From the Pastor’s Study – August 26th, 2021

Sunday sermon. Despite the suffocating smoke that filled the air on Sunday (even the sanctuary smelled like smoke), our congregation gathered as we do each Lord’s Day to bring our thanks and praise to God. For the sermon I preached again from 1 Timothy, this time 5:17 – 6:2. In this passage we see God’s concern for the integrity and honor of the office of elder in the church (I take “elders” in this passage to refer both to ruling elders and teaching elders, or ministers).

Why is the elder worthy of honor, and why was Paul so concerned that Timothy preserve the integrity of that office? It is because the Lord Jesus carries out his shepherding care for his beloved flock through the leaders he gifts and calls into the office of elder. How much good a faithful elder can do for Christ’s sheep! And how much harm an unfaithful elder can inflict on Christ’s sheep! It’s no wonder those who serve well are “worthy of double honor” (v.17), and that Timothy was not to be “hasty in the laying on of hands” (v.22). May God raise up shepherds for his church who are men after his own heart, whose concern and labor is for the well-being of his people.

Sunday school. We finished our study of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress on Sunday. The final pages of the book describing Christian and Hopeful’s crossing of the River of Death, and their glorious entrance into the Celestial City, are worth reading over and over again. Truly Bunyan saved the best for last! I find that the description of the glory of the Celestial City, and the joy of the pilgrims’ arrival to it, makes me long for heaven more than anything I’ve ever read apart from Scripture itself. Bunyan enflames the Christian imagination with a vision of the unspeakable joy and glory of the heaven that awaits every believer on the other side of the River. I’m already looking forward to reading the whole book again.

On September 5th, the Sunday School class will begin a new study, this time of the meaning of the Old Testament tabernacle. We’ll watch a video series by Rev. Daniel Hyde called God in Our Midst. It should be a wonderful study.

What I’ve been watching and listening to. This summer our family watched In Christ Alone, the first film produced by American Gospel. It’s a very compelling and instructive critique of the prosperity gospel. We liked it so much we’re watching American Gospel’s second movie, Christ Crucified, which takes on the emergent church and progressive “evangelical” Christianity. Like the first film, this one also brings into sharp biblical relief the false teaching of an alternative gospel. I enthusiastically recommend these documentaries for both believers and unbelievers.

I’ve also started listening to a fantastic podcast series called The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill. The Seattle megachurch Mars Hill, under the deeply flawed leadership of Mark Driscoll, is a sad example of the damage a church leader is capable of inflicting on the church. I also recommend this very engaging and eye-opening podcast series.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Pastor Johnson