Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ministers of the Church

We are called as Christians to be a part of the church. Part of this calling is to learn from our pastors and teachers. These pastors and teachers were appointed by Christ for this task (Ephesians 4:11). Learning from them is part of God's plan for our sanctification. Calvin notes, "We see how God, who could in a moment perfect his own, nevertheless desires them to grow up into manhood solely under the education of the church." The education comes from the preaching which has been assigned to the called pastors. The priests of the Old Testament were assigned the same task. God willed for us to gather as a congregation to hear the Word of the Lord read and proclaimed that it "might foster agreement in the faith." This is part of the reason why we are to be part of a church. If we are on our own, it is much easier for us to get off track with are Biblical studies. If we are being taught as a group, we can all learn from each other in order to keep on the right course. God did not send angels to teach us, but he uses human means to teach us. If God spoke to us directly, in our weakness we would probably be driven away by His power. We need human pastors and teachers that we may learn. Calvin writes, "believers have no greater help than public worship, for by it God raises his own folk upward step by step."

Calvin calls people who claim that the Word is dragged down when pastors preach it ungrateful. God has ordained that certain people proclaim His Word, therefore it is not being dragged down. Even more detestable are those "who have a passion for splitting churches, in effect driving the sheep from their fold and casting them into the jaws of wolves." When people try to break apart the church, they are trying to break apart the body of Christ. He desires us to be united in our worship, not constantly breaking off into schisms.

There are people who give too much credit to the position of pastor and some too little. "Some exaggerate its dignity beyond measure. Others contend that what belongs to the Holy Spirit is wrongly transferred to mortal men." To correct both issues, Calvin notes "the passages in which God as the author of preaching, joining his Spirit with it, promises benefits from it; the passages in which God, separating himself from outward helps, claims for himself alone both the beginnings of faith and its entire course." We should think not too much nor too little of pastors. God ordains pastors to preach the Word to His people, but pastors themselves cannot soften the heart of an unbeliever in order to convert them. Only the Holy Spirit is capable of that.

Tomorrow's reading: 4.1.7-4.1.13

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