Things Young Pastors Should Avoid
The present crisis affecting the world is A CRISIS OF THE WORD. What is at stake is the authority of the Word of God, and the right and timely declaration of the same.
As preachers we must not only hold to it, but labour to understand it more, read it more, and by conference with right-minded, sober and faithful men, by painstaking study in private, by prayer and self-examination, by sorting out the wheat from the chaff among the bewildering sheaves of theological ‘works’, and by every other means, to know how to refuse the evil and choose the good, ‘till by the mercy of God we become effective preachers of the Word.
“Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil and choose the good” (Isaiah 7:15) This principle of the glorious life of our great Redeemer and most adorable Lord, must be, according to our measure, the principle operating effectively in those who, after Him and according to His Spirit, ‘prophesy in His name.’
There are those in the ministry who ought never to be in it. There are those who enter it prematurely and without due carefulness and preparation. There are far too many who think that two or three years in a seminary will give them what they need. There is an increasing emphasis in neo-Calvinistic circles on University degrees as an essential condition for ministry of the Word, and certainly as a preferential qualification for ‘recognition’ in the wider fields of evangelical eminence. No doubt Mr. Spurgeon would find himself right out in the cold. There are more ways than one of acquiring intellectual prowess, and the present state of the student world, with its revolt against authority and decency, gives one furiously to think.
There are many men who enter the ministry at too tender an age and would be better to give up for the time being at any rate, and earn an honest living while pursuing the wholesome discipline of intensive study while they await the Lord’s REAL call.
Even Mr. Finney, whose name is not exactly beloved in the circles in which we move, said many things which were right and timely, none more so than when he complained of that system which took a man straight from school, sent him to University and College, and then headlong into the pulpit having been carefully insulated from childhood against adequate contact with and knowledge of the hard, cruel, and weary world which has to suffer under his ministry. Better enter the ministry late than early. The Kingdom of God won’t suffer because of our delayed entrance into the pulpit.
Here are some things to avoid.
AVOID EVANGELICAL REVISIONISM.
It begins with textual ‘problems’ – mainly existing only in the imagination of pseudo-scholars. Beware of any suggestion that what is known as THE RECEIVED TEXT OF HOLY SCRIPTURE is a defective instrument, and that the Bible of the Reformation and of the Puritans badly needs revision and expurgation. Read Dabney on “The Various Readings of the New Testament” (“Discussions” published by the Banner of Truth) and reach his conclusion that if present tendencies of evangelical ‘scholarship’ have their way, “the natural result will be, that the church of God will finally have no New Testament at all”. Again, “It is very clear that, practically, the people must either trust the Bibles they have, or believe in none. For there is no practical substitute. No two critics are agreed…”
It is likely that there will be no revival, in the accepted sense, in this age of judgment, only a testimony raised.
Ideas about gifts of healing of the body soon displace wholesome concentration on the healing of the soul. The modern ‘healing campaign’ is one of the greatest and cruelest frauds of modern time. Don’t waste time agonising for baptisms of ‘power’ and other ‘Pentecostal’ aberrations. Those who talk most about these things exhibit least of the thing they advocate. Supernatural signs In the New Testament are ‘the signs of an apostle’ (2Cor.12:12) – and whatever else you may be you are not an apostle nor ever will be. And don’t forget that the ‘signs’ included the power of transmission of gifts, which expired with the apostolic office. Be content with what God pleases to give you and stir up the gift that is in you of preaching and understanding all the counsel of God, for you are on a road of faith, not sight. Don’t be diverted from the real issue which is scriptural doctrine and exposition.
AVOID DANGEROUS PROPHETICAL INTERPRETATIONS.
Any prophetical interpretation is dangerous and subversive which, carried to its logical conclusion, tells you that much of the Old Testament and quite a substantial part of the New, is ‘not for the Church but for the Jew.’ Don’t let these pretentious theories deprive you of a whole Bible to preach from, or shackle you to Sadducean interpretations which the Jew was rejected for holding and acting upon 2,000 years ago. Don’t fall a victim to the ‘accommodation’ compromise which allows you only to preach from many parts of the Bible as a kind of exercise in secondary interpretation, permitted to you by leave of the Jew.
REMEMBER that the Old Testament was the only Bible the early Church had, until gradually the writings of the New Testament were completed and circulated. Study the apostolic use of the Old Testament, from the quotations of it in the New – and you will get many shocks, and. much wholesome instruction on how NOT to handle the Word of God deceitfully. If you will let them, there are men alive today who will take from you, in the name of the evangelical faith, most of the O.T. and a large slice of the N.T., including the Book of Revelation, the chief guide, counsellor and comfort of the Church of God through the fair weather and foul of her voyage down the last 20 centuries. If you believe that the whole or the most of Revelation is compressed into a fulfillment of seven years when the Church is not here to be interested, you are welcome to your view, even if it converts you into an evangelical Ebionite.
AVOID MODERN HOLINESS TEACHING –
– from whatever respectable source it comes. The present day holiness-devotional teaching has no roots in the Reformation. It departmentalises the Christian life and makes Christ the minister of sin, in that it preaches the insufficiency of conversion to rectify the life. It proclaims that you can have a conversion without holiness and be assured of heaven while pursuing the world’s way. Exaggeration? Then listen to this: “I believe that this is the crux of the problem today; we all want to be saved from certain sins, but we don’t want Jesus Christ to be Lord of our lives.” (G.B. Duncan, Keswick, 1965). “Some people want only as much of God’s salvation as will keep them out of hell, and they measure out with unconscious precision how much worldliness and sin they can still hang on to without jeopardising their chances” (David Shepherd, Filey, 1965). This Is “conversion” without repentance. Flee from it.
AVOID THE MODERN ABUSES OF THE PRAYER MEETING
Keep its ‘free for all’ under better control. Prayer meetings should be carefully governed by the ministry of the Word of God. The great prayer meeting of Acts 4 was distinguished by the priority it gave to the Holy Scriptures and the Sovereignty of God – “Lord thou art God which hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is; Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said…….” Study that pattern of prayer the Lord gave to His Church in Matthew 6:9-13; and note the priorities and the relative place given to actual petition. Remember Solomon’s inspired words in Eccles. 5:2 “Be not rash with thy mouth, and. let not thy heart be hasty to utter anything before God for God is in heaven and thou upon earth; therefore let thy words be few.”
DON’T PRESSURISE YOUNG AND IMMATURE PERSONS TO GO INTO “FULL-TIME” CHRISTIAN SERVICE.
Immaturity and the thinnest veneer of ‘qualification’ are no substitute for the mighty ministry exhibited in the men and women of God who founded modern missions. We cannot all be giants, but at least we can learn how to sling stones, and how to choose them from what brooks.
- C.D. Alexander (1904-1991)