Sheep and their Shepherds

Sheep Conscience

Sunday 12/01/19

Series: Walking the Talk

Message – Sheep and their Shepherds

Sheep and their Shepherds

We’ve been talking about Sheep and their Shepherds for a few weeks now.

Last week in particular I supplied you with two extremes in the New Testament – the first was the Philippian church which was the “model church” of the New Testament to whom Paul gave no warnings or correction in regard to character (save the need to settle a few disputes) and a warning not to be deceived about circumcision. The second church was the Ephesian church, which was loaded with difficulty both inside through false teaching and teachers and outside by immoral pressures and persecutions. It was with this church that we spent the majority of our time.

The reason for the comparison, as brief as that part was, was in order to establish the real need for Shepherd leadership in the local expressions of the world wide church. For even in the well established church of loving and mature Christians at Philippi, Paul was concerned that there was no one there who could watch over them and care for them. The passage I am referencing is found in chapter 2 verse 19-21,

“(19) But, if the Lord permits it, I hope before long to send Timothy to you, that I, in turn, may be cheered by getting news of you.  (20) For I have no one likeminded with him, who will cherish a genuine care for you. (21) Everybody concerns himself about his own interests, not about those of Jesus Christ.”

The words who will cherish a genuine care for you if translated more bluntly would simply say, to be anxious beforehand. Meaning, to see concerning things on the horizon and address them before they become snares – doctrinal or otherwise.

Then we looked at the church of Ephesus.

Just to remind you of the estimated timeline – 

  • Paul probably first came to Ephesus in 52ad and left 3 years later in 55ad.
  • Paul visited with the elders of Ephesus before going to Jerusalem about 4 years later in 59ad
  • Paul’s letter to this church was anywhere from 2 to 4 year later still in 61-63
  • Finally, in 67AD he felt the need to send Timothy to them.

While Timothy was there he received the letter we call 1 Timothy which is what we were looking at last week.

We were using this letter as a type of proof-text for the relationship which God intended between the Sheep and their Shepherds. 

Remember that Paul knew that problems were going to arise in Ephesus as he prophesied such when he visited with its elders as recorded in Acts 20:28-20,  

“Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you bishops, to feed the church of God which he purchased with his own blood. I know that after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” 

We covered chapters 1-3 which contained information about:

  • What Timothy should do and pay particular attention to while he was there – not only for the good of the church but also as an example for the existing elders and those he would appoint as elders.
  • This included:
    • Commanding what should and should not be taught. The desired result of this was… 
      • To encourage love from sincerity of heart, a clear conscience and non-hyprocritical faith. His seems to be the goal of all Christian teaching. 
    • Timothy was to explain the proper use of the law under the New Covenant
    • Address every manner of sin
    • To wage war on behalf of this church by the word of God and the prophecies spoken over him.
  • Paul pressed upon Timothy the absolute need for genuine prayer and the submission to God ordained gender roles both inside and outside of the church meetings.
  • …and we ended with the qualifications for an elder.

This week we are continuing with chapter 3 noticing first that the qualifications for a deacon was nearly identical to that of an elder or Pastor which is made clear immediately by the first two words… “Deacons, likewise…”.

Chapter 3 > 

“(8) Deacons, likewise, should be worthy of respect, not hypocritical, not drinking a lot of wine, not greedy for money,  (9) holding the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. (10) And they must also be tested first; if they prove blameless, then they can serve as deacons.  (11) Wives, too, must be worthy of respect, not slanderers, self-controlled, faithful in everything. (12) Deacons must be husbands of one wife, managing their children and their own households competently.  (13) For those who have served well as deacons acquire a good standing for themselves, and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.”

Yes I’ve said recently to you modern ideas about church and how it should be conducted run very contrary to the teachings of Scripture. Many many many people over the years have challenged the structure of church government, the Christian ideals regarding proper conduct for Christians both inside and outside of the church walls, and have generally miss understood the difference between the worldwide church and it’s local expressions. 

Today there is a general departure from the belief that the local church is an 100% legitimate and necessary entity within the body. They do not recognize nor submit to the fact that God ordained and appointed the local assembly of Believers as the pillar and foundation of truth in an otherwise lost world. 

To those in the Christian faith who believe the local church with its structure of sheep & shepherd’s and the traditionally held conduct by which they were to regulate their lives together is beyond the requirements of scripture or are simply too dated to be relevant these next words of Paul should cause a re-thinking of modern ideas. 

He says, 

“14  I write these things to you, hoping to come to you soon. 15  But if I should be delayed, I have written so that you will know how people ought to act in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 

Chapter 4 > I want you to pay particular note to how personal and “all up in your grill” as might be said today, these instructions are in the next two chapters. They involve what we eat, doctrines of marriage, how to regard and care for widows, who qualifies as a widow, how you should regard & support your spiritual leaders and the need to publicly reprimand them if such is truly warranted. No one in the body is independent of the other members, nor is any member free from the influence and authority of its members. This cruise how enter connected the body is and how directly connected it is with it said Jesus Christ which is intended to not only be revealed is the truth but also to instill godly fear and everyone for not even Church leaders are beyond the scope of being judged and represented even by the sheep. We are truly members of one another.

 “1  Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, 2  through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared.

As we read last week, Paul’s command to Timothy was to command that only true Christian doctrine be taught so that:

  • Love from the heart
  • a clear conscience and 
  • non-hypocritical faith 

might be established in the fold but then he pressed the fact that these truth must first the fully embraced and realized and it’s leadership. 

The conscience of leaders MUST BE Clear or they cannot lead well. 

This is why Paul mentions the conscience often in his letters, and we read several examples of the importance of a clear conscience. 

  • It helps us bear Witness to the truthfulness of Our Testimony. –Rom. 9:1; 2Cor. 1:12
  • It is due to our Christian need for a clear conscience that we do things we might otherwise seek an excuse to avoid like taxes or giving the proper respect to government officials regardless of their policies puppy clothes their Authority it’s given to them by God- Rom. 13:5
  • We are to bear with the weak consciences of our brothers and sisters and limit our freedoms with a view to not damaging their conscience because if we do we send against Christ. – 1Cor. 8:7,12
  • It frees free heart to serve God – 2Tim. 1:3; Heb. 9:14
  • It enables us to draw fast to God – Heb. 10:22
  • It is connected with living honorably – Heb. 13:18

This matter of conscience is among the most critical facing the church of any age, but especially now towards the end of the age as the “Spirit expressly” warned.

God Bless!

I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.

We at Living Grace Fellowship encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, deliberately choosing Him and bowing the knee to Him as your Master and Lord, so as to come to realize Him as your Savior.

You have a special place in God’s family & kingdom. The fact that you exist… that you are His creation, says you were in His heart, you are His delight!

If you do not know Him, please reach out to us. Give us a call at the number located on every page of this website or use our ‘Contact Us‘ page. We would be deeply honored, if you gave us the privilege of introducing you to the Lord. Neither money nor attendance at our church will EVER be mentioned.

If you HAVE been spiritually fed by this ministry and WANT to give, we truly appreciate that and you may do so here, but please understand that all the outreaches of this ministry are FREE for you and anyone to enjoy at no cost.


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!