Jesus Christ is Risen! Did you wake up and remind yourself of that marvelous truth today? It is a great truth that has both daily and eternal consequences for us as believers. And we are graphically reminded of our sure and certain hope of eternal life whenever we attend a funeral or pass a graveyard. Easter has a special place in the hearts of all of us who have had loved ones go before us to their eternal reward. Jesus comforted Martha after the death of her brother (and before he was miraculously raised by Jesus) with those wonderful words, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26). And we will have an opportunity to share our resurrection hope together at the memorial service for Rev. Bob Louthan this month.
I was looking through some of RBL’s (that’s how he signed most of them) newsletter articles and found this from April 1989:
To mosey about in an old cemetery need not be a morbid diversion but hopefully a recall of a significant past with which God has blessed us.
Just so. We will have that chance to recall God’s blessing from Pastor Louthan’s 35+ years of ministry on April 20th. Although I did not know Rev. Louthan personally, he indirectly impacted my life through his time at Wallace Memorial Presbyterian Church, where my father grew up and from which he entered the ministry. But Bob and Sue did directly impact the lives of many in our congregation. Let me quote again from the “Pastor’s Corner” (Feb/Mar 1998):
Thirty-five years is more than a generation! God willing (and the creek not overflowing – which I do really believe is in His good hands!) Susan and I will have been with you that number of years in mid-November. From 1963 until 1981 we were at Babcock Memorial and since 1981 the planting and settling of Loch Raven Presbyterian Church.
Our three children and both of us have grown up in your midst. We have never lived as long any place as in Loch Raven Village. In short, you are our family – and a choice one! There is something very precious in being able to see people as generations. Some of you we have known as children, youth, and adults; there are some whom I have baptized and have been privileged to have baptized their children; and one or two whose wedding ceremonies I have performed and have or will perform the same for their children!
Praise God for His faithful servants! And it is abundantly evident that throughout Rev. Louthan’s many years, his abiding passion was to point people to Jesus. Every minister ought to be about the task of building on the foundation already laid for us – the finished work of Christ. And every true pastor seeks to imitate the Good Shepherd. Bob’s life is testimony to those very things. He was willing to sacrifice much when he led the group out of the mainline denomination. He was unwilling to compromise the truth and authority of God’s Word. And he loved the flock; one of the gifts he had was to remember everyone’s name – what a blessing! And what a pointer to the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep by name (Jn. 10:3, 14).
Let me ask you who knew Rev. Louthan (and those who did not) to remember and think about these four truths:
The Good Shepherd Knows His Sheep (Jn. 10:14)
Jesus, our Great Shepherd (see Heb. 13:20-21) knows everything about us, He knows what’s in our heart and mind, He knows our needs and desires. And, although our sin has separated us from Him, out of His great love He has poured out mercy and grace upon us. As Thomas Watson has said, Christ’s knowing His sheep is His loving them,” even laying down His own life for our salvation! And He cares for us perfectly – see Psalm 23 and Isaiah 40:11.
The Good Shepherd Gives His Sheep Eternal Life (Jn. 10:28)
Our greatest need – new life, eternal life – is exactly what Jesus gives. We enjoy a fullness of life with Christ both now and forevermore (see Jn. 10:10). And that promise will never be broken, it is a gift that is absolutely certain. Jesus says, “I will give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand” (Jn. 10:28). How can this be? It is only because of Christ’s perfect sacrifice for our sins and His continual intercession on our behalf. Listen to Watson again: Jesus Christ is a better Shepherd than any on earth was before or after because Christ prays for His sheep . . . John 17:9: ‘I will pray for them.’ And what does Christ pray for them? Why, He prays that they may not wander, that they may not tire or faint, that they may not die by the way. And this is Christ’s prayer for His sheep, John 17:11: ‘Holy Father, keep them whom Thou hast given Me.’ And this prayer of Christ for His elect sheep is perpetuated. There is not one minute wherein we can say that Christ is not praying for us. How can these sheep miscarry when their blessed Shepherd is always watching over them and praying for them?” (Thomas Watson, The Duty of Self-Denial and Ten Other Sermons, 132.)
His sheep know and love their Shepherd (Jn. 10:11, 14)
Do you? Take the time, make the effort to know Jesus Christ as your Shepherd. Pray for an increase in faith and love. He is a better master than anyone or anything else could ever be! Spend time every day in His presence – i.e., in the Word and in prayer. Make the assembly of the saints in public worship a priority as godly pastors shepherd God’s flock (see 1 Pt. 5:2). Please take care to know Him, for the Bible clearly warns us that there will come a day when some will hear the Shepherd say to them, “I never knew you” (see Mt. 7:21-23).
His sheep listen to and follow Him. (Jn. 10:27)
Where do we hear Him? In His Word! And, by God’s grace, in the preaching of His Word. How do we know what He wants us to do? He has revealed His will for us clearly in the Bible: as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Pt. 2:15); but we cannot do this or be this apart from Christ and His grace! So go to Jesus and abide in Him.
There is no better way to honor the memory of Rev. Robert B. Louthan than by supremely honoring his and your Good Shepherd! Do you know Jesus? Love Him! Follow Him!