LBCF 1689 Reflections. Part 225

Reflections on the Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689

23 Aug 14 began a perhaps unbroken, orderly, and personal journey through my favorite written confession of faith. These are my personal reflections on this beloved historic Particular Baptist confession of the Christian Faith.


Chapter 26. Of the Church. Paragraph 11: “Although it be incumbent on the bishops or pastors of the churches, to be instant in preaching the word, by way of office, yet the work of preaching the word is not so peculiarly confined to them but that others also gifted and fitted by the Holy Spirit for it, and approved and called by the church, may and ought to perform it.”

Pastors should guard their pulpits ferociously. Any good man of God will do this as a matter of fact. When I was in Wittenberg, GM, I was invited to preach at the Castle Church from a Lutheran minister on the first day that I met him while at the church. He only knew that I was a chaplain in the US military. He was not the pastor of that church, but apparently had some access to it via his local association and wanted me to preach that evening. I was immediately humbled and excited. I mean, what Protestant would not want to preach from the Schlosskirche in Germany?! I was quickly repulsed, however, at the man’s flippant invite to me having just met me that the idea of partnering with him- even by appearance- made me say no thank you. I mean, what sort of a man would invite a stranger to preach to his flock so quickly without any qualification? This appeared to me a most grotesque prostitution of the pulpit, and I would not want to sin against God or those people in that way.

Elders in the church who labor in preaching are to be comfortably funded. Not made rich, but surely well taken care of. They should have many financial benefits and never have to think twice about their incomes. This is clear. “The elders who lead well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” 1 Timothy 5:17. This means pay them well, not just appreciate them in your heart. The following verse (citing Deuteronomy 25:4) makes it clear that preachers ought not to worry about how they’re to “make ends meet” for themselves and their families in the work of the ministry. 1 Corinthians 9:9-14 reads:

For it is written in the Law of Moses: “You shall not muzzle the ox while it is threshing.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? Or is He speaking entirely for our sake? Yes, it was written for our sake, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing in the crops. If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.

Aside from these elders and church leaders called by God to preach and teach and thus make their living by their works like hired soldiers (1 Corinthians 9:7) as qualified by sacred Scripture, there are also to be allowed many guests into the pulpit. Men and yes, I’d say women also to inform and even to preach. Women are not to hold pastoral office or authority over the men and so their preaching to the men should be minimal to prevent misrepresentation, but we all know that women are equally gifted in the ministry as any man is. If a woman was ever to preach or teach it would not be on a Sunday and would be in an alternate location to never offend the Spirit or the saints. Aside from those local to a congregation who may be called on to share on their various biblical passions, outsiders, especially in our amazingly connected days, can also be tasked to share.

If one preacher has spent thirty years in Christian ministry, every day of his discipleship forms every hour in the pulpit. His whole shapes his exposition. If a listener then has five such teachers, even guests to his church for five pulpit hours, that hearer has one hundred and fifty years of collective wisdom on the subjects at hand poured into him. If he has twenty teachers in a month, the collective wisdom given him quickly exceeds half a millennium. This is a privilege with books and today with the audio and video we have available. Proverbs 11:14 and 24:6. Preachers should encourage wide readership and learning.

Lastly, in the part of the confession that reads that any pulpit guests be “approved and called by the church” I take this loosely to mean that the elders in a church can decide this from either within that assembly or from without it by means of the general approval of a ministry in any legitimate church. If a man is well known in New York by the preachers in Florida, he needn’t be qualified in Florida to preach in Florida. Should any local member have any cause against a preacher, that should be voiced and examined, but approvals needn’t be, though they may be by a church’s practices, relegated to hand raising in each local group.

Joseph Pittano

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