John Owen has some fascinating insights on pastors and ministers (hint: they’re not the same thing) in his book The Duty Of Pastors. Here are some of the quotes I liked from this book. Remember this book was written in the 17th-century, so don’t let the Old English keep you from discovering the rich truths in these passages.
“Why should any speak where the Holy Ghost is silent? … Where things are obscured, it is a safer way to prove the practice of men by God’s precept, charitably supposing them to have been obedient, than to wrest the divine rule to their observation, knowing how prone men are to deify themselves by mixing their inventions with the worship of God.”
“The lights which God maketh are sufficient to rule the seasons for which they are ordained. As, in creating of the world, God ‘made two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night;’ so, in the erection of the new world of His church, He set up two great lights, the lesser light of the Old Testament to guide the night, the dark space of time under the law, and the greater light of the New Testament to rule the glorious day of the gospel. And these two lights do sufficiently enlighten every man that cometh into this new world. There is no need of the false fire of tradition where God sets up such glorious lights.”
“All faithful ministers of the gospel, inasmuch as they are ingrafted into Christ and are true believers, may, as all other true Christians, be called priests; but this inasmuch as they are members of Christ, not ministers of the gospel. It respecteth their persons, not their function, or not them as such.”
“Thus, this metaphorical appellation of priests is, in the first place an intimation of that transcendent privilege of grace and favour which Jesus Christ hath purchased for everyone that is sanctified with the blood of the covenant.”
“Not to lose myself and reader in this digression, the sum is, the unspeakable blessings which the priesthood of Christ hath obtained for us are a strong obligation for the duty of praise and thanksgiving; of which that in some measure we may discharge ourselves, He hath furnished us with sacrifices of that kind to be offered unto God.”
“That the name of priests is nowhere in the Scripture attributed peculiarly and distinctively to the ministers of the gospel as such. … And yet, when Christ ascended on high, He gave some to be prophets, for the edification of His body, Eph. iv. 11; none, as we find, to be priests. Priests, then (like prelates), are a sort of church-officers whom Christ never appointed.”
“Never fear the equity of what God sets thee upon. No excuses of disability or any other impediment ought to take place; the Lord can and will supply all such defects.”
“God never sendeth any but whom He doth so extraordinarily and immediately call and ordain for that purpose; and that this may be manifested unto others, He always accompanieth them with His own almighty power, in the working of such miracles as may make them be believed, for the very works’ sake which God by them doth effect.”
“We do not read of any such miracles wrought by the prophet Amos, and yet he stands upon his extraordinary immediate vocation, ‘I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son, but the Lord took me,’ etc. It sufficeth, then, that they be furnished with a supernatural power, either in, 1. Discerning; 2. Speaking; or 3. Working. … The sum is, that seeing such men pretend that their revelations and miracles are from heaven, let us search whether the doctrine they seek to confirm by them be from heaven or no.”
“There is a general obligation on all Christians to promote the conversion and instruction of sinners, and men erring from the right way.”
“For a public, formal, ministerial teaching, two things are required in the teacher: first, Gifts from God; secondly, Authority from the church (I speak now of ordinary cases). He that wants either is no true pastor.”
Be sure to check out my review of The Duty Of Pastors by clicking here.
Yesterday I shared with you about the 30-day dare to starve your eyes (if you missed that post, please click here).
Steve Arterburn has written about how exactly we go about doing this. He writes that it means things like:
Please join me in taking this 30-day challenge.
Steve Arterburn has written some challenging books on the care we need to take with what we view. It’s not just pornography itself, but even some of the things that can lead up to porn viewing. Steve has a dare for you: Can you change what you are looking at for 30 days? Check this out…
If you don’t think you have an issue with pornography, or maybe you don’t even think porn is that big of a deal, check yourself with this quick assessment.
I signed up for the 30 day challenge, and I DARE YOU to sign up too!
Suppose you had to do a secret project on a remote island. In fact, the island is so remote that it doesn’t even have a name or show up on a map. I am your only point of contact, and the only one with the latitude and longitude coordinates to come get you. You have a satellite phone to use. If I truly cared about you, I would give you the precise sequence of digits to reach me. If I didn’t care about you, I’d let you call any number you wanted to call: perhaps you would eventually reach someone who could help you.
The most loving thing I could do for you is to make sure you knew the one number to call in order to get the help you needed.
This is exactly how God starts the Ten Commandments—And God spoke all these words: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.”
How confusing and utterly unloving it would be if God said, “Call any number you want to see if you can find the help you need.” Instead, in His great love for us God says, “I am the only One you will ever need!”
Notice the wording here: “…I am the LORD your God…”
This First Commandment is the orientating commandment. When we see all of God’s commandments are rooted in His love (by the way, God uses the phrase the LORD your God five times in the Ten Commandments), everything else in our lives and attitudes is properly aligned.
Jesus demonstrated this for us. He said He loved His Father and therefore obeyed all of His commands (John 14:31). Christ’s obedience was motivated and aligned by love. The Apostle John said this loving obedience is to be the distinguishing characteristic for us too:
This is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3)
We honor God and obey the First Commandment best when we know He is the One Who loves us enough to say, “I am the only One you need. Don’t look to anyone or anything else, but just come to Me!”
When I finally submitted, I made a covenant with God: “I never want to preach a sermon where my finger is pointed at the congregation, where I am saying, ‘You people better listen to this!’ But I only want to share what You have been challenging me to do and become. I want the congregation to hear an overflow of the work being done in me.”
I recently read a paragraph from Oswald Chambers that validates that covenant I made—
“It is an easy business to preach, an appallingly easy thing to tell other people what to do; it is another thing to have God’s message turned into a boomerang—‘You have been teaching these people that they should be full of peace and of joy, but what about yourself? Are you full of peace and joy?’ The truthful witness is the one who lets his light shine in works which exhibit the disposition of Jesus; one who lives the truth as well as preaches it.”
My pastor friend, don’t preach it if you’re not living it! Or another way: live it first, then preach it.
It Is Finished was an amazingly confronting and encouraging book. You can read my full book review by clicking here, but below are some of the quotes from David Wilkerson that especially caught my attention…
“Jesus was speaking as co-signer of the covenant. He said, ‘Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are’ (John 17:11). He was saying to the Father, ‘We agreed that I could bring into Our covenant everyone who trusts in Me. Now, Father, I ask You to bring these beloved ones under the same covenant promises You made to Me.”
“The covenant, cut before the world was formed, has in it the sworn oath of almighty God to save and deliver His people from the power and dominion of satan. Faith in Christ brings us into God’s covenant oath to keep us as faithfully as He kept His own Son.”
“This is an ongoing problem with many Christians. We look to the Holy Spirit as some kind of booster shot to empower or energize our human will. We expect Him to build up our supply of grit and determination, so we can stand up to temptation the next time it comes. We cry, ‘Make me strong, Lord! Give me an iron will, so I can withstand all sin.’ But God knows this would only make our flesh stronger, enabling it to boast. … Scripture says the Spirit of God actually ‘subdues’ our sins and turns us from them: ‘He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast our sins into the depths of the sea’ (Micah 7:19). Think of it! Not I, but my God, will subdue and conquer all my sins, by the inner working of the Holy Spirit.”
“God’s Spirit will accomplish in us what our flesh never has been able to do. How? By indwelling us. The New Covenant is all about the Holy Spirit coming to live and work in us, by promise in answer to faith.”
“It is vital for every follower of Jesus not to judge God’s New Covenant promises according to past experiences.”
“God says, ‘There is one work the Spirit must perform in you before any of these others. He is going to put in you the true fear of God concerning sin. He will implant in you a profound awe of My holiness so you will not depart from My commands. Otherwise, your sin will always lead you away from Me.’ Very simply, the Holy Spirit changes the way we look at our sin. … So He shows us how deeply it grieves and provokes Him.”
“Many flesh-driven Christians try to shake off the guilt that God’s convicting arrows produce. They do not want to feel the dread of their sin, so they constantly claim the verse, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:1). But they neglect to read the last part of this verse: ‘who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.’ If you continue in sin, you are walking in the flesh—and you have no claim on God’s promise of ‘no condemnation.’ The guilt we feel under Holy Spirit conviction is actually a work of God’s grace. It is meant to expose the deceitfulness of sin in us.”
“Ask the Holy Spirit to accomplish in you the precedent work of instilling godly fear in you, to keep your heart open and accepting of God’s Word. When you do, the Spirit promises to give you a soft heart, one that is pliable in His hand. … The implantation of godly fear by the Holy Spirit is designed to produce obedience through surrender, rather than through discipline.”
“God the Father gave His Son, Jesus, access to all of His own riches and wealth. In other words, He invested in Him all the wisdom, knowledge, power and glory of Heaven. And by being made wealthy in all these things, Jesus became the only One worthy to be co-signer of the covenant. ‘By so much more Jesus has become a surety [guarantor, sponsor, co-signer] of a better covenant’ (Hebrews 7:22). Could there be any greater mercy than this? God so loved us that He made His Son rich beyond all comprehension. Then He made Him both our kinsman and our co-signer. He has become the person responsible to settle all our debts. He pays when we cannot.”
“In this covenant, God pledges to do the following four things:
“A stronghold is an accusation planted firmly in your mind. satan establishes strongholds in God’s people by implanting in their minds falsehoods and misconceptions, especially regarding God’s nature.”
“The only weapon that scares the devil and his armies is the same one that scared him in the wilderness temptation of Jesus. That weapon is the truth of the New Covenant—the living Word of God. Only the Lord’s truth can set us free.”
“This is the doctrine of God’s preventing goodness: He has anticipated all our struggles—all our battles with sin, flesh and the devil—and in His mercy and goodness, He has paid our debt before it can even come due. Through the covenant, He has prepaid for all our failures and relapses. His covenant oath assures us of His preventing goodness in our lives.”
“In God’s eyes, our problem is not sin, it is trust. Jesus settled our sin problem once and for all at Calvary. He does not constantly harp on us now, barking, ‘What have you done this time?’ or ‘Now you’ve gone too far,’ or ‘This time you’ve crossed the line.’ No, never! Our Lord’s attitude toward us is just the opposite. His Spirit is constantly wooing us, reminding us of the Father’s lovingkindness—even in the midst of failure.”