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God Appoints

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God’s Great Love For The Church

This week we are going to deviate from where we’ve been a bit.
We’ve been in I Corinthians for a while talking about how the Lord has gifted the church with spiritual gifts so that we can serve the church.
But this week we are changing gears a bit, and going to spend some time in 2 different passages.
We will bounce between these two passages.
We will be in and then
Let me go ahead and read those now, then dive into the sermon.
Read
“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.”
And then there is
“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,
What is it you love?
What is it that you love more than anything else, and what would you do to protect that?
We do great thing for the things that we love.
I tried thinking of some funny analogy of the things that we love.
I thought of the man who has an expensive classic car.
This past week, I was in the hospital with Amanda and her mom.
He spends his Saturday’s washing and waxing his prized car.
It’s his baby.
Then think of the day his son borrows the car … and wrecks it.
I tried to think of some funny way to get the point across.
Unfortunately, for me, this past week has been rather intense.
At the time of me writing this sermon, I was sitting in the ICU waiting room.
Amanda’s mom was dying as I wrote this sermon.
At the time that I was writing this sermon, she was dying.
I talk about what people will do for the things that we love.
I talk about what people will do for the things that we love.
Amanda had family come from all over the place.
As I wrote this sermon, one of Amanda’s aunts was in the ICU room.
She changed her plans, and came down from Northern California, to spend time with her sister.
Another one of Amanda’s aunts was on vacation in Florida.
But when she heard about Amanda’s mom dying, she flew across the country to be there.
I’m sure you’ve had those moments where someone that you love was in danger, and you would do almost anything to show your appreciation.
We do great thing for the things that we love.
I saw that this past week.
I tried thinking of some funny analogy of the things that we love
On Sundays we have been talking about the church.
We have been talking about how we are to find out what our gifts are so that we could then serve the church.
We’ve been talking about our involvement and care for the church.
But our motivation must first be that we love the church.
Because we do great things for those that we love.
Why do we love the church? Because God loves the church.
When you are around someone that you admire or look up to, you naturally desire to like the things he likes.
When I’m around Richard LaPorte, I can’t help but like hockey.
When I’m around Ed Burke, I want to become crafty and get better at making stuff with my own hands.
I see it with Amanda, she likes baseball and will talk to me about my nerd interests.
And I’m aware of some of the characters on HGTV and decorating because of her.
And when I’m in fellowship with God, I want to get better at loving the church, because He loves the church so much.
What I’d like to do this morning is show that God loves the church by gifting people to be leaders of the church, who will then equip us to better serve the church.

God’s love provides leaders to care for the church.

What are the lengths that God would go to for caring for the church?
This week we are going to deviate from where we’ve been a bit, but it’s actually all part of the same theme.
We’ve been in I Corinthians for a while talking about how the Lord has gifted the church with spiritual gifts so that we can serve the church.
But this week we are changing gears a bit, and going to spend some time in 2 different passages.
The first text we will be in is Acts 20:28.
We will be in and then
We’ve been in I Corinthians for a while talking about how the Lord has gifted the church with spiritual gifts so that we can serve the church.
Let me go ahead and read those now, then dive into the sermon.
Read
“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.”
Do you see God’s love for the church there?
What was the length that God went to for loving His church?
“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,
It’s a Trinitarian love.
We see each of the members of the Trinity on display in their love for the church.
The Holy Spirit starts this display of love.
He makes overseers, Elders, to care for the church.
The love of God is so great, that he doesn’t intend for the church to be leaderless.
In America we don’t do well with leaders.
We aren’t trusting towards leaders, especially when it comes to religion.
American Christianity is very private.
We don’t like to involve people in our private religious life.
We like to emphasize the personal nature of our religion, emphasizing that this is a relationships between me and God.
Which is true.
But it’s not only that.
Many people are drifting away from the church, and instead aiming for a private religion.
They do church by themselves.
But is this what God intends?
God never intends for Christians to be isolated or alone.
The American church likes to be separate.
We like our boundaries.
We like to get in our cars, drive to church, do church, then drive home and go back to having our own private lives.
It’s a rare church that has people actually involved in one another’s lives.
And yet, the way the New Testament describes the church, it’s that they were involved in each others lives.
God desires us to be in a community, to be in the local church.
describes the young church banding together, sharing what they had.
It says “they had everything in common” and that no one was in need.
There fellowship was intense.
Not only are we to be in community, but we are to live under faithful leaders
says for us to not neglect meeting together.
The American church likes to be separate.
We like our boundaries.
We like to get in our cars, drive to church, do church, then go back to having our own private lives.
It’s a rare church that has people actually involved in one another’s lives.
And yet, the way the New Testament describes the church it’s that they were involved in the church.
We need to be around each other, but then when we are around each other, there need to be leaders to care for the church.
A display of God’s love is that He provides leaders to care for the church.
To oversee the church.
But may I go a step further, God not only has provided leaders, but He has gifted those leaders.
A second passage that we will be using as our frame for today, is found in , “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,”
God has given the church leaders.
And what’s beautiful is that these leaders are gifts of the Holy Spirit.
says that the “the Holy Spirit has made you overseers ...”
Who makes Elders?
The Holy Spirit.
They are appointed by Him.
We have been talking about God giving us gifts
We’ve mentioned teaching, faith, service, helping, encouragement, discernment, and others.
And when talking about the gifts, we can’t neglect that God also gifts people to lead His church.
Church leadership is a spiritual gift.
In the American church we love to spotlight the individual.
We spotlight the Word of God.
And we love to talk about how He has given us His Word that we are to apply all things to.
Absolutely. Sola Scriptura is an important principle.
But … the principle of Scripture Alone does not mean that you do not need to sit under faithful elders, teachers and pastors.
They have been given to the church to care for the church of God.
So rather, embrace them.
This means that for those of us in the church, we submit to the Holy Spirit when we recognize the authority of Elders.
It’s easy to complain about leadership if they decided to make themselves leaders.
But if Elders are appointed by the Holy Spirit, that’s a different thing all together.
This means, it’s hard to get angry or frustrated with our elders when it’s the Holy Spirit who’s put them there.
Not just because they are great guys, who I genuinely love and admire.
But, more importantly, I love our elders because they were chosen by the Holy Spirit.
So how do you feel about church leadership; pastors and elders?
When you see them as people who have been appointed by God, it’s hard to be opposed to them.
After all, it’s the Holy Spirit who put them there.
So spend more time praying for and encouraging your elders.
But not only does God provide Elders, but God’s Love Provides A Variety of Leaders
In , it says, “11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,”
This is a beautiful part of the church.
May I encourage our men here for a moment.
Some of you are men that I believe God has gifted for these positions.
The church needs you to be faithful in your gifts as well.
Just as I have been urging people to find their gifts and use them.
Some of you are gifted to lead the church … we need you to lead.
It’s not an overnight thing.
It’s something you need to be prepared for.
says of Elders, “9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”
You not only need to know strong doctrine, but it’s something that you are taught.
Some of you might be gifted, but you’re not prepared.
You need to be taught and trained.
But if you think you are gifted to lead the church and it’s something that you desire, then pursue it.

This variety of gifts is to build the church.

These leadership gifts, are to build the church.
says, “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,”
These leadership gifts, are yes for equipping, and yes for serving in ministry, but before we get there, they are for building the church.
Out of the church leadership gifts, there are 5 of them, we will only look at 3 of them.
And one of the gifts of the church is leadership.
During the first century, as the church was being established, God provided apostles to build the church on.
Then there was the giving of Scripture, as He spoke through prophets.
Today, we don’t need new revelation, since we have a completed canon.
No more needs to be added to the Bible.
So we open up God’s word and preach it.
But within church leadership, the 3 that we really need to focus on are evangelists, shepherds and teachers.
We will only look at evangelists, shepherds and teachers.
The church appoints these positions because
The gift or position of apostle no longer exists today.
It was a gift for the 1st century, for the establishment of the church.
So
The evangelist is passionate about preaching the Gospel, but for the purpose of building the church.
There are a lot of church planting and missionary minded people out there who think that a church is easy to build.
You get them some funding.
Create a fancy name.
Get a nice logo.
Get a rocking band.
Some sweet merchandise.
And a young pastor with some cool tattoos.
And boom you have a church.
But the church isn’t that easy to build.
says that these positions are for equipping the church.
Oh I wish it was that easy.
I wish that you could build a church like a bunch of legos.
Grab some of these blocks, and pile them on top of each other, and then boom, it’s a church.
I wish it was as easy as we teach a little bit of theology and boom we have a church.
When I first became a pastor, I thought, I’ll just preach, and it’ll make everything happen naturally.
If I just preach the church will build itself.
That’s not what equipping means.
The word for equip that we see in Ephesians, is also found in .
The disciples were found mending their nets.
And that word for mending is the same as equipping.
Fisherman’s nets would need frequent maintenance.
They were frequently in a need of repair.
What is the church?
It’s not in a state of perfection.
It needs to be tended to.
It needs frequent maintenance.
Because we are dealing with sinful people.
People who have baggage.
People who have a past.
People who are by no means perfect.
says, “10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?”
Something is lacking in the church.
If the purpose of these leadership positions is to build up the body of Christ, the church needs some maintenance.
It needs some first aid.
So God gifts the church with leaders to help supply what is lacking, repair and build the church, to mend the nets.
Something is lacking in the church
So if the church is compared to nets that need mending, God sends evangelists, shepherds and teachers to help mend these nets.
So if the sheep are scattered, God sends out the evangelists.
This is the person who is passionate about preaching the Gospel.
This is the person who is passionate about preaching the Gospel.
All Christians should evangelize, but the evangelists is the person who can’t stop evangelizing.
I think of Ray Comfort as someone who is gifted in evangelism.
I heard Paul Washer one time talk about Ray Comfort and he said, “Those guys would preach the gospel to a rock.”
But even more than evangelism, this is the person who is about building churches.
Think of him as the missionary or the church planter.
He is the one who is eager to support the local church by finding the harvest.
When we think of missions, we need to think of supporting the local church, or developing the local church abroad.
This is the person who establishes churches.
Then there are shepherds and teachers.
Then there are shepherds and teachers.
These are the most relevant and practical positions.
Think of them as pastors.
God’s Love Is To Build The Church
Pastor is the Latin word for shepherd, so they are synonymous.
Pastors and elders are called to care for the church, as the flock of God.
The Shepherd doesn’t just say “go here” or “go there”.
But the shepherd leads the way.
Crossing the same obstacles and difficulties along the way.
He leads by example.
The Lord also gives us teachers.
says that the church is in need of mending and equipping.
The Church is made up of sinners.
And young Christians need guidance and help.
Part of discipleship is that we teach these people how to live.
We teach them of the commands of Christ.
I think of the Great Commission, ,
“19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
We need to be all about the Gospel, absolutely, but the great Commission also tells us to teach people the commands of God.
Sometimes in our reformed circles we put evangelism and the commands of Christ at odds with each other.
Yes, we must make the Gospel the center of what we do, but there is also a pressing need to mend the nets, to correct people.
So we need people to teach very practical and straightforward truths.
By the way, this also tells us that you have nets that need mended.
You need care.
You need teaching.
Don’t reject the gift of God which is wise leadership.
Take advantage of what happens here.
Take advantage of Christian’s University.
Take advantage of Wednesday nights.
Take advantage of my preaching.
There’s something I recently thought, and it’s a scary thing to say out loud.
You as a congregation have been obedient to , which says that elders who labor in preaching and teaching deserve to be paid for their labor.
And that’s what I do.
I am paid to preach and to teach.
The reality of this is that I am one of the most expensive assets to this church.
I am paid to spend my time in God’s word, and then preach and teach to you.
And if you don’t take advantage of the preaching here … it’s money poorly spent.
How many of you have made the switch to not having a landline at home?
I grew up having telephones and answering machines.
But now that we have cell phones, we don’t need these things.
Amanda and I have never had home phone.
We only use our cell phone.
As a culture we are saying, “I don’t use a landline, so I’ll get rid of it.”
As a culture, it’s a waste of money to have a landline.
Don’t do that with preaching.
Instead, recognize preaching and teaching as a gift of God in how He mends the church.
And utilize it.

We are to be equipped and mended so that we can work in ministry which is how we build up the body of Christ.

So we’ve talked about how the church is filled with broken people.
They need to be fixed.
Then in God’s kindness He provides leaders to care for the church.
He provides people who’s job it is to mend the flock, to care for the flock.
So that, here we go, heres the big point, we can then do the work of ministry.
Therefore, we seem to come back to where we began this whole year.
There is a work that God has prepared beforehand for you to do, for you to engage in.
We are all to be in ministry.
When I say we are to be in ministry, you might be thinking that I’m saying we all need to become pastors, or preachers.
But that’s not actually what it is.
Don’t think that ministry is becoming a paid full time minister.
The word for ministry is similar to where we get the work deacon.
It’s a servant.
This is a low position.
God isn’t calling for us all to be professional ministers, but He is calling for us to all be servants.
He’s calling us to adopt menial positions.
He’s calling for us to do things that are beneath us.
An example of this is the night that Jesus was betrayed.
During dinner with His disciples, Jesus gets up.
He takes off his outer garments.
Looks like a servant.
Puts some water in a bowl, and begins to wash his disciples dirty and nasty feet.
And after washing away the grime of walking in dirty streets, he wipes them off with a towel that was wrapped around his waist like a waiter’s apron.
After He spent some time teaching them, Jesus got dressed and told the disciples in , “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
Is Jesus great? Absolutely.
And in His greatness, He sets an example of serving, in the most menial way possible.
Therefore, we also ought to wash one another’s feet.
Therefore we also ought to become a people who serve.
Therefore, we also ought to become a church that serves.
A year ago, I went to a conference called the Shepherd’s Conference, and Lord willing, I’ll be there again this week.
I’m so excited to go, and this year our Elders are going, and the theme is building the church.
Quite appropriate.
Last year when I went, we were parking, and they have all these people out helping park cars.
One of the guys we met was a doctor.
You’ve got this guy who’s gone to school for longer than I’ve been alive.
He’s an important guy.
Gets to put all these letters after his name because of his education.
And what’s he doing?
Parking cars.
Standing out in the early morning cold, helping direct cars to parking spots.
He should be doing something important.
Teaching.
Wearing a fancy suit.
But he’s parking cars.
That’s service.
That’s menial.
That’s what we are called to.
Church, I think I have done something wrong over the years, I have not allowed you to do this menial work, or to use the word from , ministry.
There are times, I have felt guilty to call you to ask you to do something.
There are times something is going on, and I think to myself, “No, I can do it. I don’t want to bother them.”
When I do that, I am not allowing you to do the work of building up the body of Christ.
My job is to teach.
My job is to equip.
But who does the real building up here?
It’s not me.
You do.
I must not be selfish in not allowing you to serve.
Perhaps, I think I’ll feel guilty.
Perhaps, I think you’ll wonder what I do all day if I’m asking you to do things.
Either way, I need to become better to rely on you to do the building up of the body of Christ.
Therefore church, I need your help.
Please jump in.
Please serve.
Please do menial labor.
Find your gifts, and be obedient to the Holy Spirit and putting them to use.
Remember, this is not Luke’s church.
This is the Lord’s church.
Together we are the body of Christ.
My job is to teach, shepherd, and equip you.
And your job is to engage in ministry, so that the church would be built up.
Can I lay something at your feet church, collectively, let’s take this burden upon ourselves.

And remember our motivation, the value of the church is priceless.

And the only way we can serve affectively is if we remember the value of the church.
In , in the charge to elders, Paul says, “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.”
God cares immensely for the church.
It’s a Trinitarian love.
The Holy Spirit cares for the church, and therefore appoints Elders to care for her.
God the Father cares for the church.
In fact in this passage it’s called the church of God.
His love goes way back.
says, “3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,”
God’s love doesn’t begin when you first said a prayer.
God’s love didn’t begin when you walked an aisle.
And God’s love didn’t begin that one time you gave a homeless person a buck.
God’s love began before the foundation of the world.
Before you ever did anything, God loved you and predestined you.
And this predestinating love, means that he adopted us as sons and daughters of Him.
It’s a special love.
It’s a protective love.
And then in , we see the Son’s love.
He obtained the church with His own blood.
There we see the value of the church, the life of Christ.
And here’s what’s great about this … the church is obtained.
It’s not saying He hopes to obtain a church.
It’s not saying maybe He’ll obtain a church.
It’s obtained.
It’s been received.
It’s been purchased.
The payment has been made.
This means that when you are doing the work of ministry, you aren’t working for a failed cause.
Have you ever participated in something that you knew was a failure or wasn’t going to work?
It’s not very much fun.
You put all this effort into something, only to find out it’s not going to happen.
My senior year in high school, I organized a bike ride.
It was a real ride.
People paid money to be in it.
I had sponsors, prizes, the whole thing.
I had only had 5 people show up for the ride.
And 3 of them got lost.
It was a complete failure.
I was so embarrassed.
That was a failure.
The strongest of empires can collapse.
Greece fell.
Rome fell.
Blockbuster video - Remember them … gone.
Can you believe that Chrysler, and General Motors had to file for bankruptcy in the 2009?
How do those businesses fail?
But when we serve the Lord by serving the church, you are building something that is eternal.
It will never fail.
Why? Because it has been obtained.
There was a people that were loved before the foundation of the world, and Jesus died for them on the Cross.
And this is who we serve.
Not a failed cause.
But an eternal cause.

Lastly, your thoughts about the church tell us your thoughts about Christ.

What are your thoughts about the church?
You can’t love Christ without loving the church.
After all, the church is who He bought.
Have you been purchased by Christ?
Then maybe it’s time to identify with her.
Maybe it’s time to say, “Yea, I’m a part of her.”
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