Monday, March 14, 2016
The pastor's three grounds of confidence in ministry - third ground, the Holy Spirit
So far in the last two posts we have considered the grounds of confidence upon which a preacher stands when ministering in the local church. The preacher's grounds are ultimately every Christian's grounds of confidence. Paul outlines for us three grounds of confidence for doing ministry in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. He recalls the first time he came to the Corinthians - bringing to them the "testimony of God" in the scriptures and wanting them to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Today's post will conclude this study on the pastor's three grounds of confidence. We've looked already at the scriptures and the Lord Jesus Christ. Let's consider the third ground of confidence - namely the Holy Spirit.
The Pastor's third ground of confidence - the Holy Spirit
As was mentioned already, Paul remembers back to when he first came to the Corinthian church. In other letters to other churches, Paul hearkens back to their beginnings, noting how he came to them in the power of the Holy Spirit. For instance, in 1 Thessalonians 1:5 we read - "for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake." Paul indicates to the Corinthian congregation that when he first came to them, he arrived and remained with them "in weakness and fear and much trembling". Matthew Henry's Concise commentary notes on 1 Corinthians 2:3 -
I recall years ago hearing the following advice from an older preacher: "if you enter the pulpit with your head hanging high, you will exit it with your head hanging low. However, if you enter behind the sacred desk with your head hanging low, you will descend it with your head hanging high". The point? Reliance on the Spirit's power, rather than my own. Paul goes on to state why the Holy Spirit's power and presence must needs be the preacher's source of confidence in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 - "and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God."
What should any great preacher emphasize to his people? that their strength for living lies not in themselves but God. The power of God is what will draw people to the church house. John Wesley once noted that if you want to fill the pews, build a fire in the pulpit. The mark of the Spirit's anointing on a man's life makes all the difference. It is not an easy life, mind you, however it is well worth the price. The late great Baptist preacher Adrian Rogers warned about preaching in the flesh, noting that if the Devil can trick anyone to get in the flesh, it matters not whether it be carousing or preaching - the flesh, in the end, will profit nothing.