Categories
Theology

Jesus, the Lamb of God Who Never Went Astray

I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments. (Psalm 119:176)

This verse ends the longest chapter in the Bible.  Psalm 119 is all about God’s word and the psalmist’s desire to follow it. Often he makes bold statements, as he does in verse 176, petitioning God to “seek his servant” because he “does not forget God’s commandments.”

If you read the whole chapter, however, you will notice that this is rooted in repeated requests from the psalmist for God to teach, open eyes, give mercy, give understanding, and be gracious. Our “remembrance” of God’s commands is rooted in one thing: God sovereignly and generously granting it. Thankfully, God does grant it to some.

This psalm looks forward to the Messiah, because the ability to remember God’s word and rejoice in it “like one who finds great spoil” (v. 162) was ultimately purchased by Jesus, the great treasure (Matt. 13:44) and the perfect Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He is not just God’s servant like the psalmist; he is the Suffering Servant who took the iniquity of the sheep who have gone astray (Isa. 53:6), and he becomes our Good Shepherd and gives life to God’s flock (John 10:10). He does not simply “not forget” God’s commandments, he is the only one who has perfectly communicated God’s word, being, and character to the world (John 1:1-5; 14:5; 15:15; 17:8, 14; Heb. 1:1-3).

If you want to know, remember, and rejoice in God’s word, you must know Jesus, and all of your failures to do what God demands must be cast upon him. Run, silly sheep, and embrace your Good Shepherd.

Categories
Ministry

How Pastors Should Oversee Their Church

Here are 15 things a pastor should do in overseeing the people in his flock:

  1. The ministry must be carried on purely for God and the salvation of souls, not for any personal, private goals.
  2. The ministry must be diligently and laboriously carried on, because there are eternal implications for the pastor and his people.
  3. The ministry must be carried on wisely and orderly.
  4. He must primarily insist upon the greatest, most certain, and most necessary truths, and be more seldom and sparing on the rest.
  5. Teaching must be as plain and simple as possible.
  6. Work must be done with humility.
  7. There must be a prudent mixture of severity and mildness in preaching and discipline.
  8. He must be serious, earnest, and zealous in every part of his work.
  9. The whole ministry must be carried on in tender love to his people.
  10. He must carry on our work with patience. He must bear the abuse from those to whom he seeks to do good.
  11. All his work must be managed reverently.
  12. All his work should be done spiritually, as by a man who is possessed with the Holy Spirit.
  13. He must keep up his earnest desire and expectation of success.
  14. His whole work must be carried on under a deep sense of his own insufficiency and entire dependence on Christ.
  15. He must be committed to the unity and peace of God’s church.
– adapted from Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2001), pp. 111-123.
Categories
Ministry

Baxter on the Nature and Motive of Personal Oversight for Pastors

Puritan pastor Richard Baxter gives pastors five keys to personal oversight and eight keys as to why personal oversight should be given in his classic text The Reformed Pastor:

The Nature of Oversight

  1. Take heed to see that the work of saving grace be thoroughly wrought in your own souls.
  2. Take heed to keep your graces active, and that you preach to yourself the sermons you study, before you preach them to others.
  3. Take heed so you don’t unsay with your life what you say with your mouth.
  4. Take heed so you don’t commit the sins you preach against.
  5. Take heed so you don’t lack biblical qualifications of an elder.

The Motives of Oversight

  1. Take heed to yourselves, for heaven is there to win or lose, and souls will be happy or miserable for eternity.
  2. Take heed to yourselves, for you have a depraved nature, and sinful inclinations just as others do.
  3. Take heed to yourselves, because the tempter will supply more temptations than he does to others.
  4. Take heed to yourselves, because many eyes will fall upon you, and there will be many to observe your falls.
  5. Take heed to yourselves, because your sins are more severe than other men’s.
  6. Take heed to yourselves, because such a calling as ours require greater grace than other men’s.
  7. Take heed to yourselves, for the honor of your Lord and Master, and of his holy truth and ways, lies more on you than on other men.
  8. Take heed to yourselves, for the success of all your work depends on it.
– Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2001), pp. 53-86.
Categories
Life Theology

Jesus: The Greater David

Jesus isn’t just the greater Moses. He is also the greater David. In Psalm 78, the psalmist is reflecting on Israel’s rebellion against God after they were saved from slavery in Egypt. God was so gracious to his people despite their unfaithfulness. “Yet,” the psalmist wrote, “they sinned still more against him” (vv. 17, 40, 56).

Later in the Psalm, the writer tells us that he chose a shepherd from the tribe of Judah to lead his people back to God. This shepherd is David. The psalmist tells us:

He chose David his servant and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the nursing ewes he brought him to shepherd Jacob his people, Israel his inheritance. With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand (vv. 70-72).

You might be thinking, “David had an upright heart?! What about that whole Bathsheba and Uriah thing? That wasn’t so upright!” And you would be right. Of course David had his moral failures. He was human. And that’s the point: as great as David was as shepherd-king of Israel, he still fell short of the perfection that God’s people needed.

That’s where Jesus comes in. In John 10, he said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (v. 11).  In saying this, Jesus claims to be the long awaited heir of David who would lead God’s people perfectly. He would be the ultimate shepherd-king who would never have a moral failure or a bad thought toward his flock.

When we read the Old Testament, we cannot look for examples in men like David and Moses. We need to see them as imperfect men who could never fully be what God’s people needed.  They should not inspire us to be better people. They should leave us longing to be saved by the greater Man who did and said all that God wanted with complete perfection.

Categories
Ministry

Are missions and the doctrine of election at odds? I don’t think so.

Some missionaries have said that if the doctrine of election were true, they would never have become a missionary. Well, I say, “I am a missionary because the doctrine of election is true.”

Where do I find this in the Bible?  In Acts 18, Paul is in Corinth.  You would not have found a more pagan city on the planet than Corinth in the first century.  Yet Jesus appeared to Paul in a vision and said, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and 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” (vv. 9-10).

Paul’s preaching didn’t elect people to salvation.  God elected them and the true sheep responded to the gospel message.  Remember Jesus’ words: “I have other sheep that are not of this fold.  I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice” (John 10:16).

Jesus does the bringing.  You do the preaching.  People will respond.

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