Monday, January 30, 2017

Hebrews 13:7-13 "On the Occasion of the Induction of our new Vocational Pastor: Frans Brits"

Our new vocational  pastor : Frans  Brits 
Dear congregation,
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.

The presiding elder  shall then say to the  elder candidate :

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.

The presiding  elder shall then say to the congregation  :

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 ?

Prayer of induction  with all  the other elders laying on  their hands.

Induction formula

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

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