Edwards on the Ministry (14)
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 2 Timothy 4.2
In his ordination sermon, “Christ the Example of Ministers”, Jonathan Edwards offered sound advice for those who have been entrusted with the ministry of the Word.
First, he counseled, “They should imitate the faithfulness of Christ in his ministry, in speaking whatsoever God had commanded him, and declaring the whole counsel of God.” Not just what we’re interested in, or what we think the people we serve might be interested in, but what God is interested in – which is all His Word.
Edwards also wrote about the manner of our ministry of God’s Word: “They should imitate [Jesus] in the manner of His preaching; Who taught not as the scribes, but with authority, boldly, zealously, and fervently; insisting chiefly on the most important things in religion…” The Scriptures deal with matters of life and death, purpose and meaning, joy and peace. We must treat them with the thoroughness, zeal, and affections they deserve.
Edwards did not shy away from the hard truths of Scripture as these related to those who were lost or drifting from the Lord. He insisted that preachers and teachers must be “much in warning men of the danger of damnation, setting forth the greatness of the future misery of the ungodly; insisting not only on the outward, but also the inward and spiritual, duties of religion; being much in declaring the great provocation and danger of spiritual pride, and a self-righteous disposition…”
Finally, Edwards urged those who minister the Word to help their hearers bring holiness to completion, to aid them on their journey to Christlikeness by “much insisting on the necessity and important of inherent holiness, and the practice of piety.”
Not a complete catalog of our duties, to be sure, but a good general outline of what should be the broad parameters of our calling as those who are entrusted by God with feeding His flocks the strong meat of His Word.
Resources for Shepherds
Why do we need to pray for revival? Why does God so frequently call us to seek Him for revival? How can we do it? Where do we start? Our book, Restore Us!, answers these and other questions about seeking the Lord for revival. It also includes guides for prayer based on the psalms that lead us to seek revival according to what God has revealed in His Word. Order your free copy of Restore Us! by clicking here.
We can’t preach Jesus or help others to know Him if we’re not constantly growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord (2 Pet. 3.18). But what does that mean? What does it mean to know the Lord Jesus Christ? Our meditation To Know Him can lead you into richer and more consistent times of meditation on Jesus and growing in Him. Order your free copy by clicking here.
From the Celtic Revival
Celtic Christian monasteries were deeply spiritual communities that encouraged their members in Christian growth and ministry and served their larger communities in a variety of ways. Part of the key to their success was their use of communal rules of discipline. These focused on building communities of love, as we see in the Rule of Columbanus:
“Here begins the Monk’s Rule of St. Columban the Abbot. First of all things we are taught to love God with the whole heart and the whole mind and all our strength, and our neighbor as ourselves; next, our works.”
- Columbanus, Monks’ Rule (7th century)
And on holiness:
“Growth in holiness must be accompanied by moderation. The monk should strive after holiness with sincerity and joy of heart. His mind should be perpetually attuned to heaven, manifesting a preference for light over darkness.”
- The Rule of Cormac Mac Ciolionáin
We have much to learn from the leaders of the Celtic Revival (ca. 430-800 AD). Right now, our Tuesday and Thursday teaching letter, Crosfigell, is powering through a devotional history of this period. You can read back issues by clicking here, and you can subscribe to Crosfigell by updating your subscriptions (here – be sure to check all the teaching letters you want to receive when you add Crosfigell to your list).
T. M. Moore
Cowper on Preaching
Our book, An Essay on Preaching, features excerpts from William Cowper’s The Task, in which the 19th century poet and hymn writer comments on the preaching of his day, and we tease it out to apply it to ours. A free copy awaits you 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.