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Pastor to Pastor

Lights to the Soul

The purpose of preaching and teaching.

Shepherding God’s Flock (24)

But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Ephesians 5.13

What is the purpose of preaching? How do we know when our preaching and teaching have satisfied the expectations of the Lord?

The goal of all Christian instruction, Paul reminds us, is love (1 Tim. 1.5). The love that preaching and teaching should engender arises from a clear mind, a clean heart, and a good conscience and issues in a sincere walk with the Lord. The soul is primary, and for the soul to give rise to love, it must be filled with the light of Jesus and all darkness swept aside.

This is where preaching and teaching come into the work of making disciples. Jonathan Edwards wrote, reflecting on the preaching of John the Baptist, “Ministers are set to be lights to the souls of men in this respect, as they are to be the means of imparting divine truth to them, and bringing into their view the most glorious and excellent objects, and of leading them to and assisting them in the contemplation of those things that angels desire to look into…by which they may know God and Jesus Christ, whom to know is life eternal” (The True Excellency of a Gospel Minister).

The preaching of the Word of God should enable the people of God to see more clearly into any lingering areas of darkness in their souls. It should lift their minds to heavenly matters and tune their hearts to desire the beauties and excellencies of the unseen realm. Preaching fulfills its unique role in the church as it lifts and enlarges the soul, focusing it on God and Christ and inviting it to drink more deeply of the fountain of salvation and eternal life.

Aim at the soul, to expose its lingering darkness and flood it with the light of Christ. This is the kind of preaching and teaching that issues in love.

Resources for Shepherds
How is your daily witness for the Lord? Are you teaching and encouraging other believers to be witnesses for Him? Our Mission Partners training program can help you to bring more consistent training for evangelism into your ministry and church. Watch this brief video introducing the Mission Partners program, then use the registration below to get started.

If our witness is going to be effective, we need to make sure we understand the times and know just how we ought to proclaim the Good News. Our ReVision study, “Let God Be True”, can help you and your leaders enjoy more confidence and consistency in proclaiming Christ and His Kingdom. Download all the installments in this free study by clicking here.

The work of shepherding God’s flock reduces to six key disciplines, as Jesus explained throughout John 10. Our course, “Shepherding God’s Flock”, is ideal for church leaders of all sorts. Watch the preview video by clicking here. Then plan to use this free course for yourself and your church’s leaders.

From the Celtic Revival
Colum Cille, the great 6th century scholar, poet, evangelist, and disciple-maker, understood Paul’s teaching about doing the work of an evangelist to fulfill his ministry. Adomnán, writing a century after Colum’s death, gives us an example of his witness:

At the time when St. Columba [Colum Cille] passed some days in the province of the Picts, a certain layman with his whole household heard and believed the word of life, through an interpreter, and the preaching of the holy man; and believing, was baptized, the husband, with his wife and children, and his servants.

  - Adomnán, Life of Columba[1]

Charles Plummer translated another example of Colum and a team doing the work of evangelism:

And they met together, and Columcille said that he would act as Colmán’s crozier-deacon (i.e., carry his pastoral staff) that day. And Mancan said that he would sprinkle holy water on the hosts, to bring them into friendliness with Colmán. And these clerks [clerics] began their preaching, and they had fair Latin books with them, and they recited the reading clearly, and praised the Creator fervently. And it was recreation to the hearts and minds of the hosts to listen to them. And those who had never thought of God before, turned their thoughts to him now.[2]

Their faithfulness and diligence in this work challenges us to consider the role evangelizing the lost plays in our own work of ministry. Jesus said that shepherds should follow His example and “bring other sheep” into the fold of the Lord (Jn. 10.16). We must each consider how we are fulfilling our ministry in this way.

We’re continuing our study of the life and work of Colum Cille in Crosfigell, which is posted and emailed every Tuesday and Thursday. Add it to your subscriptions to receive insights and meditations from writings of the Celtic Revival (ca. 430-800). You can add Crosfigell to your subscriptions by clicking here.

For another look at some of the leaders of the Celtic Revival, order our book, Lives of Irish Saints, which is available free in PDF by clicking here.

T. M. Moore

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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.


[1] Adomnán, p. 139.

[2] The Life of Colmán Ela in Charles Plummer, Lives of Irish Saints, Vol. II (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1922), p. 162.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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