Sunday, February 21, 2010

Some more people who aren't reformed.

Neil Cullan McKinlay over at Show Off The Ben recently posted about what it means to be reformed and why no baptist can be called reformed. (link) In his basic argument he surmises that to be reformed or a Calvinist, (he seems to use the terms interchangeably after the second paragraph) one must be a pedobaptist, presbyterian, and a theonomist. It seems that these are fundamental features of what it is to be reformed in his mind. Rather than enter the debate, which is expanded upon here from R.Scott Clark's version, I would simply like to list a number of folks who are not reformed by these standards.

Johnathon Edwards (Congregationalist), John Owen (Congregationalist), George Whitefield (Methodist), Richard Baxter (Non-Conformist), John Milton (Congregationalist), C.H. Spurgeon (Baptist), John Frame (Non-Theonomist), AW Pink (Baptist), John Flavel (Non-Conformist), John Eliot (Congregationalist), John Piper (Baptist), James R. White (Baptist), Graeme Goldsworthy (Anglican), Henri Blocher (Baptist), Dr. Ligon Duncan (Non-Theonomist), Isaac Watts (Congregationalist), J.I. Packer (Anglican), strangely enough The Presbyterian Church of America (Non-theonomist). and ironically R. Scott Clark (Non-Theonomist since his two kingdoms theology is inconsistent with theonomy as described). Now it is best not to call any of these people reformed... or we could take reformed to mean adherents to Covenant Theology, the doctrines of grace, the concept of "semper reformanda," rather than a specific sect of presbyterian churches. Hey that's just me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Philosophy of Pastoral Ministry: Part 3

The private aspect of ministry refers to the small group or one on one instruction. While the prevailing portion of ministry is the public ministry, unless this is followed with training in a more intimate sense it will fail to “equip the saints.” This type of teaching not only shows the personal care for the soul of the member or parishioner, but will also lead to more gentle correction, as the Lord’s servant must. (2 Tim 2:24-26) This also allows for the specific tutelage in any area that is personally difficult for the child, guarding them from the snare of the devil. This concept of biblical discipleship is of second importance, only to the proclamation of public ministry of the word.

A pastor must be able to defend the faith as all Christians are called to do so. (1 Pet 3:15) In Acts 6, where we acquire the concept of the ministry of the word, we see that the apostles are not only preaching to the believers but the unbelievers as well. As pastors the primary focus is teaching the congregation, we are also called to evangelism and reasoning from the scriptures in the marketplace. (Acts 17:17) Thus defending the faith and engaging in conversation about it we must “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Cor 10:5)

The apostle puts it simply that if one is to be a pastor he must be above reproach. (1 Tim 3:2) This is plain; we are to practice that which we preach. Without this our teaching will be empty at best and utter hypocrisy. Pastors must be able to echo Paul’s words “be imitators of me as I am of Christ.” (1 Cor 11:1) Furthermore Peter encourages pastors “to be examples to the flock.” (1 Pet 5:3) For this reason pastors teach by their faith (Jas 2:26) and give credence to it.

If a pastor is to be effective in the ministry of the word he must be a pastor that prays. Without the power of prayer no matter how the pastor tries he will fail to properly “equip the saints.” James tells us that the prayers of a righteous man are powerful (Jas 5:16) and as imitators of Christ we must pray for those in the flock under our care that they might not go astray, (Luke 22:32) making intercession for them as Christ does for us, that we might be equipped to equip them. As men we must also inquire the counsel of God in all things that we might properly teach that which He has revealed to us. This is the bedrock of any ministry and especially pastoral ministry.

There are many other things pastors could do at any given church, and this would vary from local body to local body. Pastors are not to do everything in the church as clearly stated in Acts 6. Rather they are to labor teaching the whole counsel of God and taking watch over the church of God, bought with His own blood. Thus we are “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, building up the body of Christ,” for that is the very heart of pastoral ministry.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Philosophy of Pastoral Ministry: Part 2

The pastor must “study to show himself approved unto God” that he may “rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2:15) Only when a pastor “searches the scriptures” (John 5:39) can he declare the “whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27) Thus the study of the scriptures is principal in the life of a pastor, (Ezra 7:10) or shall we receive the same rebuke as Job “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2) Therefore let the pastor not be like the Jews with a zeal for God yet not according to knowledge.

This personal ministry of the word leads to the ministry of the word to others, both public and private. Rightly ministering the Word as the Apostle declares, requires us to “not shrink from declaring … the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) holding back nothing that “was profitable, and teaching … in public and from house to house.” (Acts 20:20) As one charged with the ministry of the word a pastor must preach the entire book, as it all testifies to Christ. (John 5:39) Also this teaching must be both in the public arena and the private one. Finally a pastor must live the word that he preaches leading by example. (Acts 20:18)

The public aspect of ministry refers to be the preaching from the pulpit, though it is not limited to pulpits. This is where the pastor teaches the majority of the congregation and parishioners by declaring to them the whole counsel of God. This must be built upon a firm foundation of the study of the word. All preaching from this venue must be linked to Christ, as the scriptures all concern him. (Luke 24:27)

For this reason Pastors are set apart from other Christians as to have the gift of teaching, (1 Tim 3:2, Titus 1:9) as this is one of the two tasks in the “equipping the saints.” This is key to the role of a pastor, and for this reason they are will not only be judged more harshly (Jas 3:1) but are worthy of double honor if they “work hard at preaching and teaching.” (1 Tim 5:17) Thus this platform is one of the venues through which we feed the sheep with “knowledge and understanding.” (Jer 3:15)

Good teaching will also protect and guard the souls of those in the body from the treachery of the evil one. The pulpit is a platform for exposing, warning, rebuking, and correcting err and sin. Truth breeds truth, therefore when spoken from the pulpit the truth will guard the little ones in it.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Philosophy of Pastoral Ministry: Part 1 Overview

The purpose of the Christian life is to glorify God in all things. (1 Cor 10:31) To that end the pastorate is no different than the layman. All of the tasks of the pastor must flow from this mindset, lest they all be in vain. Thus the heart of pastoral ministry is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Eph 4:12) that they might “to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) by “teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ,” both “in the temple and from house to house.” (Acts 5:42) Therefore the ever-advancing kingdom of God is paramount in pastoral ministry. If anything other than the Glory of God as the center of our pastoral ministry then we are in sin.

Few men should aim to be teachers, as they will be judged with greater strictness. (Jas 3:1) Thus to take up the calling of a pastor one must be sure in God, and qualified. Foremost the pastor should be above reproach. (1 Tim 3:2) The apostle here is clearly stating the pastors are to be morally excellent, that men might see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. Paul also adds the qualification of the husband of one wife. (1 Tim 3:2) This does not mean that a pastor must be married, rather that he must be of marrying age though he may be single as Paul was. (cf. 1 Cor 7:7) However this does mean that if a pastor does marry he is to do so in the biblical fashion, “the two shall become one flesh, ” (Gen 2:24) ergo monogamy.

Paul further exhorts the good behavior and character of pastors; that they might not be drunkards nor quarrelsome, nor violent, nor full of greed, for such are the deeds of the flesh. Rather a pastor is to display the fruit of the spirit, and manage his household well for how can one that is unable to keep his own house keep the Church of God? Finally they must be able to teach sound doctrine. Far too often today this quality is neglected or overlooked in a church’s search for a pastor. If they cannot teach then they are not qualified to be a pastor. This cannot be pressed enough, lest men who by their smooth words and blessings deceive the na├»ve. (Rom 16:18) Sound doctrine must be taught.

The New Testament is very clear about the plurality of pastors in the Church, following the pattern Christ set when he sent the disciples out two by two, (Luke 10:1) as two can withstand the adversary and three are not easily broken. (Ecc 4:12) Furthermore a reading of Titus 1:5 draws this picture as crystal. This also helps keep heresy from the pastorate, as two cannot walk together lest they agree. (Amos 3:3) This provides the much needed accountability in an age when the “Christian Church” is so plagued with sin.

A pastor is likened to a shepherd (Eph 4:11, 1 Pet 5:2) in the New Testament, giving an image of guarding and feeding sheep. Therefore the two main aspects of “equipping the saints” are the oversight of souls (Acts 20:28, Heb 13:17) and teaching with knowledge and understanding. (Jer 3:15, Titus 1:9) These two aspects flow from a healthy ministry of the Word and prayer life as the Apostles stated in Acts 6:4.

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. - The Apostle Paul