For those who are unable to view the free live stream of the Strange Fire Conference here at Grace Community Church, I thought I would do my best to provide a written summary of the various sessions as they unfold (Session One; Session Two; Session Three; Session Four, Session Five, Session Six, Breakout Session 1, Q&A 1, Session Eight). I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to keep this up, or if I’ll be able to do other sessions (check out Tim Challies’ blog for his coverage) But I thought a little would be better than nothing. It provides us with a helpful opportunity to interact with what is actually being said at the conference. Having said that, the following was transcribed in haste, and so please forgive any typos. I pray it’s a benefit to you.
Now this title sounds strange, I know, to the American ear. But that’s a relevant question for my own situation back home. It’s a matter I’ve raised, something I’ve dealt with on my blog, because it’s a pertinent question. There’s clearly been a shift in the way in which “Evangelicals” are relating to the pastoral ministry.
The Pastor’s Mandate
To get us going I want us to begin by reading 2 Timothy 3, a passage that clearly demonstrates before us something of what a true preacher of the Word of God ought to be occupied with. And while you’re getting there, let me say quickly something of what I said two evenings ago. What I’ll be giving you is a broad sweep. Invariably, some people will be caught up in that broad brush that may not completely fit into that description, but I trust you’ll appreciate that I only have so much time. So clearly, that’s something at least you can bear with in order to achieve the greater good.
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.
This is the last surviving epistle that the Apostle Paul wrote, on the eve of his own departure. He is conscious of the fact that he will soon leave the scene of his labors. More or less in the same way as the Lord Jesus Christ was speaking in the Upper Room discourse. But with their departure will not come the end of the Christian church, and so there is a defining moment in which they are saying, “This is what you ought to concentrate on.” The Lord, in His prayer [in John 17]; the Apostle Paul in a direct exhortation [here].
And as you’ll notice from these few words, the Apostle is quick to clarify in Timothy’s mind the primary instrument that he is to use: it is divinely inspired and it is sufficient for all the work the man of God is required to do. “So that he might be thoroughly, completely, adequately equipped for every good work.”
The second thing, based on the first, is that Paul puts a charge on Timothy. It is a hair-raising charge. Invoking the name of God the Father, God the Son, pointing to the coming judgment, he says to him: “Not only are you to preach, but you are to preach the Word. You are to expound these same Scriptures I’ve spoken about.”
And thirdly, “Not only when you’ve got an audience that’s willing and ready and looking forward to hearing what you have to say, but even when men and women are stopping their ears, preach it! Be patient, but preach it! Do all you can to ensure that this happens.”