On one occasion, the chief priests and elders approached Jesus while he was teaching and asked him, “By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?” (Matt 21:23). While it is obvious that the priests and elders were disputing rather than making careful inquiry, the question they asked is good and deserves being asked and answered. Many indeed ask by what authority does the church practice church discipline? In answering this question, I will seek to briefly demonstrate that we not only practice church discipline because of explicit commands to do so (Matt 18:15–20; Rom 16:17–18; 1 Cor 5:1–13; 1 Tim 1:19–20; 2 Thess 3:6–15), but also because church discipline is inextricably related to the gospel, evangelism, and the Great Commission. Continue reading →
Showing the gentle kindness and concern of Christ toward those who love us is good, but such disposition toward our enemies is indeed supernatural.
If we are truly showing Christ’s love, it can never be limited to those who love us or those whom we believe will reciprocate.
Christ commanded us, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44). This kind of love and praying requires us to die to self for the flesh wars against such acts (Gal 5:19-21). When we pray for our enemies, it permits us to experience some of what our Lord felt when his enemies crucified him, and his response was to pray, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing”(Luke 23:34).
There is simply a dimension of knowing Christ that is unknowable without loving those who seek to harm us. Resentment, bitterness, revenge emanate from our flesh, but loving the ones who may be deserving of our wrath emanates from Christ living through us.
God’s great love in salvation is for those who will accept it and become his children as well as those who will reject his incalculable sacrifice and immeasurable love. It extends even to those who seek to undermine the gospel. may we experience his fullness by walking among enemies of the gospel as he himself did.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” John 3:16.
Compliments are more pleasing to the ear and honoring to Christ when they come not from the complimented.
Matthew was a tax collector prior to following Christ, an occupation which was one of the most loathed by the Jews. They saw them as traitors.
If God had not used Matthew to pen the gospel that bears his name, he would have remained basically a faceless apostle. When the other gospels mention him, he is simply referred to as Matthew.
When Matthew refers to himself in the gospel he penned, he refers to himself as “Matthew the tax collector.”
Matthew’s designation of himself reminds us that it is for others to cast us in the best light, and it is for we who have been redeemed to remember who we are without Christ.
“Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus” Matthew 10:3.
SELECTED STUDY BIBLIOGRAPHY 5/31/16
The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament, John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Victor Books, 1984
The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Victor Books, 1985
Unger’s New Bible Dictionary, Merrill F. Unger, Moody Press, 2006
Logos Library System, several upgradeable levels are available. Find out more at www.logos.com
An Exhaustive Analytical Concordance (Strong’s or NAS)
Eerdmans’ Handbook to the History of Christianity, Dr. Tim Dowley, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977
Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Walter A. Elwell, Baker Book House, 1984
Evangelical Ethics, John Jefferson Davis, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 2003 or Christian Ethics: Contemporary Issues and Options, Norman L. Geisler, Jan 1, 2010
Kingdom of the Cults, Walter Martin and Ravi Zacharias, Bethany House Publishers; Rev Updated edition (October 1, 2003) or latest update
Lectures in Systematic Theology, Henry Clarence Thiessen, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1983, or Eerdmans Revised edition November 9, 2006
Nave’s Topical Bible, Orville J. Nave, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2002
Pronouncing Bible Names, W. Murray Severance, Holman Bible Publishers, 1983
Things to Come, J. Dwight Pentecost, Zondervan Publishing House, 1982
Dispensationalism, Charles C. Ryrie, 2007
Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, W. E. Vine and F.F. Bruce, Fleming H. Revell Company, 1996
Serving in the work of our Lord Jesus provides ample opportunity for turning a servant’s heart into a cynic’s heart. An act of betrayal can hurt so deeply, disappoint so significantly, and rupture faith so cunningly that we can find ourselves moved a step or two away from the servant’s heart and closer to the cynic’s heart.
We may still serve others, but now with less passion, or we may even move to a fuller blown cynicism in which the foremost thought in serving others is protecting ourselves from the pain of betrayal.
Betrayal can only happen in such a poignant fashion by someone we love, and to whom we have unguardedly given ourselves. To guard against even the possibility of being betrayed again is to become only a shadow of the servant we once were. Whereas, we can rightly guard against cynicism by keeping our eyes upon our Lord Jesus, desiring to experience him in every way, and praying for his protection (Matt 6:13; Phil 3:10).
We may pray, let not my heart be guided by the wound of betrayal, and guard me from using prayer to heal my wounds by wounding others. Let me bear the pain of betrayal as my Lord Jesus did, and by doing so reflect his love to others and grow to love him more. May I rejoice that by his grace I am not the betrayer; may I learn more of my Lord from the anguish of betrayal.
“Even my close friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.” (Psalm 41:9).
Authority without submission is the stuff of which tyranny is made.
Before a person can exercise godly authority as a leader in the home, church, or culture, he must learn how to be under authority (Titus 2:1–14). Godly servant leadership is developed in the context of learning how to be under authority. This includes learning how to support the leader even when we might disagree about the how or why of the leader’s decisions.
Supporting the authority of the person over us only when we agree with his or her decision is easy and requires little humility. The development of humble leadership is nurtured when the future leader follows with respect and diligence in those times when he would do it differently if he was in authority.
Even following the leadership of someone who is rude, condescending, and arrogant can result in the essential tutelage for becoming a servant leader. It provides the follower with a poignant picture of how ugly leadership without humility and servanthood really is. This experience can serve to make a follower into a true godly servant leader because he knows firsthand the unnecessary hurt inflicted upon others and how such undermines respect for the leader who so leads.
I have had such an experience. It was over thirty years ago, and it is still my most powerful experiential reminder to seek to lead others in humility and respect. As unpalatable as the experience was, I would not take anything for what I learned from being under such objectionable leadership. It taught me that godly leadership is really a priceless quality of exercising authority.
“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many”” (Matthew 20:28).
Christians should know that however much more we believe we know than others, we really know so little in comparison to what some know, what we shall learn, or what can be known. We should always seek to know more and know what we know better. But being aware of the vastness of what we do not know is equally important, and even more so for the sake of humility.
Awareness of proportional knowledge bears the fruit of humility, whereas awareness of only what we know so well bears the fruit of pride. The latter is an ugly portrayal of Christ with its concomitant boasting and judgmental insensitivity, but the former nurtures a life of learning and teaching with respect and kindness.
“Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches’” Jeremiah 9:23.
Thank You for this blessing beyond the beyond. In this You have enabled me to grow deeper in my understanding of You as my Father, though, I make no comparison of quality, only of enlightenment. It has truly enriched my understanding of sacrificial love, devotion, caring, sadness, and joy that a child can bring.
It makes me weep for the sadness I bring to You when I act spoiled and ungrateful or untrusting. It makes me ever so grateful when I follow and grow, albeit by grace and grace alone, knowing this pleases You. Because you have graciously made me a father, You have allowed me to experience with my own children the majesty of what it feels like when they honor me, as well as the grief when they do not; thus, heightening my desire to please You.
You have allowed me the sadness of parenting to remind me of my frailness as well as theirs, and our constant need of Your grace. You have allowed me to give and receive love to help me grow in appreciation of Your love; although, it is unfathomable in all of its fullness.
May my fathering reflect you so that my children love and follow you more than they do me. Thank you my heavenly Father for granting me the honor of being an earthly father to my children.
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane reflects the heart of a true servant of the Father. He knew that He, as a man, merited heaven. As the God-man, He knew there were myriads of angels awaiting His command.
He also knew full well what awaited Him at the Cross. It was not the taunts, flogging, and degradation of man that caused Him to pray in the dirt and sweat drops of blood. Rather, it was those hours He would be abandoned by the Father and hurled into the cauldron of God’s judgment for the sins of the world. The price exacted for sin in those hours could not have been paid by man, even if every human suffered God’s judgment of hell forever.
Jesus knew His options and prayed His desire to the Father to “let this cup pass.” And yet, with the hallowedness of heaven and the hell of the cross before Him, He willingly chose the Father’s will above everything else, “yet not as I will but as you will.”
This was not passive resignation or a mere prayer formula, but the prayer of total trust. Like Jesus, we should make our petitions known to God with total trust in God’s granting, delaying, or withholding.
When we pray, the very requests that we make may well be God’s best for us. He may answer that prayer and work in ways that he would not have had we not made our requests known to him.
Just as Jesus did, we should always make our requests known for that is the will of God (Matt 6: 11-13). Additionally, we should always pray remembering that our prayers are never more powerful than when expressed in reverence and total trust. Demanding prayer is “my will be done; trusting prayer is “your will be done”. Demanding prayer reaches the ceiling, whereas trusting prayer reaches the heart of our heavenly Father.
“And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will’” (Matthew 26:39).
Even a crusty old academe loves a pleasant surprise. And for much of my academic experience Ronnie W. Rogers, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Norman, Oklahoma, has been regaling me with one surprise after another.
The other day, a copy of the book The Equipping Church: Somewhere Between Fundamentalism and Fluff, written by Ronnie Rogers comes to me. Since I have learned not to take a chance setting aside anything that he has written, I immediately took it with me on a journey and read almost every syllable of it before I could put it down. Here is a book that addresses in the most thoughtful and fair way I have ever observed the question of the church and the culture.
There has never been a time when the world has not been at odds with the church. The church is supposed to be “a little heaven on earth” in the midst of the upheaval of the lost and confused world. At its worst, the church has been a mirror to the world, mimicking its problems and doing absolutely nothing to be salt and light. At its best, the church has been both salt and light and has introduced the love of God and the love of the church into the human dilemma and presided over changed lives. Culture can be one of three things. It may be good; it may be evil; or, in rare cases, it may be neither.
Ronnie Rogers in The Equipping Church recognizes that the culture is neither universally good nor capriciously evil. As a matter of fact, Rogers sees that part of the duty of the church and of the pastor through his preaching is to help the sheep of the flock make wise decisions about their own response to the culture. In doing so, he is unafraid to take on the culture and state where it is a ubiquitous evil and when it is just not helpful. So often today pastors hesitate to make that identification or else they make the identification in a ranting fashion that causes the younger generation simply to turn them off. Rogers knows better. First, for years now, he has been the pastor of a church just off the campus of the University of Oklahoma. Although he has many people in the church who are unrelated to the University of Oklahoma, he has enjoyed a stupendous ministry to students, faculty, and staff members at the university; and none of them find him to be shrill. They find their pastor to be thoughtful, just, and, more often than not, right.
But Rogers does more in The Equipping of the Church. Having identified the limitations of the culture, he moves on to a discussion of how the church can respond positively to the culture and reach it for Christ. Having discussed the liabilities of the contemporary model as well as many positive attributes and contributions, he continues with the responsibility of the church in the secularizing world. In the process of this, he defines what the church is and stresses that it is not a matter of choice but a matter of faithfulness to Scripture that binds the church in the nature of its ministry. In the final chapter discussing the model of the church for carrying out his mandate, there is an incomparable exegesis of Ephesians 4:11–16.
I love it when a relatively unheralded pastor writes a book that not only will challenge the thought life of academics everywhere but also, due to his pastoral experience, will be easily comprehended by any thoughtful individual who reads it. The Equipping Church is exactly that kind of book. This pastor’s book needs to be carefully read by everyone interested in the relationship of the church to the culture.
Paige Patterson, President
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth, Texas