Kruiz edited
Pastors Are a Gift
Friday of Lent 3
9 March 2018
Recently, a member of my congregation approached me to thank me for my ministry to her and her family. Pastors love these words of encouragement. Sometimes people presume that the office of the ministry is some kind of later imposition upon the pristine primitive church; that pastors are wholly useless, instead of holy useful. However, the office of the ministry is not the imposition of an office created by proud men and imposed upon the New Testament church's looser form of organization. Often Americans ignore or misread the New Testament's firm establishment of a called ministry, because the myth of a "Kumbaya" church organization blinds them to the decent order of the ministry established by Christ. Americans presume that the New Testament had lay-led organizations. For example, the so-called "house church" movement presumes this. The 0ffice of the ministry is just a human arrangement in this scheme.
 
The ministry is an office that God Himself established and sustained by His power. So important was God's authorship of the office of the public ministry that it appears that the ministry necessarily flows from God's nature, as though God could not help but offer Himself to humans through His properly called teachers. God has engaged men directly in the ministry of teaching. Originally, God did not use intermediaries to proclaim His Word. Adam and Eve heard His preached Word directly from God their Father. However, because of the fall into sin, God withdrew from the direct communication of His will to men. God saw fit to send to His church teachers, who stood in a long line of teachers, including the Triune God Himself.
 
The august company of preachers comforts the Christian pastor when he realizes that the gospel that God had preached directly and immediately to Adam and Eve is the same gospel that Melchizedek, Christ, and all the prophets and apostles had preached. Because it is the same divine gospel, it thus has the same results and effects as did the gospel preached by God Himself and by His inspired messengers. Consider the power of God (Rm 1:16) to establish the preaching of the ministry of the church. He does this with the power of the Word and also through the ministers who deliver that Word. God is the author of the Word and ministry. God gives us pastors as a gift.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   John Gerhard
"The principle efficient cause of the ecclesiastical ministry is the one and only true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is confirmed: By express oracles of Scripture (Ps 68:11; 2Co 5:18). By the abundant promises of God, who desires to give pastors to His church and to preserve the ministry of teaching (Is 41:27; Jer 3:15; 23:4; Joel 2:23). By the unique praises from God, which show that the constitution and conservation of the ecclesiastical ministry belongs to Him (Mt 9:38; Mt 13:27; 20:1; 21:33; Lk 13:8; Jn 15:1; 1Co 3:9). There is the petitioning of the Lord of the harvest praying to Him for pastors (Mt 9:38). There Christ exhorts us that we might ask of the Lord of the harvest to send workers into His vineyard. In the history of the Acts of the Apostles, we read the church prayed when it began electing pastors. And so therefore they were petitioning for pastors from God because He Himself was the one who sent His own ministers to His church.
 
"By the practices to which Scripture testifies: God Himself not only discharged the office of teaching in His own person, when in the state of purity He promulgated the law that Adam and Eve should not eat of the fruit of the tree in the garden and after the Fall set forth from the hidden depth of His divine counsel the blessing that would arise from the seed of the woman, but He also commended the office of teaching to others, such as to Adam and all the other patriarchs of His church in which He included almost all their families. Later He also gave teachers by sending Moses and the prophets and by constituting the levitical priesthood through which the divine ecclesiastical ministry was instituted and preserved in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, the Son of God Himself in his assumed human nature elected apostles to discharge this office. After instructing them, with sufficient gifts He sent them to preach the gospel to the whole world and after returning to the right hand of His Father He gave to the church pastors and teachers for the completion of the saints and the work of the ministry for the building up of His mystical body (Eph 4:11-12)." 

 John Gerhard, Theological Topics,
26:31-32
1 Timothy 3:1-13

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
 
Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.
 
Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things.
 
Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
(ESV)
Prayer
Dear Lord Jesus Christ, help me to pray for my pastor. Lead me to listen to him as Your living voice. Keep him faithful to Your Word, that he might proclaim only what You have given to Your church. Amen.
 
For the family of Ralph Bode, who was taken from this valley of sorrow to his home in heaven, that those who mourn his passing would be encouraged by the promise of the resurrection and the life of the world to come

For Christian seminaries where men are properly prepared to be called into the office of preaching the gospel, that Word of the Lord would grow
 
For veterans and their families, that they would be upheld in their support of God and country
 
For all those who are seeking a church, that the Lord would lead them to a community where the pastors still preach the eternal gospel
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Isenheim Altarpiece (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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