Day 2 at the DG Pastor’s Conference

Four lectures on four topics from three pastors highlighted the second day at the conference.  In this post, I will go through the notes from Matt Chandler’s lecture.  I would encourage you to listen to it – he is very adept at communicating truth with flair.  I linked his lecture down at the bottom:

1.  Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church, lectured on “Shepherding Unregenerate Sheep.”  He basically delivered a sermon from 1 Timothy 4.  The chapter begins by mentioning that there are some who will depart from the faith, meaning that they were supposedly in the faith.  How is the pastor to shepherd these unregenerate sheep?  The text is bookended by two realities and 7 distinct ideas says Chandler by which we may observe how to conduct such a ministry.  What follows are my notes, not Chandler verbatim.

Reality #1 (and here I’m paraphrasing): We will have some in our flocks who are unregenerate (not born again), who will nevertheless parade as though they were with an Pharisaical piety which actually denies the gospel.  Pastors must expect it and minister in light of it.

Reality #2: “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” v.16.  That is, watch your life and doctrine closely.  What is the effect?  You and your hearers will be saved.

So there are some who will depart from the faith.  How shall we minister to them?  By soberly watching our lives and doctrine.  In this way both we and they shall be saved.  These are the two realities that govern ministry to the lost amongst the body of believers.  7 imperatives follow which speak to the particulars of such a ministry of sober living and teaching:

First, be trained in the Gospel, an expert of the Gospel, and the doctrine that flows from it – all innovation must go through the Gospel (v.6).

Second, avoid mythical fix-its and train yourself and your hearers in godliness – to address cultural issues, for example, in Christ-centered ways.  For the same issue may be addressed mythically (that is, not like unicorns, but more commonly, secularly – not having to do with the Gospel) and work in the world, but we have the task of training ourselves and our hearers to think about such things on Gospel terms, even when a secular idea may work, it has only temporal value; godliness elevates the address to eternity and back such that the temporal may be eternally (biblically) informed (vv. 7-9).

Third,  we are to command and teach “these things” – what things?  See above and v. 10 in light of it (v. 11).

Fourth, set an example for the believers (not just unbelievers) in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.  Live an exemplary life (v. 12).

Fifth, your devotion must lay with the Bible, for the Bible lovingly presses on our people’s assurance – when we teach it authoritatively and as sufficient for faith and practice.  We must decide what we believe about the Bible and where our devotion lay – the Bible and its teaching or numerics as a standard of success.  If numbers – congregational, baptismal, tithes, etc. – have captured our devotion, we will fail as ministers to carry out our God-given stewardship faithfully, for we will inevitably give up the Bible in favor of applause and people-pleasing.  If the Bible, then success will not be measured by the size of our congregations, but the faithfulness with which we proclaimed the whole counsel of God without compromise to those under our care and to the lost who so badly need Jesus Christ and reconciliation with the God whom He has revealed (v. 13).

Sixth, if anything else other than obedience to Christ is the goal of our ministry, Chandler says, he knows not how we will make it through the realities of life and ministry.  We must know our calling – Christ must be enough for us.  Our giftedness did not originate with us – this is implied it in being a gift.  God has given giftedness to be used in obedience to Christ – not to be set aside because we fear man, or we see that larger crowds attend because we neglect gifts of evangelism, etc. that make the Gospel preeminent on the consciences of our hearers.  Ministry is rough and tough; there will be many battles; one may be tempted to quit or to give up – but to do so would be to neglect the one thing that solidifies us – obedience to Christ – it must be the priority, such that when the time comes, obedience to Christ will far outweigh the trial and one will suffer well (v. 14).

Seventh, let your growth be evident to all – how?- immerse yourself in “these things.”  Paul writes, “Practice these things . . .” “devote yourself to them . . .” – to the Gospel, to godliness, to teaching and commanding the Gospel and godliness, to exemplary living, to faithful Bible preaching as the standard of success in ministry, to obedience to Christ in the midst of trial, and you will grow or “progress.”  Let your growth be evident to all (v. 15).

We come back then to the second reality – when we keep a close watch on ourselves and our teaching and persist in these things, we will save both ourselves and those unregenerate sheep.

Tomorrow, the second of Dever’s lectures on “The Pastor and Evangelism.”  To listen to Chandler’s lecture go here.

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