FAITHFUL LEADERS HELP THE PERSECUTED CHURCH TO STAND STRONG IN THE GRACE OF GOD
(Show an assortment of Christmas toys — What do these toys all have in common? They operate on batteries — they need power to perform as designed.)
We need power to perform as God has designed us. We have learned a lot in the last several months in 1 Peter about how God wants us to perform when we face persecution.
Review: From the perspective of living for eternity, accept persecution and commit yourself to the will of God (maintaining commendable conduct– particularly submission to human authorities)–knowing you will be vindicated and victorious.
Those are some pretty heavy expectations. How can I carry them out? We lack power; we lack the resources; we feel like somebody put us together and left out the batteries; or we feel used up and we need to recharge our batteries.
As Peter closes his epistle he is burdened that the persecuted church not just understand his message, but appropriate the grace of God to live as our faithful Creator has designed us.
STAND STRONG IN THE GRACE OF GOD
(V.1-4) FAITHFUL LEADERS HELP THE PERSECUTED CHURCH TO STAND STRONG IN THE GRACE OF GOD
(V.5A) FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS HELP THE PERSECUTED CHURCH
(V.5B-7) MUTUAL HUMILITY HELPS THE PERSECUTED CHURCH
(V.8-11) FIRM RESISTANCE AGAINST THE ADVERSARY SATAN HELPS THE PERSECUTED CHURCH TO STAND STRONG IN THE GRACE OF GOD
(not fighting each other)
(V.12) SUMMARY VERSE
(V.13-14) CLOSING GREETINGS
the shepherding work of the elders in the local assembly — profile of spiritual leadership; “elders, bishop, pastor” all synonomous here = same leadership position — emphasize diff. roles involved
These 4 verses are especially significant when viewed in the context of church history. As early as the middle of the second century the Christian church as a whole seems to have lost the vision for how Christ wants his church to be organized and to function. Even today many evangelicals would probably equate shepherding with preaching + counseling (in specific crisis situations) + administration of church programs. Much more intimate fellowship than this is required from this passage alone.
I. THE PROFILER’S CREDENTIALS (:1)
Why should these elders listen to Peter or be concerned about the right way to pastor the flock? Is Peter really the first Pope? How concerned is God with the quality of shepherding His flock receives?
Our society tends to overemphasize academic credentials
What were Peter’s credentials:
A. EXPERIENCE IN THE TRENCHES
His present ministry was that of a fellow-elder. He was not pressing his apostolic authority here, but he also is not speaking from an ivory tower sanctuary. He speaks out of maturity and a full life of feeding the flock–His earthly ministry is almost at an end.
B. INTIMATE FELLOWSHIP WITH THE GOOD SHEPHERD– LORD JESUS CHRIST
He could ask these elders: How close are you to Christ?
Peter is a witness–giving testimony to what he saw of the sufferings of Christ. When Christ first taught His disciples that He must die, Peter’s response had been: “God forbid it Lord! This shall never happen to You!” But Peter came to appreciate the sufferings of Christ:
1. Shows the sacrificial love of the Shepherd for His sheep
2. As the Anointed One of God — shows that these sufferings fulfilled the will of God
3. Christ was a perfect model in terms of His response to suffering unjustly
4. We will not be called on to suffer to the extent that Christ suffered
C. CONFIDENCE OF FUTURE, IMMINENT GLORY AND REWARD FOR FAITHFUL SERVICE
Peter had true insight into the believer’s hope. He had personally seen glimpses of glory already:
– the transfiguration scene (2 Pet.1:16-19)
– post-resurr. appearances of Lord of Glory
– His ascension and promise of return
What an encouragement to the elders to realize that present hardships are not even worthy of being compared with the future glory and the rewards for faithful service
Those are credentials that carry some weight: He had already faithfully performed the responsibilities of his profile of a pastor; he knows the Lord intimately and can address the issue of suffering unjustly; and he is headed for future glory and reward
by now Peter had the attention of the elders. They knew they needed to hear what he had to say
II. PROFILE OF A PASTOR — THE MISSION FOR THE ELDERS (:2-3)
A. PASTORS MUST FUNCTION AS A TEAM — PLURALITY OF ELDERS
this is the only structure of church organization and authority that Peter knew anything about;
the responsibilities he lays out are going to be too comprehensive for one man to shoulder;
B. PRIMARY SPHERE OF MINISTRY IS THE LOCAL CHURCH
“the flock of God among you” — the elders are instructed to give the highest priority to devoting their shepherding ministry to those in their own local church whom God has entrusted to them — it is for these that the elders must ultimately give an account
Remember — it is God’s flock; not the flock of any pastor
the local church is the best support group for suffering believers
C. FUNDAMENTAL JOB DESCRIPTION IS SHEPHERDING
It is no mystery how Peter arrived at this job description: The Lord’s final instructions to Peter still burned in his heart: “Do you love me? Shepher my sheep.” Peter had no qualms about exhorting the elders in this area–the Lord had given him a triple dose in one sitting: “Tend my lambs; shepherd my sheep; tend my sheep”
think of Biblical imagery of shepherding in Ps.23; Jn.10
1. Feed the sheep — teaching and preaching the Word of God publicly and privately
Christianity today is moving away from a doctrinal emphasis;
make no mistake: error is poison;
sheep have a responsibility to exercise during the week and to get hungry; shepherd helps them graze for themselves
2. Guide the sheep — make & implement some decisions
3. Protect the sheep (requires a lot of discernment)
4. Discipline the sheep
5. Know the sheep; love them; care about them — requires spending time with the sheep
D. PROPER MOTIVATION FOR A PASTOR
1. not by compulsion, but willingly according to God
important to hit hard on this, since elders could easily approach the shepherding task Peter has outlined with the wrong spirit–no one twisted your arm to force you to be an elder ; cf. compulsory exercises in Olympic skating — Why and how did you take on this responsibility?
not drafted, but a volunteer :
a. seeing the needs of the flock and wanting to meet them
b. desiring future reward
c. sensing God’s selection — recognizing the Holy Spirit had raised them up to this position of leadership
2. not for sordid gain, but with eagerness
not for selfish, personal gain (probably had access to church finances or could use their influence to steer business their way, etc.) — eagerness not an easy matter when prominence in leadership in time of persecution can target you for suffering rather than a listing in Who’s Who
E. PROPER STYLE OF SHEPHERDING
not domineering, but leading by example
III. THE MEDAL FOR PASTORS (:4)
what can they expect if they perform this ministry faithfully?
A. THE AWARDING OF THE MEDAL
B. THE RECEPTION OF THE MEDAL
C. THE NATURE OF THE MEDAL