A Pastor’s Job: Burning Hearts for God

Pulpit View of SanctuaryLast year Sunday, I preached about who the true leaders are in the economy of God’s structure for the church.  Paul tells Titus that the reason he left him in Crete to set the church in order.  How?  By establishing elders.  The term presbuteros indicates a presiding over an assembly—the leader of God’s people, the church (Titus 1:5).  In 1:7, Paul also indicates that elders are overseers of God’s people as well, thus serving as their primary stewardship.  Elders (a.k.a., pastors) are to “hold to the trustworthy Word as promised” (1:9) both personally and pastorally.

Recently, I’ve been perusing The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor by John Piper and D.A. Carson.  In this book, the authors continue to reinforce the notion what Paul indicates in Titus 1:5-9, that the primary stewardship of a pastor is the preaching and teaching of God’s Word.  Below is a particular excerpt from Piper that particularly caught my attention.  I shall read and heed:

The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:11 that Jesus has given to his church pastors and teachers.  And it tells us that these pastors and teachers should be “able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2).  They should be good teachers.  So all of us pastors should be thinking, God is giving me as a gift to my church.  And he is telling me, The way you will be a gift to your church is if you are an effective teacher.

I think that implies that the ordinary member in the pew needs help understanding their Bible.  If the sheep were able to understand their Bibles, God would not have given shepherds who had to be apt to teach.  The shepherds would just read the Bible on Sunday morning, and the people would see and feel all they need to.  No teaching or preaching required. But that’s not how Jesus set it up.

So the pastor’s job is to look at the Bible and work hard to understand what’s in it, and then work hard to make it understandable and applicable and compelling to our people.  The story in Luke 24:32 should ignite in every pastor a passion for Bible exposition that captures the mind of his people and makes their hearts burn.  The men on the Emmaus Road said, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”  A few months ago when I read that, I wrote in my journal, “O God, make me that kind of teacher.  I want the hearts of my people to burn as I open to them the Scriptures.”

That’s what thinking and understanding and teaching (scholarship) are for:  burning hearts for God.

(John Piper, The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor by Piper and D.A. Carson, pp. 60-61.)


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