20th July 2014
A sermon as preached by Rev Perry Smith of Belmont NSW when requested by a Church seeking a new Minister
NIV References: Acts 10:33; 20:20-21 and 27-28; I Corinthians 2:2-5 and 9:16-17;
II Timothy 4:1-2 and 5; Hebrews 13:7-9 and 17-18.
Ministers are like Olympic Runners - but passing the ‘Gospel Torch'. Charles Wesley sang:
‘O Thou who camest from above, kindle a flame ... let it burn with inextinguishable blaze.'
* The Privilege of the Call. It is a grace-gift, see Eph 3:2,7,8 ‘God's grace that was given to me for you ... the gift of God's grace given me ... to preach the unsearchable riches in Christ'. Note some related N.T. terms: preach (as a herald); proclaim; apostle (commissioned, with a special authority; witness; servant (of the Word); workman; ambassador (representing the higher leadership); and shepherd (a 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 a true proclamation: ‘A narrow road to life' (Matt 7:13,14), yet wide in social implications and applications. Christ-centred and Christ-exalting. ‘God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ' (Eph 1:3) and we are to explain and expound that.
Personal. Individuals are listening. Aim for their inner question: ‘What shall I do? ... what must I do?' (Acts:2:37 and 16:30). Expect a response, a verdict in some measure after preaching.
Practical, relevant, and not archaic. ‘To serve the present age, my calling to fulfil (TiS 573).
Logical. A clear, not a vague, muddled presentation. It is not an essay, but an exposition. Move step by step, point by point, towards a definite challenge prompting their new resolves.
Natural. Be yourself. ‘Preaching is truth through personality' (Phillips Brooks).
Humble. Give God the glory. Someone wanted to be the first to congratulate Pastor Charles Spurgeon. He replied: ‘You're too late, the devil was first!'
Pastoral. Caring by home visitation and public ministry beyond the church (as in Acts 20:20).
* The Perfecting of the Instrument.
Be an ‘approved, unashamed workman who correctly handles the word of truth' (II Tim 2:15). We never know it all. Study and stretch the mind, take in to give out. Pray during your preparation, be ready for the presentation. Give yourself to prayer and the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4).
* The Power of the Spirit.
Evident after Pentecost in the Acts. Spot the ‘Not - but' phrases in I Cors 2:4-5 and I Thess 1:5 ‘Words with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction' - so essential in a Minister.
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' (Romans 1:12). Are you an encourager? Do they anticipate God's Word eagerly, listen expectantly and respond obediently? (Acts 10:33). See ‘Master speak, Thy servant heareth' (TiS 597) which perfectly sums this up, and 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' comes 7x in Eph 4:3-6).
Co-operate eagerly ‘as God's fellow-workers' (II Cors 6:1). ‘Speaking the truth in love, grow up into Christ, joined and held together, 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 across the congregation.
Pray faithfully. Paul often requested (Eph 6:19-20; II Thess 3:1). ‘I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches' (II Cors 11:28). A caring ministry counts, but it costs!
Be sensitive to your family's needs, as well as your own as Minister.