Christ’s Letters to the Church (Part 5)

When you read the letters to the Seven Churches in Revelation 2-3, you’ll find each one starts the same. “To the angel of the church in …….. write. 1) The complete Book of Revelation is Jesus speaking through John in vision to the Seven Churches and through them to the Church of all time. It is the Word of God in response to His omniscient eye and what it sees and knows. As wonderful as it is that God sees everything, everywhere, all the time, He does see everything good and everything wrong in the Church … and that is scary! Remember the purpose of the Enduring Word of God! As we read and meditate upon each letter, we need to apply Paul’s teaching

2 Tim 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. As the Lord speaks to these Churches and to ours, He is confrontational.

Remember, this is His Church and He had the right to speak … encourage, comfort, rebuke and warn. The message is for every Church, every Congregation, all Church Leaders and Elders and especially the Pastor. 2) The letters are addressed to the angel of the Church. This is important. It is not to the congregation firstly. It is to the angel and remember the angel is the messenger, the pastor who would be the head elder. In the Greek, words like bishop, presbyter or shepherd are used. In business, where does the buck stop? With the boss! Although the pastor is not the “boss” of the Church (it is Jesus’ Church), he is responsible to God for the Church! This does not interfere with the “plurality of elders”. Rather it pin points the teaching elder and exposes his ministry to the people and for the Lord. Most people and pastors do not understand the magnitude of the role and function of “pastor”. Take as an example

Heb 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Note a few things here about the pastor: (1) The congregation are required to obey him … that is, obey his spiritual leadership and teaching as it is based upon the Word of God. Their authority and leadership is spiritually based upon the reality of eternity. (2) The pastor ought to lead Biblically. His people need to look up to him for spiritual sustenance and nourishment. Should he water down or twist the Word, he cannot expect his people to grow, obey or love as God requires because it is only the undiluted Word that grips the heart causing change for God and for good. Spiritual revival and reformation are squarely dependent upon whether the teaching elder (pastor) proclaims the Word of God faithfully and truthfully. No congregant will develop as God requires without solid Biblical teaching. This is the way the pastor “watchers” over his flock. He gets to know them individually and corporately understanding where they are spiritually, what happens in their homes and families, is the marriage working, are the children been led to Christ, what is the progress at school or university like, are they happy in their careers, do they have employment, what is their health and medical condition like, are they financially stable, are they using their spiritual gifting and serving the Lord Jesus in the Church, etc. Some may think this inquisitive but in reality this is pastoral care and a door to (a) praying for the flock. (b) knowing how to cut the Word correctly to meet the needs of the flock. (3) What are the teaching and obeying and submitting all about? As said earlier, most congregants and pastors do not understand the role and function of the pastor. All his teaching and “watching” [pastoral care] has an important purpose. He must stand before God and give an account for each soul in his congregation during the time span of his ministry. How did he care for them? Did he explain the Bible so that they understood the Word? Has he prayed about their needs, concerns … and when they were rebellious, resistant and harsh, did he love them? Did he evangelize them and led them to salvation? Did he stand firm on Scripture in a loving, caring manner? A man called by the Spirit to be a pastor needs to be well trained in the scriptures, have the gift of pastoral ministry, be able to laugh and cry, yet have a thick skin and spend much time in the prayer closet. At the same time he needs to be the biggest servant in the Church. One last thought about the pastor giving and account of you to Jesus … the pastor is not representing you. He is representing God! He works for God and gives God an accurate account of each member of the flock. At this point in time, would you say you are ready spiritually for the pastor to give his account to God about you? (4) The pastor ought to be happy in his calling. His is not a career. It is a calling and he needs to forsake not just the world but also much that is legitimate for a Christian but not for him. Over many years I have known lots of clergy who were unhappy, not because they could not preach or pastor, but because some in the flock were difficult people … unwilling to accept the pastor’s authority as from God. They will nitpick his sermons, his clothing, his family, his day off … and often resent it if he gets too close to their spirituality. Some pastors even resign their pastorate and return to a secular career because someone or some family has made their ministry terrible. The congregation’s function is to make the pastor’s ministry to them a joy. We need to ask ourselves whether were are helping the pastor to enjoy the ministry God called him to? [5] When the congregation makes the pastor’s ministry a joy, they benefit. As an ordinand in training, I was on a Church Council of a large Church. The rector’s warden used to say to the Church Council … “The more we love the pastor the more he will love us as a congregation.” His goal was that we love the pastor, he loves us in return, then we love him more and then he loves us more … and on and on! I think this captures the point of making the pastor’s work a joy benefits the congregation. He got is right when he said … “love”. As love grows so the Body of Christ grows as the pastor grows and together there is unity in the faith!

Eph 4:13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Our Father, thank you for giving congregations pastors and pastors, congregations. We each have our unique duties to fulfil within the Body of Christ. Help pastors to be diligent and work hard. Help congregations to do what is required of them. O how we long for godly Churches in Christ. Amen

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