SPIRITUAL FOUNDATIONS OF M INISTRY using the text “Words to Winners of Souls”
Horatius Bonar 1866
Study Guide Course SFM
Renewing spiritual zeal and personal communion with God as firm foundation for ministering to others 5 Lessons Advanced Level
Instructions for this course (Detailed instructions in Appendix One)
The reading material for this course consists of the booklet by Horatius Bonar provided with this study guide: Words to Winners of Souls.
Before each lesson: pray for God to give a teachable heart and understanding. ⇓ Begin the lesson by reading the related chapter in the book provided. ⇓ Answer the questions for the corresponding lesson in this study guide. Use the required answer sheet format, putting your name and course information on each sheet (sample after the Table of Contents). Use any standard note paper (or the answer sheets if provided). Try to be as clear and concise as possible. Please do not rush! Meditate on what God wants you to learn. Don’t go to the next question until completing the current one. ⇓ Continue taking the course until all lessons are completed. Four months are allotted for course completion. Extensions may be granted upon request. ⇓ Keep all materials and returned answers together for future reference.
SPIRITUAL FOUNDATIONS OF MINISTRY Study Guide Contents Introduction ........................................................................................................... 3 Lesson 1
Importance of a Living Ministry ......................................... 6 Study Questions ..................................................................... 17
The Minister’s True Life and Walk................................ 19 Study Questions ..................................................................... 19
Past Defects................................................................................. 21 Study Questions ..................................................................... 22
Ministerial Confession ........................................................... 24
Revival in the Ministry........................................................... 30
Study Questions ..................................................................... 29 Study Questions ..................................................................... 30
Appendix: Detailed Course Instructions ................................................................ 32 Other Courses from Mount Zion ..................................................... inside back cover
This course is based upon the booklet Words to Winners of Souls by Horatius Bonar (18081889), Scottish pastor and author. © Copyright 2000 Chapel Library. Printed in the USA. Chapel Library does not necessarily agree with all the views of the authors it publishes. Permission is expressly granted to reproduce this material in any form, under two conditions: 1) the material is not charged for, and 2) this copyright notice and all the text in the lower half of this page are included. Worldwide, please download material without charge from our website, or contact the international distributor as listed there for your country. In North America, for additional copies of Words to Winners of Souls or other Christ-centered materials from prior centuries, please contact: Chapel Library • 2603 West Wright St. • Pensacola, Florida 32505 USA Phone: (850) 438-6666 • [email protected]
• www.mountzion.org Download MZBI courses worldwide without charge from www.mountzion.org. For additional copies of this Study Guide or information about other Bible study materials and correspondence courses (often based on texts from prior centuries), please contact: Mt. Zion Bible Institute • 2603 West Wright St. • Pensacola, FL 32505
Phone: (850) 438-6666 • [email protected]
S PIRITUAL F OUNDATIONS OF M INISTRY Introduction This course is based on the booklet Words to Winners of Souls by Horatius Bonar, written in 1866, which is used as the reading text. Please answer the questions in each course lesson from the information given in the reading text. Each chapter in the booklet corresponds to a course lesson. For example, the information you need to answer the questions from Lesson One in this study guide is found in chapter one in the booklet. Before you begin the questions, be sure and read the booklet’s chapter for the lesson you are taking. Please read slowly enough so you understand what you read. It is also always good to pray before each lesson, asking the LORD for wisdom to apply what you learn to your lifeand to enable you to love Him with all your mind, heart, soul, and strength...for this is the first commandment (Mark 12:30). Ten principles about the pastoral ministry are taught in chapter one. Each one is related to the chapter’s theme: The Importance of a Living Ministry. One cannot over-emphasize the extraordinary significance of a living ministry. Without “life,” God’s life, a church is all form and no substance. The life of Christ is the essence, source, power, moving force, and internal mechanism of the ministry and we are impotent in God’s service without it. If we are to be instruments of life, it is assumed that we possess it ourselves, otherwise we become agents of death (2Co 3:6). A living ministry is the only kind that the New Testament teaches. As we study the spiritual foundations of ministry, pay careful attention to chapter oneit is truly ground breaking. What you learn in chapter one is foundational to everything taught in this course.
Course Text A word is needful to explain the choice of the booklet Words to Winners of Souls as the text for this course. This booklet introduces you to a variety of elementary and general principles of the pastoral ministry. It is by no means intended to traverse the vast landscape of pastoral theology. Its value 3
for present purposes is in accentuating a handful of critical principles upon which the corpus of ministerial axioms rest. The book deals with the issues that are important to a spiritual ministry. It acts as a microscope through which one may analyze his calling and its spiritual implications. In this and in other ways we hope you will find the booklet useful.
Purpose of the Course Someone asks, why a study of the ABCs, and not an in-depth analysis? The answer is found by understanding the overall purpose of the course, namely: to examine the spiritual foundations of pastoral ministry. It is always best to begin at the beginning. It is necessary and logical for aspiring pastors to begin with an examination of those issues that relate to the beginning phase of ministerial development, such as: the call to the ministry, it’s mental and spiritual preparation, qualifications, motives, and an overview of it’s essential nature and work. Neither will it hurt the journeyman pastor to periodically review the spiritual essentials, and to put his finger on the pulse of his ministry for an up-to-date spiritual diagnosis. It is our prayer that this course will serve the needs of both constituencies.
A Word to Aspiring Ministers Many attend seminary because they “sense” a call to the ministry, but lack inward or outward confirming evidence. Others are attracted to the pastorate without understanding it’s true nature, work, hardships, and purpose. Our Bible colleges and seminaries are teeming with men who interpret their evangelistic zeal as God’s call to the pastoral ministry. We admire their enthusiasm, but misinterpreting evangelistic zeal as a ministerial call is akin to suicide. The problem often begins by a man being exposed to wrong images and perceptions of the pastoral office itself. Many are attracted by the respectability and prestige of the position. Understandably, some of the attention paid to the office is unavoidable, due to the high visibility inherent in the work. But many are simply unconscious of being drawn to it by its apparent glamour, rather than from sound scriptural and spiritual motives. Therefore, it would be counterproductive for a man to pursue the theological part of his training without first establishing the divine origin of his call, and the purity and integrity of his motives therein. Otherwise, in circumventing this initial process it is “putting the proverbial cart before the horse.” What would you think of a medical student who postpones a decision to become a doctor until after graduating from medical school? He is handed his diploma and abruptly decides to follow another profession, wasting time and money in the process. Obviously, he could have avoided this loss by simply heeding a call to his future profession ahead of time. It is imperative that the aspiring minister understand the purpose and function of the ministry before he actually enters it. 4
It is tragic and sad that far too many men enter the pastorate with a lack of discernment about themselves and their calling. They are amazingly ignorant of the reality and responsibilities of the office and it’s spiritual work. Therefore they are totally unprepared for the future trials that await them. And when confronted by these trials they have little or no experience to fall back on to bear-up under the weight. Many a man has been hastily thrust into the pastorate only to face disastrous results both to himself and his church. Consequently, many were left with the grievous task of trying to salvage the remnants of a church torn apart by hurt feelings, deep wounds, painful scars, and scattered sheep. Churches also experience their share of suffering, causing them to agonize over puzzling questions such as, “Where did we go wrong in choosing this man to be our pastor”? “Why didn’t we foresee the problems”? “How could we have overlooked the signals and signs that precipitated the agony for all concerned”? Such a crucial decision as entering the pastoral ministry, which will impact many lives for good or evil, life or death, should be made only after much prayer, counsel, and waiting on God. This decision should be based on sound principles from Scripture, and guidance from the Holy Spirit. Patience, wisdom, restraint, humility, and self-discipline are needed in determining when we are ready and when it is God’s time to enter the ministry. “Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching” (Rom 12:7). Many well-meaning brethren would avoid painful setbacks, lost friendships, much pain, wasted time and the squandering of precious resources, if they would just wait on the Lord. The unique responsibilities of a pastor demand that no one take this task upon himself unless he is truly called of God (Heb 5:4-5; 1Co 9:16). Hastiness in entering the ministry often results in bringing disgrace and reproach upon the name of the Lord, and giving opportunity for the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme. Does this mean that we should look for perfect assurance of our calling before moving ahead with preparations for ministry? No, even the most useful servants of the Lord have their doubts from time to time. However, a heaven-sent call will grow stronger and stronger until the man is convinced that his call is indeed from the Lord. A man who puts his calling completely in the hands of the Lord will not have to worry. He trusts fully in the Lord to work out the details, and believes that God will open the door in His time to enter the work of the ministry. “A man’s gift maketh room for him” (Pro 18:16). For these reasons the lessons grapple with those issues that relate to the calling of the minister and the spiritual nature of his work. This will give the future pastor a comprehensive and insightful picture of the ministry from the outset. We believe this approach also will be of great help to the one who is not truly called to be a pastor, and will be an important service to the 5
church. Both will be mercifully spared unnecessary disappointment and disruption of life. After much prayer and searching of heart, we trust that the candidate will know more of God’s will about his calling. He will have greater confidence in whether to press on with his studies with the end of serving as a full-time shepherd over a flock of God’s children, or to pursue ministry in conjunction with secular work.
Importance of a Living Ministry
First please read chapter 1 in the booklet.
The following are the important principles and observations in order to walk in a truly spiritual ministry.
1. Quality, Not Quantity The month of May is a time when hundreds of Bible colleges and seminaries graduate thousands of trained workers. Most of them launch out looking for positions as pastors, teachers, missionaries, or as full-time workers. Every year of the 20th century, religious educational institutions have been pumping out “trained workers” by the thousands. If revival could be produced by just sending multitudes of Christian workers into society, by now this generation should be experiencing the greatest revival that the world has ever known! A growing influx of Christian workers, Christian literature, Bibles, tracts, books, Christian conferences and seminars, revival meetings, Christian radio and television programs, Christian magazines and newspapers, as well as the establishment of new Bible colleges and seminaries, have saturated many societies with a plethora of Christian activity and information. No other generation in history has produced more educated, degreed, professionally trained, and knowledgeable Christian workers and pastors than this generation. But amazingly, the morality and ethics of the populace have reached it’s lowest ebb. Hedonism is the new god. For the first time in history in the USA, Christianity is viewed as a minority voice among an increasingly hostile pagan populace. Secular society is obsessed with trumpeting the virtues of toleration, while themselves growing intolerant of Christianity - the irony being obvious. The spiritual condition of the church is not much better! The judgment of the most spiritually minded is that, generally speaking, today’s church is apostate. Therefore, the conclusion we arrive at is unavoidable: Saturation cannot produce regeneration. Information alone cannot produce transformation. It is quality that God is concerned with, not quantity. This 6
is not to say that we don’t want to see multitudes of people saved. Indeed we do, and for this end we labor! Would to God that every person in the world would fall at the feet of Christ, worshipping and serving Him Who alone is Lord and Savior. Active evangelism is an important responsibility of the church, as is the great commission, but it is not the heart and core of the matter. It is not an end in itself. God is more concerned with spiritual quality of life than with quantity of efforts. One does not have to read the Old and New Testaments very long before observing an oft repeated pattern. The people of God, the corporate body, have an insidious tendency to shift its focus from the spiritual realm to the physical. The downward slide of many a holy assembly begins right here, where a subtle switch in focus takes place from a joyous, simple life in the spirit, to a corporate life immersed in activities and programswhich have their root and energy in the religious flesh! The disastrous effects of a busy, soul-deadening, life-chilling ministry, have been one of the best teachers in learning crucial lessons about the nature of spiritual ministry. It is sheer misery for a God-called pastor to discover that he and his church have fallen into a state of spiritual lethargy and lifelessness. He kicks himself that he could have been so deceived into thinking that activity can replace spirituality. If you are a pastor you know that this is an agonizing lesson to learn. It is a painful experience, but it is often just the vehicle God uses to make a powerful and lasting impression on us: God’s constant burden for His church is that they be a spiritual people. One way to tell if a church is dead or alive spiritually is whether its focus and concern is more on the quality of its prayers, worship, love, preaching, fellowship, and communion with God, than with the multiplication of programs and physical activities. When the spiritual vitality of a church begins to diminish it should catch the eye of a discerning pastor who is sensitive to the fluctuation of spiritual life within the body. Like a skilled physician, a wise pastor learns to keep his hand on the spiritual pulse of the assembly and regularly takes its temperature in diagnosing the quality of its spiritual life. Sensing the absence of divine life comes naturally to the mind which is in tune with the mind of the Spirit (Heb. 5:14; 1 Cor. 2:10-11,15-16). He knows well that external growth is not the barometer by which is measured the quality of spiritual life. A recent example of this is the infatuation of many pastors with the “numbers game.” Scrambling for new methods and ideas to attract new students, and to preserve financial solvency, many seminaries have succumbed to these pressures and have begun to teach techniques that enable pastors to build large congregations. It is known as the “church growth movement,” and has spawned a dreadful philosophy. It has developed into a neatly polished and cleverly formed methodology of seeking to increase church attendance by using a variety of worldly marketing 7
techniques. Pragmatism is an integral part of this destructive philosophy, and its supposed legitimacy rests partly on the notion “If it works use it, as long as it doesn’t eliminate the essentials of the gospel in the process.” What is going on here? What ever happened to the vision of training men to be ministers of the Spirit, Who alone is qualified to build a spiritual body? Have our seminaries been relegated to churning out professionals in the field of religious marketing? Any trained professional can build a large organization by using any number of worldly marketing strategies and business techniques. But is this the calling and function of a pastor? Has God called us to build our own religious empires? Many pastors and seminary administrators have fallen prey to this profound delusion, and have given in to the pressures to incorporate this philosophy into their seminaries and churches. And now, on every side, many bow down before the god of numbers. Perhaps you are aware of this problem and have had experience with it. If you have not, then please learn from the mistakes of othersthereby avoiding many pitfalls and much heartache in the future. The scriptures teach that quality is of enormous importance in preserving the integrity and legitimacy of the church’s mission. After all, God is infinitely more concerned with the purity and health of the inner man, than with the multiplication of mere external, ceremonial, fleshly, traditional, and religious activities. In other words, we must be extremely sensitive not to deviate from our prime directive: which is to preserve the spiritual purity, vitality, holiness, worship, and witness of the body of Christ. The rest will take care of itself. This is our prime directive. Its practice is absolutely indispensable if ministry is to be legitimate in the eyes of God. It is true that no church is perfect. Implicit in this directive is the need for a cleansing process by the blood of Christ, that preserves our spiritual purity day by day. Beloved, quality always produces quality. God’s richest spiritual fruits are reserved only for quality ministries. The children of a quality ministry are: revival, conversion, holiness, Christ-likeness, spiritual renewal, love, and life. However, the children of a lukewarm, fleshly ministry are: spurious conversions, multiplication of professing Christians, weakness, ineffectiveness, hypocrisy, prayerlessness, suspicion, coldness, legalism, worldliness, ignorance, gossip, division, and death. As wise laborers in God’s vineyard our purpose is to build a spiritual house on a spiritual foundation. Step by step we are to erect, with the help of God, a superstructure that never compromises nor sacrifices on quality. Your goal is to present the congregation perfect in Christ on that last day. This goal cannot be accomplished without quality time in prayer, study, discipleship, visitation, and intercession. These are the channels by which the Holy Spirit ministers Christ through you and nurtures each person that providence sends your way. Conducting your ministry by worldly methods and on any other premise than quality is inconsistent with the biblical 8
description of a minister of Christ. “It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing” (John. 6:63). References: 1Sa 15:22-23; Psa 24:3-4; 51:16-17; Pro 15:8; 21:2-3; Isa 1:10-20; 66:3; Jer 7:22-23; Hos 6:6; Amo 5:21-24; Mic 6:6-8; Mat 7:21-27; 9:13; 12:7; 23:23; Mar 12:33.
2. Lukewarmness Ministerial hypocrisy has its roots in lukewarmness. It is a ferocious ogre that seeks the undoing and demise of all faithful ministers. We should dread lukewarmness as we do the devil himself. In gaining further insight on this point let us seek to illuminate a crucial statement of Mr. Bonar: “The lukewarm ministry of one who is theoretically orthodox is often more extensively and fatally ruinous to souls than that of one grossly inconsistent or flagrantly heretical.” Do you understand what is meant here? Most pastors do not understand the depth and importance of this truth, especially as it relates to our need for the daily exposure and repudiation of all ministerial superficiality and self-deception. To fully appreciate the implications of Bonar’s statement you must actually experience it. Sometimes experience is our best teacher. It seems that most people learn the really important lessons by attending the school of hard knocks. For many, painful experience is the only teacher that will penetrate our dull hearts. But how do we learn such lessons? Must we attend a certain seminary? No, the really important lessons, the ones that have the biggest spiritual impact, are learned only by experiencing them during the normal course of our ministry. And these lessons can only be appreciated by those who are spiritually-minded. Few pastors realize that the painful lessons are intended to be part of the education process itself! Character development and spiritual maturation are never to be divorced from theological training, but they are the most important part. There are two types of seminaries: the seminary which teaches the intellect, and the seminary which teaches the heart and spirit. The latter is far more important in molding you into a minister of the Spirit. Therefore, in learning how to eradicate lukewarmness and other sins that drain the life out of ministry, we must make character development and spiritual maturation an inclusive part of ministerial training. This is the most effective method God uses to teach a minister those lessons which stay with him for life. Lukewarmness is a sin which lurks about, seeking an entrance into the soul. It weakens all our graces and saps life from our ministry. After allowing a pastor to exist in a state of superficiality for a time, God, in great mercy, often awakens him by revealing this sin’s heinousness, causing him to loathe it and repent. With fresh and powerful impressions of its exceeding sinfulness, our determination deepens to never again fall into a pattern of 9
ministerial lukewarmness. The Holy Spirit’s gracious acts of producing godly sorrow leading to repentance serve as loud warnings in the deepest recesses of our being. Nevertheless, lukewarmness often precedes a period of spiritual growth. Sometimes God brings us through a dry and thirsty land that we may again hunger for that land flowing with milk and honey. It is a crisis of mediocrity that forces a man to examine the spiritual foundations of his life and ministry. Mercifully, God often restores a backslidden pastor from spiritual decline without suffering him to leave the ministry. God has His way of using our mistakes for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28). When God recuperates a pastor back to spiritual health, the restorative effects are immediately felt in the congregation, to their profit and to the minister’s needed renovation. The results of persistent lukewarmness in ministry are protracted impotence and fruitlessnessthe consequences of which take a terrible toll on the spiritual life of the church. Hence, lukewarmness is the scourge of the ministry. Avoid it at all cost! References: 2Ch 24:4-5; Neh 3:5; 13:11; Ezr 16:43; 33:31-32; Hos 7:8; Rev 2:4; 3:1-2, 16.
3. Emulate Apostolic Example Oh, how we desperately need to return to the example of the primitive Christians, especially the example of Christ and His apostles. Our generation of lifeless, loveless, powerless preachers can learn much from a careful study of the lives of the apostles. Very few examples of a living ministry can be seen from the examples of most preachers today. One week with an apostle would teach us more than three years in the cold, detached halls of seminary. The reason? We need life!! Our churches need life! Our worship needs life! Our preaching needs life! Our preachers need life! Orthodoxy by itself brings death. But joined with life, our doctrine and preaching creates life. Are we still to study diligently? Yes! Do we teach our people sound doctrine? Yes! Do we hold fast the form of sound words? Yes! But by itself the letter brings death. “The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life” (2Co 3:6). “The words that I speak to you are Spirit, and they are life” (Joh 6:63). Therefore, we must have a balanced ministry, combining both word and Spirit, doctrine with life. The real battle is waged when a pastor determines that, come what may, he will have a spiritual ministry. It is indeed a battle for life. This is “the” issue which will quickly draw the spoiling, mitigating forces of the devil. Satan knows that only the Spirit of God can build a spiritual church (is there another kind?). When a dead, lukewarm ministry is transformed into one bustling with life, it means lost territory for the enemy. He won’t allow that to happen without stubborn resistance. Apostolic example, on the other hand, teaches us to fight God’s battles in the 10
strength and power of the Holy Spirit. Any other approach is man’s attempt to build God’s kingdom with man’s wisdom and techniques, and therefore is doomed to failure. A cursory reading of Acts reveals a crucial lesson we learn from the apostlestheir ministry was teeming with life! And no wonder, because their secret is discovered in two key texts. The first is Acts 4:13, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus.” Here is the first secret to possessing a living ministry: communion with Christ. As a pastor you must minister Christ, hence the title “Minister of Christ.” You cannot minister Christ unless you know Christ, walk with Christ, experience Christ, are controlled by Christ, and are endued with the power of Christ. In other words, Christ is first ministered to your own heart so that you can minister Him to the hearts of others. This is so elementary a principle, but it is unusually elusive to maintain. Why? Because the devil is extremely skillful at distracting the minds of many pastors and teachers on this issue. Therefore, we must be always on the alert and watchful of his wiles in disrupting our union with Christ. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1Pe 5:8). The second text is Acts 6:4. Here the apostles pinpoint the primary duty of a minister which should consume most of his time: “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” But, you say, isn’t the great commission our primary task? No! Is counseling? No! Is discipling? No! What about getting people to attend my church? That’s okay, but it’s not job number one! Don’t misunderstand, these duties are important, but they take a secondary place in the pastorate. Well, you ask, just what is our primary duty? It is the next secret we learn from apostolic example: A true minister of Christ devotes himself to prayer and to the ministry of the word. This responsibility should absorb most of the pastor’s time. If you fail to make this apostolic practice of prayer and the study of scripture your daily practice before you become a pastor, you are in store for divine chastisement from Godthat is, if you are still in the ministry when the smoke clears. A failure to do so results in much weakness and ineffectiveness. Can you relate to this? If you are not yet a pastor then learn from the mistakes of those who are. Ask your elders to share their experiences with you in this matter. Pastors, you know by experience in these matters and should, therefore, take the more earnest heed. Change your lifestyle! Change your priorities! Learn from wise, apostolic example, and don’t go back to the old, dead ways! Repent from ministerial sloth, and don’t stop repenting until Christ has washed your conscience afresh in His precious blood. Don’t stop repenting until the Holy Spirit breathes life back into your soul and 11
ministry. Don’t wait another day; don’t compromise any longer, even if you’re the only pastor in your town who walks with Christ in a balanced ministry of life! Remember Noah! Remember the apostles! Remember Christ!! References: 1Sa 12:23; Act 1:13-14; 13:1-3; Rom 1:9; Eph 1:15-17; 3:14-21; 6:18; Phi 1:4, 9-11; Col 1:9-13, 2:1, 4:12; 2Th 1:11; 1Ti 2:1-3; Pro 28:9; 2Ti 2:15; Rom 14:17-18; 1Ti 4:6, 12-16; Heb 5:13-14.
4. Two Classes of Ministers Two types of ministers are here distinguished. The first sets his sights on quality, the second quantity. The former is intensely concerned with the spiritual realm, the latter with the physical, outward, and numerical. There is a world of difference between the two. The upshot of this is: the church needs a distinctively spiritual minister. A multitude of shallow, lukewarm pastors doesn’t please God. God delights more in one faithful pastor, pulsating with the life and love of Christ, than ten thousand dead ones over whose ministry is written “Ichabod.” References: Isa 1:1-20; Amo 4:1-5, 5:16-27; Rev 3:1-6, 14-22.
5. Becoming the Message This pinpoints the heart of the matter. If, in your desire to be a minister, you preach the Word of God without manifesting its power, you have failed completely. Yes, you may proclaim its truths, you may disperse its facts, you may be preaching sound doctrine, and you may be zealously propagating the “data” of the Bible through discipleship and personal evangelism. But if you do not practice what you preach, you have missed the heart of your calling. You must live the message. You must be a living example of Jesus Christ whom you preach. If you don’t live the message, you will ultimately make a joke of the ministry and bring tremendous reproach upon the name of Christ. You will be as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal, and be no better than a Pharisee. Therefore, you are wasting your time if your ministrations are in form only with no godly example. You must change, or you might as well find another vocationbecause you don’t understand what a pastor is supposed to be. Here is “the” indispensable rule: You must become the message. This is the substance of “Pastoral Theology.” And just what is the message that we are to become? It is Jesus Christ! Christ’s presence and life needs to be the dominant force in our life and message. Our ministry must exude with Christ’s power, not merely His teachings. Through His ministers, Christ’s personality must be seen and felt by others. We become the embodiment of the oft repeated theme of Holy Scripture: “fellowship with Christ” (1Jo 1:3). 12
After observing our life, a person should not be able to be untouched by the influence of the Spirit of Christ who works through us. Scandalously few pastors learn this rule before entering the ministry. This is a tragedy which defies description. Untold destruction has been done to both minister and church because the aspiring preacher failed to learn this essential rule prior to his being thrust into the sacred office. One reason is that most pastors today have a defective concept of the function and purpose of a pastor. Part of the problem is attributed to the defective sources that are formative in developing our philosophy of ministry and pastoral self-image. Who of us can deny that the sources to which we were initially exposed profoundly shaped our image of a pastor? Many put their first pastor on a pedestal; they consider him the ideal by which all others are to be compared and emulated. Not realizing that pastors are fallible and imperfect, they become disillusioned when they observe his shortcomings. This reveals the misconception of the pastoral office and sometimes the idolization of the man himself. Nevertheless, there is a happy ending to this scenario. The illumination one receives of a defective view of the minister is indeed humbling, but it serves as a positive catalyst in adjusting to a realistic perception of the pastoral office. How can it be that such an essential quality as “becoming the message” receives such little attention in the traditional way that pastors are trained for the ministry? In all honestly can we lay all the blame on the seminaries? No! Why? Because the most important lessons and experiences that develop maturity of character cannot be taught by book learning! No matter how hard they try, there are just some things that seminaries cannot teach. Nevertheless, the most important aspect in training men for the ministry is the development of those graces which transform the minister into the message. This is so exceedingly important because a pastor cannot be minister of the Spirit without his life measuring-up to the message he proclaims. If he is to be a tool in the building of a distinctively spiritual kingdom, Christ’s Spirit must be the agent in communicating the message through the Word and through the man. The greatest barrier hindering the pastor into becoming the message is pride. The church needs humble ministers who are willing to take the low place. You can’t be transformed into living examples of what you preach until you are totally emptied of selfish ambition. God intends for you to achieve this goal by reaching deeper and deeper levels of humility. Ministerial meekness and Christ-likeness are learned through the fiery furnace of affliction, seasons of self-examination, and the constant emptying of self. This is “spiritual seminary”; it is also called “the school of hard knocks.” This is the only school that teaches those character-developing lessons which enable you to persevere as a pastor under grievous trials and criticisms which are normal for the ministry. 13
References: Mat 5:19-20; 2Co 3:17-18; Rom 8:29; 13:14; 1Co 15:49; Jam 1:22-25.
6. The Work—Conversion and Sanctification Assuming that you strive to be emptied of all selfishness, and endeavor to be the message you preach, the goal of your ministerial labors then becomes the conversion of sinners and the sanctification of saints. This is so great an undertaking that you dare not approach it without the Holy Spirit’s assistance. This is not a job for superman. Both salvation and sanctification require a miracle of grace for their accomplishment. In ourselves we are not sufficient for the work. The Apostle Paul himself was daunted by his commission to seek the conversion of the gentiles. Yet he said, “And who is sufficient for these things?” (2Co 2:16). Paul, again aware of the necessity of the sovereign and powerful work of God in salvation says, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God” (2Co 3:5). Therefore, Paul rejoiced in his weakness because he was emptied of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. He knew he was in the best condition possible for God to work mightily through him. “And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2Co 12:9). The glamour of ministry fades quickly due to its constant problems and negative orientation. It is no small undertaking in seeking to win recalcitrant sinners to Christ, and to sanctify stubborn saints. None but God can woo them, convert them, edify them, sanctify them, and keep them. All ministerial efforts are doomed to failure if their source is in the flesh. A miracle of grace is required for every conversion. You must be always mindful, therefore, that your strength is in the Lord and in the power of His might. “Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain which build it.” The goal of your labors is the salvation of men and the holiness of the saints. This goal cannot be realized except by the Word of His power working through you. References: Psa 127:1; Mat 28:18-20; Joh 6:37, 44, 63, 65; 21:15-17; Act 14:21, 22; 20:24, 28; 1Co 4:1; 2Co 5:18-20; 1Ti 4:12-16; 2Ti 4:2; Joh 15:16; Eph 4:11-13; Col 1:28-29.
7. Aiming for Success One key thought emerges which we want to press home to your conscience: A pastor must have determination in bearing spiritual fruit. Outward growth means little if its root has no spiritual life. It is lamentable in our day that the average pastor is more concerned with increasing his church rolls rather than “the roll up yonder.” This is so pathetic a sight that 14
it should cause every true minister to groan and cry for deliverance from such a sham. However, the true servant of the Lord yearns for the saints to mature in their faith and become more like Christ. With pangs of love he cries “Lord sanctify the sheep!” His goal is for their transformation into the image of Christ. It is “spiritual” success for which you are to strive. “For it is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.” If spiritual success is the pastor’s aim, he is not satisfied with anything less than the conversion of sinners and sanctification of saints. As a faithful steward and laborer in God’s vineyard, he does not cease working until the harvest is reaped. The wise and faithful pastor sets his sights on harvesting spiritual fruit; for he knows that if he accepts counterfeit fruit in place of the real thing (a physical imitation masquerading in place of the spiritual reality), its fate will be as wood, hay, and stubble when put to the fire. “Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up” (Mat 15:13). References: Mat 13:1-9, 18-23; Joh 4:31-38; 15:1-8; 1Co 3:5-15; 2Ti 2:1-6; Jam 5:7.
8. The Ministry Is Christ. This point is closely related to principle number five, “becoming the message,” but with a closer focus on its essence and application. The goal of your labors is union with Christ. The Apostle Paul suffered much for the sake of the sheep. He loved God’s people and was dedicated to the cause of their spiritual advancement. But what was Paul’s ultimate motivation? Was it that they might know more about Christ? No! His goal was that they might know Christ! The Scriptures portray Paul as a man who yearned for the saints to possess a deep heart knowledge of Christ. In Col. 1:28 Paul says that he labored to “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus;” His goal in their union with Christ is more fully expressed in 2 Cor. 11:2, “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” Paul’s greatest aspiration for believers, as expressed in his prayers for them, was “that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;” and, “to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:17, 19). Actually, Paul himself aspired for nothing greater, says he: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Gal 2:20). The goal of the pastor is that Christ may be formed in His people, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27). This is your singular objective. All other duties and tools are but supportive of this grand end. Is visitation important? Yes. Are committee meetings necessary? Sometimes. Should we care for the infirm and hungry? Absolutely! Do we need books, study aids, 15
and reference works? Yes, Yes, Yes! However, these things are not an end in themselvesbut a means to an end. But the end of all things is Christ! Jesus is the beginning, middle, and end of our ministry. What is the aim of Christ’s minister? It is nothing more than the transformation of those to whom we minister into the image of Jesus Christ. This is the all-consuming passion and goal of Christ’s under-shepherd. To pastors, and to those who aspire to this noble office, we ask: is this your allconsuming passion? If you find yourself lacking in heartfelt yearnings for the sheep to be transformed into the image to the great Shepherd, then besiege the throne of Grace with supplications, and rest not until the Lord Jesus grants your requests. References: Joh 15:5; 12:32; 17:3; 1Co 2:2, 22-25; Gal 2:20; 6:14; Phi 1:21; 3:8-10; Col 1:27.
9. Preach the Truth The Word of God is one of the primary agencies in converting the lost and sanctifying the saints. As a pastor, you must know the Word, you must live the Word, and you must preach the Word. You must give yourself to the study of the Scriptures. The Word must be an integral part of your inner being. The Word should flow spontaneously from your heart when people look for your advice in impromptu situations. People do not need the wisdom of the world, or spellbinding stories and illustrations. People need the Word of God, proclaimed by true men of God, in the love and wisdom of God, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Human reason or cute answers cannot raise one sinner from the dead or break the power of sin. We need pastors who preach the pure, uncompromising Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the God ordained means by which the Holy Spirit regenerates souls who are “dead in trespasses and sins.” In building the church do you rely upon natural gifts, powers of persuasion, a charismatic personality, winsome ways, advanced education, reputation, credibility, or your religious flesh? Without realizing it we often employ subtle methods which seem legitimate in advancing our ministries, but invariably find their source in self-effort, self-reliance, and carnal techniques. These efforts are resting on a false foundation that sooner or later will come crashing down! It is a house of cards waiting to crumble at the slightest wind. It is in the aftermath of such a disaster, while trying to figure out what went wrong, that we discover false motives at the root of the problem. “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” (Psa 127:1). Oh, follow the example of the apostles who devoted themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word. Preach the Word, the pure Word, the rich 16
Word, and God promises to bring forth fruit in His own time. The vast majority of churches today have enough false professors and spurious conversions in them without any of us adding to the problem! Are there not enough false prophets seeking to make a name for themselves? It is high time that we wake up! It is time to return to the old paths! It is time to knock down the shaky walls and break up the false foundations upon which much of our so called “ministry” rests. Let us not get ahead of the Lord in building His spiritual body. Remember the Apostle’s injunction: “I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but “God who gives the increase.” Preach the Word, water it with prayer, get out of the way, and wait on the Lord for the “early and the latter rain” (Jam 5:7). References: Psa 1:1-3; Rom 1:16; 1Co 1:17; 2:1-5; 3:4-6; Eph 5:26; 1Th 2:13; 2Ti 3:16, 17; 4:2; Ti 1:9; 3:5; Heb 4:12; Jam 1:18; 1Pe 1:23.
10. Earnestness One of the most pitiful sights in all the world is that of a lukewarm minister. We’ve already discussed lukewarmness in Principle 2. Now we want to briefly consider one of it’s opposites: earnestness. The preeminent motive for earnestness in the ministry is this: the salvation of men’s souls. What position of responsibility is greater than to labor earnestly for the salvation of souls? It is so heavy a responsibility that many a pastor strains under its weight. It is a job only for those truly called of the Lord. The glamour and novelty of the pastorate withers under the burden of this duty. Carrying the spiritual burdens of men’s souls is often so intense that only those who are given the spiritual capacity to hold up under them can survive. None other than an earnest ministry can equalize the pressures and burdens faced by the man of God. A cold, unsympathetic pastor needs earnestness to revive his love and compassion for the sheep. Earnestness adds life to every duty; it gives zeal and urgency to the heart; and it changes routine duties into matters of life and death. Lord, eradicate sloth and ministerial ease, and make us earnest in Thy service! References: Ecc 9:10; Pro 12:24; Ezr 16:49; Rom 12:8, 11; 1Co 15:58; 2Co 8:16; Eph 5:16; Col 1:28-29; 3:23-24; 4:17; Heb 6:10-12; Rev 3:15-16.
Study Questions, Lesson 1: Importance of a Living Ministry Please complete the below assignments. We have employed a variety of formats including essay questions, research papers, and Scripture studies. It is best (especially for your own future reference) if the answers are 17
typewritten (single spaced on a typewriter or computer), however, if a typewriter or PC is unavailable, then handwritten answers written neatly will suffice. 1.
Read chapter one, and the first section of this lesson about principles and observations. Choose three of the ten principles, which you consider to be the most important, and explain why each of these three principles are crucial to a pastor’s spiritual effectiveness. Note: All ten of these principles are important, but we want you to select the three that you believe to be the “most” important to you. This research paper should be 2 to 3 pages in length. The following questions will help guide and develop your answers: a. b.
How do these three principles emphasize the importance of a living ministry? Is it important that an aspiring pastor understand these three principles before he enters the ministry? If so, why?
Please be as specific as possible in your answers. Do not exceed three pages in total length of your paper. No cover sheet is required. Place the following information on the top left side of the first page: Name
Lesson & question number
Please follow this model in labeling all of your assignments. Take the time to produce a quality paper. We want you to think through the implications of a living ministry as opposed to a dead one. Contemplation and meditation breed illumination and transformation. Therefore, take time to meditate on the truths and principles you learn. Reflect on them, and hopefully the result will be a clearer understanding and deeper appreciation of the pastoral ministry. Don’t rush through the teaching without spiritual illumination on the real role of a pastor. Pause and pray regularly for the Holy Spirit’s insight. Make sure you grasp the essential issues. Reflect on how these principles apply to you personally, to your ministry, and to the position of a pastor in general. We have selected the specific principles you are studying because we believe they are the most critical to a spiritually effective pastorate. Indeed, your understanding and implementation of these truths is indispensable if you are to be a “minister of the Spirit”! 2.
After each of the ten principles, there is a list of Scripture references offered as proof texts. Choose ten verses, one from each of the ten lists, and explain each in its relationship to a living ministry. Please describe how each verse underscores the need for a “living 18
ministry” today, and the urgent need for pastors to be channels of “life.” For example, after choosing a verse from the references after the first principle, Quality Not Quantity, explain why “quality” is vital to a living ministry. In other words, bring out the relationship that each text has with the necessity of a “living ministry.” Your comments on each of the ten verses should be kept to one paragraph or less.
The Minister’s True Life and Walk
First please read chapter 2 in the booklet.
The assignment for this chapter is to answer a series of essay questions all related to the minister’s inner life and walk with God. All answers are found in Chapter 2 of the booklet. Please rephrase what the booklet has to say into your own words.
Study Questions, Lesson 2: The Minister’s True Life and Walk Saved and Sanctified 1.
The first qualification of a minister is that he be saved. It is alarming but true that many who occupy the sacred office are not Christians. According to this same paragraph why is it a must that a minister be saved?
“As the minister’s life is in more than one respect the life of a ministry.” This statement shows the intimate connection between the spiritual health of a church and it’s minister. We must have holy ministers to produce a holy church. There is a lengthy quote from Robert Murray McCheyne, a godly Scottish minister and friend of Bonar from the 19th century, in which he suggests the cultivation of a specific habit as a means of fostering holiness in a minister. What is this vital, daily habit? And why is its practice crucial to a spiritually robust ministry?
The minister’s self-watch is emphasized by “take heed to thyself,” and “your own soul is your first and greatest care.” What are the four methods of ministerial watchfulness, ways by which a pastor is to watch over his own soul?
Why are many pastors weak in the pulpit? In what ways can you relate to the answer from personal experience?
“Walking with God” 5.
In seeking to deepen the saint’s “walk with God,” the pastor must teach often on this same subject. What is the great pitfall into which a pastor is prone to falling?
What was the source of John Berridge’s great strength?
Study the Speakers, Not the Sermons 7.
We are told of the powerful sermons of Whitefield, Berridge, and Edwards, revival preachers of the 18th century. Under the preaching of these men thousands were converted to Christ during the First Great Awakening. What was the most important factor that contributed to the extraordinary success of their preaching?
We have learned that the man more than his doctrine, and the speaker more than his sermon, are instrumental in the conversion of sinners and the sanctification of saints. This is an important principle. However, there is one trait in particular which especially transforms the man into an instrument of life and power. What is this trait? Why is it so important?
A decline in a minister’s relationship with God will weaken the potency of his labors and preaching. What other aspects of a minister’s devotional life will be affected by spiritual decay? List as many of them as you can think of.
[The answer is not found in the booklet, but should be drawn from your own personal experience, observations, and Scripture.]
10. a. b.
What is the minister’s source of power in attracting men to Christ? Have any people in your ministry or under your influence been drawn to Christ by this same attractiveness? Explain.
Faithfulness Essential to Success 11. What is the one end (purpose) for which a minister takes office? 12. What are the means of fulfilling this duty? 13. Explain the relationship between the means and the end in fulfilling this most important responsibility. Are the means and end closely related? 14. “Our position is such that we cannot remain neutral. Our life cannot be one of harmless obscurity.” This statement refers to the evil of ministerial lukewarmness. A faithful minister cannot be neutral or lukewarm in the serious task of laboring for the salvation of souls. Those who aspire for this office must heed this critical warning. It 20
is better to not enter the ministry at all, than to conduct a lukewarm ministry. Remember, we will have to give account to God for our stewardship. It is imperative that you count the cost and examine your calling beforehand! The author tells us that a faithful minister will produce a particular response in the hearer. What is it? What is the response an unfaithful minister will produce?
15. a. b.
What is “the grand secret of ministerial success”? Do you agree? Explain your answer.
Describe the spiritual impact a pastor’s holy life will have upon those around him. From your personal experience, has your walk with God influenced others for holy living? If so, is this the rule or the exception? In all humility can you say that people have been drawn to the Lord because they are attracted by what they see of Christ in you?
First please read chapter 3 in the booklet. Thus far we’ve been looking at the foundation stones upon which the pastoral ministry is built. Rather than looking at specifics, we have been exposed to an assortment of general principles. We have gone straight to the core spiritual issues and reviewed some of the most sensitive (yet important) principles, which lay at the heart of a spiritual ministry. We have not gone into detail in the discussion; that is not the purpose of this course. (You may unpack a microscope later to examine the various details and disciplines of pastoral theology.) Our present aim is to provide you with an introduction to the spirituality of ministry. In this lesson we continue to look at the spiritual foundations upon which we must build a holy temple and a living ministry. Each pastor should have a realistic and honest portrayal of the vocation he has (or is to) taken up as his life’s work. A vocation should be examined from both its positive and negative perspectives, to get a realistic idea of what he is getting himself into, before embarking on training and preparation for this lifelong endeavor. Many are attracted to the pastorate by ideology, knowing little or nothing of its reality. They therefore enter the ministry unprepared to handle future hardships which will undoubtedly be experienced. The glamour and prestige of being a minister fades rapidly in the face of its inherent difficulties and heavy responsibilities.
Preparation for the ministry will require great sacrifices in time, finances, study, and in character development. Unfortunately, it is the experience of too many pastors that most of the crucial lessons which teach us how to build a “spiritual” church, are learned after entering the ministry. Sometimes this is unavoidable. Nevertheless, it is desirable that you make certain of your call to be a pastor so as to avoid setbacks in time and resources, as well as painful pitfalls, broken relationships, and ruined lives. The purpose of this lesson is to shed additional light on the reasons why a man should enter the pastorate. We will explore the rationale and motives, both good and bad, of those who aspire to this office. To accomplish this we will learn from “past defects,” sins, and misconceptions of others. By studying the source of the common fallacies and erroneous practices of the ministry we may prevent a fall into the same errors. By cleaning up the source of polluted waters we are assured of its future purity. Many in our day are considering the pastoral call. It is a noble and good desire. The Apostle Paul told Timothy, “If a man desires the office of a bishop (pastor), he desireth a good work.” It is good that you want to be a pastor, but make sure that your desire is from the Lord, and that He confirms it by the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, the local church, and the confirmation of your gifts and qualifications by others. You are urged therefore, to examine your calling through the following study of “wrong” pastoral practices and habits.
Study Questions, Lesson 3: Past Defects Please answer the following questions from the information in the booklet. You may add more information from your own research; however, each answer should be no longer than one paragraph.
The Dangers of Ministerial Professionalism 1.
What characterizes the life of many who are, by profession, overseers of the flock?
Why may a pastor have a record of many baptisms, sermons, and meetings, for twenty, forty, or fifty years, and yet see no conversionshaving multitudes perish under such a ministry?
What are four things ministers must do to remedy the sin of professionalism in the ministry?
Give 1) the meaning of the below texts and 2) the specific application of each to the sin of ministerial professionalism. Each text will expose one or more elements of this problem. a. b. c.
Isaiah 1:10-16 Micah 3:11 Ezekiel 34:1-10
d. e. f. 22
Lamentations 2:14 Jeremiah 5:30-31 Jeremiah 23:16-17
g. h. i. j.
Matthew 23:4-8 Luke 11:37-44 1 Peter 5:2 John 10:12-13
k. Jeremiah 48:10 l. Philippians 2:20-21 m. 1 Cor. 9:18
The Tragedy of a Barren Ministry 5.
There are many labors, activities, and external efforts that ministers put forth without bearing any spiritual fruit. What are these activities? List as many as you can find in this section, and include any personal observations or experiences you may want to share on the problem of barrenness.
What permanent measures will you take to avoid a spiritually barren ministry in the future? [The answer is a personal response.]
What reasons are given for the necessity of a spiritually fruitful ministry?
Living religion and the Holy Spirit’s power are crucial in preventing a barren ministry. Why is this true? You may add briefly your own observations.
In all honesty, how serious are you in bringing forth spiritual fruit in your ministry and In obtaining the Holy Spirit’s blessing on your labors? Do you realize that one of the most important means behind a pastor’s spiritual effectiveness is a daily life of prayer, supplication, and intercession, and the deep conviction, unswerving commitment, and sacred consecration necessary in maintaining it? [Please carefully consider this last question before answering it.]
Is barrenness an issue of major concern to you? Are you strongly convicted about bearing spiritual fruit, and tired of the dead-end of dead works? Little or no spiritual growth will occur unless you take drastic measures in dealing with the problem of barrenness. Please be open and objective in your answers, because we must first acknowledge our areas of failure, weakness, and ineffectiveness before we can remedy the problem. (Your answers will be held in strict confidence.)
10. Give the meaning and application of each of the seven passages below, as they relate to barrenness and fruitfulness in the ministry. a. b. c. d.
Matthew 7:15-20 Colossians 1:10,11 2 Peter 1:8 Psalm 1:2,3
e. f. g.
Psalm 92:13,14 Psalm 127:1 Jeremiah 17:5-10
Submission Involves Renunciation 11. What must you renounce if you are to be used effectively by God, if you are to be at His disposal, if you are to bring much glory to Him
through your meager efforts, and if you are to give all the glory to God? 12. How is such a renunciation accomplished? 13. How is it that a pastor can be quietly content to use the means for saving souls without seeing them actually saved? 14. Why will a pastor be satisfied to use the means of salvation without obtaining the end, and speak of it as though he was submitting to the Lord’s disposal? 15. Give the meaning of each of the five passages below, and apply these texts to the minister’s need of total surrender to God’s willa complete renunciation of self. a. b. c.
Psalm 115:1 3 John 9 2 Corinthians 3:5
2 Corinthians 4:1-2 1 Peter 4:1-2
Covering Falsehood with Truth 16. a. b.
What specific example is given of the mental process by which a minister makes use of a truth to cover and excuse a falsehood? What is the real problem underlying a pastor’s false reasoning in this area?
17. What is the important virtue and heart attitude that is essential in a pastor’s dealings with souls? (It is grievous and lamentable that this quality is not a dominant trait of many men.) 18. Demonstrate from the below texts the need for sincere compassion and love as the primary motive in serving others. a. b. c.
Romans 12:9 2 Corinthians 2:17 1 Thessalonians 4:12
d. e. f.
1 Timothy 1:5 1 Timothy 4:12 1 Peter 1:22
First please read chapter 4 in the booklet. In this lesson we will look closely at some of the sins which plague a faithful pastor. Although not an exhaustive discussion, our attention here is drawn to those particular sins which sabotage and destroy an earnest, spiritual ministry. This lesson will prove valuable to both pastor and pastoral candidate alike only if its sober warnings are scrupulously heeded. Moreover, the alert student will learn much about the nature and inner mechanics of the ministry through the stark realism of its pitfalls. It behooves all who value pragmatic learning carefully to contemplate these
sins and their implications. As you study this lesson, ask yourself these questions. - Have I unconsciously committed these sins in the past? - Am I committing any of them in my present ministry? - What permanent steps will I take to prevent these sins from occurring in the future? As painful as this lesson may be, we urge you to persevere as you work through its assignments. Moreover, to derive the most spiritual benefit you must bathe your study with prayer and self-examination. Any other approach simply will not do. A clear understanding of the hazards and snares of the ministry is the aim of this chapter. But we hope that more than just an expanded mental apprehension will be gained. May this chapter spark a period of reformation and revival that will have spiritual reverberations throughout your entire ministry. Let us pray that illumination will lead to transformation. Please carefully consider the following principles and observations.
1. Personal Devotions and Ministerial Failure Most ministerial sins are symptomatic of a deeper problem which lies at the heart of the matter: a failure to maintain heart purity, a clear conscience, unbroken communion, and a vigorous devotional life. For the sincere yet undisciplined pastor, this negligence is a painful lesson learned many times over. Caught up in the details and time constraints of a busy ministry, pastors often forget that the main battle is over the preservation of their devotional life, their foremost duty being to feed their own souls so that they can feed others. Yet with all our knowledge, frequent reminders, painful lessons, and strong convictions, our devotions seem stubbornly elusive in maintaining consistency. Why? On the surface this seems like an unanswerable paradox. But after some months and years in ministry we learn quickly how relentless and determined the forces of hell can be in extinguishing the brightness of our light, the power of our love, and the intensity of our life in Christ. The enemy will surrender no territory without a brutal and bloody fight. Of all men, the pastor is in a position to do the most good for souls, and the most damage to the kingdom of darkness. Little wonder then why all the powers of hell are bent on his demise, and are tenacious in holding him in a state of spiritual bankruptcy. The aspiring minister will do well to remember that the most formidable enemies in ministry are those which distract you from your own soul’s nourishment, and thereby weaken your spiritual strength. References: Psa 1:1-3; 37:31; 119:11; Pro 28:9; Rom 10:17; Joh 15:3; 17:17; Act 6:4.
2. The Holy Spirit and the Minister Three key factors determine a church’s spiritual health. They are: the minister, his strength, and his ministerial labors. As these factors work together in building Christ’s church, all three must combine in organic unity in the power of the Holy Spirit. Remove the Holy Spirit’s influence from any one of them and the process of spiritual construction and renewal in the church will cease. Remember, it is the power of the Holy Spirit that creates and maintains a spiritual church. It is absolutely vital, therefore, that the minister, his strength, and his labors be in the power of the Holy Spirit! The lack of the Spirit’s controlling influence accounts for multitudes in the pastorate who are spiritual failures. They have built their churches on fleshly quicksand instead of on a firm spiritual foundation. Oh, they may have their building programs, marketing strategies, church growth techniques, elaborate music ministries, day care centers, and a ministry to cater to every age group. Yes, many are attracted to these churches through these “programs.” Through the application of religious marketing techniques, it is relatively easy to fill the pews with warm bodies. But is this how God builds a spiritual body? Is this the work to which ministers of the Spirit are called? In their zeal to build large congregations and see “many souls saved,” pastors are losing their spiritual focus and are building congregations of the dead. They are setting themselves up for a fall. Their efforts are based more in fleshly zeal and in man’s wisdom, than on the mighty working of the Holy Spirit. One cannot build a true church on the strength of natural gifts, a winsome personality, eloquent speech, and sheer physical energy. We must be completely stripped of self before God will work mightily through us, because He alone must receive the glory. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2Co 4:7). The key factor in building a spiritual ministry has been and always will be the regenerating and sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. “My strength is made perfect in weakness!” (2Co 12:9). Our dependence must shift from man to God, our reliance must be transferred from the religious flesh to the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the biggest factor accounting for ministerial failure during the last 130 years, in spite of the record number of new seminaries, the advancements in ministerial training and education, and the growing movement in conservative churches for the recovery of classical biblical doctrine. It is high time we wake up and realize that there are diabolical forces and carnal powers at work to hinder a minister’s spirituality. He must recognize and mortify these powers before they ruin him. Pastors walk on dangerous ground when out of fellowship with God. Yes, teaching is important, but let us teach and preach with unction from on high, giving 26
life to what otherwise are mere words. Jesus said, “the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are life” (Joh 6:63). References: Mic 3:8; Zec 4:6; Joh 16:7-8; Act 1:8; 1Co 1:17-18; 2:4; 4:20; 2Co 3:3-8; Eph 3:16; 6:18-19; 1Th 1:5; 2Ti 1:7.
3. The Minister and His Judgment The pastor’s thought life is under constant bombardment by fiery missiles of the enemy. This attack is extremely subtle and insidious. Its goal is the poisoning of our judgment. Our thoughts must be protected and guarded from those influences which ruin our discernment. Very often our judgment is not guided by impartiality and objectivity. A pastor’s judgment, though usually honest, is subject to the mitigating influences of pride, vainglory, self-protection, suspicion, envy, prejudice, jealousy, and egotism. These spoil impartiality. When light is mixed with darkness, one’s integrity becomes impure. Poisoned and prejudiced judgments won't stand the test of time. They invariably have disastrous consequences in relationships in the body of Christ. References: Pro 2:1-7; Jam 2:1, 4, 9, 13; 3:13-17.
4. The Minister and His Decisions There is one area in particular where a pastor is most vulnerable when in a state of spiritual weakness. It is that of making bad decisions. Satan takes advantage of our weakened spirituality to introduce erroneous information and bad options to our eroded judgment. These satanic suggestions are often concealed by religious clothing and seem very plausible and logical. But the devil here uses religion, logic, and even zeal for the truth, to deceive the minister into believing that his decision is valid and honest. He doesn't realize that because of his weakened spirituality he has lost acute spiritual discernment. Razor sharp insight and illumination from the Holy Spirit is needed to expose this subtle injection of faulty reasoning into the process of objective, honest and wise analysis. Without this crucial spiritual dimension, our judgment is frequently defective. A man may possess superior intelligence, knowledge, and personal experience, but a man will not make a wise decision based on these qualities alone. The intellect alone cannot be trusted to always render an impeccably correct decision. There is yet another dimension that must be incorporated into the decision-making process. It is the need for enlargement of insight into spiritual matters that comes from our minds being in tune with the mind of the Spirit. Without this spiritually heightened discernment, it is difficult to identify the intrusion of demonic suggestions and the intermingling of unscriptural factors in the forming of our decisions. References: Joh 7:24; 1Co 2:6-16; 2Co 11:3; Jam 1:5,6. 27
5. Recovery from Spiritual Declension The first step in dealing with spiritual failure is to prevent it before it happens. This is especially applicable to pastors in training. Beloved brother, if you expect to avoid grievous snares in the future, then don't dare enter the ministry until you've learned the above lessons by fire. Wait until the Holy Spirit makes a powerful and lasting impression of them upon your heart. No book can teach these lessons. The finer details of theology you may forget, but this spiritual instruction is so potent that you won't ever forget it. These are lessons that touch your flesh and bones, and send loud messages to your inner being. From them you will benefit for the duration of your ministryeven for a lifetime. Don't you see, learning through painful lessons is a vital part of the training process itself! These are lessons too valuable to miss, because they instruct the heart (just as theology teaches the mind). The second step in recovering a spiritual ministry is to acknowledge the primary source of the problem: spiritual weakness and dependence upon the flesh. Admit past spiritual failure for what it really issin. And then you must confess and forsake it. Pray for a holy resolution that you will never again return to the carnal ways of a backslidden ministry. Pray with supplication and lamentation until God answers. References: Psa 37:23-24; Pro 28:13; Lam 3:31-33, 40-42; Isa 40:29-31; 57:15-18; Joh 21:15-17; Psa 51; 1Jo 1:9; 2:1; Heb 2:16-18; 4:12-16; 7:17-25; 8:11-14; 10:11-14, 1923.
6. Dealing with the Negative Side of Ministry Now, what we have said thus far has been in preparation for the current assignment, chapter four, which may seem excessively negative to some. It is admitted that “Ministerial Confession” is not a palatable title. The prospect of pondering literally hundreds of sins enumerated in this chapter is daunting, to say the least. It is not our purpose to portray the pastorate as something undesirable or unattainable, nor do we want to beat you over the head with a spiritual rod. However, we believe it to be imperative for a man considering this sober and sacred calling, to possess a realistic as well as scriptural understanding of it’s nature and work before he enters it. Many a pastor has wished for more time beforehand to prepare for the difficulties and hardships of ministry. The pastoral ministry is one profession where previous preparation and training is crucial to future success. Someone once said, “If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” The pastorate is very often a “hot” place, with much of its work is negative in orientation. But this negative focus is normal for the ministry and only those who are called and gifted for the work can maintain positive attitude, objectivity, compassion, and spiritual 28
drive in the midst of its constant pressures. There is a constant temptation to be overcome by bitterness, prejudice, cynicism, discouragement, disappointment, and despair. Is it any wonder, therefore, that such a large percentage of seminary trained men leave the ministry exhausted, bitter and disgusted within the first five years of ministry? On the other hand, the daily renewal and revival of Christ’s love and power in the pastor’s heart will sustain him through every trial and tribulation, and equip him for every spiritual work. References: Luk 14:27-33; 2Ti 2:1-6; 1Co 9:24-27; 1Pe 3:13-17, 5:1-4, 6-10; 2Pe 3:1418.
Study Questions, Lesson 4: Ministerial Confession 1.
Read the entire chapter again meditatively before you begin the written assignments which follow. This will provide you with a general introduction to the variety of problems men face in ministry. Did you read the entire chapter carefully and in detail? Please answer yes or no on your answer sheet.
Which of the principles seem most relevant and helpful to you personally? How is it helpful?
The following is a list of 14 common sins in the ministry. We have listed these sins below in the confessional form that they appear in the text. Their positive counterparts (virtues) are listed on the right side.
We have: 1) been unfaithful. 2) been carnal, unspiritual. 3) been selfish. 4) been slothful. 5) been cold. 6) been timid. 7) been wanting in solemnity. 8) preached ourselves. 9) used words of man’s wisdom. 10) not fully preached a free gospel. 11) not duly studied, honored the Word 12) not been men of prayer. 13) not honored the Spirit of God. strength 29
Faithfulness Spirit-filled Unselfishness, self-denial Earnestness, diligence Loving, compassion Courage, boldness Solemnity, gravity Preaching Christ Preaching in the Spirit Proclaiming a free offer of the gospel Preaching the Word of God, not the word of man Making intercessory prayer our primary ministry Seeking the Spirit’s
14) had little of the mind of Christ.
Emulating Christ’s example in spirit/thought/deed
From the list of the fourteen Ministerial Sins, explain the negative affects of sins 2, 12, 13, and 14, on the pastor and on his ministry. The following questions can be used as a guide and stimulus in supplying your answers: a.
How do these sins negatively affect a pastor’s attitude toward his congregation, his ability to minister effectively, and his relationship with the Lord?
How do these sins negatively affect his outlook on the ministry, his being an instrument in producing spiritual fruit, his need of compassion for souls, and his need of keeping the vision for revival alive in his own heart?
You may or may not use these questions to help in stimulating your answers; the choice is yours. Please limit each answer to two paragraphs or less. 4.
Which of the Ministerial Sins are most troublesome to you personally? Why? What will you do to change this?
From the list of Ministerial Virtues above, choose the three which you believe to be most important. Explain why these three virtues must exist in a pastor if his efforts are to be blessed of the Lord. Please keep you answer for each to two paragraphs or less. Please use Scripture in support of your answers.
Revival in the Ministry
First please read chapter 5 in the booklet.
The essay questions relate to revival in the ministry. All answers to the questions below are contained in the reading.
Study Questions, Lesson 5: Revival in the Ministry Revival in the Ministry 1.
There are six things mentioned which hinder revival in the ministry. What are these six hindrances?
In resolving to reform the evils both of his life and ministry, a minister of the 17th century implemented eight devotional practices in his life which served to stimulate personal revival. In your own words, which one of these practices would most consistently stir your own personal revival? Why?
Why is devotional Practice 3 (from the list referred to in the last question), important to develop before a man enters the ministry? Why is this practice so critical for the pastor to maintain as a daily habit? What “ought to be the object of more direct and special effort” and fervent prayer of the minister? Why is this needed?
How will our country escape the judgment of God? What are the specific remedies given?
In your own view, how may a pastor obtain these two remedies (refer to last question)? Are you convinced that these remedies are desperately needed? [This answer is a personal response.]
Unbelief Weakens Our testimony 7.
What is it that makes ministers so cold in their preaching, so slothful in visiting, and so remiss in all of their sacred duties? What is the cure?
“Ready to Tremble” 8.
What must ministers possess if they would win souls, walk in the footsteps of our beloved Lord, fulfill their vows, avoid hypocrisy, finish their course with joy, and obtain the master’s crown? Why?
Take some time to review all the lessons of this study. What new understanding have you gained from the Scriptures and your study of Words to Winners of Souls?
Thank you for taking this course. May you be encouraged to continue your studies of God’s Word. If you received this course from MZBI, please write now to receive your next course
Appendix: Detailed Course Instructions 1. Procedure for Taking the Course a. The reading material for this course consists of the reading text printed at the beginning of each lesson of this study guide. b. Before beginning to read, please pray for God’s enabling to learn spiritually. c. Before you begin a lesson, please read the reading text completely. d. After reading the text, answer the related questions in this study guide. The lessons in this course are “open book,” which often enhances learning by removing unnecessary pressure. In addition, some questions ask for a personal response, where the answer will not be found in the reading material. In this case, we ask only for your honesty and best effort. e. The questions are designed to be carefully thought through. Several of the questions are sensitive; they have to do with your heart attitudes. So please do not rush, or you will be defeating the purpose of the course! Answer all of the questions as honestly as you can. The answers are confidential. f. Do not go to the next question until you have answered the previous one.
2. Answer pages Try to be concise and as clear as possible in your answers. Please write or type your answers on regular 8.5 x 11 inch (A4 metric) paper, or on the preprinted answer sheets if provided. Please write clearly and neatly, and if possible print. Note each page with Lesson #, each answer with Question #, and skip a line between questions
3. Supplies Paper, pen, and Bible are needed to complete your assignments. The King James Version is quoted, but you may use another version if you do not have a KJV.
4. Completion of Assignments a. Unlike correspondence courses from Mount Zion Bible Institute, in this course you do not mail lessons back to us for grading. This course is taken either 1) as independent individual self-study, or 2) as a local correspondence course with a local grader/coordinator who gives written feedback on your written assignments. b. We highly recommend that in either case, you identify a pastor, elder, or mature Christian person in your local area who can act as a mentor during this study. You would review your assignments with them regularly, and ask them to give you candid feedback on your answers. This form of one-on-one discipleship is often used by the Lord for significant spiritual growth. It will greatly enhance what you learn in the course. Remember, the goal is a changed life, not a good grade or ‘looking good’ on the outside in the eyes of another person. Therefore, this accountability to another local contact can be used of God in a mighty way in your life. c. If you take this course with a local coordinator, please follow his instructions. d. We recommend that you save your answer sheets for future reference. e. Four months are allotted for the completion of this course. When you are through with this course, please contact Mount Zion for a next course.