The Preacher and Teacher: The Man, Not Mechanics and Methods

One of the constant themes we discover in the pens and on the lips of faithful servants of our Lord Jesus throughout the ages is how their sense of utter inadequacy for their task drove them to dependence on the Lord.

By relying upon God’s “means of grace” God’s servant is changed—sanctified—purified of sin. From beginning to end we should be profoundly aware that the matter before us is not about pastoring and teaching per se, it’s about pastors and teachers. The man, not mechanics and methods, is the issue. The man called into service by Jesus through his Holy Spirit changed to be like Jesus.

 

I look forward to reading Sinclair Ferguson’s Pastors and Teachers. I have long admired Dr. Ferguson’s brevity, clarity, and depth in writing and preaching. After hearing the podcast I am especially anticipating drinking from the fountain of his insights forged over many years of faithful devotion to our Lord.

Since Dr. Ferguson heartily recommends our reading B. B. Warfield (1851-1921) and since I had the privilege to learn through David Calhoun about the Old Princetonians and Warfield, and then write on Warfield under another of God’s grand servants, Dr. John Woodbridge, I feel it rather my duty to write this. Furthermore, in God’s providence this also happens to coincide with a class I have been teaching this fall on “Old Princeton and Christian Ministry” at Erskine seminary. As a pastor and as a teacher one feels compelled under the weight of merciful and gracious privileges that have altered one’s life for the good, even as one feels acutely the weight of that need for mercy and grace.

One of the constant themes we discover in the pens and on the lips of faithful servants of our Lord Jesus throughout the ages is how their sense of utter inadequacy for their task drove them to dependence on the Lord. Such dependency drives the servant out of himself; it leads to diligent searching of the Scriptures and prayer. By relying upon God’s “means of grace” God’s servant is changed—sanctified—purified of sin. From beginning to end we should be profoundly aware that the matter before us is not about pastoring and teaching per se, it’s about pastors and teachers. The man, not mechanics and methods, is the issue. The man called into service by Jesus through his Holy Spirit changed to be like Jesus. So what we find constantly throughout the writings on pastoral ministry by the Old Princetonians is an emphasis on the need for “vital piety.” I heartily recommend James M. Garretson’s two volume work Princeton and the Work of Christian Ministry (Banner of Truth).

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