Jesus Christ is Lord of All

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pastors According to Thine Heart

Pastors According to Thine Heart

     Dear beloved, the sheep are scattered because there is no shepherd: and they are meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. They wander through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, His flock is scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none do search or seek after them. (Ezek 34:5-6) True elders, true pastors, true under-shepherds are scarce. The diseased have not been strengthened. The sick have not been healed. The broken have not been bound up. Those who were driven away have not been brought back. Those who are lost have not been sought. (Ezek 34:4) But with force and cruelty false shepherds mingle and rule among the famished sheep. The gates of His people are sunk into the ground; He hath destroyed and broken her bars: her king and princes are among the Gentiles: the law is no more; her prophets also find NO vision from the LORD. Still other elders of the daughter of His people sit upon the ground, and keep silence: they have cast dust upon their heads; they have girded themselves with sackcloth: the virgins of His people hang down their heads to the ground. (Lam 2:9-10)

    As today’s intercessors pray, their eyes do fail with tears, their bowels are troubled, and their livers are poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of His people; because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city. They say to their mothers, “Where is the corn and wine”, for the Chief Shepherd has said, “I am the Bread of Life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger” (John 6:35) and “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you” (John 6:53) What thing shall the LORD take to witness for us? What thing shall He liken to us? What shall He equal to us, that He may comfort us. For our BREACH is great like the sea: who can heal us? Our prophets have seen vain and foolish things for us: and they have not discovered our iniquity, to turn away this captivity; but have seen for us false burdens and causes of banishment. (Lam 2:11-14)

You say, “No, there is a risen Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd! What more need we?

     Yes, indeed the sovereign Chief Shepherd, when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having NO shepherd. Then saith He unto His disciples, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest”. (Matt 9:36-38)

     The LORD has so chosen to exercise His sovereignty by leading His people through under-shepherds after His own heart. When His hand is extended in favor upon us, He will set up shepherds over us which shall feed us: and we shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall we be lacking (Jer 23:4). O that He would give us pastors according to His heart, which shall feed us with knowledge and understanding (Jer 3:15)!

The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one Shepherd.” (Ecc 12:11)

     Christ is sufficient, and may we not fail to remember that when He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.) And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the PERFECTING of the saints, for the WORK of the ministry, for the EDIFYING of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a PERFECT MAN, unto the MEASURE OF THE STATURE OF THE FULNESS OF CHRIST: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 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 supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Eph 4:8-16)

We need these under-shepherds for our perfecting, the work of our ministry, the edifying of ourselves. We need them. 
Lord, have mercy!

21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; 26 That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.” (Phil 1)

     If He rends the heavens and comes down, that which is desolate without man and without beast, and in all the cities therefore, shall be an habitation of shepherds causing their flocks to lie down. In the cities of the mountains, in the cities of the vale, and in the cities of the south, and in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, shall the flocks pass under the hands of him that telleth them. (Jer 33:12-13) For behold, a King shall reign in righteousness, and PRINCES SHALL RULE IN JUDGMENT. And a man shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken. The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly. The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful. For the vile person will speak villainy, and his heart will work iniquity, to practice HYPOCRISY , and to utter ERROR against the LORD, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail. The instruments also of the churl, the mean-spirited man, are evil: he deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right. Yes, this is the state of the present day. But the liberal, the generous, deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand. (Is 32:1-8)

Beloved, there are two breaches of our day (in addition to others):

1. We have not understood the Counsel of the Word of God with regard to our need to continue in the eternal Gospel.

     We think that we see, but our eyes are dim. We think that we hear, but we do not hearken. We think that we understand knowledge, but we are rash. We think that we speak plainly, but we stammer. For we have largely misunderstood, forsaken, and ignored the Scriptures warnings from falling away from the true faith that we have had in the past. Most have not even understood that they could fall away from the faith. And as we approach this great falling away, this plaque of apostasy, we are horrendously unprepared, for we do not see falling away as a possibility. And because of this specific blind-spot, much of the Counsel of the Word of God that commands us to lay hold of eternal Life now, to add to our faith, knowledge, virtue, temperance, patience, Godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity (2 Pet 1:5-7), to labor to enter His rest, to guard the faith entrusted to us, to ABIDE IN HIM watchfully and prayerfully until the end, for we know not when the end will come...,because we do not believe that we can fall away, we do not understand the urgency nor experience the force of much of the Scriptures. For this doctrine should compel us to utterly rely upon the power and Word of God, the working and outpouring of His Spirit, and should rush our souls to the throne of grace: into the very life of Christ…relentlessly and constantly!

2. There is a severely scare number of elders (under-shepherds) who are both anointed and who understand the whole Counsel of the Word.

     In Spiritual view of our potential to fall away and our need to attain to perfection, that is, the state of having a conscience purged by the blood of Christ from dead works to serve the living God (Heb 9:14), the state in which all the faculties are consciously subjected to one’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, falling short of true perfection, but nevertheless devoid of continual willful sin and containing faith in the present atonement of hidden sin, we may understand the need for true under-shepherds who will watch over our souls.

The heart of a true under-shepherd is described in Paul’s last words to the Ephesian elders:

22 And now, behold, I go bound in the Spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. 24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. 26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you ALL the counsel of God. 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing SHALL grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also OF YOUR OWN SELVES shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I CEASED NOT TO WARN EVERY ONE NIGHT AND DAY WITH TEARS 32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the WORD OF HIS GRACE, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. 33 I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. 34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. 35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:22-35)

Ponder upon these aspects of a true under-shepherd:

·       Experiences bonds and afflictions
·       Bound in the Spirit to finish his course with joy
·       Has received the ministry from the LORD Jesus to testify to the Gospel of grace
·       Does not count his life dear to himself
·       Pure of the blood of all men (a faithful watchman; see Ezek 3:17-21)
·       Feeds the church of God, which Christ has purchased with His own blood
·       KNOWS that after his departure grievous wolves SHALL enter in NOT sparing the flock, and of their own selves false prophets would arise
·       For three years, warns EVERYONE day and night with tears
·       Covets no mammon
·       SHOWS them all things: how to labour to support the weak

     Even when the people fail to listen, the true pastor speaks. When the people said to Jeremiah, “Where is the Word of the LORD? Let It come now”, he did not hasten from being a pastor to follow God: neither had he desired the woeful day that the apostate people deserved: God knew that what came out of his lips was right before Himself. He said to the LORD, “Be not a terror unto me: Thou art my hope in the day of evil. Let them be confounded that persecute me, but let not me be confounded: let them be dismayed, but let not me be dismayed: bring upon them the day of evil, and destroy them with double destruction.” (Jer 17:15-16)

     A true elder may say, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor  11:1) and “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). Consider Epaphras, the dear fellowservant of the Colossians, a faithful minister and servant of Christ, who always labored fervently for them, that they may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. Such great zeal he had for them! (Col 4:12-13) Consider again Paul: he rejoiced in his sufferings for God’s people, and filled up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in his flesh FOR HIS BODY’S  SAKE, which is the church: whereof he was made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which was given to him, to fulfil the Word of God (Col 1:24-25) He longed to see his people, that he may impart unto them some Spiritual gift, to the end that they be ESTABLISHED (Rom 1:11).

Specifically with regard to the Scriptures doctrine of keeping the faith, lest we fall away, Paul exercised his authority as an under-shepherd:

“2 For I am JEALOUS OVER YOU with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Cor 11:2-3)

“’I am AFRAID OF [for] YOU, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.” (Gal 4:11)

Finally, the true under-shepherd views God’s people as his JOY and CROWN!

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.” (Phil 4:1)

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?” (1 Thess 2:19) 

     O beloved, will you cry out to the Lord with me for God to anoint, teach, and raise up for us men of God who will lead us in this narrow way? O that we would have men who rule over us that we may obey and submit to them: for they would watch for our souls as those who will give account to our LORD (Heb 13:17)! Such elders that rule well are counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the Word and Doctrine. For the Scripture saith that we shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn: the elder who studies to shew himself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15)! And the labourer is worthy of his reward (1 Tim 5:17-18).

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