Thursday, March 31, 2011

Growth In Every Way

 Two weeks ago, we didn’t get to finish the sermon, so we’d want to do that today—if possible.  In review:

We can see six words that some out as a summery of these verses of a leadership character:   
1. Integrity-the Overseer’s word is true.  His life is one of high quality.  He is a man of integrity.   
2. High Morality-he is a man of one wife (or a one-woman-man). 
3. Hospitable-he reaches out.  Same root word for hospital.  He is a hospital. Gives care and healing. 
4. Humility-not a resent convert.  Time to grow up in his Faith. 
5. Honest-dealing with ¥, $.  
6. Harmony-he is a peace-maker.  No rough edges. His walk is one of harmony and at ease even in hard times.

Here is the framework.  1 Peter 5:2 gives the overseer the motivation—not because he MUST serve but because he is willing to serve.  Not greedy for monetary gain or for power, he is willing to serve.  He is willing to be an example for the Flock.  Not perfect, but blameless-as he copies the standard set by the Good Shepherd of the sheep.  Mark 10:42-45 He came to serve. Part of the Gospel story…once lost/found!

Think with me for a moment.  What kind of people should the ‘regular’ believer be?  What sort of character traits should he or she have?  Would they not also have the same standard as the leaders?  Because where do the leaders come from but from the fellowship?  If a leader is to be blameless, he had to have started somewhere.  The ‘office’ does not make the man.  The man fills the office.  If a man is a violent man now, in the morning the next day, he will not be leadership material. It will take time! Please turn to 2 Peter 1:3-10.  Look with me at what Peter is saying.  He was the one who denied Jesus three times and had an awful time with his mouth. He was changed!

1. God has given us everything we need through the knowledge of Him who called us. Knowing the Gospel
2. He has given us great and precious promises …
3. So that we can participate in His Divine Nature and escape the corruption of this world.
4. SO add to these things that are growing IN you.  Don’t waste away. Be active in your growth.  Press on! Give Him your attention. Make EVERY EFFORT to add to them.   

  • 1. Faith, 
  • 2. goodness, 
  • 3. knowledge, 
  • 4. self-control, 
  • 5. perseverance, 
  • 6.  godliness, 
  • 7. brotherly kindness, 
  • 8. love.
5. In increasing measure!  Don’t sit still!  Get moving!
6. If you don’t have them, you are blind and short sighted
7. Make your calling sure! (eager) so that you will not fall! And receive a rich welcome in Heaven with Christ!

But wait!  Here we have two list: one of what we ARE in Christ and the second, what we USED to be without Him! What kind of people the church USED to be like.  Let’s look at it again and see what made the difference. Turn to 1 Cor 6:9-11 again.   Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

The Followers of Christ in Corinth were warned against many evils, of which they had been practicing.  These people were puffed up and felt that they were much better than other Believers.  Paul brought them to reality with the Word of God.  He reminded them that ALL sin was unrighteousness.  And if left un-repented, shuts them out of Heaven.  They and we are not to be deceived.  Mankind is inclined to flatter ourselves into believing a lie: “live with sin and grow in Christ.”  That will not do.  We can’t sow in the flesh and expect to win the prize in the end. 

The Message of the Cross is not like that. Why did Jesus go there? A good gesture? Follow form? NO!  He went to the Cross to pay the price of my sin. Our sin was laid on HIM! His Perfect sacrifice was the only good enough sacrifice that God could accept. We are not good enough to take care of that offence. We all have fallen short of the Glory of God so God prepared the only way to bring Man and Himself together. Through the Blood of His Only Son.  And then He raised Him from the Dead to PROVE God forgave.  That is the Grand Message of Easter! He is alive and He had dealt with Sin for all time!  No more any condemnation for those who are in Christ!

Paul reminded them—church leaders—and all of us—of what the Power of the Blood of Jesus did for them.  His Blood washed away all sin.  The regeneration of their spirits caused a change in them.  A transformed life that would not walk in the old ways anymore.  One commentary put it this way: “Our justification is owing to the suffering and merit of Christ; our sanctification (to be set apart) to the working of the Holy Spirit; but both go together.  All who are made righteous in the sight of God, are made holy by the Grace of God!” ~The Teacher’s Commentary

  I am sure these leaders had an interesting time sorting through their past to get to the present.  Remember: Healed, forgiven, set apart—that is what we are in Christ Jesus.  Our sins are covered.

The long and short of the issue is this: the lifestyle of an elder looks like the lifestyle of any maturing believer.  It becomes a question of role or calling.  That sets them apart.  And where does this calling come from and how do we know it is real?  Good questions.  The simple answer is: It is a calling from God. 

The longer answer is as follows:
Spiritual gifts come into play here as well as a spiritual heart and attitude.  Just because a man is wealthy, does not make him a candidate for being a financial officer.  A heart for the work is important.  A willingness to take the time to grow into the task of an overseer is needed.  Prayer. Devotion. Active ministry.  See Heb 13:17.  They keep watch over you as a Dad watches over his son when he is learning how to ride a bike … not “I’m watching you! Don’t mess up!”  The rest of the fellowship will be under such a person. Would you not want someone who is spiritually held up by the Lord to guide you?  He is one who serves not because he can’t get out of it.  He is in joyful submission—as God would want him to be.  Not what you can get out of it, but what you can give. 

Take a look at the instructions given to Titus as he was to find and establish leaders in the Church on the island of Crete.  Open your Bibles to Titus 1:1~ff.  It is a call to be ever so changed: transformed—just like it is with all of us who believe. 

Let’s look at the first chapter of Titus 1 again:
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and which now at His appointed season He has brought to light …
 5 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint or ordain elders in every town, as I directed you.
 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. {Transformed to be different-to reflect our Maker} In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.{need for a renewal of the mind}  They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good. [not church leadership material at all!]

To close this morning, a believer is to be a Godly Member of Christ Body.  A Believing Leader is to be that example and a little bit more: he is to lead in a Godly way.  Others are to follow—in a Godly way.  He is to be able to make the Word of God fully known & to teach the people to be fully mature in Christ.  Isa 40:11.  Only the qualified may be engaged in that task.  All are answerable to the Lord Jesus who IS THE final authority over the Church. 

Next week, we will look at another leadership office of Deacon.  Much more to go over.  Hang in there with us.  Pray for me as I study the Scriptures to find from them what the Lord would have us learn and follow.  Thank you for your prayers.