Spurgeon on Suffering and Faith

“Our heavenly Father sends us frequent troubles to try our faith. If our faith be worth anything, it will stand the test. Gilt is afraid of fire, but gold is not: the paste gem dreads to be touched by the diamond, but the true jewel fears no test. It is a poor faith which can only trust God when friends are true, the body full of health, and the business profitable; but that is true faith which holds by the Lord’s faithfulness when friends are gone, when the body is sick, when spirits are depressed, and the light of our Father’s countenance is hidden…The Lord afflicts his servants to glorify himself, for he is greatly glorified in the graces of his people, which are his own handiwork. When “tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope,” the Lord is honoured by these growing virtues…The wisdom and power of the great Workman are discovered by the trials through which his vessels of mercy are permitted to pass. Present afflictions tend also to heighten future joy. There must be shades in the picture to bring out the beauty of the lights. Could we be so supremely blessed in heaven, if we had not known the curse of sin and the sorrow of earth? Will not peace be sweeter after conflict, and rest more welcome after toil? Will not the recollection of past sufferings enhance the bliss of the glorified?”

 
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).
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Introduction to thoughts on 1 John

Imagine for a monument that you are a young person who has taken the potentially life changing step to run for public office in your local community. After formally announcing your candidacy, you are approached by a member of a popular local media outlet soliciting your first formal interview. Being young and inexperienced, you thrill at the opportunity to get your name and views out to the public, and after completing the interview, you eagerly anticipate its publication. Finally, the day comes that the interview is published. You pick up the paper and begin absorbing the article, but to your dismay, you meet an article that is far less flattering toward your views than you anticipated. You cringe in several location, where the author twisted your words, and presented them in a way that misrepresented your views. Every quote was verbatim, however not every quote accurately portrayed what you said in the interview. You quickly learned the hard lesson, that your words can be easily twisted and presented in a way that is quite contrary to your original intention.

As a pastor, it is both my passion and sacred duty to labor to “rightly divide” the word of truth for God’s people. Pastoral labors are not strictly academic; however, living and working in the midst of God’s people provide countless reminders of the devastating consequences of embracing false teaching to whatever degree we meet it. Ideas have consequences, and the degree to which we embrace right ideas will directly manifest itself in the blessings we experience in our daily Christian walk. To the contrary, wrong ides also have varying degrees of negative consequences. It was this passion that drove the Apostle John to pen a series of simple yet practical epistles to his beloved church family at Ephesus. Over last few months in our church here in Cape Coast, we have been studying the first of these epistles. Week after week, my hearts has been stirred by the pastoral love of John for his church family, and his desire to confront wrong thinking. It is my desire to share with you some of the highlights of our time spent in this epistle. Our next post will discuss the primary situation facing the church, and John’s approach to correcting this great problem in the church.

 

Understanding Pastoral Office: 1 Peter 5:1-4

Occasion Sunday Worship 15th March 2015

Text: 1 Peter 5:1-4

Purpose: Peter wants to see the church persevere in obedience, and mature into Christ-likeness, therefore he emphasizes the importance of God’s instruction regarding elders in the local church.

Proposition: God wants His church to submit to His instruction regarding elders.

Interrogative: How can we as a church do that?

Truth 1: Elders are not kings or priests to the church: Many pastors abuse their authority!

  • What is a King? A king is a dictator.

Ill: The king: owns the land, is not directly approachable, is the chief court for settling major disputes, demands your gifts and honor, has the power to declare war and make peace…etc.

  • He writes laws, executes justice, and owns the people, demanding absolute allegiance and taxes.
  • Application: No elder has the right to be a dictator over the people!
    • No elder has the right to create his own arbitrary rules for the church!
    • No elder has the right to execute justice based upon the arbitrary rules he has created for the church!
    • No elder owns the church demanding allegiance and the people’s money!
    • An elder is not a king!
  • What is a priest? A priest stands between God and the people

Ill: The center of Old Covenant worship was the priesthood. He was set apart to God in every way possible, because he represented God to the people, and the people to God.

    • In the New Covenant, every member of the body is priest: 1 Peter 2:9 Ye are a royal priesthood…
    • Only Christ stands between a true believer and the Father: 1 Timothy 2:5 There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
  • Application:
    • Church decisions: Acts 6:3-4 Brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
    • Church discipline: Matthew 18:17 If he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
    • Personal decisions: Romans 14:4-5; 22-23 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth…Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind…Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.
    • Lord’s Table: 1 Corinthians 11:27-31 Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.  For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body…if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
    • Prayer: 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 Brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course…that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men.
    • Confessionals:

Truth 2: Elders are shepherds who answer to the chief shepherd: Many Christians refuse to submit to biblical authority!

  • What does a shepherd do?
    • He leads, feeds, protects, cares for the wounded, rebukes, lives among the sheep, sacrifices his own safety for the flock, and is a steward who answers to the owner of the sheep.
  • Application:
    • Elders provide leadership to the church: Hebrews 13:17 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.
    • Elders teach the people God’s word. 2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word…reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
    • Elders warn the church of errors creeping into the congregation: Acts 20:29-31 After my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock…speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
    • Elders care for the hurting. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-14 Know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you…comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
    • Elders rebuke those who are in sin: Titus 1:11-13 Their mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not…rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;
    • Elders interact with the church people on a very personal basis. 1 Peter 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you…
    • Elders willingly sacrifice many comforts for the sake of the church. Titus 2:15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
    • Elders answer to Christ for how they handle their stewardship. 1 Peter 5:4 When the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory.

Truth 3: The church desperately needs shepherds: Many believers are too proud to admit they need shepherding!

  • We are by nature ignorant of the truth. 
  • We are by nature resistant to the truth.
  • We are blind to the truth in many areas of our lives.
  • We are not regenerated into spiritual maturity.
  • We are not truly objective about our own strengths and weaknesses.
  • We do not have a big picture view of life.
  • We get discouraged.

Conclusion: How do you view elders? Do you submit to their Biblically delegated authority?  Have you become proud, feeling that you do not need to be under authority in the church? May we at Anchor Baptist Church always honor the Lord in this critical aspect of the church!