Edwards on the Ministry (6)
But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness... 2 Peter 2.12, 13
Preachers and teachers are concerned to bring the light of God’s truth to bear for true piety in the lives of those they serve. We work so hard to prepare – hours of poring over a text, searching cross-references, consulting great teachers of the past and present, and seeking the best ways of illustrating and communicating our findings.
This is what we should do if we truly want to shine the light of truth into the souls of the people we serve.
But shining the light is not enough. How we communicate that light is just as important, as Jonathan Edwards made plain in his sermon, “The True Excellency of a Gospel Minister”: “When there is light in a minister, consisting in human learning, great speculative knowledge, and the wisdom of this world, without a spiritual warmth and ardour in his heart, and a holy zeal in his ministrations, his light is like the light of an ignis faturus, and some kinds of putrifying carcasses that shine in the dark, though they are of a stinking savour. And if on the other hand a minister has warmth and zeal, without light, his heat has nothing excellent in it, but is rather to be abhorred; being like the heat of the bottomless pit; where, though the fire be great, yet there is no light.”
True light in a minister, Edwards is saying, combines Gospel learning with a pious ardor that demonstrates sincere love for God and reaches out to renew and refresh the souls of saints. We must have both: truth and piety, light of mind and light of heart. Leave one or the other out and our ministries will suffer. The light of truth and the warmth and zeal of love for God and His people work together to help lodge God’s truth in the souls of hearing saints.
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.
It will be difficult for us to aim our preaching and teaching at the souls of God’s people – to illumine their minds, enliven their hearts, and firm-up their consciences – if we don’t know what we’re aiming at, what the components are of a strong soul. Our current ReVision series, “Strong Souls”, considers each of these aspects of the soul and how they function together in helping us become more like Christ. You can read or download any or all of the studies to this point in this series by clicking here.
Every believer has a calling from the Lord. Not just preachers and missionaries – every believer. That calling comes in stages and embraces every aspect of our lives. Our current InVerse Theology Project series on “Scripture and Poetry: An Essay on Calling” explains and illustrates how calling comes to us and how we must respond. You can listen to the first installment by clicking here.
Order a free copy of The Ailbe Psalter (click here) and begin singing the Psalms of Scripture to the familiar melodies of great hymns.
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. In this excerpt, Patrick and his contemporary, Sechnaill, report on the great saints “fishing”:
from every nation men will come and grieve
for their iniquities and will receive
the Lord. And just as firmly, we believe
it is our obligation from the Lord
to diligently fish for men. His Word
is clear: “Come follow Me and I will make
you fish for men.” In this you’ll see I take
Him at His Word: “Behold, I’m sending out
so many fishermen and hunters.” Doubt
it not; it is His Word. From which you see
it is most clear, that all who wish to be
His followers are obliged to cast their nets
to catch a multitude of fish and get
a mighty gathering for the Lord.
- Patrick, Confession (5th century)
The Lord chose him so that he might teach the barbarian
nations, so that he might fish with nets of doctrine;
so that he might draw believers out of the world to grace,
and they might follow the Lord to a heavenly seat.
- Sechnaill, writing about Patrick, Audite Omnes Amantes, Irish, 6th century
Read more from the leaders of the Celtic Revival in recent issues of Crosfigell by clicking here.
T. M. Moore
We go through many seasons in our life, and not just those that mark the passage of a year. Our latest book of poems, Seasons, explains. Order your free copy by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Carey, pp. 152, 153.