Shepherds Conference 2024 General Session 10

March 8, 11:00 a.m. 
Speaker: Austin Duncan
Topic: Truth Triumphs Through Pastoring
Passage: Hebrews 13:7–17


Message Summary: 

The epistle to the Hebrews is a call for perseverant faith. As the author brings his epistolary homily to a close in chapter 13, his message is right in tune with what we’ve been talking about this week. The triumph of truth. 

The triumph of truth is certain. And in this passage truth triumphs through something seemingly unremarkable: Truth triumphs through pastoring. 

What’s presented in this passage is that pastoring is the antidote to apostasy. Pastoring is what will help these people persevere. The fruit of their worship of Christ will be evident in their lives as they follow their leaders who follow Jesus faithfully.

This passage summarizes what the work of a pastor is: We teach and obey the Word of God. We provide for God’s flock in our teaching and with our lives, a careful example of what it looks like to follow Jesus no matter what the cost.

This passage also challenges us and reminds us that being a pastor is not being a visionary, innovative, entrepreneurial leader. A pastor is someone who has the conviction, the desire, and the will to follow Jesus faithfully, no matter where He leads. It’s an incredible passage for us as men who want to humbly follow Jesus and whose role is to teach the people the Word of Christ and invite them to walk with us as we follow Him.

1. We Must Be Steadfast in Faith 

Steadfastness in faith is dependent on the examples of others who are steadfast in their faith.

What is behind every true, God-honoring, Bible-preaching, faith-exhibiting, and holiness-pursuing pastor is the Chief Shepherd Himself. It’s Jesus Christ—the one who’s the same yesterday and today and forever. The people who invested in us, discipled us, and evangelized us represented someone who will never change or falter. 

We all have leaders in our life who have failed us. Though our leaders could not remain constant, though they were fallen, frail, and imperfect, and though some of them were maybe not even genuine followers of Jesus, they pointed us to the one who is always there for us. He will always teach us, always model for us, always provide for us ongoing leadership, working through real people who are shepherding us on behalf of the Chief Shepherd.

All of us are under King Jesus’s perfect example of steadfastness. He is the constant one. He is the one who is only and truly faithful.

2. We Must Be Strengthened by Grace

This writer of Hebrews wants these believers to understand something that we need to understand in our own battle against antinomianism or legalism: the nutritional value of legalism is zero. He wants them to know that those who try to make Christianity externally focused are doing it completely wrong.

Don’t be carried away by anything that takes the centrality of grace out of God’s plan of salvation and the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is exclusively the result of God’s mercy. Our obedience flows from a heart that’s been captured by God’s grace. 

Do not choose external regulations over the internal and eternal realities that Jesus has accomplished. We obey Jesus with our bodies. With all our hearts, we follow the commands that God has given to us. But every prohibition is rooted and grounded in the reality that is internally motivated. It has everything to do with what God is doing by grace inside our hearts.

We are the recipients of the grace of God. Ultimately it all comes down to that. The way we will be strengthened for final perseverance is by the grace of God. 

3. We Must Be Separated Unto Jesus 

We are separated unto Jesus not by externals but by the sacrifice that He has accomplished for us. The sacrifice of Jesus cleanses us and makes us holy. Our security, safety, identity, and holiness will not be found anywhere outside of Jesus Christ. 

We no longer bring animals to sacrifice. We bring a sacrifice of praise for the work that He has accomplished. We offer ourselves as living sacrifices in our worship of Jesus and our work among others. And we fix our eyes on the author and finisher of our faith, knowing we won’t find safety, security, or identity anywhere else.

4. We Must Live in Submission to Shepherds 

We are called to submit to spiritual leaders—godly men who follow Jesus and teach His Word, being very mindful that their authority is not their own but belongs to Jesus Himself. 

As a pastor, you’re following and you’re leading. You’re submitting to the Lord and to the spiritual leadership and insight of others. You’re remembering those steadfast examples that have gone before you in faithfulness.

And you’re leading people who are called to submit to you. You should hold that with a very careful grip. When pastors dictate outside of what God demands in His Word, they stand on very dangerous ground. 

Spiritual leadership is not about us. It’s not about our authority, our word, or our great ability to preach. The triumph of pastoring exists as pastoral leaders follow Jesus faithfully and invite their people to walk alongside them all the way to where Jesus is. That’s our calling. We can do nothing else of value.