††††††††† Title:†††††††††† ďI WANT TO BE A PREACHERĒ
††††††††† Text:†††††††††† I Timothy 3:1
††††††††† Reading:††† Off: Rex Bartley†††††††††† Aud: Lindsay Campbell
††††††††† Subject:†††† The Call to and Work of the Gospel Ministry
††††††††† Date:††††††††† Tuesday Evening - April 30, 1996
††††††††† Tape #†††††† S-49
1 Timothy 3:1† "This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work."
††††††††† Last week I received a letter from a young man that I met while I was in California back in January. After a few personal comments, his letter began with this statement - ďI want to be a preacher of the gospel.Ē Then he proceeded to ask me about training for the work of the ministry. I held his letter for a week, trying to get some direction from God the Holy Spirit as to how to answer it. I believe the Lord gave me that direction. So I answered the letter this morning. As I was answering it, I felt strongly impressed to incorporate my response to this young manís letter into my message to you tonight.
††††††††† I realize that I am preaching to local church, not to a group of preachers; but I am convinced that you need occasional instruction concerning the call to and the work of the gospel ministry. I have three reasons for bringing this message to you.
1. It is my prayer that God may be pleased to call some of you to the work of the gospel ministry.
2. The time will come when you will have to seek another pastor. When that time comes, you will need to know what to look for in a pastor, what to expect from a pastor, and what to do for a pastor.
3. I want you to understand as much as you can about the work of the ministry, so that you will know how to pray for and assist me and other gospel preachers in the work of the ministry which the Lord God has graciously entrusted to our hands for the glory of Christ.
∑ II Thessalonians 3:12-13
††††††††† I do not pretend to have the answers to all the questions and problems facing those men who desire the work of the ministry. In fact, the first thing I said in my letter to this young man this morning was this: No man can or should tell another man what the will of God is for him. Only God the Holy Spirit can direct you in his will. I have a tough time knowing what the will of God is for me. I am not about to tell you what Godís will is for you! But I am not a novice. I have been at this business of preaching the gospel for twenty-eight years. I do know a little something about it.
Proposition:†††††††† The work of the gospel ministry is not a career a man chooses, but a gift God bestows; it is not an occupation of life, but a way of life.
Divisions:†††††††††††† I want to show you four things about the call to and the work of the ministry. I hope you will listen carefully. May God the Holy Spirit make this message profitable to your souls for Christís sake.
1. The work of the ministry is the work of the whole church.
2. The pastoral office is a good work and an office to be desired.
3. Only God can make a preacher and put a man into the ministry.
4. The work of the gospel ministry is an all-consuming work.
I. THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY IS THE WORK OF THE WHOLE CHURCH.
††††††††† This is perhaps the first and most important thing for us to understand. The work of the ministry is not a one man show. One man is, by Godís ordination, the pastor. One man is responsible for the sailing of the ship. One man is responsible to direct the course of the ministry and keep the local church true to the Word of God and doing the work of God. But the work of the ministry is not one manís work. The local church is like a battleship in a time of war. The captain (pastor) is responsible for the ship. He is in charge and everyone knows it; but the captain cannot do the work of the crew.
††††††††† Even so, the ministry of the gospel is the work of the entire body of Christ. Every believer is a missionary. It is as much your responsibility to publish the gospel as it is mine. You are Jehovahís witnesses in this world.
∑ Isaiah 43:10-12
∑ Isaiah 44:8
∑ John 20:21-22
∑ Acts 1:8
††††††††† It really should not matter to us who does the preaching. We are here as Godís servants. Our business and responsibility is to serve him according to his will, in the place where he has put us, with the gifts he has given us, for the glory of Christ.
††††††††† I hope you are asking, ďPastor, what can I do?Ē Do what you can. Do what God gives you the ability and opportunity to do for Christ and his people. Here are some things you can do.
1. As God gives you opportunity, you can tell sinners what God has done for you.
2. You can bring people to hear the gospel.
3. You can distribute tracts.
4. You can distribute tapes.
5. You can support the ministry of the Word.
6. You can pray for Godís servants, his people, and his blessings upon the gospel.
7. You can minister to one another. (Direct conversation to profitable, spiritual things.)
8. You can take care of Godís house.
9. There are lots of things you can do, if you are interested doing something for Christ.
Illustration: The Rest Home Services
††††††††† ††† The Rest Home Visits
†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Do what you can (Mark 14:1-9.
††††††††† The work of the gospel ministry is the work of the whole church. Yet...
II. THE PASTORAL OFFICE IS A GOOD WORK AND AN OFFICE TO BE DESIRED.
††††††††† This what Paul tells us in our text. †"This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work."
††††††††† There is not a higher, nobler, greater, more satisfying, or more demanding work to be found in this world. I would caution every man, do not thrust yourself into the work of the ministry. If a man runs without being sent, he will be running to trouble. Yet, I would say to every believing man, this is a work to be desired.
A. First and foremost, the pastorís work is the work of preaching the gospel.
††††††††† Godís servants are men who labor in the Word of God. They seek to understand itsí doctrine. They seek to find Godís message for his people. And they try, in every way possible, to carry the gospel to the generation in which they live.
††††††††† Godís servants are not lazy men. They are men with a purpose, with an agenda, men on a mission with a mandate from God himself. Their mission, their mandate is the preaching of the gospel.
∑ I Timothy 4:12-16
∑ II Timothy 4:1-4
∑ I Corinthians 2:
∑ Galatians 6:14
††††††††† The office of a bishop is an work to be desired because it is the work of preaching the gospel. And next, it is a work to be desired because...
B. The work of the bishop is a pastoral work.
††††††††† I am fully aware of the fact that in these days of religious nonsense pastoral work is looked upon as business management, social work, psychotherapy, denominational promotion, and entertainment. But Godís servants are pastors, tenders of sheep.
∑ I Peter 5:1-4
††††††††† What a great privilege! What a high honor! What an awesome responsibility! The Lord God has called me and trusted to my hands the care of his sheep, the guardianship of his family! It is my responsibility as a pastor to...
∑ Feed His Sheep.
∑ Protect His Sheep.
∑ Guide His Sheep in the Footsteps of the Flock.
∑ Lead His Sheep by Example.
††††††††† Are you beginning to see why this is a work to be desired? It is the work of preaching the gospel; but it is much more than that. It is the work of caring for the Lordís sheep. And this is a work to be desired because...
C. It is every pastorís responsibility to do the work of an evangelist (II Tim. 4:5).
††††††††† Without neglecting the care of Godís sheep trusted to him, he goes out to proclaim the gospel wherever and however God opens the door, seeking the Lordís sheep, establishing local churches, folds for the Lordís flocks, and helping other shepherds.
††††††††† Very few churches have or want a pastor. Most of them hire a preacher, tell him what his office hours will be, how many visits he will make each month, how long to preach, how many meetings he can hold a year, when he can take a vacation, and what social committees and functions he is expected to attend. Godís servants are not hirelings; and they are not junebug preachers. They are prophets from God almighty with a message to deliver. They will not allow anything or anyone to stand in their way!
††††††††† The work of the ministry is the work of the whole church. And the pastoral office is a good work and an office to be desired. Now thirdly let me show you that...
III. ONLY GOD CAN MAKE A PREACHER AND PUT A MAN INTO THE MINISTRY.
††††††††† I know that it is customary for preachers to try to get other men, especially young converts, to make a commitment to what they call full-time Christian service (I guess they think all others are part time Christians!); but I always caution men not to announce a call to preach. I said to this young man this morning that no man should ever presume that he has been called of God to the blessed work of the gospel ministry until God has put him in the work. No man is called of God to preach the gospel except those men who are doing it. An urge to preach is not a call to preach. If God calls a man to the work of the gospel ministry, he will not have to announce it. Godís people will know it. And he will not have to advertise himself, promote himself, or send out resumes applying for a job. God knows exactly where his Moses is. The back side of the desert in the land of Median is not beyond Godís view!
††††††††† Let me show you three things about this matter of the making of a preacher.
A. Any man who is called of God to preach the gospel is gifted of God with both a comprehensive understanding of the Scriptures and an ability to teach the Scriptures to others.
††††††††† I do not mean that a preacher must understand everything in the Bible. No man does. But he must understand the whole Bible. He must see and clearly understand the message of Holy Scripture which is Jesus Christ and him crucified.
∑ Luke 24:27, 44-47
∑ Acts 20:27
∑ I Corinthians 2:2
††††††††† Not only does God give his servants understanding in the Word, he makes them ďapt to teach.Ē In other words, if God calls a man to preach, he can preach.
∑ I Timothy 3:2
∑ Titus 1:9
††††††††† Any man who does not understand the message of Scripture or does not have the God-given ability to teach the gospel to others has not been called of God to the work of the ministry.
B. If God calls a man to the work of the ministry, if God calls a man to be a pastor, elder, missionary, or evangelist God also gives him the qualifications necessary to lead his people in the worship and service of Christ.
∑ I Timothy 3:1-7
∑ Titus 1:6-9
††††††††† Do not stretch these texts of Scripture beyond their legitimate meaning. They do not mean that a pastor must be a perfect man. But they do mean that he is to be a man, a man in every sense of the word, providing for the spiritual and physical well-being of his family with uprightness, honesty, sobriety, and diligence.
C. The place of training for a preacher is within the local church.
††††††††† I do not discourage training. A pastor must be a diligent student, not for three or four years, but all his life. But the absolute last thing for a man to do who desires to preach the gospel is go to a Bible college or theological seminary. I tell young men this all the time. Colleges and seminaries are real good at teaching men how to be professional preachers; but you learn to serve God in his church.
††††††††† This is what I recommend to every man who thinks he wants to be a preacher. Find a gospel preacher and local church of proven faithfulness to the gospel of Christ; move to where that church is; get a job; and serve God in that local church. I am convinced that no man should be given the responsibility of pastoring a church who knows nothing about serving God in a church.
††††††††† Any pastor who is worth his salt as a preacher will, in his regular sermons, give the best theological training available in this world. A faithful pastor is always well prepared for the pulpit. He does not entertain the sheep with silly games. He feeds the sheep. He instructs people in the Word of God. What a man learns here is what I call shoe leather theology, the kind that helps you walk down the road of life. The theology a man learns in Bible colleges and seminaries is idealistic theology, the kind you debate in coffee houses without regard to the souls of men or the glory of God.
††††††††† The work of the ministry is the work of the whole church. It is a good work, a work to be desired. Only God himself can make a preacher. And fourthly, I want you to see that...
IV. THE WORK OF THE GOSPEL MINISTRY IS AN ALL-CONSUMING WORK.
††††††††† Rolfe Barnard used to say, ďOne of these days, Iím going to enter the ministry.Ē I cannot tell you how often I have heard Bro. Mahan say the same thing. That may seem strange, coming from men who have spent nearly every waking hour of their adult lives studying, preaching, or traveling somewhere to preach. But the statement is not strange at all, when we consider the facts.
††††††††† There are multitudes of pastors, evangelists, and missionaries who have never really entered the ministry. I am not talking about professional preachers. I am not talking about glory-seekers. I am not talking about men who serve God for gain. We know that those men are not the servants of Christ and never can be.
††††††††† I am talking about and my concern is for men who do know the Lord, men who do faithfully preach the gospel of Godís grace and glory in Christ. men who have to some degree left home and friends, men who have endured some trial and persecution for the gospel. I am not talking about our enemies, but our friends, men who have contended for the gospel in organized churches here and there, and some even on foreign soil as missionaries. Many who preach the gospel have not yet entered the ministry.
††††††††† The ministry of the gospel is an all-consuming thing! It cannot be a sideline. It cannot be something a man does when it is convenient. It is not a career. It is and must be the all-consuming passion of a manís life! When Elisha picked up Elijahís mantle, he had to lay down all other interests and concerns. And that man who truly enters the ministry must leave every other occupation and project.
2 Timothy 2:4† "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
††††††††† The man who enlists in the army and goes to war leaves his home, business, hobbies, and all his other affairs in the world. The business of the army has become his business. The war he is engaged in is not something he reads about in the morning paper. It is the all-consuming issue of his life.
††††††††† The Olympic athlete who runs in a race does so with such determination and commitment that he seems to spend all his time on the track. He appears to have no thought but running. He is consumed with the race.
††††††††† That man who enters the ministry, who really enters the ministry has just that kind of determination and commitment.
1 Corinthians 7:29-31† "But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; (30) And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; (31) And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away."
††††††††† I cannot recommend any man to go to any seminary in the world. I know this will offend some who hear it, but frankly, I do not know of a Bible college or seminary anywhere in the world that is committed to the gospel of Godís free and sovereign grace. But I will tell you five places to which every man who enters the ministry must go.
A. The man who enters the ministry must go Calvary.
††††††††† Go to Calvary! There be filled with the glory of God, the beauty of Christ, the majesty of grace, and overwhelmed with the love of God in Christ. If a man ever learns the gospel of Godís sovereignty, substitution, satisfaction, and success, he will preach it! No other message will interest him. Not other subject will appeal to him. No other theme will occupy his mind. That man who has seen the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ will talk about it until he dies!
B. He who would enter the ministry must go to the cemetery.
††††††††† A man cannot enter the ministry until he has buried mother, father, wife, children, and his own life also. Christ becomes all these things to his servants. So that where the calling, service, truth, and glory of Christ are concerned, his servant has no natural ties.
C. That man who enters the ministry must go to the garbage dump.
††††††††† There he disposes of his heritage, his learning, his natural wisdom, his self-righteousness, his self-worth, and his fleshly zeal. At the garbage dump, he throws everything away as useless dung, that he may win Christ and be found in him.
∑ Philippians 3:4-14
D. That man who enters the ministry must open an account at the bank of faith and live upon it.
††††††††† He must give up his fishing boat, throw away his nets, and look to Christ alone to supply all his needs. Those who preach the gospel must live by the gospel. Soldiers in the army of King Jesus do not have to pay their own way. Christ takes care of his servants. I have a checking account in the bank of faith. It was opened for me by Christ himself, and opened in his name. Thus far, I have never found the account empty.
1. It is the responsibility of every local church to take care of those who preach the gospel (Her Own Pastor - Missionaries - Other Pastors).
2. It is the responsibility of every gospel preacher to cut himself free from the entanglements of this world.
E. That man who enters the ministry must go to his study.
††††††††† Godís servants are preeminently men of study and prayer. They addict themselves to the study of the Word. In the eighteenth century, there was a saying that was common in the streets of London. John Gill was so well known for his devotion to study that men would say, ďAs surely as John Gill is in his study,Ē such and such will happen.
††††††††† No man can preach who does not study. Any man who is not content to spend most of his time in his study has no place in the pulpit of any church. The reason deacons exist is so that Godís servants can study and pray (Acts 6:1-4).
††††††††† The preacher must forsake business, politics, community affairs, family enjoyments, and many other worthwhile projects. He who enters the ministry can be nothing but a preacher. If he tries to be anything else he will be an embarrassment to himself and to others. But what a preacher that man will be.
1. His name will be known in hell.
2. His name will be known in heaven.
3. It is of no concern to him if his name is forgotten everywhere else.
††††††††† A dying preacher was heard praying, ďGod, if you let me live, I will lay down every interest, every activity, and every occupation. I will live only to preach the gospel of your dear Son.Ē It was too late for him, but not for me and not for you. Yet, the only way anyone will ever truly enter the ministry is on his deathbed, as he dies to the world and the world dies to him!
Mark 8:35† "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it."
1. There is no discharge from this work and warfare (Luke 9:62).
2. I ask you to pray for me and for Godís servants around the world, that we may daily enter the ministry.
††††††††† William Grimshaw once made this statement - ďWhen I die I shall then have my greatest grief and my greatest joy - my greatest grief that have done so little for Jesus, and my greatest joy that Jesus has done so much for me!Ē
Ephesians 3:8† "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ."