May 2002 New Horizons

How the Good Shepherd Cares for His Sheep

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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." Isn't this just the way it is with you too? For so many of you, it is. You recognize that wonderful help and care provided by our Good Shepherd. What greater comfort is there than this? Whatever we will face, wherever we will go, whoever else may or may not go with us, we do not go alone. He is with us. He will never leave us. He promised us, "Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we can confidently say, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?' " (Heb. 13:5-6). And his Spirit seals it to our hearts. So we go on and ahead. We go on with Jesus with us—now, and then. Now, in our living. Then, in our dying. Whether we live or die, we are ... 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. The Word of God The Holy Spirit applies Christ and his benefits by means of Scripture through human instrumentality. Scripture is powerful because of its nature as the word of God. It is the word of the Father, its author. It is the word of Christ, its contents. It is the word ... 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 When Jesus pulled Peter from the rubble of his threefold denial and thrust him back into kingdom service, he thrice commanded him to feed his sheep (John 21:15-17). Surely no little boys were asking at Pentecost why Peter was not preaching. Peter fed sheep. In Jesus' restoration of Peter, we see something of the men God uses, as well as the use God makes of them. Having sinned grossly and wept bitterly, Peter was restored to the work of God. This display of compassion holds out hope to all kinds of grieved failures. From pulpit to pew, hope for future usefulness is offered to the repentant. But forgiveness is a call to service, and, for the pastor, that service always requires the ... Read more

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 The effect of a managerial model on the church is that the number of people is a higher concern than the quality of those people. How many are reached by various outreach efforts becomes more significant than what actually happens to those reached, in terms of spiritual vitality. How many people attend a special program becomes more important than whether that program actually makes people stronger, more pious Christians. The apostolic ... Read more

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 Their first concern must be to please God and to aid the salvation of his people. When we allow temporal and ultimately transitory things to intrude and interfere in this primary task, then we have failed. Our ministry is to offer to our congregations that pastoral care that will point always to Christ. In general, pastoral care may be reduced to confirmation that speaks of the necessary building up of the body of Christ, encouraging, supporting, edifying. Another responsibility is preservation —the ... Read more

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 ... Read more


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