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richard baxter

Pastors have a duty to Christ, and His bride.

John 21:15-17 NASB So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus *said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He *said to him, “Tend My lambs.” (16) He *said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He *said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” (17) He *said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus *said to him, “Tend My sheep.

When we are healthy and well trained, we will go out and preach the gospel, each and every one of us.  If we are malnourished and uneducated, we will be ill equipped to engage in the great commission.  The Church will grow when we go out and evangelize.  The cross will always be offensive to the lost.  There is no way to make such a brutal thing, that denies self-righteousness appealing to the lost.  They must hear it and see it in all of its gory detail, and be humbled.  Those who have been saved see the beauty and love of their Saviour through this.

Here is what Richard Baxter had to say about the oversight of the flock in his book, “The Reformed Pastor.”

3. The third motive in the text is drawn from the dignity of the object which is committed to our charge. It is the Church of GOD which we must oversee – that Church for which the world is chiefly upheld, which is sanctified by the Holy Spirit, which is the mystical body of Christ, that Church with which angels are present, and on which they attend as ministering spirits, whose little ones have their angels beholding the face of God in heaven (Heb. 1:14, Mt. 18:10). Oh what a charge is it that we have undertaken! And shall we be unfaithful to it? Have we the stewardship of God’s own family, and shall we neglect it? Have we the conduct of those saints that shall live for ever with God in glory, and shall we neglect them? God forbid! I beseech you, brethren, let this thought awaken the negligent. You that draw back from painful, displeasing, suffering duties, and put off men’s souls with ineffectual formalities, do you think this is honorable treatment of Christ’s spouse? Are the souls of men thought meet by God to see his face, and live forever in heaven, and are they not worthy of your utmost cost and labor on earth? Do you think so basely of the Church of God, as if it deserved not the best of your care and help? Were you the keepers of sheep or swine, you would scarcely let them go, and say, They are not worth the looking after; especially if they were your own. And dare you say so of the souls of men, of the Church of God? Christ walks among them: remember his presence, and see that you are diligent in your work. They are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, to show forth the praises of him that has called them (I Peter 2:8-9).” And yet will you neglect them? What a high honor is it to be but one of them yes, but a door–keeper in the house of God! But to be the priest of these priests, and the ruler of these kings – this is such an honor as multiplies your obligations to diligence and fidelity in so noble an employment.
4. The last motive that is mentioned in my text, is drawn from the price that was paid for the Church which we oversee: “Which God,” says the apostle, “has purchased with his own blood.” Oh what an argument is this to quicken the negligent, and to condemn those who will not be quickened to their duty by it! “Oh,” says one of the ancient doctors, “if Christ had but committed to my keeping one spoonful of his blood in a fragile glass, how curiously would I preserve it, and how tender would I be of that glass! If then he have committed to me the purchase of his blood, should I not as carefully look to my charge?” What! sirs, shall we despise the blood of Christ? Shall we think it was shed for them who are not worthy of our utmost care? You may see here, it is not a little fault that negligent pastors are guilty of. As much as in them lies, the blood of Christ would be shed in vain. They would lose him those souls which he has so dearly purchased.
Oh, then, let us hear these arguments of Christ, whenever we feel ourselves grow dull and careless: “Did I die for these souls, and will not you look after them? Were they worth my blood, and are they not worth your labor? Did I come down from heaven to earth, to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10);” and will you not go to the next door, or street, or village, to seek them? “How small is your condescension and labor compared to mine. I debased myself to this, but it is your honor to be so employed. Have I done and suffered so much for their salvation, and was I willing to make you a fellow–worker with me, and will you refuse to do that little which lies upon your hands?” Every time we look upon our congregations, let us believingly remember that they are the purchase of Christ’s blood, and therefore should be regarded by us with the deepest interest and the most tender affection. Oh, think what a confusion it will be to a negligent minister, at the last day, to have this blood of the Son of God pleaded against him; and for Christ to say, ” It was the purchase of my blood of which you did make so light, and do you think to be saved by it yourself?” O brethren, seeing Christ will bring his blood to plead with us, let it plead us to our duty, lest it plead us to damnation.
I have now done with the motives which I find in the text itself. There are many more that might be gathered from the rest of this exhortation of the apostle, but we must not stay to take in all. If the Lord set home but these few upon our hearts, I doubt not we shall see reason to mend our pace; and the change will be such on our hearts and in our ministry, that ourselves and our congregations will have cause to bless God for it. I know myself to be unworthy to be your monitor, but a monitor you must have; and it is better for us to hear of our sin and duty from anybody than from nobody. Receive the admonition, and you will see no cause in the monitor’s unworthiness to repent of it. But if you reject it, the unworthiest messenger may bear that witness against you another day which will then confound you.

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