Sunday Sermon – Meeting Our Maker pt. 8 – Growing in Christ Series

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The Bible teaches us that one day, everyone will have to give an account of themselves to God. This is true, both for the Christian as well as the non-Christian.

For the person who has never trusted in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, standing before God will require them having to give an account of all of their sins. Every word, deed, thought and action will be brought into light and judged. Revelation 20:11-15 teaches us that the result of this judgment will be spending eternity in a place called hell.

For the person who has trusted in Christ as their Savior, standing before God will not involve a judgment of sin, but an evaluation of stewardship. The Bible says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (see Romans 8:1) The word ‘condemnation’ refers to condemning judgment. Christ suffered our condemnation when He died on the cross for our sins. What then is the judgment of the believer? As believers, we will be held accountable for what we have done with our Christian life. ‘Did I allow God to use me for His glory, or did I selfishly waste my life on myself?’ The purpose of this judgment is not to condemn, but to reward. Over and over again in scripture we read of the rewards promised to those who faithfully serve God. The only condemnation a believer will experience is the condemnation of their own conscience as they regret having wasted their life.

For those who faithfully serve Christ, there will be rewards. Among those rewards will be certain crowns. Over the past several weeks we have examined several of these various crowns. Today we look at the crown known as the ‘Shepherd’s Crown.’

1 Peter 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

I. The Calling of Shepherds

The concept of sheep and shepherds is found throughout the Bible. No doubt this is a favorite analogy because it provides a vivid picture of the special relationship between our God and His children.

A. The Sheep

First we see that we are the sheep. Even the non-believer is like a sheep. We read from the book of Isaiah – “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way…” (Is 53:6) One of the common characteristics of sheep is for them to get lost. Sheep wander away from the fold and often find themselves in danger. The reason the Bible often refers to the non-Christian as someone being ‘lost’ is because they have wandered away from the God who created them. They are lost in a world of darkness and sin.

Christians are also considered as sheep.

Psalm 95:6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. 7 For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

Christians are sheep who have been rescued. The Good Shepherd as come and found them and brought them back to the fold.

B. The Shepherd

1. Christ, the Chief Shepherd  

Christ is the Good Shepherd who has come to rescue that which was lost. Peter writes – “For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:25 ) Christ is the Good Shepherd who came to seek and to save that which was lost. Through salvation He now is our Shepherd and we are His sheep.

2. ‘Other shepherds’    (Under Shepherds)

1 Peter 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

The Bible refers to Christ as the ‘chief’ shepherd, implying that there are other shepherds who are under His authority and command. Who are these ‘other’ shepherds? Who are these ‘under shepherds’?

Perhaps it will help us to better understand if we realize that it is from the word ‘shepherd’ that we get the word ‘pastor.’ The word ‘pastor’ comes from the Latin which refers to someone who feeds from a pasture. The title ‘pastor’ means – shepherd. When you call me ‘Pastor Terry’, you are actually saying that I am a shepherd. When you say that I am your pastor, you are saying that I am one of Christ’s under-shepherds who have been assigned the duty of caring for His sheep. I am an under-shepherd who is serving under the leadership of the Chief Shepherd.

II. The Crown of Shepherds

1 Peter 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

There is a crown of glory awaiting Pastors who faithfully fulfill their duties. Perhaps this will be a literal crown. Perhaps this will be the fulfilling satisfaction of seeing the Lord’s sheep flourish in their faith. The Apostle John, who was also a Pastor, wrote – “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3 John 1:4) Your spiritual growth and vitality brings me much joy.

III. The Character of Shepherds

Character is very important in the Christian life. Perhaps there is no place where it is more important than in the life of a pastor.

A. Character Qualities for Being a Shepherd

The Bible teaches us that there are qualifications for holding the office of Pastor. He must be a man who has been the husband of only one wife. He must be able to demonstrate self-control over his passions. He must have a good reputation, both within the church and in the community. He must be gentle and caring. He must lead his family to serve the Lord. And he must be able to clearly communicate the Word of God.

B. Character Qualities for Receiving a Crown

In addition to the qualifications Paul writes of in 1 Timothy and Titus, there are also certain qualities that must be present for this man to be worthy of a reward.

1 Peter 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

1. A Genuine Concern 

He must have a genuine concern for the sheep that have been entrusted to his care. He must ‘feed the flock.’ Obviously he must feed his people the Word of God. Yet the word ‘feed’ means more than just giving someone some food. Many believe that a better definition would be – ‘tend the flock.’ In other words, take care of the flock. This tending the flock involves furnishing them with food, protecting them from danger, and guiding them through life. We might say that a pastor is a superintendent of God’s household.

2. A Willing Heart

Only Christ can make a man a pastor. Becoming a pastor is not an occupation. It is a calling placed upon an individual’s life. It is the Chief Shepherd selecting a man to be one of His under-shepherds. It’s very difficult to explain this calling. Paul describes it as a ‘desire.’ “If any man desire the office of a bishop…” (1 Tim 3:1) To desire means to stretch forth in order to grasp.

3. A Ready Mind

Peter says that there must be a willing mind to do so. The phrase actually means ‘passion.’ It is the Greek word from which we get the English word ‘thermos.’ The pastor who will receive a reward is the individual who served with a passion.

4. A Personal Example

Though a pastor may be a great expositor of God’s Word, he preaches more by the way he lives than by what he says from the pulpit.

1 Peter 5:3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

I read something very convicting this week. “The work can never be greater than the worker.” A ministry will not grow spiritually beyond the spirituality of its leader. That is true for church as a whole, as well as all of its many ministries.

Conclusion

Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Pastor Cannon used to refer to the ministry as a ‘labor of love.’ Whether your are the Pastor of a church, or a worker in the nursery, there is a certain amount of labor in your ministry. It takes effort for a Sunday School teacher to squeeze in time to prepare a lesson each week. It takes effort for an Awana worker to show up each Sunday night and spend two plus hours with a bunch of rowdy kids. As many of you know, caring for ten to fifteen toddlers in the nursery can be a difficult task.

Ministry is labor, yet the Lord also wants it to be love. The Lord is looking for disciples who will serve Him by loving small children and caring for them while their parents attend church or Sunday School. He is looking for disciples who will serve Him by shepherding His sheep in their Sunday School class. He is looking for people who will help Pastor Zack shepherd our teens. He is looking for disciples who will shepherd a group of kids around a table while they recite their Awana memory verses to them each Sunday night. He is looking for disciples who have a shepherd’s heart and who will care for His sheep.

Thankfully we have many such shepherds in this church. Just the other night I saw Jimmy Thompson. The Thompsons, as you will remember, served as missionaries in another country. Dr. Thompson was singing your praises. ‘Without out a doubt we always knew that Twin Oaks had our back’, he told me. ‘They are a great group of caring people.’ I couldn’t help but beam with pride.

Today begins a brand new church year. On the one hand, we might say that this Sunday is just like any other Sunday, yet I believe that we should look at it in a different way. Having studied what we’ve studied about serving Christ, I believe that this first Sunday of a new church year is a great opportunity for all of Christ’s shepherds to rededicate themselves to serve in His ministry of love.

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