DUTIES OF GOSPEL PREACHERS
Roy J. Hearn
Duty is that which is required by one's station or occupation,
or what one is bound by moral obligation to do. A preacher is a
herald or proclaimer of the divine word.
Hence, one who chooses to be a preacher is bound to certain
obligations that should challenge his most serious attention. These
requirements are principally set forth in the books of Timothy and
Titus, and should be read frequently by all preachers. H. Leo Boles
was accustomed to reading these books almost every week.
1. Hold the faith and a good conscience
(1 Tim. 1:19). The preacher must trust God implicitly, looking to
him for help under all circumstances. He is to seek to know what is
right, then do what he believes to be right. Otherwise, he may be
condemned by Jehovah (1 John 3:20).
2. Be diligent in preparation (1 Tim.
4:13-15). The preacher is obligated to study the whole Bible. He is
to give all diligence that he may stand approved of God (2 Tim.
2:15). Paul instructs that he give himself wholly to his study and
work. He should be as well informed as possible in all things that
will enable him to do his work well, and not be satisfied with a
mere smattering, or merely "getting up a sermon."
3. Take heed to himself concerning his life and
teaching (1 Tim. 4:16). Preachers are prone to seek to
correct the faults of others, the church and the community. He
should never forget to turn the searchlight inwardly, lest after he
has preached to others he himself may be lost (2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Cor.
9:27). One should take care to preach the truth and practice it. A
proper example gets a better hearing.
4. Keep himself pure (1 Tim. 5:22; 2 Tim.
2:22). Be free from hasty and unjust actions. Exercise sound
judgment. Do not allow self to be used in unethical schemes. Avoid
youthful lusts. Avoid questionable places and conduct. Not only
should we avoid evil, but also hate evil (1 Thess. 5:21-22; Rom.
12:9). Let him also be pure from the blood of all men by declaring
the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:20,26,27).
5. Follow after righteousness (1 Tim.
6:11-12). This command is in connection with the warning against
love for money. Covetousness is idolatry (Cor. 3:5; Eph. 5:5). The
mercenary preacher cannot please God. In order to be righteous --
a condition acceptable to God -- one must flee covetousness. When
one preaches primarily for money he does not obey this command.
6. Hold the pattern of sound words (2 Tim.
1:13; Titus 2:7-8). Greatest care should be exercised in stating
truth in the language of inspired writers. The teaching of Christ
as given by the Holy Spirit must be upheld (John 16:13-15). The
truth should be positively unmixed with the philosophies of men.
Preachers must seek to please God (Rom. 15:3), not seek the
applause of men (Matt. 6:1-6).
7. Be sober in all things. Only those
influenced by truth have well-balanced minds and clear vision. Turn
not aside unto fables, neither strive about words to no profit (2
Tim. 2:14). Hold stedfastly to divine truth (2 Thess. 2:15).
8. Suffer hardships (2 Tim. 4:4).
Preachers should not be exalted in mind over their accomplishments.
Compare them with the sufferings and privations of Paul. He must
bear persecutions that come because of preaching the truth (2 Cor.
1. Protect the church from false teaching
(1 Tim. 1:3). Preachers should know the truth; they should know
what error is and how to expose it. H. Leo Boles often said, "One cannot preach the truth without exposing error." A
different doctrine is a perverted gospel and the anathema of God is
upon those who preach it and those overcome thereby (Gal. 1:6-9).
2. Preach the word (2 Tim. 4:1-2). This
is prefaced by a most solemn charge. The preacher must adhere
strictly to apostolic teaching (2 Tim. 2:2). Take care to teach all
the apostles taught and only that delivered through them by the
Spirit. The word of God is inexhaustible. Preachers should study
and expound the scriptures, give their lives to this -- one of the
greatest needs in the church today. Be not content with polishing
up sermons of sectarian preachers as too many are now doing. If the
preacher devotes himself to unfolding the Scriptures he will never
lack for sermon material.
3. Reprove, rebuke, exhort (2 Tim. 4:1-2).
Too long the trend has been to speak softly and tread lightly. Note
the force in the meaning of these words: 1) Reprove:
"convince, refute, confute, convict, bring to light,
expose, find fault with, correct, reprehend severely, chide,
admonish, to call to account, show one his fault, chasten, punish"
(Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon on elegcho). 2)
Rebuke: "To tax with fault, rate, chide, reprove, censure
severely, admonish or charge sharply" (Thayer on epitimao).
3) Exhort: "To incite by words or advice;
to advise or warn earnestly" (Webster). "Admonish" (Thayer on
Two-thirds of this command is negative. In Jeremiah 1:10 the
prophet was similarly ordered: "to root out, and to pull down,
and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant."
This is not to be abused, yet when strong measures are demanded the
preacher should not hesitate. Let there be strong denunciation of
error and sin, and strong entreaty for souls to turn from them.
4. Teach how to behave as Christians (1
Tim. 3:15). Not only should the conduct in the assembly and the
organization and work of the church be regulated, but proper
instructions from the Scriptures regarding godliness in every place
should be stressed. The Christian is a member of the church, a part
of the spiritual temple wherever he is, and should ever be mindful
of it and act accordingly.
5. Expose sin without partiality (Titus
1:13-16; 1 Tim. 5:20-21). God is no respecter of persons (Rom.
2:11). The preacher must be as impartial in his dealings. The
church should be purged of evil. The truth can never be hurt by
obeying it. We cannot honor God and wink at evil. The rich should
be warned as well as the poor (1 Tim. 6:16-19).
6. Organize churches (Titus 1:5). Where
needed, evangelists should be able to supply teaching and direction
to help local churches to be properly organized.
7. Teach and baptize (Acts 8:5-38). These
are prime duties of preachers. All New Testament preachers did so,
whether apostles or evangelists. Philip serves as a good example.
He preached Christ to the Samaritans. Men and women were baptized.
He preached Jesus to the Ethiopian and baptized him. Let not
preachers be content to merely hold a job, or build upon another's
foundation, but also go forth into needy fields, teach, baptize,
8. Warn against apostasy (1 Tim. 4:1-6).
To be a good minister of Christ, the preacher will warn against
digression and apostasy. It is presently urgent that all faithful
preachers wield the sword of the Spirit against the encroachments
of liberalism that now seek to permeate the church of the Lord.
Satan is alert to every opportunity to turn souls from truth. We
serve Satan's cause when we fail to warn against error.
9. Pray for those in authority (1 Tim.
2:1-3). The reason is that it pleases God, and the purpose that we
may lead tranquil lives. God still rules in the kingdom of men
(Daniel 4:32), and prayer is effective (James 5:16-18).
10. Preach under all conditions (2 Tim.
4:2). Do not seek the largest audiences, most comfortable places,
nor more favorable circumstances, but be ready to preach under all
conditions, whether bodily weakness, physical want, or opposition.
11. Bring to remembrance the ways of Paul
(1 Cor. 4:17). He followed Christ (1 Cor. 11:1); sought no personal
glory (1 Cor. 2:1-5); was honest (Acts 23:1); declared the whole
counsel of God (Acts 20:20,27); gave himself wholly (2 Cor.
A fearful responsibility rests upon those who choose to
preach. They should determine to know the truth and preach it at
all costs. Heavier judgment comes to those who would be teachers
from impure motives (James 3:1). The work of the preacher may be
summed up in Paul's charge: "Preach the word!"
1840 Tottys Bend Rd.
Duck River, TN 38454
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PREACHERS ARE TO BE SUPPORTED IN THEIR WORK
Garland M. Robinson
Yes, preachers are to be supported in their work. Preaching
the Gospel is their primary and principal function. Heaven's
directive is to "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of
season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and
doctrine" (2 Tim. 4:2). First century brethen did that. "Paul...and Barnabas continued...teaching and preaching the word of
the Lord, with many others also" (Acts 15:35). So many other
things (besides preaching) have been added on their shoulders that
is not really the work of an evangelist.
HOLDING UP THE PREACHER'S HANDS
Walter W. Pigg, Jr.
Gospel preachers are to be supported in many ways. Here
Gospel preachers should be supported by
ENCOURAGEMENT. Many suppose preaching is an easy task and
many jokes have been made about it. Any who do so ought to walk a
mile in a preacher's shoes. Follow him for a day. See the hundreds
of large and small tasks he takes care of that often no one knows
about and take for granted.
Many preachers receive very little encouragement in their
work and are often not appreciated for their love of the Truth and
devotion in proclaiming it. It's a lonely life in so many ways
because preachers are viewed as being from "another planet." Though
it's rarely said, but who wants to hang around with a preacher or
be his friend? That means you'd have to be on your best behavior
all the time. You'd have to watch your tongue and dress. But, isn't
that what Christians do anyway? Some have said "excuse me" when
they learned I was a preacher. My reply usually is, "I'm just a
man. God's the judge. You'll have to answer to Him. He knows how
you live every day."
I was told once, "you chose to be a preacher, you could
have done something else." By that they meant, you knew the
sacrifices and hardships that go with preaching. If you wanted a
higher income, health insurance, fringe/retirement benefits, job
promotions, a house of your own, then you could have chosen to do
that. Brethren, that's slapping a preacher in the face. He is not
to be penalized for loving the Truth and devoting his life in
proclaiming it. Preachers should and must be encouraged (Rom.
14:19; Acts 18:27; Phil. 2:1-4), not discouraged. We have far too
few good preachers already.
How many young men are preparing themselves to preach the
blessed Gospel? How many parents are encouraging their sons to do
so. Talk to most any teenage boy and ask him if he has a desire to
preach. They will tell you in a heartbeat, no way! Why is that? Is
it because they see the way preachers are treated and talked about
in the home and community? Is it because they realize the difficult
and thankless work they do? Is it because they see the life of
devotion and dedication required? Is it because they see how
preachers are "used" and when the first sign of trouble in the
congregation comes along they are blamed for it and sent packing?
Far too often, preachers are treated like papertowels, use them and
throw them away. Some say, why, he's just a preacher. That goes
with the job. He can easily uproot his children from school and
move on. Who cares anyway? He can leave tomorrow, but the rest of
us have to live in this community! Very, very often, he and his
family is never really accepted by either the church or the
community. Why, who in the world would want to get into that!?
In spite of all these things, and a million more, I am
thankful there are many sound, faithful Gospel preachers who are
willing to spend and be spent in the work of the Lord. They endure
the suffering and insults and "press (on) toward
the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus"
(Phil. 3:14). They feel as Paul when he said, "woe is
unto me, if I preach not the gospel" (1 Cor. 9:16). While
most Gospel preachers have no retirement in this world (since none
is provided by the church), they do have one in the world to come.
Paul said, "there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness,
which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and
not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing"
(2 Tim 4:8).
I also realize that when I speak of these things it will
be viewed by some as whining and complaining. I guess that's the
risk I'll have to take. It will just further illustrate my point.
I don't know of a single preacher "worth his salt" that will
complain about it. However, folks need to be educated, because when
they know better, hopefully they will do better.
Gospel preachers are to be supported by being
DEFENDED when they preach the Truth. Many stop their
ears, refuse to listen and even sometimes persecute the very ones
who tell them words whereby they may be saved (cf. Acts 11:14).
Peter rebuked Simon in Acts 8:20-23 even as Paul rebuked Peter in
Galatians 2:11. In both instances, Peter and Paul were doing their
job as evangelists, though unpleasant as it may be. Faithful
brethren will defend the godly actions of faithful preachers and
hold up their hands when they preach the whole counsel of God (Acts
20:20,26,27). It is a tremendous help to not only the preacher, but
the whole congregation, when the elders back the preacher by
getting into the pulpit and announcing to all that "the Truth has
been preached today. We support it. This is where we stand. If any
have questions about it, come see the elders and we'll study with
you." This occurs very little. So little in fact that some
preachers have never seen it done. It would be such a shock that
some preachers may faint! What many are used to is being "called on
the carpet" and told to tone it down, back off, don't preach that
again, you've upset a lot of people today, etc. Brethren, such
ought not to be!
If what has been preached is the Truth, then obey it,
support it, hold up the man's hands that is willing to proclaim it.
Only the Truth can make men free from sin (John 8:32). Love it,
even when it hurts because you are guilty. Instead of lambasting
the preacher, repent and trun to God (Luke 13:3). Defend him, thank
him for being your friend. Paul told those of Galatia, "am I
therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth"
(Gal. 4:16)? Words of Truth and soberness should cause one to
tremble as it did Felix (Acts 24:25). Don't be guilty of causing
the preacher to tremble for preaching the Truth. Defend him! Thank
him! Encourage him to preach even more and harder.
Gospel preachers are to be supported through
PRAYER. Paul wrote the brethren of Thessalonica, saying,
"Brethren, pray for us" (1 Thess. 5:25; cf. Heb. 13:18).
Paul's request for the prayers of the saints was not
selfish, but for the furtherance of the Gospel through his
preaching. "Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus
Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive
together with me in your prayers to God for me;
That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea;
and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of
the saints..." (Rom. 15:30-33). He wanted and needed the
prayers of brethren concerning the persecution he faced. "For
we... despaired even of life:...we had the sentence of death in
ourselves,...but...God...delivered us from so great a death, and
doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;
Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that
for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks
may be given by many on our behalf" (2 Cor. 1:8-11).
"Praying always with all prayer and supplication
...and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication
for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given
unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery
of the gospel, ...that therein I may speak boldly, as I
ought to speak" (Eph. 6:18-20). "For I know that this
shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:19).
"Continue in prayer, and watch in the same
with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us,
that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the
mystery of Christ,...That I may make it manifest, as I ought to
speak" (Col. 4:2-4). "Finally, brethren, pray
for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course,
and be glorified, even as it is with you: And that we may be
delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not
faith" (2 Thess. 3:1-2). "...For I trust that
through your prayers I
shall be given unto you"
(Philemon 1:22). "Confess your faults one to another, and
pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The
effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much"
(James 5:16). Pray for him in both private and public. He wants and
needs your prayers.
Gospel preachers are to be supported FINANCIALLY
(Gal. 6:6). "...The Lord ordained that they which
preach the gospel should live of the gospel"
(1 Cor. 9:14). This has been the principle throughout the Old
and New Testaments alike. "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when
he treadeth out the corn" (Deut. 25:4). "For the
scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the
corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward" (1 Tim.
5:18). The Levites who served at the tabernacle received the tithes
of the children of Israel (Num. 18:23-24). Paul said, "I
robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service"
(2 Cor. 11:8). "Let him that is taught in the word
communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things" (Gal.
Some have said that a preacher must be poor and humble to
be effective. These same brethren have said, "Lord, you keep him
humble and we'll keep him poor!" The preacher is not to beg his
bread and live as a benevolent case waiting on a hand out from
brethren. He must be financially supported so that he can devote
his time to preaching and teaching the blessed Gospel. However,
when need be, he can and will work to support himself that he may
continue to preach (1 Thess. 2:9; 2 Thess. 3:8; Acts 18:3).
He has spent years in training himself in the Word and is
thus equipped to preach it and teach it -- more so than the average
church member. Why not give him the opportunity to do what he is
able to do (cf. 1 Cor. 12:14-31)? Far too often he is saddled with
running errands and doing tasks that most anyone in the
congregation can do if they would. It's easy to "let the preacher
do it, he doesn't work." He has become the church secretary,
custodian, repair man and general all around errand boy. Brethren,
be more considerate of him than that. His task is more important
than the president of the United States! Assign brethren or acquire
the services of one to handle the day to day things that need to be
done and free him to spend his time in teaching and preaching the
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When Amalek fought with Israel in Rephidim, Moses told Joshua
to choose men to fight with Amalek. Moses said he would stand on
the top of the hill with the rod of God in his hand. While Joshua
carried out his orders and fought with Amalek, Moses, Aaron, and
Hur went to the top of the hill. During the battle, when Moses
held up his hands, Israel prevailed, but when he let down his
hands, Amalek prevailed. "But Moses' hands were heavy; and
they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and
Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on one side, and the
other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going
down of the sun" (Exodus 17:12). Moses' hands being
held up resulted in victory. "And Joshua discomfited
Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword" (Exodus
HOW THE PREACHER'S HANDS MAY BE HELD UP
The expression to "hold up one's hands" has come to mean
support, encouragement, and cooperation with one in a particular
endeavor. It is in this sense that we set forth the following
relative to Holding Up The Preacher's Hands.
There is no question but that there is no more important
work than that of a Gospel preacher, as he proclaims the "unsearchable riches of Christ" (Eph. 3:8), the Gospel, which
is "God's power unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16). Paul shows
the essentiality of preaching when he asks: "How then shall
they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they
believe in him of whom they have not heard; and how shall they hear
without a preacher" (Rom. 10:14). Paul quotes Isaiah to
emphasize the preacher's noble work, "How beautiful are the
feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad
tidings of good things" (Rom. 10:15).
If the faithful and true Gospel preacher is to accomplish
the greatest good through his divine calling, his hands must
be held up, yea, even "steadied" until the "going down of the
sun" when his work is ended. When the preacher's hands are not
held up, his work is hindered; individual Christians are affected,
and congregations fail to serve their God-given purpose of edifying
the members and seeking the lost. The harm that is done cannot be
measured in terms of material things, since even one soul is worth
more than all the world (Matt. 16:26).
Before we consider some ways whereby the preacher's hands
can be held up, we wish to emphasize the fact that not every
preacher's hands should be held up, and some hands cannot be held
up because it involves the preacher's willingness. We certainly do
not wish to minimize the preacher's responsibility in this respect.
Only preachers who are so dedicated that they are "set for the defense of the gospel" (Phil. 1:17), and willing
to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered
unto the saints" (Jude 3) are worthy of having their hands
held up by way of support and encouragement. Those who "transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ" (2 John 9) do not lead people to God and the salvation which is "in
Christ." "Many false prophets are gone out into the world"
(1 John 4:1) and none of these should have his hands held up.
Some preacher's hands cannot be held up because
their heart is not in preaching the Word. I heard of a
preacher of several years and of considerable ability leaving the
pulpit to cut wood for a living. Some time ago, another preacher
of several years came by my office -- not to discuss spiritual
things, but to sell insurance. He had left the pulpit for secular
work. Of course, some preachers have given up their work due to
things beyond their control, while others are not characterized by
Paul's devotion to the Gospel as expressed in 1 Corinthians 9:16:
"For necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I
preach not the gospel."
1. Respect him for his work. No
preacher should be exalted as is done by wearing religious titles
such as "Reverend," "Most Reverend," "Father," etc. Neither should
a preacher manifest an ostentatious disposition of proudness and
haughtiness. But the faithful preacher of the Gospel should be
esteemed for his work. There is no one, regardless of his wealth,
education, notoriety, or political influence that is doing a more
important work than that of the preacher. Yet Gospel preachers are
sometimes looked down upon by the haughty and proud with evident
disrespect. Most preachers of many years can testify to this.
2. Stand by him in the proclamation of the Truth.
When the whole Truth is preached without fear or favor,
there will be some opposition. It is most encouraging to a
preacher to know that others love the Truth and are willing to
uphold and defend it, and stand by the proclaimer of it. What an
opportunity godly elders have to hold up the hands of the preacher
by letting the congregation know, quite often, that they stand by
the preacher when he preaches the Truth. Disgruntled,
cantankerous, and compromising members should never be allowed to
interfere with the preacher's work by allowing them to have their
way simply because brethren do not have the fortitude to stand up
to such people.
3. Give him every possible opportunity to preach
the Word. The primary work of a preacher is to "preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove,
rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2 Tim.
4:2). When there is such a great need for the Truth (sound
doctrine) to be preached, it is discouraging to the faithful
preacher to be kept "at home" when he has opportunities to preach
in other places as well. A soul won or strengthened in the faith
at some other place is also doing the Lord's work. We shouldn't be
selfish with the truth!
4. Extend to him hospitality. It is
not unusual for a preacher not to be invited into the homes of the
members. Preachers may be expected to be hospitable by those who
are inhospitable. A few years ago I attended a personal work study
conducted by a visiting preacher at a congregation several miles
from where I lived. The visiting preacher had his eight year old
son with him. As I talked with the preacher (nearly all the
members had gone home) his son asked: "Daddy, where are we going to
stay tonight?" His dad answered, "We may sleep in the station
wagon." They were invited to our house where my wife and I enjoyed
their company greatly. When a congregation's hospitality stops on
the church grounds, the preacher's hands are not being held up!
5. Support him in a reasonable way financially.
There is too much Truth too often in the statement that
"A preacher only has to worry about being humble, the brethren will
keep him poor." Though the faithful preacher cannot put his trust
in "treasures upon earth" (as members often do), he is
entitled to "live of the gospel" (1 Cor. 9:14). Not
only do preachers have living expenses like everyone else, it is
often the case that their expenses are greater than the average
member. Preachers often live with a feeling of insecurity since
they do not have a house of their own and may have to move without
much advance notice. Few preachers have the "side benefits" such
as health insurance, retirement, overtime pay, or long paid
vacations that many workers have today.
6. Consider him a worker "with you" and not "for
you." The preacher and the congregation should be
"laborers together" as they go about doing the Lord's will. No
preacher is encouraged when he is looked upon simply as a "hired
hand" to do the congregation's work. In some cases he may have
several "bosses" to whom they feel he should be accountable. No
one preacher can do the work a congregation has to do, and even if
he could, the members would lose their reward for having failed to
7. Don't burden him with trivial matters.
Many a preacher has been hindered in his work because he
has been saddled with all sorts of jobs which should be done by the
members who often do little more than attend church services. The
preacher should not be asked to "leave the word of God, and
serve tables" (Acts 6:2) but he is often made a "handy man"
to take care of the upkeep of the church building and grounds,
along with no telling what else. Visiting the sick is not a
"trivial matter," and the preacher should certainly engage in this
as opportunity permits, but he is not the "hired visitor" to do the
visiting that others should do.
work is not easy and few are they who are willing to give themselves
to that work. But his work could be made more enjoyable and
effective by his hands being held up by the members. Preachers often
become discouraged in their work, some to such an extent they cannot
bear it, when it ought not to be so. Hard times have fallen upon the
church in recent years, and the outcome of the next few years will
be determined largely by the extent to which the hands of faithful,
loyal and true preachers of the gospel are held up. Will you help?
164 Coles Campground Rd.
Murray, KY 42071
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DIVINITY DEGREES AND PROFESSIONAL PREACHERS
G. C. Brewer, deceased
In the years gone by, there has been much discussion among
religious people about an "educated ministry." Some denominations
have had certain educational requirements for their preachers. They
would not ordain any man to the ministry who did not have a college
education and a seminary course in addition to a divine call. Other
denominations have insisted that if the man had a divine call he
had the approval of Jehovah, and that was certainly satisfactory
credentials. Men should not, therefore, forbid his preaching the
word of God. Some of these religious people believed that God would
inspire the preacher and put the words in his mouth that he should
utter. But all the denominations believed that preachers were
specially, divinely, miraculously called to preach. Preachers were
then looked upon as a special class known as the clergy in contrast
to the laity, and there were special functions the clergy performed
that no one else was allowed to do. Only the men who had the divine
imprimatur and who had been specially ordained were allowed to
baptize people, and they only were allowed to "officiate" at the
Lord's table or give the emblems to Christians. Where there was no
ordained minister, there could be no Lord's supper and no baptism.
THE MINISTER'S WIFE
In the beginning of the Restoration Movement there was an
especial attack made upon the idea of a distinction among
Christians. The division of the church into clergy and laity was
denounced as unscriptural and contrary both to the spirit and
teaching of the New Testament. Preaching as a profession was
condemned. Every Christian should be a preacher of the Gospel and
a campaigner for Christ. This was seen not only to be the duty of
each Christian, but to be the natural consequence of his conversion
to Christ. It is an instinct with the child of God. He needs no
special call, no ordination ceremony, and no theological training
to do the things that the word of the Lord authorizes all
Christians to do. This was the cry of the men who started the
movement back to the New Testament simplicity, and this was the
ground of many a hard fought battle. The denominations recognized
in this principle a power that would work for their undoing. It
would make their rules and regulations, their denominational
sanction and ordination, unnecessary. For this reason they fought
the brethren of Restoration, not by open debate upon the principle
involved, but by indirect methods; by their organized power and by
their political influence. They declared that these brethren could
not administer baptism, could not officiate at the Lord's table and
they would not permit them to join any "Pastor's Association," and
they schemed to keep the State from allowing these men to say
marriage ceremonies, etc.
The brethren of the Restoration Movement were neither
timid nor mild in meeting this opposition. They were bold and
fearless and aggressive in the belief that they were contending for
the "ancient order" and against the corruptions of ecclesiasticism.
Alexander Campbell was especially severe in his attack on the
professional clergy. He said: "God made men, but the priests made
laymen." He characterized them as "hireling priests," "textuary
divines," our "scrap doctors," etc. He charged them with ignorance,
pride, self-seeking, and an anxiety to keep the people in darkness
so that they might lord it over them. He scorned them for their
clerical dress, their sanctimonious speech, their long-faced piety,
their devotion to party, and their claim to a special divine call.
He denounced with special severity their love of titles --
Reverend, Bishop, Doctor and Father. These brethren, however,
were all strong advocates of education. Many of them were the
leading educators of their day. None of these men, however, ever
boasted of his scholarship, or wrote or printed degrees to his
name, or ever scorned or even discouraged the uneducated man who
attempted to preach the Gospel. None of these men themselves ever
took a seminary course or had a "divinity degree." They would have
denounced the idea of taking such a course and would have been
utterly shocked and chagrined had any one conferred upon them a
But now what have we? That we have given away to
denominational influence on many points cannot be disputed by those
who are informed. When we look at these things, we are tempted to
say, in the language of Gregory the Great: "O times! O customs!"
Our people have not only gone "degree crazy," but many of us are
actually seeking "divinity degrees." Some of our young preachers
are going to schools of divinity and theological seminaries, which
schools have one mission and one purpose -- viz., to make
"professional clergymen." While our fathers would not attend such
schools even in their day, it is thousand-fold worse to attend them
now than it was then, for in that day they did train their students
to meet the assaults of infidels and atheists. They gave them a
good course in Christian evidence and taught them respect and
reverence for the word of God. But now these schools themselves are
spawning beds of infidelity. They repudiate the inspiration of the
Bible and the divinity of Christ, the vicarious atonement and the
resurrection of the Lord from the tomb. And yet, we who want our
preachers to speak as the oracles of God, to contend for the
simplicity of New Testament Christianity, to regard the Bible as
final in all things, to "speak where the Bible speaks and be silent
where the Bible is silent," send our young men to these infidel
divinity schools for preparation for that sort of work! Of all the
inconsistencies and absurdities that we have ever been guilty of,
this is the worst.
And a further lamentable fact is that our congregations
do not use as much sound judgment in employing these preachers as
do the denominations. It makes no difference how many degrees a
preacher has, the denominational people will not place him in a
responsible position until he has been proved in a place less
responsible, or until he has demonstrated some ability. But with
us, the sound of the degrees and the stamp of the college is all a
man needs to receive calls from the largest churches. "Brethren,
these things ought not so to be."
If we continue to go at the rate we are going, how long
will it be before a preacher of the gospel will have to have a
seminary course and an ordination ceremony before he will be
supported in the work of the Lord? How long will it be before an
elder or a deacon or any other man except an ordained "clergyman"
will be allowed to "wait on" the Lord's table? And then only the
churches that have "pastors" will "celebrate the communion." How
often do we see elders or any member except a preacher baptize
people or conduct a funeral service? Are these not already regarded
more or less as professional functions? How often do we hear the
gospel invitation urged upon sinners by any man who is not a
"regular preacher?" Is the invitation "extended" in services where
a preacher is not present to preach a sermon first? Have we not,
then, in a sense, reduced this to a level with an "official opening
of the doors of the church?"
Let us begin to "think on these things." Let us stop
this tendency to drift into the customs of the world, and,
therefore, into the whirlpool of infidelity.
Return to Table of Contents
Who is she? Someone's wife, of course. Usually someone's
mother, counselor, confidante and friend. She's an information
source for everyone. Someone's organizer and helping hand.
Someone's answering service, teacher, maid, chauffeur, appointment
maker, seamstress. Someone's strong shoulder to lean on when times
But is this really who she is? Or, is there another person,
another identity which is often "buried alive" by all the roles she
is forced to play, another person who, like everyone else, enjoys
coming to church for the sole purpose of joining in the worship
service and listening to the sermon? Another person who likes to
read or sing or cross-stitch for no one else but herself? Another
person who longs for friends who will occasionally let her talk out
the burdens and problems of her heart? Could there be a separate
individual deep inside who rejoices to hear herself introduced
simply by her name, instead of usually qualifying the statement
that she's our minister's wife?
wife," after all, is not who she is but what she is, a role God
has ordained for her. She fulfills that responsibility cheerfully
and capably, especially when she knows that she is loved and
appreciated simply because she is who she is and not just the
Table of Contents
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If there are any other web sites that we can go to that embrace
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