October 04, 2012
As some of us begin a new year at seminary I was struck by these words from Richard Baxter in The Reformed Pastor (the capitals are from the 17th century, not me!).
“… think this one speech better deserveth a twelve month study, than most things that young students spend their time on.
O brethren! Write it on your study doors – set it in capital letters as your copy, that it may be ever before your eyes. Could we but well learn two or three lines of it, what preachers [and, we might add, students or professors or counselors or Christians] we would be!
- Our general business – SERVING THE LORD WITH ALL HUMILITY OF MIND, AND WITH MANY TEARS.
- Our special work – TAKE HEED TO YOURSELVES, AND TO ALL THE FLOCK.
- Our doctrine – REPENTANCE TOWARD GOD, AND FAITH TOWARD OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
- The place and manner of our teaching – I HAVE TAUGHT YOU PUBLICLY, AND FROM HOUSE TO HOUSE.
- His diligence, earnestness and affection – I CEASED NOT TO WARN EVERY ONE NIGHT AND DAY WITH TEARS.
- His faithfulness – I KEPT BACK NOTHING THAT WAS PROFITABLE UNTO YOU, AND HAVE NOT SHUNNED TO DECLARE UNTO YOU ALL THE COUNSEL OF GOD.
- His disinterestedness and self-denial for the sake of the gospel – I HAVE COVETED NO MAN’S SILVER OR GOLD OR APPAREL: YEA, THESE HANDS HAVE MINISTERED UNTO MY NECESSITIES, AND TO THEM THAT WERE WITH ME, REMEMBERING THE WORDS OF THE LORD JESUS, HOW HE SAID, IT IS MORE BLESSED TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE.
- His patience and perseverance – NONE OF THESE THINGS MOVE ME, NEITHER COUNT I MY LIFE DEAR TO ME, SO THAT I MIGHT FINISH MY COURSE WITH JOY, AND THE MINISTRY WHICH I HAVE RECEIVED OF THE LORD JESUS.
- His prayerfulness – ICOMMEND YOU TO GOD AND TO THE WORD OF HIS GRACE, WHICH IS ABLE TO BUILD YOU UP, AND TO GIVE YOU AN INHERITANCE AMONG ALL THEM WHICH ARE SANCTIFIED.
- His purity of conscience - WHEREFORE I TAKE YOU TO RECORD THIS DAY, THAT I AM PURE FROM THE BLOOD OF ALL MEN.”
We may not all be pastors, but we’ve all been given the good news to pass on, and we have all been called to ministry. He goes on to say…
“Write these on your hearts, and it will do yourselves and your church more good than twenty years’ study of those lower things, which, though they may get you greater applause from the world, yet, if separated from these, they will make you but as ‘sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal’.”
I’m not sure I want to be a “tinkling cymbal.”
Author: Dim Alldridge
equipping leaders for the church and society