Sermon preached on Sunday, March 16, 2014 at Garden Valley Chapel during our morning worship service based on Ezekiel 3:1-7.
Among the many roles the NT shepherds are to fulfill is that of warning his people of error.
Take your Bible if you will and open it to the book of 1 Timothy, 1 Timothy chapter four for a moment.
Hear the word of the Lord in 1 Tim 4:1-6 -
1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,
2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,
3 men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.
4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude;
5 for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.
6 In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.
This is what is imbedded in being a “good servant [Gr. διάκονος] of Christ Jesus” (v. 6).
Do you want to know what is required of you, young Timothy? Sometimes ministry is difficult because of what you are called to do, but nevertheless this is your task. If you care about being a good servant, then you must point “out these things.”
This is an essential element of the ministry.
Nothing had changed since Paul’s charge to the elders at Ephesus as he said goodbye to them in Acts 20:29-32 -
29 “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
31 “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.
32 “And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
It had been 5-7 years since this last encounter with the Ephesian elders and the writing of 1 Timothy. Much can happen in that time frame as you all well know, and yet, as 1 Timothy 4 suggests, these “later times” are here now and they will be here until the return of Christ.
For this reason, the verb that Paul uses is a present tense participle that stresses that this was to be continually what Timothy was to be doing as a good servant of Christ Jesus, “pointing out these things to the brethren.”
Brethren is a familial term. He could of used “the saints” to refer to the people of God but chooses to use “brethren” instead.
Peter, for example, spoke of “your brethren who are in the world” (1 Pet 5:9) that highlights the universal aspect of our brotherhood, extending beyond our local church, extending beyond time and place, we are brethren to one another in the family of God.
Because it is about pleasing God, because it involves the people whom we love, we are to point out these things. The range is rather
considerable since it includes everything from false or wicked doctrines to “useless trifles” as Calvin suggests.
It is about drawing line clearly between truth and error and we are called to do so by the rich and sound doctrine of God’s Word.
We must remember that shepherding is not about how good one is at petting sheep, but at protecting them from wolves and feeding the sheep so that they grow to be mature and strong.
So important is this that God holds those in positions of spiritual leadership accountable to warn their people.
It is not a command given positively speaking, “if you want to be a good servant of Christ Jesus,” but negatively speaking as well.
What do I mean by that? I’m glad you asked.
Turn in your Bible to the book of Ezekiel, Ezekiel chapter three.
Hear the word of the Lord in Ezekiel 3:17-21 -
17 “Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me.
18 “When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.
19 “Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself.
20 “Again, when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I place an obstacle before him, he will die; since you have not warned him, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand.
21 “However, if you have warned the righteous man that the righteous should not sin and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; and you have delivered yourself.”
Today I want to return our focus to the watchmen of old and see if we can instill some of the characters of these men for today.
Perhaps as a framework to hang our thoughts I want you know more of these watchmen of old by looking at…
Let’s begin with the first point…
3:1 And he said to me, “Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey.
4 And he said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them. 5 For you are not sent to a people of foreign speech and a hard language, but to the house of Israel— 6 not to many peoples of foreign speech and a hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, if I sent you to such, they would listen to you. 7 But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart. (ESV)
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