And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. –1 Corinthians 2:1-2- *
I was recently installed as pastor of Reformed Presbyterian Church (PCA) of Beaumont, TX. I have been a pastor for a number of years (first as a Southern Baptist, then in the ARP, and now in the PCA), and have always known that there is a weight and gravity to being a minister of the gospel.
After all, if the Triune God of the Bible is who the Bible says He is, and sin is what Scripture says it is, and Jesus has done what the Bible says–then, there is an absolute heaviness to the reality that we are dealing with the eternal souls of men and women and boys and girls. I have always known this–sometimes it is more at the fore and at others more toward the background. But I have always known it.
However, it weighs heavy upon my mind now because of a thoughtful and reflective, handwritten card from an 11-year old young lady. It reads:
Dear Pastor Nick,
My family and I appreciate you coming from North Carolina to preach the gospel to us and all the church. I have loved all your messages. All of them have touched my heart and proved me to be a sinner. I love how you go so deep in your sermons and how you show how each one of the subjects are so important. I am going to love you being my pastor.
Your sister in Christ,
Now is time for confession. This note came down upon me with a crushing weight–tears of thankfulness for this thoughtful young lady, and tears of sobriety and inadequacy. The reality hit that, often, my preaching has fallen into the trap of religious exercise done by taking the name of God on my lips without my heart being near, and resting in my knowledge and abilities. I am thankful to the Holy Spirit that He still works to see that the Word does not return void.
However, this note also hit on the reality that the sheep are listening. This little lamb of Jesus is listening to hear the voice of the Shepherd in the Word preached. It is not going to be my wittiness, theological acumen, winsomeness, or anything else in me that is going to bring home the great need of Jesus to the dear people of whom I have been installed as pastor.
What is most vital is that God works through His Word among them. It is that the sermons that I bring are not my own thoughts or inclinations or hobbyhorses; I am to pray and search and pray and mine the depths of God’s riches in Christ Jesus as set out in His Word, and deliver those.
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? (2 Corinthians 2:14-16 underline added for emphasis.)
Certainly not me; of this, I am well aware.
* Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible® (NASB), Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. http://www.Lockman.org