The Scriptures And Our Temperament

“We naturally tend to interpret Scripture in the light (or shadow) of our own temperament and let our peculiar mental cast decide the degree of importance we attach to various religious doctrines and practices. …

“The minister above all others should look deep into his own heart to discover the reason for his more pronounced views. It is not enough to draw himself up and declare with dignity that he preaches the Bible and nothing but the Bible. That claim is made by every man who stands in sincerity to declare the truth; but truth has many facets and the man of God is in grave danger of revealing only a limited few to his people, and those the ones he by disposition favors most. …

“The Scriptures, critical self-discipline, honesty of heart and increased trust in the inward operations of the Holy Spirit will save us from being too greatly influenced by temperament.” —A.W. Tozer, in Man—The Dwelling Place Of God

8 Quotes From “Workmen Of God”

Although written over 100 years ago, Workmen Of God is still a treasure-trove for anyone in pastoral ministry today. I have shared longer passages from this book in my weekly series called “Thursdays With Oswald,” but here are a few other gems from this book. You can read my full book review of Workmen Of God by clicking here.

“We must keep ourselves in touch, not with theories, but with people, and never get out of touch with human beings, if we are going to use the Word of God amongst them, and if the Holy Spirit is to apply the Word of God through us as workmen meeting not to be ashamed.”

“Men’s minds will always assent that Jesus Christ is right—why? Because Jesus Christ is Incarnate Reason. There is something in Jesus Christ that appeals to every man, no matter what condition he is in. If once Jesus Christ is brought into contact with the man, let that man seem to us dead and indifferent, destitute of anything like goodness—let him come in contact with Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, and you will instantly see that he can grasp something about Him in a way we cannot understand unless we know the Holy Spirit.”

“Unless your religion will go to the lowest and the worst and the most desperate case you know of, your religion is of no use.”

“Intercessory prayer for a backslider is a most instructive but most trying work for God, it will teach the worker that prayer is not only making petitions, but that prayer is breathing and atmosphere.”

“When the message you have to deliver, brother preacher, strikes straight home, don’t water it down just a little. Go straight for God if you come from Him. Neither for fear nor favor alter the message.”

“Love for men as men will never stand the strain. In order to catch men for the Lord Jesus Christ, you must love Jesus Christ absolutely, beyond all others. You must have a consuming passion of love, then He will flow through you in a passion of love and yearning and draw all men to Himself.”

“We need to live steadfastly in the presence of God so that when we are praised we don’t arouse the spirit of envy, the spirit that makes a man want to do something, not because he loves God, but because he wants to emulate us. … God grant we may see that the great need of every worker is a first-hand acquaintance with Jesus Christ which puts to death the spirit of ambition.”

“You cannot have holiness without a chaste physical life. Oh, the sapping power of God because of unchaste men and women who preached His Gospel.”

Workmen Of God (book review)

Oswald Chambers constantly tried to follow what Paul spoke to Timothy, “And these things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2). In Workmen Of God, we have a collection of lectures Chambers is giving to those “reliable men” and women who were either already working in pastoral ministry or preparing to do so.

It’s amazing how Chambers could so effectively and specifically apply biblical principles to the audiences he addressed. For instance, some might think that those pastoring a local church and those ministering as a missionary would receive roughly the same sort of training. But a collection of Chambers’ lectures to those in missionary work (in his book So Send I You) has completely different ministry principles from the lectures he delivers to pastors in this book.

But in both books, we are privileged to read what Chambers’ friend and coworker Mary Hooker called “a wealth of spiritual vitamins.” She went on to say, “And now this latest book [Workmen Of God] goes forth, at a time when soul-sickness is more than ever rampant. The messages are full of spiritual discernment and diagnosis.”

If Chambers’ time was a time of rampant “soul-sickness,” how much more so do we need his insight today!

Indeed, Chambers talks to pastors about their work among those entrenched in their unbelief, those who are skeptical, those who are backslidden, those who are hypocrites, and those who have sick souls. He also challenges pastors on how to minister to themselves so that they are prepared to minister to any soul in which God brings them in contact.

Although written over 100 years ago, this book is still a treasure-trove for anyone in pastoral ministry today!

11 Quotes From “Brothers, We Are Not Professionals”

John Piper has written a book that I think every pastor should read: Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. You can read my review of this book here. Below are just a few quotes that caught my attention.

“We pastors are being killed by the professionalizing of the pastoral ministry. The mentality of the professional is not the mentality of the prophet. … The professionalization of the ministry is a constant threat to the offense of the gospel.”

“I defined spiritual leadership as ‘knowing where God wants people to be and taking the initiative to get them there by God’s means in reliance on God’s power.’ …  So the goal of spiritual leadership is to muster people to join God in living for God’s glory.”

“The Son of Man has not come seeking employees. He has come to employ Himself for our good.”

“In this fallen world, the tide is always going out. That is, the affections of our people have for God Himself (as distinct from His gifts) are continually prone to shrink. Our job is to tilt the world, by the power of the Spirit and the Word, so that the tide rolls in again.”

“A pastor who feels competent in himself to produce eternal fruit knows neither God nor himself.”

“Salvation is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). Love is a gift of God (1 Thessalonians 3:12). Faith is a gift of God (1 Timothy 1:14). Wisdom is a gift of God (Ephesians 1:17). Joy is a gift of God (Romans 15:13). Yet as pastors we must labor to ‘save some’ (1 Corinthians 9:22). We must stir up the people to love (Hebrews 10:24). We must advance their faith (Philippians 1:25). We must impart wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:7). We must work for their joy (2 Corinthians 1:24). We are called to labor for that which is God’s alone to give. The essence of the Christian ministry is that its success is not within our reach.”

“Are not our people really yearning to be around a man who has been around God? Is it not the lingering aroma of prayer that gives a sense of eternity to all our work?”

“Few things frighten me more than the beginnings of barrenness that come from frenzied activity with little spiritual food and meditation.”

“The domestication of God is a curse on preaching in our day. We need to recover reality and the language of majesty and holiness and awe and glory.”

“He knows that the only way he can deliver God’s message to God’s people is by being rooted in it and by saturating his sermon with God’s own revelation in the Bible. The Bible-oriented preacher wants the congregation to know that his words, if they have any abiding worth, are in accord with God’s words. He wants this to be obvious to them. That is part of his humility and his authority. Therefore, he constantly tries to show the people that his ideas are coming from the Bible. He is hesitant to go too far toward points that are not demonstrable from the Bible.”

“Our salvation and the salvation of those who hear us week after week depend in large measure on our faithful attention to personal holiness and sound teaching” [see 1 Timothy 4:16]. … Oh, how earnest we should be in attending to ourselves and the soundness and helpfulness of our teaching!”

Brothers, We Are Not Professionals (book review)

I’ll state it right up front—every pastor should read Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper.

The pastor is called upon to do lots of things, some of which are considered by both pastor and parishioner to more “spiritual” or more “business.” But in reality, all that a pastor (or any Christian for that matter) does is spiritual, because it is all to be done for the glory of God. Over time, many pastors have lost sight of the sacred nature of their calling, turning what they do into a professional pursuit.

Piper explains, “First, professionalism should always be marginal, not central; optional, not crucial. And second, the pursuit of professionalism will push the supernatural center more and more into the corner while ministry becomes a set of secular competencies with a religious veneer. … When I look back, my regret is not that I wasn’t more professional but that I wasn’t more prayerful, more passionate for souls, more consistent in personal witness, more emotionally engaged with my children, more tender with my wife, more spontaneously affirming of the good in others.”

Every chapter is chockfull of biblical insights, personal examples from John Piper’s ministry, and historical sources that have stood the test of time. I’ll say it again: every pastor should read this book!

I’ll add my own “amen” this prayer John Piper offers: “Banish professionalism from our midst, O God, and in its place put passionate prayer, poverty of spirit, hunger for God, rigorous study of holy things, white-hot devotion to Jesus Christ, utter indifference to all material gain, and unremitting labor to rescue the perishing, perfect the saints, and glorify our sovereign Lord. In Jesus’ great and powerful name. Amen.”

11 Quotes For Pastors From “Interpretation Of The Scriptures”

You don’t have to be a pastor to benefit from reading Interpretation Of The Scriptures by A.W. Pink, rather I think all students of the Bible will benefit from reading this classic book. However, the Apostle James did warn that “not many of you should presume to be teachers” because “we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1). In that light, A.W. Pink directs several of this comments in this book exclusively to those who teach/preach from the Bible. Here are a few of those quotes.

“The preacher’s task is both the most honorable and the most solemn of any calling, the most privileged and at the same time the most responsible one.”

“The ministry is no place for trifiers and idlers, but for those who are prepared to spend and be spent in the cause of Christ. The preacher ought to work harder than the miner, and to spend more hours per week in his study than does the man of business in his office.”

“Particularly does the minister need to attend unto this injunction ‘take heed unto thyself’ in his study of the Scriptures, reading them devotionally ere he does so professionally; that is, seeking their application and blessing to his own soul before searching for sermonic materials.”

“To ‘open’ the Scriptures helpfully to the saints requires something more than a few months’ training in a Bible institute, or a year or two in a seminary. None but those who have been personally taught of God in the hard school of experience are qualified so to ‘open’ the Word that Divine light is cast upon the spiritual problems of the believer, for while Scripture interprets experience, experience is often the best interpreter of Scripture.”

“The preacher should be with his time as the miser is with his gold—saving it with care, and spending it with caution.”

“Great care needs ever to be taken that we do not expound our own minds instead of God’s.”

“The preacher should be, above everything else, a man of the Book, thoroughly versed in the contents of God’s Word, one who is able to bring forth out of his treasure ‘things new and old’ (Matthew 13:52). The Bible is to be his sole text-book, and from its living waters he is to drink deeply and daily.”

“Commentaries we consult only after we have made a first-hand and exhaustive study of a passage.”

“It is at the feet of God that the preacher must take his place, learning from Him the meaning of His Word, waiting upon Him to open its mysteries, looking to Him for his message.” 

“To discourse upon the chemical properties of food will not feed a starving man, neither will tracing out the roots of the Hebrew and Greek words (necessary though that be in its proper place) the better enable Christ’s followers to fight the good fight of faith.”

“Scripture must be allowed to speak for itself, and it does so only so far as the preacher sets forth its genuine import. Not only is he to explain its terms, but also the nature of the ideas they express, otherwise he is apt to make use of scriptural terms and yet give them an unscriptural sense.”

To read the other quotes I shared from Interpretation Of The Scriptures, click here. You may also check out my full book review by clicking here.

How To Respond To Bad Pastors

God has ordained that His leaders oversee and administer His ministry. But problems arise in the church when humans change the “His” to “my.”

I read a statistic that 75% of people who voluntarily left their jobs did so because of a problem with their boss. In other words, 3-out-of-4 people didn’t quit their job, they quit their boss. In my personal experience this is equally as true in the church world—Most people don’t quit their church, they quit a bad pastor.

Sadly, those who do quit their church usually do so the wrong way. As a result they become either de-churched (they don’t attend anywhere), or cynical in the next church they do attend.

Who is a bad pastor?

  • One who is no longer effective because he is stuck in an old way of doing things
  • One who is theologically off
  • One who is unwilling to admit an error, ask forgiveness, and make amends
  • One who uses his position to build his kingdom instead of God’s kingdom

We have a great example of how to handle a bad spiritual leader in the story of David and Saul (see 1 Samuel 24). David had done nothing wrong, yet Saul was trying to kill him. At one point David’s men urged David to take matters into his own hands, and he almost did. He got close enough to Saul to cut off a corner of his robe, but quickly discovered that was too close. Immediately after doing so David was conscience-stricken!

Then look how David responded:

  • David rebuked his men as he reminded them that Saul was their “master” and “the Lord’s anointed.”
  • David “bowed down and prostrated himself” before Saul as he apologized.
  • David called him his “master,” “father,” and “the Lord’s anointed.”
  • David said he would leave the matter in God’s hands, allowing God to “judge between you and me.”
  • And twice David declared, “My hand will not touch you!”

This humble reply got Saul’s attention. Saul wept as he said, “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly.” Saul then asked David to be kind to his descendants.

Then this conclusion—David gave Saul his oath, and then went away to a safe place.

The New Testament captures these same ideas for today’s Christians. We are told not to lightly entertain an accusation against spiritual leaders (1 Timothy 5:19), but to submit and obey to biblically-correct leaders (Hebrews 13:17).

The Bible gives us only two options for dealing with spiritual leaders…

SUBMIT & OBEY or WALK AWAY

Two wrongs don’t make a right. Responding in an unscriptural way to an unscriptural pastor’s way is just as wrong as what the pastor was doing wrong in the first place!

So give the bad pastor your oath that you will not lay a hand (or a word!) on them, and then remove yourself to a safe place. Submit and obey, or walk away and leave them in God’s capable hands.

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