Category Archives: Elders

“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 That fellow was godly but very quiet and a bit withdrawn.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.

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“Now to this God I commend you” by George Swinnock

“Now to this God, according to my power, I have, I do, and I shall commend you, to his favour and singular affection, to His power and special protection, and to His care and universal benediction.

I cannot commend you to one so faithful; though others fall off like leaves in autumn, He will never leave you that are His, nor forsake you.

I cannot commend you to one so loving; He lived in love, He in our natures died for love. His love is like Himself, boundless and bottomless.

It is impossible to commend you to one so able; He can supply all your needs, He fill all your souls to the brim; grace is lovely in your eyes, whoever beheld it.

Glory is infinitely amiable in your judgments, whoever believed it. He can build you up, and give you an inheritance, where all the heirs are kings and queens, and you shall sit on thrones, and live and reign with Christ forever and ever.

There you shall have robes of purity on your backs, and palms of victory in your hands, and crowns of glory on your heads, and songs of triumph in your mouths.

There you may meet together to worship Him without fear, and drink freely of His sweetest, dearest favour.

There your services will be without the smallest sin, and your souls will be without the least sorrow.

If pastor and people meet there, they shall part nevermore. It is some comfort now, that though distant in places, we can meet together at the throne of grace.

But oh, what a comfort will it be to meet together in that palace of glory!

But since we must part here, ‘finally, my brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind. Live in peace and the God of love and peace shall be with you.’

‘And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance amongst all them that are sanctified.'”

–George Swinnock, “The Pastor’s Farewell,” in The Works of George Swinnock, Vol. 4 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust reprint of the 1868 James Nichol edition, 1992), 99-100. Swinnock preached this farewell sermon to the congregation of Great Kimble, Buckinghamshire on Black Bartholomew’s Day, August 24, 1662.

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“When I hear a knock at my study door” by John Newton

“I see in this world two heaps, of human happiness and misery: now, if I can take but the smallest bit from from one heap and add to the other, I carry a point.

If, as I go home, a child has dropped a halfpenny, and if, by giving it another, I can wipe away its tears, I feel I have done something. I should be glad, indeed, to do greater things; but I will not neglect this.

When I hear a knock at my study door, I hear a message from God. It may be a lesson of instruction; perhaps a lesson of patience: but, since it is His message, it must be interesting.”

–John Newton, The Works of the John Newton, Ed. Richard Cecil (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 1:76.

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“Bless our modest efforts” by Theodore Beza

“We are able to say, by the grace of God, that we have preached, and continue to preach, the pure truth contained in God’s holy Word. But alas, at what price?

Where is our zeal, our care, and our diligence as pastors? O Lord, support us therefore by Your infininte goodness. Preserve in us a good and right conscience.

Fill us with zeal for Your glory. Increase in us the knowledge, the wisdom, the love, and the endurance required for such a calling.

In sum, be pleased to bless our modest efforts.”

–Theodore Beza, Sermons sur l’histoire de la resurrection de nostre Seigneur Iesus Christ (Geneva: Jean le Preux, 1593), 568. As quoted in Scott Manetsch, Calvin’s Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536-1609 (Oxford: OUP, 2013), 307.

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“The general blowing up of windbags” by Charles Spurgeon

“We should constantly preserve the holy activity of our minds. Woe unto the minister who dares to waste an hour. Read John Foster’s ‘Essay On the Improvement of Time’ and resolve never to lose a second of it.

A man who goes up and down from Monday morning till Saturday night, and indolently dreams that he is to have his text sent down by an angelic messenger in the last hour or two of the week, tempts God, and deserves to stand speechless on the Sabbath.

We have no leisure as ministers; we are never off duty, but are on our watchtowers day and night. Students, I tell you solemnly nothing will excuse you from the most rigid economy of time. It is at your peril that you trifle with it.

The leaf of your ministry will soon wither unless, like the blessed man in the first Psalm, you meditate in the law of the Lord both day and night. I am most anxious that you should not throw away time in religious dissipation, or in gossiping and frivolous talk.

Beware of running about from this meeting to that listening to mere twaddle and contributing your share to the general blowing up of windbags. A man great at tea drinkings, evening parties, and Sunday-school excursions is generally little everywhere else.

Your pulpit preparations are your first business and if you neglect these you will bring no credit upon yourself or your office. Bees are making honey from morning till night and we should be always gathering stores for our people. I have no belief in that ministry which ignores laborious preparation.”

–Charles Spurgeon, “On the Choice of a Text,” in Lectures to My Students (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1875/2008), 103-104.

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“The Law of Truth was written upon his lips” by John Bunyan

“CHR. Sir, said Christian, I am a man that am come from the City of Destruction, and am going to the Mount Zion; and I was told by the man that stands at the gate, at the head of this way, that if I called here, you would show me excellent things, such as would be a help to me in my journey.

INTER. Then said the Interpreter, Come in; I will show thee that which will be profitable to thee. So He commanded His man to light the candle, and bid Christian follow Him: so He had him into a private room, and bid His man open a door; the which when he had done, Christian saw the picture of a very grave person hang up against the wall; and this was the fashion of it.

It had eyes lifted up to Heaven, the best of books in his hand, the law of truth was written upon his lips, the world was behind his back. It stood as if it pleaded with men, and a crown of gold did hang over its head.

CHR. Then said Christian, What meaneth this?

INTER. The man whose picture this is, is one of a thousand; he can beget children (1 Cor. 4:15), travail in birth with children (Gal. 4:19), and nurse them himself when they are born. And whereas thou seest him with his eyes lift up to Heaven, the best of books in his hand, and the law of truth writ on his lips, it is to show thee, that his work is to know and unfold dark things to sinners; even as also thou seest him stand as if he pleaded with men; and whereas thou seest the world as cast behind him, and that a crown hangs over his head, that is to show thee that slighting and despising the things that are present, for the love that he hath to his Master’s service, he is sure in the world that comes next to have glory for his reward.

Now, said the Interpreter, I have showed thee this picture first, because the man whose picture this is, is the only man whom the Lord of the place whither thou art going, hath authorized to be thy guide in all difficult places thou mayest meet with in the way; wherefore, take good heed to what I have showed thee, and bear well in thy mind what thou hast seen, lest in thy journey thou meet with some that pretend to lead thee right, but their way goes down to death.”

–John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress in The Works of John Bunyan (London: Blackie and Son, Paternoster Row, 1862), 3:98.

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“Faithful ministers of the Gospel” by Jonathan Edwards

“Faithful ministers of the Gospel will labor hard for the salvation of souls, and will deny themselves, and will be willing to undergo hardship as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. They will be of a spirit to spend and be spent for souls.

But what are the labors of the most faithful and laborious of the ministers of the Gospel, and what is their self-denial in comparison of the labors and sufferings that Christ has gone through for souls, who has waded through a sea of blood and gone through a furnace of wrath for their salvation?

He has purchased them with His own blood. No minister of Christ was expended and was spent for souls as their Master was.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “The Minister Before the Judgment Seat of Christ,” in The Salvation of Souls: Nine Previously Unpublished Sermons on the Call of Ministry and the Gospel, Eds. Richard Bailey and Gregory Wills (Wheaton: Crossway, 202), 80. This ordination sermon was preached by Edwards on November 17, 1736 in Lambstown, Massachusetts.

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