Sunday, September 21, 2008

God's men in ministry should be different than the world around them


All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be,
declares the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.
-ISAIAH 66:2

The profane should never mark the pulpits of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Men of God used to tremble at God's Word, preach in the fear of the Lord as they sought to rightly divide His Word, and guarded their words carefully when calling others to be obedient to its truth. They treated sin as the Bible treats it; in that it took the Lord of glory to shed His precious blood on Calvary to propitiate the Father on behalf of the sins of the elect. They didn't consider it a laughable or trivial thing when speaking from the holy text and declaring "thus saith the Lord." They weren't promoters, they were prophets; they weren't showmen, they were shepherds; they weren't entertainers, they were expositors; they weren't popinjays, they were prayer warriors; they weren't stars, they were servants; and they weren't primarily men of the times, they were passionate men of the truth.

Now today the pulpiteers are different. They strut, mock, deride, promote the profane, use scatological speech. smutty humor, tell little stories, want to appeal to culture, and think of attending a live concert by Chris Rock as their best homiletics class they have ever been too.

No wonder the church in America is 3,000 miles wide and a half inch deep; and why it lacks power and stands to reason why 3,500 churches are closing their doors every year. 

"Like people... like priest."

Men of God... do you hear the heavenly charge of your office ringing in your ears this very hour? That charge is not to be relevant; it is not to relate to the culture; it is not to be ribald in your speech; it is not to enlarge your own reputation; it is not to wrest the Scriptures to satisfy the itching ears of restless rebels of the gospel. 

Hear the word of the Lord:
I 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: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. -2 Timothy 4:1-5

Oh for men of God whom are serious, solemn and sober-minded to do be that kind of pastor once again. 

Yokefellows of the gospel: may I humbly encourage you to preach each week from the sacred desk for an Audience of One; and then trust the Lord that HE will add to His church daily such as to be saved. Amen?

It is as John Gill has rightly said when expositing 2 Cor. 4:2, 5:
But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty...
Or "shame"; this is a further account of the conduct of the first ministers of the Gospel, and very worthy of our imitation, and in which the apostle strikes at the different manner of behavior in the false apostles: this may respect both doctrine and practice; they abhorred and rejected everything that was scandalous and reproachful to the Gospel of Christ; in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, they had their conversation in the world; they were open and above board, both in principle and practice; the same men in public, as in private; they used no art to cover their doctrines, or hide their conversations; everything of this kind was detestable to them; whereas the false teachers took a great deal of pains to colour over both their sentiments and their lives; and "a shame it was to speak of the things that were done of them in secret," Ephesians 5:12.

Moreover, they were not walking in craftiness;
they used no sly and artful methods to please men, to gain applause from them, or make merchandise of them; they did not lie in wait to deceive, watching an opportunity to work upon credulous and incautious minds; they did not, by good words and fair speeches, deceive the hearts of the simple; nor put on different forms, or make different appearances, in order to suit themselves to the different tempers and tastes of men, as did the false apostles:

not handling the word of God deceitfully.
They did not corrupt it with human doctrines, or mix and blend it with philosophy, and vain deceit; they did not wrest the Scriptures to serve any carnal or worldly purpose or conceal any part of truth, or keep back any thing which might be profitable to the churches:

but by the manifestation of the truth, commending themselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God;
that is, they with all plainness and evidence clearly preached the truth as it is in Jesus, presenting it to, and pressing it upon the consciences of men; where they left it, and to which they could appeal; and all this they did, in the sight and presence of the omniscient God, to whom they knew they must give an account of themselves and their ministry.

For we preach not ourselves...
These words contain a reason why the apostles behaved themselves in the manner described, 2 Corinthians 4:2 and serve to explain in what sense this inspired writer is to be understood, when he calls the Gospel our Gospel, 2 Corinthians 4:3 and most clearly proves the Gospel to be a glorious one, which he had asserted, 2 Corinthians 4:4 since Christ, and not themselves, is the subject of it, "for we preach not ourselves." They did not preach any doctrine of their own devising; they did not set up themselves as lords over the faith and consciences of men; nor was their view in preaching to set forth their learning, parts, and eloquence, or to amass wealth and riches to themselves; nor did they assert the purity of human nature, or the power of man to do anything of himself that is spiritually good; or that justification and salvation are by works of righteousness done by men.

To do any, or each, or all of these, as did the false apostles, is to preach a man's self: but so did not these faithful dispensers of the word, but they preached Christ Jesus the Lord; that is, the doctrines respecting the person, office, and grace of Christ; as that he is truly and properly God, the eternal and only begotten Son of God, God and man in one person, the only Mediator between God and man, and the Saviour and Redeemer of lost sinners; that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the true Messiah; and that this Christ is Jesus, a Saviour, the only able and willing one; and that this Jesus Christ is "Lord" of all, especially of the saints; not only as Creator, but as their head, husband, and Redeemer; that peace and reconciliation, pardon and righteousness, life and salvation, are only by him: and they also declared themselves the servants of the churches, and ourselves your servants. The apostle does not say they were the servants of Christ, though they were, and esteemed it their greatest honour to be so; for he had no need to observe this, since this is included in their preaching him as "Lord": nor does he say they were the servants of men, or menpleasers, for then they would not be the servants of Christ; but he asserts them to be the servants of the churches: and which must be understood, not with respect to things temporal, with which they had no concern; but with regard to things spiritual, particularly to the ministration of the word, and administration of ordinances: and this they professed to be, or Jesus' sake; either for the sake of preaching Christ unto them; or because they were chosen and called by him to this service, and in which they were willing to continue, for the sake of his honour and interest.
May we pray for a new generation of godly men who will take seriously the Word, the pulpit, His church, and the ministry once again.


Dave Algie said...

Thought-provoking post, Steve. Just a typo to point out. You say "America is 3,000 miles and a half inch deep.." I suspect you meant "3000 miles WIDE and a half inch deep."

Or something like that. I'm an English teacher and thus a compulsive proof reader.

Hope your week is getting off to a really great start.

Anonymous said...

Steve: Powerful post brother.

I am reminded of something I read about the first American Great Awakening. One of the leaders in that move of God (it may have been Edwards, I am not sure) realized that one of the greatest spiritual problems he faced in his day was that the people populating the churches were not born again and they were not born again because the pastors in the pulpits were not preaching the true Word of God.

Have we come full circle since that time and find ourselves facing yet another epidemic of watered-down, tickle-the-ears sermonizing?

What will awaken us this time?

KarensFaith said...

What will awaken us this time?

I am praying that something will.

God bless!

Carla said...

Steve said "May we pray for godly men who take seriously the Word, the Pulpit, and His church, and the ministry once again."

I am mindful and thankful every day, that my pastor is one of those pastors. I know how hard it can be to find a local church that is both sound Biblically and NOT so caught up with being "hip" that they've out-hipped the central teaching of the gospel right out the door.

We should all be in prayer for more pastors and churches like this - the need is GREAT in North American culture - and believers are miserable and being starved for sound teaching, as a result of it.

gigantor1231 said...


Isaiah 66: 2 is one of my favorite passages and it always refreshes me and brings me a sense of freedom when I hear it!

But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.

Sounds like the worlds definition of a coward. I would rather be God's coward any day.
What of John the Baptist who said;

John 3: 29, 30

29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Jn 3:29-30). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

What if the words spoken through you were such that those that heard them forgot who you were but remembered only Christ? What if you received no acclaim or applause but Christ received it all? While this is not necessarily reality because people do have memories, this is what we should strive for, He is due all the glory. Just as the 24 elders do in Revelation 4: 10, 11;

10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11  “ Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”

The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Re 4:10-11). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

let us do the same.

SJ Camp said...

Correction made. My mind was faster than my typing.

And thank you for your kind words as always.

SJ Camp said...

One of the leaders in that move of God (it may have been Edwards, I am not sure) realized that one of the greatest spiritual problems he faced in his day was that the people populating the churches were not born again and they were not born again because the pastors in the pulpits were not preaching the true Word of God.

Have we come full circle since that time and find ourselves facing yet another epidemic of watered-down, tickle-the-ears sermonizing?

What will awaken us this time?

One of the greatest mission fields in America is the faithful attendee to his or her church on Sunday morning who is not truly regenerate, but lulled to spiritual sleep by the comfort of their own cheap grace and lukewarm faith that they hear each week from the pulpit designed to comfort rather than convict them of their sins.

You asked the great question... "what will awaken us this time?" It must be what it has always been: the Holy Spirit using the Word and the Gospel proclaimed to plow up the fallow ground and bring the lost to repentance.

Thank you for your post...

SJ Camp said...

believers are miserable and being starved for sound teaching,


May pastors see this as THE great need of the hour: To preach the Word and Christ Jesus as Lord and not themselves.

SJ Camp said...

Thank you for pointing us once again to the Scriptures.


Denise said...

"A preacher's life should be a commentary of his doctrine; his practice should be a counterpart of his sermons. Heavenly doctrines should always be adorned with a heavenly life." (Thomas Brooks)