[P]astoral qualification is never merely a matter of apparent giftedness and effectiveness. It has at its root a question of character…
He concludes with a sober, always needed, reminder:
Finally, let there be no gloating: “let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12). You may believe you saw this coming. You may have mourned over the painful trajectory that developed, and perhaps the failure of those who publicly applauded phases of Mark’s career publicly to address the change in tack. You may have your suspicions and fears about what comes next. But to revel in the sin of another is a demonic thing. To rejoice in a man’s public downfall is to join Satan’s company. When you see another man, any man, sinning and stumbling, remember that – but for the grace of God – that is you, and pray with tears that it might never be.
The 2014 Carey Conference took place Aug. 16-22. Pastor Jeremy Walker preached on a series of five messages entitled The Joy of Salvation. The other sessions were an expository series on the book of Habbakuk, God’s Hand in History.
In exposing and critiquing the shallow culture of Western celebrity that too easily infiltrates the church of Jesus Christ, we must be careful not to allow that to become an equally crass dismissiveness of legitimately-earned reputation. Empty pomposity and unfounded adulation deserves to be lampooned. However, that can too easily become a pyrrhically satirical spirit in which almost any kind of authority, however legitimate, is mocked and decried.
This necessary distinction has been brought home in recent days of travel…
In the interview we learn more about the series (including the Geoffrey Thomas’ book), that the series is going to expand, and that it will include a work on repentance by Pastor Jeremy Walker. Check out Episode #66 – Cultivating Biblical Godliness [mp3]:
“Our responsibility lies where our sovereign God has put us, in the sphere to which he has called us. It is there we are to conduct ourselves as brokenhearted evangelists and pursue our calling as Christians, embracing our vocation-whatever it may be-as those who desire and intend to make Christ known to others.”
“Let no man who has no gift for public speech berate himself for not being a preacher. Let him rather consider what he might do as a friend who draws alongside others in any number of contexts. The husband who labors countless hours in the week to put bread on the table for his wife and any children God might give may not be able to spend every Saturday visiting friends, handing out tracts, or knocking on doors, but he might be able to remember in prayer those who do and perhaps give an hour or so once a month to such endeavors.”
“Taking all this into account, as well as your distinctive calling, particular constitution, or specific character, consider that the root and foundation of your obligation to teach transgressors the ways of God-the issue of whether you are to be a witness to God’s grace, teaching transgressors the ways of Jehovah-lies in whether you are a repentant and pardoned sinner. If you and I are such pardoned sinners, having come with tears of genuine sorrow and received forgiveness of our sins from God, then we lie under the same obligation as David.”
For friends in Australia (Sydney), you might be interested in the Truth of the Gospel Conference, coming up on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th July at St Johns Park Baptist Church. I will be lecturing on Andrew Fuller on Friday evening, followed by three sermons on the gospel and its proclamation on Saturday, before preaching at the two sponsoring churches on the Lord’s day.
From there, I head on toward Brisbane, where it is my privilege to preach at the family conference of the Berean Bible Church of Queensland from Friday 11th to Sunday 13th July. My theme is “A Face Like A Flint: The Holy Determination of our Lord Jesus and His People” (details here). There are a few other meetings sown in about these main events…
If you have wandered around at all online you have probably seen one of those silly articles that purport to offer a string of very British problems, most of them variations on the joke about two British people marooned on a desert island, rescued ten years later, and found never to have spoken to one another because they had never been properly introduced. Mark’s article on Presbyterian parenthood put me in mind of such things: problems that arise from the very nature of the beast. That, of course, is not to suggest that there are no tensions or questions in a Baptist approach to the same issue: as a Christian parent, how do I deal with my children?
Mark’s historical survey introduces some of the debates that have characterised Presbyterian discussions. My angle on those would, of course, be different, as I am not working from precisely the same set of convictions. I also appreciate and face some similar difficulties. At the same time, I believe that a Baptist solution to the problems is more scripturally simple and straightforward, as well as avoiding any danger of making baptism a saving ordinance, and avoiding discussions about the difference between actual and federal holiness, and what seems to be the more-than-mere-tension of not knowing whether or not something is true but still judging it to be so. I suspect that Mark would endorse many of the elements of my parenting (and I would doubtless do the same with regard to his). I also know his esteem for particular Baptists (probably Particular Baptists), whatever he may think of yours truly (no need to respond, brother – we try to keep things civil here).
However, I thought that it might be helpful to offer some thoughts from a Baptist parent trying before God to raise his children in a way that becomes my convictions.
My children hear the gospel in the family and in the church. Although I do not presume them to be disciples, there is a sense in which I “teach them diligently” the ways of God, and “talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Dt 6:7). I want them to learn to see the world through God’s eyes, as it were, defined by divine assessments and directives, so that they may respond appropriately, as the Spirit works in their hearts. I teach them, therefore, from the book of general revelation, so that they may know that there is a Creator who made them and to whom they are accountable, and from the book of special revelation, so that they may know that there is a Saviour from whom they may receive salvation. I am deeply conscious of the particular privileges that they enjoy growing up in a home where Christ Jesus is known and loved and proclaimed, and I urge them to improve those privileges by trusting in and serving the Lord Christ.
Some time ago I read a letter from a pastor who had spent time in hospital. He was surprised at how ill-equipped the saints who came to visit him seemed to be in ministering to his soul as he lay in the hospital bed. More recently, I was asked by a brother in a church which is currently without a pastor how he might more effectively serve some who are sick and struggling by visiting them to encourage and assist them. My advice was very simple, but it might help others, and I offer it here in that hope.
First, practically, turn up at an hour convenient to the person you are visiting, or previously arranged…
Second, make your visit simple but substantial…
Third, remember that the person(s) may not remember much about your visit, but they will hopefully remember that you did visit, and they will, we trust, have profited from hearing the Word of God read and explained, and a brief time of prayer.
Finally, remember that there may be some particular challenges you can meet or helps you can offer, especially engaging the deacons of the church…
On 2 June 2014, leaders from 36 different churches gathered for a challenging day of ministry and encouraging times of fellowship at “Effective Evangelism”, a day conference hosted by Grace Baptist Church Edlesborough.
Jeremy Walker, Pastor of Maidenbower Baptist Church in Crawley, spoke on Effective Door to Door Evangelism;
…[T]he antidote to legalism is never a few drops of antinomianism, and the response to antinomianism is never a decent dose of legalism.
Our definitions and explanations, our actions, reactions, and counteractions, must not be forced upon us by circumstance or other external pressures, but forged of scriptural metal in the white heat of humble prayer, hammered fine by the tools of righteous exchange and measured against the standards of the history of orthodox Christianity. Any other substance or process will not serve us as we need.
We must hold the centre. We must not depart from the Word of God. We must allow the Scriptures to say all that they say, in the way that they say it, drawing out the truths that the Bible contains, and ensuring that each and all are maintained and declared in their proper place and proportion. So, for example, we must maintain the righteousness of Christ alone as the grounds of our justification, and faith as the God-imparted instrument by which that righteousness of Christ is obtained. We must maintain also that there is a real personal holiness which is to be ardently cultivated by us, the fruit of our union with Christ: “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14). I tried to do some of this in a simple way in a recent book called Life in Christ, for those who might want a plain and pastoral introduction to what it means obediently to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for his good pleasure (Phil 2:12-13).
We must understand this not as a matter of mere semantics or theoretical theology (no real theology is simply a theory). If you are a pastor, salvation and the assurance of it hang upon these things. The men and women to whom we preach need to know the right answers to the questions of how we can stand before the Lord of heaven and earth considered not just as blameless but as positively righteous, what will be our confidence in the day of judgement, what are the present evidences of our interest in Christ Jesus, and how we may live so as to enjoy the smile of our heavenly Father…
My guest on the program today (via video Skype) will be Jeremy Walker – pastor of Maidenbower Baptist Church in Crawley, England, coauthor of A Portrait of Paul: Identifying a True Minister of Christ, and author of The Brokenhearted Evangelist
As the brouhaha concerning antinomianism continues to develop, with fallout in various spheres, it is sad to see the vagueness, brutality and confusion that seems to spring up in its wake, more or less prevalent and evident depending on the medium employed.
Vagueness, because lots of people seem to have something to say (or to think that they do), but not all of them are making plain that they are saying it […]
Brutality, because the relish with which some Christians take up their verbal weapons and charge into such conflicts is always tragic. In a fallen world, such controversy is a necessary evil, never a gleeful melée […]
Confusion, because the key issues seem so easily to be lost sight of […]
So, for what it is worth, let us please cultivate clarity and charity as we engage. If engagements fought long ago on this matter are anything to go by, this is just the beginning, and there will be tragedies before the dust settles. If nothing else, let us be determined that we shall honour Christ in the ways, means and ends we embrace. I know that all sides will say that, but the tree will be known by its fruit. I am utterly persuaded of the rightness of this cause, but it would be a sad thing to win the day and yet to see the banner of truth sullied by the way in which and the people by whom it has been carried into the battles that must be fought.
First, today and tomorrow is the Grace Baptist Assembly, meeting in the wilds of Derbyshire, on the theme of “Building Healthy Churches.” I am a reasonably last minute replacement for Alun McNabb, kept away by illness, and my topics in two sermons will be the nature and purpose of the church. Though it is probably a little late for interested parties to book, I am sure that prayer will be much appreciated.
Then, on Monday 2nd June is the Effective Evangelism Conference at Grace Baptist Church, Edlesborough. Four men will be addressing various aspects of the labours of the church to reach the lost: door to door work, open-air preaching, small groups, and dedicated seasons. The emphasis will be on the principled and practical equipment of those eager to preach the gospel for the task in hand. All are welcome.