Note: The following is a relatively short excerpt from his May 14, 2016 study titled “Men’s Theology – Leadership Class – Part 5.” For the full audio, please click here or visit: http://www.grace-bible.com/sermons/sermon/2016-05-14/mens-theology-leadership-class-part-5-2016. I cannot stress enough how much I would encourage everyone to listen to it in its entirety. The study speaks volumes concerning my own major failures and shortcomings, the shortcomings of many “ministries,” our proneness towards distraction, and our call (if we are truly Christian) to (1) proclaim the Gospel and to (2) be faithfully obedient to God’s word (through His enabling power).
Pastor Gistand on the Importance of God-enabled Faithfulness, Commitment, Obedience, Self-Denial, and Gospel Focus.
“…So I had to bring you to that verse after nurturing your thoughts around the concept of faithfulness because I know how we actually think in our camp, I’ve been in my camp, the reformed camp, …sovereign grace camp all my life; and whenever you throw-up virtues and you call men to standards, and you demand certain levels of character standards; in your minds, if you are not humbled, you will blow off these standards, by saying “I don’t need to be faithful, Christ is faithful for me.” Perish the thought! Perish the thought. But no, that’s how we talk in this crazy, irrational world of hyper-grace and hyper-spirituality, and hyper-sovereignty. God will not use you, if he does not grace you, and enable you, to be faithful… D.A. Carson [sp?] made this statement “if you do not believe that you are to be a model for other men, you are unbiblical” – you are unbiblical. Think about this, how many of you guys here have sons and daughters? Were you supposed to be a model to them? You better know it! And in a minute, you guys are going to find out that, particularly when it comes to elders and deacons, they are reverentially to be married, having raised children, and the family to be faithful to the Gospel! Is that true? Right, so there is a major mandate in terms of character… consistent with the calling….
…So the emphasis with which I am sharing what I am sharing with you brothers, really is rooted in this: That when you look at ministry, there are two areas in which they err. They err in doctrine, they err when it comes to the Gospel. And then they err in character, they err when it comes to maintaining an honest and sincere walk with God, by which God would sustain their qualifications for usefulness. Are you guys hearing what I am saying? That’s very important for you to know. Here’s what… Paul said in the book of Titus, chapter one, verse three, I’m going to start at verse one and I’ll make my way again to verse three, and you’ll see that word again, commitment.
Titus 1:1-3 “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; 2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; 3 But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, [THIS IS A HUGE STATEMENT] which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;”
So again, this idea of commitment goes two ways: the Gospel is committed to us, and we are to be committed to that Gospel. The Gospel is committed to us, and we are to be committed to that Gospel. Alright, so then… we have two other propositions I want to get through…” So the principles of Gospel ministry and then the aim and goal of the Gospel ministry… One of the things I have also discovered over the years of being in Gospel ministry… What I have observed gentlemen, over the years is how that a man may be gifted in a certain area, let’s say preaching, but if because that individual does not really take on an analysis of the text of scripture, and really survey how successful ministry is done, i.e. through the Apostles, and largely through the Apostle Paul (…I want make sure that you get this, I want you to get this, because for the rest of your life you’re going to see this, if you haven’t already seen it), a man may have the gift of preaching, but because he doesn’t have a Pauline ethic of ministry, he cuts himself off from being a major blessing to the masses; because he doesn’t have a Pauline ethic, he does not have the capacity to influence the masses that he ought to with the Gospel that’s designed to influence the masses. …So…here’s what he does: His character actually restricts the Gospel! His character actually restricts the Gospel! In other words, he won’t become all things to all men first, in terms of the Gospel. Watch this: He won’t betray his own natural instincts; his own natural predilections and bents; his own natural idiosyncrasies and foibles, he won’t betray his own prejudices; for the good of the glory of God and the salvation of sinners. Watch this; watch this now: he will filter the Gospel through his own limited character and hinder its capacity to reach the masses. Did I make sense? Did I make sense right there? Now this is, this is, this is very important: Now he’s made an idol out of himself and he’s made the Gospel a slave to His own self-image.
Raise your hand if you didn’t get that; raise your hand if you didn’t get that. Good…I want to work this through, I want to work this through. You and I are servants of the Gospel; we don’t own the Gospel, the Gospel owns us. Watch this now, watch this; this is very important. So this is its sanctify element in the life of the servant… if the Gospel doesn’t sanctify you, then that Gospel is only going to reach as many people as YOU see fit. And that would be a SHAME, because now YOU are commending YOURSELF as the standard for right and wrong, parameters of acceptable behavior, etc.
So stay with me now because you guys now 1 Corinthians chapter nine; this is what made Paul so offensive to his Jewish brethren; this is what made him so offensive to his Jewish brethren. He had no qualm with his Jewish brethren fundamentally knowing the Gospel; they were with Jesus, they had that on Him. He wasn’t arguing with them about whether or not they knew the sovereign grace of God, in God’s electing love, and justifying work in Christ, the exclusivity of the Gospel in terms of His Person and work. He wasn’t arguing with them on that… what he was really concerned about and I think this is inferred, but I think we can build a major argument about it, especially when we read 1 Corinthians chapter fifteen. I am so thankful that God has given us a candid portfolio of Paul because Paul actually liberated me about twelve years ago; he liberated me – because as I had taught us in our leadership class about four years ago, I was under the influence of men who had a presence and a protocol of behavior that was stricter than what I was used to; they were, in my opinion, holy men and they were good men, but what I had not known back then (I‘m in my twenties, late-twenties, maybe my early thirties), what I had not known back then was that every man has the battle of self-idolatry to overcome in the ministry. And I didn’t know that; I didn’t know that. I thought they were, I thought they were clear on their understanding of the liberality of the Gospel, and that they were smarter than most men with regards to how to apply that Gospel. So what I discovered over time was that they would not go anywhere or do anything that was outside of their own personal comfort zone, with respect to the Gospel. And when I saw that, it alarmed me, because it wasn’t in my nature to be that restricted, but I was ignorant. I was just ignorant of the nature of men. I was ignorant that we all come from our own confined people groups, and cultures, and we can be inadvertently blinded by the comfort zone of those cultures. And we can actually define the Gospel in terms of those cultural norms, and that things outside of those cultural norms can be either tacitly or overtly rejected, because they do not fit within the framework of those cultural norms. Are you all hearing what I am saying? And so these pastors were very good in their pocket; they were very good in their small circle but outside of that circle, they were not comfortable at all…”