Several days ago I was reading a sermon by English Puritan Christopher Love (1618-1651). He challenged his congregation to be grateful to those who faithfully preached the Word of God to them. He wrote,
“Beloved, if you are converted and called by Jesus Christ, you will love the Word of God that was an instrument of your call…Second, he (the believer) not only loves the Word, but the minister who by preaching the Word was an instrument of his conversion (“Sermon 3”, A Treatise of Effectual Calling and Election, Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1998).
Those comments caused me to send my pastor a “Thank you” email. I appreciate his labor of love each week to understand and communicate the Word of God to me and those in our church. I also praise God that he deeply desires for his life to compliment, rather than contradict the precepts of God’s Word. As Jodi and I talked about Love’s sermon, we also thought of several previous pastors of churches we attended. After further reflection, I am overwhelmed at the memories of consistent, faithful men that God has used in our spiritual lives. My list includes Ray Hauser, Carter Johnson, Bill Haynes, Al Lewis, David Delmotte and Wayne Layton. I praise God for these men, and for the others, that God has used in my life to help me in my striving for reality in this transient life.
Christopher Love’s comments were stated within the context of a sermon on election (the doctrine of God’s choosing some for salvation). Although he affirmed God’s absolute sovereignty in salvation (the argument of Romans, chapter nine), he is quick to point out that God chooses to use His Word preached by His servants. This explains why Romans, chapter ten follows Romans, chapter nine!
“So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy” (9:14).
This undisputable declaration is followed by:
“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher” (10:14)?
God is BIG! He is in complete control of all that transpires in His creation. “Christ above all” (the motto of Bryan College) means that His sovereignty covers every aspect related to the affairs of men (including their salvation and sanctification [read Romans 9 and Ephesians 2:1-10]). And–guided by His sovereign hand–passionate and prepared men preach the Word of God they deeply desire to live out.
We have all seen the grotesque examples of pastors and Christian leaders whose sins have gone public. As a result, the church has a bit of a black eye. However, for every bad example that we have, we could count twenty-five, fifty or one-hundred consistent, faithful men who attempt–week in and week out–to know and live God’s truth! If you have been touched by such a man, give thanks to God! I know that today finds me grateful!
Thanks, Christopher Love!