This message was presented on October 19, 2014 as a special message on Salvation Life.
Around B.C. 750, toward the SW of Israel, the Third Intermediate period of Egypt ended and the late Egyptian period began. God used Egypt to launch Israel to the promised land, but Egypt no longer had significant power. Toward the NE, in B.C. 745, Tiglath-Pileser seized the crown of Assyria who would be used by God to conquer the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Tiglath invaded the Northern Kingdom in B.C. 738 and forced her to pay tribute. He destroyed and scattered them across the Assyrian Empire in B.C. 722. Prior to that, B.C. 740, Isaiah had a vision. Is. 6:1-5,
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” 4 And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts.” (Is. 6:1-5 NKJ)
Israel was falling away from the Lord, so God revealed Himself to Isaiah, who taught the vision to the people so they would return and humbly fall before the Lord in His holiness. That is the God of Israel. He is the bridegroom of the church. If He is the bridegroom, then how do you think He looks at His bride? Would you think He cares about His bride? Would you think that anyone who causes trouble for His bride is going to answer to Him?
As I give this last message of content (next week, I’ll discuss my memories of Grace and encourage your future), I have something very important for the health of this church. The most grievous thing I have experienced in the last five years is how people in the church treat each other.
When God needed a righteous man to be a test case for the Devil’s ploys and appeals, He chose Job. Job was blameless. So when the Lord allowed the Devil to destroy his business, his family and then his health, the test was to see if Job would remain faithful to the Lord and not complain. Job’s wife couldn’t handle it and she spoke against her husband,
9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2:9-10 NKJ)
Job’s wife gave disrespectful, foolish advice. Job did not sin. You do not have to sin in response to sin. How should you treat your church?
1) There is one will that matters at Grace John 5:18-30
18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. (John 5:18-19 NKJ)
Why did He insist on the Father’s will, when He was also God? He was under authority.
26 “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 “and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. 28 “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 “and come forth– those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. 30 “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. (John 5:26-30 NKJ)
I seek the will of the Father. The will that matters resides in the constitution and the God-ordained authority is responsible to carry out that will. What happens is people come with great ideas that are really important to them and of course everyone should get behind them. Friends, the purpose of the elders is to decide what the vision and direction of the church should be. If something can be added without disrupting other purposes and functions, great, then add them. And if something needs to be deleted for a better ministry, then delete it. People often have only a tree perspective, when the elders have to look at the whole forest. People often act like the Elders are full time to do nothing but sit at church to pray, teach Scripture and tend to every need.
2) There are some who will rise up to cause trouble Acts 20:18-30
18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, 19 “serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; 20 “how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, 21 “testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.22 “And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 “except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 “And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. 26 “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. 28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 “Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. (Acts 20:18-30 NKJ)
I used to think that passages about Alexander the Coppersmith, who caused Paul much trouble were just trouble-makers in Paul’s day. But I know that they are alive today in the church. Hymenaeus taught erroneous doctrine that spread like gangrene in Paul’s day. No, he is alive in the church today. There is nothing new under the sun.
Are the elders responsible for shepherding people? Absolutely, but where are the multitude of men who are willing to volunteer as elders? Elders put themselves on the front lines with spiritual targets on their chests so that people think they can take potshots at them? That is ludicrous! Some think they have the spiritual gift of supervising the elders. They think they have the gift of spiritual quality control. They have put themselves over Scripture and put themselves up as the standard of how things should be done at Grace. I’ve seen foolishness above and below.
3) The godly will submit to God’s ordained leaders Heb. 13:7,17
Anarchy is an evil. If you take away the orchestra leader, you’ll have a cacophony of noise. If you take away the pilot of the airplane, it can only cruise at altitude until it crashes from lack of fuel. If you take away the helmsman on the ship, it will crash on the rocks. Some people have acted like we should throw out the elders and start over. That is foolish talk. Some people think that everyone should hear their opinion. There is a well-known expression, “Spiritual children should be seen and not heard.”
7 Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. (Heb. 13:7 NKJ)
Note three things: first, remember or keep your leadership in mind; secondly, observe carefully their life; and thirdly imitate their faith. Therefore, select men for eldership that you can imitate. Now turn to Hebrews 1 3:17.
17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. (Heb. 13:17 NKJ)
First, the word “obey” means to be persuaded by what they teach and how they live and do what they say. Secondly, keep on submitting to them. Why? They watch out for your souls and must give an account. They ensure you have pure food – doctrine. Are you eating it? Are you in a fellowship group and a home group? Why not? Or are you eating the Twinkies offered on television? Thirdly, ensure they serve with joy not grief. Why? It would be unprofitable for you. It weakens their spiritual power Why would you want to do something that is unprofitable? Grotius said, “ If they must render God an account of their negligence, so must you for your ingratitude to them.” How many have thanked the elders? Do you not think the Groom will deal with those who cause problems in His body? Who take away their joy? What happened to Dathan and Abiram when they complained against. Moses? What happened when Absalom rebelled against his father David?
I have heard individuals speak up in congregational meetings revealing the foolishness of their heart. I’ve heard husbands remain silent while their wives spoke foolishly. It’s childish foolishness.
If you want good elders, Let me give you 5 things you can do:
- Raise your sons to be godly men to the holiness of God. Where are the children of those who have and do complain?
- Disciple young men to serve as elders of holiness. Where are the disciples of those who have and do complain?
- Come to prayer meetings and pray for the elders’ holiness. I have yet to see those who complained come to prayer meetings.
- Join the teaching teams to disciple men to become elders. I don’t see those who complained join any of the elder teaching teams. It’s easier to complain than be a part of the solution.
- Desire and prepare to become an elder.
It is unprofitable. Instead of the church reaching out and filling up that vase full of roses, the elders have to be involved in crisis management from people who want what they want when they want it. Scripture says, do all things without grumbling or disputing.
4) The godly will insist on holiness in the church Is. 6:1-5
The Elders are not beyond reach. They cannot do what they want. They are not above the law or the constitution! If they do not reflect holiness in shepherding, then patiently cry out. Cry out with Scripture to help them serve with joy. But the godly will also insist on holiness in the church. The enemy is not a person in this church. The enemy is outside trying to infiltrate into this church. The enemy is moving the Houston city council to force Houston pastors to submit sermons where they have discussed the Houston mayor who is a publically declared lesbian. The enemy is those power hungry politicians and judges who are destroying our God-founded country of freedom. The enemy is the addicts who are destroying relationships by feeding their lustful frenzies for selfishness. The enemy is penetrating our homes through the internet through pornography and destroying marriages and families. The enemy is our lust for entertainment, whether television or sports when women are crying out for help because their husbands are hooked on to pictures and films on the internet.
Men, we need to look only to ourselves. How come there are not more roses in that vase? It’s because we have become like Adam and passively stood by and watched our families get pulled away. We’re lazy about studying Scripture. We’re complacent about discipling our children. We’re liable before the holiness of God.
The angel cried out, “Holy, holy, holy!”
Treat your church in utmost humility with honor and respect
for the Lord will lead you to the upward call as a church!
Message Based Discussion Questions
1) What were your impressions of religious leaders when you were a child?
2) Who were some of Israel’s early leaders? ________ _____________ _____________ What were their strengths and weaknesses? How did the people respond to them?
3) Could it happen that people might rise up from within Grace to cause trouble? ________ What goes on in the mind of a person like that? What are some of the results?
4) Does Scripture say that the congregation should “obey” the church leaders? __________ What does that look like? What are the positive results that might happen if people did that? What are some of the negative results when people do not?
Making application from the message to life:
5) What are five things that a parent can do in order to raise his children to become church leaders in the future?
6) What are principles in resolving conflict in church between people and leaders? What Scripture references would you use to support your answer?
7) How would you disciple a young believer to learn how to submit to the authority appointed over him?