Pursue the Truth


<— Click here for Part 1
24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will (2 Ti 2:24 – 26).

Want to hear the verse in context? 2 Timothy 2
What is this about?

Fake ecumenical harmony based upon nothing but a culturally vogue philosophy that unity must be maintained at all costs and doctrine divides emasculates the testimony of the Church. Paul agues rather for unity resting upon the solid foundation of doctrinal exclusivity, 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph 4:4 – 6). If God’s Church is to rise it will be because the Holy Spirit has stirred the hearts of believers through the faithful teaching of His word.

“Fake ecumenical harmony based upon nothing but a culturally vogue philosophy that unity must be maintained at all costs and doctrine divides emasculates the testimony of the Church”

It is a travesty that South African pastors are ill equipped to exposit the Word of the Lord and edify their flock. Pulpits around our country turn a blind eye to the proliferation of doctrinal inaccuracies and heresies. The Zion Christian Church, with “10-15 million members” (Wikipedia 2010a), teaches that “senior officials in the ZCC … can use the power of the Holy Spirit to perform healing” (Anderson 1999); Rhema Bible Church, with a “45,000 strong congregation” (Wikipedia 2010b), continues to propagate the Prosperity Gospel (Carew 2001); high profile pastors lobby for the recognition of same sex unions. Our pulpits are no longer anchored to God’s Word but rather the fleeting philosophies of the world.

For this reason our Shepherds need to feed their flock sound doctrine. Paul’s words to the young elder, Titus, echo in my head, “be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers” (Tit 1:9), and his commission to his protégé, Timothy, ring out, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ … Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Ti 4:1 – 2).

The early church converts were characterised by their unquenchable thirst for sound teaching. Luke records that they “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship” (Acts 2:42a). It must be so with our congregations. Much of the focus of pastors needs to be spent in preparation for preaching and teaching so that when the church leads it will do so with the banner of our Lord Jesus Christ and the immutable, infallible, sure and trustworthy Word of Holy Scripture at the forefront of the procession.

The criticality of teaching is not limited to equipping the church but also to protecting it from attack. As pursuers of the truth shepherds are to guard their flock against imminent danger from all around,

10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: 11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. (Titus 1:10 – 11)

Want to hear the verse in context? Titus 1
What is this about?

The church of our Lord Jesus Christ is refined as we rely upon “the primacy of the teaching of the Word” (Swartley 2005:74).

As leaders exemplify the truth of God’s Word his people are called to holy living; not through passionate pulpit pleas but by edifying and exemplary example. As Paul said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Co 11:1). As the church is purified so she stands apart from a world sunk in sin’s mire, her testimony is elevated and God is glorified.

“God’s Word is to us food … we must pursue it diligently, hold to it tightly and protect it ferociously”

God’s people live on the bread of life. God’s Word is to us food, necessary for life itself. As we minister we must pursue it diligently, hold to it tightly and protect it ferociously. The unity that truth brings stands strong in the face of the evil one as the Holy Spirit binds us together with cords which cannot be broken.

God’s shepherds, those men who faithfully serve the local church as under shepherds of Jesus Christ, are charged to exemplify the truth of God’s Word and be pursues of that truth. As we yield to the Holy Spirit and God’s Word we become useful to our master. A handful of uneducated, unrefined fishermen did just that and changed the world. My God grant us the same service.

This two part series considers the following statement, “Christian leaders must be both exemplifiers of truth and pursuers of truth.” Did this resonate with you? If so go and check out the series African Leadership Pitfalls.

<— Click here for Part 1
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Addressing Leadership Pitfalls in Africa (Protecting)


<— Click here for Part 4

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock …. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” (Acts 20:28 – 29)

Want to hear the verse in context? Acts 20:28 – 29
What is this about?

Address Leadership Pitfalls in Africa Protecting Acts 20:28 - 29

At the risk of been labelled a “bigot” (see paragraph 12 in the open letter written by the President of Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary, Rev Dr Ross Olivier) a classic example of what we’re to protect the flock against is Syncretism. I can’t leave it there can I, I’ll write some thoughts on this next week. Click image to enlarge.

Paul knew they were coming; we know they are here. They are watched on television, listened to on radio, stacked in bookstores, studied in seminaries. They breed like the plague and are as dangerous as the poison of asps. Bells ring in alarm as the church comes under siege, assaulted from every angle. Where are the mandated guardians? Missing in action; presumed dead! The fate of false teachers is sure but fear capability in being a shepherd who’s left the gate gapping wide. The enemy is in the fold! What are we now to do?

Leaders in Africa: tighten your belts, adjust your helmets, secure your breastplates and burnish your shields because God’s solution to false teachers is truth wielders. With some of those infected by their tainted message we should “have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire;” (Jud 1:22 – 23) God’s solution to the failure we see around us is leaders who are able to hold “fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers” (Tit 1:9)

Our mission is simple: God’s Holy Spirit empowers us, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph 6:17) equips us and so before us the enemy must fall. God’s leaders are to protect their flock fearlessly fighting the enemy on every front to praise and glory of our king.

Addressing leadership pitfalls in Africa will not be an easy task but it is a necessary one. We must fervently pray to God that He would so stir in men’s hearts that they will hear the call of the Gospel and chase after it with all earnesty. That He would raise men who pursue the truth and men who exemplify the truth and are useful vessels “unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Tim 2:21).

If we’re to be those men whom God would use then we’re mandated to effectively lead by our life’s example; constantly feed from the Word’s sweet honey; lovingly nurture to fullness of maturity; firmly correct without fear or favour; and resolutely protect from the dangers all round.

The great relief we have from any fear or anxiety we might experience as we look around at leaders who are falling and a church which seems to be faltering is that Jesus has taken responsibility for building the church, He has claimed possession over it and ultimately He will preserve it. He declares in Matthew 16:18 – 19, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Amen!

<— Click here for Part 4

Addressing Leadership Pitfalls in Africa (Feeding)


<— Click here for Part 1 Click here for Part 3 —>

“The elders which are among you I exhort … Feed the flock of God” (1 Pt 5:1 – 2a).

Want to hear the verse in context? 1 Peter 1:1 – 2a
What is this about?

Address Leadership Pitfalls in Africa Feeding 1 Peter 5:1 - 2

The Gospel isn’t complicated but it is so easily diluted instead of distilled. This photo was taken of a Rhema “Bible” Church’s signboard a few months ago (I’m not the photographer but the picture is in the public domain). It reads, “yes, YOU can___________*” with a sub caption of “*with a little help from GOD” It’s a play on the slogan popularised by Barak Obama and is inline with Prosperity Gospel teachings. Click image to enlarge.

It is a travesty that South African pastors are ill equipped to exposit the Word of the Lord and edify their flock. Pulpits around our country turn a blind eye to the proliferation of doctrinal inaccuracies and heresies. The Zion Christian Church, with “10-15 million members” (Wikipedia 2010a) 1, teaches that “senior officials in the ZCC … can use the power of the Holy Spirit to perform healing” (Anderson 1999) 2; Rhema Bible Church, with a “45,000 strong congregation” (Wikipedia 2010b) 3, continues to propagate the Prosperity Gospel (Carew 2001) 4; high profile pastors lobby for the recognition of same sex unions. Our pulpits are no longer anchored to God’s Word but rather the fleeting philosophies of the world.

For this reason our Shepherds need to feed their flock sound doctrine. Paul’s words to the young elder, Titus, echo in my head, “be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers” (Titus 1:9), and his commission to his protégé, Timothy, ring out, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ … Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Ti 4:1 – 2).

The early church converts were characterised by their unquenchable thirst for sound teaching. Luke records that they “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship” (Acts 2:42a). It must be so with our congregations. Much of the focus of pastors needs to be spent in preparation for preaching and teaching so that when the church leads it will do so with the banner of our Lord Jesus Christ and the immutable, infallible, sure and trustworthy Word of Holy Scripture at the forefront of the procession.

Feel aggrieved? Imagine God’s dismay.

<— Click here for Part 1 Click here for Part 3 —>