Category Archives: Elders

“A prayer for preachers” by D.A. Carson

“Keep revising, praying, and preparing so it is not so much that you have mastered the material as that it has mastered you. There is a way of preaching in which you project an image of being an expert. There is a way of preaching in which you project an image of having been captured.

The latter is gained partly by continually revising, thinking through, and how you express yourself. It’s also attained by where your heart is, how greatly you think of God and of Christ and of the Gospel and how little you think of your preparation even though you’ve been so diligent at it. Let’s bow in prayer.

In truth, merciful God, we discover to our shame that we are not very consistent and we often slip and slide and become intoxicated by peripheral things. O Lord God, in the pressure on our time help us to make choices that are wise, honoring to You, for our people’s good. In the midst of counseling and caring and basic administration, remind us again and again that we are called to the ministry of the Word and prayer.

With all that means for study and preparation as well as for delivery, with all that it means for explaining the Bible to a single person, bringing the comfort of the Word to someone who is ill in the hospital or in an evangelistic group explaining your most Holy Word to people who don’t have a clue, with all that it means for sermon preparation, we confess humbly that we are, at best, unprofitable servants and that what we achieve we achieve by Your grace.

Make us, we beg of You, as holy as pardoned sinners can be this side of the consummation. Make us workers who do not need to be ashamed, rightly interpreting the Word of God. Help us so to grow in life and doctrine that others will see our progress and glorify You. Whether our charge is large or small, whether it is viewed as strategic or in some way removed from the hubbub of life, grant that our deepest concern will be for the well-being of the men and women over whom You have placed us as under-shepherds.

Grant to us the deepest desire to keep our eyes fixed on Christ Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has now sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. We bless You, Lord God, for the immense privilege of Christian ministry, and in its sorrows and hurts, give us a forbearing, forgiving spirit, a persevering grace that lives with eternity’s values in view.

In its moments of triumph and joy, help us to understand that as we work out our salvation, it is You working in us both to will and to do of Your good pleasure. As we grow in love for one another, help us to eschew every hint of the green-eyed monster so we start comparing service records and sizes of church.

Help us rather to be faithful to the One who has called us to live with eternity’s values in view, to delight in faithfulness in small things, to look forward to the approval of the Master Himself on the last day: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in a few matters; I will make you ruler over many things.’

Have mercy on us, Your people. Teach us not only understanding but tears. Help us to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep, and so to show ourselves mastered by the text that our very blood will be Bibline, prick us and we bleed Scripture. This for Christ’s sake, Amen.”

–D.A. Carson, “Preaching through Bible Books,” in D.A. Carson Sermon Library (Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2016).

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, D.A. Carson, Elders, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“Make much of our Lord Jesus Christ” by J.C. Ryle

“In conclusion, I will remind you of the words the Apostle addressed to the Ephesian elders: ‘I commend you to God and to the word of His grace.’ (Acts 20:32)

We are about to part, perhaps to meet no more in this world. Let us solemnly commend one another to God, and to the word of His grace, as that which will never err, never fail us, never lead us astray.

Guided by that Word as our light and lamp, we shall at last receive an inheritance among them that are sanctified.

Above all, let us never forget the advice which Whitefield gave in one of his letters: let us ‘make much of our Lord Jesus Christ.’

There are many things of which we may easily make too much in our ministry, give them too much attention, think about them too much.

But we can never make too much of Christ.”

–J.C. Ryle, “What Is Our Position,” Home Truths, seventh series (Ipswich: William Hunt, 1859), 267-268. These words were addressed to pastors at Weston-Super-Mare in August 1858.

2 Comments

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, Elders, J.C. Ryle, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Church, The Gospel

“A prayer request for pastors” by J.C. Ryle

“I will ask one favour on behalf of the brethren who have done the principal part of the labour in the meeting now nearly concluded. We ask a special place in your intercessory prayers.

You should consider the position in which we are placed. We are often put forward into positions which others perhaps would fill just as well, if they would but make the trial, and we are deeply sensible of our own deficiencies.

But still, being put forward in the forefront of the battle, we may surely ask for a special place in your prayers.

We are only flesh and blood. We are men of like passions with yourselves. We have our private trials, and our special temptations.

Often, while watering the vineyards of others, our own is comparatively neglected. Surely, it is not too much to ask you to pray for us.

Pray that we may be kept humble and sensible of our own weakness, and ever mindful that in the Lord alone can we be strong.

Pray that we may have wisdom to take the right step, to do the right thing, in the right way, and to do nothing to cause the Gospel to be blamed.

Pray, above all, that we may go straight on, even unto the end– that we may never lose our first love, and go back from first principles,– that it may never be said of us, that we are not the men we once were, but that we may go on consistently and faithfully, die in harness, and finish our course with joy, and the ministry which we have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God.”

–J.C. Ryle, “What Is Our Position,” Home Truths, seventh series (Ipswich: William Hunt, 1859), 267-268. These words were addressed to pastors at Weston-Super-Mare in August 1858.

3 Comments

Filed under Apostasy, Christian Theology, Elders, Glory of Christ, Humility, J.C. Ryle, Jesus Christ, Patience, Perseverance, Prayer, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Church, The Gospel

“Work hard at the passing on of the gospel” by D.A. Carson

“Work hard at the passing on of the gospel. As you know as well as I, there were no chapter breaks or verse breaks when these manuscripts were first written, so the end of chapter 1 runs smoothly into the beginning of chapter 2.

‘You, then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.’

In other words, in the light of the flow from the end of chapter 1, the way you preserve the pattern of sound teaching, the way you guard the gospel, the way you elevate the good news of Jesus Christ is not simply by going in an isolated fashion to a defensive posture but precisely by training a new generation.

In other words, one of the ways you preserve the gospel is precisely by finding another generation to tap them on the shoulder and becoming a mentor to them so they themselves learn the gospel well.

Otherwise, no matter how faithful you are, the most you have done is preserved it while you’re still alive. Which means your vision is small.

So one of the responsibilities, in other words, of any generation of Christian leader is precisely to preserve the pattern of sound teaching, to preserve the gospel, to glory in it, to teach it, to evangelize, to establish believers in it and be willing to suffer for it precisely by mentoring a whole new generation coming along behind who themselves prove to be reliable men who will be able and qualified to teach others.”

–D. A. Carson, “Motivation for Ministry,” in D. A. Carson Sermon Library (Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2016), 2 Ti 1:1–2:2.

1 Comment

Filed under Christian Theology, Cornelius Van Til, D.A. Carson, Earnestness, Elders, Evangelism, Jesus Christ, New Testament, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Church, The Gospel

“A minister needs to be a jack of all trades” by John Newton

“Give my love to Mr. ****. He has desired a good work; may the Lord give him the desires of his heart.

May he give him the wisdom of Daniel, the meekness of Moses, the courage of Joshua, the zeal of Paul, and that self-abasement and humility which Job and Isaiah felt when they not only had heard of Him by the hearing of the ear, but saw His glory, and abhorred themselves in dust and ashes.

May he be taught of God, (none teacheth like Him,) and come forth an able minister of the New Testament, well instructed rightly to divide and faithfully to distribute the word of truth.

In the school of Christ, (especially if the Lord designs him to be a teacher of others,) he will be put to learn some lessons not very pleasant to flesh and blood: he must learn to run, to fight, to wrestle, and many other exercises, some of which will try his strength, and others his patience.

You know the common expression of a jack of all trades. I am sure a minister had need be such an one: a soldier, a watchman, a shepherd, a husbandman, a builder, a planter, a physician, and a nurse.

But let him not be discouraged. He has a wonderful and a gracious Master, who can not only give instructions, but power, and engages that His grace shall be sufficient, at all times and in all circumstances, for those who simply give themselves up to His teaching and His service.

I am sincerely yours’s,

John Newton”

–John Newton, “Letter XVIII (August 13, 1773)” in The Works of John Newton, Vol. 6. Ed. Richard Cecil (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 6:102–103.

1 Comment

Filed under Christian Theology, Ecclesiology, Elders, Jesus Christ, John Newton, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Church, The Gospel

“A most ordinary pastor” by D.A. Carson

“Tom Carson never rose very far in denominational structures, but hundreds of people in the Outaouais and beyond testify how much he loved them.

He never wrote a book, but he loved the Book.

He was never wealthy or powerful, but he kept growing as a Christian: yesterday’s grace was never enough.

He was not a far-sighted visionary, but he looked forward to eternity.

He was not a gifted administrator, but there is no text that says, ‘By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you are good administrators.’

His journals have many, many entries bathed in tears of contrition, but his children and grandchildren remember his laughter. Only rarely did he break through his pattern of reserve and speak deeply and intimately with his children, but he modeled Christian virtues to them.

He much preferred to avoid controversy than to stir things up, but his own commitments to historic confessionalism were unyielding, and in ethics he was a man of principle.

His own ecclesiastical circles were rather small and narrow, but his reading was correspondingly large and expansive.

He was not very good at putting people down, except on his prayer lists.

When he died, there were no crowds outside the hospital, no editorial comments in the papers, no announcements on television, no mention in Parliament, no attention paid by the nation.

In his hospital room there was no one by his bedside. There was only the quiet hiss of oxygen, vainly venting because he had stopped breathing and would never need it again.

But on the other side all the trumpets sounded.

Dad won entrance to the only throne room that matters, not because he was a good man or a great man-he was, after all, a most ordinary pastor-but because he was a forgiven man.

And he heard the voice of Him whom he longed to hear saying, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Lord.'”

–D.A. Carson, Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), 147-148.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Theology, D.A. Carson, Death, Earnestness, Ecclesiology, Elders, Eschatology, Forgiveness, Holiness, Jesus Christ, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Church, The Gospel

“Watch me” by D.A. Carson

“As a chemistry undergraduate at McGill University, with another chap I started a Bible study for unbelievers. That fellow was godly but very quiet and a bit withdrawn.

I had the mouth, I fear, so by default it fell on me to lead the study. The two of us did not want to be outnumbered, so initially we invited only three people, hoping that not more than two would come.

Unfortunately, the first night all three showed up, so we were outnumbered from the beginning. By week five we had sixteen people attending, and still only the initial two of us were Christians.

I soon found myself out of my depth in trying to work through John’s Gospel with this nest of students. On many occasions the participants asked questions I had no idea how to answer.

But in the grace of God there was a graduate student on campus called Dave Ward. He had been converted quite spectacularly as a young man. He was, I suppose, what you might call a rough jewel.

He was slapdash, in your face, with no tact and little polish, but he was aggressively evangelistic, powerful in his apologetics, and winningly bold. He allowed people like me to bring people to him every once in a while so that he could answer their questions.

Get them there and Dave would sort them out! So it was that one night I brought two from my Bible study down to Dave. He bulldozed his way around the room, as he always did.

He gave us instant coffee then, turning to the first student, asked, ‘Why have you come?’

The student replied, ‘Well, you know, I think that university is a great time for finding out about different points of view, including different religions. So I’ve been reading some material on Buddhism, I’ve got a Hindu friend I want to question, and I should also study some Islam. When this Bible study started I thought I’d get to know a little more about Christianity – that’s why I’ve come.’

Dave looked at him for a few moments and then said, ‘Sorry, but I don’t have time for you.’

‘I beg your pardon?’ said the student.

‘Look,’ Dave replied, ‘I’ll loan you some books on world religions; I can show you how I understand Christianity to fit into all this, and why I think biblical Christianity is true – but you’re just playing around. You’re a dilettante. You don’t really care about these things; you’re just goofing off. I’m a graduate student myself, and I don’t have time – I do not have the hours at my disposal to engage in endless discussions with people who are just playing around.’

He turned to the second student: ‘Why did you come?’

‘I come from a home that you people call liberal,’ he said. ‘We go to the United Church and we don’t believe in things like the literal resurrection of Jesus – I mean, give me a break. The deity of Christ, that’s a bit much. But my home is a good home. My parents love my sister and me, we are a really close family, we worship God, we do good in the community. What do you think you’ve got that we don’t have?’

For what seemed like two or three minutes, Dave looked at him. Then he said, ‘Watch me.’

As it happened, this student’s name was also Dave. This Dave said, ‘I beg your pardon?’

Dave Ward repeated what he had just said, and then expanded: ‘Watch me. I’ve got an extra bed; move in with me, be my guest – I’ll pay for the food. You go to your classes, do whatever you have to do, but watch me. You watch me when I get up, when I interact with people, what I say, what moves me, what I live for, what I want in life. You watch me for the rest of the semester, and then you tell me at the end of it whether or not there’s a difference.’

Dave Two did not literally take Dave Ward up on his offer: he didn’t move in with him. But he did keep going to see him. Before the end of that semester he became a Christian, and subsequently a medical missionary overseas.

You who are older should be looking out for younger people and saying in effect, ‘Watch me.’

Come – I’ll show you how to have family devotions.

Come – I’ll show you how to do Bible study.

Come on – let me take you through some of the fundamentals of the faith.

Come – I’ll show you how to pray. Let me show you how to be a Christian husband and father, or wife and mother.

At a certain point in life, that older mentor should be saying other things, such as: Let me show you how to die. Watch me.”

–D.A. Carson, From the Resurrection to His Return (Geanies House, Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2010), 28-32.

2 Comments

Filed under Christian Theology, D.A. Carson, Discipleship, Elders, Jesus Christ, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel