John Murray on the Pastoral Ministry

I found the following sermon by John Murray through following various links and ultimately on Jeremy Walker’s blog “The Wanderer.”   Given that I am a pastor and I know other pastors read this blog – I wanted to share it and open it up for dicussion – I think he makes good points but do have some concerns – but that could just be that I am a young pastor still learning how the ministry works.  In addition to his two foci I would probably add leadership, which can come through preaching and pastoral care but I think it can be a separate category pastors need to think about. 

Do let me know what you think. 


“You have been called as minister in this congregation and you have been ordained in pursuance of that call.  There are many functions which devolve upon you in that particular capacity, but I want to draw your attention particularly to two of these functions because I believe they are the two main functions which devolve upon the minister of the Gospel.  And these two functions are the preaching of the Word and pastoral care.

“Now first of all there is this duty of preaching or teaching the Word. You are to labor in the Word and doctrine. And in connection with that function I want to mention three things.

“First, do not burden yourself and do not allow others to burden you with other business so that you are deprived of the time and energy necessary to prepare adequately for your preaching and teaching administration. The Word of God indeed, in all its richness and in all its sufficiency, is in your hands. It lies before you. But in order that you may discover the richness of that Word and bring forth from its inexhaustible treasure for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for the instruction which is in righteousness, there must be the blood and toil and sweat and tears, the earnest labor, and the searching of that Scripture, and in application to its proper understanding, so that you may be able to bring it forth in a way that is relevant in your particular responsibility.

“The second thing I want to impress upon you is that you realize deeply and increasingly, your complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit for understanding of the Word and for the effectual proclamation of it.

“Now that is not the counsel of sloth. That is not to be an alibi for your earnest labor and the study of the Word of God and your earnest application to effective proclamation, and neither is that a counsel of defeat. Your absolute dependence upon the Spirit of God – this is the counsel of encouragement and confidence. It is the Spirit and the Spirit alone who gives the demonstration and power by which the Word of God will be carried home with effectiveness, with conviction, and with fruitfulness to the hearts and the minds and lives of your hearers. It is He and He alone who produces that full assurance of conviction, and it is your reliance upon the Holy Spirit that in the last analysis is your comfort.

“The Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost. And do not be so God dishonoring as to pray for Pentecost. Pentecost is in the past. Pentecost was a pivotal event in the unfolding of God’s redemptive touch, when the Holy Spirit came. The Holy Spirit abides in the church. He came and He abides in order to perform those functions which Jesus himself foretold: ‘When He, the Spirit of Truth’ is come, He will convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, and that He will also glorify Christ by taking of the things which are Christ’s and showing them unto us.’

“It is necessary, it is indispensable, however, that you earnestly pray for the unction and the power and the blessings of that Holy Spirit. Because it is only if there is that accompanying demonstration of the Holy Spirit and the power that men and women will be arrested and stunned with the conviction of sin. And it is then that they will give expression to the word of another, ‘What shall we do to be saved?’ Likewise, in that particular situation of overruling, overwhelming conviction produced by the demonstration and power of the Holy Spirit, that you will be able, by the understanding given by the Spirit, by the unction imparted by the Spirit, to bring into that conviction of need, that conviction of sin, that conviction of misery, the unsearchable riches of Christ.

“That is my second aspect of this charge. To realize more and more your complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit. It is as you will realize your complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit, that you will be more diligent in the discharge of all the duties that devolve upon you in the understanding of God’s Word and in its effective proclamation.

“Third, I wish to mention, in that precise connection, that you are to think much of the privilege. You are to think indeed of the responsibility, and I have said enough with respect to that responsibility already. I want particularly to impress upon you now the appreciation of your privilege.

“It is yours to be a fellow of the Gospel – of the glorious, the blessed Gospel. It is yours to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ. It is yours to be the ambassador of the King eternal, immortal, invincible. It is yours to be the ambassador of him who is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, of whom you have heard already that He walks among the candlesticks. There is no greater vocation on earth. There is no greater vocation that God has given to any than the vocation of proclaiming the whole counsel of God – proclaiming the gospel of the glory of the blessed God, and proclaiming the unsearchable riches of the Redeemer. Think much of your privilege.

“Now second, you have the pastoral care. That is an all important aspect of a minister’s responsibility and privilege.

“There are likewise three things that I want to mention in connection with that particular function, and the first is this: Shepherd the church of God. I personally cannot understand those men who have been called as pastors of churches who neglect the pastoral care of the people committed to their charge. I cannot understand it. And I’m not expected to understand it, because it is part of the mystery of that iniquity which too frequently has overtaken those who have been called into the ministry.

You do not get your sermons from your people, but you get your sermons with your people. You get your sermons from the Word of God, but you must remember that the sermons which you deliver from the Word of God must be relevant. They must be practical in the particular situation in which you are. It is when you move among your people and become acquainted with their needs, become acquainted with the situation in which they are, become acquainted· with their thoughts, become acquainted with their philosophy, become acquainted with their temptations, that the Word of God which you bring forth from this inexhaustible treasure of wisdom and truth will be relevant and will not be abstract and unrelated.

“Second, in connection with this very same subject of pastoral care I charge you to be ready always to give an audience to your people. I mean an audience to them as individuals, or an audience to them as families. Be in such a relation to them that they will make you their confidant, and take good care that you will be their confidant. And as you will be their confidant, they will pour out to you the bitter experiences of their heart, the bitter experiences of their souls, of their lives. I charge you, my very dear friend, to be the instrument of dispensing, I say the instrument of dispensing the ‘oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness’ to those who are broken in heart and weary in the body.

“Now there is more, of course, involved in that ministration of comfort to the people of God in the temptations and the trials which necessarily overtake them in this life. You must also bring the counsel of God, the whole counsel of God, to bear upon them where they are. And it is just as you bring that whole counsel of God to bear upon them in your pastoral visitation, that you bring it to bear upon them precisely where they are. Remember that there are many who, in accordance with the address which you have heard already tonight, are going astray or are on the verge of going astray, or perhaps have always been astray. And remember the inestimable privilege that is yours, to convert the sinner from the error of his ways, to save a soul from death, and to hide a multitude of sins. ‘Reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine.’

Now thirdly and finally, I charge you to remember that you are the servant of Christ in this pastoral care which you will exercise. Oh, be friendly to your people, and be humble. Be clothed with humility for ‘God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble.’ Be clothed with humility in the pastoral visitations and the pastoral duties that you discharge because, if you are not humble, you will not only be offensive to God, but you will soon become offensive to all discerning people. Be friendly, be humble, realize your own limitations and be always ready to receive from those who are taught in the Word as they communicate unto you who teach. But remember that you are the servant of Christ and do not seek to please men, for if you should seek to please men, you are not the servant of Christ. And again, I repeat in that very same connection: Don’t be afraid to reprove, don’t be afraid to rebuke, just as you may not be afraid to exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.

“I give you these charges, in the humble expectation and the hope that you will become an example, that you will be an undershepherd, realizing at all times, that you will one day give an account to the great Arch-shepherd who himself gave, as the Shepherd of his sheep, His life, ‘that they might have life and have it more abundantly.’

“And I charge you, in constant dependence upon the Holy Spirit to be the minister, the administrator in Christ’s name, of that life which is nothing other than life everlasting.”

– A charge to Wayne F. Brauning, DMin 1993, at his ordination and installation as pastor of the Fifth Reformed Presbyterian Church, Phila., PA on October 13, 1960 by John Murray, prof. of systematic theology at Westminster.

NT Greek flash cards

From Dave Black: “Greek students! Richard Sugg has produced an excellent system of free vocabulary cards for my beginning grammar.  If you’re interested in using them, go here.”  The BIG plus?  They coincide with Dr. Black’s NT Greek Grammar!  What are the three keys one need for success in biblical languages?  Vocabulary, Vocabulary, Vocabulary!  (Well, it helps to know the concepts and grammar and all that too, but really, if you don’t know the vocabulary….)

GK Flash cards

Prayer for today: Philippians 1:9-11

May Paul’s prayer for the Philippian church be the prayer for your church fellowships as well:

BNT  Philippians 1:9-11  Καὶ τοῦτο προσεύχομαι, ἵνα ἡ ἀγάπη ὑμῶν ἔτι μᾶλλον καὶ μᾶλλον περισσεύῃ ἐν ἐπιγνώσει καὶ  πάσῃ αἰσθήσει εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τὰ διαφέροντα, ἵνα ἦτε εἰλικρινεῖς καὶ ἀπρόσκοποι εἰς ἡμέραν Χριστοῦ,   πεπληρωμένοι καρπὸν δικαιοσύνης τὸν διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς δόξαν καὶ ἔπαινον θεοῦ.

Phi 1:9-11 TNIV  “And this is my prayer: that your love (not affection but behavior) may abound more and more in knowledge (which comes from experience) and  depth of insight, (moral insightso that you may be able to discern what is best (what really mattersimmediate purpose) and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, (ultimate purpose) filled with the fruit of righteousness (not selfish ambition but the way of the cross) that comes through Jesus Christ— to the glory and praise of God.”


Pastors and church leaders, and congregants, this is the heart of God for our church fellowships.

The parenthetical comments are insights gleaned from Gordon Fee in his IVP commentary on the Philippians, which is also in the NICNT set.

New Books: USPS edition

I got a couple books today

exodusOne was the one I won on Matt’s site Broadcast Depth (I think it was a random drawing, nothing special, you just signed up and hoped to win).   It is a Bible study book on the book of Exodus in the Interpretation Bible Studies series put out by WJK Press.  James Newsome is the author of this Exodus Study.  This is an interesting series as it does not go through every aspect of the book but rather (according to the back cover) each volume in the series focuses on ten key passages from a book of the Bible that helps readers capture the larger picture of the whole biblical book.  It also follows in the tradition of the Interpretation commentary series in that in many ways it can stand alone in aiding the pastor or teacher in their preparation for teaching or preaching on a biblical book. 

The other book is a review book for Bethany House Publishers called Sacred Waiting: Waiting on God in a World that Waits for Nothing (2009).  It looks to be a really interesting book and I look forward to getting into it.  Here is a blurb (from Amazon):

Sacred WaitingIn a culture that waits for nothing, Sacred Waiting helps readers learn to wait on God.  David Timms challenges believers to be attentive to God as were the faithful from Noah to David, from Paul to John–and all the saints in between.  He demonstrates their best moments arose from God’s timing, not their own. In the process he reveals deep, transforming truths for those who want to go deeper into their relationship with God. Grounded in the stories of Scripture and everyday illustrations, Sacred Waiting explores a vital yet often neglected or misunderstood spiritual discipline. 


So on to the reading…..

radical new way to teach OT Intro!

On the biblical studies e-list there was a discussion about what text books would be good to use for an Old Testament Introduction class – the following quote was among the best of them all:

Personally, I recommend getting the students to just read the Bible: the best introduction they can have.  And it will put them ahead of many of their teachers.

Philip Davies
University of Sheffield

I know it sounds funny but sadly, this is true – probably having Bible College and Seminary or even Religious Studies students just read the Bible will be the best introduction they can get and will put them ahead of many of their teachers!  Perhaps this could be more true in State Universities/Coleges that have religious courses but I would wonder if this would be the case in very many of the Evangelical Schools?

It’s revolutionary though isn’t it?  Keep the Bible as the main text for biblical studies and ministry preparation.  I think it was Niels Peter Lemche on the Biblical Studies list, in the same discussion, who mentioned that often in oral exams he would note that the student had read a lot of books but had obviously not read the Bible!

I will say when took classes at Fuller Theological Seminary Northwest – my professor for Psalms (Hebrew (MT)  Text) asked us to read through the Psalms at least once during the class – and I know she did the same with whatever OT class she was teaching be it the Pentetuch, the Prophets. or the Writings if it was not a specific exegesis class.  So I know of at least one seminary that has at least one professor who asks her students to actually read the Bible.

Faithful Preaching?

How would you explain what faithful preaching is?  What is a Preacher? What is Preaching?

From the B&H Publishers website regarding a forthcoming book on preaching, Pastor Tony Merida asks these foundational questions to arrive at this overview of his widely anticipated book, Faithful Preaching:

faithful preachingWhat is a preacher? What is preaching? Pastor Tony Merida [teaching pastor at Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and assistant professor of Preaching at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary] asks these foundational questions to arrive at this overview of his widely anticipated book, Faithful Preaching:

“Faithful preaching is the responsible, passionate, and authentic declaration of the Christ-exalting Scriptures, by the power of the Spirit, for the glory of the Triune God. Expository preaching is the best approach for accurately explaining and applying God’s Word, and for maintaining a God-centered focus in preaching. It also offers wonderful spiritual benefits to both the preacher and congregation. To be faithful expositors today, we must avoid the common problems associated with expository preaching such as boredom, irrelevancy, and Christless messages. Faithful preachers will usher the people through the text passionately and authentically, pointing them to Christ.” 

What say you?  How you you define or explain faithful preaching?  Let me know. 

Brian McLaren and Ramadan?

So I guess according to this article at World Net Daily (a quite conservative news forum (read: fundamentalist)) Brian McLaren will be celebrating the Muslim fast of Ramadan which is confirmed here and here on McLaren’s website.   Well, Ramadan has already started – Aug 21.  It happens on the 9th month of the Muslim year and that is different every with on our calendar.

So what is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the Muslim holy month of fasting for spiritual renewal and purification. It commemorates the month during which Muslims believe Mohammed received the Quran through divine revelation, and it calls Muslims to self-control, sacrificial generosity and solidarity with the poor, diligent reading of the Quran, and intensified prayer.

Why is McLaren celebrating it? On his website he writes:

We are not doing so in order to become Muslims: we are deeply committed Christians. But as Christians, we want to come close to our Muslim neighbors and to share this important part of life with them. Just as Jesus, a devout Jew, overcame religious prejudice and learned from a Syrophonecian woman and was inspired by her faith two thousand years ago (Matthew 15:21 ff, Mark 7:24 ff), we seek to learn from our Muslim sisters and brothers today.

Here is the question: should McLaren really be doing this in the fashion in which he is going about it, “to come close to our Muslim neighbors and to share this important part of life with them”?

Now of course there is the 30 Days Prayer Network who encourages Christians to pray for the Muslim world during this time – but that seems to be an altogether different take than what McLaren and whoever else is celebrating Ramadan with him is doing.

While I can understand his approach and see what he is trying to get at, I am not persuaded that his approach is the appropriate one – it is too much of an interfaith approach for my taste.  It is one thing talk with your Mislim friends about Ramadan and learn about its variances and nuances, but its entirely different thing to actually participate in it merely just be a nice person and be neighborly.  Rather we should be seeking to engage them to point them to Jesus Christ.

What say you?  Is this a dangerous trend in the emerging church or is this just a dangerous trend for Brian McLaren?

Miles Van Pelt on the Biblical Languages

The folks over at the Koinonia blog posted a video of MIles Van Pelt (co author of the Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar text book) where he talks about the importance of learning the biblical languages.  

What got me in this video is his comments about how for him learning and studying the biblical languages is an act of worship (though I tend to think his marriage analogy may be too much – I tend to make the comparison between a black and white TV as compared to color – the difference is pretty significant).

Mark Stevens offers his thoughts and I agree completely that often times the expectations placed on busy pastors to know Greek and Hebrew can be too much – though I might suggest that instead of getting into the text every day, which as Mark notes, for some can be a challenge, just try to get into it a a couple days a week and for sure when doing sermon prep look at the original text as much as possible to keep yourself engaging the original languages.

Let me know what you think. Should study of the biblical languages be seen as an act of worship unto God? Could one man’s act of worship to God be another man’s idolatry?

What say you?

Question of the day: Noah’s Ark

this was in the search terms:

where is noahs ark now

what’s the answer? 

nobody knows so quit worrying about and get along already – most stuff out there is just speculation anyway.  How in the world could a mostly hollow wooden boat last on Mount Ararat (if that were to be it’s location) and not be crushed by the weight of snow and or the constantly moving glaciers that would also crush it to bits?

thought for the day

a verse that I’ve been processing is John 3:17, which reads: 

BNT John 3:17 οὐ γὰρ ἀπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν υἱὸν εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἵνα κρίνῃ τὸν κόσμον, ἀλλ᾽ ἵνα σωθῇ ὁ κόσμος δι᾽ αὐτοῦ. 

TNIV John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 

I think we miss this one a lot – notice, Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world – but to save, to heal, to restore, to redeem!  How often we miss this one – Christians can tend to be quick to judge instead of quick to save or bring healing to a situation.  This makes me so glad Jesus got it right and still does, that he came not to condemn, but to save the world through his incarnation, work on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead!  Aren’t you?