Edwards on the Ministry (7)
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” John 10.27, 28
Jesus said that He, the Good Shepherd, gives eternal life to the sheep. We know what He means, because no one comes to the Father but by Jesus; He is the life all people seek; and He gives eternal life by grace and the operation of His Spirit.
But that life once given must be nurtured so that those who know the Lord increase in Him and His salvation continually. Here is where pastors and teachers come in. Edwards explains (“The True Excellency of a Gospel Ministry”): “But so are ministers honoured by their great Lord and Master, that they are set to be that to men’s souls, that the lights of heaven are to their bodies; and that they might be the instruments and vehicles of God’s greatest goodness, and the most precious fruits of his eternal love to them, and means of that life, and refreshment, and joy, that are spiritual and eternal, and infinitely more precious than any benefit received by the benign beams of the sun in the firmament.”
The shepherd of the sheep, Edwards says, is the sun in the solar system which is the Lord’s congregation, that the goodness of God and grace of eternal life might flourish there. Christ is the light, and the Spirit is the power, and the Father is the Giver and Getter of glory. Pastors and teachers are transmitters of light and summoners of God’s people unto it.
Shepherds and the sheep they serve stand together under the authority of God’s Word. But the shepherds have a greater obligation of study, learning, living, and disciple-making because God entrusts His sheep to their care (Jms. 3.1). He intends that, by our teaching and example, His sheep should increase in eternal life. Let’s make sure our ministries are directed toward that end.
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.
Meanwhile, we should be preparing ourselves and our churches for the revival God will surely bring in His time. Our ReVision series, “Revive!”, explains the nature of and need for revival and shows how you can begin seeking it daily. This is a great resource for personal or group study. Download the entire series by clicking here. You can also order a free copy of our book, Preparing Your Church for Revival, 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.
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 are excerpts from Patrick’s Confession and the hymn Audite Omnes Amantes by Patrick’s contemporary, Sechnaill. They focus on the integrity required in those entrusted with the Word:
Perhaps you’re thinking that it just may be
I baptized all those thousands so that I
might fill my bulging purse and prosper by
this ministry? Well, not so much as half
a penny crossed my palms, just ask my staff.
Or when the Lord through ordinary me
ordained those many thousand men to be
His priests and deacons, which I did for free –
if any one of them accuses me
of taking even what it costs to buy
a single shoe, then let him speak, and I
will give it back to him. In fact, I spent
on your behalf, no matter where I went
throughout my ministry, that I might be
received. I crossed this land from sea to sea,
to every tribe and all the outermost
domains, where nothing is, that I might boast
about the Lord, to places none had gone
before to baptize or ordain, where none
among the people was confirmed. So by
the grace of God alone I say that I
achieved all these results, both gladly and
with full integrity, that you might stand
today within His saving grace.
- Patrick, Confession (5th century)
He keeps Christ’s blessed commandments in all things,
his bright deeds shine forth among men;
and they follow his holy miraculous example,
so that they too magnify God the Father in heaven.
- Sechnaill, on Patrick, Audite Omnes Amantes, (5th 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.
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.
 Verse translation excerpts of Patrick’s Confession from T. M. Moore, Celtic Flame (forthcoming).
 Carey, p. 152.