“…[A]sk for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said we will not walk therein.” (Jeremiah 6:16)
If a preacher stops “grow[ing] in the grace and knowledge of [his] Lord and Saviour” or if he stops learning or if he begins to grow lazy in his times with God and in his study or if his attention or priorities get out of order so to will the flock that God has entrusted to him. As goes the pastor, so goes the Church. Not only is that a spiritual principle it is a logical truth and has been proven by the experience of many.
Often in today’s “Christendom” the preacher’s focus is diverted from prayer and the Word of God and is put on administrative duties or “new ways” of growing the church, or new ideas of “reaching the people.” This is not good and it’s effects can be seen in the Church today.
There are many reasons for this. Pressure from the people to grow the church, pressure put on self to grow the Church (thereby “proving” ones’s self-worth), or pressure to come up with new gimmicks to satisfy the carnal in the Church, etc. This is due to competition with other churches, or other pastors, keeping the deacon board happy, keeping one’s job, pride, etc. Another reason is the set up of Church government. The Word gives the Church a structure for it’s governing of the Body of Christ. There is the pastor, the elders, and then the deacons.
The pastor is to focus upon the Word of God, His time in prayer, (time spent loving God) and the flock that has been entrusted to him. “Peter,…’Feed [M]y sheep.” The elders are to serve as counsellors for the pastor and not necessarily to the pastor and they should have the pulse of the people. The deacons are to keep up with the day to day responsibilities and needs of the Church and community. Each body (Pastor, Elders, and deacons) is in place so the body above them, in terms of office and not worth, is free to do what God wants them to do. Another idea, I believe, is expansion or progression of all the men in the positions mentioned above.
The elders develop into pastors , evangelists, and missionaries that are sent out to carry the Church’s message, IE. THe Gospel and influence others. The deacons are to grow (spiritually, cognitively and in wisdom and understanding) into the position of elders. As that dynamic works other good men, that are spiritually young but full of the Holy Ghost, will replace the deacons that have also grown…grown into elders and the cycle of spiritual life and spiritual influence continues.
In most churches this is not the case. The Pastor is doing his job, the job of the elders, and in many cases the job of deacons while the deacons sit as his advisors and in many cases his judges. For this reason the Pastor is not walking the “old path” of study and prayer, nor are there elders among the people, and the deacons are a board, as I said of deciders and judges. The Church is anemic because of this. Why are these things the way they are?
These things are the way they are because little value is put upon the study of God’s Word and the inestimable value of time spent in prayer that a preacher needs as well as the inestimable value of the pastor himself. This comes, undoubtably from the value the members of the Church put upon their own time in reading, study, and alone time with God. If the body of the Church understood the value of time in the Word and time alone with God they would be insistant upon the pastor spending his time in the “old paths.” They are not insistant upon the pastor spending time with the Word and with God, therefore, they betray their lack of understanding on the value of the Word and prayer. Not only is this a diagnosis upon the Church’s self infected-anemia it is also an indictment from a preacher on the outside that sees what is going on on the inside. It is Ezekiel looking through the whole in the wall and it is Daniel translating the writing upon the wall. It is a disciple of the Master that is judging the Church by her juiceless and tasteless fruit. It is a man of God that is heartbroken over the Church’s lack of moral and spiritual authority and her influence in this present evil world that lieth in wickedness, as well as a Church of God, the Body of Christ, the little flock of the great Shepherd that loves the world more than their Lord and Saviour.
Understand me clearly…I am speaking of the Church “at large” and in general and not every individual Church. I know good churches and their pastors and I am thankful for them. I saw an article recently about the Church’s decline in this country and it is a burden upon me and I’m sure many shepherds.
Every preacher has in mind what they would preach if they had only one sermon left. If I had only one sermon left I would speak on a number of things.
- The Great Glory of God and the God of Great Glory
- How God’s great Glory sustains His people
- Walking continuously with this God of Great Glory.
- The need to return to the “old paths”
We will (DV) write about number (4) four.
We have been teaching and preaching the Word of God in one manner or another for over (20) twenty years. We have taught through many of the Books of Scripture, expositorally. We have taught on the great men and women of the Bible. We have taught on the great doctrines of God’s grace, we have taught children, teens, adults, and the elderly. We have spoken in different churches and churches “of color”. We have discussed the Truths of God’s Word with people of cults, and of other “faiths” as well as those of no faith and those with faith in science. We have written many articles on many different topics on many sites. We have spoken to countless people about Christ. We at one time taught (6) six times per week. We have never preached the same sermon twice, except on one occasion and that one occasion is why we never preach the same message twice. We have taught thousands of messages.
I say all of that and yes, I am bragging. I am bragging upon my faithful Lord and Master Who has called me to His servive and entrusted me with His whole counsel. I am boasting with a puffed out chest that He allowed all of this and has given me a spirit to minister His Word to His people. So, yes, I am bragging and I am boastful.
I have experienced things with God that I share with very few people. I have seen His magnificent works and they are marvellous. He has shown Himself mighty on my behalf many time. He has loved me so very well and has given me a joyous and joyful heart that is full of love for Him. I have seen Him humble persons with His goodness even when they doubted Him and I thanked Him for the great faith He has given me because He allows me to trust Him when others are doubtful. I have seen persons sorry for not trusting when they should have only after seeing His faithfulness and I thank Him that that doubt has been mortified through His Spirit and all the tribulations in this life. My God is so Good. MY GOD IS SO BIG, SO STRONG AND SO MIGHTY… THERE IS NOTHING My God CANNOT DO!!!.
I have written all of the above for (2) two reasons.
- Because my heart and mind are filled with the love, the joy and the wonder of my Great God.
- Because after saying all of that I would say this:
After teaching for the years cited above and teaching on the whole counsel of God, I have learned that what is so important in the Christian life are the “old paths.” I can teach you on supralapsarianism v. sublapsarianism. I can teach on the deep Truths of God’s Word and some of the deep and wonderous Truths of God Himself, for He has shown me His mysteries (Matt. 10) and has shared with me many secrets (Psalms). I can discuss creation v (de)evolution as well as Arminianism v Calvinism, I can speak to the differences between the different faiths of the world and the mild differences within the differing beliefs in our Christian faith. I can even discuss some of the ideas theologians and ministers have that they can not share with their flock. However, it is still the “old paths” that still matter and give foundation to the deep Truths of the Word of God.
So if I would have one message left to preach or if I were asked for my last words on my death bed or the burning stake, after speaking on the Glory of God, I would teach this…………………..Beloved, Prayerfully Read and prayerfully study your Bibles consistently and spend much time with God in prayers of thankfulness, prayers of praise and worship, prayers of petition, prayers of confession, and times of silent, wordless prayer and communion in His Presence and upon thy face. I would further encourage you to, “Be ye Steadfast, Unmoveable, always Abounding in the Work of the Lord; Be ye vigilant; Gird up the loins of thy minds; Keep thyself in the Love of God and enjoy thy salvation that is safely kept by Christ Jesus, Who is both Lord and Saviour, Who gave Himself for me, as He has great love for me.
Remain ye on the old, but good path of righteousness, never meandering to the right or the left.