Thursday, May 31, 2012

Your leaders

Text:  Heb. 13:17
Reading:  Ez. 33:1-9; 13:17-21

Elders are our ambassadors from Christ.  An ambassador speaks for him who sent him and must also give an account to him.  In this ordination service, are we going to accept these men as ambassadors of Christ and open our hearts to them? 

An obedient congregation benefits from the care provided by her leaders. 

1.       The obedience demanded

2.       The care provided

3.       The benefit gained

1.The obedience demanded. Remember and imitate your leaders and continue in their doctrine.  There are always those who want to move the boundary stones, the markers of doctrine.  We’re repeatedly warned in Scripture not to change the Word.  Jesus does not change, and what he says does not change either.  Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.  In other words, obey your leaders who come with the doctrine that never changes and the ethics that never change. 

The word ‘obey’ here is literally ‘persuaded by’, so we are being told to be persuaded by our leaders who come with the Word of God.  (See 2 Cor 5:11: persuade men to be reconciled to God through faith.)  Let ourselves be persuaded by them; do not resist their council (e.g. about world conformity in doctrine and lifestyle).  In our society, talking about authority is seen as outmoded, but Jesus gave us leaders in his great love, as a gift for our good.  Therefore we must respect them in love because of their work.

2. The care provided.  They keep watch over us, over our spiritual life, including both doctrine and conduct. 

How do they persuade us?  Not with logic and careful arguments, but by speaking from the Word of God and from the confessions that are faithful summaries of the Word.  The leaders must apply the Word to situations in people’s lives because God’s Word always prevails, all of the time. 

Office bearers are to keep watch like a shepherd over a flock at night, ready to spring into action.  Leaders at times literally lose sleep, just like the apostle Paul did. 

Ez. 33—the watchman had to be vigilant and alert.  He had to sound the warning trumpet if he saw an enemy coming.  If a watchman did not warn the people, he was responsible for those killed by the enemy.  If you choose to ignore the warning of the watchman/leader, it will not go well with you, but the watchman will not be responsible for your eternal death.  If he doesn’t warn you, he will be responsible.  It is a huge responsibility to care for the congregation. This job is too big to be done without the power of the Holy Spirit.

3. The benefit gainedWhen the congregation pays heed to the Word of God, there’s joy for the leaders.  If not, the leaders do their work with heavy sighing and groaning because it is a burden to them.  If you force the leaders to do their work sadly, there is no advantage to you.  Such a congregation will not receive any benefit from their leaders.  If we think an elder or deacon is not good, perhaps it is because we haven’t responded well to him.  The leaders lead us for our benefit, to comfort, encourage, instruct, warn, and discipline us.  We all benefit from their work, now and in eternity, if they can do it joyfully.

Sermon by Pastor George.  Notes, errors, and omissions by NPS, a member of Jubilee Church.