Written by: Ty Hayes, Pastoral Trainee
Consider how faithful the Lord has been to His church. All through church history God has been faithful to raise up Godly leaders to help defend the truth and proclaim the gospel. If the gospel is lost, so is the church. However, in these last days, the Spirit has been at work in every generation, raising up faithful Pastors who “guard the good deposit” (2 Tim 1:14) that has been entrusted to them.
I desire to be a Pastor one day, if the Lord is willing. The Lord has been very kind to me by allowing me to spend the last six months as a Pastoral trainee here at Sedro-Woolley Christ the King Church under Pastor David and the Elders. As someone who is aspiring to be in the gospel ministry full-time, their instruction in this season has been indispensable, and I’d like to share three of the lessons that I’ve learned from them. Perhaps these lessons will be helpful to others like me who are seeking the ministry.
First, faithful Pastors are men preaching and exemplifying a whole gospel to whole people. My denominational background up until my time here has been drastically different than my theological convictions. I was graciously saved by Christ in a very seeker sensitive church and have spent much of my church experience among them. (I would define the seeker-sensitive church movement as those who try to reach out to the unsaved person by making the church experience as comfortable, inviting, and non-threatening to him as possible.) I appreciate so much about my time with them and their passion to see God save the unbeliever, but I now understand the dangerous misconceptions they have about the purpose of the gathering of believers.
Through my time in conversation and study among Pastor David and the other trainees I have found great biblical clarity on the purpose and importance of many of our church traditions. The gospel isn’t limited to just our means of salvation, but is also our means of sanctification and ecclesiology (Ecclesiology is the study of the church). Everything from the songs we sing, the sacraments, the way we as God’s people live in community and how we prepare and deliver a sermon is a reflection of the redemptive work of Christ.
So with that in mind there is obviously nothing wrong with wanting to reach out to the unbeliever. In fact it's biblically mandated, but we must not sacrifice the glorious Holiness of God or the purpose of the gathering of the saints in order to do so. How we present is just as important as the reception of the gospel.
Secondly, Godly leaders don’t shy from conflict, but use it for the glory of God and the good of others. 1 Peter 5:1-4 teaches that God raises up and charges Elders among us to lead, love and protect us on His behalf. Much like a parent to their children or a coach to their team; Elders are here to lovingly guide us to maturity. Much of my time learning martial arts from my teacher was spent in correction. He had mastered something I long to.. I’m not one who gets excited about failing or being corrected, but I began to understand through the process the importance and blessing of loving leadership. Shepherding is just like this. Pastor David, our Elders, and my fellow trainees have all at one point had uncomfortable and sometimes plain hard conversation with me for my benefit. In this they loved me enough to show courage in fighting for my good even when it would be much easier to just leave it alone.
God uses loving Pastors and Elders to help encourage and edify His people. I could never thank them enough for this and I hope to be just as loving, courageous and wise in my leadership. “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Luke 6:40
The gospel isn’t limited to just our means of salvation, but is also our means of sanctification and ecclesiology.
Lastly, a Pastor needs to love the local church. Now this probably seems pretty obvious, but in bible college I came across so many people who talked often of their felt “call” of God, but not a desire to lovingly shepherd the local body. In 1 Timothy 3 we see that Eldership is something to be desired and in Hebrews 13 we see God calls Elders to sacrificially love and serve the church as is exemplified by Christ. We understand then that Eldership isn't something to begrudgingly do out of duty, but a sacrificial honor to God for His people.
These are three of the things the Lord has taught me so far through the Pastoral trainee program. I will conclude by asking the reader to consider how great a need there is for true gospel ministers, and for men who are already pastors to train them. Is there a man who adores the Lord Jesus? Has God’s grace led him to live a holy life? Does he desire the office and is able to teach others? Let him consider the ministry.
Written by: David Lawler, Pastor/Elder
There once were two young men sitting at a table in the mess hall of their Christian Bible school. One said to the other, “You know, I don’t need theology, I just need Jesus.” The other young man replied, intending to challenge his peer’s thinking with a question, “I see. And who is this Jesus?”
The young man, looking shocked by his fellow bible school student replied, “He’s God in the flesh who came to save mankind from sin and…”
The other young man interrupted him and stated, “friend, you’re doing theology.”
Much like this confused student, many see theology as an intellectual study that is reserved or only for pastors, scholars and theologians. But the reality is that everyone is a theologian.
Everyone is a theologian because everyone was made by God to know and even “study” Him—and that is what theology is. Theology is the study of God. Jesus says, “This is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
In Jeremiah 9:23-24 we read, “23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
There’s no one alive who doesn’t have a thought about God—whether they think He exists, doesn’t think He exists, or isn’t sure if God exists. Everyone thinks something about God. And this is a reality because… Everyone is a theologian. But not everyone is a good theologian.
It’s not mean to say that. In fact, it’s impossible not to say that. The atheist who thinks God isn’t real and the Christian who worships Jesus as Lord cannot both be right. At least one of them is wrong about God. At least one of them is a bad theologian.
So why does theology matter? There are at least three reason we find in Jeremiah 9:23-24.
1. They boast in the Lord
Good theology leads to the Lord. It continually points the person further and deeper into relationship with God. As stated in verse 23 and the beginning of 24, it’s not about boasting in our own wisdom, our own might or our own riches but boasting in the Lord and His perfect attributes.
Any person who studies theology and grows increasingly arrogant and boastful in their own wisdom or knowledge has missed the true intended purpose of their study — God.
Theology is not only a title we use to clarify a type of study but a definition of a discipline for all Christians committed to God and His Word.
This is why theology matters. It is the study of God to boast in Him and to seek to understand and know Him more.
2. They seek to understand and know
We will never completely understand and know the full vastness of God, but we can still faithfully seek to understand and know Him more each day.
For example, I understand and know my wife more intimately than most people, but that has not come quickly or without some study. This is because, to understand her I have to ask important questions in our time together and to know her I have to intently practice and put into my mind the things that make my wife, Shanna.
Much like in marriage, we do this in how we seek to understand and know God better. When we are studying the Word we ask important questions like: How does this text help me better understand the character, mercy, grace, justice or specific attribute of God?
Questions like this help us to not impose a thought or idea; or even more dangerously a doctrine into the text of the Bible we are studying — but to more clearly seek and learn who God is and who He says that we are.
This is why a true study of theology leads us to a better understanding of who we are as Children of God because it is a study based upon the words of the Lord, and not us.
3. They delight in what God delights in
At the end of verse 24, the Lord speaks of what He practices and delights in: "steadfast love, justice, and righteousness“
Studying God’s attributes is much like a color blind person putting on a pair of EnChroma glasses. You’ve probably seen one of those videos online of a color blind person putting those glasses on for the first time. It is powerful and moving. Their entire outlook and understanding changes about the world around them. That is what it is like to study the attributes of God — and that is why theology matters.
Studying theology is looking through the lens of the Bible and delighting in the character of God and the knowledge and understanding of who He is.
It is one thing for us to read the words of our Bibles and think on the things of God that are good, but it is another thing entirely to study God’s Word to become complete and equipped for every good work (1 Timothy 3:16-17).
Church, I encourage you to study your Bible. If you long for the voice of God, this is where we will find it. He is not dull or mute to speak. He has written down His words for us in a deeply theological book that tells the grand narrative of the love He has for His people through the person and work of His son, Jesus Christ.
So when we study the Bible, we learn to love Him and grow in our relationship with Him, sharing theses truths with those around us. That is what true theology does and what a good theologian aims to do in their study and practice.