The Joy and Burden of Watching Over Souls

Hebrews 13:17 describes the overall responsibility/privilege of elders/pastors:  watching over souls.  It is both a burden and a joy.  I had the chance to be reminded of both this past week. There has been a gentleman that I have been especially concerned about over the past few months concerning how he and his wife were doing.  Repeated attempts to call and talk had not been successful and so I just kept praying and kept being burdened.  

However, this week, in the providence of God, our paths crossed and I was able to catch up and listen to the struggles he had been going through.  God gave me the privilege of sharing the truth of Scripture with him, listening to him, encouraging him, exhorting him, and praying with him.  Hopefully, the Lord will put things back on the right track for this young man.  I will continue to pray and call and visit and enjoy both the burden and the joy of watching over souls. 


What Is Preaching or What Should It Be?

John Piper answers that question here.

I love and am challenged by this gem:

I do not aim to be immediately practical but eternally helpful...I am standing vigilantly on the precipice of eternity speaking to people who this week could go over the edge whether they are ready to or not. I will be called to account for what I said there.


Rightly Divide the Word

That is the charge to pastors and really it should be the practice of all followers of Christ--to interpret the Word of God accurately, to handle it carefully.

I was challenged (convicted) by two passages of Scripture that are frequently mishandled.

The first was pointed out by Kevin Deyoung here and deals with Matthew 16:18. What exactly are the "gates of Hell" which will not prevail against the church?

The second was from Joshua 24:15 pointed out here by Justin Taylor. What is the choice that Joshua is challenging the children of Israel about? It's not what you might think or have always believed.

The Disappearance of the Church?

In commenting on his new book entitled The Disappearance of God, Dr. Al Mohler writes concerning the disappearance of biblical faith,

Yet, once the faith is severed from biblical authority, Christianity becomes essentially plastic; a malleable and changeable belief system that just begs for transformation into some other shape and substance.

With a few change of words, a similar statement can be made about the disappearance of the biblical church,

Yet, once the church is severed from biblical authority, the church becomes essentially plastic; a malleable and changeable organization that just begs for transformation into some other shape and substance.


The Sufficiency of Scripture and the Practice/Structure of the Church

Baptist J.L. Reynolds (1812-1877) wrote,

'The Scriptures are a sufficient rule of faith and practice. The principles of ecclesiastical polity are prescribed in them with all necessary comprehensiveness and clearness. The founder of the Church has provided better, than to commit its affairs to the control of fallible men."

Jonathan Edwards (1703-158) writes in agreement,

"Whatever ways of constituting the church may to us seem fit, proper, and reasonable, the question is, not what constitution of Christ's church seems convenient to human wisdom, but what constitution is actually established by Christ's infinite wisdom."

It is good and wise for believers and churches to read and soak up the biblical wisdom and faithfulness of dead people.

Who To Please?

I recently listened to a sermon in which the pastor made the comment,

"Who you seek to please here will determine what you hear there."

What he meant was that who we, as believers, seek to please here--God or men--will determine what we hear from God when we stand before Him--there. If we live our lives as followers of Christ, for example, in the context of husband, father, and pastor, and seek to please God by believing the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture as well as living like we believe it, then we will hear from God one day, "Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master."

However, if we live our lives as followers of Christ in the context, for example, of husband, father, and pastor, and seek to please men by only giving verbal assent to the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture while compromising that "belief" with lives lived that bow to the wishes of men in disobedience to the commands of God, then I am not sure what we will hear when we get there, but I can imagine it will not be all that will want it to be.