It’s a sad reality that if you’ve been around Christianity for more than 10 years, you’ve probably seen a pastor or ministry leader fall into moral failure. It can be shocking, deeply hurtful, and raise all kinds of difficult questions. In this special message, Jeff looks at some of the theological and practical issues around this subject, and the lessons we should learn for ourselves and our churches.
One of the things I love about our Church and the culture that we continually pursue is we are not a Church that pretends everything is OK all the time. And I love that because there are lots of churches that do. And it creates crises of faith in the lives of people when they say, Wait a minute, I thought if I was following Jesus, everything would be awesome all the time. And if you've been with us through our study of revelation, you've been around a while. That's simply not the case.
That's just not real life. And it doesn't matter how much warning you have that certain things are going to happen. It still shocks you when they actually do. It takes your breath away. It takes you by surprise.
What we're seeing in Ukraine right now, it's one thing to talk about something, it's another to actually witness it unfold. And so another area of life that could fall into that category is that we understand that pastors and Ministry leaders are people, and we understand that people are flawed. And yet it still shocks us when people that we look to that we aspire to be like that we hold up as examples of the faith fall and lapse into moral failure. It takes our breath away. It shocks us because we know intellectually that it can happen.
But it's shocking when it actually does because deep down we think there's no way that would ever happen to them. There's no way they would ever do that. And so this is an unusual message. It's a heavy message, not a lot of jokes, even though my absolute anxiety desperately will want to break the tension with a joke at like 100 different points in this message. I'm not going to do it.
I'm not going to do it. I'll just be looking at BJ, who's just fine with tension, and we'll just sit there comfortably. I'll just wipe the sweat from my face and just stay on task. So recently, what spurred the need for this message? And if you're a first time guest, I know you must be like, what the heck kind of message series are they doing at this Church right now?
Why and how pastor fall? What are you talking about? But what spurred the need for this message is the fact that a prominent local pastor that many of us in Gospel City have historical connections to had his position terminated by his Church, which he founded due to moral failures that unfolded over several years. This pastor had been at the Church he had founded for almost 50 years. He conducted my wedding, and it's shocking to people to see what had happened.
Again, if you don't know who I'm talking about, you don't need to know who I'm talking about. But if you follow other pastors or other preachers, BJ, and I don't know why you would do that, but if you do or if you follow other authors, that really was a joke. I hope you know that more words always a good thing. But if you follow any Christian leaders on social media or online or anything like that, there's a good chance that if you followed them for more than ten years or other pastors that someone who has blessed your life through their Ministry has had a moral failure. That's the sad reality.
It's happening all the time. I think of the shock when the Ravi Zechariah scandal began to unfold. For some of you, that was the moment where you thought never him. How is that possible? These things can shake even lifelong Christians to the core because they stir up questions like, can this just happen to anyone?
How is this possible? Can I trust any leaders in the Church? How long is it until this happens? At Gospel City and so BJ and I wanted to take a week to talk about these issues. And this message will be woefully inadequate because every aspect of this issue cannot possibly be touched upon in one message.
But what I'm hoping is that this will be helpful. And so my goals are to share some theological truths. First, that will help correct some distorted views that many believers hold about pastors and Christian leaders. Secondly, I want to explain and intentionally highlight areas of vulnerability in Church leadership in churches. I want to share practical solutions and alternative ways of doing things and how we implement them at Gospel City.
And I also want to talk as we go through this about the lessons that are in here for all believers, all believers. So let's jump in because I want to start by talking about the flesh and the spirit, because this theological concept is foundational to everything we're going to talk about today. Every single one of us was born with a body and a spirit, and Scripture calls our physical body our flesh. Our spirit is immaterial, eternal, and it is our true nature. It's the part of us that will live forever one way or another.
Our Spirit is who we truly are. It's what makes us us. We are not bodies with spirits. We are spirits with bodies. We will get new bodies at some point.
But our spirit that was given to us by Jesus as we'll talk about will remain forever. Now one night, the most prominent Hebrew teacher in Israel came to talk with Jesus. His name was Nicodemus, and Jesus told him this. All these verses will be on your outlines. Jesus said, Truly, I tell you, unless someone is born of water.
In other words, unless they're born naturally, physically, with a physical body, and then and the spirit. So unless they're born naturally and the spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Whatever is born of flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you you must be born again. So what?
Jesus says to Nicodemus. Says Nicodemus, there's nothing you can do in your physical body, in your flesh to earn your way into the family of God. Nothing. You must be born again. That is to say, a second birth is needed.
You've been born once. That's your physical birth. But you need to be born again. You need a second birth, a spiritual birth. Why?
Because the spirit we're born with is dead. The spirit we're born with is dead. When Adam and Eve sinned, their relationship with God was severed, cutting them off from the only source of all spiritual life in existence. Their spirits died the same way that a vine that has been chopped off at the roots dies. And all humans born after them were and still are born with a spirit that is dead.
Paul says it like this in Romans 512 on your outlines. Again, just as sin entered the world through one man through Adam and death through sin. In this way, death spread to all people because all sins. So when Adam sinned, physical death entered the world, people weren't meant to ever die. They were meant to live forever.
Adam and Eve were meant to live forever. But part of the curse of sin is that physical death now comes for every human being, with very, very rare exceptions. But Adamson also brought spiritual death because his spirit was cut off from the only source of spiritual life, God, and that spiritual death was immediate and was passed on to every man and woman since. So we're born with flesh that is going to die, and we're born with a spirit that is already dead. Now, this is really important.
When we talk about the spirit being dead, we are not talking about a state of nonexistence. We are talking about a state of existence that is active but cut off from the only source of life, which is God. When God is speaking about life, he's not talking about a pulse. When we're discussing the spiritual realm, he's talking about the fact that God is the only place in the universe, the only source of love, joy, peace, goodness, hope, meaning, purpose. All of those things are what it means to be alive in God's economy, in his vocabulary.
So when we talk about being born with a spirit that is dead, we're talking about a spirit that is in active existence. It doesn't cease to exist. It's in act of existence, but completely cut off from love, joy, peace, and all the things that in God's vocabulary constitute life. If that seems like a confusing concept, think of the condition that exists in our world where a person can be brain dead. They still have a brain.
It is actively existing, but it is not conscious. It is not truly alive. The person has a brain and a body, but their body is the only driver of their existence. Their brain is not conscious. We're born in a condition where our spirit is dead.
And so our existence is driven solely by our flesh. And the Bible tells us that our flesh has desires. It wants stuff. It craves stuff. And what our flesh wants is pleasure.
And so our lives become driven by the pursuit of selfish pleasure. And when I say selfish, here's what I mean. I mean that we by default, live our lives doing our best to make choices that we believe will result in our greatest happiness. Now, selfish pleasures doesn't just mean like I'm going to go around shooting everyone and taking what I want. It doesn't just mean that it could manifest in impulsive sexual pursuits.
But selfish pleasures in the pursuit of such could also manifest in working hard, saving like crazy so that you can retire as soon as possible and live as many years as you can solely focused on yourself doing what you want. The pursuit of selfish pleasure pleasure could actually manifest in doing charitable work because it makes me feel good about myself. It makes me feel like a good person. I'm not actually doing it because I care about people. When you dig through all my motivations at the bottom, I do this because it makes me feel good.
It makes me feel better than other people. It satisfies my need to feel like a good person. The pursuit of selfish pleasure could manifest, yes, in crime or addiction. Whatever it is, the flesh pursues those things we believe will ultimately make us happy. But this leaves us by default, with some massive problems.
The first problem is that true life as we've shared, can only be found in God and were born separated from Him. Therefore, by default, the one thing that would make us truly happy, the one thing that can truly satisfy us, is unobtainable to us. That's the state we're born in. And our flesh just tries one failed pursuit after another. And by default, here's the tragedy.
Our flesh never reaches the logical conclusion. None of this is working. I still want more, and I still haven't found it. The flesh never reaches that conclusion on its own. The second problem is that because we're cut off from God, the source of life, so too are our thoughts, our emotions, our relationships, every area of life.
We are unable to experience true life in any area of our life apart from God. And you might be thinking, I think it's a bit of a delusion. Jeff, I'm experiencing life without God just fine. Thank you. I go out with my friends.
We laugh. We have a good time. But here's the idea. If you were brought on board the yacht of the wealthiest man on Earth and Amen on a trip to the Caribbean where the sea and the sky are blue and the sun is shining and Butlers are just bringing you endless Pina coladas with those curly little straws and the umbrellas in them, and every luxury is made available to you. There's Butlers there that are like, oh, would you like me to scratch your back, sir?
And you're like, oh, this is amazing. You might say, this is living now. This is living. And what you would mean by that statement is that there is a whole nother level of pleasure and luxury available to people that you had never experienced before. You'd never experienced before before you had that experience.
You would say, now this is living. When you went to Starbucks and got a caramel Macchiato and it was a nice day, your whole idea of what living is changes based upon this new experience of luxury. The life that God offers is so much more than that because the life God offers is the deepest level of meaning, fulfillment, joy, and peace in existence. And to the degree that we walk with Jesus, we can experience it in every area of our life. And so you might say, I'm experiencing life just fine without God, Jeff.
But the truth is there's a whole different level that you can't yet understand because you've never experienced it. The third problem we're left with in our default state with a dead spirit is that because our spirits are dead, we're cut off from the family of God for all eternity and there's nothing we can do about it. Paul repeated what Jesus told Nicodemus, writing, Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. So what's the solution? How do we get connected to the abundant life that can only be found in God?
How do we change our default conditions so that we're not on track for an eternity separated from life?
Remember what Jesus told Nicodemus, you must be born again. And the problem, of course, is that we can't do that ourselves. We can't say, I hear you, Jeff. I'm going to focus really hard and give birth to a new spirit within myself. Call some friends.
We'll have a drum circle that should help. We'll try and line it up when Saturn is in the 7th house and maybe we can get a full moon involved and I'll just give birth to a new spirit. Doesn't work. Can't do it. Here's the amazing part.
God gives us his spirit. He puts his spirit, his life within us when we give our lives to Him. Colossians 213 on your outline says, when you were dead in trespasses, when you were dead in your sins, in your default state, and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he Jesus made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses, we couldn't make ourselves come to life. Our flesh never says, this isn't working. God in His Grace shows up, reveals to us that our spirit is dead, and says, Would you like to be brought to life so God brings his life to us by putting his spirit in us.
One, John four, one three says, this is how we know that we remain in Him and he in us. He has given us of his Spirit. And it gets even better, because when we arrive in the presence of God one day, he'll give us new bodies as well, a new flesh that actually doesn't desire selfish pleasures, but desires the life that God gives. Romans 811 tells us, if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then he who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through his Spirit who lives in you. Praise God.
He brings our spirits to life by giving us his Spirit, and he'll give us a new body when we arrive in his presence one day. But here's the rub. Here and now we have God's Spirit living in us alive, spiritual life, Jesus said, like a fountain, like a spring, like a well of life within us, but we're still stuck in our flesh, our fallen human bodies that bear the consequences of Adam's sin and are still driven by the pursuit of selfish pleasure. If you're not tracking with me, go look in the mirror. You do not have a resurrected divine body yet.
If you think that I love the confidence, but you're not tracking with reality right here. Do you see the problem? We are beings in conflict even after our Salvation, because our Spirit wants one thing, but our flesh wants the opposite. Our Spirit craves the life that is found in God, but our flesh still craves carnal, earthly, instantaneous, temporary pleasures. Let me share some more of Paul's writings on the subject, because Paul really is the authority in the word of this conflict between the Spirit and the flesh.
In Romans Eight, Paul writes, Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh. But those who live according to the Spirit have their mindset on the things of the Spirit. Now the mindset of the flesh is death. It leads to death, but the mindset of the Spirit is life and peace. So the flesh pursues ultimately active death in every area of our life, while the Spirit pursues active life and peace in every area of our lives.
Paul goes on and says, the mindset of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit to God's law. Indeed, it is unable to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit. If indeed the Spirit of God lives in you, if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him.
Now, if Christ is in you, the body is dead. You should view it as dead because of sin, but the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. I'm going to sum up what we've talked about so far. This is your first fill in. This is the summary so far.
We are born with dead flesh and a dead Spirit dead flesh and a dead spirit. Remember, actively dead. Jesus brings our spirit to life by giving us his spirit. Christians live in a state of conflict between the flesh and the spirit. The flesh desires selfish earthly pleasures, while the spirit desires the abundant life found only in God state of war.
Let's look at some more from our brother Paul in Galatians Five. He writes, I say, then walk by the spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the spirit? And the spirit desires what is against the flesh. These are opposed to each other so that you don't do what you want.
Now, the works of the flesh are obvious. So here's what the cravings of the flesh lead to. Sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish, ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar but the fruit of the spirit. Now, here's what the desires of the spirit lead to is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. If you haven't figured it out yet, you want the good stuff the spirit produces in your life.
That's what you want. Then Paul goes on and says, now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the spirit. Paul says that if we belong to Jesus, we have to view ourselves as having crucified put to death our flesh with its passions and desires. We are to look at our flesh and say, you don't run my life.
God's spirit gets to be in charge. Now, unfortunately, it's not a one time decision. It's a daily decision. It could actually be easy if it was only a daily decision. It's a moment by moment decision.
That's why Paul says, Let us also keep in step with the spirit. The flesh is like the monster in those old horror movies. You can picture the scene. The protagonist finally killed a monster and then they turn their backs on the monster and they say, I'm so glad that's over. Thank goodness.
And then what do we see out of focus over their shoulder? All right, the monster comes back. Oh, my gosh. That is exactly what the flesh is like every day, every moment, we are either being led by our flesh or our spirit. Right now, your spirit is saying, this is the word of God.
Tune in. You need this. This is good. Your flesh is saying, his seats could be a little more comfortable. Why don't they serve snacks here?
How long is it to lunch? Right now, the war is going on in every single one of us and we are called to crucify our flesh over and over and over again. Can I tell you, this is possibly the reason I am most excited about getting a new body one day because that moment when we arrive in the presence of Jesus, that war is over. It's done. Amen.
Hallelujah. And let me just tell you the state of peace that we will experience when we're in a body with a spirit that are totally in harmony and both want the things of God, man, it's a state of rest we can't even fathom because we've never tasted anything like it. It's going to be amazing. So how do we win this battle day by day, moment to moment? First of all, we won't win every battle with our flesh.
We won't. That's just real life. We're going to lose a lot. And every time we sin, that's what's happened. We've lost a battle with the flesh.
But the best way to fight the most successful strategy is not striving. It's not working really, really hard at battling the flesh. The best, most effective strategy is, is by walking with Jesus day by day, moment to moment. It's staying in conversation with Jesus throughout the day. It's sharing our burdens and struggles with them even as they come at us.
It's sticking close to Jesus. It's holding onto him. It's asking him for help when we're tempted. The word for that is abiding. And we talk about it a lot here at Gospel City.
It's John 15, where Jesus explains, Remain in me and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine. You are the branches, the one who remains in me. And I and him produce as much fruit because you can do nothing without me.
You can do nothing without me. That's one of the mega themes of the Old Testament is the Israelites people who are supposed to belong to God, failing over and over and over to choose the right path because they didn't have the power that we have. They didn't have the new Spirit that we have. They didn't have the Holy Spirit. The way that we do.
Our focus is not on our flesh. It's not battling the flesh all the time. The idea is to turn your back on the flesh by setting your face toward Jesus. That's the way we fight. We hold on to Jesus.
We abide in him. Would you write that down? Abiding in Jesus is the key to victorious living. Abiding in Jesus is the key to victorious living. But there's some other factors that help motivate us to choose the Spirit over the flesh.
They provide reasons for us, moment to moment, to choose the Spirit over the flesh. There may be more, but these are the four that stuck out to me as I thought about it. And I thought about the question, what motivates me to choose the Spirit over the flesh? Firstly, is love for God, love for God. Jesus once said, Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and don't do the things that I say.
So Jesus himself says, if you love me, you want to please me. If you love me and you're like, Lord, what can I do for you? He's like, you can start by doing the things that I've asked you to do. That's what you can do. We cannot separate love for Jesus from obedience to Jesus.
And so if you love Jesus, you want to please him, you want to bless him, you want to show your love toward him. And so if you love God, that's your first motivation is, I just love him, I want to bless him. The second motivator, write this down is faith in God's goodness. Faith in God's goodness. The more you get to know God, the more you abide in Jesus, the more wonderful you find him to be.
He is more kind, he's more gracious, he's more caring, he's more loving than you could possibly imagine. And so if he says, I should do something or shouldn't do something, my faith in his goodness tells me this is what's best for you. Even if you don't understand it. This is what's best for you because I have faith in the goodness of God and in his character. The third motivator, closely connected is experience.
If you're paying any type of attention to your own life, after a while, you should begin to notice the pattern that the flesh leads to destruction and the spirit leads to life. You should begin to notice that when I do things God's way, my marriage does better. When I do things God's way, I can interact with my kids more graciously. When I do things God's way, my needs are met and taken care of. When I do things God's way, I don't end up in catastrophic relationships all the time.
I don't find myself waking up with regrets in the morning. I don't find myself rooted in deep, stubborn anger where I know what I should do, but I can't do it because I'm just so bitter. If you're paying attention, you should begin to notice the pattern, and that becomes a motivator. I'm just really tired of making decisions that lead to destruction in my life. The fourth motivator, write this down is a fear of the Lord.
A fear of the Lord. God is our heavenly Father, and you need to know this. He is an active parent. He's not an absentee father. When you've walked with the Lord for a while, you will learn that a loving heavenly Father does not allow his children to get away with things that lead to destruction and death.
You learn that our heavenly Father will step in and discipline us if he needs to, because he loves us. And he says, I don't want you going down that path. I know where it leads, and I love you too much to let you just walk there without doing something about it. It's a sign of Christian maturity. When you realize and recognize that God's kids never really get away with sin.
We either experience the natural consequences of our sins so we reap what we sow or our heavenly Father steps in because he loves us. Now, why does he step in? He says, I can't let you get away with that. Because if you think that you can get away with sin, you're going to keep doing it and it's going to bring destruction and pain in your life. And I can't let you do that because I care too much about you.
Those are four motivators. And I had to lay all that groundwork before we talk about how this connects to pastors who have moral failures. But that's what I'm going to do. Now, I just shared that abiding in Jesus is the key to victorious living. And by the way, in Christianity, in the Bible, when it talks about us having victory in Christ, what it's referring to is that we have victory over death, physical death, and spiritual death.
When it talks about living and walking in victory, it's talking about the Spirit winning out over the flesh. That's what the Bible is talking about. Can I tell you, victorious living does not mean you're going to get a raise in the next three months. Victorious living is not about a bigger house, a better car, more money in the bank, more followers on Instagram. There are so many churches that will tell you that that is not what the Bible is talking about when it speaks about victory in Jesus.
Victory in Jesus is the ability to actually be able to choose the Spirit over the flesh, which we cannot do until we're born again. That's the victory the Bible is talking about had to preach a little bit. Now, this whole process of growing over time in consistently living and experiencing greater victory over the flesh is part of what the Bible calls sanctification. Sanctification is the term for the lifelong work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer to make them more like Jesus. And so as sanctification unfolds over time.
Even though our chart might look like this, the overall trend as we let the Holy Spirit do his work in us should be that we experience more victory in our lives over the flesh. That's what should happen over time. Now, again, I understand that sometimes that growth you're like, well, I got to get like a magnifying glass out and see. But it's there, it's there. I guarantee it.
If you belong to Jesus, he's doing his thing in you. And I also need to bust some myths about sanctification and about living in victory over the flesh. Do you know what doesn't advance your sanctification? You know what doesn't give you victory over the flesh? You know what is meaningless and doesn't help at all.
Let me share some things.
Age has nothing to do with your Sanctification age does not make it any easier to be righteous. Time passing on its own means one thing. You're getting older. That's it years spent abiding in Jesus, living in agreement with him, choosing the spirit over the flesh, that will sanctify you, that will grow you in Grace and wisdom. But it is a myth that age alone sanctifies you.
That it makes you more righteous or that it makes you wiser, just makes you older.
Second myth: 'You know what doesn't help with this? A degree from a Bible College or a seminary does not help. It's not like, "Here's your degree from seminary, Dr. Jeff Thompson. You also now get a ten-point bonus on your sanctification. 'Comes with the certificate." It doesn't work that way. You don't go, "Wow, that guy must be sanctified."
Look at that certificate on his wall. You know what else doesn't help? The title of pastor meaningless when it comes to your sanctification has nothing to do with it. What else doesn't help? Starting a Church doesn't make any difference.
What else doesn't help? Having a spiritual gift has nothing to do with your sanctification. We make this mistake in Church all the time. As Christians, we think that if someone ministers with a powerful gift, they must be righteous. They must be walking with Jesus.
It's not true. Romans 1129 tells us that gods gracious gifts and calling are irrevocable.
Part of that equation is that when God gifts a person, he doesn't withdraw that gift if they don't walk away with him. Do you understand that? Every single artist on the charts on Spotify right now was gifted by God and God wasn't like, well, if you're not going to write songs about me, boom, now you suck at music. He didn't do that. Some of you might be like, I think he might have.
I mean, have you listened to what's on there?
But it doesn't work that way. All the gifts that God gives spiritual natural. He doesn't just take them away. If you decide to not use them for righteousness, he doesn't withdraw them. If the person isn't walking faithfully with him, he doesn't do that.
I believe the Lord has gifted me as a teacher, but here's the truth. I would still be gifted as a teacher if I were living in sin. That's the reality. In the same way, having a charismatic or magnetic personality does not mean you're highly sanctified has nothing to do with it. So how do you know?
Some of you guys are getting nervous. Well, how the flip do we know, Jeff, if our pastor is walking with Jesus, we'll talk about it in a minute. But one more here. Being a nice person doesn't mean you're walking with Jesus. Being a nice person doesn't mean you're sanctified, doesn't mean you're yielding to the spirit.
I don't know if you've noticed this, but there are some nonchristians who are nice people. That's crazy, right? And I could go on and on and on, but here's what I want you to understand. Here's how I want to educate you as believers. Just because the pastor is old, just because he's been in Ministry for decades, just because he started a Church, just because he has some spiritual gifts, just because he comes across as a nice person, does not mean he is spiritually mature.
Walking with Jesus and consistently choosing the Spirit over the flesh. All those things I listed have nothing to do with sanctification, nothing to do with walking with Jesus. Write this down. The evidence of a person's walk with the Lord is who they are in their daily lives. It's who they are in their daily lives.
It is impossible to hide who you really are forever. It leaks out. And that reality confronts every believer with a dilemma. This is the dilemma. If I'm ever consistently walking in the flesh in any area of my life, do I want someone to notice?
Do I want them to confront me in Grace and truth? That's a heavy question, isn't it? That's a heavy question. And for far too many people, far too many Christians, the answer is no. No, I don't want people to know my issues.
I don't want to be called out, especially if it's by someone who's younger than me or a newer believer than me, or from a different socioeconomic background than me. Not as educated as me. I'd be embarrassed. I feel ashamed. I'll feel judged just by bringing up the subject.
But here's what I can tell you. I can tell you this with certainty. The Holy Spirit wants to grow every single one of us to the place where we care more about pleasing Jesus than we do about our reputation or our embarrassment or our ego or our pride. I can tell you with certainty the Holy Spirit is working right now to get all of us to the place where we love Jesus so much. We actually invite that kind of loving accountability into our lives because we care more about pleasing Jesus than anything else.
That is what the Holy Spirit is trying to do in my life and your life right now, because we all need it. Did you hear me on that? We all need it. If you think I don't, I've got it all together. Not only do you need it, you're also delusional.
So you're double whammy. Okay? None of us is going to achieve a final, decisive victory over the flesh until we receive our new bodies in the presence of Jesus. That's just the reality. We're going to battle the flesh for our whole lives.
We know this. We know this. We know this in the Word. So why do most of us try to pretend that we're not at war with the flesh every day? Ego, pride, insecurity, fear.
And the Lord wants to set us free from those things. Would you write this down? Every believer needs loving, Biblical accountability in their lives. Every believer needs loving, Biblical accountability in their lives. Here's the mind blowing thing, including pastors.
Including pastors. Why? Because they're human beings. Now, what is a tragedy in much of the global Church? I'm going to be absolutely real.
Here is how many pastors don't want that kind of loving accountability in their lives. They don't. And I'll share some of the ways BJ and I try to do this. Many pastors in many churches are not involved in a home group, even when their Church does home groups. There's this disconnect between the pastor and the congregation.
They're on different levels. They don't mingle. They're on different tiers here, maybe not even on a hierarchical chart, but in functional reality, they don't ever get down and be part of the Church body. They're always separated because they don't want to share in the home group. They don't want to be vulnerable.
They don't want to risk somebody in the Church asking them a question that they can't actually answer on the fly, or someone in the Church pointing out an issue with something they said or taught.
I had a guy in our home group I love to death. He's awesome. We're having a discussion. He made this great point, totally undid, a point I had just made. And he was like, sorry.
I was like, don't be sorry. Like, this is awesome. But that's the norm in Church. I think I'm right here. But can I say it to the pastor?
Because heaven forbid the congregation figure out a pastor doesn't know everything about everything. Heaven forbid the whole illusion will crumble if the congregation figures out the pastor is a human who struggles with human things like discouragement and temptation and fear and sin. Couldn't let that happen. And again, you take a step back and you think this is madness because nobody is actually buying this. When we think about it, like, really, what's the goal?
To sell the illusion that I have achieved a final victory over the flesh. It's not an issue for me anymore. That's why I'm a pastor and you're not like, this is the most absurd delusion. But in most churches, in most churches, this is the way it is. There's this separation because the pastor doesn't want to be known to that level as a human being.
Here's what I can tell you about Gospel City. When I use the word elders, it's a synonym for pastor. By the way, the elders at Gospel City will always be part of a home group. Always. Bj and I would both love to be a part of a home group one day where we're not even facilitating.
We just go as members of Gospel City Church, and that's the way it'll always be. Secondly, BJ taught on eldership extensively last year, so I'm not going to cover all that again. You can listen online if you'd like to do that. But I will point out the model of Church leadership in most churches has one pastor at the top as the top dog, the senior pastor. And usually they're accountable to some type of board because they'll go to a home group.
I'm not accountable to the people. I'm accountable to a special board because there's a registered charity in Canada, you have to have a legally constituted board. And in most churches, that board will meet several times a year for a few hours each time. And with unfortunate regularity, the people on those boards are often simply the biggest financial givers in the Church or the most influential business people. In some churches, the people on the board don't even attend that Church.
None of them, the pastor they know is ever. Let me put it this way. The pastor that the board knows is whoever the pastor presents themselves to be during those few hours in a few meetings a year. You can hide a lot of your issues when you only make guest appearances in front of a group of people. It's a very different story when you work with people, because the more you see people, the more you interact, the harder it is to hide who you truly are.
This is why marriage is hard, right? People actually figure out who you are. That's the problem with marriage, right? It's a very different story. When you work with people, you get to know them.
When you're in the trenches together solving problems, dealing with conflict, talking through issues, forming plans, dealing with pressures, dealing with stress who you are comes out. But here's another practical issue. The people you work with can't hold you accountable if you're the one signing their paychecks. Tell me what you think. Employees now, be honest.
On an unrelated matter. Bonuses are due in a month. Share freely. It doesn't work well for the obvious reason that at least partially, their livelihood depends on them liking you. That's not a good recipe for genuine accountability.
So how can a pastor be accountable to Godly men that he works with but whose paychecks he doesn't sign? The answer is, as some of you will recall, biblical eldership, the only model of Church leadership we find in the New Testament. The model has a group of elders who oversee the Church together in unity, and they share equal authority. They will have different roles, but equal authority. They are vetted, biblically qualified Godly men who oversee the Church together and hold each other accountable because they know each other and they share vulnerably with each other.
And because they're working together, who each person is leaks out, the issues rise to the surface. If an elder is engaged in sin and won't repent when confronted by other elders, they can actually discipline him. They can suspend him. They can remove him from Ministry. They can fire him if they have to.
Whatever is needed. There's no unchecked authority in the Church that way. And as we talked about earlier, here's the catch. Godly men want it that way. They actually want it that way because Godly elders care more about pleasing Jesus than anything else, than holding on to authority, than getting to be the sole visionary of the Church.
And this is the model we're pursuing at Gospel City. Right now, we have two elders, BJ and me, but we're actively training and raising up people that we believe will be future elders. We're working on that right now. And BJ and I have invited each other to hold each other accountable. And we do we do share vulnerably.
We do have difficult conversations with each other in Grace and truth. And we both love it. Not because it's easy, but because it makes us more like Jesus and it makes our Church more like the Church Jesus wants it to be. And even though there's only two of us, Gospel City is already better protected than New Hope or God Rock ever was. That's the truth.
Because let me give you an example. If you realize I'm in unrepentant sin, you say, Jeff, I want to talk to you about it. I want to practice Matthew 18. And I'm like, take off. Eh?
So solid reference already. There's someone else you can go to. You can go to BJ and be like BJ. What the flip is going on with Jeff? He just told me to take off and I've got an issue here.
I tried to practice Matthew 18. If I won't listen to BJ, even right now, BJ has equal authority with me. He can go to our denomination and get them involved. Now, a lot of pastors, I need to say this in the defense of some pastors, they have no idea how biblical eldership functions. I didn't as little as five years ago.
But some pastors would never be open to it because the truth is they don't want that kind of loving biblical accountability in their lives. They don't want it. And I do want to turn that question back on each of us one more time. Do you want loving biblical accountability in your life? Are you inviting it?
Are you actively pursuing it if you're not a member of Gospel City, pray about becoming one because we don't hold everyone who comes to our services or home groups accountable. We don't do that. We only do that with members because part of being a member is saying, I want to be lovingly, biblically held accountable. I want to please Jesus, and I want help doing that. Membership is one of the ways that people in our Church put up their hands and say, I want that.
So, BJ and I don't have to look at and be like, who actually wants loving accountability and who says, no, what in the world made you think I wanted that? So membership? Think about it if you haven't done it. Secondly, join a home group. There'll be starting up again in April.
Of course, BJ and I will be involved in them. It's the best way to form relationships in the Church. Sign the box on your connection card right now. Sign me up for home groups. But thirdly, and most importantly, here's the key.
You can be a member and join a home group doesn't do anything magical on its own. The third one is the key. You have to choose to be transparent. You have to choose. You might be a member.
You might attend a home group. But if you choose to never share, never open up to any other believers, ever. There's nothing anybody else can do. We're just not going to be in a home group and be like, I think you're lying. I'm calling your Bluff now.
You got something going on. Everybody stop. We're not doing anything else. We can wait all night, 45 minutes in silence. You're going to share.
You're going to share. If I ever do that, you can also be like, Jeff. You couldn't last 45 seconds waiting. Bj, you need to be more worried. He could wait it out as long as he can outweigh you, I guarantee it.
But you have to actually choose to say, I'm struggling in my marriage right now. I'm just not the husband I want to be. I'm not the wife I want to be. I don't know. I'm so angry.
Can you pray for me? You have to seek out a brother in a Church if you want to do that one on one. Instead, you have to actually choose to say, I'm battling temptation in this area, and I feel like I'm losing. Can you pray for me? I need help.
So ask again, are you pursuing loving biblical accountability in your life? Because how in the world you're going to say pastor should be doing this? You're not even interested in it either. But it's a dangerous sign, in my opinion, when a pastor doesn't want loving biblical accountability and builds a Church structure to support that desire. When you dig into the life of a pastor who's fallen into moral failure, you'll almost always find they didn't want this type of accountability in their life, and so they didn't let things get developed around them that would risk that actually happening.
They keep a distance from their congregation in practicality so write this down. Participation in a home group and biblical eldership provide additional layers of accountability for pastors participation in a home group. And biblical eldership provide additional layers of accountability for pastors because they at least create opportunities to be known by brothers and sisters in the congregation. And all these things that I'm sharing, none of this is foolproof. Just so you know, someone is determined to sin, they are going to find a way to do it.
There's no foolproof system, but each of these things can provide a layer of practical protection that can help any pastor or any Christian who says the war with the flesh is not an issue for them. We call that a red flag. That's a red flag. Hey, Pastor, I noticed you're doing this thing, and that seems like it could make it really easy to sin.
That's so cute. It's just not an issue for me. Red flag. Because here's why. As you grow into maturity in Christ again, listen to me.
As you grow into maturity, not just age, not as you get older. As you grow into maturity in Christ, you become increasingly astounded by the goodness of God, but also by your own propensity towards sin. You see, growing in Christ likeness means seeing your own sinfulness with increasing clarity, resulting in increasing humility. And some of the evidence of that humility shows up in how you deal with your flesh. At this point in my walk with Jesus, I have a pretty good idea what my main issues are.
I have a pretty good idea of how I'm most likely to sin. And so hopefully over time, I become less defensive when a brother or sister confronts me about those issues. I often feel like I'm growing at a rate of about 1 mm per year. But I'm growing and I can see what the Lord is doing. It's clear what he's trying to do in my life.
Another way that humility shows up is in the practical steps we take the protections that we build into our life to make it harder for our flesh to win. In Romans 1313 through 14, look at your outlines. This is huge. Paul writes, Let us walk with decency, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual purity and promiscuity, not in quarreling and jealousy, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Here's the key.
And make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires. Here's what that last phrase means. Don't prepare. Don't set aside supplies to help your flesh sin in the future. If you're on a diet because you want to lose weight, but every week you still go to Walmart and stock up on candy and cake, it's not going to work.
Why? Because you're making provision for the flesh. You're actually planning on failing to such a degree that you're setting aside supplies for that future failure that you're planning on having. I know this might be shocking for some to hear, but when you get married, attractive people don't magically stop being attractive. And I really, really hope that I haven't created tension for some people.
I hope there's no wives in the room that are squeezing their husband's arm right now saying, Is this true? Is this true? Isn't this crazy? So in my life, I have accountability software on every Internet device. I have access to every computer, every phone, every tablet.
And Charlene gets weekly reports of anything that might be concerning. Now, why do I do that? And again, I do that. Charlene doesn't do that. I do that because I don't want to fall into sin.
I don't want to. We all know what it's like to be in bondage to sin. And you know what? I hate it. I hate it because it makes me hate myself.
And it pulls me away from Jesus. And if there's anything I can do to lower the chances of that happening, I want to do it. I know that temptation is going to come and listen when it does. When it does. And even in some of these moments where it's like, oh, I'm going to do that, man, it is such a relief when I remember it's actually not even an option right now.
It's not even an option right now. Listen to me on this. I don't care if it's drugs, alcohol, porn, food, gambling, sex, whatever. If you're not willing to take radical, practical steps to change, you're still playing games. You're playing games.
I don't care how much you talk about wanting to change. I don't care how many life and positive affirming memes you post on social media. I don't even care how many times you break down crying and say, Pray for me. I'm so sorry. I'm repenting.
If you're not willing to take radical practical steps, you're still playing games. Playing games with God. You're playing games with yourself. But when I've shared some of this stuff with people over the years, when I pointed out, tried to lovingly point out some situations that are not healthy, I'm like, there's provision being made for the flesh there. You can see it a mile away.
I've had more than one time when people say, Jeff, you're being legalistic, or other times where I can tell they're thinking it and they just haven't said it. And I work all the time on being a more gracious person, whether you believe that or not. And the Holy Spirit is working even harder on me. But here's the truth. I'm not legalistic.
I am just not into playing games. I'm just not into playing. Amen I'm not okay with believers playing make believe and ending that we can pick up fire, put it on our lap, and somehow not be burned. To paraphrase Parv 627, I care too much about people, too much about the Church, too much about the reputation of Jesus to turn a blind eye. And I know BJ feels the same way.
And if you're a member of Gospel City, we will not turn a blind eye. If you pick up fire and put it in your lap, we're going to say, what the flip are you doing? With fire in your lap? You're going to get burned. And here's the key.
We hope that you would do the same for us because you love us. Now, one more piece of advice in this area. Write this down. The time to build up your defenses is when there's a lull in the fighting. The time to build up your defenses is when there's a lull in the fighting.
Listen, when the enemy is charging at you, that's not the time to say, we better build a wall. It's too late. Take action. Build up some protections. Clean out the trash when there's a lull in the fighting.
In other words, act when you feel motivated. Don't come to Church. Get convicted by the Holy Spirit during the worship time. Cry and say, I'm done with that, Lord, and then go home and say, I will make those changes tomorrow. Don't do it.
Do it ASAP. Be ruthless in your battle against the flesh. Identify things in your life that are making provision for the flesh and deal with them as quickly as possible. Almost every pastor who falls into moral failure will have a track record of making provision for the flesh, making provision for the flesh, and it gets identified after the matter far too late. I think of David watching Bathsheba bathe herself from his patio the first time he saw her.
David who's the King should have grabbed somebody and said, Listen, build that woman a roof on her backyard. Heck, build her a whole another house. I don't care what you have to do. You just make sure when I come out on my patio, there's not a naked hot lady over there. Okay, done.
That's what he would he done. But David doesn't do that. He makes provision for the flesh by doing nothing. I am astounded how often pastor who fall into moral failure are surrounded by Christians who seem to have no discernment. I'm being very real here.
No discernment Christians who seem to genuinely believe the pastor when he says, I'm above temptation. I have ascended to a higher level of Holiness. Bless you, my child. Get out of my face.
No one is above temptation, and Jesus is the only one who has successfully resisted all temptation. Let me say that one more time. Jesus is the only one who has successfully resisted all temptation. Again, the ultimate issue is humility brought about by seeing our own sinfulness. Clearly, I'm not legalistic.
I'm just not in denial that I live in flesh that wants to sin. I'm not deluding myself. This is why BJ and I, we don't have our own personal bank accounts or credit cards. We have joint everything with our wives. It would be very, very difficult for me to get my hands on just $300 without Charlene finding out about it.
And I want it that way. I want it that way. I've never had the desire to get a hotel room with a prostitute or go to a strip club, buy drugs, or secretly become an alcoholic or a gambler. But I don't even want that to be an option. And if something as simple as how I Bank can help protect me from all that stuff, you better believe I want to do it.
You better believe it. It's not about legalism or rules. It's about honoring God and protecting the relationships I care about most as much as I can from the destructive power of sin. This is why BJ and I won't ever meet with or counsel a woman alone in their home or in our home or in any closed office. If we meet one on one, it's going to be somewhere public, like a coffee shop.
And even doing that, we won't meet with or counsel the same woman on an ongoing basis. We'll bring in another woman to help or another pastor as well. Now, why is that? Let's talk about how affairs happen 99. 9% of the time.
Here's another shocking statement for those of you who are married. And this one really might take some of you by surprise. Your spouse is not the only person on Earth that you will have chemistry with. This is real. This is real.
A lot of people don't realize this, and that's what makes it so dangerous. But there are other people out there that your personality will just click with. And here's what can happen. People think nobody would ever be interested in me. People know I'm married.
People know I have kids. People know I'm a Christian. And so they don't build any protections into their life to guard against that scenario. And then one day they get into a conversation with someone, usually at work or somewhere they go regularly the gym and the personalities click. And the conversation is just just easy.
And that conversation leads to another conversation and another conversation. Somewhere in there, the conversation becomes increasingly vulnerable and intimate. And then the subject of marriages and relationships come up, and they both share their struggles and frustrations with their current partners. And here's what most people forget about men and women. Most people forget that if there's any type of physical attraction, an emotional connection will naturally progress toward a physical connection over repeated interactions if left unchecked.
I'll say that again. If there's any type of physical attraction and emotional connection will naturally progress toward a physical connection over repeated interactions if left unchecked. If there's no boundaries, no plan BJ. And I don't have safeguards because we're incapable of having a private conversation with any woman without losing control. That's not why it's there.
It's not like we close the door and just turn into raging hormonal animals. That's not the reality at all. Our safeguards are built for the possibility that one day we counsel someone whose personality we have chemistry with because this is real life, okay? This is reality. And if that happens, we want to be doing things in such a way that there's no chance of things going sideways and everybody is protected.
US, them, the Church, the reputation of Jesus. These protections are for that event. We pray it never happens. But it could. We're not delusional again.
We're not out here playing make believe, pretending this isn't how human beings are. Almost every time a pastor falls into moral failure, there were major warning signs. There were behavioral safeguards that should have been in place but weren't or were just disregarded. The people who could see something was wrong could simply be ignored. Why?
Because there's no plurality of elders, and most people didn't even notice anything was wrong because they believed the pastor when he said, oh, temptation is not an issue for me. I've been walking with the Lord so long. And one quick note on this issue. And Egalitarianism, if you were here when BJ talked about this a few weeks ago, you will recall that in the context of Church leadership, egalitarianism is the view that both men and women are called to be pastors in the Church. And you'll also recall here that at Gospel City, we are complementarian.
We believe that when you look at the Scriptures, God's design assigns men and women equal value, but different roles. And one of the roles that we believe is unique to men is eldership pastoring in the Church. Now, more churches than ever are egalitarian today. And for us, this is not essential doctrine. Like if we meet someone and they're a pastor of a Church and they're like, we're in egalitarian Church, we're not like, you are dead to me.
It's not that. Okay. This for us is not an essential piece of doctrine. We can have fellowship with our egalitarian brothers and sisters. But there's one practical aspect of this that can be dangerous.
It doesn't happen in every Church, but it happens in some egalitarian churches when it comes to safeguarding against moral failure. Because there can be this slightly feminist angle where female pastor will say, there's nothing a male pastor can do that a female pastor can't do. So if a male pastor can counsel a man alone, then a female pastor should be able to counsel a man alone. And if a man can meet with a man behind closed doors, then a female pastor should be able to meet with a man behind closed doors. And if that becomes Church policy, then it just becomes rational.
Well, you have to do it the other way, too. Then a male pastor should be able to meet with a woman behind closed doors. And this ignores the reality of how men and women are wired. You see, whatever your theology is, it has to work with observable reality. Right.
It's like when people say, you know, I just believe if you think positively, everything works out. What's the evidence against that observable reality. Right. And so you can't just create a piece of theology and say, this theology means that if I ever meet someone that I have chemistry with and I spend lots of time with them alone, and attraction will not develop because this is our doctrine doesn't work that way. Observable reality disproves that.
And so if that person is of the opposite sex and there's any physical attraction and play, repeated conversations and interactions can lead to something dangerous. And the danger can be even greater between male and female pastors who are working together in the same Church dealing with intimate issues on a near daily basis. And so whatever your belief is on this issue, if you're an egalitarian, your view and the way your Church operates better incorporate the reality of how men and women are wired. You can't just pretend that because this is our doctrine, men and women function differently in our Church on a biological level. No, they don't.
No, they don't. That would never happen to me. Not a strategy. By the way, we're all Christians here doesn't protect anyone from temptation, sin, and biological attraction. But too often in instances of moral failure, there are few or no safeguards to address these potential issues in egalitarian churches.
Again, I got nothing against you if you're egalitarian, but I'm saying you better function your Church and structure it in a way that protects everybody from the realities of biology. Now, each issue that I'm discussing can serve, as I said, as a layer of protection. Biblical eldership is a layer of protection. Practical boundaries with the opposite sex are a layer of protection. But wherever people are involved, there's the potential for failure.
And as I said earlier, if someone's absolutely determined to sin, they'll find a way. And so what we hope for in that situation is a structure that will see the sin lovingly expediently biblically and transparently confronted and the Church body protected. So write this down. The final layer of protection I want to talk about is a biblically literate congregation and Church culture. A biblically literate congregation and Church culture.
And I know we got a lot today, but hang with me. This is important. You know, it is amazing. This is my observation of Church, not this Church, but the Church in general. It is amazing what you can get away with as a pastor when your people don't know the scriptures.
It is astonishing what you can get away with. If you want the most glaring example, just go look at what the Catholic Church did for 1000 years when they kept the Bible out of the hands of the common man by translating it into Latin, chaining it to the pulpit, and burning anyone who dared to try to read it on their own. Look at what they did simply because people didn't know the Bible. Firstly, a biblically literate congregation means the Church recognizes scripture as the authority over all of its members, including the pastor, including the elders. It's important because it means when we approach each other about an issue or a sin, we do so based on the scriptures.
It doesn't matter if you're a new believer or a seasoned Satan. It doesn't matter if you're 20 years older than me or 20 years younger than me. If you come to me and say, Jeff, I'm concerned about you because it is written and you share the word with me, I am required to listen humbly and openly because you're not approaching me on the basis of your authority. You're approaching me on the basis of the Word's authority, and I am as under the authority of the Word as you are. Bj is as well.
If you're ever in a Church where the pastor is dismissive when approached on the basis of the Word, be careful, be careful. I'm not saying they have to agree with you. Leave room for the fact you could be wrong, but they must take your concern seriously. And if scripture is black and white on an issue, they are not to ignore it. Now, that standard alone doesn't mean much, though.
If your Church is not teaching the Word of God, it's not really a layer of protection. If you say we're all under the authority of the Word of God, but also we're not really going to teach you the Word of God, people won't even know what's in the Word. It's a meaningless thing. Scripture is a layer of protection for a Church when it teaches its people expositionally. So that means verse by verse from the Word, even the difficult and awkward parts of Scripture with no personal agenda.
And when Scripture is taught well, people don't only learn the Word, they learn how to learn the Word, and people learn how to study it for themselves. And most importantly, they also learn that they can go to the Scriptures for answers and for clarity when they have a concern. There are so many issues with Church leaders that could be avoided if believers just knew that the Bible actually lists qualifications for an elder. Qualifications for a pastor. We don't have time to dig into it in this message, but if you want to read those qualifications for yourselves later, the reference is on your outline.
It's in First Timothy and Titus, chapter one. Now why are those in the Bible? So that Church members and leaders can Select Godly qualified men for the role of elder or pastor, and so that if any issue arises in the life of an elder, there is an objective defined list to serve as the standard of what an Elder's life should look like. It's not true in every case, but in many cases where a pastor falls into moral failure, the Church is not being taught. The Word does not have a biblically literate culture and has had a pastor for years who was not meeting the biblical criteria for eldership.
The people generally don't know how to go to the Word. They don't know how to compare it to their pastor's behavior and identify glaring issues. There are so many things I've heard and read about pastors doing and getting away with that have made me think I could never get away with that a Gospel city because too many of our people know the Word. They would see something as off, they would raise the issue, and they would be looking at the Bible in black and white, and if we didn't repent, they'd leave. It is a layer of protection to have a biblically literate congregation and Church culture.
Growing in spiritual maturity means your worldview the way you see the world becomes increasingly aligned with scripture. So when it comes to pastor and elders in the Church, the question is the same for me as it is for every other area of life. When it comes to pastors and elders, the question is, what does the Bible say? What does the Bible say? There's a lot I could say, but very quickly I'll highlight a few things you need to know.
Pastors do not have greater access to God than any other genuine Christian. When I pray, God doesn't go everybody else shut up. I got a pastor praying over here. Everything else is going to have to wait. I know your kid has cancer.
I don't care. I got a pastor on the line right now. God responds to my prayers for the same reason he responds to yours because I'm one of his kids. That's it. Paul says in Ephesians Four, there's one body and one spirit, just as you were called to one hope at your calling.
There's one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. You need to know that pastors do not serve as a bridge between you and God. You can go straight to God through Jesus. One Timothy says, there's one God and mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus. Pastors and elders are meant to be a gift to the Church body.
Paul explains this as well. In Ephesians Four, he says, and he himself that's Jesus gave as gifts to the Church, some to be Apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and some teachers. Why did God give these people to the Church? Paul says, to equip the Saints for the work of Ministry, to build up the body of Christ until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God's Son. Growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ's Fullness the goal of the pastor is not to be the visionary who's the visionary of the Church that's Jesus and the vision is called the Great Commission, St.
Matthew 2000 and 819 and 20. End of discussion. The purpose of all these gifts to the Church is to teach and disciple and encourage the Church body to grow into maturity with the goal of becoming more like the pastor. Oh, wait, no. The goal is to become more like Jesus.
He is the goal for the pastor and the parishioner alike. Paul goes on and says, Then we will no longer be little children tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning and cleverness and the techniques of deceit. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head Christ. From him the whole body fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building itself up in love by the proper working of each individual part. When your Church is led by Godly pastor or elders, and you bring yourself under their leadership, you should find yourself being pointed to Jesus over and over and over and over again.
You should find yourself growing in spiritual maturity. You should find yourself being sanctified, becoming more like Jesus. Nowhere in the Bible's description of a pastor does it say he needs to be funny. He needs to be entertaining. He needs to be able to spin a good yarn, needs to be able to make you feel good about yourself, tell you what you want to hear.
He needs to fit the physical appearance of what you think a pastor should look like. It's not in there. I'll wrap up with this BJ and I try to be very open about who we really are, and we both understand that some people will meet us, some people will see us and think they don't look very pastoral. They don't dress very pastor. They sort of joke around like normal people.
I don't see it in a Godly and honest way. We hope to lower your expectations for us. And if you know us, we hope it comes across that we consider ourselves members of gospel city first and elders second. This Church is our family, and our role in this family just happens to be as elders. That's how we get to serve our family for this season of our lives, and it's a joy to do so.
But we both hope that as you grow in your knowledge of the Word and your relationship with Jesus, that you reach the place where all of your hope is in Jesus and all of your faith is built upon Jesus. Because if any of your hope is in BJ or me, if any of your faith is based upon BJ or me, I promise you will be disappointed. I promise. Because no matter what, we will let you down at some point, probably more than once, we will not reach out at a time when you thought we should have. We will ask a question or say something that's offensive.
We'll make a decision you don't agree with. That will happen. That absolutely will happen. And if your faith is devastated, I don't know if I can believe in God. If your faith is devastated due to us, then it means your faith wasn't placed where it should be in Jesus.
Now listen, when a pastor or leader falls, it's okay to be disappointed in them. It's okay to be hurt. It's okay to grieve. But it's not okay to be disappointed in God because he has nothing to do with their failure. He has never failed you.
He never will. That's why he's God, and that's why we call Him Good, because he's the only one who's truly good. Put your faith in God if you've been hurt or disappointed by Church leadership that's but if there's bitterness or unforgiveness forgive. Let it go. Let it go.