord shape and in there to be his sheep by the where they're not how did we get involved in first place. Will that question is answered in the second dynamic of caring for the church of God is the dynamic of a divine appointments. The spirit appoints overseers because of the verse 28. Again it instructs take heed to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, how do we get involved with God's flock. We were placed there to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It's it's a common verb to say me to put or placement is used here in a formal way of placing or appointing and most likely these men were pastors from Ephesus who had had the experience of the laying on of hands and Paul and others of his core work. Coworkers probably formally commissioned them to be shepherds of their churches, but here Paul doesn't mention the ceremonial event when he mentions is what that ceremony symbolizes, which is the fact of the spirit is doing his work deleting these to leave these men to pastor in their churches, and rather than probe this interesting discussion about the ministers call in his appointment to preach the word let me just say that if you are walking in the spirit and the Lord leads you to a place of ministry and you are convinced that this is of the Lord and the church affirms that even that this is not merely a human process. This is a divine process. However, the Lord works through his Spirit. The Holy Spirit is placing you within the body to exercise your gifts for the health and the doctrinal unity of that body melt these two dynamics. The fact that the sheep are the Lord's precious possession of the belong to him and not to us in the fact that we are divinely placed by the spirit into our place of ministry should put ministry and perspective for us whenever we serve the flock of God.

We are appointees where overseers were managers were caregivers of the Lord sheet we're placed there by God somehow through his Spirit to serve him as well as the people they are his people and the sheep of his pasture. But we have the privilege of ministering to them you ever happen to Paul at Corinth, Paul administered like he had in every city and he got to the point in Corinth where the assassin he said finally come to Christ. I think Paul is expecting the Jews to revolt and try to get a kick out of the city or beaten like he was in Thessalonica and it was at this point in Paul's ministry that the Lord appeared to them in a vision, saying don't be afraid. Go on speaking. Do not be silent. For I am with you and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people. We could read that who are my sheep. They haven't even heard the gospel yet they haven't responded in faith, but the Lord knows they are coming to join his flock and he's calling and preparing a shepherd for them in the person of the apostle Paul is equally have the dynamics in place. We realize the sacred responsibility that we have as ministers of the gospel. This is not a human calling. It's a divine calling. These are not our sheep their God, sheep, and we are answerable not to men for how we conduct ministry.

We are answerable to the Lord.

We are shepherding his sheep and we have that dynamic firmly in our minds were ready for the third dynamic, which is the dynamic of faithful ministry. The overseers shepherd the church of God, those of the terms that are used here versus 28 and 20 not the terms of shepherding and shepherding involves several essential tasks that I'd like to mention just briefly this morning. First of all a shepherd watches that as I said earlier, is his primary responsibility he supposed to stay awake, not let the sheep run into the town. He is invested he watches the surroundings of the culture so he knows what challenges are coming from without. He watches for predators trying to enter the flock. Those are teaching heresy. He watches the sheep for things that are going on of the lives personally where they need spiritual encouragement. It means that he knows the sheep and spends time with the sheep. This is an investment. It's not something that you can do every once in a while you have to be watching you have to be investing it takes a lot of time and watching then you are prepared to shepherd in other ways. For instance, you are prepared to guard because a shepherd guards he guards sound doctrine. He guards influences on the sheet. He guards the worship of the sheet by I think one of the duties of a pastor is to to leave the church in worship, at least up to call the church to worship an end to set the router for that and in in counseling and teaching to keep the Scriptures straight to to watch and the hard the teaching and to be aware of who is coming into the body's desire to keep alert sheep from wandering astray in the error earned the life choices that will be damaging for them in this kind of ministry can happen from the pulpit, surely, but is often done as many of you know through one-on-one discipleship ministry and counseling ministry, or simply coming alongside on a regular basis and is something we can all participate in, and as a pastor or minister as a counselor. One of things you gotta learn is to not chase after all the problems all the time that you see in people's lives because the Lord is still shepherding them personally. You can spend all your time fixing what you think are the big problems in people's lives and yet there are people over here trying to walk with the Lord and they would love to have a conversation and they just need a little bit of encouragement and they need to be watched and they need to be guarded as well. Shepherd watches in a shepherd guards and a shepherd fee.

In fact, that we have in the King James for this. The translation of this verb, it is the primary idea in the translators minds, the shepherd feeds the sheet that you make sure that sheep get nourished in the word mastering the word, studying the word so we can lead people in the word we have to be people who know the Scripture, when we really have to know this book we really do. This is one of the primary ministries that we have the sheep and no matter what your calling is, no matter how you are led by the Spirit to serve the body of Christ, you need to spend your life learning and knowing how to rightly divide the word of truth. You want to be the kind of shepherd who can take the word of God and bring it to bear really unreal world needs to take the meaning of the text in its context, and to bring it to bear in the first area and in the 21st century world, not the first century world. We need to know the meaning in the first century we needed to bring it to bear on the 21st century.

So don't skimp when you preach or teach preach the word and teach theology deep in the flocks love for the word of God. Let them learn to feast as they can on the rich banquet of the work will lead them to drink long, refreshing drafts of the water of the word nourish them.

That's why you're the shepherd don't give them candy.

Don't just tell them a bunch of stories.

If you start getting older and repeating them anyway. They've heard them all. Trust me, don't be fluffy in an elite let me talk the laser just a second. I think most of you would really appreciate that and Artie agree with this but when you teach or speak like to ladies groups, an integral Sunday school and and and and these kinds of wonderful ministries that ladies have today. The traditional expectancy is for you to say things that are fluffy feel good kinds of things, but women really need to hear teaching from women that is God centered and scripturally sound and you can have a real shepherding ministry in the lives of women and young girls more than ever today. I think this is needed are our young girls like ice there there being pulled away by the culture culture starts going downhill when it's men start walking and ungodly path. But when the women begin to do this. This marks a second stage.

I think that's even scriptural in the digression of a culture and women need to be grounded in the word and it may be the mature women of the church having a Titus to kind of ministry were to be used by the Lord to convince the next generation to walk in a godly manner of a shepherd feeds in a shepherd also leads Altair very quickly. One of the best passages are how a shepherd is to lead his sheep I think is first Peter 5233 that I just put up your for you and I put this in the ESV for clarity. He says shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not a compulsion but willing others. No noisemaking. You do this if if they're making you do this, then get out of the ministry because you're just gonna ruin the sheep not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you not for shameful gain. You're not in it for the money. Most of us aren't okay a bit but eagerly in all forget those big Texas churches may be okay but for most of us is not gonna happen and not domineering over those in your charge. Notice not domineering, but being examples to the flock.

There are two ways I think the shepherd leads in the New Testament. One of them is not by forcing his way or being a dictator or authoritarian, don't we. We are to dare to do that because these are the Lord sheep and their precious to him, not domineering over those in your charge. Then he says being examples of the flock.

I think the first way that we lead the people is by saying this is what the Scripture says in our authority as pastors is because we have the authority of the word of God and we can say thus that the Lord that's our authority. But then, secondly, the authority of an example, you live like you should be for the people you be an example to them, you lead them by example and there's something very compelling about the example it will give you the ability to say here's where we need to go. You follow me will get there together and that's how we lead sheep. It's interesting that in the Westlake Drive sheep. That's what we have sheepdogs. I think in the East. Some of this is been adopted as well, but if you if you look at the Eastern way. Sheep are led. If you're in a an old world, kind of, all part of the world where there still doing it the way they did in the first century.

They don't Drive sheep at all.

They lead sheep.

They call out in the sheep know the shepherd's voice and they follow. This is what we need to cultivate leading and feeding, and finally, none of our efforts in any of these areas are going to be effective, if we neglect the last duty of the true shepherd and that is the shepherd loves and what's make it will make it's what makes everything else possible. We need to love them as the good Shepherd loves them, who died for them and this is where true pastoral ministry begins. I was saw four years as a us associate pastor. The little church called Grace Baptist Church and Starr South Carolina's got to are some of you know her and talk about some of you by last years of undergrad. My my two years of graduate schooldepartment. I was saw associate pastor out there doing youth in and music and my first semester there and I really my first two years I was so arrogant I didn't know it.

I would have thought that myself looking back, I really was.

You know why because I was from Michigan.

That's where the real people live right because were Midwesterners and we don't talk so funny and we don't have these strange traditions these backward ways. We don't drive so many trucks okay and I had this whole attitude about how much better a person I was than the people I was minced into but I didn't love these people as Christ sheep.

I didn't. I wasn't grown up enough to love them and it wasn't until about two years in my ministry. There was a family who had a major crisis and I won't go into what it was but my heart went out to them and I begin to love them. Up until that time, they kind of held me at arms length and I went through times.

I really couldn't get anybody to respond to my ministry to start to get a current dispersion really. I was thinking about his leaving, and finding some of the ministry. My heart went out to them in the first time I really began to love them and desire to meet their needs and you can't fake that in the walls between me and that family came crumbling down and I began to experience the Lord doing wonderful things to my ministry, my teaching and my leadership I was doing all the same things.

Ostensibly they had done before but I was loving the Lord sheep and I marked that time. Looking back in my life when my ministry for the Lord, truly began in the church and the sooner you can learn to truly love the Lord sheep. The sooner your ministry will begin as well because you will go through so much in ministry counseling. Counseling you're tempted to grow so impatient. Why don't you get this right you know like I know the Holy Spirit working are likely missing which you work a lot faster in Ojai.

Wishing work in your life as fast as he works in my life. I just wish to grow up and why you coming of the same problem you do your homework know of course you didn't do your homework you never do anything you getting your screaming these things either had right outside your try to be gracious. People will give you fits about this.

You gotta love them you you can't do it Is not possible for you to desire their spiritual growth more than the Lord who bought them, or you think this kind cometh not out by prayer and fasting to have that idea.

A lot of times in your ministry. People will get angry with you. Also in in different ways for different things. Sometimes they will miss treat your family and your children that they won't know they're doing this, but they will believe and spread rumors that are untrue and they won't come to you and say anything or they will complain, but you need to love them and visit them and count them family and sit in their houses and visit and share the scriptures and pray with them and go through hard times with them at all hours. I can't tell you how many times I've been in the hospital. In fact, I want some credit for premed on my college transcript because of of what I know from just being in hospital as I know how to read those EKG machines.

I know a lot about IVs and and all kinds of things I've I've cared for people's wounds. I've help them throw up.

I've done all kinds of things like that.

But how could you possibly do that. So you might revolt as a young I would want anything you love people. It changes everything. So if you think I would be grossed out by all the status of a way to have kids and then us like you know they're there so lovely when they're at when their little anyway. Even though there there doing all these gross things and it's it's really about love.

It's about taking long trips when you need to to see them.

It's about sitting by their bedside. It's about planning their funerals. I've had three or four experience of sitting with a dying member of the church planning what we're gonna say at their funeral next week helping them to go to the Lord ministering with them serving with them laboring alongside of them. When I accepted the call. The pastor Bethany Bible church and start in the in the Hendersonville software lineup okay back up your Hendersonville, North Carolina. When I accepted the call to Bethany Bible church.

That's where I was writing about Jones of years ago I had been a youth pastor Minneapolis and I made the announcement in Minneapolis.

Pat was there. He went one night when I made this announcement back in the church. I said I was in resign and become the pastor Bethany Bible church in Hendersonville, North Carolina, and two people in that church in Minneapolis asked me on two separate occasions. Do they wear shoes down there I was like what an odd thing to scan, and then to people randomly asked me the same question and I got the Hendersonville on the first Sunday we had a fellowship meal and after the morning service. I was watching all these high school kids run around. I looked down at their feet and I was like oh I guess they don't wear shoes because it was a pretty casual kind of country church and and I have a lot a lot to get use to like about a month later after that one of my deacons had us over for a meal and we found their house on the country running alongside a river and we came inside.

Only his wife and one of his daughters as they are nice. I will wear chip and he set out as she said he and the boys around the barn. The boys shot some squirrels this afternoon and daughter out there skin and up well chip comes in with the boys a little later. I don't see any squirrel pellets hanging from his belt.

Like I thought it was and after shook our hands. His wife came out and she kinda whispered where the squirrels and he said there in my pocket. I do want to gross out the preacher's wife. He said, and I'm think I'm sooner than thinking.

Not to mention the preacher and and now I knew I mean I just knew that they were not going to serve a squirrel okay at the table but I will never forget that Neil did this day because the whole time I'm with my four kinda just lifting everything and making sure about what I was in a put in my mouth and I'll tell you what we had some of the best experiences at that church.

Our first Christmas. My wife will never forget that we did a Christmas pageant with the children with the manger scene and the Angels and everything and right before the kids came on. My wife is only time she's ever had to say this will all the shepherds and wise men please remove your cowboy boots because this is the kind of culture.

It was it was a kind world work if you went to a graduation party in her little tale at Toyota hybrid you would park in this yard with towering trucks were all with lift kits you know and these in these big wheels, but we loved those people because you know what Jesus says about those people. Those sheep he says in Hebrews 211. He's not ashamed to call us brothers Jesus Christ himself loves them and we were taking care of the Lord's brothers and sisters now listen, shepherding caring for sheep has to involve feeding with the truth of God's word has to involve meeting with those who are not living in obedience and putting spiritual pressure on them to walk with God.

It has to involve knowing the danger of the culture that they bring to the church.

It has to involve eating people in worship, praying with people walking through hard times of them but you can have a perfectly exegete a text and put together a great worship service and diagnose our root problem in a counseling session get the best advice to a youth group and show up when there is a crisis and is not in a matter to them and so they know you genuinely love them. Peter says in first Peter 54 when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Let's let the New Testament text tell us what it means to be a shepherd of the Lord's people you been listening to a message preached in seminary chapel.

Dr. Greg Starks join us again next week for more preaching and teaching the Bob Jones University travel platform

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