The work of church officers is essentially conservative...

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At Clearnote Church, Bloomington, we're slowly moving through 1Corinthians and this past Lord's Day our sermon text was the Words of Institution of the Holy Supper of our Lord which begin:

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you... - 1Corinthians 11:23a

Put these words alongside several other passages of Scripture and we see that pastors and elders are conservation officers. Jesus commanded the Apostles:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you... - Matthew 28:19-20

Jesus is not calling the Apostles to be known for their hipster eyeglass frames. They're not to market themselves by packaging Christian truth so it looks creative or youthful. Christianity is not a giggling excitement over fashion and God hasn't called pastors and elders to do flourishes and embellishments on the Jesus narrative that connect with our neighbor's spirituality pilgrimage.

The Apostles were commanded by their Master to make disciples, passing on to those disciples everything He had commanded them. They were to work hard to assure the conservation of their Lord's doctrines and commands for unborn generations.

But there are always sinful men dumping their heterodoxical toxic waste on the Church; those slashing and burning Her precious truths in an effort to make their ministry pleasing to unbelievers; those who think being conservative in Christian doctrine is to show an embarrassing absence of hope and creativity...

Easily casting off the faithful witness of every generation of faithful preachers and shepherds who have preceded them, these men are shameless in their work to conform the Church to the world leaving the church's witness so  very predictable and boring.

Across two millennia now, faithful men have worked teaching, admonishing, exhorting, writing, and preaching to the end that every last thing our Lord taught His Disciples will be conserved. Eyeglass Men planting churches respond, "Get a life, dude! You're old and in the way. Wake up. There's a whole world out there. Get outta your cocoon. You're just talking to yourself, like, ya know."

Move on from our Lord's commission given to His Apostles to the church founded by those Apostles and we're not surprised to find the Apostles cultivated these four habits within the Church:

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. - Acts 2:42

Calvin notes that "the Apostles' teaching" is listed first because doctrine is the foundation of the Church. But here, "the Apostles' teaching" is nothing other than their fulfillment of their Lord's command that they pass on everything He had commanded them. They weren't seeking new light or getting creative. They were conservation officers trying to assure that nothing Jesus had commanded them would be lost.

Is this how we approach our work as fathers and mothers of the Household of Faith? Do we understand what it means for God to name His Church "the pillar and foundation of the truth?" Are we willing for Eyeglass Men to call us boring and fault us for a lack of creativity?

In our youth-worshipping age, no cultural cachet comes to us from calling souls to the "old paths." Look at the entire abandonment of God's Creation Order of Biblical sexuality so shamelessly evidenced here and it's clear that, inside the Church, we too have answered "we will not walk in it."

Thus says the LORD, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls."

But they said, "We will not walk in it." - Jeremiah 6:16

We may view the work as thankless which it is, unless the thanks we want is to hear our Lord's words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Am I just a servant and only faithful? Are these my highest aspirations?

Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you. - 2Timothy 1:13, 14

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. -2Timothy 2:1-3

Down in Egypt when the Lord first commanded the Israelites to celebrate the Passover, He declared that first Lord's Supper was to be a perpetual celebration kept intact and carefully explained to each succeeding generation of the People of God:

And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. When you enter the land which the LORD will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite.

And when your children say to you, "What does this rite mean to you?" you shall say, "It is a Passover sacrifice to the LORD who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes."

And the people bowed low and worshiped. Then the sons of Israel went and did so; just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did. - Exodus 12:24-28

As the Sons of Israel were to explain the institution of the Passover to their children, still today every time our Lord's Supper is administered, ministers of the Gospel are to explain this memorial and our confession of faith in the New Covenant in His Blood. This is the purpose of the Apostle Paul's statement found in these Words of Institution he received from the Lord and passed on intact to us.

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) 23

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!