Jesus’ Intolerance

“Not all tolerance is godly, and it is Christ-like to be intolerant of certain things. Not taking a side on this issue is to take a side. To decide it is a matter of indifference is to risk having Jesus against you.”

Same Sex Relationships: Should We Just Agree to Disagree? (by Sam Allberry) speaks clearly and succinctly… especially to the churches that have gone astray, are indecisive, or just want to be tolerant (whatever the motives or rationale may be).

Same sex behavior is irrefutably sinful and in conflict with marriage as designed and intended by God. This is no mere secondary doctrinal issue…rather, those who practice such behavior and are unrepentant will not inherit eternal life in the kingdom of God. Furthermore, Jesus explicitly condemns and is against those whose teaching leads into sexual sin.

Seed-bearing Fruit

In seeking to please and appeal to consumers, man conceived of and “improved” upon that which God created (Gen 1:11-12) and, behold… seedless fruit! … easier to enjoy but serving no other purpose.

Contrastingly, the fruit of the True Vine will always be fruit bearing the Seed of the Vine… the Spirit Himself whereby more fruit can and will be produced as the branch bearing the fruit continues to abide in the True Vine. (John 15:1-5; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 John 3:9)

May we never be content with seedless fruit! Come, Holy Spirit!

Word & Light & Life

This morning my thoughts turned to Scripture — the Word — the Sacred Text. The more I’ve invested time and energy into reading and studying and even simply listening to the Word being read over and over again, the more I find that various passages are illuminated in new ways — further revealing God the Father, Son, and Spirit.

It brings to mind movie scenes of text, often ancient or cryptic, etched in stone or on brittle, aged pages — text that is obscured in some way from the understanding of many or all of the characters in the plot. Then something happens to bring meaning from what had formerly been hidden or confounding — perhaps there are even special effects to emphasize the event … and Bilbo or Harry or whomever receives new and special knowledge that comes with great privilege and responsibility. But there is something more ancient than any magic ever contrived by human minds or hands.

As we diligently search the Scriptures — as we emulate the faithfulness of the Bereans of old and so many more like them down through history — we are drawn ever deeper into relationship with the God Who is Love. We desire to know the all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, eternal One Who is beyond our human comprehension — and He reveals Himself through the illumination of His Word each day in new ways that sometimes leave us stunned to discover a Truth that was always there. And there’s always more — as abundant and boundless and infinite as Him Who is the Living Word!

Lord God, may I never cease to be amazed and filled with joyful desire to be led by You — deeper into Light and Truth. You are the source of all that is good and wonderful and pure. You are the special effects and the special knowledge — You alone are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. May the privilege and responsibility of being the loyal subject of You, my King, make me sincere and earnest in proclaiming the Good News that all may come and drink from this fountain — all may come and be made free and new in Christ — all are welcome to come and receive Jesus Who is the Word & Light & Life!

To be a Shepherd …

Lately I’ve been reading the manuals, disciplines, articles, etc. of various Protestant church organizations. It’s interesting how much is in “black & white” vs. how much the average attendee or member knows, acknowledges, or adheres to. Admittedly, I haven’t done extensive surveying of attendees or members—so my opinions are based on exposure and experience. Regardless, I’ve been rather interested in how the role of pastor is understood along with other ministerial roles and, correspondingly, what the processes and requirements are for these roles. Each of these documents has its own feel—one carries the weight of many years of litigious adjustments; another reads more like a draft or 1st edition of a corporate governance document; others flow naturally and feel more sincerely developed, theologically sound, and spiritually authentic. It goes without saying that the history (i.e. origins, influences, mergers, etc.) of these organizations and whether they function as denominations, associations, fellowships, etc. influence the content and structure of these documents as well.

This all led me back to rediscovering a New Testament portrait of the pastor/shepherd. Although I still believe my work to be unrefined and less than complete, it awakened in me a new regard and burden for how prayerfully dependent I must be upon Him Who has called me. Rightfully so, it strikes me with a deep sense of unworthiness and inadequacy. What follows is that portrait—or better, a sketch—with all the indulgence and influence of the heart and hand and mind that set forth to create it

Pastoral Ministry: Role & Purpose

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ carries tremendous responsibility and requires the willful choice to be continually dying to self so as to live unto Christ alone. However, there are those disciples that are called by God to a more specific role and purpose. As such, pastoral ministry shares its designation and purpose with the other roles identified in Scripture as apostles, prophets, evangelists, and teachers. It begins with equipping (i.e. preparing/training to be fully qualified) the saints (i.e. those who are holy, pure, dedicated, consecrated) for the work (i.e. deeds, activities) of ministry (i.e. service, contribution). It continues with building up (i.e. making more able, edifying, strengthening) the Body of Christ. The measures and objectives of the equipping and building up are identified as the unity of the faith, the knowledge of the Son of God, spiritual maturity, and measuring up to the example of Christ, all so that we—for we are all the Body of Christ—are thoroughly grounded in our faith and able to defend it against worldly doctrines, human cunning, and deceitful schemes.

Whether the circumstance or timing is opportune and favorable or otherwise, the pastor must be prepared and persistent. He must refute, rebuke, correct, expose, disapprove, encourage, plead, warn, command, denounce, and urge his flock with all patience, humility, calmness, and kindness. He cannot fall prey to the temptation to water-down the Truth of the Gospel so as to mollify or placate regardless of who the dissenters or opposition may be. He must unwaveringly accomplish completely his service and ministry.

In exercising the oversight that the Holy Spirit has called him to do, it is necessary to lead by direct involvement, demonstrating eager willingness without being domineering or seeking selfish gain. When the irreverent, profane, and godless banter arises, he is to reject and not associate with it. Rather, he should discipline and train himself to be devout, pious, and godly—making that a much greater priority than physical/bodily discipline or training which is only temporal rather than eternal.

Whether older or younger, he must confidently set an exemplary model of behavior (i.e. speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity/morality) for other believers whether they respect his age or not. The pastor must be devoted to publicly reading the Scriptures, exhortation, encouragement, and teaching. Any spiritual gifts he has received must not be neglected. He must practice, meditate on, and immerse himself in all these things making his progress publicly notable. Both he himself and others will be saved, healed, and rescued from danger, if he persists in all this—guarding himself and this teaching carefully.


John 21:15-17 (ESV)
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

Feed: cause to eat, herd, graze
Tend: guide, help, rule via direct involvement

Acts 20:28
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 obtained with his own blood.

attention: be alert, watch out, be on guard
overseers: guardian, supervisor, keeper

Ephesians 4:11-14
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

apostles: special messengers, envoys; understood to be a restricted/select group
prophets: proclaimer of God’s utterances
evangelists: proclaimers the Gospel
shepherds: pastors, ministers
teachers: instructors
equip: prepare/train to be fully qualified
saints: those who are holy, pure, dedicated, consecrated
work: deed, activity
ministry: service, role, contribution
building up: making more able, edification, strengthening

1 Timothy 4:7-9
7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

nothing: reject, not pay attention to, not associate with
irreverent: profane, godless, irreligious
silly: of old women
train: discipline
godliness: religion, piety, devout practice

1 Timothy 4:11-16
11 Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 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.

despise: scorn, look down on
example: image, model, pattern
purity: moral virtue
exhortation: encouragement, comfort, consolation
Practice: meditate on, keep thinking about, plot/plan
immerse: be, exist
save: rescue from danger, heal

2 Timothy 4:1-5
I 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: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 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, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

preach: announce in an official capacity
ready: prepared, persistent
season: opportune/favorable time
reprove: refute, expose the fault
rebuke: denounce, express strong disapproval, command, give warning
exhort: ask earnestly, plead, urge, encourage
complete: utmost, great
patience: forbearance, calm
teaching: instruction
sober-minded: self-controlled, clear-headed, not drunk
endure suffering: endure hardship, withstand trouble
work: deed, activity
evangelist: proclaim the Gospel
fulfill: accomplish completely
ministry: service, role, contribution

1 Peter 5:1-3
So I exhort the elders among you, 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: 2 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; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

elders: old man, community leader
shepherd: guide, help, rule via direct involvement
oversight: take care of, guard against, exercise oversight

Saltiness vs. Worldliness

In Deuteronomy 7 as God is reminding Israel of their covenant relationship – that He has chosen them of His own divine will and made them His own – that He redeemed them, rescued them, and has blessed them – that He is a faithful and just God … He warns them to cleanse the land of the pagans who are an abomination to Him and have rejected Him and serve false gods.  One statement in particular stands out to me: “Your eye shall not pity them, neither shall you serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you.” (v16)

In having compassion on those mired in the depths of sin, we need to be wary of being ensnared directly in their sin or even, through the best of human intentions, being more concerned about their feelings than the state of their soul.  In directly evangelizing with the Word of the Gospel for the salvation of the soul, so long as that is preeminent, there can be much less likelihood of this trap.  However, when a social gospel takes precedence … when social justice and caring for the physical or emotional aspects of the individual gain priority over the salvation of the soul, we begin to lower our defenses.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns of maintaining this spiritual effectiveness.

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matt 5:13-16)

Sadly, in Revelation we see an example of a church that has lost its saltiness … whose light is fading into the darkness around it.

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “ ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’  (Rev 3:1–6)

We must live out the salvation placed within us and do so in the midst of a lost and broken world.  We must let the Light of Divine Love shine through us.  Indeed, we must love the whole person as God does.  But we must be ever diligent, in humble obedience to the Spirit, to never let our saltiness be overcome with worldliness.  May our reputation – we who bear the name of Christ – be that we are alive in Him … and may His knowledge of our souls bear witness to the same.

The Curse of the Fig Tree

In Mark 11:12-14, perhaps it was that Jesus cursed the fig tree for not bearing fruit for Him even though it was not in season.  The Holy Spirit immediately took me to Paul’s instruction to Timothy (4:1-5) “I 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: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 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, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”  Indeed, this calling bears for me a great sense of urgency.  So help me, God!