On Full Display

In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:16)

Jesus wants Christians to be leaders, to be pacesetting examples. That means that Christian leaders must be comfortable with others carefully watching their lives. 

A mark of a godly leader is one who is comfortable with public scrutiny.

“It is bad enough to be blind ourselves. It is a thousand times worse to be a blind guide.” —J.C. Ryle 

“Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.” —1 Peter 2:12 MSG 

Sermons must be practiced as well as preached…. If a man teach uprightly and walk crookedly, more will fall down in the night of his life than he built in the day of his doctrine.” —John Owen 

Be a walking, talking, living example of what you preach, in every silent moment of your life, known and unknown; bear the scrutiny of God, until you can prove that you are indeed an example of what He can do.” —Oswald Chambers 

“Behave yourselves wisely—living prudently and with discretion—in your relations with those of the outside world (the non-Christians)…” —Colossians 4:5 AMP

“We hear that some people in your group refuse to work [or are behaving irresponsibly; are living/walking in idleness/disorder]. They do nothing but busy themselves [meddle; interfere] in other people’s lives. We command those [such] people and beg [urge; encourage; exhort] them in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly [or settle down] and earn [eat] their own food.” —2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 EXB)

“We should make less excuses for the weaknesses of a Christian than for any other man. A Christian has God’s honor at stake. When a man is regenerated and bears the Name of Christ the Spirit of God will see to it that he is scrutinized by the world, and the more we are able to meet that scrutiny the healthier will we be as Christians.” —Oswald Chambers 

This is part 37 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

Book Reviews From 2016

11 Quotes From “The Duty Of Pastors”

The Duty Of PastorsJohn 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.

The Duty Of Pastors (book review)

The Duty Of PastorsJohn Owen is one of the influential and powerful voices of the Puritans from the mid-17th century. One of the things that makes him influential is the source of his wisdom: Everything he writes is thoroughly grounded in Scripture. This is especially true for his book The Duty Of Pastors.

Originally this book was entitled The Duty Of Pastors and People Distinguished. As you might be able to tell from this original title, Owen lays out from Scripture the roles of ministers and pastors. These two titles and roles are distinct, although many people want to lump them together. Owen points out that any one who is a Christian can minister to people (and thus be called a “minister”), but there are special God-appointed roles for those called “pastors.”

Owen writes, “The first and principal duty of a pastor is to feed the flock by diligent preaching of the Word.” Indeed, this is one of the main thing which distinguishes pastors from ministers.

Owen also takes to task those in religious circles who would put artificial (in other words, things not commanded in Scripture) barriers for people to answer God’s call to the pastorate.

This is not a very long book, but given that fact that it is older, it is a bit of a challenging read. But for anyone who is interested in the roles of pastors and ministers, or for anyone who wants to know how to support their pastors, The Duty Of Pastors is well worth your time and effort.

12 Additional Quotes From “Transforming Grace”

Transforming GraceI already shared a few quotes from Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges (you can read them by clicking here). Bridges also extensively quoted other authors in this amazing book, so I wanted to share a few of those quotes as well.

“Grace ceases to be grace if God is compelled to bestow it in the presence of human merit…. Grace ceases to be grace if God is compelled to withdraw it in the presence of human demerit…. Grace is treating a person without the slightest reference to desert whatsoever, but solely according to the infinite goodness and supper and purpose of God.” —Dr. C. Samuel Storms

“The most shining deeds and valuable qualities that can be found among men, though highly useful and truly excellent, when set in their proper places, and referred to suitable ends, are, as to the grand article of justification treated as nonentities…. For divine grace disdains to be assisted in the performance of that work which peculiarly belongs to itself, by the poor, imperfect performances of men. Attempts to complete what grace begins, betray our pride and offend the Lord; but cannot promote our spiritual interest. Let the reader, therefore, carefully remember, that grace is either absolutely free, or it is not at all: and, that he who professes to look for salvation by grace, either believes in his heart to be saved entirely by it, or he acts inconsistently in affairs of the greatest importance.” —Abraham Booth

“Perhaps the most difficult task for us to perform is to rely on God’s grace and God’s grace alone for our celebration. It is difficult for our pride to rest on grace. Grace is for other people—for beggars. We don’t want to live by a heavenly welfare system. We want to earn our own way and atone for our own sins. We like to think that we will go to heaven because we deserve to be there.” —R.C. Sproul 

“A lawdriver insists with threats and penalties; a preacher of grace lures and incites with divine goodness and compassion shown to us; for he wants no unwilling works and reluctant services, he wants joyful and delightful services of God.” —Martin Luther, commenting on Romans 12:1

“The great mistake made by most of the Lord’s people is in hoping to discover in themselves that which is to be found in Christ alone.” —Arthur W. Pink

“In the person of Christ God beholds a holiness which abides His closest scrutiny, yea, which rejoices and satisfies His heart; and whatever Christ is before God, He is for His people.” —Arthur W. Pink

“Only what God has commanded in His Word should be regarded as binding; in all else there may be liberty of actions.” —John Owen

“Let us never surrender our judgments or our consciences to be at the disposal and opinions of others, and to be subjected to the sentences and determinations of men. … It is my exhortation therefore to all Christians to maintain their Christian freedom by constant watchfulness. You must not be tempted or threatened out of it; you must not be bribed or frightened from it; you must not let either force or fraud rob you of it. … We must not give up ourselves to the opinion of other men, though they be never so learned, never so holy, merely because it is their opinion. The apostle directs us to try all things and to hold fast that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It often happens that a high esteem of others in respect of their learning and piety makes men take up all upon trust from such, and to submit their judgments to their opinions, and their consciences to their precepts. This should not be so.” —Samuel Bolton (1645)

“So God supplies perfectly measured grace to meet the needs of the godly. For daily needs there is daily grace; for sudden needs, sudden grace; for overwhelming needs, overwhelming grace. God’s grace is given wonderfully, but not wastefully; freely, but not foolishly; bountifully, but not blindly.” —John Blanchard

“For men have no taste for God’s power till they are convinced of their need of it and they immediately forget its value unless they are continually reminded by awareness of their own weakness.” —John Calvin

“Yet the duties God requires of us are not in proportion to the strength we possess in ourselves. Rather, they are proportional to the resources available to us in Christ. We do not have the ability in ourselves to accomplish the least of God’s tasks. This is a law of grace. When we recognize it is impossible for us to perform a duty in our own strength, we will discover the secret of its accomplishment. But alas, this is a secret we often fail to discover.” —John Owen

“Christian humility does not consist in denying what there is of good in us; but in an abiding sense of ill-desert, and in the consciousness that what we have of good is due to the grace of God.” —Charles Hodge

You can read my full review of Transforming Grace by clicking here.

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading from this weekend…

Quebec just legalized euthanasia and requires every doctor to either euthanize legally qualified patients or cooperate in finding a doctor willing to provide a lethal injection. Victoria, Australia has a similar law requiring all doctors’ participation or complicity in abortion. Moreover, the American medical establishment already opposes conscience exemptions for abortion and the dispensing of contraception.” Read more in this scary post: Will Doctors Be Forced To Kill?

More scary medical news: Obamacare Driving Doctors Out Of Business. (So much for the claim “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor”!)

So much for Islam being a “religion of peace”: ISIS Forcing Women To Undergo Genital Mutilation.

How would you like terrorists having a say in your internet activity? That is what will happen if ICANN is removed from US control.

“When we have communion with God in the doctrine we contend for—then shall we be garrisoned by the grace of God against all the assaults of men.” —John Owen

“Doctrinal controversy is both essential and deadly. The attitude toward controversy in various groups of Christians depends largely on which of these two they feel most strongly. Is it essential? Or is it deadly? My plea is that we believe and feel both of these. Controversy is essential where precious truth is rejected or distorted. And controversy is deadly where disputation about truth destroys exultation in truth.” —John Piper

“There is no getting at our God sometimes because of the multitude of our friends. But when a man is so poor, so friendless, so helpless that he has nothing, he flies into his Father’s arms, and how blessedly he is clasped there! So that, I say again, happy trouble that drives you to your Father! Blessed storm that wrecks you on the rock of ages!” —Charles Spurgeon

Was Your Church Successful?

These thoughts are especially for my fellow pastors (although I think they pertain to anyone who attended a church this weekend).

So… how successful was your church gathering this weekend?

Was it successful because lots of people were there? Or because the pastor preached a good sermon? Or maybe the offering was better than usual? Or because you could feel something special as the worship team sang and played their instruments?

How about these measures —

“The great business of the church is not our number by addition, but by grace, by growing up in Christ.” (John Owen)

“The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of. Our attention would have been on God.” (C.S. Lewis )

“Revival is the church getting back to ‘normal.’” (A.W. Tozer)

If you’ve got other ideas about what defines church “success,” please share them in the comments.

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