Wednesday, April 18, 2012

HT Phoenix Preacher: The Gospel is insufficient at Reformation 21

... This insufficiency of he gospel is surely why Paul, when writing to Timothy, does not simply tell him to preach the gospel. Yes, he certainly does tell him that; but as the aging apostle looks at the world around him and wonders how the gospel is to be preserved after the first generation of leaders directly commissioned by Christ dies out, he also tells Timothy to find ordinary men to appoint as elders. In other words, Paul sees that a church structure, as well as a church message, is vital to the safeguarding and propagation of the gospel.

For Paul, the gospel is not in itself sufficient to ensure the continuation of the gospel. It needs men to preach it; it needs men, women and children to tell it to their friends. And because all of these agents are fallen, it needs a church structure to help to safeguard its content.

This is not to say that preaching the gospel is rocket science. One error we can make is to assume that only a few, highly skilled individuals can preach the gospel. The world is full of very good gospel preachers who, for one reason or another, nobody has ever heard of beyond their local congregations. I enjoyed T4G last week but (without any disrespect to the men who spoke at the plenaries) I can name a dozen men who are just as fine at gospel exposition but who will never be on a giant stage or preach to more than a maximum of a few hundred people -- often much fewer -- on a Sunday . Preaching is not an arcane skill given only to a score or men worldwide. If it were, Paul would have told us. In fact, he does not say to Timothy, 'Find a few highly skilled men with media clout and hand the matter over to them.' Not at all. What he essentially says is 'Find men in your congregation who are trustworthy and true who, if they have families, have run their households well, who have a good track record within the church, who are respected by outsiders and who are competent to teach - and trust them with the gospel.'

Or Paul could have laid out sixteen requirements for making a sermon interesting for a Q school.


Anonymous said...

Good post!
There is another Scripture that points to the "insufficiency" of the gospel as it is explained here. In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, Paul says to ordinary, anonymous believers, "We were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves."

That is a stunning phrase - "not only the gospel of God."

Those who are willing to ONLY share the gospel, but not their own lives (and the majority of offenders, probably, are among my fellow lead pastors) should consider how their leadership stacks up to this verse. Too many are content to strafe the flock and go home.

Paul gave not only the gospel but his life (!) to ordinary, brand new, poor, persecuted Christians.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Another passage that comes to mind is Ephesians 4 which discusses how Christ appointed teachers and pastors (along with other offices and people in them) to equip the saints for good works. Twenty years ago a youth pastor explained that what this meant is the role of a pastor is not to "do ministry" but to equip others to do ministry, to teach the Bible and Christ, and to then equip everyone ELSE to do ministry.

I look back with a lot of gratitude for being able to have breakfast with that youth pastor who had bothered to read Solzhenitsyn, Fee, and Schaeffer and could even discuss what he did and didn't appreciate about Kierkegaard with a teenager, which I was at the time. One of the most memorable discussions we had was "Why does God love you?" I thought about it a moment and said, "I don't know." He smiled and said, "I don't either but I hope I never stop appreciating that God loves me enough to send Christ to save me." After all, the mystery of the faith is great.

Anonymous said...

That youth pastor must have been a very good man. To take the time to read like that, and know that the teenager sitting across from him could glean something from it. Your blog is a good repayment on that investment. I'm a regular reader even though I have no personal knowledge or involvement in anything to do with MH. I learn plenty. Stay on it!

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...


This earlier sentence is sticking with me:

"Too many are content to strafe the flock and go home."

Indeed. Christians need true shepherds behind the pulpit, not some guy devoted to an "air war" who has the gentle touch of a Curtis LeMay!! For all you readers who know nothing about military history, courtesy irony alert.