|Our new vocational pastor : Frans Brits|
We are met together in the Name of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the church, and the Holy Spirit to induct Frans Brits into the vocational ministry of the Eastside Baptist Church, which is a part of the body of Christ here on earth. God’s design for the church is that she, under the leadership of the Lord Jesus Christ her Great Shepherd, should be led by under-shepherds, alternatively called pastors, elders or overseers.
The calling to be a pastor is both of God and the church, and in that order. The inward call from God comes first to the individual by the Holy Spirit, and thereafter the call is confirmed by the church as she recognizes the gifts and calling. Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Joseph, Samuel David etc. were all called by God and they were recognized as such in Israel. The 12 disciples were personally called by Jesus to be apostles, and the apostle Paul was personally called to the apostolic ministry at a later time (Acts 9) and by and by the church recognized that calling with the help of a kind brother called Barnabas.(Acts 9:27-30).
God gives leadership gifts to the church (Eph. 4:11). We believe that Frans Brits has been called of God to the pastoral ministry. He has previously testified to the inward call from God to this service. Prior to his ordination as an elder in 2014, He went through a two year internship period as an apprentice elder. Following this, God has opened up a door for him by granting his family permanent residence in our country! Now he was free to pursue the work and burden that has been laid upon him by the Lord. Whilst he was working as an acoustic technician, it was consistently clear to his employers that this would be a temporary arrangement. Frans Brits was trained as a theologian at the University of Pretoria. Now he is being trained in the work of a pastor in the context of the local church. Somebody once asked an old pastor: “How long does it take to train a pastor?” He said, “A life-time”!
Frans has a good working knowledge of Scripture, and as an ordained elder he has consistently shown a heart hunger and thirst after God. He has thus been duly examined over a sustained period. In October 2016 you, the church, were asked to confirm his calling to the vocational or fulltime pastoral ministry of our church. Having done all this we are now ready to present him to you once again for that purpose.
Since he has been previously ordained as an elder in 2014, we shall not go through the set procedure of elder ordination again. Today we shall simply confirm that, which we have said already in 2014 when the other elders had laid their hands on him on your behalf.
We have two duties this morning :
(i) To instruct and remind the church concerning how we ought to relate to our new pastor,accepting him and his ministry with all our heart. In this we are called to pray for ourselves as we take on this responsibility to support him and his family in prayer and materially, and in helping him to do the work of a pastor, by adding our spiritual gifts to his pastoral leadership gift.
(ii) To instruct and remind our new vocational pastor concerning the biblical mandate, as required by God of being a faithful shepherd to our souls. To that end we will ask him two questions, which he will have to respond to.
With all that in mind we would like to consider these words from Hebrews 13:7-17 as we think of our responsibilities to our pastor, and his corresponding responsibility to us:
7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. 10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
1. Our duty to Pastor Brits
Since this text relates primarily to the congregation that receives the ministry from their pastor, we shall start there:
(i) Remember that he is one of your leaders, called and appointed by Christ.
(ii) Consider that if he is truly called of God, and if his life is an example to you, then consider him as a mentor - imitate him.
(iii) Remember that one of his duties is to speak the Word of God to you. Listen to him, and weigh his words carefully, when he speaks God’s Word to you. In obeying him you obey Christ. At the heart of this passage, and sandwiched between verses 7 and 17 is a reminder of the centrality of Christ. The primary ministry responsibility that your pastor has is to preach the Word of the unchanging Christ (v.8) to you. In this world you will always be tempted by strange and diverse teachings. You will always be tempted to let your hearts not be strengthened by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, but by thinking that you can inherit the kingdom of God by a system of works and a system of self –righteousness, thinking that you are a Christian by what you do and don’t do, rather than living your life completely by an obedient faith and trust in the Lord Jesus alone . A true shepherd will always lead you to Jesus!
(iv) Remember that he is appointed by God to watch over your souls. He must give an account to God for your soul. Help him to be a faithful shepherd. Allow him to speak to you in the Name of Jesus.
(v) Don’t make life difficult for him. His calling will bring enough challenges. You will gain nothing from an elder whom you always resist. “…Be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” [1 Peter 5:5] If you disagree with him, and if you believe that he is wrong, act in the spirit of Matthew 18:15ff.
2. Pastor Brits’ corresponding duty to us
This same passage, although it speaks directly to church members about their relationship with their pastor, also implies the pastor’s corresponding duties to his flock.
(i) He must lead us after the example of our Great Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ.
(ii) His life must be of such a nature that we want to imitate him, even as he imitates Christ. It is not sinful to imitate someone, provided that this person himself or herself imitates Christ. [1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1; Phil.3:17; 1 Thess. 1:6]. I thank God for the faithful pastors, Don Watson and Peter Radmanovich that took hold of me in my early Christian pilgrimage at the Walvis Bay Baptist church. They showed me the love of Jesus, and I gladly submitted to them and followed them at that time.
(iii) He must be a true and faithful messenger of the Word of God to us. One of his chief duties is to speak the Word of God to us [13:7]. This means that he must possess the Word of God in his own heart. In this regard,listen to Martin Luther’s advice to preachers:
"At night always carry in your heart something from Holy Scriptures to bed with you, meditate upon it like a ruminant animal, and go softly to sleep; but this must not be too much, rather a little that may be well pondered and understood, that you may find a remnant of it in your mind when you rise in the morning. And in all study of the Holy Scriptures one must always despair of one's own ability and labors but only pray God with fear and humility for understanding. Therefore, when you approach the Bible,
a. You must lift up your eyes and heart to Christ in heaven and in a brief supplication implore his grace;
b. You must do this often during your reading in order that you may think and say: Lord, grant that I may rightly understand this, but even more that I may perform it.
c. You must, above all things, guard against desiring to study the Scriptures only in order to know and understand them …for I believe that you are not such stupid scholars as to seek honor, gain, or glory thereby, nor even to be able to teach others.
d. You must seek absolutely nothing but the glory of God, in such spirit that your one thought is: Behold, dearest Lord Jesus, if this study be not to thy glory, let me not understand a syllable of it; but grant unto me, a poor sinner, as much as in thy sight shall be to thy glory."
As one reflects upon what Luther says, we can only conclude, it is no wonder that God used men like that.
(iv) He must be a shepherd of our souls. He must remember the words of Peter in the Bible: “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 an example to the flock” [2 Pet. 5:2,3]. Pastor, love your congregation with the love of Jesus, not only in word, but in deed. That love is not soppy- sentimental, but in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
(v) He must lead us in such a way that we will easily submit to his leadership. He must lead us by his joy, which he derives from his relationship with the Lord Jesus. His ministry must not be characterized by groaning. That would be of no advantage to us.
Forasmuch as we believe that you are acting in obedience to the call of God, it may seem needless my brother, to ask for any further assurance of your faith and sincerity of purpose, but in order that you may yourself better realize the solemn trust you have undertaken, and that this congregation may better understand your mind and will, we ask you now to answer the questions which in the Name of Christ and His church, we address to you:
1. Do you believe in one God – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and do you confess anew Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord?
Answer: I do!
2. Do you promise to execute your charge with all faithfulness; to preach and teach the word of God from the Holy Scriptures; to lead the congregation in worship and to administer the ordinances; to tend the flock of Christ and to do the work of an evangelist ?
Answer: This I will endeavor to do, the Lord being my helper.
Do you, the members of this church acknowledge and receive Frans Brits as a pastor of this church, promising him all due honour and support in the Lord?
Will you please signify this by standing ?
Frans Brits, as you have been called by the Holy Spirit to this ministry, and as the Holy Spirit has spoken to us and has said: “Set him apart for the ministry to which I have called him “ (Acts 13:2)
I declare you now to be duly inducted and appointed as a pastor of this church.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face towards you and give you peace. Amen.” (Numbers 6:24)