Examine the Ministry Message
- Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Second, when examining ministry (message, method, and motive), ask the question: is it viewed as a sacred trust from God? A document emerged recently from the "Together for the Gospel" conference put together by four evangelical leaders: Albert Mohler, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, and C.J. Mahaney. Guest speakers at the conference included John MacArthur, John Piper, and R.C. Sproul. The concern of the four men who put the conference together is expressed in no uncertain terms.
"We are convinced that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been misrepresented, misunderstood, and marginalized in many churches and among many who claim the name of Christ. Compromise of the Gospel has led to the preaching of false gospels, the seduction of many minds and movements, and the weakening of the church's Gospel witness." They further state, "We are concerned about the tendency of so many churches to substitute technique for truth, therapy for theology, and management for ministry." Further still, "We are also concerned that God's glorious purpose for Christ's church is often eclipsed in concern by so many other issues, programs, technologies, and priorities. Furthermore, confusion over crucial questions concerning the authority of the Bible, the meaning of the Gospel, and the nature of truth itself have gravely weakened the church in terms of its witness, its work, and its identity (www.togetherforthegospel.org)."
The conference was a serious attempt to examine the nature of the gospel and gospel ministry in the face of much defection. The call has been issued to evaluate our ministries as gospel ministry is a sacred trust.
Our concern should be that of Paul. "But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts (v. 4)." He asserts that he and his companions had been approved by God. That is, they had been tested and found faithful. As such, God approved them to convey His divine message of grace, mercy, and salvation in Christ Jesus.
Because God had tested and approved them for this service, He entrusted them with the gospel. The gospel had been given to Paul and his co-laborers as a trust. They were to be stewards of that which God had given them. They were not in this thing for themselves or for personal gain. They were under obligation to preach the message and to do so with purity. They were trustees who could not break the sacred trust that had been extended to them by God. The charges against them were indeed all the more grievous in light of this entrustment. Therefore, true gospel preachers are tested by God to determine the heart, approved by God for the gospel ministry, and entrusted by God with the precious gospel.
Third, when examining ministry (message, method, and motive), ask the question: is it geared toward pleasing men or pleasing God? We must ask ourselves: Are we seeking to please God or please man with a watered-down message that we might brag at the local pastor's conference about the success we are having? Are we guilty of flattering ourselves and that before others that they might flatter us? Are we motivated by a self-centered greed in terms or money or even the praise of men?
Consider the state of evangelism in the church today. With reference to a drop in baptisms in the SBC, a concerned pastor wrote: "I don't evaluate that as negatively as some--perhaps most--do. Again, don't misunderstand me. I am not saying that winning fewer people to Jesus Christ is a good thing! My evaluation of the report takes into consideration the pernicious pattern of shallow evangelism that characterizes recent Southern Baptist practice. In light of this, I think it may have been a greater tragedy if we actually reached the 'million more' goal. Had it happened, I fear that the self-congratulatory triumphalism that characterizes much of SBC life would have been unleashed and the soul-destroying problems that plague much of our evangelism would have even less of an opportunity to be honestly faced (www.founders.org/blog/)."
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