Shepherds and the Sheep

1 Peter 5:1-4 ESV

“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”

A shepherd of the sheep, in a spiritual sense, is a person who cares for and who protects the Lord’s sheep, i.e. Jesus’ true followers (disciples). And the Lord’s true sheep are those who listen to him, who heed what he says, and they follow (obey) him (John 10:27). And these human shepherds (pastors, elders, overseers) of the sheep are to be those who guard and guide the Lord’s sheep in the ways of God and according to the teachings of the Scriptures (in context) which are to be applied to followers of Jesus Christ.

And so Peter is giving instructions here to the elders (pastors) of those who are following Jesus Christ with their lives. They are to actually do what God has called and assigned them to do which is to shepherd (care for, protect, guard, and guide in the ways of the Lord) the Lord’s followers. And they are to do so, not for selfish gain, nor to build their own earthly kingdoms, but truly for the spiritual benefit of the followers of Christ. And they are not to be domineering, but they are to lead the flock by their own life examples.

Now, first of all, these shepherds are to meet very strict spiritual requirements before they can even be in the position of shepherd of the sheep (1 Timothy 3:1-7; 1 Timothy 4:11 to 6:2; Titus 1:6-9). They are to live lives which are above reproach, not arrogant, not quick-tempered, not as drunkards or violent or greedy for gain, holding firmly to the Word of Truth so that they may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine. And they must be lovers of good, self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.

Now sadly, that does not describe many men in our churches today who are serving as elders and as pastors. For so many of them are building earthly kingdoms, and they are following marketing books and schemes on how to build their “churches” (their businesses), and they are marketing “the church” to the world, and so they are modeling the church after business models and in order to draw in large crowds of people from the world. And so they mostly are not shepherding their flocks in the ways of the Lord.

And so we have many sheep and many false sheep who are being entertained right along with the world and who are hearing diluted gospel messages or no gospel messages at all, for many are just doing pep talks and motivational speeches in order to attract the world to their gatherings. And since “the church” is largely about attracting the world, the Lord’s true sheep are being largely neglected and pushed aside or even cast aside as unwanted for fear they might offend the people of the world with the truth.

And church abuse abounds because there are not these strict requirements in place, in most cases, and because so many of these men are living worldly lives themselves and so they are not leading their people in walks of holiness and in righteousness. So they are deserters of the sheep because their focus is so much on drawing in large crowds of people from the world to their gatherings, which have become very worldly, in most cases. And so much of the church is totally upside down from what it ought to be.

1 Peter 5:6-11 ESV

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Now where I live in America I have not found a gathering of the pure body of Christ operating under the teachings of the Scriptures which has not sold itself out to attract the world to its gatherings. And we have visited plenty of them – all which are incorporated under the state and which are beholding to church denominations and their agendas. Most do not teach the pure word of God nor do they have strict biblical requirements for their pastors, but they are mostly all being run like businesses marketed to the world.

Now, years ago the Lord taught me that what these market-driven churches represent is Babylon, for they are under the world’s system, and their sins are piled high to heaven, for they are following the ways of man over the ways of God or in place of the ways of God. And books written by mere mortals, not under the inspiration of God, are often being taught in place of the Bible, and marketing books are replacing both the Bible and the Holy Spirit. For many pastors follow their business training in place of following the teachings of the Scriptures, and in rejection of the Scriptures, too.

And so the Lord Jesus instructed me that I was to come out of Babylon lest I take part in her sins and in her punishment, for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities (Revelation 18:4-5). And he reminded me that I was not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers (the world, the government), for there is no fellowship between light and darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14-18), and that we are not to turn the church into a marketplace (John 2:13-17), and that we are not to be followers of man (1 Corinthians 1:10-17). And so I left the institutional church.

And now I meet with the body of Christ on the internet which is where I get my Christian fellowship and where I am able to participate within the body of Christ in the area of ministry to which Jesus has called me, and where I am able to share the gospel and minister to the body of Christ in the ways in which God has gifted me, by his Spirit. There was no room for me to do this within the institutional church (IC), for mostly the ICs are being very much led by marketing schemes and not by the Holy Spirit nor by Jesus Christ.

So, I listened to the Lord and I did what he said and I humbled myself under the mighty hand of God and I went where the Lord sent me even though I have been accused falsely of not gathering together with the body of Christ, and even though I am being shunned for not participating in the ICs and in their marketing schemes. Yet, I gave it all over to the Lord, and I trusted the Lord with my life and with my future, and then he did in my life and through me what I would never have imagined in my wildest dreams.

But Satan has definitely been on a warpath against me ever since I made that decision 18 years ago to leave institutional church ministry and to go into the unknown world of the internet to share whatever the Lord gave me to share from my times together with him in the Word of God. And this has included me unlearning things I learned wrong, and learning things new I did not know before, and then me sharing devotions and songs and poems and now video talks, too, which really stretch me. All glory to God!

So, going with God doesn’t equal being part of an IC and their marketing schemes. And submitting to church leadership does not include accepting diluted gospels or entertainment or the teachings of man in place of true worship of God and biblically sound in doctrine teaching. Satan wants to guilt-trip us into participating in ICs which are contrary to the will and purposes of God for his body, but we must resist him, and we must call on God and get into his word, and then follow what his word teaches.

But when we follow God, and not the crowd, we are going to be hated and persecuted and mistreated because we are not conformed to our culture but we are being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ who does not fit in with business marketing schemes on how to attract the world to “the church.” But after we have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us in him and in his calling for our lives.

Does Jesus Care?
1 Peter 5:7

Lyrics by Frank E. Graeff, 1901
Music by Joseph L. Hall, 1901

Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?

Does Jesus care when my way is dark
With a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades into deep night shades,
Does He care enough to be near?

Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.

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