My Life as a Christian

Lecture #2: The Call to the Ministry (Last Session)

In this session, Pastor Spurgeon concludes the lecture, The Call to the Ministry, with the following observation from his personal experience as the head of Pastors College:

“I do not set myself up to judge whether a man shall enter the ministry or not, but my examination merely aims at answering the question whether this institution shall help him, or leave him to his own resources…My heart has always leaned to the kindest side, but duty to the churches has compelled me to judge with sever discrimination. After hearing what the candidate has had to say, having read his testimonials and seen his replies to question, when I have felt convinced that the Lord had not called him, I have been obliged to tell him so.

“Young brethren apply who earnestly desire to enter the ministry, but it is painfully apparent that their main motive is an ambitious desire to shine among men. These men are from a common point of view to be commended for aspiring, but then the pulpit is never to be the ladder by which ambition is to climb.

“Men who since conversion have betrayed great feebleness of mind and are readily led to embrace strange doctrines or to fall into evil company and gross sin, I never can find it in my heart to encourage to enter the ministry, let their professions be what they may. Let them, if truly penitent, keep in the rear ranks. Unstable as water they will not excel.  So, too those who cannot endure hardness, but are for the kid-gloved order, I refer elsewhere. We want soldiers, not fops, earnest laborers, not genteel loiterers.

“I have met ten, twenty, a hundred brethren, who have pleaded that they were sure, quite sure that they were called to the ministry because they had failed in everything else. My answer generally is, “Yes, I see, you have failed in everything else, and therefore you think the Lord has specially endowed you for his service; but I fear you have forgotten that the ministry needs the very best of men; and not those who cannot do anything else.

“We have occasionally had applications at which, perhaps, you would be amazed, from men who are evidently fluent enough, and who answer all our questions very well, except those upon their doctrinal views…I mention it because it illustrates our conviction that men are not called into ministry who have no knowledge and no definite belief. When a young fellow say that they have not made up their minds upon theology, they ought to go back to the Sunday-school until they have. For a man to come shuffling into a college, pretending that he holds his mind open to any form of truth, and that he is eminently receptive, but has not settled in his mind such things as whether God has an election of grace, or whether he loves his people to the end, seems to me to be a perfect monstrosity.”

Here ends, lecture #2.

 

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My Life as a Christian

Lecture #2: The Call to the Ministry (First Session)

Our professor, Charles Spurgeon, just finished his lecture #1, two days ago. Today, he is bringing us his second lecture which he has entitled, “The Call to the Ministry.” This lecture will be divided into three sessions. The first one is more of an introduction. In the second session, the professor will lecture on 5 essentials to be considered in ascertaining a call to the ministry. He will conclude the lecture in the third session by sharing his personal experiences to aspirants for the ministry.

“Any Christian has a right to disseminate the gospel who has the ability to do so; and more, he not only has the right, but it is his duty to do so as long as he lives (Rev. 22:17). The propagation of the gospel is left, not to a few, but to all the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ according to the measure of grace entrusted to them by the Holy Spirit, each man is bound to minister in his day and generation, both to the church and among unbelievers.

“Indeed, this question goes beyond men, and even includes the whole of the other sex; whether believers are male or female, they are all bound, when enabled by divine grace, to exert themselves to the service, however, need not take the particular form of preaching-certainly, in some cases it must not, as for instance in the case of females, who public teaching is expressly prohibited (1 Tim. 2:12; 1 Cor. 14:34).

“I do not, however, in this lecture allude to occasional preaching, or any other form of ministry common to all the saints, but to the work and office of the bishopric (pastor), in which is included both teaching and bearing rule in the church, which requires dedication of a man’s entire life to spiritual work, and separation from every secular calling (2 Tim. 2:4); and entitles the man to cast himself for temporal supplies upon the church of God, since he gives up all his time, energies, and endeavors, for the  good of those over whom he presides (1 Cor. 9:11; 1 Tim. 5:18).

Professor Spurgeon then goes no to highlight the importance of God’s call to ministry rather than self-calling, so to speak. He writes, “No man may intrude into the sheepfold as an under-shepherd; he must have an eye to the chief Shepherd, and wait his beck and command. Or ever a man stands forth as God’s ambassador, he must wait for the call from above; and if he does not so, but rushes into the sacred office, the Lord will say of him and others like him, “I sent them not, neither commanded them; therefore, they shall not profit this people at all, says the Lord,” (Jer. 23:32).”

Spurgeon at this juncture cites instances of prophets Isaiah (Is.6:8), Jeremiah (Jer. 1:4-10), Ezekiel (Ezk. 2:1-3; 3:1-4), and Daniel who had been called into ministry by God. He then applies the truths regarding the calling of these prophets to the present day. “In the present dispensation, the priesthood is common to all the saints; but to prophecy, or what is analogous to be moved by the Holy Ghost to give oneself up wholly to the proclamation of the gospel, is, as a matter of fact, the gift and calling of only a comparatively small number; and surely these need to be sure of the rightfulness of their position as were the prophets; and yet how can they justify their office, except by a similar call?”

“Brethren, I trust you may be able one day to speak of the flock over whom “the Holy Ghost has made you overseers” (Acts 20:28), and I pray that every one of you may be able to say with the apostle of the Gentiles, that your ministry is not of man, neither by man, but that you have received it of the Lord (Gal. 1:1). In you may that ancient promise be fulfilled, “I will give them pastors according to mine heart,” (Jer. 3:15)…As the Lord Jesus went up to the Mount and called to him whom he would, and then sent them forth to preach (Mark 3:13), even so may he select you, call you upward to commune with himself, and send you forth as his elect servants to bless both the church and the world.”

The first session of this lecture ends here…

 

 

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My Life as a Christian

The Minister’s Self-Watch: Be sure you are converted

     It has been some time since our last class.  It seems our professor, Pastor Spurgeon, was tied up with other equally important assignments but now is back and is bringing his second lecture which he has entitled, “The Minster’s Self-Watch.”

     In this lecture, Spurgeon discusses the need for constant self-evaluation of a minister or a pastor. Of course, this is to be done by the grace of God. He opens with this profound thought:

     “It is true that the Lord can work with the faultiest kind of instrumentality, to be useful in conversion; and he can even work without agents, as he does when he saves men without a preacher at all, applying the word directly by his Holy Spirit; but we cannot regard God’s absolutely sovereign acts a rule for our action…This is a practical truth for our guidance, when the Lord makes exceptions, they do but prove the rule.”

     By this Spurgeon emphasizes on the need for a minister or God’s servant to prepare themselves, by God grace, for service every day. There is no room for neglecting this responsibility on pretext that God can use anything, even that which man intends for evil, to accomplish good (Genesis 50:19).

     Spurgeon goes on to illustrate how negligence of our both spiritual and physical preparation for God’s service can ruin even the good things we would like to accomplish for God as he writes: “It will be in vain for me to stock my library, or organize societies, or project schemes, if I neglect the culture of myself; for books, and agencies, and systems, are only remotely the instruments of my holy calling; my own spirit, soul and body are my nearest machinery for sacred service; my spiritual faculties, and my inner life, are my battle axe and weapons of war.”

     Professor Spurgeon goes on to list the following important points.

First, “It should be one of our first cares that we ourselves be saved men…How horrible to be preacher of the gospel and yet to be unconverted… Unconverted ministry involves the most unnatural relationships. A graceless pastor is a blind man elected into a professorship of optics.” Spurgeon has a great sense of humor but here he drives home a very important truth.

     Spurgeon then quotes from “Reformed Pastor” by Richard Baxter and writes: “Believe it, brethren, God never saved any man for being a preacher, nor because he was an able preacher; but because he was a justified, sanctified man, and consequently faithful in his Master’s work. Take heed, therefore, to yourselves first, that you be that which you persuade others to be, and believe that which you persuade them daily to believe, and have heartily entertained that Christ and Spirit which you offer unto others.”

     While asserting the need for a preacher to be a converted man, Spurgeon still accepts the fact that: “The word of an unconverted man may be blessed to the conversion of souls, since the Lord, while he disowns the man, will still honor his own truth.”

     Oh, it’s already time! Professor Spurgeon will stop here for today. May God grant us the grace to reflect on these matters and instill in us the hunger to seek to be his better instruments through His grace alone. 

 


 

 

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Christianity and Society

The Man Named Epaphras

Lately, I have been studying the Epistle to Colossians and one character that has caught my attention in the study is the man named Epaphras.

Epaphras got converted when he went to hear Apostle Paul preaching in Ephesus.  Thereafter, he went home in Colossae and planted a church. Later, the Colossian church was faced with the problem of false teachers and Epaphras immediately went to Rome to meet Paul and seek assistance on how to address the problem (1:7-8; Acts 19:10).

The interesting thing with this man, however, is that he still remains a little known figure despite “working hard for the church at Colossae” (4:13). Unless, you take you time to critically study the epistle, you will never know how important Epaphras was to the Colossian church.

This is how things can go in our service for the Lord sometimes. We might give out our best and keep things moving by the grace of God but still remain little known figures. This should never discourage us since it is all about Christ and not us.  All the glory should go to him alone. As John Baptist once remarked, “Let him increase while we decrease” (John 3:30).

Therefore, never be bothered so much about getting a credit for your service unto the Lord because the truth is that you will not always get it. All the same continue to serve the Lord faithfully and seek to bring all the glory to Him like Epaphras the unsung hero did.

 

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Christianity and theology

Is it right to Critique Prayer?

The Infant Samuel at Prayer - Sir Joshua Reynolds

Lord, teach us to pray

Recently, I have been reading “When Grace Comes Alive” by Terry L. Johnson. The book has been of great help and blessing to me so today I would like to share this excerpt from the book regarding how we should perceive prayer. I hope you will learn something from it and it will also be of great blessing to you.

“We need not to make the mistake of thinking that we need no instruction on prayer, except for perhaps a few hints on technique. Prayer is sometimes seen as being so intensely personal as to be beyond the evaluation of others. ‘Some Christians resent the analysis of prayer,’ notes Dereck Thomas. Prayer is what we do when we pour out our hearts to god. How could such a thing be critiqued? How could it be done wrongly? How could it be improved? They act as though, Thomas continues, ‘some sacred ground is violated when we begin to dissect prayer under a spiritual microscope.’ Yet, the disciples asked, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’ They perceived their need of instruction. Jesus responded with teaching on the place, the form, and the content (or words) of prayer. Apparently we need to be taught all of these things.

Why? Why is it not enough for us merely to say whatever is on our hearts, whenever and wherever we feel like it? Because with respect to prayer and worship, when left to ourselves, we never get it right. We don’t know how to pray. We don’t know what to say or how to say it. Why? To answer that we have to go ‘back to the garden’ and reacquaint ourselves with the givens of human nature. Since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit we’ve been off the bushes with them, hiding from God. We are separated from God and alienated from Him (Col. 1:21). We are ‘enemies’ (Rom. 5:10). We are ‘without God in the world’ (Eph. 2:12).

Because this is so, we have no natural inclination to pray. God is light, but as Jesus said, by nature we are lovers of the darkness and haters of the light (John 3:19, 20). We have a natural aversion to God. We don’t like Him. We don’t want to have to deal with Him. We don’t seek Him (Rom. 3:10). We refuse to honor or serve Him (Rom. 1:18ff). Even as redeemed people the dregs of our old nature continue to weigh us down with this antipathy.  We have to haul our bodies out of bed and drag them into prayer closet because fallen human nature, the remnants of which still plague us, resists contact with God. It wants to flee from God, not draw near to Him in prayer…

It matters to Him what we think about Him. It matters to Him how we pray to Him. Again, one might have thought that the truly important thing is that we pray. Just so long as we are sincere, so long as we try, so long as we pray on occasion, that’s all that matters. Given how busy and distracted we are, God should be pleased with any concept of Himself which we might have. He’s not pleased with any prayers that we might offer. We might think that it ought not matter to God, but it does. He is not pleased to receive any scraps of religious interest that we might offer to Him. He requires that we think of Him rightly, and that we approach Him rightly. Consequently, we must be taught. We need instruction. If we are wise we will realize with the Apostle Paul that ‘we do not know how to pray as we should’ (Rom. 8:26). With the disciples we will ask, ‘Lord, teach us to pray’ © Terry L. Johnson.

Amen and Amen!

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Uncategorized

My Reflections on the Defense of the Faith

One thing I know for sure is that God cannot be defended by you and me. He is capable of defending himself and he can do it better than any of us. However, at times God uses people like you and me. Believe you me, there are times when God calls us to “Contended for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). This realization has led me to believe that there ought to be a thin line dividing these two truths. My prayer is that God will always open my eyes to discern the battles he is calling me to fight and those fights I ought to leave to Him alone. Believe you me, this will never be an easy task but I know His grace will always be sufficient.

I also pray that God will grant me the grace to march to the battle he has called me to fight even though my fellow soldiers in the Christian Army stand aloof and are hesitant to march on. Believe you me, not every Christian will be convinced and convicted to fight all the battles that God calls you to fight. There are various reasons for that. R.C. Sproul points out one.

“I’ve seen it again and again. Someone recognizes false teaching and arises to resist it. But instead of supporting the courageous person who wants to uphold Christ’s truth, other Christians call for that person to be silent. Fearing hostility from the culture or the wider body of professing Christians, many believers turn the guns inward and silence their fellow believer for the sake of peace. Yet peace that is won at the expense of the truth is no peace at all. Of course, so far as it depends upon us, we are to live peaceably with all (Rom. 12:18). But when God’s truth is attacked we must draw a line in the sand. Like Daniel of old, we must be willing to face the lions if that’s what it takes to guard the truth (Dan. 6).”

So whatever  the reason that other Christians might have to avoid some battles, but if God has called me to fight that battle, I pray that His grace should always go with me. May I always be comforted in the fact that I am not alone rather He is with me as I fight.

Another thing I always pray for when I am on duty as a Christian soldier is to fight graciously out of love. I think that’s what differentiates the Christian army from any other army in the world.   The aim of our fight is love for God and love for fellow man and because of this goal we battle graciously.  I know sometimes when my fallen human nature rules, I end up fighting brutally; however, I always beseech the Lord that I should fight with grace. Of course, the other camp might hardly appreciate the grace in my strategy of the battle; however, if God approves that there is grace in my fight, then all is well with my soul.

Last but not least, I pray that God will give the courage to fight on when fellow Christian soldiers stand in my way. You know, it is one thing to have fellow Christian soldiers hesitating to join you in the fight and it is totally another thing to have fellow Christian soldiers standing in your way as you fight. Sometimes it even gets worse because the fellow soldier s turn their guns on you and fire. It’s really sad, very sad!

In such cases, I pray that I will not be bitter but I will appreciate the truth as William Cowper once observed that “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.”  I pray that I should be able to say as Joseph said “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for God” (Genesis 50:20).  Believe you me, not all Christians will hear the trumpet when God calls you to fight. There will be some who will think you are crazy and they will even shoot at you. Please pray for a forgiving heart and remain faithful to the Master as you onward march to the battlefield.

So, may all Christian soldiers  join Sabine Baring-Gould ( 1834-1924) and shout out:

 

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,

with the cross of Jesus going on before.

Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;

forward into battle see his banners go!

Like a mighty army moves the church of God;

brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.

We are not divided, all one body we,

one in hope and doctrine, one in charity.

 

Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,

but the church of Jesus constant will remain.

Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail;

             We haveChrist’s own promise, and that cannot fail.

      

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Christianity and Society

BUILD WISELY, BUILD ON THE ROCK

Sand Dunes

Not knowing Christ as the Savior is building on sand

Life is described with many similes. Some have described it as a drama; some have said it is like a journey. Those who are acquainted with roller coasters have likened it to roller coasters. Others have preferred to describe life as a race. These and many other similes are given to life depending on how one views life.

Christ also has his own metaphor of describing life. In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus  likens our day to day life with the art of building. As a matter of fact, he says that all of us are builders. He also goes on to categorize the builders into two namely wise and foolish builders.
This is what he says,
“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it has its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house and it fell with a great crash.”
On sand. This can mean many things, but to sum it up, we would say that anything that controls and drives our lives apart from Christ is sand. Anything that stops us from making Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior of our life is sand. To some, it might be fame. There are people today that are driven by fame. In everything they do, they value fame more than anything else, and this in the end leaves Christ having no room in their lives.
To some the sand can be wealth and riches. To them nothing, not even Jesus, matters more than riches and wealth. Different philosophies and ideologies that you hold dear to but oppose God’s Word are also sand. The list is endless. Those who have built on this sand should know that a day is coming when the rains will fall, streams rise, and the winds blow against their houses, and the houses will be crashed into pieces.
On the rock. The rock is none other than Christ. Those who have built their house on the rock are those who have believed in Jesus. These people can be assured that all will be well on the day when the rain will come, streams rise, and the winds blow against their buildings. Their houses will remain unshakable, and they will gladly sing: “On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”
Finally, the day when rains will fall and the streams rise, and the winds blow against your building. This is the day when each one of us will depart this earth and stand in front of the great judge, the God of heaven and earth, and give an account of what you did with Jesus Christ. One important question will be posed to each one of us: Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and does Jesus know you as his? Our response will reveal whether we built our house on the sand or on the rock. So, build wisely, build on the rock and His grace is sufficient to enable us build on the rock.
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