Posts Tagged ‘Ad Extra’

Ad Extra February 2nd 2015

Posted: February 2, 2015 in Ad Extra, Blog
Tags:

Ad Extra this week is a smattering of different blogs & bloggers from around the internet. Take the time to read the articles attached to these links and contemplate many of the things they challenge the church in.

TGC: Church on Fire–An article on the persecution of modern day church in Niger. This article gives a real life example of Hebrews 10:34. “Some in our neighborhood were not spared. One Christian brother whose home and place of worship were looted and burned, had the crowds calling for his crucifixion (since he had preached the gospel on national television) as the flames rose. Thankfully, the Lord had also allowed him to leave minutes before the mobs arrived. Another of my Nigerien friends who pastors a local church lost all his family’s belongings, including his home and place of worship, even family birth certificates, but would only repeat, “This is such a blessing, because God promised these things would come. Now the church will grow.””

Tim Challies: 7 Lessons from 50 Shades of Grey–A challenging look at the cultural movement to accept what is unholy. “Many of us are so bound up in the culture in which we live that we aren’t even beginning to be shocked by material that a generation ago would have left a significant proportion of the congregation gasping for air. It’s not just a problem out there in the world, but a problem within the church as well.”

The Briefing–Dr. Mohler always does an excellent job of engaging as a Christian in a world that is opposed to God. Take the time to listen to Dr. Mohler’s interaction with news and other things that effect us as Christians.

chalk boardI have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. ” (1 Corinthians 4:6, ESV)

In 1 Corinthians 4:6 the Apostle Paul appears to use a helpful pedagogical device. I’m not sure what to label the device, or even if I should label it as one; however in an effort to rebuke, correct, exhort, and encourage with all patience those in Corinth, the apostle uses some tact in his letter.

This ‘device’ applies the truth one degree removed from those who are guilty of the error he is correcting. The Apostle is not duplicitous in his example, but simply seeking to remove the sting of rebuke in the following verses. Verse 6 is pivotal in the letter, as it helps the reader understand more clearly the apostle’s purpose. It’s as though he is allowing the reader to deal with the truth before applying it to themselves.

The prophet Nathan confronts David in such manner before revealing David was the offending party. While the Apostle Paul is not telling a parable, as did Nathan, he appears to disarm the Corinthians by applying these truths to Apollos and his self. In an effort to confront a party spirit he doesn’t single out an individual party either positively or negatively. Instead of pointing a finger at the offending party he allows truth to penetrate before giving the proverbial, ‘you are that man’.

By no means is this ill-advised counsel leading down the trail of response manipulation, but this verse seems to evidence tact in the delivery of truth. Labeling this intuitively tactful delivery as a teaching device is misguided; legalistic applications of apostolic wisdom fail to achieve God’s ends. Proverbs 25:11 teaches us that, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. ” Paul’s fitly written word can be a lesson to us, but it mustn’t be boiled down to a mere teaching device to be employed. May we learn to teach with wisdom, power, grace, and truth at all times. May we learn from apostolic wisdom and not cheapen what needs to be taught by making it law.

During the course of study and preparation for last Sunday’s sermon, I read this quote from D.A. Carson regarding the last few verses of the passage,

Paul’s point in the closing lines of this paragraph: ‘All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the World or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.’ (3:21b-23). Part of the meaning of this sentence is clear enough. Paul, Apollos, Cephas (and, in principle, any other bona fide leader in the church) all contribute to the church. They belong to the church, in exactly the same way that the farm workers all belong to the field and its harvest, and the contractors and builders all belong to the building project. To focus on one part of the project as if it were everything is to cut oneself off from the project as a whole. To fasten undue and exclusive affection and loyalty on one leader is to depreciate how much there is to receive from all the others. In other words, factionalists overlook the wealth of the heritage we as Christians properly enjoy.” (D.A. Carson, The Cross and Christian Ministry, pg 86)

While there are many things to be gleaned from this quote, and the passage, my aim is to reflect upon the concept of ownership within the congregation and leadership of the church.

The leaders of the church belong to the church on the whole. “All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas…” The leaders mentioned belong to the church. Then in principle so do all bona fide church leaders there after. However, this is not personal ownership, rather it is corporate ownership. The division in Corinth, led by a misunderstanding of the gospel and a sense of personal ownership regarding teachers, is being exposed as mere fleshly and shallow factionalism.

On the other hand, the leaders do not have a right to personal ownership either. I don’t recall from the New Testament any teacher, other than Jesus Christ, ascribe personal ownership of the Church, the body of Christ. The pastor, the leader, the preacher belongs to the church, and the church to Christ, and Christ to God. In light of how many pastors seem to take personal ownership of a congregation, as if it were their own, we need to give the idea of ownership some consideration. Personal ownership conveys responsibility, which is necessary, but it also leads to entitlement; a sense that the owner can do as he pleases rather than working as a steward on behalf of others. Personal ownership from a pastoral position can be particularly damaging, I will highlight two of many ways.

First, if the pastor takes ownership of the church as though it were his flock, and not God’s, then he may take ownership of any success. Acting as an owner rather than a steward leads one to all manner of prideful deeds. This seems to be the general attitude the apostle is seeking to undo in the first chapter of this letter.

Second, if the pastor takes ownership then any failure may lead to inappropriate despair, which can lead to compromise of gospel stewardship. The results of each problem are multifaceted and numerous.

Own

Even though the leader belongs to the community, this does not make that leader an employee; here is the flip-side of the coin. The congregation cannot stand pointing a finger and reminding the preacher that, “we hired you & we can fire you”. While the leaders of a congregation belong to the community they are not the personal property to be handled carelessly. Quite the contrary, the leaders of God’s flock belong to God, as servants of God, given by God. This manner of viewing shepherds and leaders of God’s church will be examined more closely, as we move though 1 Corinthians 4.