True Faith Perseveres

How is it we are saved?  As many would say, we are saved by faith alone.  That is absolutely 100% right.  We are saved by putting faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  However, the great danger is that we twist the doctrine of justification by faith into a get out of hell free card.  Many reduce this doctrine into simply praying a prayer when you were a kid and then your eternity is secure.  The danger is that we have turned faith into a one time decision not a life long decision.  In the Scriptures we see that true faith is a lasting faith.  Authentic faith is a faith that endures to the end.  Let me show you in 1 Peter 1. Salvation Comes through a Faith that Perseveres

In 1 Peter 1:6-9 Peter encourages a church in the midst of persecution.  He provides a reason for why they are suffering so incredibly.  Peter tells them that the reason they suffer various trials is so that their faith may be tested.  This means that trails in life are testing grounds to see if our faith is legitimate.  The hope is that the fires of suffering reveal whether our faith, "may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ".  It is in the perseverance of our faith that we receive the outcome of our faith, "the salvation of your souls".  This means that we receive our inheritance and our reward by enduring till the end.  True faith is a lasting faith that survives the various trials of life that come.  If we endure to the end, then we will receive our eternal reward given to us in Christ, the salvation of our souls.

Does this Mean we Earn our Salvation by Persevering?

No, we are justified by faith alone.  However our perseverance reveals whether our faith is real or fake.  To understand this truth better, we must look at the verses before in 1 Peter 1:3-5.  Peter blesses the Lord because "According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope".  In other words, God is the one who initiates our salvation causing our new birth and thus our faith.  As Peter continues he tells us about an inheritance we have that is "imperishable, undefiled, and unfading".  This inheritance, he tells us, is kept in heaven for us.  This is "by God's power being guarded".  You see our initial faith and our persevering faith is all the result of the power of God.  He is the causal agent that initiates the new birth, and He is the one who protects our inheritance and causes us to persevere to the end.  In other words, God finishes what he starts.  Our initial faith and our persevering faith is all an act of divine grace.  It is not of our own doing, but it is the gift of God.

Trusting in God's Power to Persevere

This means that we must pray and ask God to give us faith until the end.  The only way our faith will survive to the end is if the power of God sustains it.  This means we confess our utter dependency on the power of God.  We cling to the cross daily and rely daily on the power of the Holy Spirit.  Let us then live our Christian life with the end in sight.  Salvation is more than praying a special prayer but a life sustaining faith in Jesus.  Over the course of our lives we will watch friends whom we thought were Christians reject Christ and reject the Gospel.  It is emotionally painful to watch, but we must remember that true faith survives till the end.  May we never cease to pray that God by his power would sustain our faith until we breathe our last breath and enter into His glory.

 

 

3 Ways to Be a Selfish Pastor

Pastor money

1 Peter 5:1-4 is a passage every pastor ought to know well.  It is Peter's exhortation to the elders to shepherd their flocks well.  In this passage, he commands these pastors to shepherd, "not for shameful gain, but eagerly".  Tragically, many pastors so often lead out of selfish motives.  It is a tragedy that needs to be repented of, but here are some ways, Pastor, that you might be leading selfishly without even knowing it.  

1. Be in it for the Praise 

As a Pastor it is easy to get caught up with what other people think about you.  You preach that sermon because you know you will get a few extra "amens".  You long to have people come up to you after the service and tell you, "That was a great sermon!"  We want to be liked and loved, so we shy away from the truth because it might make us look bad.  Pastoring for the praise is a constant struggle for pastors, but ultimately it is leading out of selfishness.  You are leading the church in fear of your own ego, rather than sacrificing your reputation to be obedient to what God has asked you to do.  We must not fear man, but fear God.  As a result, sometimes God will ask us to preach a truth that might be hard for our congregation to hear, but regardless we must be obedient to the Lord.  Do not Pastor for the Praise.  

2. Be in it for the Power

"My way or the highway".  If Pastor's are not careful they can get caught up in the thirst for power.  As a pastor, you are not the CEO.  You are a shepherd.  You are called to lay down your lives for the sheep, not to dominate over the sheep.  You must lovingly serve them not beat them with the rod.  A pastor must lead sacrificially and as a servant.  Don't beat up the sheep to quickly in order to get your agenda accomplished.  Lead your church slowly and patiently.  Gently lead them, "not under compulsion, but willingly" (1 Peter 5:2).  Do not Pastor for the Power.  

3. Be in it for the Paycheck

This can be by far the most dangerous in the life of the Pastor.  A Pastor must never demote his calling to just a job.  The Scriptures has stern words for those Pastors who attempt to live off the sheep without actually caring for them (Ezk 34, Micah 3).  Pastor, you have been placed by God as the shepherd of the congregation, as long as you are there.  Don't turn your ministry into just a way to pay the bills.  If you think this way, repent immediately or get out of the ministry lest you heap judgement on yourself.  For those who are Pastors will be judged much more strictly (James 3:1).  Remember, it is God who called you to your church.  As long as he would have you there, shepherd well, regardless of how much or even if you get paid.  Here Bi-Vocational Pastors have an advantage over the Full-Time Pastors.  Nobody takes a Bi-Vocational Pastorate for the money.  A man takes that position because God has genuinely called him.  The paycheck has nothing to do with it.  Do not Pastor for the Paycheck.  

More than ever we need Pastors who will lead like 1 Peter 5 describes.  We need Godly men who can shepherd the flock unselfishly.  We need men who will lay down their lives for the sake of the sheep.  We need men who will be good under shepherds under the chief shepherd, Jesus Christ . We need men who will lead as a servant, counting others as better than himself.  We need men who imitate the unselfish, life-laying down love of our great savior Jesus Christ.