The Reformed Pastor

INTRODUCTION

            The Reformed Pastor has been written by a pastor to other pastors regarding the methodologies involved in teaching the congregation to become like Christ. It is geared toward making sure that those who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior are growing spiritually in both knowledge and obedience to the word of God. According to the text, Richard Baxter believes that the only way to have a mature and growing church is to teach the believers the word and thereby monitor their spiritual growth through the asking of questions to know where they stand spiritually and knowledgeably. The author examines that no Christians can grow in relationship with the Lord without growing in knowledge. He points out that there is God’s wrath that awaits the sinner; however, God had made provision for salvation by sending Jesus to die for the sins of mankind. He concludes that a pastor must demand knowledge of theological exegesis and prepare sermons which challenge the congregation in which he is ministering to. He argues for the essential doctrine and states that nonessential doctrine should not divide the church of God. The centrality of the theme of this book, “The Reformed Pastor” implies that without transformation of pastors, laymen, and all believers, there is no reformation; therefore, this reflective document has highlighted and delineated on the Biblical charge to pastors and laymen, the Biblical charge to all, and the pastor’s characters to equip the believers. The pastor’s characters to equip the saints are viable instruments pastor should have to lead the house of God successfully. They are divine virtues which indicate belongingness to God. They are living testimonies which exemplify who the pastor is or should be.

BIBLICAL CHARGE TO PASTORS AND LAYMEN

            The writer addresses pastors and laymen in Christendom regarding sinful habit which leads a minister of God impoverish in both spiritual and physical dimension of life situation. He encourages ministers to confess sin in public if such sin was done in public. Failure to confess sin leads to unpardoned sin. He states, “When the sin is in public, the confession should also be in public – if we seek a full remission. Unpardoned sin will never let us rest and prosper. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverb 28:13[KJV].[1]

            This quotation is the central message of this book. It is impossible to give out something to someone to effectuate his or her spirituality if you have not experienced such. The reformed pastor message indicates a change which has taken place in the life of the minister as the result of total submission to the word of God. It is impossible to be reformed without the word of God followed by obedience. The Bible says, sin is the reproach to any People, but righteousness exalts a nation. Pastoral care ministry requires continued denunciation of sins for oneself before a pastor leads people to confess their sins for forgiveness. Before the people prosper both spiritually and physically, the pastor who is God’s representative should be the carrier of such anointing of prosperity to engage people contagiously with such anointing. The reformed pastor as so called, needs complete denunciation of sinful habits to enable him transmits contagiously the blessing of God to the people of God. It takes a reformed pastor to bring transformation to the people of God. When King Saul sinned against God through disobedience, God sent the Prophet Samuel to anoint the son of Jesse to replace him in the leadership of the children of Israel. So Samuel set out as the Lord had commanded him to carry out the order. According to I Samuel chapter 16 states, “So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.”[2]

            The Bible declares that when David was anointed, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him as he departed from King Saul. We see the transfer of God’s anointing from the King to David. The Spirit of the Lord departed as the result of sin of disobedience. After this encounter, David left and went to meet the prophets. While meeting the prophets, David was changed to a different man and he began to prophesy with the procession of prophets. In ministry, it is recommended that ministers denounce sinful habits because God has placed ministers to bless God’s people. Pastors cannot bless God’s people if they are living in sin. Ministers cannot bring transformation if they themselves are not being transformed. Paul declares,

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”[3]

            Pastors must first be transformed before they can be reformed. Reformation is the product of transformation through total obedience to the Holy Spirit. The offering of pastors and laymen bodies to God is the direct act of denunciation of sins. When ministers denounce sinful habits; then, transformation will occur in their lives. Transformation only occurs when ministers surrender to God and make a plan confession of sins without shame. If Ministers are ashamed of him, he will also be ashamed of them when he comes during his glorious events. The writer states, “I did so, however, because if we were to be humbled, we must make a plan confession of our sin. We were also confessing our own and so taking the shame to ourselves.”[4] Ministers cannot experience transformation to be reformed if they refuse to confess sin. The Bible says in Proverbs that if we cover our sins, we will not prosper. Ministers have the responsibility to work on themselves before they can minister to others. Most of the time, we pastors are not well and we want to minister wellness to people who are sick emotionally, spiritually, and physically. It is not possible to minister healing to someone if you yourselves are not well. You cannot give out what you have not experienced in life situations.

            One of the responsibilities that God has given to the reformed pastor is to teach the word of God according to Baxter. This is an unquestionable duty of all ministers of the church. Ministers are called vocationally to teach the word so that a man of God will be furnished for every good works. Ephesians states,

            “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”[5]

            Christ has given these ministry gifts and offices to the church to minister to body of believers by the equipping of the saints through the word of God. Romans 12:1-2 states that our minds are renewed through the word of God which brings about transformation. It is the word of God that changes the human nature of sins. We are sinners and we are unable to obey God through the adhering and exercising of dogmas or by the observance of the man’s made rules or regulations. The Bible says that no flesh is justified through only the observance of the Law, for it is by the law we have the knowledge of sins. The law only reminds us of wrong doing, but it does not have the power to enable us live for God; therefore, transformation producing reformation comes about through obedience to the word and the Holy Spirit.

            He states, “The first and main point I submit to you is that it is the unquestionable duty of all ministers of the church to catechize and to teach personally all who are submitted to their care.”[6] He continues to layout the reformed pastor’s responsibility to teach and to train believers so that they can reach to the unity of the faith and not be infants tossed by every wind of doctrines. He finally urges laymen to be their pastor’s keeper regarding negative thought that comes from the pastor as he expresses it. He states, “The caution that I must give you is three points. The first is the concern that you do not entertain any negative thoughts of your pastors due to our open confession of personal sins.”[7] How can a layman curtail negative word or thought from his or her pastor. Does layman have the right to correct his pastor? Yes, a layman has the right; however, it should be done in a respected manner and through wisdom. The pastor is the leader; therefore, correcting him should be done in a way that shows respect. He is a human being and he is subject to errors or mistakes. God has placed lay leaders in the church to assist the pastor in the area of teaching the Sunday school, weekly Bible studies, conduction of prayer meetings, and administrative works. He along can not do all the jobs; consequently, he needs assistance to do some of these jobs. He is charged with the responsibility to dedicate leadership responsibility and positions as the Holy Spirit leads him.

THE BIBLICAL CHARGE TO ALL

            “Take heed therefore to yourselves, unto all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he has purchased with His own blood.’[8]

            The writer calls believers everywhere to be obedient to the word of God as he has prepared the reformed pastor to teach them. God has instructed the pastors to teach his word; therefore, we as laymen and fellow believers are required to heed to the teaching of the word through Biblical obedience. Christians must refrain from anything that so easily beset and entangle them. Christians are unable to fulfill God’s purpose unless they surrender themselves through total obedience. Christians are the temples of the Holy Spirit and their failure to offer themselves as holy people render them useless in the kingdom of God. Paul writes to Timothy, “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.”[9]

            This scripture calls for total obedience. Believers are categorized as articles of gold and silver or wood and clay. The Bible says that some are for honor and some are for dishonor; however, if a man purifies himself from the former, he will eventually become a vessel of honor meet for the Master use and prepared to do any good works. The usefulness of the believers in the house of God determines their obedience. It is obedience to God which determines the believer’s holiness before God. The tendency for believers to obey God’s word attracts God’s holiness to them. Many people say that no man can be holy. This statement is deceptive and will only encourage believers to continue to live in sin.

PASTOR’S CHARATERS TO EQUIP THE BELIEVERS

            “One of our most heinous and obvious sins is pride. This besets even the best of pastors, and yet it is the more hateful and inexcusable in us pastors than in other men.”[10]

            As quoted above, pride is the primary sins that tend to ruin the lives of pastors. Pastors’ ineffectiveness comes about when they allow pride in their lives. Some of the sins the writer outlined include undervaluing the unity and peace of the whole church, lack of commitment to the work of God, and the lack of church discipline. While the writer outlined these few areas of sins that usually engulf the pastor’ life, he also lists characteristics of the pastor that make him effective in the discharge of his duties. He states,

            “Ministerial work must be done purely for God and for the salvation of His people. It can never be done for any private gain or our own.’[11] The character of the pastor in ministering to the flock of God plays significant role to ministering to God’s people. In order to achieve this, the writer lists few characters that a pastor should have to be effective. They include: (a) diligence and hard work, (b) prudence and efficiency, (c) certainty about doctrine, (d) plain and clear teaching, (e) dependence upon God and docility before others, (f) humility, (g) a balance between severity and gentleness, (h) a zealous and affectionate spirit, (i) reverence, (j) a caring love for people, and (k) patience[12]. These characters are necessary for pastors or ministers’ effectiveness in the ministry. They are virtues ministers should have to indicate that they are called to ministry.

CONCLUSION

            The effectiveness of pastoral care ministry and the effectiveness of the pastor depend on how well the pastor is knowledgeable to teach the word of God to the believers taking into consideration Biblical charge values and how well he is prepared characteristically to handle the tasks of equipping the saints to be like Christ as he himself becomes reformed to qualify him to minister to God’s people.

References:

Bible

Huston, James M. The Reformed Pastor: A Pattern for Personal Growth and Ministry (Oregon: Multnomah Press Portland), 1982.


[1]James M. Huston, The Reformed Pastor: A Pattern for Personal Growth and Ministry (Oregon: Multnomah Press Portland), 1982, 4.

`[2]I Samuel 16:13[NIV]

[3]Romans 12:1-2[NIV]

[4]Ibid, P 4

[5]Ephesians 4:12-13[NIV].

[6] Ibid, p. 5

[7]Ibid, p 8

[8]Ibid, p. 10

[9]II Timothy 2:20-21.

[10]Ibid, p. 48

[11]Ibid, p 13

[12] Ibid, p. 13-23