Command and teach these things. Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. - 1Timothy 4: 11-16 (NIV)
The Word of God is not something to be taken lightly. Neither is the awesome responsibility of tending to His sheep. To be an under-shepherd beneath the Great Shepherd. It seems this is lost on too many preachers and pastors today who approach the Gospel from a business point of view. Who think that some collateral loss is to be expected when growing your church to mega-standard numbers. It is a philosophy that flips the parable of the 99 and 1 on its head. It actually seeks to remove the onus of shepherding completely:
(When asked about Pastors being called shepherd) - That word needs to go away." He added, "It was culturally relevant in the time of Jesus, but it's not culturally relevant any more." (Leadership Journal, "Get-it-Done Leadership," May 2006). - Andy Stanley
Stanley is far from alone as we continue to see the implementation of the Purpose Driven Church vision across the country. While pastors sold out their congregations with the Purpose Driven Life, they were reading a different book from Rick Warren, designed to have them rethink how they can grow their church. The Purpose Driven Church is what exploded the seeker-friendly movement into the vast heresies we see enveloping Christendom today. With the pastor as a CEO instead of a shepherd, his job becomes casting vision instead of tending to the flock. Worldly metrics are used to gauge success. A recent Barna study revealed the top five reasons pastors would give as determining if their ministry was successful and all five considerations were entirely carnal. Consider these next two quotes:
"I am all about blessed subtraction. There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus, and by God's grace it'll be a mountain by the time we're done""
"Be willing to let people leave the church. And I told you earlier the fact that people are going to leave the church no matter what you do (meaning if you incorporate Warren's church growth strategies). But when you define the vision, you define who leaves. You say, 'But Rick, they're the pillars of the church.' Now, you know what pillars are. Pillars are people who hold things up" and in your church, you may have to have some blessed subtractions before you have any real additions."
The first quote is from the now disgraced Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church. The pile of "dead bodies" he so gleefully referred to in this sermon quote, were real people. They were real sheep of God. They were purposefully wounded and discarded by Driscoll. It is no surprise that Driscoll was raised and trained by the Purpose Driven Church and Warren theology because the second quote here is from Rick Warren himself, speaking at a seminar on church growth. These should be frightening quotes for the sheep but even more frightening for those who consider themselves pastors or preachers. You see when you embrace purpose driven theology you lose the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. You start watering down all of it; even the parts that might apply to you as a Christian leader.
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. - 1Timothy 5: 17 (ESV)
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. - James 3: 1 (ESV)
We all like the double honor but we forget why it is due. The reason is that we will be held to a higher standard. The standard of judgment that applies to the sheep is much stricter when it is applied to the shepherd. In these days of expanded social media, where everyone is willing to provide their opinions, there is an explosion of people who have not been called to divide the Word of Truth thinking it is no big deal if they do. They are sorely mistaken. This is why modern day wannabe prophets who think 65% accuracy is acceptable are completely moronic and dangerous. You do not misrepresent the Lord! In the Old Testament, a prophet who did so was stoned to death! There is a higher standard when we dare to say - thus sayeth the Lord:
The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand."So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. - Ezekiel 33: 1-9 (ESV)
We are not called to coddle the wicked. We are not called to help them find their purpose. We are not called to make them feel accepted in their wickedness. We are called to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who offers forgiveness and regeneration from their wickedness. The same forgiveness and restoration we needed from our wickedness. I am not talking about some milquetoast, three sentence prayer, that does not address their sin and need for repentance. I am not talking about manipulative altar calls with sappy music and "inviting Jesus into your heart." I am not talking about spontaneous baptisms of people who are just as much the goat they were when they walked in. I am talking about the eternal destination of the souls of man. It is a higher standard because it should be. The late preacher David Wilkerson seemed to understand this:
"I keep this foremost in my mind and before my eyes, because every minister of the gospel one day has to face it when he stands before the Lord. He will say, "Son of man, I made thee a watchman. You were to hear the words of My mouth and give them warnings from Me. You were to tell the wicked, 'Thou shalt surely die.' And you gave them no warning nor spoke to warn the wicked to turn from their wicked ways to save their lives. These same wicked men died in their sins, but their blood I'll require at your hands."
Keep preaching about your best life now, silly earthly prosperity, grace without repentance, how to improve your marriage, or any other nonsense and be ready to stand before Christ and be judged by a stricter standard. Wait a minute preacher! Those warnings are from the Old Testament! So? Has God changed? Does He ever change? But if you would feel better knowing this did carry over, let us turn to Paul, who clearly understood what was on the line:
Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. - Acts 20: 26-27 (ESV)
This is Paul saying farewell to the leaders of the Church at Ephesus. There is no question that the warnings to Ezekiel still carry over to watchmen today. We are charged with a grave task. It is not one to be entered into lightly. Turning to our key verses we see Paul teaching young Timothy what his responsibilities were going to be; as one who was going to be laboring in teaching and preaching. The first charge is to not worry about what worldly reasons one might try and dismiss you. Too young, too old, to white, too black. It does not matter! The only thing that matters is Jesus and His Gospel! Instead, we are instructed to give them something to follow. Those that would be pastors or preachers are to be an example for believers in five crucial areas.