The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Tulip Driven Life Ch. 1 Pt. 1: Feeding as Sheep

                When we cease to come together with other believers to feed under the authority of the undershepherd God has placed over us, we cease to live the TULIP driven life.

                After Peter had denied Christ three times John 21 tells us Jesus restores Peter by telling him to feed His sheep three times:
15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah,[b] 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 again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah,[c] 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 Jonah,[d] 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 all things; You know that I love You.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.”

                Peter and the apostles were the rock, the foundation upon which Christ would build His church, and Christ’s charge to Peter was to feed and tend His flock. You and I are the flock of Christ, which means, among other things, we are dumb, ignorant, prone to forget what we were just told, and worst of all, stubborn. We don’t enjoy being rebuked, charged, and exhorted even as Christians, especially as Calvinists. It is easy for us to believe that, since we have the gospel right, we can get the rest right largely on our own. We may begin to think that our local pastor doesn’t know as much as we do, or isn’t preaching what he should be, and while all of that may very well be true, it doesn’t change the fact that we are sheep who need the shepherd’s food and rod.
                No pastor is perfect, but assuming you are a member of a Bible believing church that is preaching the gospel, administering the sacraments, and practicing church discipline, then you have a true undershepherd over you, and God commands you to feed from his teaching and receive his correction. If you are not a member of a church, then you need to become one. In the same way a marriage must be formally announced and made official by the church before it is consummated, so a child of God must come before the church to become a member in order to receive the blessings of the church community, to come inside the fence of the sheepfold. It is the rebellious sheep that does not have the humility to become a member of a Bible believing church and wanders aloof from the flock. This shows our stubbornness, our unwillingness to submit to those whom God has put in place for our well-being. Maybe the pastor doesn’t have a lot of savory sayings, maybe he isn’t as pithy as you would like, perhaps his voice doesn’t thunder when it ought, or maybe he seems dry and unamicable. The reality is that pastors are sheep too, which means they are also stubborn, forgetful, and sinful. There will be no perfect pastor, there will always be disappointment, and every undershepherd will mislead his flock at some point, starving a few sheep while tickling the ears/fattening the bellies of others.
We are called to demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit, which includes patience and longsuffering. Sometimes, we must endure with patience and longsuffering inadequate shepherding. This is not to say that there isn’t a time to speak up and talk to the pastor about his pastoring, nor does it mean that there are not times where another shepherd should be sought, but all of this must be done with humility and deference, because imperfect pastors have been anointed by God to feed His imperfect people.

Submitting to Pastoral Authority
                Part of being a sheep means recognizing pastoral authority. When the pastor steps behind the pulpit, he is not the pope, but he is the mouthpiece of God. Consider this- in John 17:17-20 Jesus prays to God for all believers, that all sheep will heed the words of His disciples and be saved. Christ calls His disciples, His apostles, and now His pastors to carry on the task of feeding the sheep in His absence, until His return. But it is not a total absence, in fact, Christ is more near than ever, because the sheep and the undershepherd have in common the Holy Spirit of Christ dwelling within them, which convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Pastors reflect the munus triplex of Christ, being in some sense our prophet, priest, and king. Like David, they can sin greatly and lead the sheep astray, but they have the anointing of God upon them to feed us the Bread of Life- Christ Himself. They administer the sacraments, and they bar the table. They prophetically speak to us about the judgments and blessings that the Word of God reveals. They praise faithfulness and pronounce forgiveness to the repentant, and they turn the rebellious, unrepentant sheep over to the devil to be saved (1 Cor. 5:5). They are held to a higher standard because they have a special anointing and authority over the flock and will receive the greater judgment if they do so poorly (Jas. 3:1). Being a good sheep means understanding this, understanding who is in charge, understanding that when the shepherd gives out food on Sundays, it’s more than a lecture, but it comes with the authority of God Himself. It is foolishness and disobedience toward God not to come with a humility and sobriety, a desire to be taught as a sheep by the shepherd. 

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