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New Horizons

May, 2002: How the Good Shepherd Cares for His Sheep

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Contents

The Heart of Presbyterianism: Christ's Saving Rule

Jesus is alive. I know. I know for certain. I know because the Bible tells me so, and the Spirit bears witness with my spirit that it is so. This is just as real as if Jesus himself said in an audible voice, "I am here, and I am with you." Read more

By His Word and Spirit: How Christ Exercises His Saving Rule

God the Father is the author of salvation. He elects his people and in the new covenant promises a new heart (regeneration), a new record (justification), and a new life (sanctification). God the Son is the procurer of salvation. As the new covenant "personified," he provides the new heart, the new record, and the new life.

Correspondingly, God the Spirit is the applier of salvation. He personalizes the new covenant as the "agent" in regeneration, the "seal" of justification, and the "agent" in sanctification. Without the Holy Spirit, the way to God remains a "highway in the sky" with no entrance ramps. He proceeds from both the Father and the Son to apply the salvation that the Father has promised and the Son has acquired. Read more

Shepherds and Sheep

We were on vacation and glad to be in a Reformed church, but the guest minister at the church we were visiting was raising questions for our children—hard questions. About halfway through the alleged sermon, our three-year-old son asked his mom why the man was not preaching. We were wondering the same.

The Shepherds

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Your Pastor: Shepherd or CEO?

Many observers have recently expressed concern that the biblical model of the pastor as shepherd has been replaced with the model of the pastor as manager. Some biblical priorities are threatened when such a managerial model of the pastorate replaces the shepherding model. In what follows, I will place the priorities of a managerial model in contrast to what I believe to be biblical priorities. I do not intend to suggest that such priorities are inherently opposed to each other, but I do suggest that lower values have replaced higher values.

Quality vs. Quantity

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Weak Shepherds and Hirelings

The church today is confused, and that confusion is deep and profound. There may be many reasons why this is so, but it is true that in this generation, self-doubt, division, and weakness mark the church, even the evangelical church. Responsibility for much of what is wrong must lie with those appointed by God to be his spokesmen in the midst of the church. All too often pastors have forgotten that the subject matter of their work is primarily spiritual.

Confirmation, Preservation, Restoration

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The Counsel of the Elders

"Prepare chains, because the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of violence. I will bring the most wicked of the nations to take possession of their houses; I will put an end to the pride of the mighty, and their sanctuaries will be desecrated. When terror comes, they will seek peace, but there will be none. Calamity upon calamity will come, and rumor upon rumor. They will try to get a vision from the prophet; the teaching of the law by the priest will be lost, as will the counsel of the elders. The king will mourn, the prince will be clothed with despair, and the hands of the people of the land will tremble. I will deal with them according to their conduct, and by their own standards I will judge them. Then they will know that I am the LORD" (Ezek. 7:23-27).

I chose this text because in the shortest possible compass it describes the duty and the calling of an elder in a Christian church. Ezekiel is, of course, describing in that vivid, ominous way that is characteristic of the Old Testament prophets, the judgment of the Lord befalling the faithless people of Israel. And in the midst of describing that calamity—the calamity fulfilled when Babylon captured Jerusalem, razed it to the ground, and led its people off into exile—he describes how at that time the people will be bereft of the Word of God. Heaven will fall silent and they will be left to make their way through the desolation of their world without the guidance, the encouragement, and the sustenance of the voice of God in their hearts and lives. Read more

 
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