One of the “joys” of being in seminary is that you are never at a loss for something to read. This past year, I had the pleasure of reading Tim Keller’s, Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism. If you are familiar with Keller and some of his other works, you know he is a deep thinker. This title proved to be likewise. While a relatively short book, it is filled with great insight. That insight comes partly from spending the last 28 years of his ministry planting and pastoring Redeemer Presbyterian Church (P.C.A.) in Midtown Manhattan (Keller retired in July of 2017). Successfully pastoring a church in Midtown Manhattan certainly qualifies one to opine about communicating faith in an age of skepticism.
Keller’s book is significantly relative to GPBC at this time, because it speaks directly to the heart of our new EQUIP Class, Discipleship 101, which we began last week. Much of what Keller writes in Preaching instructs us on how to prayerfully proclaim or speak the Word of God to other people. This level 1 preaching (as Keller refers to it) of the Word ministry is what every believer has the opportunity to do each day…not just an opportunity, but a command.
If you have been attending GPBC since January of 2018, I hope this idea of speaking the Word of God to others is not completely foreign to you. As we learned in the introduction of our Discipleship 101 class, two of the four biblical roles given to me as your pastor, are to feed the Word of God and to protect against teaching that is contrary to biblical truth (1 Timothy 5:17; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:9). This feeding and protecting is part of God’s command to me as your pastor in order “to equip the saints (members of the flock of GPBC) for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12).
This “work of the ministry”, Worship or ministry to God, Evangelism or ministry to the world, and Discipleship or ministry to the Church, is accomplished by prayerfully proclaiming or speaking the Word of God into other people. Ultimately, we do this in order to make disciples of Jesus Christ, as was Christ’s final command to us before his ascension (Matt. 28:18-20). With this understanding, it is essential that priority be given to the process of “equipping the saints”, in order to carry out the ministry of discipleship, which is directly linked to evangelism. If the saints are not equipped to speak the Word of God to others, evangelism will not occur.
I appreciate Keller’s insight and explanation of this process of prayerfully speaking the Word of God into others. In his introduction, the author articulates it this way, “Every Christian needs to understand the message of the Bible well enough to explain it to other Christians and to unbelieving neighbors in informal and personal settings.” (Keller, 4.).
This is the essence of the culture we desire to have at GPBC. Ultimately, if each member is prayerfully speaking God’s Word into others at home, school, work, leisure activities, and in their neighborhood; we are being obedient to God’s command to the Church.
My prayer for all of us is that we will be obedient to this command and trust God to bring about his desired results. I find much peace in knowing that God is the only one that can bring the results. Thankfully, that is not dependent upon us; we just have to be obedient, as his Word and Spirit will do the work. We can rejoice in that fact as Isaiah 55:10-11 reminds us,
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
What a beautiful promise from our faithful God! I hope you are as encouraged as I am by his great Word. Because of his faithfulness, I look forward to the future with each of you as we seek to MAKE DISCIPLES!
For His Glory,