Greg Sykes, pastor of First Baptist Church, Russellville, and president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, speaks during the morning session of the annual meeting Oct. 23 at Central Baptist Church, Jonesboro.
Sykes: Our ministry should exemplify Christ
Arkansas Baptist News
JONESBORO – Greg Sykes, pastor of First Baptist Church, Russellville, and president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, presented the president’s message during the morning session of the annual meeting Oct. 23 at Central Baptist Church, Jonesboro.
Speaking from Acts 20, Sykes said that Paul’s pastoral plea to the church at Ephesus has many lessons for the church today, especially to pastors, ministers and church leaders.
Paul spoke pointedly about himself, allowing him to speak pointedly about the church, said Sykes.
Sykes presented five points of emphasis that Paul taught to the church at Ephesus, based on his own personal experience following Christ: 1) toward God, 2) toward the church, 3) toward the lost, 4) toward himself and 5) toward everyone.
“Paul’s ministry mantra is very simple – do what I have done,” said Sykes. “And he would tell them that all that he had done was attempt to be like Jesus.”
Sykes said that this is what ministry should look like. All the apostles, an early Christians, knew to do was to attempt to live like, and model, Jesus, he said.
Paul’s lived in such a way as to be an example to others. Like Paul, every pastor or Christian leaders’ personal and private lives must be one and the same, said Sykes.
“All of us are but poor, lost, needy sinners without Christ,” said Sykes.
The appropriate response to Christ, in light of His love and salvation, is to be His servant, he said.
Throughout the book of Acts we read examples of the importance of preaching and teaching in the early church, said Sykes.
“Sharing God’s Word with the lost presupposes knowing the Word of God,” he said.
The standard of Jesus Christ, which Paul reflected, was one of self-sacrifice and lack of self-preservation.
“I’m not saying volunteer for suffering but we must be willing to sacrifice yourself for the gospel,” said Sykes.
The American church has experienced a sharp decline in the integrity of ministers and they are currently reaping the fruits of said decline, he said.
“The man of God should be above reproach,” said Sykes.
After sharing his personal example with the Ephesians, Paul shares four points of exhortation regarding the duties of pastors and ministers: 1) shepherd the flock, 2) guard the flock, 3) rest in grace, and 4) flee self-interest.
“Legalism is the doctrine that is most at home in conservative churches,” said Sykes. “Holiness and grace must go together. … But all of this breaks down if we do not study the Word of God.”
“A whole lot more than we need to get in touch with ourselves. … We need to know that we are loved and made new by the love and grace of God,” said Sykes.
The social gospel and prosperity gospel are both unbiblical approaches that are alive and well in America today, said Sykes, but Christians must follow the example of Christ, not making money a master or focusing all our efforts on aiding physical needs instead of spiritual needs.
“Ultimately, Jesus Christ is our example,” he said.
Contact Caleb Yarbrough at email@example.com.