8th April 2010
The Scriptural Profile for a Minister of the Word
preached by the Rev Perry Smith as requested by a Church seeking a new Minister
NIV References in: II Tim 4:1-8; I Cors 2:2-5 and 9:16-19 & 22;
Acts 10:33 and 20:17-21 and 24-27; Hebs 13:7-9 and 17-18.
Ministers are like the Olympic Runners - but they pass on the ‘Gospel Torch'. Charles Wesley sang:
‘O Thou who camest from above, kindle a flame...let it for thy glory burn with inextinguishable blaze.'
* The Privilege of the Call
- also a gift - ‘given to me for you, to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ' (Eph 3:2,7,8), ‘testifying to the gospel of God's grace' (Acts 20:24).
Notice the N.T. terms used: preach (as a herald), proclaim, apostle (one sent, commissioned, with a higher authority), labourer, witness, steward (entrusted with a responsibility as I Thess 2:4), servant (of the Word), workman, ambassador (for a higher leadership), shepherd (pastor).
* The Proclamation of the Gospel.
- ‘We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake' (II Cors 4:5). The bad news of sin, leading to the good news of salvation. ‘Preach the Word in season and out of season...do the work of an evangelist' (II Tim 4:2-5).
Scriptural, not just topical but Bible-based; simple, yet profound. A narrow way (Matt 7:13), yet wide in its social implications and applications. Christ-centred, Christ-exalting. Our every spiritual blessing is in Christ (Eph 1:3; Col 1:28). Share the great doctrines of the faith.
Personal. Individuals are listening. Aim for their inner question: What must I do?
(Acts 2:37; 16:30; 20:21). Expect a response, a verdict in some measure.
Practical and relevant, not archaic. We are ‘to serve the present age' (AHB 487=TiS 573).
Logical. Clear, not a vague and muddled presentation. It is not an essay, but an exposition.
Move step by step towards a definite challenge and a new resolve.
Natural. Be yourself. ‘Preaching is truth through personality' (Phillips Brooks).
Humble. Give God the glory. Someone wanted to be first to congratulate Pastor Charles Spurgeon. He replied: ‘You're too late, the devil was first!'
Pastoral. Caring by home visits beyond church and public ministry (Acts 20:20).
* The Perfecting of the Instrument.
‘One approved, an unashamed workman who correctly handles the word of truth' (II Tim 2:15). We never know it all. Study further, stretch the mind, take in to give out. Pray over the preparation ready for the presentation. ‘Give attention to prayer and the ministry of the Word' (Acts 6:4).
* The Power of the Spirit.
Evident from Pentecost onwards in the Acts. Spot the ‘Not - but' phrases in I Thess 1:5 and also
I Cors 2:4-5. The Holy Spirit's anointing and empowering is essential for a true Minister of the Word.
What about the Congregation?
A Minister as outlined above will not be perfect but will want to be faithful. Paul wrote, ‘You and I may be mutually encouraged in faith' (Rom 1:12). Are you an encourager? Do you anticipate God's Word eagerly, listen expectantly and respond obediently? (Acts 10:33). The Hymn ‘Master speak, thy servant heareth' (AHB 516=TiS 597) perfectly sums this up, and do note the personal pronouns!
Respect, hold in the highest regard in love (I Thess 5:12-13; Hebs 13:17). ‘Keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace, one Body...one hope, one Lord, one faith' (Eph 4:3-6).
Co-operate eagerly ‘as God's fellow-workers' (II Cors 6:1). We are to ‘grow up into Christ, joined together, built up in love, as each part does its work' (Eph 4:15-16). A Minister cannot do everything and does not have all the gifts - delegation is necessary.
Pray faithfully. Paul often requested (Eph 6:19-20; II Thess 3:1), ‘facing daily the pressure of his concern for all the churches' (II Cors 11:28). A faithful, caring ministry counts - but it costs!
Understand sensitively the Minister's own needs and any family needs.