I am preparing to speak at the local ministerial association meeting this Friday. I will be using 1 Tim. 1:6 as my text because it focuses on the act of preaching. I thought Calvin's comments were exceptionally eloquent and worth recording here.
"To stir up the gift of God which is in you. This exhortation is highly necessary; for it usually happens, and may be said to be natural, that the excellence of gifts produces carelessness, which is also accompanied by sloth; and Satan continually labors to extinguish all that is of God in us. We ought, therefore, on the other hand, to strive to bring to perfection everything that is good in us, and to kindle what is languid; for the metaphor, which Paul employs, is taken from a fire which was feeble, or that was in course of being gradually extinguished, if strength and flame were not added, by blowing upon it and by supplying new fuel. Let us therefore remember that we ought to apply to use the gifts of God, lest, being unemployed and concealed, they gather rust. Let us also remember that we should diligently profit by them, lest they be extinguished by our slothfulness."
I've come across two good articles dealing with Presbyterian polity in the last couple of days. They are excellent resources for understanding the Biblical underpinnings of a connectional church and the offices of minister & elder.
Why You Should Be Presbyterian: This article is appreciated because it emphasizes how the church should be connectional in nature. The author has as one of his goals the realization that churches that are independent and congregational lack proper accountabilty and fail to utilize the counsel of the broader church.
Do Minister & Elder Hold the Same Office: This article was written by one of my former seminary professors. Dr. Strange explains well the history surrounding the debate, as well as getting into many of the texts involved. One will note that this view is deeply embedded in the roots of the OT. The hermenutic we use in all of our interpretation as Reformed and Covenantal types does not neglect the continuity of Scripture.
It should be noted that I currently serve in a church that is more two office in its polity (I am three office). It should be understood then that I do respect this long tradition and enjoy working beside my fellow elders very much.
I regret to inform you that my presbytery did not approve the motion I put together. The vote failed, 5 for and 8 against. This means that the letter rebuking the Ohio Senate for their delay on the Heartbeat Bill will not be sent. Three of us had our votes in the affirmative recorded in the minutes--an oddity as it is dissenting votes that are normally recorded. The three of us wished that there be an official record of our attempt to save the 30,000 lives that are lost each year.
In other news, the presbytery discussed whether or not it was permissible to practice intinction (dipping the bread in the wine at the Lord's Supper) for nearly two hours.
[Below is an overture that I just sent to the clerk of our presbytery (Ohio Presbytery) for consideration at our meeting this Saturday.]
To our Esteemed Senators, February 4, 2012
We, the members and representatives of the Ohio Presbytery, do greet you in the strong Name of our Lord and King, Jesus Christ. We also send you our deepest regards and express our great appreciation for your faithful service to the people of Ohio.
Nevertheless, it is with great grief that we write to you today. For we understand that the lives of unborn children are lost daily because you delay in bringing to the floor the legislation known as Heartbeat Bill.
The Word of God clearly indicates that it is the duty of public magistrates to do all that is within their power to protect and preserve the lives of the people under their authority. While it is your duty to uphold justice for all who reside within the boundaries of this state, it is especially incumbent upon you to maintain the cause of those citizens who are the weakest and most frail.
We, the elders and ministers of Christ’s church, wish to remind you of this charge that God has bestowed upon you. Moreover, we send this message to you today as a public rebuke for your dilatory acts on this vital piece of legislation.
On this the fourth day of February in the year of our Lord 2012, we call you to repent of your slothful attitudes in regards to this bill and your negligence towards those children who are daily being killed. We do summons you to show this penitent spirit by ceasing to delay the vote on and passage of the Heartbeat Bill.
You must remember that the King of Kings holds the men of earth accountable for their actions. He will by no means permit the guilt of bloodshed to go unpunished. Therefore it is incumbent upon you, our senators, to fulfill your divinely appointed calling by seeing to it that innocent blood is no longer spilt.
You may be assured that the Judge of the earth is good and abundant in mercy. When men turn from evil and do what is right in His eyes, He prolongs their days and feeds them with gladness. He promises kindness to those who fear Him and restores the fortunes of those who seek his face.
Be it then resolved in your hearts that you heed this admonition and uphold the commandments of God. Cease to sin against Him any longer and do that which is right.
With deepest affection,
The Members and Representatives of the churches belonging to Christ in the Ohio Presbytery
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.