(In this article, before talking about the order of salvation, Brother Andy H briefly encourages pastors to pay close attention to their lives.)
There are many things that the preacher or the pastor or the teacher ought to be doing. But there are several foundational things that are absolutely crucial for his ongoing usefulness in ministry. And of course, you’ll remember the foundational verse that we’ve talked about before that mentions two of those most important necessities for ministry and that is of course Paul’s exhortation to Timothy in 1Timothy 4:16, where Paul says “take heed or pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching or your doctrine, persevere in these things for in doing this you will ensure salvation both for yourself, and for those who hear you.” Timothy is a young preacher. He’s in the church at Ephesus. The Apostle Paul is exhorting him on the most crucial foundational things about how to influence people. We will influence people, as I’ve often mentioned, in two ways: by the example of our life, and by the teaching of our doctrine. These are the two most foundational crucial things in the life of the preacher. We recently talked about the preacher’s life and I simply want to review this particular point very briefly by way of introduction.
When we talk about paying close attention or taking heed or to be careful about your life, they are five important things that you must be sure of, in regards to your own life. Let us go over them very briefly.
The most crucial necessity for the life of the preacher is a deepening purity of life and holiness of character.
1. You must be sure that you are truly converted. Jesus said there were those that prophesied in his name, they claimed that they healed the sick in his name, and that they cast out demons in his name, but he said, “Depart from me. I never knew you.” It’s absolutely essential that the preacher be truly converted, whether he was converted like Timothy as a young child, knowing from the beginning, the sacred scriptures, or whether he was radically converted like the Apostle Paul on the Damascus Road. You well know that true conversion has two basic necessities. Paul said in Acts 20:21. “I solemnly testify to both Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” So let us examine our own lives and determine that we have truly repented and turned from sins, self and our own good works and have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, trusted and committed our lives to him. Take heed and be sure in your own life that you are truly converted.
2. You must be sure that you are a committed disciple. Jesus said, “If anyone comes after me, let him take up his cross. Let him deny himself and let him follow me. Whoever is not willing to take up his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” That is, as John Calvin said, the spiritual life, the Christian life and the Christian ministry, is a life of love-motivated, spirit-empowered, law-directed, self-denial. That is, if a man is going to preach, he must write upon his heart, what was written upon the heads of the high priest in the Old Testament: “Holy to the Lord,” set apart for the Living God, not entangling ourselves in the affairs of everyday life, but taking up our cross, dying to self, living for the kingdom of God, the glory of God, the gospel of God and the well-being of the church and the advancement of the truth to the loss. Be sure that you’re not only truly converted, but be sure that you are a growing and cross-embracing, self-denying disciple. That is especially crucial for the life of the preacher. His motto in regards to the things of the world, even legitimate liberties is that “Others may I cannot.” If you’re going to pastor, if you’re going to preach, be sure that you are a committed, cross embracing, self-denying disciple.
3. You must be sure that you are growing in holy character—that you are bearing the fruits of the Spirit, that you are being conformed to the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that you are walking in the light as he himself is in the light. The most crucial necessity for the life of the preacher is a deepening purity of life and holiness of character. Not just outward morality, not just intellectual doctrinal understanding, not just spiritual gifts, not just education, but deep vital growing holiness is absolutely essential for the life of the preacher. So, be sure you are growing in Christ-like holy character.
4. You must be sure that you are keeping a good conscience—void of offence toward God and man. The old Puritan said the conscience is the preacher’s best friend. Guard your heart, guard your conscience, confess your sins, be sensitive to sin, consistently repent and guard your conscience so that it works properly and convicts you regarding sin. Be sure to keep a good conscience toward God and man.
Be sure that you’re not only truly converted, but be sure that you are a growing and cross-embracing, self-denying disciple.
5. You must be growing in a deepening experiential communion with God in secret prayer. We must be men of prayer, and in the previous session, we discussed this issue of cultivating a life of secret prayer and a ministry of private intercession. The Apostles said, “We must give ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word of God.” Paul said, “For this reason, I bow my knee before the Father,” and he prayed continually and consistently for the people of God. Men, be sure you do not neglect your own personal walk with God. Live on your knees in the presence of God in the secret place of prayer, remembering that Jesus said, “When you pray do not be like the Pharisees, but when you pray go into your inner room, shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.” Our Lord Jesus Christ cultivated the habit of secret prayer because he depended upon his Father, because he delighted in his Father, and because he had a life of self-denial and discipline. Be sure that you are growing in experiential communion with God in secret prayer.
The Apostle Paul says take heed to your life. Be sure you were truly converted. Be sure you are a committed disciple with an undivided heart, willing to embrace the cross, and deny yourself. Be sure that you are growing in Christ-like character. Be sure that you are keeping a good conscience and be sure that you are growing in deepening personal communion with God in the sacred place of prayer.
In the next article, we will turn to the doctrine of the preacher.
This article is the transcript of the talk by Brother Andy H in the meeting held in August 2021 entitled ‘The Order of Salvation – The Application of Redemption.’
Please click here to read Part 2 of the article on “The Order of Salvation – The Application of Redemption” by Bro. Andy H. Please click here to read Part 3 of the article on “The Order of Salvation – The Application of Redemption” by Bro. Andy H. Please click here to read Part 4 of the article on “The Order of Salvation – The Application of Redemption” by Bro. Andy H.