I am constantly amazed that far too many good preachers who love the doctrines of grace and who are assiduous in their reading of the Scriptures fail to notice one critical aspect about ministry in the New Covenant: it is intimately linked to bulding community and relationships. There is, I suspect, among some of these brothers, a mistaken view of what constituted faithful ministry in the past—among the Reformers, for example, or the Puritans.
Those brothers in the faith from those bygone eras are seen as great expositors and nothing more. Now, there is no doubt that they were preeminentely preachers. And there is no doubt that the Word was central in their ministries. But, without friendships (is not Calvin the great model of friendship here with his passionate friendships with Farel and Viret? Or the spiritual brotherhood among the Puritans, a logical result of which was Baptist ecclesiology) and mentoring relationships (look at the remarkable Baxter in Kidderminister) the Word does not have a context in which to bear fruit.
When I first read the life of that quintessential Reformed loner, A.W. Pink, I thanked God for his great insights into the Word in a day when Reformed truth was not in high demand. But I was horrified (and I do not say that word lightly) by his isolationism and lack of concern for friendship and fellowship. Surely, the love of the truth should lead to a walking in the light with fellow lovers!
Or to put all of this more colloquially: if we think we are being faithful to the New Testament and are not passionately concerned about building Christian community, we are whistling Dixie!
Wednesday, April 17, 2013