Monday, February 02, 2009

GOSPEL FEAR
...recovering a reverence for God in ministry

In light of the discussion from this past week... I humbly ask the readership here - where are the men of God who tremble at His Word; who preach it straightforwardly; who live it uncompromisingly; who walk circumspectly; who have a bold orthodoxy and a countenance clothed with humility; who worship in the Spirit of God, glory in Christ Jesus and place no confidence in the flesh; who pray with expectancy; who lead with servant-authority; who are strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus; who will not play politics with God and man; who are not swayed by the promise of financial gain; who will not be enticed by the temporal contingencies of men; who strive not for prominence, power, position, praise, or promotion; who do not consider their lives of any account as dear to themselves, so that they may finish their course and the ministry which they received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God?

Here the Word of the Lord beloved:

-from the prophet Isaiah:
Is. 30:10 Who say to the seers, “You must not see visions”; And to the prophets, “You must not prophesy to us what is right, Speak to us pleasant words, Prophesy illusions.

Is. 66:2 “For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.

-from the prophet Jeremiah:
Jer. 5:22a ‘Do you not fear Me?’ declares the LORD. ‘Do you not tremble in My presence? 


Jer. 5:24 ‘They do not say in their heart, “Let us now fear the LORD our God, Who gives rain in its season, Both the autumn rain and the spring rain, Who keeps for us The appointed weeks of the harvest.” 

Jer. 5:25 ‘Your iniquities have turned these away, And your sins have withheld good from you. 

Jer. 5:28 ‘They are fat, they are sleek, They also excel in deeds of wickedness; They do not plead the cause, The cause of the orphan, that they may prosper; And they do not defend the rights of the poor. 

Jer. 5:30-31 ¶ “An appalling and horrible thing Has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule on their own authority; And My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?

-from the Apostle Paul:
2 Cor. 5:11 ¶ Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.

2 Tim. 4:1 ¶ I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2Tim. 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

-from the Lord Jesus Christ:
Matt. 7:21-29 ¶ “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ ¶ “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” ¶ When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

Jeremiah Burroughs from Gospel Fear
"If this is such a disposition that God so looks at, it should teach the ministers of God who have to deal with God's Word that when they speak it, they must speak it in such a manner that it may gain fear and trembling, that the hearts of people may be struck with fear and trembling. They must not come to dally and to play with men's fancies, nor with their own wit; but when they come to speak the Word of God, in God's name, they should labor to speak it so that the hearts of their listeners may be struck with fear and trembling. For, indeed, there is such a way of speaking the Word of God that will bring it with majesty to the hearts of the people to whom we speak.

In 1 Corinthians 2:4, the apostle says there, concerning the ministry of the Word, 'My speak and preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.' See here two sorts of preaching. There is preaching that is with enticing words of man's wisdom, upon which a preacher may be commended as being a brave man, a witty man, a curious man, or any of a hundred other such epithets. 'But', says Paul, 'we preach in the demonstration of the Spirit.' And look what follows: 'and of power.' So that the power of the Word follows upon the demonstration of the Spirit. When people apprehend a minister preaching only with his wits and his gifts, the heart of a man will condemn it. It may commend the man, but condemn the Word, for it has no power over the conscience; but when a minister of God comes in God's name, and preaches in the demonstration of the Spirit, then he preaches with power, such power as prevails with the consciences of men: the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. It is said of Christ in Matthew 7 that He did not preach as the Scribes and Pharisees, but as one who had authority, as one who spoke to the consciences of men. So the ministers of Christ ought to speak in the name of Christ as being backed with the authority of Christ, as men who have to deal with men's consciences and not with men's fancies. And certainly it is the best commendation of a sermon that the hearts of the people are struck with it.

Those who write of Basil and Chrysostom, those two famous preachers in their time, tell us that these men did not account their honors to be in the hums of people, in their applause, but in their crying out, 'What shall I do to be saved?' Here's the commendation of a minister. And ministers should labor that their ministry be such a ministry because the Lord has such a high esteem of a heart that trembles at His Word. There is matter enough in the Word of God to make any heart to tremble if it is delivered as the Word of God. What's the chaff to the wheat? 1 Peter 4:11: 'If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.' If any man undertakes to speak God's Word, it must be as the Word of God, the oracles of God."
This is what I pray for as I minister around the world, that the Lord would raise up men of God who will have a reverence for Him in all things concerning life and doctrine.

10 comments:

Aaron L. Turner said...

Steve,
Thanks for this post. It is at once convicting and encouraging.

Only by God's grace can we be ministers who fear God, and perform our ministries in light of that fear.

I trust all is going well for you.

Blessings,
Aaron L. Turner

Bhedr said...

Hammer away Sledge...and when you are done always lead them to the relief found in the blessed grace of God. Never leave em bleedin'

Nathan W. Bingham said...

Thanks Steve.

Sadly, many would intellectually acknowledge the reverence God deserves, however by their actions deny it. May we, by God's grace, return to ministering in a way that reflects that we are convinced we have been called and saved by one whom the Seraphim proclaim is "Holy, Holy Holy..."

olan strickland said...

Hiding behind cultural relevance, men can preach with enticing words of men's wisdom, cleverness, and craftiness; and then as Burroughs said, preachers may be commended as being brave men, witty men, curious men, or any of a hundred other such epithets. The truth is that these kind of men are sensual and malign the truth; operating under the fear of man rather than the fear of God.

Kurt Michaelson said...

Amen Steve, this is very encouraging and convicting, in a good way for me.

Thanks for sharing this.

Semper fi in Christ.

Arthur Sido said...

How can we reverence a God we think is our buddy, who is desperate for people to like Him, who has a gaping man-shaped hole in His heart? When we abandon the Gospel truth, we abandon the reverence and holy fear of God. Who fears a God who whimpers for us to make a decision for him, to choose Him? That is not a sovereign we should bow down to, that is the Wizard of Oz, a figure to be pitied and despised.

Men are afraid to declare the God of the Bible because it will drive away those who are there to be entertained, who drop money in the plate because they approve of the performance. Until we get the pernicious influence of money out of the church, we will continue to see a steady stream of man-pleasers in pulpits. The Gospel is not a message that will make you popular with sinners, it will not gain you the acclaim of the world. Playing the fool in the pulpit, cavorting about like a clown may fill the church coffers and pay for the audio-visual upgrade but it will not engender a reverence for God.

SJ Camp said...

Nathan
May we, by God's grace, return to ministering in a way that reflects that we are convinced we have been called and saved by one whom the Seraphim proclaim is "Holy, Holy Holy..."

AMEN!

SJ Camp said...

Olan
Well said my brother! So much of ministry these days is focused on market research, audience vetting, cultural relevance, and pulpit entertainment.

Oh to return to what the prophet Isaiah said, "...But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at My Word." (Isaiah 66:2b)

Thank you again brother.
Campi

SJ Camp said...

Arthur
How can we reverence a God we think is our buddy, who is desperate for people to like Him...

BINGO! Dumbing down the character of God for the sake of relating to a world in crisis is foolishness. In our worship may we always present a high view of God whether in song or word.

Thank you brother.
Steve

SJ Camp said...

Aaron
Only by God's grace can we be ministers who fear God, and perform our ministries in light of that fear.

That should be branded on the doorposts of all seminaries and pastor's studies across this world.

Thank you.
Steve