“Make haste slowly” is a proverbial remark that was apparently often found on the mouth of Augustus Caesar, the man responsible for ordering the census that led to the birth of the Lord Jesus at Bethlehem. “Make haste slowly”: I, for one, have spent a lifetime learning the lessons of this proverb. Of course, it is writ large in the history of the people of God. It is there for all to see, but…I am an impatient man.
Pastors are imperfect; that much should be obvious. However, the attitude of some Christians toward their pastors leaves us wondering whether those three words are as plain as one would think. While pastors, like all of us, share in Adam’s fall, they have the particular challenge of having their faults on display week-by-week as they stand in a pulpit or as they minister amongst their flock. Pastors are public people and, sadly, public scrutiny comes easily and regularly. Church members should be particularly sensitive to this when they offer opinions, solicited or otherwise, about their pastor’s ministry.
In 1 Corinthians 1:21, Paul summarizes the entire history of philosophy and then notes God’s means of bringing redemptive blessing upon sinners, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” The “message preached” refers to the objective content of preaching; but it is in fact preached. It is important to remember that there were other mediums available to communicate the message in Paul’s day, but God was pleased to use the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe. This verse ought to promote caution among ministers and churches who question the effectiveness of preaching and who are toying with means not ordained in Scripture for the communication of the gospel. In a comment on Matthew 4:9 that is fitting in this connection, C.H. Spurgeon wrote, “May thy church never yield to the world with the idea of setting up the kingdom of Christ in a more easy and rapid manner than by the simple preaching of the gospel!”
Come join is Vancouver in the month of October as we explore the foundations of the Christian Church. Our old friend Derek Thomas and a new friend of the ministry, Stephen Wellum, explore the biblical basis for the 5 Solas of the Reformation. Each session will explore these core concepts and expound on their iplications for evangelism, sanctification and the everyday life of the believer.
The Second London Confession of Faith (1689) highlights the ministry of the word in connection with saving faith: “The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the word…” (14.1). It should come as no surprise to reformed Christians that God places a great emphasis upon preaching in the church of Jesus Christ.
Over the past few weeks, I have had the privilege of leading our congregation through a brief study on the history of Revivals. The focus was on the major three in North America starting with the First Great Awakening, 1738-1742 under Jonathan Edwards. The Second Great Awakening starting around 1795 and ending around 1840. We concluded our exploration of the past with a quick look at a portion of the Third Great Awakening during the turbulent years of 1861-1865 in the American Civil War.
The term “Fundamentalism,” for many in our culture a word with exclusively negative associations, was birthed in the 1910s and 1920s in connection with a desire to affirm the Fundamentals of the Christian Faith in the face of the 19th and early 20th century liberal denial of various orthodox doctrines. As such, Fundamentalism points us to the important task that confronts the Church in every generation, namely, the vigorous assertion without compromise of such key truths as the Trinity, the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, his bodily incarnation and resurrection from the dead. The passion for the Truth gripped the early Fundamentalists and it needs to grip us as well.
I recently came across an article in the Toronto Star that covered another article out of Seattle, Washington. According to the piece, the Seattle District School Board has recently gotten itself into hot water over this year’s upcoming celebration of Easter. Apparently, a 16 year old student wanted to spread some cheer among her classmates by giving away chocolate covered Easter eggs. When she, Jessica, approached the school to seek permission, Jessica was told that provided she not refer to the aforementioned treats as Easter eggs, but name them “Spring Spheres” instead, all would be roses and sunshine.