Tag Archives: Pastoral Ministry

“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.

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“After preaching the gospel for forty years” by Charles Spurgeon

“After preaching the gospel for forty years, and after printing the sermons I have preached more than six-and-thirty years, reaching now to the number of 2,200 in weekly succession, I am fairly entitled to speak about the fulness and richness of the Bible, as a preacher’s book.

Brethren, it is inexhaustible. No question about freshness will arise if we keep closely to the text of the sacred volume. There can be no difficulty as to finding themes totally distinct from those we have handled before; the variety is as infinite as the fulness.

A long life will only suffice us to skirt the shores of this great continent of light. In the forty years of my own ministry I have only touched the hem of the garment of divine truth; but what virtue has flowed out of it!

The Word is like its Author, infinite, immeasurable, without end.”

–Charles Spurgeon, The Greatest Fight in the World (Geanies House, Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2014), 58.

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“Rejoice that your names are written heaven” by D.A. Carson

“The story is told of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, one of the most influential preachers of the twentieth century.

When he was dying of cancer, one of his friends and former associates asked him, in effect, ‘How are you managing to bear up? You have been accustomed to preaching several times a week. You have begun important Christian enterprises; your influence has extended through tapes and books to Christians on five continents. And now you have been put on the shelf. You are reduced to sitting quietly, sometimes managing a little editing. I am not so much asking therefore how you are coping with the disease itself. Rather, how are you coping with the stress of being out of the swim of things?’

Lloyd-Jones responded in the words of Luke 10: ‘[D]o not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven’ (10:20—though of course Lloyd-Jones would have cited the King James Version).

The quotation was remarkably apposite. The disciples have just returned from a trainee mission, and marvel that ‘even the demons submit to us in your name’ (10:17).

At one level, Jesus encourages them. He assures them that (in some visionary experience?) he has seen Satan fall like lightning from heaven (10:18). Apparently Jesus understands this trainee mission by his disciples as a sign, a way-stage, of Satan’s overthrow, accomplished in principle at the cross (cf. Rev. 12:9–12).

He tells his disciples that they will witness yet more astonishing things than these (Luke 10:18–19). ‘However,’ he adds (and then come the words quoted by Lloyd-Jones), ‘do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven’ (10:20).

It is so easy to rejoice in success. Our self-identity may become entangled with the fruitfulness of our ministry. Of course, that is dangerous when the success turns sour—but that is not the problem here.

Things could not be going better for Jesus’ disciples. And then the danger, of course, is that it is not God who is being worshiped. Our own wonderful acceptance by God himself no longer moves us, but only our apparent success.

This has been the sin of more than a few ‘successful’ pastors, and of no fewer ‘successful’ lay people. While proud of their orthodoxy and while entrusted with a valid mission, they have surreptitiously turned to idolizing something different: success.

Few false gods are so deceitful. When faced with such temptations, it is desperately important to rejoice for the best reasons—and there is none better than that our sins are forgiven, and that by God’s own gracious initiative our names have been written in heaven.”

–D.A. Carson, “February 24” in For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word (vol. 1; Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998), 55.

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“My father was a church planter in Québec” by D.A. Carson

“My life has been blessed by some influential models. I must begin by mentioning my own parents. I remember how, even when we children were quite young, each morning my mother would withdraw from the hurly-burly of life to read her Bible and pray.

In the years that I was growing up, my father, a Baptist minister, had his study in our home. Every morning we could hear him praying in that study. My father vocalized when he prayed—loudly enough that we knew he was praying, but not loudly enough that we could hear what he was saying.

Every day he prayed, usually for about forty-five minutes. Perhaps there were times when he failed to do so, but I cannot think of one. My father was a church planter in Québec, in the difficult years when there was strong opposition, some of it brutal. Baptist ministers alone spent a total of eight years in jail between 1950 and 1952.

Dad’s congregations were not large; they were usually at the lower end of the two-digit range. On Sunday mornings after the eleven o’clock service, Dad would often play the piano and call his three children to join him in singing, while Mum completed the preparations for dinner.

But one Sunday morning in the late fifties, I recall, Dad was not at the piano, and was not to be found. I finally tracked him down. The door of his study was ajar. I pushed it open, and there he was, kneeling in front of his big chair, praying and quietly weeping.

This time I could hear what he was saying. He was interceding with God on behalf of the handful of people to whom he had preached, and in particular for the conversion of a few who regularly attended but who had never trusted Christ Jesus.

In the ranks of ecclesiastical hierarchies, my father is not a great man. He has never served a large church, never written a book, never discharged the duties of high denominational office. Doubtless his praying, too, embraces idioms and stylistic idiosyncrasies that should not be copied.

But with great gratitude to God, I testify that my parents were not hypocrites. That is the worst possible heritage to leave with children: high spiritual pretensions and low performance.

My parents were the opposite: few pretensions, and disciplined performance. What they prayed for were the important things, the things that congregate around the prayers of Scripture.

And sometimes when I look at my own children, I wonder if, should the Lord give us another thirty years, they will remember their father as a man of prayer, or think of him as someone distant who was away from home rather a lot and who wrote a number of obscure books. That quiet reflection often helps me to order my days.”

–D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1992), 25–26.

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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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“Two keys are committed to us by Christ” by Robert Murray M’Cheyne

“It should have been remarked ere now, that during all his ministry McCheyne was careful to use not only the direct means appointed for the conversion of souls, but those also that appear more indirect, such as the key of discipline…

Once from the pulpit, at an ordination of elders, he gave the following testimony upon this head:

‘When I first entered upon the work of the ministry among you, I was exceedingly ignorant of the vast importance of church discipline. I thought that my great and almost only work was to pray and preach.

I saw your souls to be so precious, and the time so short, that I devoted all my time, and care, and strength, to labour in word and doctrine. When cases of discipline were brought before me and the elders, I regarded them with something like abhorrence.

It was a duty I shrank from; and I may truly say it nearly drove me from the work of the ministry among you altogether.

But it pleased God, who teaches His servants in another way than man teaches, to bless some of the cases of discipline to the manifest and undeniable conversion of the souls of those under our care; and from that hour a new light broke in upon my mind, and I saw that if preaching be an ordinance of Christ, so is church discipline.

I now feel very deeply persuaded that both are of God,—that two keys are committed to us by Christ: the one the key of doctrine, by means of which we unlock the treasures of the Bible; the other the key of discipline, by which we open or shut the way to the sealing ordinances of the faith.

Both are Christ’s gift, and neither is to be resigned without sin.'”

–Robert Murray McCheyne and Andrew A. Bonar, Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne (Edinburgh; London: Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier, 1894), 79–81.

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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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