Acts Devotionals

Prod the Parson

Over the years I have been condemned because I cannot accept that all Churches within the many Christian Denominations are Christian Churches. Equally I have been called judgmental because I do not believe all clergy to be Christian. Surely the Christian Faith is based upon believing the Bible to be God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible and authoritative Word! I am sure you will agree with that. Then why are there clergy who do not believe that? I mentioned a long time back that I used to do a Christian Radio Show called “Prod the Parson”.  I would invite clergy to be interviewed and I would discuss a sermon they preached. I would see if they understood the text and got the message for the text correct followed by how they presented it and how they applied it to their congregation. I once interviewed someone whose text referred to salvation. I asked him about being born again. To this he said he did not believe in it. He said … “You can and I don’t.” The manager of the Radio Station correctly discarded the interview. If some clergy do not believe the Bible to be God’s Word, what would their congregants believe? After all they are teaching their people. Remember we are pushing towards answering the question … “Why is leadership important.” This arose in our studies in Acts 14 where we read:

Ac 14:23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church.

We have taken a journey to understand Biblical Leadership with the man as head of the wife, family and Church. Seeking to understand Biblical Eldership and their responsibility, were have been skimming through Acts 20 and now come to …

1) Teaching the whole Bible.

Ac 20:27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.

We need to reaffirm a previous point … Church Leaders need to believe the Bible to be God’s Word. Failure here undermines and ruins everything God wants the Church to be and stand for. Over the years I tried hard to teach through a Book of the Bible at a time. True, at times I did topical and series, but generally my focus was explaining Books. Some do this too, yet take large junks or a few chapters and give the main teaching. There is nothing wrong with this, though my style was to chip away, a few verses at a time. It takes much longer and the congregation might think … “when will we ever get through this Book?” Paul tells us …

(1) He did not hesitate. It was not optional.

(2) He proclaimed. That is he expounded … explained exactly what God’s Word was saying without putting self or personal beliefs into his teaching.

(3) The Whole Will of God. That is, all the Bible he had plus the Gospel. For us it is the complete Old and New Testaments.

Many Churches do not teach through the whole Bible. All they do is topical messages. To me this is escaping ministry responsibility. How will we ever prepare souls for life, service and eternity if we do not take the time to teach the whole Bible to our people?

Let me add where it should start. At our Bible Study last night we were speaking about the real Jesus. Who is He? One brother said he learnt little stories about Bible characters and lots about baby Jesus, but he never learnt about God and who God is. There is a confession known as The Westminster Confession of Faith. It is loaded with good wholesome Biblical Doctrine and Theology. However, to teach this to children would be cruel because they cannot handle that level of Biblical depth. To counter this problem, the Shorter Catechism was written based upon the teaching of the Westminster Confession of Faith. It was written for children to grasp and understand Doctrine and Theology … that is, to understand who the true God is, what He has done and what He is doing. If you are not in a Church that teaches the Bible cover to cover, Book by Book, find one.

2) Refusal to be a hypocrite. You might recall the saying … “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.” Often parents would say this to their children. The parents don’t want children to use vulgar language, yet they do. The parents don’t want children to use tobacco or alcohol, but they do. It’s like the preacher trying to teach his congregants about the evils of alcohol and is himself a habitual drinker. The same would apply to gossip, tobacco, adultery, coarse language, stealing, etc. Listen to the following words:

Ac 20:28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.

(1) Keep watch over yourselves. Before the pastor can watch over the body, he must watch over himself. This means he needs to carefully monitor his morals, ethics and behavior in both public and private. When he is convicted by the Spirit of sin he needs to repent quickly and return to the Lord with extra vigor and passion to prevent drifting again. Only then can he …

(2) Keep watch over the flock. You see, failure in the first instant means failure in the second! It is true that the congregation’s morals, ethics and behavior reflects the pastor’s?

(3) Keeping watch for the Holy Spirit. Who appoints the Church Leaders? It is the Holy Spirit. Note He is holy. He requires His appointees be holy. However hard it is, the pastor needs to decide he will rather face the music and never be a hypocrite!

3) Acknowledging whose Church it is! We might loosely say … “My Church” … but it is not! The Church belongs to God! Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. This sentence is extremely insightful!

(1) Pastors are required to be “shepherds”. When we think of the previous sentence having the term “overseer”, we find …

(i) An overseer rules and is responsible for the smooth running of the Church.

(ii) But at the same time he is a shepherd. He needs to care for souls and do so lovingly for their eternal benefit.

(iii) The Church collectively needs oversight to hold the body together. Souls need pastoring [shepherding] for the care of their souls.

(2) Then we must always remember that God bought the Church with His own Blood. Here again we see Jesus is God. Who died giving His blood? Jesus! Here we are reminded that Jesus is God!

Tomorrow we shall see another reason for Bible Teaching … but for today we note that it is God’s Church. The Church is comprised of all the souls of all the saved (not the physical Church on the corner). He purchased each soul with His Blood. We belong to Him, not to a pastor or the Church Leadership. As soon as a pastor or Church Leader usurps God’s ownership of the Church, he disqualifies himself as an overseer and shepherd.

Our glorious God and Father, come to the aid of your servants. Help each Church Leader to honor You by caring for Your people in a godly and Biblical manner. Grant much wisdom to lead Your people into a deeper knowledge of Yourself. Amen.

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