This article highlights common sins that ministers fall into. Christians must be on guard for false ministers dwelling in these sins. In contrast to this, the author outlines the goal of pastoral ministry and the importance of encouraging true ministers.

Source: The Outlook, 1997. 9 pages.

The Two Essentials for Pastoral Labor

I have been thinking a lot, in recent days, about the Christian ministry. I wrote an earlier Update (Vol. 5, No. 3, 1996) on the subject of divine call to the ministry. I can't seem to get a grow­ing concern for pastoral integrity out of my mind. My exposure to the church across North America has underscored this concern. Furthermore, my relation­ship with truly God-called men strength­ens the impression that holy servants of God are an awesome weapon in God's hands.

The failure of the church in regard to the life and doctrine of her ministers is perhaps her greatest failure in the twen­tieth century. We have built better schools but trained less qualified men. We have granted more degrees but pro­duced fewer and fewer genuinely holy ministers. Men have studied books and taken courses but have not been given the Spirit to comprehend the most basic truths of the Gospel. We must have holy, God-taught ministers or reformation and revival are unlikely.

Generally, sheep will only be effec­tively led by God-called and God-equipped men. True reformation can be seriously undertaken only by such men.

Contemporary revival praying is meaningless, in most instances, precisely because church leadership is not in line with the revealed Word of God on the important matters of life and doctrine.

Further, my own private counsel with several brethren who have been severely misled by their ministers, has convinced me all the more that there are far more false teachers in the church than any of us imagines. I hope I am wrong in this but I fear otherwise.

What Can We Do?🔗

The apostle Paul writes to a young minister of the gospel, "Watch your life and your doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers" (1 Timothy 4:16, NIV). A pastor who would stand in evil times must give careful attention to two principle things — his life and his doctrine. This he must devote himself to night and day, without letting up for a millisecond. Only in this earnest en­deavor will he save his own soul. Only in this will he be useful to the saving of those he serves.

The Christian ministry was never in­tended to be a safe place. The images of Scripture, especially regarding the work of the ministry, are — images of battle, struggle, sacrifice, discipline, endurance, faithfulness and tears. The call to pastor the church of God is a call to give up one's life in the service of others. Listen to Paul's counsel to a young servant: "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).

This charge is one which commissions a man to labor, never tinker! Souls are at stake, that of the minister and those of his hearers. Let those faint of heart do something else. Indeed, if you can do anything else do it but don't, for God's sake, enter, or remain in, the Gospel min­istry. If God has not sent you, resign your post!

And if this were not daunting enough to dissuade even the stout-hearted, James, himself a pastor, writes, "Let not many of you become teachers, my breth­ren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment" (James 3:1).1

This business of shepherding the flock is eternally serious. Giftedness in public speech is not the sine qua non of pastoral ministry. Charisma and charm are not prerequisites. Polish and studied success will not suffice. You must, above all else, be a man who is supremely exercised over your own soul and every aspect of your doctrine. How will you live? What will you teach? These are the first things. In a very real sense, these two are every­thing!

The Measure of Ministry🔗

Paul exhorts Timothy to "watch," to "pay close attention," and to "take heed" to his own life. Literally, he says, "keep a very strict eye on yourself." You will watch many things that happen in your comings and goings. You will attend many meetings and observe many dif­ferent people facing many different problems and needs, but above all else, you must attend to yourself.

Weymouth's New Testament transla­tion captures the sense of this warning by saying: "Take pains with yourself and your teaching."

Holy living and sound doctrine are inextricably bound together. As one com­mentary sums up: "Moral and doctrinal rectitude are inseparable twins of the Christian life.2  Indeed, unholy living and unsound doctrine are also fre­quently found together. It is an observ­able fact that sensuality and doctrinal error often go hand in hand. In this vein Peter writes, regarding false teachers:

For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely es­cape from the ones who lie in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.

2 Peter 2:18-20

It must be understood, in this relativ­istic age where we work so hard at dam­age control when a minister falls, that the pastor is especially prone to self-decep­tion. Jeremiah 17:9 says "the heart is more deceitful than all else and is des­perately sick; who can understand it?" The pastor is one who must speak out against sin, but as revealed in recent public scandals, the very men who fell were often the same men who spoke out forthrightly against the sins they now confess. Richard Baxter, in the classic The Reformed Pastor, warned ministers re­garding this when he said, "Take heed to yourselves, lest you live in those sins which you preach against in others, and lest you be guilty of that which daily you condemn." Self-deception has destroyed many leaders in the church. Unless you understand it and daily face up to its dangers, it will destroy you too.

"Watch Your Life"🔗

Quinton Hogg, who founded the Lon­don Polytechnic Institute, devoted a great fortune to the enterprise. He was once asked how much it cost him to build up such a great institution, to which he replied, "Not very much, sim­ply one man's life blood." That is exactly what the ministry will cost any man who takes it seriously. This is the only way we can understand the kind of life that was behind the expression, "So death works in us, but life in you" (2 Corinthians 4:12).

We who affirm the authority of the Scripture must take seriously the warn­ings of the Word of God. The focus of the minister's most earnest efforts must be upon his own life. What am I when no one else is watching? How am I at­tending to the duties laid upon me by my ministry? How am I using my gift? Am I profiting, in my own soul, from my own ministry?

This kind of thinking is frequently ex­pressed in the New Testament. Paul ex­horted the elders of the church in Ephesus by saying much the same: "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers" (Acts 20:28).

Right conduct is not optional. It runs like a thread throughout the pastoral letters. This fourth chapter of 1Timothy is, in fact, filled with this idea. Paul counsels, "Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness" (v. 7). He adds, "In speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of (to) those who believe" (v. 12).

Your life is one continual conditioning program. You must work out your salvation every day.


My friend, Dr. David Wells, professor of theology at Gordon-Conwell Theo­logical Seminary, has written regarding the ministry in these times:

...the intrusion of the market ethos into the life of the church is having a profound effect on the way that the ministry is understood and prac­ticed. During the last fifty years the ministry has become increasingly professionalized. Indeed, it is not coincidental that during this time, when the social status of ministers has declined, the need for them to see themselves as professionals has increased. By professionalization, I simply mean that ministers are be­ing driven to understand themselves as specialists, those who have a spe­cial kind of knowledge, the same way lawyers and physicians and chemists do. In these other profes­sions, specialized knowledge is used in pursuit of acquisition and aspira­tion. That is to say, professionals typically have careers, projectories of accomplishment for which plan­ning and maneuvering are indis­pensable. Where this enters the Church ... an ethos results which I believe is extremely harmful to the real interests of the Church ... minis­ters begin to nourish and pursue private careers ... older virtues that were once thought to be essential are replaced by some new virtues. The importance of theology is eclipsed by the clamor for management skills, biblical preaching by enter­taining story-telling, godly charac­ter by engaging personality, and the work of the ministry by the art of sustaining a career.3

If the minister would fulfill his charge he must watch against professionalism. It is proper that his work be viewed as a profession, if by this it is understood in terms of becoming properly qualified for the position. If the minister ever begins to conceive of himself as a professional in the way that our culture thinks of pro­fessionals, then he is already in serious trouble. The office does not sanctify the person simply because the church has called the man. The man sanctifies the office by his holy life, or he discredits it and brings disgrace upon himself and the church. The minister needs to ask himself: Did I enter the ministry because I could do nothing else? Do I remain in it because God put me here, or has it become "the only thing I can do" now that I've done it for so long?


If the minister would avoid the pitfalls of moral failure he must watch his life with regard to sloth. The Word of God is replete with warnings that the minister should brace himself, girding up the loins of his own mind, and run the race of faith with patience. It is interesting that the Greek lexicon says the adjective for "easy" originally meant to "take things easy" and then later "to do wrong things or to play the rogue." The transi­tion from ease to evil is always possible, if not very likely. The ministry offers a man many opportunities to recline, to take it easy. If the minister does this, it will not be long until he is finished in private. Moral or other failure will often expose private careless ways.


Another major area to watch in minis­try is pride. Professor James Denny wrote years ago, "No man can bear wit­ness to Christ and to himself at the same time. No man can give the impression that he himself is clever and that Christ is mighty to save."

In the present age the minister has of­ten fallen into the trap of telling himself, and everyone else, that his greatest need is to love himself more faithfully. This elusive self-esteem is said to be what we all lack in sufficient quantity. Yet the only mention in the New Testament of "self-love" is in instruction given to a pastor regarding what to be aware of as an evil characteristic of the present age (2 Timothy 3:2). Alexander Whyte understood this danger and warned fellow ministers regarding it when he wrote:

Self-love is that master-passion in every human heart. Let us give self-love the first place in the inventory and catalogue of our passions, be­cause it has the largest place in all our hearts and lives... It is out of self-love that all our other evil passions spring. The whole fall and ruin and misery of our present human nature lies in this, that in every human be­ing self-love has taken, in addition to its own place, the place of the love of God and the love of man also. We naturally now love nothing and no one but ourselves. And as long as self-love is in the ascendant in our hearts, all the passions that are awakened in us by our self-love will be selfish with its selfishness, inhu­man with its inhumanity, and un­godly with its ungodliness. And it is to kill and extirpate our so pas­sionate self-love that is the end and aim of all God's dealings with us in this world...4

Self-examination is a solemn task that every believer must engage in. The min­ister must make this a very high prior­ity if he would root out the rising pride that meets him at every turn in the day. Augustine said this is the deadliest sin of all. To be close to the eternal things of God is dangerous. Lucifer was close to the throne and the plans of God. He knew the Master's will. He was called into service with all of its privileges. And one king in Israel after another fell through pride of place and accomplish­ment. Pastors often fall when they have seemed to accomplish so very much.

It is important to see the link once again between defective life and defective doc­trine. Paul attacked the Judaizers in his Galatian epistle as "those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh" (6:12). Apparently this was a group that desired to put on an outward show of piety and spirituality so that they would be ad­mired and appreciated. John MacArthur has expressed the dangers inherent in this for leaders. He writes: "When a spiri­tual leader begins to view himself as in­vincible, when he is not accountable to anyone, and when his personality is so intimidating that no one dares to rebuke him, he is a candidate for a fall (cf. Proverbs 16:18). Although all Christians struggle with pride, leaders face far stronger temptation in this area."5


There is the added danger of the snare of substitutes that must be watched in the life of a pastor. Our time is one of "instant this" and "instant that." There are, simply put, no instant ministries and no instant men of God.

Ralph Turnbull suggested that we may "preach and teach so as to give the im­pression that we are more concerned with a humanism in religion instead of a divine revelation." He quotes from the Institutes of the Christian Religion where Calvin says, "It is evident that man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he has previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contem­plation to look into himself." Turnbull concludes that "the humanism of the six­teenth century was a wise corrective in that age, but much of the humanism of today is simply the deification and wor­ship of man instead of God."6

Our generation makes heroes of pas­tors because their churches are large, or their reputation for success widely known. Our seminaries increasingly train men to be mighty in church growth techniques, entrepreneurial skills, and marketing strategies. Yet we have be­come virtual midgets in the realm of godly character as one leader after an­other falls into moral compromise. Surely something is wrong in this ap­proach.

John Bunyan was said to have had more divinity and grace in his life than any preacher of his time. He felt himself a fool at times. (So much for self-esteem!) He labored to preach, thinking that he was an unworthy wretch. Of him John Burton wrote:

To the end they never made Bunyan a Doctor of Divinity nor anything else of that honorable sort. But three degrees had already been granted to him that neither Cambridge nor Oxford could either give or with­hold. "To wit, union with Christ; the anointing of the Spirit; and much experience of temptation." All of which go to fit a man for that mighty work of preaching the Gospel of Christ, much more than all the Uni­versity learning that can ever be had.7

James Fraser of Brea in Scotland wrote: "The preacher must have a sense of his charge; the danger of immortal souls deeply imprinted on his heart. He that hath but slight impressions of his charge will never faithfully perform itJJ."868.

Penitential Preaching🔗

What is needed, especially today, is what the older divines called "peniten­tial preaching." We must learn to search the hearts of our hearers properly. This is demanding work, often abused by legalists and ignored by antinomians. Pu­ritan Thomas Boston writes that minis­ters need "to terrify the godly in their too easy and too presuming way with God and themselves ... preaching (that is) life-searching, conscience-searching, heart-searching."

If you are a minister, is the danger of immortal souls stamped profoundly upon your heart? Are you really labor­ing to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12)? In this path of careful watchfulness the true minis­ter will be enabled to guard his own life as he should.

Encourage True Ministers🔗

If you are not a pastor, would you pray that God would give to your elder(s) this kind of careful attention to their own lives? Realize that walking with God is more important than anything else a shepherd does. Humbly intercede for pastors that they will watch their lives closely.

Recognize that no one is under pres­sure to conform to the spirit of this present age quite like a minister of the gospel. Those men who will live godly lives in the ministry are under severest attack. Your prayers for them mean more than you know. They don't need blind allegiance or false support but they do need real, genuine encouragement in these difficult days. May God use you in this work of reformation.

Paul counsels the pastor to literally "keep watch on your teaching and that of others as well." As Weymouth says, "take pains ... with your teaching." True doctrine and sound teaching are the foundation for sound living, both spiri­tually and morally. Our ethical behav­ior will reveal our proper use of what we know, and our love of the truth.

Ours is an age of shallow thinking. What Harry Blamires referred to as "The Christian Mind" is virtually lost to us in the West. John MacArthur writes: "I am convinced that much of the scandal in media religion is an inevitable result of shallow theology. When people place emotion and experience ahead of bibli­cal truth, they are destined to fail."9

Paul counsels a leader of the church to "speak things which are fitting for sound doctrine" (Titus 2:1). Apparently sound doctrine is the foundation for blameless living and godliness. People can't live right when they do not under­stand and believe right. Paul's letters reflect this pattern of thought consis­tently. Ephesians is three chapters of doctrine, followed by three chapters of very practical instruction on godly liv­ing. The same is true of Romans, where eleven chapters of doctrine, and some of it profound and difficult to grasp, are followed by the very practical ethical portions of Romans 12-16. This is the basis of Paul's opening word in Romans 12:1 where he says, "I plead with you therefore..." (Weymouth). He does not plead, like so many today, on an emo­tionally-driven, non-doctrinal basis. He lays out line after line of doctrine and then he pleads for godliness and ethical consistency.

A. W. Tozer expressed this connection well when he wrote, "Moral power has always accompanied definitive beliefs. Great saints have always been dogmatic. We need right now a return to a gentle dogmatism that smiles while it stands stubborn and firm on the Word of God that liveth and abideth forever."

The careful pastor will not labor to uncover new truths, but rather will study the old paths, seeking out ways to make the truths of Scripture known and loved by his flock. He will not be so con­cerned for what people think of his doc­trine, but rather with the question: "Is it true?" And, further, "How can I glorify God in preaching this truth humbly and faithfully?"

His themes will be God, man, sin, Christ, faith, repentance, redemption, and the realities of heaven and hell. He will not strive for novelty. The studied concern for relevance, so pursued by the marketing strategist, will not be his con­cern if he is determined to "speak the truth in love."

With the apostolic example before him he will seek to be always "serving the Lord with all humility and with tears ... not shrink(ing) from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house" (Acts 20:19-20). He will expe­rience the cleansing of his conscience as he is faithful to the truth in all things. With Paul he will be enabled to say, "I testify ... that I am innocent of the blood of all men" (Acts 20:26) precisely because with Paul he can say, "For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God" (Acts 20:27). In all of this he will commend his hearers to "God and to the word of his grace" (Acts 20:32).

Tozer was out of step with the spirit of the times when he wrote on another occasion, "When the deliverers come — reformers, revivalists, prophets — they will be men of God and men of courage. They will have God on their side because they will be careful to stay on God's side. They will be co-workers with Christ and instruments in the hand of the Holy Ghost." Why? Because they will speak the truth of the sacred Scripture. They will believe, like the reformers and awakeners of other eras, that Scripture is fully sufficient for all matters of faith and practice. They will not search for new and exciting discoveries to draw the thrill-seeking crowds. Rather they will patiently, prayerfully, painstakingly dig out the old mines of the pure Biblical gold found in the text of Scripture.

Men who watch their doctrine care­fully will use the Scripture as their mes­sage book. But they will also believe that in this book there is an apostolic method as well. They do not believe that they are left to deliver a message as they please. They have seen that we have divine pat­terns for doing Christ's work that we dare not ignore.

The modern church seems so assured of itself. We reason, quite reductionis­tically, that we have a simple gospel and how we communicate it is now up to us and our ideas. A study of 1Corinthians 1-2 should destroy such a notion perma­nently if we would give ourselves to it.

How can a man who has preached for twenty, thirty, even forty years, be guilty of great sin after all that time in minis­try? Or how can a pastor preach the Bible and, sometimes off and on for the whole course of his life, be in and out of adul­tery, stealing, power plays for control of the flock, or outright lying? The only answer is that his own grasp of the truth of the gospel is seriously defective and his life is in such a state of self-decep­tion that he has long ago put his con­science to rest with a misuse of what truth he does know.

It must be remembered that doctrinal error is usually not apparent to the av­erage listener. What is wrong is usually not easily discerned. It is often a matter of emphasis, or of misplaced zeal, for that which isn't germane to the gospel. This is why Paul was determined to "know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). As one who travels about from place to place I continually listen for the gospel. I am increasingly surprised when I hear it plainly and powerfully preached in North America. We seem preoccupied with everything but the cross and the crucified One.

False teachers, as we have already noted, are those who "desire to make a good showing in the flesh" (Galatians 6:12). When we begin to sample the "wants" and "needs" of a target audience and then seek to preach to them what they seem interested in, are we not close to surrendering sound doctrine for appeal­ing stories and anecdotes that keep hu­man interest? If our message has lost its "offensive" edge has it not also lost its "power" according to 1 Corinthians 1:18?

This matter of life and godliness was reduced to a list of do's and don'ts in an earlier era. This bred legalism, an exter­nal righteousness that did not flow from the heart. Because of this we developed a new generation that measures every­thing, including spirituality, by exter­nals. We have no convenient way to measure true spirituality so we use the external standards of who you know, where you've been, how large your min­istry is, and how many people you have reached. As long as you stay relatively clear of blatant moral scandal you are OK. But in the process such produces shallow lives with no spiritual roots. The rampant moral breakdown in the min­istry in our time merely exposes the root system of our generation of doctrinal shallowness. If we would see recovery from the contemporary moral scandal in the church we must see a corollary re­covery of sound doctrine.

In conclusion let us observe that godly character and sound doctrine are abso­lutely essential if we would be person­ally kept from falling. Everything else is optional — proper degrees, adequate knowledge of contemporary trends, abil­ity to market the message and build a large church, respect from our peers — all are irrelevant in the face of this coun­sel.

Well does Charles Bridges write in his classic study, The Christian Minister:

Upon the whole, therefore, we ob­serve the weighty influence of per­sonal character upon our ministra­tions. "Simplicity and godly sincer­ity," disinterestedness, humility, and general integrity of profession — are an "epistle known and read of all men." Indeed character is power. The lack of it must therefore blast our success, by bringing the genu­ineness of our own religion, and the practical efficacy of the Gospel, un­der suspicion. Apart also from the natural effect of our public consis­tency, there is also a secret but pen­etrating influence diffused by the natural exercise of our principles. Who will deny, that — had he been a more spiritual Christian — he would probably have been a more useful ministerOO?10

The Goal of Pastoral Ministry🔗

Paul states that the ultimate goal of pastoral ministry will bring about two results. First, the faithful pastor will "save (himself)." Second, he will "save (his) hearers." These words are both troubling and important. If we would properly develop pastoral ministry that overcomes the modern epidemic of moral scandal we must seek to under­stand these two results. Paul uses these to motivate proper focus for the minis­try. So must we.

First, says the apostle, by watching both life and doctrine, Timothy (and thus the pastor by inference) will "save himself." This language surprises us at first glance. We balk, as evangelicals, saying, "This sure seems like Paul is sug­gesting that a man contributes, through his own efforts, to his salvation." We in­stinctively react against this, wishing to defend faith from any contribution of human works in making a person right before God. The reason we quickly react this way is because we have misunder­stood and misused both the doctrine of grace and the doctrine of perseverance. Let me explain.

The issue in the text before us is not the security of the true believer. That is addressed in many portions of the New Testament: e.g., John 5:24; 6:35-40; 6:47; 10:27-30; 17:11-12, 15; Romans 8:1; 8:35-39; Jude 24-25. What is in view in this text is the absolute necessity for those who do believe to persevere in true faith. Simply put, all who profess the Chris­tian faith are not the same as all those who savingly believe. Many who profess to believe will fall away. And many who appear to believe, and are themselves convinced that they do believe, will not be saved because their faith is not the faith of true believers.

It was with this in mind that John spoke in the Fourth Gospel, 2:23-25, of those who had believed in Jesus (the word used is the normal word for true faith in the Gospel) but Jesus did not believe in them. Why? John answers, "because he knew all men."

What theologians have historically asserted is not that any faith saves, al­beit passionate, emotionally earnest, faith. What saves, or unites us to Christ, is the gift of saving faith. Saving faith con­sists of several constituent elements which include information, intellectual assent and personal trust. This faith truly lays hold of Christ, both His person and His work. Those who are given this gift by the Holy Spirit are kept by God's power through faith and nothing sepa­rates them from His love. "This doctrine does not ultimately rest on our innate ability to persevere, but rather upon God's commitment to keep us. But He keeps us in faith, believing and cleaving to Christ" (Philippians 1:6).

Jesus says, "If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine" (John 8:31). Paul says, "He has now rec­onciled you in his fleshly body through death, in order to present you before him holy and blameless and beyond re­proach — if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard" (Colossians 1:22-23). And the previously quoted text in Philippians contains the same idea: " out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (2:12-13).

Nothing could be plainer in the New Testament than this — we do not save ourselves! Yet, there is an obvious sense in which everyone genuinely saved has the Spirit working within, leading them to believe, repent and continually lay hold of Christ. If we would "save our­selves" in this sense we must continue in the faith. The if of these texts is a conditional statement. It must be taken seriously by the discerning reader. It is a way of saying, as the rules of grammar indicate, that if you do not continue you will not be saved.

Now consider what this theological excursus has to do with our present con­cern. Says respected New Testament scholar Donald Guthrie, "The danger of neglecting one's own salvation is greater in the Christian minister than in others, and even the apostle Paul himself could fear lest he became a castaway after preaching to others (1Corinthians 9:27). Calvin suggestively comments that although salvation is God's gift alone, yet human ministry is needed, as is here implied (emphasis mine)."11

William Hendriksen states the point of this focus well when he adds:

To be sure, a man is saved by grace, through faith; not by works (Titus 3:4; cf. Ephesians 2:6-8); yet, since holy liv­ing and sound teaching are a fruit of faith, Paul is able to say that "by doing this" Timothy will save him­self and his hearers. It is along the path of holy living and diligence in teaching and in watching over the life and teaching of others, that sal­vation (both present and future; see on 1 Timothy 1:15) is obtained. Besides, God promises a special reward to his faithful ministers, yes, to all his faith­ful witnesses (Daniel 12:3; Matthew 13:43; James 5:20); and threatens with se­vere punishment the unfaithful ones (Ezekiel 33:7, 8).12

It is therefore, in this same sense, that the minister can be said, in the second place, to "save his hearers." As long as we soften the thrust of a text like this, making it say something much less, I fear we will miss the vital element of what is put before the pastor.

"It is not that Timothy's endurance would merit salvation but that a stamina that produced holiness and doctrinal orthodoxy gave incontrovertible evidence of heading for salvation"13(emphasis mine) says one commentary. This obedient per­severing faith and life of the faithful min­ister will be an important factor in the faithful and godly endurance of those who hear him. Simply put, "The preacher's model of perseverance builds the same trait in his flock. The stumbles and fumbles of a wandering spiritual leader will infect a congregation with a variety of spiritual sicknesses."

We should not, in reality, find this counsel surprising if we know the Pas­toral Epistles. The work of saving the church is through the preaching of the gospel. The means of salvation are a nec­essary part of God's process of securing by grace a people He will take home to heaven. The unfaithfulness and negli­gence of the pastor will be fatal to the flock. We know this is so. But what is also so, and needs desperately to be recov­ered in this day, is that the pastor's faith­fulness will have a corresponding con­tribution to the members' salvation. I wonder how committees would go about pursuing a new pastor if they re­ally believed this Biblical truth.

So we conclude, God alone saves — and not the least particle of this saving grace is merited or can be shared by man the sinner — yet God has ordained the means of salvation as well as the end. He will save through the preaching of the gospel, and preachers who watch their lives and their doctrine closely will themselves be saved. They will also be the means of salvation for others. Be­liever, you must choose well in regard to those who will feed your soul. More is at stake than you can even imagine. How much does your eternal wellbe­ing really mean to you? Pastors, you must watch your life and doctrine closely or you will surely fall, and your fall may well destroy both you and many of your hearers. The stakes are that high!


  1. ^ Leaving Soldier Field from a recent Prom­ise Keepers event that I attended I was struck by many impressions of what I had seen and heard. Perhaps the most profound feeling of all was the impression upon my own mind made by this text. I could find no excuse for the way speakers had mishandled serious and essential doctrinal matters in Scripture. All the charity in the world could not excuse the serious distortion of the Gos­pel of Christ I had seen and heard, yet in­wardly I realized afresh how few seemed to care.
  2. ^ Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, The New American Commentary: 1, 2 Timothy and Titus (Nashville, Tennessee, 1992), 141. 
  3. ^ David F. Wells, The Bleeding of the Evangeli­cal Church (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth, 1995), 5-6.
  4. ^ Ralph G. Turnbull, A Minister's Obstacles (Grand Rapids, Michigan:Baker Book House, 1972 reprint), 41.
  5. ^ John MacArthur, "Why Is There So Much Sin Among Leaders in the Church?" In Grace to You publication, n.d., 10.
  6. ^ Ralph G. Turnbull, 63.
  7. ^ Ibid., 68
  8. ^ Ibid.,
  9. ^ John F. MacArthur, Jr., "Manured Shepherds and Clean Sheep." Masterpiece, n.d., 3.
  10. ^ Charles Bridges, The Christian Minister (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth, 1976 reprint of 1830 edition), 164-65.
  11. ^ Donald Guthrie, Tyndale NTC: The Pastoral Epistles (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1957), 99.
  12. ^ William Hendriksen, New Testament Com­mentary: 1, 2 Timothy and Titus (Grand Rap­ids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1957), 160.
  13. ^ Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, The New American Commentary, 1, 2 Timothy and Titus (Nashville, Tennessee, 1992), 141.  

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