Local heretic Rodger McDaniel often has op-ed pieces in the town newspaper pushing the homosexual agenda. Leonard Pitts, a race-baiter and a homosexual advocate, trumpets anti-christian thought. Where is the Christian voice? Tim Keller, a well known PCA teaching elder with tremendous public reach, can not even bring himself to condemn homosexuality. Instead of defending Scripture, political social justice dominates his speech. It all sounds so nicety-nice. Some elders who don’t even read the local newspaper and the wonder is, if this community is their mission field, why do they not care about its people?
As James White points out, Vines is promoting false teaching through isegetical gymnastics and emotionalism. The debate has largely been lost by evangelicals because of the silence of those who have charge to promote the Gospel in truth. The sexuality controversy is an opportunity, a public forum for preaching. But if the evangelist is the man in the pew who is not equipped to exegete Scripture, then the field is surrendered. If only there were shepherds who, instead of trying to maintain self-sequestation, a neighborhood life-style, domestic tranquility, and professional appearance, had the zeal to demonstrate the biblical view in a public forum with the frequency we see from those opposed to Christ, there might not be a change in society, but there would be a change in the numbers of legitimate conversions to Christ.
The Gospel ministry requires not just the “good news,” preached to the world. It requires the bad news, and it first. And that means at times Truth taking advantage of the forum of the news media. It requires that those elders who have walled themselves in their church fortresses, familial or professional lives, actually do battle where the enemy is, the local square, which today is the mass media. “Cest la vie,” say some, “it isn’t our job to confront societal issues. That belongs to the man in the pew.” They insist that the church bear its testimony in silence to maintain good public relationships, rather than become a target of condemnation. If you open your mouth, be it in public, family, friendship, or neighborhood, you will suffer loss because the message is offensive, necessarily so Jesus said. If you don’t, you’ve denied him. If you’re not making enemies, you’re not paving the way to the peace which is offered in Christ.
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:34-39 ESV)
Check the context. This is about those who would be those who were to “devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” You see, those who God has placed as the shepherds of the church are those who are to intercede and to go public. He sent them out among wolves, and even though the immediate ministry of the word for which Jesus had sent the Twelve and then the seventy-two, was first to the house of Israel, the reality will become, in the context of the Great Commission, that the elders would go even to the towns of the Gentiles. Those who were selected to serve the tables were “full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.” They were not the typical layman, and depending upon how one considers the testimony of Steven, not mere deacons, either. Skilled defense of the Gospel, wisdom from above empowered by the Holy Spirit, meant, even in the context of meeting the needs of the congregation, public proclamation of the Gospel. This was not the job of the laity, but those appointed and approved of by the Council of the Twelve to be overseers.
Jesus didn’t recognize relationship evangelism that doesn’t bring offense to those the Gospel is to be presented. And it requires a cost that far exceeds the demands placed upon those who are not leaders. The Gospel is preached, at least in the world, among those who are wolves. There are those who are men of peace among those wolves. But wolves are out there, outside the church, in the wilderness, where those who are to protect the sheep are to go and find those men of peace who, who being sheep, are to be rescued from those wolves. The only way to find the sheep is to make the attack public, to sound the alarm, to draw the lines of battle so that there will be a distinction between darkness and light. Becoming bait for the wolves, the role of the elders, allows the sheep to escape. Appointed to salvation, there already are sheep in every city. God will have already worked in them the regeneration which will enable them to receive the message of the Gospel when the pastor/elder’s evangel reaches their ears. Only sheep will hear, and receive it. Others will will not bleat, they will not repent and believe, they will just howl. But to do evangelism, is for the elders to get out among those the Lord is saving, and they are out there among the wolves.
The call to evangelize doesn’t belong to everyone, instead, Christ chose some, to go and intercede and minister the word to the lost sheep on the behalf of Christ. The laity have the tables where they are to serve, working with their hands what is native to them so as to give to their brothers in need. And for that, certain men full of wisdom (in other words, elders) were to oversee the work. Jesus wasn’t sent to all, but to the lost sheep of Israel, nor did he send everyone who is a sheep, just as he did not he reveal himself to everyone in the world. He sends now some, not all to make disciples, teach and preach and oversee. Each is gifted according to the measure of Christ and that particularly distributed, not all being what everyone else is.
The reason that evil has triumphed in terms of the homosexual takeover is the fact that those who have been gifted in knowledge and placed as overseers to protect the flock through the proper administration of their duties, have failed to do so. Instead of going public, they’ve become private professionals working toward comforts and retirements, living the lives of common sheep and not shepherds. The diminution of the roles and duties of the pastors/elders, is a tradition well past time done away. Somewhere along the line, the duties of teaching, evangelism, and protection has become the duty of the children of save up for their parents, while the shepherds (fathers in the faith) just supply the pulpit and perhaps are active CEOs, but nothing more. Curious, isn’t it, that all the pastoral cues taken from Scripture do not ever stake out the domain of the elders as only the pulpit parapet and church business management. To the contrary, it calls them soldiers not be entangled in the domestic trappings of personal life. They are called to live as if they have left behind those pursuits which are the vocations of the other members of the body of Christ, family, lands, et cetera. They are called to take the enemy fortress by force.
From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. (Matthew 11:12 ESV)
John’s ministry was a public ministry, Jesus’ ministry was a public ministry, the apostles’ too, and they whom they appointed. Those who desire the eldership are to be known by the public. If a man is unknown in the community, indeed, if he doesn’t stand out as opposed to the systems of the world in that community, if he is not known as opposed to heresy and every lofty thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, it cannot be said that he is ministering the Gospel and seeking those sheep lost among the wolves. And if he is sending sheep out to find sheep, he is sentencing both to death.
Yes, our weapons are not carnal, but spiritual. Yet it is clear, any thought, any word, which opposes the knowledge of God is to be brought down. That is the violence to which Jesus was referring. Let the world call it hate speech. What is truth is only a threat to those who love their evil deeds. Have light in yourselves, Jesus said. The enemies of the cross with rebel against it. However, if a lamp is lit but hidden, what good is it? The thief will come in where there is no light.
Jesus came into the world, but the world would not receive him, but those who were born of God did. Following that example, the example of the Good Shepherd, he will not abandon his own where a hireling will. And as Christ said, outside the sheep fold are others to be brought in. To accomplish that, he has appointed some to be shepherds to bring them in. Where there are lost sheep, that is where the shepherd is to go. It is a dangerous business which will require the life of the shepherd. But, if he is not willing to go out among wolves, neither will he be willing to stay when the wolves endanger the flock.