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.

Christians As Priests

Priesthood of ChristiansThere are some extraordinary pictures in the Old Testament that take on new life when viewed through the lens of Jesus Christ. One picture is how God chose the Jewish people out of all the people on earth, how He then chose the tribe of Levi to serve as His priests, and then how He chose Aaron from the Levites to be the high priest.

The Jewish people, the Levites, and then Aaron became God’s special possession because He chose them; it’s not that He chose them because they were special. God did this to give us a picture of what He wants to do with all of us.

Although the Levites were chosen as priests, God tells all of Israel—

You will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. (Exodus 19:6)

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. That the Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 7:6)

When the Apostle Peter is speaking to New Testament Christians, he uses the same type of language. He calls all Christians:

Christians are ‘a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’ that are to carry out their priestly roles while on Earth. 

Peter also talks about where Christian priests are to minister. In the Old Testament, the priests had a set location where ministry was done. But Peter says we are living stones built on the Living Stone (2:4). That means that the place of worship today is not brick and mortar, but flesh and blood.

Christian priesthood is mobile, adaptable, empathetic, and responsive to the the needs of the people.

If you are a Christian, here are some good questions to ask yourself:

We will be continuing our series about how citizens of Heaven should live on Earth (a series we’ve called Aliens and Strangers) this Sunday. If you don’t have a home church in the Cedar Springs area, please come join us. If you cannot visit us in person, you can watch our Periscope broadcast (just search for user @craigtowens).

It’s My Honor

My honorIf you grew up watching Sesame Street, you might remember one of the songs that went like this—

One of these things is not like the other things

One of these things just doesn’t belong

Can you guess which thing is not like the other thing

Before I finish my song

I sort of feel like that when I consider this list:

  • Melchizedek
  • Aaron
  • Jesus
  • Me

If you’re a pastor/priest to your congregation, perhaps you feel like you don’t belong on this list either. But consider this verse of Scripture—

No one takes this honor [of being a priest] upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. (Hebrews 5:4)

God called Melchizedek. God called Aaron. God called Jesus. God called me. God called you, my fellow pastor. It’s honor to be called by God to serve in this role!

We have the honor to represent the people to God, and represent God to the people.

We have the honor to instruct people in the ways of God.

We have the honor of living our lives transparently before people, so they can see a living example of one who sins, confesses, repents, and receives forgiveness; one who is growing in his/her knowledge of Jesus Christ; one who is becoming more Christ-like.

We have the honor of offering up loud cries of petition and intercession for others (see Hebrews 5:7).

We have the honor of humbly and reverently submitting ourselves before God; of learning obedience through suffering (v. 8).

We have the honor of sharing Christ—THE best and perfect priest—with others. He alone is the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him (v. 9) and we have the honor of telling others this amazing news!

My friend, if God has called you, you belong on that list. Discharge your priestly duties with all reverence and humility to God. It is your HONOR to serve God and others this way.

Higher Standards For Greater Rewards

Most people think of the Ten Commandments as God’s law given through Moses. Actually the Ten Commandments are just the beginning of the laws and practices and regulations that God gives to His people. The rest of the book of Exodus, the entire book of Leviticus, and the first ten chapters of Numbers compromise the bulk of the law.

For those of you keeping track, that’s nearly 60 chapters of rules and regulations.

Why so many? I think the answer is found in the lead-up to the Ten Commandments –

Now if you obey Me fully and keep My covenant, then out of all nations you will be My treasured possession. Although the whole earth is Mine, you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

God wants people who are treasured. A people who are priests and who are holy. In short: He wants pacesetting leaders.

Priests have intimate access to God, and they are people who set an example for others to follow. In order to enjoy these special privileges, there must be higher standards.

These are not standards just for those of Jewish ancestry, but for anyone who is a follower of Jesus Christ. Look what John recorded in the last book of the Bible

To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father—to Him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

…With Your blood You purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.

Yes, the standards to be a priest – to be a holy leader – are higher. But the rewards are immeasurable!

Are you ready to bring greater glory to God? Do you want to be a pacesetting leader for the Kingdom of heaven? Then ask the Holy Spirit to sanctify you as you take on the discipline of greater responsibility. Live up to higher standards, and you won’t be disappointed!

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