Saturday, October 27, 2012

Shepherding God's Flock (Acts 20:17-35)

This is the only speech in acts that is addressed to Christians. It is not directed to Christians in

general, but to Christian leaders. It is a model of what it means to engage in pastoral ministry.
Notice five things about pastoral ministry:

1. Notice the office that is described (v. 28)
  • Overseers/shepherds of the flock of God. Role of pastor, overseer, and elder is the same office, but they are different Greek words. Word for elder used most often.
  • Elder refers to the dignity of the office, overseer and pastor describe the office's functions.
  • Elders were appointed in all the churches (v. 17).
  • A plurality of elders is helpful because the weakness of one elder is compensated for by the strengths of the others.
  • John Piper: "This is not a make or break issue." Instating elders in a church that has none takes time and patience (don't force it as soon as you enter a church).
2. Pastors are called to live a life of consistent godliness (vv. 18, 31)
  •  "If a man has not been called to disciplined holiness he has not been called to ministry." – Spurgeon
  • Everything that happens in the church and ministry is meant for our sanctification.
  • It is one thing to preach on Sunday. It is another to live a godly life day in and day out for years.
3. Ask God to give you godly passions and emotions (v. 19, 31)
  • There are sorrows and cheers in ministry. Paul reminds them of his tears.
  • There will be difficult moments: people walking away from the faith, anger, etc.
4. Ask God to give you the grace to be ready for anything (v. 19)
  • You cannot do everything you will want to do, and you cannot do everything wants to do.
  • You will not be able to invest is everyone in your flock equally
5. Be faithful in teaching the whole council of God (v. 20, 27)
  • What saves others is not your life, but the gospel
  • Paul taught Jews and Greeks, house churches and publicly...he courageously proclaimed the gospel
  • "If the devil cannot make you bad, he will launch you on a program of self-improvement." – Martin Luther
6. Personal application:
  • Don't view someone as an opponent (politically) but view them spiritually as a source of sanctification. It would be easy to criticize the sheep instead of caring for them.
  • Do not be known for a rich or lavish lifestyle, but for your generosity (vv. 33-35).
  • Do not allow your joy to come from compliments from others. Let your joy come from sacrificing yourself for others. Humility is the pathway to joy.
  • You do not truly love the Lord if you do not love people.
  • Remember that the church is precious, for she was purchased by the blood of Jesus (v. 28).
  • Do not create a personality cult. Invite others into your pulpit to make it clear it is about the council of God, not you.