Edwards on the Ministry (4)
For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother. Philemon 1.7
When preaching brings hearers into the Presence of God, we don’t need to burden our messages with frothy formulas for feeling better in the Lord. We don’t need to belabor endless lists of possible applications, or to rehearse a litany of every possible sin, just to make sure we leave no one out. When preaching lifts and enlarges the soul, and leads people into the Presence of the Lord of glory, He knows how to take that Word and apply it for the refreshment of every thirsty soul.
And souls thus slaked will overflow with the living water of the Spirit into every area of life (Jn. 7.37-39).
In his sermon, “The True Excellency of a Gospel Minister”, Jonathan Edwards wrote, “Ministers are set in the church of God to be the instruments of this comfort and refreshment to the souls of men, to be the instruments of leading souls to the God of all consolation, and fountain of their happiness: they are sent as Christ was, and as co-workers with Him, to preach good tidings to the meek, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, and to comfort all that mourn…”
Only Jesus can heal, refresh, renew, and strengthen the soul. Or, as Paul put it, only God “gives the increase” (1 Cor. 3.7). The aim of preaching is to lead the souls of God’s people “to the God of all consolation, and fountain of their happiness…” If our ministry of the Word gets God’s people there, He knows how to refresh the soul of each one.
Resources for Shepherds
We invite you to join Dr. Stan Gale, long-time pastor, prolific author, and a member of The Ailbe Board of Overseers, for his live online course, “Faith in the Faith”, a Scriptural study of the Apostles’ Creed, to be held bi-weekly via Zoom on Wednesdays, April 20 to June 29, from 3 pm to 4 pm Eastern time. Registration is open to all but limited to twelve. For a copy of the course syllabus, or to register for the course, click here.
Much preaching today – and much else in the contemporary church – has become captive to forms, means, goals, methods, and outcomes that derive more from the worlds of business, entertainment, and therapy than from the Word of God. Is your church captive to such cultural motions and forms? Our book, The Church Captive, can help you determine whether or to what extent this might be so. And it shows you step-by-step how to break free from that captivity to recover whole-body health in the Lord Jesus Christ. Order your free copy by clicking here.
One of the most important skills ministers and church leaders can learn is how to encourage folks. Our ReVision series on “Encouragement” shows you why this is so and how you can become a more encouraging person. You can download all six installments in this study for free by clicking here.
From the Celtic Revival
Our present series in Crosfigell, our Tuesday and Thursday teaching letter, is exploring the unfolding of the Celtic Revival (ca. 430-800 AD) through the words of those who led it. Here Patrick recalls the power of God’s mercy in fitting him for his ministry:
I spent some years among the Irish to
prepare myself to follow what I knew
to be my calling from the Lord. It was
not I who made this choice to go, because,
as I have said, the Lord was calling me.
And at the time I came across the sea
I barely knew the Lord, though He was dear
to me. And this was good, for it was clear
He would reform and shape me and prepare
me so that I might serve His sheep and care
for all His flocks, as I am doing yet
today. And so, though once I would not let
my mind consider all my own need of
His saving mercy, now the Father’s love
for others is my care and my concern.
- Patrick, Confession (late 5th century)
Read more from the leaders of the Celtic Revival in recent issues of Crosfigell by clicking here.
T. M. Moore
It is our privilege to provide resources and opportunities to equip and encourage church leaders in building the Lord’s Church and advancing His Kingdom. Please pray that God will move many of those we serve through this ministry to share with us financially in its support. If the Lord moves you to give, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.