As I mentioned in the previous post, we had the privilege of launching a new church, ordaining two new pastors, installing a third to serve with them this past weekend.
I had the opportunity to give the charge to these men, and thought I would share it with you as well. I love ordinations where I have full confidence in the men being ordained, and it is a struggle to know which text to take up in addressing the situation since there are so many great texts. So, here I sought primarily to bring together many of the key texts using as much as possible the direct words of Scripture to charge them with their task.
It is always a challenge to me to revisit these texts. Perhaps it will be edifying to you as well.
Gentlemen, I do not come today to tell you of your duties, thinking you do not already know them. If we did not think you knew your duties and were equipped and desirous of fulfilling them we would not be here today. We are convinced of your gifting, calling, and willingness. It is still fitting, however, at this significant point for me to charge you with these duties before God, this church whom you will serve and this church who sends you forth.
So, I do charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. But you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he purchased with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)
Indeed, keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:16)
So I exhort you, elders, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5:1-4)
Keep watch over their souls, as ones who will have to give an account. (Heb 13:17)
And you may rightly say with Paul, “Who is adequate for these things?” (2 Cor 2:16)
But also lay hold of the confidence Paul has saying with him, “Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Cor 3:4-6) You are ministers of the glorious New Covenant of Christ! Unworthy, you say? Of course you are! So revel in the wonder and amazement of the call of God, and in gratitude to such grace fulfill your calling caring only for the approval of this Great God!
So having this ministry by the mercy of God, do not lose heart. But renounce disgraceful, underhanded ways. Refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth commend yourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. And even if your gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what you proclaim is not yourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with yourselves as servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in your hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor 4:1-6)
And men, remember the Psalm that says, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1). To cite a lesser source, you must indeed all hang together or you will all hang separately. In many ways the security and health of this new church depends on the depth, power and health of your friendship. And friendship is not a word I use lightly. With some people you can afford simply to get along or merely to have a good working relationship. Not so here. You must love one another deeply as men who go to war together. For you truly do so, and you must have complete confidence in the one who has your back. Labor to develop and maintain this sort of relationship between you. In so doing you guard the flock, build the kingdom and protect your own souls.
Lastly love your people, this congregation, deeply, fiercely, tenderly- as Christ the Great Shepherd does. Grow to say of these people as Paul did of the Thessalonians:
“For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.” (2 Thess 2:19-20)
Then your people may say of you as they did of Baxter, “We take all things well from one who always and wholly loves us.”
Imitate your Lord who said:“I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 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 10:11-13)