Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Preachers of the Gospel: Are You Really Needed?

While this commencement address is for the law school at Washington and Lee University, I think it applies to the ministry as well. I have no idea what Mr. Grisham's religious faith is or even if he is a Christian. But I do know that just as in law there is an oversupply of lawyers so in ministry Evangelical colleges and seminaries have produced a vast oversupply of ministers when compared to available churches or available resources to plant new churches. Many of these men have extensive debt after school and have no viable pulpit ministry. Does this mean that they are now worthless and useless?

I have to give a resounding, "No." Despite the fact that Evangelical colleges and seminaries sometimes have taken advantage of those who aspire to ministry in order to boost their enrollment levels, those of us who believe in the sovereignty of God must look to God's greater glory in all of this. Instead of seeking the glory of men in grandiose cathedrals or megachurch ministries, we ought to do what God have given us to do and do it with our might. (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Instead of seeking our own fortune or our own glory we ought to take the position which John Baptist advocated: "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30). Instead of lamenting our lack of success we ought to see this as an opportunity to minister in obscure places so that we may bring greater glory to God and reap an eternal reward.

While the lawyer's primary focus is law and justice, the minister's primary focus is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That does not take away the secondary role of the minister as one who cares for the poor and the oppressed. However, anytime we place social justice above the Gospel we end up the here and now and the focus of Holy Scripture on eternal matters is lost. Evangelicals must keep Jesus Christ at the center without caving in to the social gospel which is no gospel at all.

My advice to ministers who have no pulpit is to teach a Sunday school class at your church. Visit a jail or prison and give the inmates sound teaching from the Bible. Visit a hospital or a homeless shelter and listen and give pastoral care to the hurting. I myself started out preaching in jails and prisons and going on prison crusades. Make yourself available to teach and minister the Gospel wherever you are and forget about your own personal aspirations. We are not in this for our own personal aggrandizement. We are in this for the eternal matters. This world will pass away but God's Word is forever settled in the heavens. (1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Psalm 119:89-90).

In fact, I get suspicious any time a minister puts his own name on the ministry organization which he leads. This betrays right away that there is a secondary motive for the promotion of individuals rather than Christ. The Apostle Paul deals with this issue as well: "What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth." (1 Corinthians 3:5-7). Even the Apostle Paul did not want the ministry to be named after himself!

Do not follow men but follow Christ. Test all things by the Holy Scriptures. And finally, if you are called to minister, make yourself available wherever you are and teach the Bible with your determination and might. You are indeed needed. The needs far exceed the apparent oversupply of ministers if you will only make yourself available.



Charlie J. Ray said...

Ok, I checked by google search and it appears that Grisham is a "moderate" Southern Baptist. That would mean that he is a "liberal" Southern Baptist in the same mold as Jimmy Carter. It is good that he's at least in some sort of Christian worldview, I'm suspicious of anyone who aligns themselves with the "moderate" wing of the Southern Baptist Convention. However, that does not take away from the points I made in the commentary on the video. Peace!

Billy said...

Having read some of his novels, I think I can say he is a Christian. Although I would suspect a "moderate SB" probably means he denies the plenary inspiration of Scripture.

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