Sermon: “Father, Teacher, and Ruler” (1 Corinthians 4:14–21)

by Jun 2, 2019Sermons0 comments

14 I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church. 18 Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. 21 What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness? 1 Corinthians 4:14-21, ESV

May the Lord bless the reading and preaching and hearing of his word this morning in our midst.

A few weeks ago, on Mother’s Day, I mentioned the fact that we have here a driving conviction that what people need more than anything else is the Bible, all of the Bible. So, what we need to be doing week by week, Lord’s Day by Lord’s Day, is to preach thoroughly verse by verse through the Bible.

Part of the reason I mentioned that was to explain why we didn’t do a topical sermon on Mother’s Day. Another reason to emphasize that is that as we see in this passage today, if we do go verse by verse, we end up getting to all of the topics. We find them eventually as we explore the whole counsel of God. God teaches us about all of these things even if they don’t fall on the day approved by the greeting card companies.

In this particular passage, we have a remarkable text for Father’s Day. I’m sorry it’s two weeks in advance of that. If you are really hankering for a topical sermon for fathers in two weeks, please listen to the recording that we will be having.

As a father, and I haven’t been a father for that long my oldest daughter is seven years old, the one thing that I have grown increasingly aware of as the years have gone on is that essentially, I have one job. It’s to make sure, by everything in my power, all my time, talents and treasures, all my energy, is to make sure everything I am doing is toward the direction that my children would never remember a day where they wouldn’t know Jesus as Lord.

That’s not entirely in my control. At some point my children will have to take responsibility for their own lives and faith. Ultimately, I realize that everything in our faith is in the sovereignty of God himself. My responsibility as a father is to do everything that I can so that my children never remember a day where they don’t know the Lord Jesus Christ.

That’s what Paul is getting at in this passage here. He’s talking about the nature of not only fatherhood, but this true nature of ministry that is father-like. As a father, I see that there are three elements that Paul is bringing out in this passage.

1. My heart has to be entirely shaped from a foundation of love toward my children. If that’s not happening, then nothing else of my parenting will be quite right. It has to start from this foundation of deep love and compassion toward my children.

2. I have to be a teacher to my children. Deuteronomy 6:7 gives this responsibility of parents to their children,

7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:7, ESV

In other words, from morning to evening, everything you are doing has to be about teaching your children. Not only by words of course but also by an example that affirms the words that you speak.

3. This is the hard one and this is what Paul gets to that is a little bit hard to deal with as we come to it. A part of fathering means discipline. It means loving my children enough not to ignore things, to sweep things under the rug. Rather to recognize that as much as I love them and teach them, eventually at times they are going to go separate ways. My job as a father is to shepherd them back to the path that the Lord has appointed for them. I’m not doing my job if I’m not willing to take that final step of disciplining them in love when they need it.

What Paul says is that ministry in the church is fatherly in those three senses. We are going to see that leaders in the church are;

1. Leaders are Compassionate Fathers
2. Leaders are Consistent Teachers
3. Leaders are Committed Rulers

What Paul says is that ministry in the church is fatherly in this sense. That doesn’t ignore mothers and their element. In 1 Thessalonians 2:7 Paul uses a motherly image,

7 But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 1 Thessalonians 2:7

Our passage today is the Father’s Day text, just two weeks in advance.

Our big idea today is this, King Jesus shepherd his people through the fatherly ministries of doctrine and discipline.

Now as we study this passage, we are going to see there are three levels of application. Paul is in the middle of a passage on true Christian ministry. At a primary level Paul’s words are addressing his relationship to the Corinthian church. At a secondary level what Paul is saying here applies to leaders in the church, particularly those with the duty of shepherding, that is elders in Christ’s church.

Then as we are going to see at the end, we are going to draw three applications that show that anyone with any leadership or influence over anyone whatsoever, which is all of us, has something to learn from this passage.

Leaders are Compassionate Fathers

Let’s look at the first couple of verses to look at our first point.

You may remember that Paul has used many metaphors for ministry. He has talked about pastors as farmers in 1 Corinthians 3:6,

6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 1 Corinthians 3:6, ESV

Then he talks about pastors in the church as construction workers in 1 Corinthians 3:10,

10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 1 Corinthians 3:10, ESV

In 1 Corinthians 4:1 we saw that pastors are servants, or literally under rowers of Christ. They have no authority or influence, no suggestion box. You just do what the master tells you as the lowest level of common sailor in the galley of a ship. You have one job, just keep rowing. Ministers can only do what king Jesus tells us to do.

In 1 Corinthians 4:1 Paul says that ministers are stewards or dispensers of the mysteries of God. They are dispensers of the Bible to the house of God. Just as stewards in the ancient world were servants who distributed provision, food, to the household, so leaders in the church must dispense the word of God as bread to the people. “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Ministers must dispense these mysteries to God’s people.

Now here in verse fourteen Paul picks another metaphor. He tells us about his relationship to the church in one more image. That of a compassionate, affectionate father.

14 I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 1 Corinthians 4:14-15, ESV

He’s not trying to heap shame on them. He’s not trying to tear them down or using cunning disgraceful underhanded ways to break them down to force them into the mold that he wants them to be in. He’s not doing that.

Rather, he is writing these things to admonish them as his beloved children. When a father admonishes a child, that’s a work of respect. To admonish someone is to appeal to their mind, not to manipulate them. It is to appeal to this person with dignity and honor and say I love you and I want the best for you. I am admonishing you because you are wandering away from Christ. This is a work that fathers have toward children and Paul says this is the work he has toward the Corinthians as his beloved children

In verse fifteen, he talks about guides. In the ancient household they would appoint guides to take care of the education of the children of that household. He’s saying he’s not just a slave that he has been given a duty that he cares nothing about. He’s not going to, like those slaves might do, pile shame on top of you to get the job done. Rather, I’m like a father. A slave might not care anything about the child’s education, but a father is deeply invested in his child’s education

Paul is saying they have myriads of people who are willing to do whatever they want in order to influence you in the direction they want you to do, but you don’t have many fathers.

He says I became your father through Christ Jesus through the gospel. This might cause you to remember that in Matthew chapter twenty-three Jesus instructed his people not to call anyone father.

9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Matthew 23:9, ESV

How do we square these things? Paul says I have become your father and Jesus says call no one your father. Are they conflicting? The answer is no. What Paul is saying here is that this is not about the obligations that I am trying to foist upon you like I think you need to show me blind, thoughtless, devotion to a father. He’s actually saying the exact opposite.

He’s saying understand that these are the responsibilities that tear my heart up about you. I see you wandering in these directions and as a father I can’t let that go. I have to admonish you because I love you and I want to see you come back to Christ. Jesus was making the point that the greatest among you shall not be your masters, but your servants.

That’s the attitude that Paul is striking here. He’s saying I’m not coming to you as a master, but as a loving father who is trying to bend myself to you in order to get you to the one whom we all serve, the Lord Jesus Christ.

As a father, I’ve learned some of what he means. I have grown to know my various children through the last few years. I’ve grown to know each of my children in different ways and they are all so different. They get frustrated differently; they need to be encouraged differently. When you have to discipline them, it has to be different. That’s not about us letting anything go or just letting whatever be that’s going to be.

It’s about saying I can’t force you into my image that I want you to be. Rather I have to conform myself to your needs and the direction that you need to go so that you will not be conformed to me but to Christ.

A father knows his children and is willing to do whatever it takes not to force the children into submission but admonish the children so that they might be conformed to the image of Christ Jesus. This isn’t about the father’s adoration, but about a fatherly approach.

Paul starts with this idea that Christian leaders are compassionate fathers. It starts from this place of love and admiration and respect. It starts with wanting the best for your child, even if it requires you to make sacrifices.

Fatherhood is the driving metaphor in this paragraph. Paul then goes in two different directions about how this fatherhood applies to leadership in the church.

The first he says, to be a father in this sense requires a specific kind of teaching. Teaching that instills the true doctrine of Jesus Christ. Secondarily, fatherhood requires a kind of rule over his children in the sense of enforcing discipline. Remember that our big idea today is that King Jesus shepherd his people through the fatherly ministries of doctrine and discipline.

Leaders are Consistent Teachers

16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church. 1 Corinthians 4:16-17,ESV

Look at what Paul says at the end of verse seventeen. He’s talking about his extensive teaching ministry. He’s reminding them of his ways in Christ as he teaches them everywhere in every church. Paul is saying he’s been teaching everywhere he has gone. He has this ongoing teaching ministry that is the same in every church, from house to house, temple to temple. Everywhere he goes he is consistently teaching the ways of Christ by his words.

He’s not just this ivory tower lecturer. Look at what he says in verse sixteen. Only a pastor who is deeply involved in the lives of these Corinthians could say something like this. If they only saw him when he appeared for his public teaching ministry, he couldn’t really say this. He is not urging all of them to become teachers, but he’s saying you have all seen my attempt to live like Jesus by the gospel. You need to imitate that.

Later on, in 1 Corinthians 11:1, he clarifies what he means. He’s not saying imitate me for me, but he says, “be imitators of me as I am of Christ.” Fathers recognize that the reason God has entrusted fathers with the authority given in fatherhood is to give children a taste of what their Heavenly Father is like. It’s to give them a taste of the kindness and goodness of what it means for a father to relate to the children. To tell the children this is the way that it means to live out a life in obedience to the Lord. This is also what your father looks like in heaven.

The reason that God entrusts authority both in the home and in the church, is in order for that authority to be used to lead people to Christ. Paul says that he did this in part by teaching with words everywhere I went, but I also set this fatherly example so that you could see the way that it worked out in my life. So that you could see how I was struggling to follow after Christ by faith in Jesus.

The goal of fatherhood is that children will learn to be like their fathers, not only to give a taste of what the Heavenly Father is like in heaven, but also so that they will see what it looks like as father live out their lives in front of their children. When that means repenting from our sins, it means repenting of our sin in front of and to our children.

When that means demonstrating what it means sacrificing things that we love for the sake of following Christ, it means sacrificing that. Paul is saying I’ve taught you this with words and by demonstrating with my life how important this is. In parenting or in ministry we must consistently, patiently, faithfully, steadfastly teach the ways of Christ as revealed in God’s word. Leaders are consistent teachers.

All teachers know that not all the students are going to get it. Not all of the students are going to stick with this message. Slave tutors, the guides that Paul talked about in verse fifteen, they might not really care whether the message sinks in, but fathers do.

When Jesus contrasted versus the good shepherd, he said the hired hand might run away at the first sign of difficulty. Good shepherds realize that they are called to lay down their lives for their sheep. In the same way fathers can’t be these people who teach pious lessons to their children and hope their children get it and then move on with their lives.

Fathers must not only teach the doctrine of Jesus Christ to their children. They must also be committed to the right use of discipline. To call their children back form wandering when their children are wandering away from Christ.

Leaders are Committed Rulers

18 Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. 21 What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness? 1 Corinthians 4:18-21, ESV

Paul who feels this fatherly affection toward Corinth says, “Some are arrogant”. This is the word that we saw in verse six to reference those who are puffed up and proud of themselves.

What does Paul mean by power? He is contrasting talk with power. He’s been contrasting these since the beginning of 1 Corinthians. He’s contrasting the outwardly wise sounding speech of those in the Corinthian church who are trying to impress those in their ministries

He’s contrasting that kind of talk with the true power of God revealed in Jesus Christ and him crucified. Not by elegant speech, but by weak, fearful, trembling preaching. Look back at all the places that Paul has used the word power.

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18 , ESV

23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
1 Corinthians 1:23-24 , ESV

4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5 , ESV

What Paul says is this power is the message, the preaching, the doctrine of Jesus Christ and him crucified. The message that God sent his son into this world to take on a human nature. In his humanity he would live the perfect life that we failed to live. Then he would go to the cross to die the death that we deserved to die as sinners who are justly deserving of God’s wrath and displeasure. Jesus did this for us.

While the world looks at crucified Jesus as the epitome of foolishness and weakness, Christians, by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us, have eyes to see and hears to hear and hears to understand that the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation.

What Paul says is that you aren’t getting it. To make his point in 1 Corinthians 4:20 he says, “For the Kingdom of God does not consist in talk, but in power.” You have these eloquent speeches that sound so good, but the Kingdom of God isn’t in that. It’s in the power of the Holy Spirit who reveals Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

So, he says in verse twenty-one,

21 What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness? 1 Corinthians 4:21, ESV

Here’s where Paul gets to this issue of discipline. He says I want to you admonishing you, in a spirit of love and gentleness. I am hoping that these words, this teaching, will reach you and that by the power of the Holy Spirit you will be led to repentance as you have been wandering away from Christ, you will come back to faith in Jesus Christ. But I understand that some of you are so puffed up that it’s not going to happen.

I want to come in a spirit of love and gentleness, but if I have to, I will come with a rod. This sounds a little daunting and a little frightening. Why is he talking about wielding a rod?

Biblically rods were used for discipling. Think of Proverbs 23:14-15, it talks about the rod of the father used in disciplining his child,

14 If you strike him with the rod,
you will save his soul from Sheol.
15 My son, if your heart is wise,
my heart too will be glad.
Proverbs 23:14-15, ESV

The point of the Proverb is, look there are worse things than children being disciplined. What would be worse than for children to be disciplined would be for children not to be disciplined. If you don’t bring children back, shepherding them in love back to the path appointed to them for Jesus Christ, then that is far crueler than to discipline them with the rod.

This is also the word that God uses to describe the way that he will shepherd David’s sons. In the covenant that God makes with David, God says to David, I’m going to treat your sons after you, all of the kings that are descended in your line, I will treat them as my children. I will be to them as a father and they will be to me as a son. What God said is that when they sin, I will bring against them the rod of men. I will discipline them with the rod of men.

This idea of disciplining is something that God says that he will do with those who are descended from David, including and especially the greatest son of David, the Lord Jesus Christ. He was disciplined not for his sins, but for ours. That’s 2 Samuel 7:14 and Psalm 89:32.

In the context of fatherhood, a rod is for discipline. In the context of a kingdom, the word for rod is often translated as a scepter. It’s referring to a king’s scepter, his symbol of authority and the rule of his reign. If you look at Hebrews 1:8, the exact same word shows up twice as the author of Hebrews is quoting Psalm 45:6 we read,

8 But of the Son he says,
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
Hebrews 1:8, ESV

The scepter of Jesus Christ is a symbol of his strength. In Revelation 19:15, this appears to describe the strength of Jesus, it’s called a rod of iron.

15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.
Revelation 19:15, ESV

What is interesting is that this rod of iron is something that in Revelation Jesus says he entrusts to his people. It’s not something that Jesus wields alone, but’s it’s something he entrusts to his people for the sake of establishing the rule of his reign in his church.

In Revelation 2:26-27, Jesus says,

26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.
Revelation 2:26-27, ESV

God has given fathers authority to disciple their children in the home. God has given officers, particularly elders, the responsibility for shepherding Christ’s church with authority in the church to wield the scepter of Jesus Christ to bring sinners back away from their sin and to Jesus. This is what Paul is talking about here.

Here’s the thing, you can hear the pain in his voice. He doesn’t want to do this. He is saying, what do you wish? Are you going to force me to do this? I don’t want to do this. I want to come to you in love and a spirit of gentleness, but there is something more important than my own desires, my own comfort, my own peace. It’s the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God doesn’t consist in talk, but in power.

What he is saying is, look, if necessary, I will execute church discipline in the church. We know that he is talking about this because in just a few verses, in the coming passage of 1 Corinthians 5:3-5, Paul is about to excommunicate an unrepentant sinner in the church. He’s saying, look you are arrogant, puffed up. You are not taking care of the work of shepherding sheep away from sin back to Jesus Christ. So, Paul, by word here and then when he comes, is about to take care of that work of church discipline.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne, the 19th century Scottish pastor, writes this about doctrine, teaching, and discipline.

“When I first entered upon the work of the ministry among you, I was exceedingly ignorant of the vast importance of church discipline. I thought that my great and almost only work was to pray and preach. I saw your souls to be so precious and the time so short that I devoted all my time, care, and strength to labor in word and doctrine.

When cases of discipline were brought before me and the elders, I regarded them with something like abhorrence. It was a duty I shrank from and I may truly say it nearly drove me from the work of the ministry among you altogether. It pleased God, who teaches his servant in another way than man teaches, to bless some of the cases of discipline to the manifest and undeniable conversion of the souls of those under our care.

From that hour a new light broke in upon my mind and I saw that if preaching be an ordinance of Christ, so is church discipline. I now feel very deeply persuaded that both are of God. Both those keys are committed to us by Christ. The one the key of doctrine, by means of which we unlock the treasures of the Bible. The other the key of discipline by which we open or shut the sealing ordinances of the faith. Both are Christ’s gift, and neither is to be resigned without sin. Robert Murray M’Cheyne

We are called not only to teach and preach, but to do the hard work of shepherding sinners back to Christ.


Now let’s consider three points of application, to consider the way that this applies to all of us; not just leaders in the church or fathers.

1. Every one of us has a responsibility to cultivate a deep desire to see people come to believe in Jesus Christ and to remain in Jesus Christ. Our first desire, the first thing that we have to be about is to develop and stimulate, by the grace of God, a flame in our souls to see Jesus Christ and him glorified.

What that means is that we must also develop a deep fatherly affection for people. We have to look around the people in this room and be absolutely committed to their growth, flourishing, and repentance in Christ. We have to long for them to be increasingly conformed to Christ, just the way that a father wants that for a child.

So, how do we do this? First of all, we have to repent of our lovelessness. Do ever recognize ways in which you just don’t feel like you love that person that much? Whenever God brings that to you mind and your heart, that’s an opportunity to repent. That’s an opportunity to identify it as sin poisoning the body of Christ and to repent from it. To confess it to Jesus Christ, maybe confess it to someone else, and to seek by the grace of God to grow in love for our fellow believers.

Another way that we can do this is by praying for fellow believers in the church. I would encourage you to pick up a church directory and pray through the names of the people in the church. Its remarkable work God will do on your soul as you begin to pray through the names of the people in this church. It’s my goal to pray, by name, at least once every month for every member of our church. I would encourage you to just start praying for people.

Another thing I’m going to mention, and we will come back to it in a little bit, is that you need to dare to admonish those who are wandering from Christ. It’s not just my job, the job of the elders, it’s all of our job to love and admonish those who are wandering from Christ.

2. Every one of us must lead others through both word and deed. If someone took an audit of your whole life, what would they learn from you? Would they learn to value and to love for trivial entertainment, sports, frivolous things in life? Would they gain a new hunger and desire and appreciation for power, wealth, or worldly wisdom. Or from your life would they gain a new desire for Christ? What are your words teaching other people and what is your example showing to those around you?

For those of you who do teach, maybe Sunday school or preaching, does your life reflect your message? This is always something I’m convicted of. Number one, is your life formed by your message? This text was something that I spent a lot of time praying and thinking through this week in terms of my own shepherding and care for the people under my care this week. Is your life formed by the message that you teach, the message of Bible?

Is your message informed by your experience? Is your message informed by saying this is how I’ve tried to live this out? Let me tell you what I’ve learned in the ways that I’ve failed. It can’t just be theoretical; it has to be experiential in our lives.

3. Every one of us must be committed to reclaim others for Jesus regardless of the cost. Much of formal church discipline, what Paul is describing here as a rod in the church, is handled by the elders. This is part of what Jesus commands the elders to take care of. 1 Timothy 5:17,

17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.
1 Timothy 5:17, ESV

Part of this ruling, this exercise of the scepter of King Jesus happens among the elders of the church. Yet, every one of you has a part to play in it. When Jesus lays out the classic text of church discipline in Matthew eighteen, notice how it starts, it starts with you.

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matthew 18:15-17 , ESV

If you have never been a part of church discipline, and every one of us are called to be a part of daring to admonish those who are wandering from Christ, let me tell you something. Know from the outset that this is going to tear you up and eat you alive. You can hear Paul’s angst in this verse, “what do you wish, should I come to you with the rod, or with love and a spirit of gentleness.”

Know from the outset that this will rip you apart. If you get a thrill from this, if you love hunting heresy around every corner or finding fault under every rock, you need to hear the warnings of scripture.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Galatians 6:1, ESV

Here’s the thing, you will never experience more angst in your soul then when you admonish someone to come back from their sin. You will never experience more joy, there is more rejoicing in heaven when one sinner repents then when the ninety-nine remain. You will never experience more joy then when you experience a sinner come back to the fold.

You will also discover in that process, church discipline, this process of admonishing and caring for people and calling people back to Jesus, is the single most intense process by which God will sanctify you as well as the sinner. This is the way of the cross. At the cross, God demonstrated that he cared absolutely, without any kind of shrinking back from it, the righteousness and holiness of God.

Jesus had to suffer and bleed and bear the weight of God’s curse of the wrath for our sin at the cross because God was so committed to righteousness and holiness and justice. At the same time, at the same place, at the cross, we see the love of God for his people. God was not willing for any of his sheep to be lost. God was willing to send his own son to die for us.

At the cross Jesus underwent deep suffering for the good and glory of his people. He was reviled, condemned and humiliated and you may be too if you dare admonish people who are wandering from Jesus. He did this despising its shame because of the joy set before him. So, can we.

We are called to care first and foremost, our one job in the church, is that one another of us are being conformed to the image of Christ. Whether you are a father, mother, elder, anyone in the church, this is your one job; to see that the people sitting next to you never remember a day where they didn’t know Jesus.

Let’s pray.

Father we ask that as we come to this text that you would teach us something of your heart as our Heavenly Father. Not willing to let us go, willing to proclaim and protect the message of the gospel in teaching. Also willing to do whatever it took, even sending your son Jesus to die on a cross, to reclaim sinners in pain and suffering and anguish and shame. We thank you for what you have done for us through Jesus Christ and we pray that you would commit us to the task of bringing sheep that are wandering away, not to us, but back to Christ. We pray that Jesus and Jesus Christ alone would be exalted as the sole foundation of the church and as our Lord and Savior who has been exalted now to your right hand by which and by whom he rules as king over his church. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.