God has spoken. It is written. He calls Ministers of the Word. They are to be God fearers not people pleasers. Christian preaching is part of the process of revelation. God in Christ has been revealed in history and written in Scripture. It must be spoken by God’s servants. Divine truth made clear by human speech. Not everyone is called to preach. Those who are not gifted by God’s Spirit will not advance the truth. Of course every Christian has a responsibility to share the Gospel, but ‘every member ministry’ should not prevent ordained leaders, as they will always be necessary for the Church and its mission. Preaching must be productive. It’s a demanding ministry. It demands love and obedience to God, love for people, hard work and relating to the real world in which we live.
In Christ’s Name and Service.
There is an assumption in the Reformed tradition that the focus is just on preaching. However, Calvin’s view was that ministry of the Word extended beyond preaching. Look at the model presented by Jesus in the Gospels. He was a public teacher, preaching to crowds. He also privately taught His disciples. There are also occasions when He ministers the Word to an individual. Preaching to a congregation is only one facet of ministry of the Word. Paul was an itinerant preacher. His letter writing is ministry of the Word.
So whether in public from the pulpit, or public reading of Scripture, or private over a coffee table, whether it is done in email, letter, conversation or even a blog – it’s ministry of the Word. Each and every time it should help people see their position before the Lord in the light of His revelation from the Bible.
Jesus said “I am the Light of the world” (Jn.8:12). Interesting that upon His death on the cross, darkness covered the earth for the light had gone out. Jesus was a descendant of David. In 2 Samuel 21:17 we read this about him: “You are not to go into battle again! Why should we risk snuffing out the light of Israel!” I appreciate this consistency and truth.
Those who hold to an inclusive gospel view the matter as:-
1. Replacement – Christianity is the only true religion and replaces other faiths.
2. Fulfilment – Christianity is the fulfilment of all other religions.
3. Mutuality – All faiths are valid ways to the Truth.
4. Acceptance – Important to unite religions but still recognise that there are irreconcilable differences with Christianity.
These theologies attempt to find middle ground between other ideologies and the Christian Faith.
Those who hold to an exclusive gospel believe that there is no salvation outside of Christianity and is the dominant teaching of the New Testament. If we simply let God’s Word speak for itself surely we have the answer?
The fundamental doctrinal test of a professing Christian is believing in the true person of Christ. Anyone who denies the deity of Jesus is therefore not a Christian and an enemy of the truth. Jesus is the human face of God. Through His ministry, suffering, death and resurrection does His identity become apparent.
Some argue that Jesus only talked about the love of God yet almost every parable He told was about judgement. Jesus was not a universalist (that every one will finally receive mercy and enter heaven). He spoke about the difficulty of finding the narrow way that leads to life. Paul was not a universalist. He talks about those who are being saved compared to those who are perishing. Unbelievers are called “children of wrath”.
The Good Lord doesn’t condemn anyone to hell. We condemn ourselves. Hell is the reminder of our need for holiness as well as forgiveness. Hell does not yet exist and is not inhabited. There’s a future dispensation here as it is being made ready for after the final judgement. Hell was never intended for humans, but for the devil and his demons. These beings will one day be imprisoned here for eternity. Having once known heaven and rejected it, not even the blood of Jesus can do anything for them.
The Bible tells us that God is righteousness. Therefore, those who reject God, He will reject (effectively giving them what they asked for!) Hell is fair. Thank God, for through Christ we are given the chance to escape its horror and agony.
Physical sickness came from Adam's sin and the curse given to mankind. Miraculous healing occurs throughout the Bible. Many were healed during Jesus' earthly ministry. When people were healed Jesus frequently tells them their faith has saved them. Healing is part of the incarnation and of the atonement for Christ took our infirmities and carried away our diseases. He has saved us from the curse by taking the cross. Healing is part of the New Covenant age in which we live. It is given as a sign to authenticate the Gospel, it demonstrates God's great mercy. Our ultimate healing though will only come upon Christ's return when the old order will pass away and there will be no more sickness, pain and tears.