> Pat Mahoney
Pastor Davis used to say quite often that the best testimony is the one that’s lived. I think about religion and the impact it’s had, especially on the Western world where I live. They look at God as being created after Man’s image, for his own purposes, such as control of the lower classes. When people see a testimony, it makes a difference. It made a difference to me when I met people who went to church and lived a testimony away from church, even when they didn’t think you were listening.
Pastorship, part 2 of 3
This isn’t how to become a pastor; this isn’t the training course. So if you missed last week’s study, don’t worry; you’re not going to miss out on a certificate on that account.
1. Pastors are Accountable to God
- Subject to giving account; being answerable to; responsible
Pastors are responsible for something more than a job. It’s kind-of like a job, but it’s not something they can take vacation from. It’s a seven-days-a-week, twenty-four-hours-a-day obligation. The accountability is positive, from a desire to serve, not negative, from God’s pointing finger. The accountability is something that pastors take on gladly, out of a desire to shepherd and feed the flock of God.
- Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
- That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
- For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
- Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:
- Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.
So pastors are going to give account to God, having a higher standard to live up to. They should be blameless in all of the things that the world considers to be normal and ordinary: they are not idolators or drunkards or rioters. They live a life that has been cleansed.
A: Pastors answer to God, not to the congregation
Let’s look at the commission that applies to all of us, but especially to pastors, who are solidly committed to admonish the congregation. That’s why we sit before them on Sunday mornings.
- Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
- Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman:
- If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people;
- Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.
- He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.
- But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.
- So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.
So every time the pastors stand before the congregation to deliver a message, that is a warning and admonition from God. I know that I’ve heard the same message on the same topic preached dozens if not hundreds of times, but each time I have to stop and ask myself, “What didn’t I hear the last time?” The pastor isn’t there for himself, but to give a message to deliver a soul from the power of Satan. That is his burden.
- For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;
The pastor wants people to be solidly grounded on the word of God, so that when they’re out there dealing with the lions, they won’t be taken. The pastor’s burden is to watch always, not sleeping at his post.
- Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.
That repetition is not to bug us, but to remind us.
Let’s look at some men who did not have that calling on their lives:
- Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men:
- And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown:
- And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?
The point is who is called and who is holy. Pastors have a special calling that is from God. We don’t all have that calling to lead and guide each other. There are certain questions that you will hear from time to time that it is not up to you to answer, even if you know the answer. Spiritual counsel and guidance is the pastor’s responsibility. If we labor in the ministry and have our hand to the plough, we should have that spiritual communication line with God to know the difference.
- And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face:
Instead of rising up indignantly and saying “This is my authority”, Moses fell on his face.
- And he spake unto Korah and unto all his company, saying, Even to morrow the LORD will shew who are his, and who is holy; and will cause him to come near unto him: even him whom he hath chosen will he cause to come near unto him.
- This do; Take you censers, Korah, and all his company;
- And put fire therein, and put incense in them before the LORD to morrow: and it shall be that the man whom the LORD doth choose, he shall be holy: ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi.
Now in the law, it talks about offerings, and who could offer and who could not. To offer strange fire before the Lord was considered an abomination. So Moses said to them, “You go ahead and offer this fire, if you think it’s right in God’s eyes to do so.”
- And Moses said unto Korah, Hear, I pray you, ye sons of Levi:
- Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them?
- And he hath brought thee near to him, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee: and seek ye the priesthood also?
So they were already ministers, but they said, “I want to be the top dog. I want to be the same as you, Moses, in authority and power.”
- For which cause both thou and all thy company are gathered together against the LORD: and what is Aaron, that ye murmur against him?
If you read on, you’ll find out what happened to them. Korah and Dathan and Abiram became like burnt match-heads, and as for the rest of their company, the earth opened up and swallowed them whole. So we have this example to show that pastors do have an authority that comes from God.
B: Pastors are answerable to God for our souls
- Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
Pastors seek things that are profitable for us; they seek to build up and edify us. In the Old Testament, they called the judges “gods” with a lower-case “g.”
- I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
If you go before the judges, you shouldn’t take lightly their anointing of God.
- And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers:
- And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
- My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
Absalom was a man who waited outside the gate to turn the hearts of the people away from their established leader, and if you read the story, you’ll find that it didn’t go well with him. One of David’s mighty men killed Absalom for trying to subvert the authority of the king. In this same respect, the pastors have been given authority, not as slave-drivers over us, but to speak the word of God and teach it appropriately.
- But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
Pastors, have been given much, in the way of authority and responsibility. So the weight of punishment for a pastor who neglects his responsibilities will be much greater than ours.
C: Pastors have the oversight of the flock
Pastors wear a lot of hats, but they also have the authority to delegate. They are responsible for teaching holiness, and they are accountable for those under them.
- And Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest shall be chief over the chief of the Levites, and have the oversight of them that keep the charge of the sanctuary.
In the Old Testament priesthood, there were a lot of things that had to go on in the sanctuary. Moses just couldn’t do it all in the time alotted. Everything had to be done a certain way. And today, God would also have things done in decency and in order. That direction comes from the top down, not from the bottom-up.
We’re going to look at two men who were roughly on the same level of authority. As we read this, we find out that pastors are also accountable to each other for their own ministry.
- But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
- For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
When James came, he sat and ate with him. But when some Jews came, he said, “You guys stay here; I’m going to go eat with the Jews.” Peter had already received a vision from God teaching that he should call no man common or unclean, but he had started to fall back on his own self-righteousness.
- And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
- But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
This was an open rebuke because it concerned everyone there, and they all needed the correction lest anyone should be confused. If it had been a simple matter of administration, probably it would have been handled privately, and nobody else would have known.
D: Pastors are responsible for the vision of the ministry or congregation
We know the vision that has been cast for us, because the pastors have told us.
- For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
It’s up to the pastors to blow that trumpet; it’s not up to us. We can “vote with our feet” by leaving, but it’s not up to us to cast the vision.
- Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
Paul had a big vision. He wanted to go into Asia, though the Holy Ghost forbade him for a time. The pastors likewise have a big vision. They don’t sit around waiting for God to send them; they have things that they want to do, and they bring them before God in prayer. Some of those things, we see happening right now. One of the big visions is to see a ministry established in every place in the world where the Navy goes.
- For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
- For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.
- What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.
Pastors don’t serve for fear of accountability of what will happen if they don’t; they serve for the love of the church and for the love of the calling that God has placed on their lives. It’s not a drudge to serve under such a calling; God won’t place a calling on your life if it’s not something you will accept. Sure, you may feel unworthy; the pastors have to rely on God just like we do.
2. God’s Intent and Purpose for Pastors
A: For the edifying of the body of Christ
- 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:
All those things may work together, but the pastors fulfill a lot of those roles. A pastor can be a prophet, an evangelist, and certainly a teacher. The pastors have those gifts for our sakes, and certainly there are things that we won’t receive except through the pastors. The Bible doesn’t go into specifics in this regard, but I know that there are certain things that I’ve pondered in my own life, that if I hadn’t heard it from the pastors I never would have figured it out.
B: To restore and feed the flock
- The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
Restoration: to set people free. The gospel will make us free; the truth comes to us through the word of God, through a pastor. I sat in a couple of different services before I got saved, but the people who taught me in studies were students of the pastor. All of the things spoken of in this verse are either administered directly or delegated by the pastor.
- Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth?
- Will he reserve his anger for ever? will he keep it to the end? Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldest.
- The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot.
- And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
- And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
- And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.
- And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD.
- And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah.
- Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever.
- Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.
- Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:
- And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
God saw that people had to have a pastor. They took their faith and turned it into religion, and the God wanted to give them pastors to restore them. God’s relationship to the church is something he wants the pastors to recognize and understand. God has a relationship to the church that is like a marriage; we may not recognize and understand that relationship, but the pastorship does. Even if the number saved, “one of a city and two of a family” is not a lot, God still wants to save them. Even though we may backslide and fall or leave the ministry, God through the pastors welcomes us back in if we’re willing.
C: To present every man perfect to Christ
- If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
- Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:
- Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
- Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
- To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
- Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
- Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.
Paul understood the nature of his calling. I’m thankful that he did. Paul wrote much of the New Testament, and he had an excellent grasp of just how we should deal with our “humanness”
- O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Paul had an idea of what we would suffer, not from anything new, but from our human condition. He had a fervor for us to be saved, and wanted to make people perfect and acceptable to Christ.
D: To speak in Christ’s stead
- But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.
- For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
Even in the face of physical punishment or death, they wouldn’t back down from what God had spoken to them. They did what they knew to do; what Christ would have done. Christ spoke through his testimony of healing, and so Peter and John did the same. Since the Pharisees weren’t doing likewise, their jealousy and hatred caused them to bring these men before the council. Like Peter and John, the part of the pastors is to speak the word of God without compromise or partiality.
The part of an ambassador is to pass on a message from the authority, without changing it.
- Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
- For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
The pastors are called to speak in Christ’s stead, not from their own understanding, but being led of the spirit for our edification. The pastors are accountable to Christ to speak in Christ’s stead, as though he were standing there for us.