A Biblical Philosophy of Ministry – Part 2
… Continued from the March Issue]
(Adapted by Chris Williams)
Note: This is a 3 Parts Series. Please see the May Issue for the third part and concluding part of this Article.
A COMMITMENT TO A HIGH VIEW OF GOD LEADS US TO VIEW HIS WORD AS THE PERFECT COMPASS FOR OUR LIVES…
- A Sufficient View of Scripture
The Bible is the very word of God (2 Tim 3:16) and is therefore without error and completely trustworthy in all that it asserts. In a world of no absolutes, God’s Word stands as absolute truth to be known and applied in every area of life. Scripture is the very foundation upon which the church is built and comprises not only the content of the message that the church proclaims but also the methods by which the church operates. Every decision and aspect of ministry must be submitted to the scrutiny of relevant biblical data. A ministry void of the teachings of Scripture will also be void of the blessings of God.
- Inspiration — verbal, plenary inspiration. (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20-21).It is “breathed out” by God.
- Inerrancy — it contains no errors. God conveyed truth to divinely chosen individuals. And what they wrote did not stray from the original formulation of truth as it existed in the mind of God. (Psa. 19)
- Authority — simply stated: What it says I must do! (Psa. 119)
If we are to have a biblical philosophy of ministry, it must seek its sole authority from the Word of God. As John MacArthur has written:
A second nonnegotiable truth that makes up the skeleton of the church is the absolute authority of Scripture. The Bible is constantly under attack, even from within the professing church…. The Bible is being attacked head-on.
I believe charismatics attack the Bible when they add their visions and revelations to it. It is a subtle and often unintentional attack, but it is an attack just the same. They say that Jesus told them this and that God told them that. They are undermining the Bible when they do not regard it as the single authority. Those who believe God speaks regularly with special messages for individual Christians trivialize His Word. God reveals Himself primarily through the pages of Scripture, and that written revelation must be held up as the absolute authority …
One of the worst assaults on God’s Word comes from people who say they believe the Bible but don’t know what it teaches. That is the subtlest kind of attack. People all across America say they believe the Bible from cover to cover but don’t know one paragraph of it. How can they believe what they don’t know?
Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). If we are fed by every word that comes out of the mouth of God, we ought to study every word. (John MacArthur, The Master’s Plan for the Church [Chicago: Moody, 1991], pp. 26-27)
The ramifications of the authority of Scripture upon a ministry are manifold. For example, the church is never to stray outside of the boundaries given in the Word of God. Every aspect of ministry (whether a sermon, Bible study, program or activity) must be motivated by an understanding of the authority of Scripture and must bring that Scripture to bear upon the lives of believers. Furthermore, since the Bible is completely authoritative for belief and practice, the church need not derive its methods from the culture of the day nor conform its message to that which is acceptable in the eyes of the world. Rather, ministry must be dictated by principles taught in Scripture itself.
- Sufficiency — 2 Pet. 1:3-4; Ps. 19; 2 Tim. 3:17; Heb. 4:12
The Scriptures are not only authoritative over every aspect of life and ministry; they are also sufficient for the same. Second Timothy 3:16-17 states, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” The implications of this verse are astounding, for it asserts that the Word of God is sufficient for all areas of ministry, including preaching, teaching, and counseling believers unto godliness. Therefore, the primary focus of every sermon, Bible study, or counseling opportunity must be the teaching of Scripture. Any time the church gathers, the emphasis must be on the proclamation of God’s Word and the exhortation to obey it (1 Tim 4:13).
A ministry that believes in the sufficiency of Scripture will do everything possible to bring the Word to bear on the lives of the congregation. The sufficiency of Scripture demands that individuals as well as ministries be devoted to and trusting of the Word of God. In other words, a proper view of Scripture demands our obedience and our belief. It demands our affections, our faith, and our understanding.
A belief in the sufficiency of Scripture prohibits any attempt to integrate it with psychology or worldly philosophies.
- Relevancy — it is totally relevant for every situation. (Psa. 19; 2 Tim. 3:17; Psa. 119:105; Is. 40:8)
It may not give us an explicit answer to every specific problem, but it will always give us the principles by which we can, through obedience, glorify God.
Note: A failure to recognize the inspiration, inerrancy, authority, sufficiency, and relevancy of the Word leads to:
- Pursuit of comfort, rather than obedience.
- Personal experience as your authority rather than the authority of God’s Word.
- Contemporary thinking as your guide for living rather than the principles of divine truth.
Result: The church produces people who pursue their own desires based upon an ungodly standard.
The outgrowth of this essential component, the right perspective of Scripture, will be a commitment to teaching sound doctrine, and then how Christians are to change and grow. Again, MacArthur states:
If you have a high view of God and are committed to Him, you must adhere to what His Word teaches. The teachings of God’s Word make up sound doctrine.
Many Christians today are vague about doctrine. Many pastors offer sermonettes for Christianettes — little sermons that are nice and interesting. Sometimes they make you feel warm, fuzzy, sad, or excited. Seldom do we hear doctrine taught or discussed. Very few preachers explain the truth about God, life, death, heaven, hell, man, sin Christ, angels, the Holy Spirit, the position of the believer, the flesh, or the world. We need truths that we can hold onto. You need to read a text, find out what it says and means, draw out a divine truth, and plant that truth in the minds of people by repeating it … people need solid doctrine to build their lives on. (John MacArthur, The Master’s Plan for the Church [Chicago: Moody, 1991], p. 27).
Questions to consider:
- Do your people humbly and willingly submit to the authority of the Word?
- Are your people’s lives conforming to the Word?
- Are you teaching the Word in a way that people can apply it to their lives?
- Do you turn to God’s Word to find the answers to people’s problems?
[To be continued in the May Issue …