Guard the Good Deposit

Posted: June 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

In his book Brothers We Are Not Professionals, John Piper says that “leadership is knowing where God wants people to be and taking the initiative to get them there by God’s means in reliance on God’s power.” As a pastor, I love and appreciate the men I serve with on our elder board and I can assure you that we take our calling to humbly lead Christ’s church seriously. We constantly strive through prayer and discussion to seek God’s direction for our church in all our decisions and to get there “by God’s means and in reliance on God’s power”. But what exactly does this mean? What are elders called to do? What is it that we are charged with?

An elder, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. (Titus 1:7-9 ESV)

Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. (2 Timothy 1:13-14 ESV)

As elders we are seen as stewards who have been entrusted with the word and called to guard this deposit by teaching sound doctrine and by rebuking those who oppose it. Now this is a very challenging and weighty responsibility to be sure. It is one that requires a humble orthodoxy as well as an ability to teach and defend this truth with complete gentleness and respect. It is a calling that seeks first and foremost to glorify God and to make decisions based not out of a fear of and desire to please others but to please and honour God.

This is why, for example, Pastor Ken and I have spent time reviewing the songs we sing Sunday morning. This is why I have personally gotten involved in overseeing what books are in our church library. This is why we as elders want to know what is being taught and read in our small groups. This is why I spend hours pouring over a particular passage as I prepare my sermon as well as my heart each week.

Furthermore, this was the lens through which we as elders prayerfully and carefully decided not to have our church join in last Sunday’s ecumenical service for the 150th anniversary of the town. Not because we want to be seen as exclusive or theologically superior than other churches. But because we are called, in this local body of believers, to guard the good deposit that has been entrusted to us, realizing that one day we will be held accountable for this responsibility (James 3:1).

As pastor and author Alistair Begg once said…

It is quite common for people to view the Reformation as simply a disagreement between two groups of men. The protestant martyrs and their monuments testify to the fact that they died, not on account of ecclesial differences, but because the issue was the way of salvation. (Interestingly, exactly the same was true of the Roman Catholic martyrs!) Are we wise to lay aside crucial historical differences of eternal significance so as to secure temporal advantages? I do not believe it is possible to embrace the premises of ecumenical strategy and still draw the conclusions of evangelical orthodoxy.

“Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” – 1 Timothy 4:16 (ESV)

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