Shepherds Stand While Hirelings Flee
One of the great needs of our day is for men to fill the office of the pastorate with faithfulness unto Christ. Admittedly, I am young in pastoral ministry and have much to learn. However, I want to discuss a pitfall many of us can fall into if we are not on guard. We can fall into the painful temptation to preach every doctrine in God’s Word except that one which we might think could be controversial. A pastor can fall prey to the idea they must hold back whenever they come to texts which deal with issues like predestination, justice, gender roles, hot cultural issues, and so forth. My contention is not that we should go around picking topical sermons. I am all for expositional preaching, where the objective is to go verse-by-verse through books of the Bible. Instead, I am taking aim at the error of giving clear exposition upon every point except where the truth is under attacked. Christ made the following statement in John 10:12-13:
He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. -John 10:12-13
The Lord Jesus says He is not like the hireling but is the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep (vs 14). Pastors are called to be under-shepherds of the Chief Shepherd (Acts 20:28). According to Christ, only hired hands who care nothing about the sheep run in moments of adversity. We as pastors must not flee for the sake of our own lives, thereby leaving the post assigned to us by Christ. No, we must preach the full counsel of the Word of God and fight against the wolves of our own day as duty dictates.
Far too often, you and I call fall prey to the commonly held idea that we will disrupt the unity of the church. For example, an elder teaching through the book of 1 Timothy could shrink back from this verse:
I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. -1 Timothy 2:12
Suppose that you come to this text while working through 1 Timothy. You know this verse has been contested by false teachers in our day. So, will you and I shrink back from what it says or preach it fully? If we shrink back, we are focused upon coddling to man instead of glorifying God. The feelings of humanity have been elevated as the determining factor as to what we will or will not declare from the pulpit. Instead of focusing on the glory of God, we have condescend to pursuing what makes humanity feel good. Our objective is to have the praise of man and forfeit the praise of Christ.
Contrastingly, the God-centered expositor will strive to declare each and every verse in its fullness. This man will not hold back the message, but preach the Scripture in its entirety unto the praise of Christ who called him to this task. He will diligently study to mine the depths of every book, chapter, verse, sentence, and word. The preacher focused on God’s glory will not worry about the opinions of man, because he is not working for them and will not be finally judged by them. A biblical shepherd simply preaches the text knowing the fearful judgment of God he will undergo. It is to God he entrusts himself. Because he loves God, he also has a great love for the church, the bride of Christ. He understands the most loving action he could take is to faithfully preach the Word so they may know the truth, and he seeks to love them according to the commands of Holy Scripture. Because he knows the reality of the judgment of Christ, he seeks to care for the flock as Scripture has dictated because that is the standard by which he will be judged by the Lord.
Discharging The Duty of Proclamation
After the prophet Ezekiel saw the vision of God in chapter 1 of his prophecy, we read this as a portion of his call in chapter 2 verses 5-6:
And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions. Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. -Ezekiel 2:5-6
Even though the people were going to continue in their rebellious ways, Ezekiel still had a duty before God to proclaim the truth. He had been brought near to God and encountered His holiness. It would be shocking to think that he would run from his duty as a prophet. We, as ministers of the Gospel, must not shrink back in the midst of a chaotic culture. The Lordship of Christ extends to every realm, and so we must preach the full counsel of God’s Word in every sphere of life. We cannot shrink back because of political controversies, family issues, societal conflicts, or any other reason. Our duty is to preach the Word of God with passion, courage, boldness, and love for the glory of Christ.
Therefore, may you and I avoid the incredibly dangerous temptation of our day to step away from controversial issues. Instead, may we preach the Scripture book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, and herald divine truth for the praise of Christ and the maturing of His flock. We must not fear to declare the truth to lost sinners who need to place faith in Christ and be saved. Our duty is to be a herald of Christ even if the message falls on deaf ears. Let us be expositors who are God-centered and driven for the glory of His name amongst all the earth! May we never move one single inch away from the biblical message.