It is an absolute truth of the gospel that each person will one day give an account for the deeds done in the body. No one will escape. It is also true that those with the responsibility to teach will be judged more severely. These two facts, if faced, must raise serious questions for those currently leading the church of Jesus Christ. Before them all must be this question: “What will be the standard by which we are judged?
The Lord Jesus has told us clearly, we will be judged by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. He has told us directly that only those who hear his words and obey them are part of his family. Only those who keep his commandments truly love him. Never in all Christian history has it been thought by any faithful believer that it was acceptable to ignore the plain teaching of Jesus. He will come again to judge “the quick and the dead.”
It is of course true that there have always been those in the church who are not themselves moved by the Spirit of God. The wheat and the tares coexist until the last Great Day. But it has never been a sign of faith and truth to allow, let alone encourage, those who lead to be such. Those called by the Lord to his service, in his household, are with their whole heart, soul, mind, and strength to serve God and his people. They are to live under the Word of God and teach that Word to all who draw near. There are many things in the Scriptures that are not central to the obedient following of Jesus, but the things that are unquestionably clear are everywhere to be seen in the New Testament. Reading it prayerfully even a baby Christian begins to feel the pull to amendment of life. To grow up into maturity in Christ becomes their hearts desire. That alone indicates the reality of the new birth.
If that is so for all believers, how much more so for those who lead his people? Can there really be confusion about what is central? The living and preaching of the Gospel. The call to authentic faith. Learning to crucify the flesh and to yearn for the Spirit to guide and correct. Sharing the joy of the fellowship with those who love the Lord. Drawing near to the Lord’s Table together with them. Making disciples.
A critically important saying that I have shared before is this: “It you are not doing it, it is not in your DNA.” When leaders hear the clear words of Jesus and respond with excuses and alibis we betray ourselves. If we are giving our best energies, our best time, our best resources to things that are not eternal, we reveal that we have defective DNA. If we have become used to overlooking and disobeying clear teaching from our Lord, we have something seriously wrong. The glorious apostolic inheritance granted to the first community of faith has somehow suffered a spiritual genetic mutation in us. Why are so few of us making disciples?
Returning to the primary question for all leaders which we asked above: “What will be the standard by which we are judged?
Next Week: The Most Basic Building Block?