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Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Faithful Pastor

Our day is filled with the latest 'hip' person pretending to be a pastor.  As I look across the evangelical world of ministry I see a disturbing pattern of preachers digressing to the level of seeking worldly approval.  Pastor's are marketing themselves by the use of means that will attract the worlds attention.  Pastor's today are more prone to speak of drinking beer while they talk theology at the pub, advance the wearing of blue-jeans with holes in them or wearing Mickey Mouse T-shirts while they preach, using foul language in the pulpit, and there is the resounding emphasis upon sex; rather than the model that is exemplified by the apostle Paul.
Notice clearly what Paul emphasizes about his ministry in 2 Corinthians 6.  Paul says that he commends himself.  What are his commendations?  They are endurance, affliction, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger, purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, genuine love, and truthful speech.  Now here is a pastor worth sitting under.  There is no talk of drinking beer and using foul language in street-bum clothing to reach the world.  Here is a pastor who has died to self and is pouring out his all for the glory of Christ and the good of the local church.  This pastor has commendations that are worthy to be contemplated.  Here is a man who has walked a narrow road and knows the worth of the Savior that he follows.  Here is a pastor that a believing father would want his children to learn from.

The apostle Paul goes on to say that he is treated as an impostor, but he is true.  He is treated as one who is unknown, but he is known.  He is treated as one who is dying, but he is really living.  He is being punished, but he is not killed.   He is treated as sorrowful, but he is always rejoicing.  He is treated as poor, but he is really making people rich.  He is treated as one who has nothing, but yet he possesses everything.  Paul has opened his mouth and spoke to the church and he has held no love from them.  Here is a pastor who truly knows what it means to love the local church.  Paul loves them even when they do not show love in return.  Paul offers us a picture of the glorious gospel.
In verse 2 Corinthians 6:12 Paul explains that it is the heart of the people who are at fault for not having a relationship that is in unity.  Notice, Paul does not change to something else in order to make amends with them, but rather he proclaims the truth of what the problem is.  Paul reminds them that they are not  στεvοχωρεω  (confined, restrained, crushed) by him, but rather they are στενοχωρεω(confined, restrained, crushed) by their own σπλαγχνoν (bowels, heart, tender mercies, compassion).  The people of Corinth have affections for other things and as a result of their affections they have cut themselves off from the faithful pastor.  Paul speaks to them as little children and tells them that they must  πλατυνω (widen) their hearts.  The following text, 6:14-7:1 deals with ungodly alliances with the world. 

It looks obvious that Paul and his companions are pouring themselves out for the glory of God in the proclamation of the truth to a people who have affections for worldliness.  The result of biblical preaching in the midst of a group of people who are worldly is a division.  The remedy for the division is not in dress, trends, shock factors, nor any other scheme, but the remedy is found in the proclamation to repent.  The people must widen their hearts!  They have narrowed their hearts to truth by widening them to the world.  As John Calvin would say, "He means to say, that it is owing to their corrupt judgment, that the things that he utters are not relished by them". 

The world sorely needs a pastor like unto the apostle Paul who will love the unlovable, serve the ungrateful, care for the careless, and preach the truth to the hard of hearing.  It is God who will build His church and He does not need the latest marketing promotion to get it done. 

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