Feed the Sheep: Simple – Saved by Faith

From 1 Peter 5:1-5,

The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

This was the text from the first pastoral exhortation and lecture for ministerial training, given by Pastor Nate Harlan of Trinity Pastors College in January, 2010. Those pastoral exhortations were similar to Charles Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students, “colloquial, familiar, full of anecdote, and often humorous.” In that first lecture, however, Pastor Harlan implored with sobriety that I desire and learn to “Feed the sheep with simplicity.” (Not because the Saints are simplistic or simpletons and dull-witted, but because the Gospel is simple — it is gift, it is grace.)

Since that first charge was delivered a deep conviction has solidified: to “feed the sheep in simplicity” is best accomplished when the Saints are taught that “the glory of Christ is the most precious reality in the universe” (John Piper, Counted Righteous in Christ, 14). But what is the glory of Christ? In the Gospel of John, there is a pun/world-play used when Christ is raised on the cross: Christ was raised up on the cross: Christ was raised, meaning “lifted-up”, and Christ was raised up, meaning “glorified”, on the cross. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” This is the glory of Jesus Christ: he laid down his life as a penal substitute for the atonement of the sins of those given to him by the Father. The glory of Christ is that no human being has ever contributed to their justification. He accomplished everything; he deserves all the credit for what he accomplished.

Feeding the sheep in simplicity means this: declaring that Salvation is based solely on the merits of Jesus Christ, and is solely the result of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the Believer. The Saints contribute nothing to their salvation. It is Christ who has accomplished everything.

The message is simple. Salvation is a gift that the just receive by faith. Only those clothed with humility will receive the simple grace of Salvation. So, “Feed the sheep with simplicity.”