But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1.22
John Calvin explained that one of the marks of a true church is that the Word of God is faithfully proclaimed and heard. He did not consider a church to be fulfilling its mission simply by sound preaching. Sound preaching had to be coupled with sound hearing and obedience, for only as believers do the Word to they receive it as God intends.
In this, Calvin and Columbanus are in agreement: “While we preach often we improve slowly; often are we offended, seldom patient, often conquered, seldom conquerors, often led astray, seldom wise. Then what will help us, like weak and unskilled fighters whose weapons turn and wound them, while it is no credit to hear these things, but to accomplish them? For the law does not make holy by hearing, but doubtless by performance; each should honour the Lord, not simply by words and bodily toil, but by ripeness of character and purity of heart” (Sermon II).
Do we preach often and improve slowly? Do we ever see anything other than this? What a challenge! Pastors have the gift of words and the calling to preach, but we must never forget that the Word must first be working in us if it is ever to work powerfully through us (Col. 3.16).
Thus the challenge to be always growing in the Lord – which we urge on the people we serve – must be the commanding challenge of our daily lives. Holiness increases in a congregation not merely by the hearing of the Word, but by the faithful hearing and doing of it, following the example of those charged with the ministry of Word to the Lord’s flocks.
Resources for shepherds
In every age, the Church is in danger of falling captive to cultural diversions, just-off-target views, and outright lies. In our book, The Church Captive, we explore some ways this has happened in the past and raise the question as to whether we have become captive in our own day to something other than the mind and will of Christ. Learn more about The Church Captive and order your free copy by clicking here.
From the Celtic Revival
Here’s an excerpt from Crosfigell, our twice-weekly teaching letter featuring insights from the writers of the Celtic Revival:
We will search our books,
inquiring after each:
without omitting any, we will go
straight through the year.
This will be the body of our work,
a structure which will not be feeble:
as many fair verses
as there are days in the year.
That your mind may not
fall into wickedness,
each verse will swiftly name
the feast for each day.
- Oengus the Culdee, Martyrology of Oengus (9th century?)
Celtic Christians understood the importance of history, of recalling and emulating great saints of the past and the work of God through them. This is part of what Vern Poythress wants to recover in his book, Redeeming Our Thinking about History. Join us this winter/spring as we work our way together through this important new book.
Our book, Fan into Flame, provides an overview of the work of pastors, together with a series of assessment tools to help you discover your strengths and weaknesses in ministry. We can’t improve in this calling if we don’t know where we are at present. Learn more and order your free copy of Fan into Flame by clicking here.
Check out our Celtic Legacy podcast and the other resources available on our dedicated Celtic Revival home page.
T. M. Moore.
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 Anedot, 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.
 Carey, King of Mysteries, p. 193.