Saturday, 15 September 2012

The Christian Ministry - a Vocation or a Profession?

When I entered the Christian ministry 35 years ago, I did so out of a deep personal conviction that this was the call of God upon my life.  That conviction is still with me to this day.  I had been called by God and separated unto the Gospel of Christ, a calling that I treasured and still treasure.

However, things have changed within the churches.  Rather than the ministry being a vocation, it has degenerated into a mere profession, or, as it was marketed as I was entering, a career.  Now in a profession or career, you have to be concerned about what you do in very specific terms.

For example, you have to be concerned that you keep the numbers up and that each year you are making a profit; that you are pleasing the people (your clients) and fulfilling their desires and meeting their wants.  In these ways you will prove to be a good servant of the church and will be rewarded accordingly.  The church always rewards what she regards as her true servants.

But is this to be a minister of Christ?  Hardly. A minister of Christ has only one Master to please - the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Christian ministry is a unique calling and one that must be protected from becoming a profession or career.  Of course, the minister will want to do his work professionally, that is, well, effectively and efficiently; but he will never regard it as his profession, or career.  He will seek to be faithful to Christ and the Gospel and also to be faithful to the souls of those to whom he ministers.  He will not want to needlessly antagonise people, but he will not hold back the Gospel and its personal demands in order to escape it.  He will present Christ to the sinful race as the all-sufficient Saviour of mankind (as Calvin and Amyraut and Daille and Calamy and Wesley and Ryle and Murray McCheyne and DMLJ tirelessly preached).  How hearers respond to such a radical message is not the minister's responsibility.

But the minister of Christ's Gospel must never donn the mantle of being in a profession or career.  But he must always profess that he is in the service of God in Christ, and His service alone.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Surprised at God.

Dear Prayer Partners,

We ought not to be surprised when the Lord works and undertakes for His people, but so often we are.
  He has done this for us and the joy He has brought into our hearts has at times been overwhelming. 
XXXX got the results of her second major scan today, and the cancer has not spread to any other area of her torso.  For that we praise the Lord.  Make this great news a matter of thanksgiving to our gracious Lord for He is enthroned in the praises of His people.  

Also, make this the springboard for even more confident prayer for her healing.  God hears and answers prayer.  Go to Him and ask of Him and He will give you the desires of your heart. 

She goes for her final major (MRI) scan tomorrow morning (8:30) and this will determine more precisely whether or not the disease has spread to any area immediately surrounding the affected area, and enable the surgeon to know what work has to be done.  Pray that she will be given the grace and the peace of God to see her through this more demanding scan, and that the results will again be very positive.  For the Lord to touch her body and free it from all disease will be astounding, and of that He is easily capable; however, He might well have other designs in allowing her to go through the surgery, one of which might be to be a missionary in XXX and to those close to her.  Her strength, calmness, sense of peace and well being, her joy in the Lord, her brightness of spirit, are all eloquent testimonies to the grace of God in her life.

Pray that this will continue, and that through her Christian testimony, non-Christians will be touched by her life and witness.  Her big desire is to see those she loves converted to Christ, and for this we pray.  Please join us in praying that family and friends will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

I will finish this update now, asking you to continue steadfast in prayer.

In Christ Alone, and for His glory.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Unequally Yoked.

When Paul forbids Christians to be yoked together with unbelievers, the normal application of this is to personal relationships and especially marriage.  But these words also apply to entering business relationships and any other relationship where a bond is created.

But it also applies to the church.  Christians ought not to be yoked together with unbelievers especially in church.  However, this is not taken too seriously because it adversely would effect numbers and income.

More specifically, ought ministers to voluntarily to yoke themselves with unbelieving elders and fellow Presbyters?  Paul says NO.  Ought Christian parents to send their children to be taught by unconverted Sunday School teachers?  Paul says NO.  When newly converted Christians are considering church membership, are they under any obligation to place themselves voluntarily under the spiritual authority and oversight of unconverted and ungodly elders?  Paul says a clear NO.  Or for that matter, ought new Christians to place themselves under thew spiritual authority of spiritually immature elders?  On this principle, the answer must be NO.  He teaches that no novice, or spiritually immature believer, should be admitted to the office of eldership, even if the congregation votes them in.  They are not fit for office until they have been trained by years of Christian experience.

What Paul is teaching in effect is 'Watch your company.'  Brilliant advice to all ages, and not just to young people.  Don't become ensnared by anyone, not even the church.  Don't place yourself in the position where ungodly elders will make decisions that you will find impossible to accept.  Keep away from bad company, especially when that is in the church.  Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers (2 Cor.6:14).  In fact, I would question whether a Christian is bound to obey elders who have been erroneously elected to office in the church.  If the church has no concern for its spiritual well being, then Christians ought to have no concern about submitting to the spiritual authority of ungodly elders.

Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981)

Dr D Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) - Personal Appreciation is available to buy at the live link shown.  Dr Lloyd-Jones was surely one of the most excellent preachers in the twentieth century, a truly inspirational man of God.  I listen regularly to his sermons and read his published sermons and never fail to be touched and moved by the sheer force of truth that he expounds.

Click the above link to find out what he taught me, and be inspired to serve Christ wholeheartedly.

I am currently working on a book on one aspect of the doctor's theology, but which will not be available for about 18 months.  The above book is a foretaste of the one being worked on at present.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Calvin (3)

John Calvin on The Atonement is now available for purchase.  Get your copy now by clicking the live link.  You will be surprised by what you discover.  My advice?  Read Calvin's own works and discover the real Calvin.

John Calvin (2)

Gospel Preaching - John Calvin's Evangelistic Preaching is now available.  This book will throw much needed light on what it was that John Calvin actually preached when he declared the Gospel.

John Calvin (1)

Calvin and Courage - Under the Cross is available and ready for you to buy by clicking the live link.  This book will provide you with information about ther genevan reformer, John Calvin (1509-1564).

The Huguenots (5)

Jaques de la Fountaine - Huguenot Pastor of Principle is now available to add to your store of knowledge of these special people.

The Huguenots (4)

Huguenot Preacher, Jacques Abbadie is now available foryou to add to your collection of Huguenots books.

The Huguenots (3)

The Huguenots in London is now available to add to your store of knowledge of these special people.

The Huguenots (2)

The Huguenots Come to Ballyronan, Northern Ireland is now available to add to your store of knowledge of these special people.

The Huguenots (1)

The Huguenots in Magherafelt, Northern Ireland is now available to add to your store of knowledge of these special people.

The Worship of God

We went to church this morning desiring to meet with God, but were profoundly disappointed.  This is obviously what Satan wants for us.  The musical performances robbed us of the opportunity to worship the Lord at a time when we dearly wanted to come submissively before Him. 

I do not wish to turn you or your church away from your convictions about what constitutes worship; all I want to know is if the evening service will be a repeat of this morning's service. 

Further, we were hoping to invite XXXX to come with us next Sunday morning, and will do so only if we can be assured that we are going there to worship the Lord, not be exposed to musical performances of any kind.  There are plenty of theatres for people with musical talent to exhibit their not inconsiderable talents.

As you may have seen from my blog, my convictions about biblical worship runs contrary to the worldly worship that many evangelical churches have adopted.  It is sad to witness the 'downgrade' that is being promoted in many churches today.

It pains me deeply to write this to you.  While we attended XXX XXX, we thought that the good preaching would have more than compensated for the worldly worship that goes on there, and supported by the minister.  It didn't.  We came away from the services deeply upset in heart and head about what we had experienced.  Too many services were lost to us because the worldly worship overtook and undermined the message.  We will not allow this to happen to us again.

One of our reasons for going to church is to be supported by God's grace and presence; and we have never needed this more than now.  Anything less is insufficient.