JAMES & GEORGIA DEARMORE

My Darling Georgia went to be
with the Lord Nov. 17, 2004
A Brief Discussion of the Pastor, His
Call, Qualifications, and Preparation
By James H. Dearmore, Missionary - Copyright, 1996
Prepared and delivered as an "assigned topic message," at the
Central Baptist Church, Little Rock, Ark., at their 1996 Bible Conference
Jim is a Veteran Missionary - 48+ yrs, 33 in Africa Tribal Missions,
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Rodgers Baptist Church - Garland, TX 75040
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INTRODUCTION:

There are a few things I must get "off my chest" here at the very beginning.

1. I will NOT be giving you a lot of Greek or Hebrew words, quotes, or references, for several reasons.

First, I do not wish to pretend that I am a Greek or Hebrew scholar, as many do, and very few really are.

Secondly, I figure that anyone who would get any good from Greek or Hebrew references probably has at least SOME of the same references I have, to which he can go if he wishes to check something in those languages or in word studies. Books like Strong's, Young's, Liddell and Scott, and an endless list of other references such as Brown-Driver-Briggs, Louw and Nida, Robertson, Machen, Thayer, Wigram, Green, Wilson, Vine, Pick, Dana and Mantey, and many, many others, all of whom I have in my own library, as well as many on CD's.

Thirdly, I believe if it can't be proved from the King James Version of the Bible then it certainly is not all that important for it to be proved, though (sometimes) we can learn from word studies.

This is NOT to imply that I do not believe in the study of good books other than the Bible. I certainly would encourage every young Christian man especially to begin in his youth both to study and to collect a good library of religious books. I thank God for the 4000 volumes of carefully selected materials I have gradually accumulated, with the help of friends, and by strenuous effort, even sacrifice, during the last 28 years. They have been and continue to be a great blessing to me in my writing and research as well as in my sermon and lecture preparations. Some of the early day Baptists, and many of the Puritans and others wrote a lot of wonderful material which one should read and "filter" through Baptist doctrines.

Don't misunderstand, I'm not an "anti-intellectual" nor am I a modern day "Luddite." (They were the people, you may remember, who opposed the industrial revolution, and tried every way possible to delay or prevent it.)

I believe in using modern technology for the glory of our Lord and for the advancement of His Kingdom and His Church in every way possible which is consistent with the precepts and examples given in God's Word.

I use, and believe every Pastor and Church should use, the best computer equipment and software they can get, if they have a need or use for it. I believe we should use the Internet and the World Wide Web for the spreading of the Gospel and sound Bible teachings to the millions around the world who are connected to the Web.

I have personally published to the World Wide Web quite a few megabytes of good text material, some of it my own, and some of it copied from various ones of the old time writers, and would like for all of you to take a look at our own web pages. Just go to our homepage address--

http://www.gospelweb.net

then follow all the "clicks" or "hot links" (for newcomers to the web, they are the underlined titles found on the homepage, and on other pages).

But now, back to our theme, assigned to us for this Conference, about the Pastors calling, and his qualifications, and his training or preparation. But I think we must remove from consideration some specific and extraordinary offices mentioned in the New Testament which are similar, in one way or the other, to that of the present day Pastor, Teacher, Missionary, Elder, Bishop, or Minister, but which do not seem to me to exist in this present day, at least not in the same form as their New Testament patterns to which I refer.

These New Testament Church offices, similar to that of a pastor in one way or another, of an extraordinary nature, which do not now seem to continue in their New Testament forms we perhaps should list first, and eliminate from present consideration.


EXTRAORDINARY OFFICES These EXTRAORDINARY OFFICES of a prominent nature were three in number, as seen in I Corinthians 12:28 -- "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues."

Right on the start, let me say that the part about "miracles, healings, helps, government and diversities of tongues" is handled exclusively by God himself today, and not through any special men or groups of men who claim to be especially empowered with apostolic powers, like Kenneth Hagen, Oral Roberts, Kenneth Copeland, and a host of others one could name.

(I always remember a cartoon I saw once of Oral Roberts straining to "heal" someone and a loud voice comes down from heaven saying, "But Oral, I'd rather do it myself!)"

1. APOSTLES:

I see no room for dispute of the fact that the Apostles had first and chief place in the New Testament Church, and the miraculous signs of the Apostles followed them. They had a direct, personal, face to face call from Christ and direct authority and special powers from Him. In spite of the way some Pastors and Preachers act, this office is now extinct. It no longer exists. In other words, there is not, nor has there ever been any so-called "apostolic succession," though some try to claim they have apostolic succession, it is all a lie, and we Pastors, Preachers and Teachers today do NOT have that succession.

2. PROPHETS:

(Ephesians 4:11-15) -- "11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ":

These were men who had extraordinary gifts for understanding, explaining and for instruction and confirmation of the truths of God's Word. Apparently some or all among them also had the gift of foretelling future events and also had a gift for speaking in many tongues among the nations. This office, at least in the form in which it was seen in New Testament days, is also now no more.

We do, of course, sometimes call a preacher of God's word a "prophet" but we do not still have this special office with all of its extraordinary powers of the New Testament Prophets.

3. EVANGELISTS:

In New testament days, evangelists seem to have been primarily companions and assistants of the Apostles in their travels and work, and were sent here and there by the Apostles with messages, or to carry out some specific task. They did NOT generally reside in one place or one particular work on a long-term basis.

This office, as far as its New Testament form, is now extinct also, since we have no Apostles for which to serve as special assistants. Of course, there is a sense in which every truly God-called gospel preacher may be called an evangelist, or an "evangelizer."

Nor do I see any problem, Biblically, with having "evangelists" or "pastors" in the modern use of the word whose principal work is that of an evangelist, so long as they are endorsed and sent out for this work by a sound New Testament Church to which they are responsible and accountable. We have some among our own number who appear to be especially blessed of the Lord in Evangelistic work, and I thank God and say "Godspeed" to every one of such.

We need always to remember that ANY EXTRA-CHURCH work or activity of whatever description, of course, is also EXTRA BIBLICAL and should not be supported, accepted, or used by any truly sound independent Baptist Church as a sound ministry of the Church.

CONTINUING OFFICES OF MINISTERS OF
GOD'S WORD ARE CALLED BY SEVERAL DIFFERENT
NAMES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT -
ONE OF THE WORDS USED IS "PASTORS":

These are shepherds under Christ, Who is Himself the Great Shepherd and Bishop of souls. Pastors take the care of the flock, and feed it, as their name signifies. And I find no Biblical indication of any major difference between those "pastors" who stayed in one place, and those who, under the leadership of God and the approval of their Churches, were sent out as missionaries to various parts of the world. Nor do I see any major difference today, in substance, between the work of a Missionary, duly called, ordained, sent out and carrying on the work to which God and His Church have assigned him, and a local Pastor.

I have heard that some pastors believe there is a vast difference in the love of a missionary for his appointed flock and in that love they have for him, as compared to an American Pastor and his flock here. I cannot accept that as factual in any way, at least not in my own personal experiences on the mission fields of Africa.

I know there were many there in our years in Africa for whom I would have willingly risked my own life, and did do so, many times, and even the lives of my darling wife and children.

I also know for a certainty in my own heart and mind that there were many there who would have, and did, risk their lives for me and my family.

I also know of one specifically, STEPHEN BANGWAYO ZEMUDZO, who did literally give and lose his life in our defense, and I look forward, in God's own time, to rejoicing on the golden street with this old Shangaan warrior -- "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

Since I see no Biblical justification for that idea of the vast inferiority of the Missionary Pastor to Pastors in the United States, and the only defense or reason I have ever heard for the idea has been thoroughly refuted above by experience and personal knowledge, I could never accept the idea of the inferiority of missionary pastors to other pastors.

I do agree, of course, that every missionary should work under the supervision of his Home Church and in the closest cooperation and attitude of respect toward his home church and his home church Pastor, with whom he should be a beloved friend, respected colleague, and fellow servant of the Church, and of the Saviour they all serve. And I do practice that myself, and have a marvelous working relationship with our own Pastor and Home Church, as I have all down through my years to the present as a missionary for about 35 years.

But back to PASTORS, as we generally think of that word or title, and the various titles from the New Testament by which they were known, and their call, qualifications, and preparation for the work.

Remember that Pastors were promised to be given to the Church in Ephesians 4:11, and what it says there about their work as well. And God does still give Pastors to His Churches.

ANOTHER THING ESPECIALLY WORTHY OF NOTICE IN EPHESIANS 4:11 IS: "Pastors" are shown here to be the same with "Teachers" according to this verse in Ephesians. Notice it says "Some pastors and teachers." IT DOES not say "some pastors and some teachers," as if they were different! But it says "Pastors and Teachers," explaining, according to Dr. Gill, what is meant by pastors, even such who are teachers, to instruct men in divine things, which is the Pastor's principal work.

It is our job as Pastors, (or Preachers) and Teachers to feed men with knowledge and understanding from God's preserved Word, the good old KJV.

Please notice in I Corinthians 12:28, where the general officers of the Church are enumerated, mention is made of teachers, but the name "pastors" is not named, because they are the same in New Testament days.

This is not to say that a Sunday School teacher is the same as a Pastor, of course, but it is to say that every Pastor MUST BE A TEACHER to fulfil his office properly!

This teaching can be by precept and by example. It can and should be partly by his every day life and living example, but it also should, could, and must be by sound teaching directly from God's Word which is to be our sole rule of faith and practice. Everything found in the Word is to be taught, so as to make strong, well rounded Christians and build strong and stable Churches with members who know what they believe and why they believe it. We must train even our lay-members to "speak the truth in love" if we are to expect any success at all in our various ministries.

There is no room for doubt in my own mind, at least, that this Book we have here, God's preserved Word, is sufficient to fully furnish us with the information, instruction, examples, and full directions for doing that work to which God has called us as Pastors or Preachers.

And this work is, by God's own command, to BE ALWAYS AND WITHOUT ANY EXCEPTION, carried on under the authority of His Church, and in full responsibility to His Church, not by some denominational setup, some fellowship or some board, not even by "a board that's not a board," as some try to claim about their own pet "board."

All of our work for the Lord is to be done by and through His own local, blood bought Church, to which He gave sole and continuing authority and commandment to carry on His work on earth UNTIL HE COMES in the clouds, with power and great glory!

The principal work of the

Pastor-Teacher-Missionary-Elder-Bishop-Minister,

is to shepherd the flock where God has placed him, whether in the USA or wherever in the world, to reproduce himself and his congregation, by the winning of souls, the training and teaching of the saved, and the special preparation and training of young Pastors-Teachers-Missionaries-Elders-Bishops-Ministers!

Entertainment won't build a Church. More and more "fellowships" won't build a Church, but preaching a sound gospel, reaching out to the lost world, baptizing converts, and then "teaching them all things, whatsoever I have commanded you" as Jesus said we should, WILL STILL BUILD HIS CHURCH TODAY! And that's not all -- Nothing else except that will ever build a sound, Bible believing and Bible practicing Church, today or any other day!

It might be well to mention in passing here that it appears to me, in the New Testament, the titles of bishop, elder, and pastor have the same or very similar meanings in use and practice, and are often used interchangeably, along with the titles of minister, teacher, and shepherd, even when referring to the same people or groups of people. Note that when Paul called together the elders of the Church at Ephesus, he referred to them first as "Elders."

Acts 20:17 says -- "And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church."

Then, skipping on down to verse 28, same chapter, same passage, same group of people to whom he is speaking, he calls them overseers, or bishops. Verse 28 says it this way -- "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."

What I am trying to emphasize here is simply this: These pastors and teachers are the same with bishops or overseers, WHOSE PRINCIPAL BUSINESS IT IS TO FEED THE FLOCK! And our principal business today should be the same.

And when he left Titus in Crete, to ordain "elders" in every city, he proceeds to give the qualifications of an "elder" under the name of a "bishop."

Titus 1:5-9 says it this way:

"5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:

6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.

7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;

9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers."

This passage not only plainly suggests but rather it definitively confirms, for any who read and believe the passage, that an elder and a bishop are the same here in Titus 1:5-9. And then the apostle Peter, as recorded in I Peter 5:1-5, says -- "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; (This word "oversight" carries with it, of course, the idea of Bishop or Overseer.)

3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble."

And then, you no doubt remember, Paul goes on with further instructions, including a little about the proper work of women in the Church of Christ.

And, NO, I do not mean the church of Alexander Campbell, I mean the REAL CHURCH OF CHRIST, today known as sound, Bible believing independent Baptist Churches, following the New Testament pattern! I mean that Church which practices closed communion, sound Baptist baptism of believers only, and holds to the great truths of God as revealed and preserved for us in His Word, which we have in our hands today!

A Pastor or Shepherd is the governor and guide of his flock; he is a Teacher, he is an Elder, he is an Overseer, or Bishop and he is a Minister and "Evangelizer." And this is true whether he is on a foreign field as a missionary pastor, or at a local congregation in the USA!

One qualification of a Bishop is that he must know how to rule well his own house. This we find in I Timothy 3:1-7, with which I am sure you are all familiar. The first seven verses of I Timothy 3 give us the general qualifications for being a Pastor, Bishop, Teacher, Elder, Minister, Shepherd, or whatever title you may wish to use.

I Timothy 3:1-7 says: "This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;

5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."

This passage which indicates that the Pastor is to "take care of" does not exactly say he is to "rule" over the Church. Rather it says "take care of," but I believe it does carry with it the idea of "ruling over" the Church where God has placed him, in a limited, benevolent, and loving manner.

We, as Pastors, are certainly NOT to lord it over God's heritage, nor rule according to our own wills or in an arbitrary manner. But rather we are to rule according to the laws of Christ, Who is our King and head over all things to the Church, which is His body and Bride, and His ONLY AUTHORITATIVE representative on earth, until He comes.

And when a Pastor "rules" in that manner he is certainly to be respected and OBEYED. The Scriptures teach us: "Remember them that have the rule over you, and obey them;"

Hebrews 13:7 thru 17 speaks very well to this subject, where it says in Verse 7: "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation."

If we jump down to Verse 17 we see it says again: "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."

Pastors are over the Churches in the Lord, and under Him as the great Lawgiver in His house. But yet, though they are described as those who have the rule over Churches, and are guides to the Churches, they are also the Churches servants, for Jesus sake, as we see in II Corinthians 4:5, which says: "For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake."

So there is a multiplicity of facets to a Pastor-Elder-Minister-Bishop -Teacher or Shepherd, both as to his position, his duties, his calling, his qualification, and his preparation for the ministry in which our Lord has placed him.

Pastors are sometimes called the "Angels of the Churches." But let us not think that means we wear a "halo."

I doubt you can see mine, and I certainly cannot see a single halo in the congregation today, so let us not "think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think," for whatever we are, or whatever we produce or do that is good and worthwhile is all because of Christ working in us through His spirit, and any success we have is entirely due to His blessings and leadership. And let us always remember that our successes are in spite of all the many ways that we would have messed it up had He not led and enabled us.

I especially like the symbolism given of the Pastor and his Church by an old Baptist commentator. It is nearly perfect as an illustration of the position of Pastors-Elders-Ministers-Bishops-Teachers or Shepherds, under the Chief Shepherd, Christ. We can paraphrase the illustration this way:

"They (that is the Pastors) are said to be ministers of Christ, or his under-rowers, as the word used implies, as used in I Corinthians 4:1. The Church is the ship, or boat, which they work; Christ Himself is the Pilot, who is at the helm, under whom and by whose direction they row; and the oars they row with are the Word, the Ordinances, and the discipline they administer."

In the same passage Pastors-Elders-Teachers-Bishops-Ministers, etc., are called "stewards of the mysteries of God" and in I Peter 4:10 we find they are referred to as "good stewards of the manifold grace of God."

A Pastor is called a "steward of God" in Titus 1:7, and a steward was to give to every one in the household their portion of meat in due season, a duty which would require faithfulness, fairness, and wisdom to properly execute. A steward in Biblical days, especially as used in Genesis, means "he who is over his house."

One of the Bible Dictionaries I checked (Revell) defines the word "Steward" as: "A person with responsibility to manage the property and supervise the servants of another," and refers to Genesis 43:16. Pick's Dictionary of Old Testament Words defines the word "steward" as "a man of honour, worth, who is over the house." Vine defines the word in a similar manner, as do others which I checked.

Qualifications For The Office Of
Pastor-Teacher-Elder-Bishop-Shepherd-Minister

THE PASSAGE IN I Timothy 3:1-7, to which we have already alluded, gives some very clear requirements or qualifications for the office.

Paul, by inspiration, teaches that the office of a Pastor-Elder-Bishop-Teacher-Minister is a good office, and then he proceeds to list the necessary qualifications which should be found in those who are put into or placed into this office.

FIRST --- Respecting the internal and spiritual character and accomplishments of a holder of this office -- Paul teaches us the following things:

1. He must not be a novice, which refers less to his calendar age than it does to his spiritual maturity and Christian age. Timothy was a very young man when Paul told him "let no man despise thy youth," (I Timothy 4:12). Not being a novice here seems to carry the meaning of NOT being one newly planted in the Church, not one who is still immature in the Lord's Church and in spiritual or Christian development.

When we plant any plant, there must be time for us to see that it has taken good and firm root, and to see how it grows and thrives, and whether it is (in this case) truly planted by God, or by "mama" or by "daddy," or good friends, grandparents, other pastors, etc.

Some of the old commentators were strong on the idea that one appointed to be eventually ordained as a Pastor-Elder-Teacher-Bishop-Minister should be first of some standing in the Church, so that his gifts, grace, and conduct may be known, lest he be lifted up with pride at his new and high station and he fall in the same fashion as the devil himself did in eternity past.

2. He must have or attain early on a competency of knowledge and understanding in divine things.

A true Pastor-Teacher-Elder-Minister-Bishop is to feed men with knowledge and understanding of the Word, and from the Word. In order to do that successfully he must have a good portion of it himself, in order that he may be "able to teach others also," (II Timothy 2:2).

This is a principal part of his work, to teach and instruct men in the knowledge of Biblical and spiritual truths, and in that task he should apply his best efforts. That is to say the Minister needs to have a special and peculiar gift from Christ. He must not only be ABLE to teach, but HE MUST BE APT TO TEACH.

As one old commentator said on this subject, "it is of little avail what is a man's capacity, what the furniture of his mind, and what stock of knowledge he has, UNLESS HE CAN CLOTHE HIS IDEAS WITH PROPER WORDS TO CONVEY THE UNDERSTANDING OF THEM TO OTHERS!"

A free and ready utterance is necessary. Paul himself desired the Ephesians to pray for him, "that utterance might be given him," (Ephesians 4:19).

SECONDLY --- Some qualifications of a Bishop-Minister-Teacher-Elder-Pastor-Shepherd are in respect of his domestic character and history.

He MUST be the husband of one wife.This is a clear and absolute requirement from the Bible's own list of requirements. I am not sure that this necessarily restricts the office absolutely to a married man, though I think that is far to be preferred. (And I can conceive of no circumstances in my own mind where I believe it would be satisfactory for a holder of the office to remain, over a long term, as an unmarried pastor.)

Nor do I believe that it restricts him from marrying again if his first wife be dead. What it means, I believe, is that there is to be none of this modern day "civilized" polygamy which some today seem to wish to practice, in the ministry. Polygamy was apparently practiced by many in New Testament days, but not in the Church of Christ.

Though we are but men, while some people expect us to be Angels, yet we ARE TO BE EXAMPLES TO THE GROUP OVER WHICH GOD HAS GIVEN US THE OVERSIGHT!

Anyone who holds the office we speak of today is required by Scripture to be "one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity," (that is they respect their father and are obedient to his commands), and he should be very energetic to see that he train and lead them in the ways of the Lord.

If I may use an Old Testament illustration, just remember what happened when "good old Eli" was deficient is this qualification as God's man. As we have already noted, how can a man "take care" of the house of God if he can't even rule well his own house and family?

THIRDLY --- There are other qualifications with respect to the Teacher-Pastor-Bishop-Minister-Elders personal character, conduct and behaviour.

SUCH AS ----

He must be blameless in his conversation. This does not imply sinless perfection, but probably it does mean that he shall not be guilty of any scandalous sin, and certainly means that he should not live in known and public sin.

He is to have a good report of them that are without. I Timothy 3:7 SAYS --- "Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."

Again in I Timothy 4:12 Paul tells Timothy --- "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." This refers, I believe, to having a good report even from those without the Church. That is, a Pastor must not be one constantly held in contempt, with just reason, by the world around him.

Even those who disagree strongly with a Minister's teachings and viewpoints must have some respect for him if he lives an exemplary life with an exemplary character constantly manifested for all to see.

An Elder-Pastor-Bishop-Teacher-Minister must be an example in word,in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith and in purity before all within the Church, but he must also be the same kind of example before those that are without the Church.

The well qualified man for the office we speak about today must not be given to the vices which are so common among men of the world.

HE SHOULD NOT BE---

Given to drinking alcoholic beverages.

Not given to quarrels, nor to striking, not a brawler, not one who is litigious and contentious.

Not a calumniator, that is a spreader of malicious or slanderous gossip.

He must not be covetous, nor greedy of filthy lucre.

AND NOW, MORE POSITIVELY, A
PASTOR, SHOULD CERTAINLY BE---

Given to hospitality, and be charitable, and generous to a fault, and should be well supplied by his Church supporters so as to be able to be generous and charitable to others in every way.

He must be patient, and bear all reproaches in a Christian spirit, even when he'd like to "tell them off or give them a piece of his mind," or he would rather "knock their block off." Sometimes, when we "give them a piece of our mind," we find, too late, we didn't have a piece to spare.

And by all these things, both positive and negative we are mentioning, he can and will set a good example to those both within and without the Church where he preaches.

A BISHOP-ELDER-PASTOR-MINISTER-TEACHER should be vigilant at all times, as this is one of the qualifications listed in I Timothy 3, verse 2.

He must watch first, over himself. And secondly he must watch over his flock, taking careful and constant heed both to himself and to the flock he leads.

For himself, he must be vigilant to see that his own doctrine is sound, pure, and entirely in accord with the Word of God. He must be vigilant as to his conversation, that it may always be as becomes the gospel of Christ, and a minister of that gospel.

About his flock he must be vigilant always to see that he feeds them with wholesome food, and not only that, but with the food which is appropriate for the flock at that particular time and place. He must be vigilant to lead them into good pastures, and to preserve and protect them from wolves, from false teachers who constantly lie in wait to deceive God's children.

He must be vigilant because the Bible clearly teaches that he "watches for the souls of men," he watches for their spiritual good and welfare, and for their proper growth and development, AS ONE THAT MUST GIVE AN ACCOUNT, that this account he must give shall be with joy, and not with sorrow and grief. And while living up to all these requirements, the minister must be sober and modest, wise and prudent, and "think soberly of himself," (Romans 12:3).

FOURTHLY ---There is no doubt in my mind that there are certain requirements for a man to come into this office of Pastor-Teacher-Elder-Bishop-Minister (and I reckon Missionaries in the same category, if they are true gospel preaching and teaching missionaries).

These requirements for a man to enter truly and scripturally into a Biblical ministry as an Elder-Pastor-Bishop-Minister-Teacher may be worded somewhat differently by each of us, as influenced by our own understanding of the Bible, of the task, and even by our own vocabularies.

However, I am sure there are certain minimal essentials we may all, or most of us, agree upon about how one is put into this ministry, or how one must be put into this ministry.

1. I believe there must be a call, which must be clear in the mind and heart of the one being called to this service. It is difficult to explain this call to others in comprehensible terms, but the man himself must be absolutely sure and firm in his own knowledge that God has spoken to him, and has definitely called him to the ministry, else he cannot succeed.

He must be careful that it is not a well meaning Mom, or Dad, or Pastor or close friend who is calling, but rather he must be sure and certain in his own heart and mind that GOD HIMSELF is definitively leading him into the work. Without this positive assurance in his own heart, he cannot hope to ever be anything but a top-of-the-line hireling. Not an hireling for the money, heaven knows, but an hireling for the position, prestige, high regard of family, pastors, or friends which may ensue upon his ministry.

2. Of course, at first, the "poor fellow" doesn't realize it will involve a lot of pain, sorrow, weeping, hard work, long hours, mental and emotional stress, occasional betrayal by friends or fellow Pastors, etc.

3. Nor does he truly realize, in the beginning, the joys, the inner peace and happiness or the greatness of having those true friends among his fellow ministers who will TRULY BE HIS FRIENDS FOR LIFE, the joys of having those who will really be his true and beloved friends all the way, no matter what the circumstances, until we walk the golden street together, and sit at the feet of our blessed Redeemer, in face to face fellowship with Him who died for us. He doesn't realize, at first, the great joys of a Jonathan and David relationship with a few choice others in the service of our King!

4. In the Old Testament dispensation, which can serve in many instances as an illustration of the New, we see that no man, under the law, ever successfully took to himself the honor of the Priest's office, but rather those who were placed in the office were called of God, as was Aaron, according to Hebrews 5:4-5 --- 4 "And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

5. "So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee."

Now I realize, of course, that we are not priests, but there are many parallels between us and our calling and work, and that of the priests of the Old Testament. And in this passage here in Hebrews, we see that not even the Lord himself entered the priesthood without a divine appointment.

Nor do I believe there is any justification today for entering upon the work of the ministry of the Word, without a definite and divine call for the task.

Another example OF THE NEED FOR A DIVINE CALL, is found in Jeremiah 23:21 --- "I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied."

These were men in the time of Jeremiah, who were not sent with any message from God, and yet they prophesied, though God plainly said He had not sent them. We still have some of this kind all around us today, not called, not sent by God, and with no message from God, yet they "preach-pastor-teach-minister or serve as bishops or elders."

CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON spoke well on the need for a divine call to the ministry, when he wrote, in his "Lectures to My Students" the following, which I paraphrase:

"No man may intrude into the sheepfold as (another) shepherd: he must have an eye to the chief Shepherd, and wait his beck and command. Or ever a man stands forth as God's ambassador, he must wait for the call from above; and if he does not so, but rushes into the sacred office, the Lord will say of him and others like him, "I sent them not, neither commanded them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord." Jeremiah 23:32.

But, this private or personal call from God, when it does come, changes a man. One truly called can never be happy to wrap up his call and talents and keep them hidden from the world. A truly called one will have a great and burning desire to use his call and talents as God may direct and enable him. And this urgent need to answer and perform the task to which one has been called will be driven by two major principles:

1. The principle of love to the souls of men, and,

2. The desire to glorify God, not oneself, to the greatest extent possible, forever!

AND THEN THERE IS WHAT ONE OLD COMMENTATOR CALLED, "THE EXTERNAL CALL" to the ministry. This is, to put it simply, the call or approval of the Church to do the work of a minister of the Word of God. The way this should work, this outward call is, perhaps, reasonably described as follows.

When a man has made known his inward call, and has demonstrated to the Church his sincerity in the matter, by demonstrating his gifts, abilities, and willingness to work and serve with and under the instruction, direction and leadership of his Home Church and his Pastor, and the Church is entirely satisfied of his Divine call, it may then send him forth in the name of Christ, to preach the gospel, wherever he may be directed by the providence and leadership of the Lord to do so.

And after thus being called internally and externally, and demonstrating suitable maturity and preparation for the task, this preparation being done UNDER THE LEADERSHIP AND SUPERVISION OF HIS LOCAL CHURCH, and Pastor, he should be eligible, and suitable, to the pastorate of whatever church should see fit to choose him as their pastor.

Do not interpret what I have said as a downgrading of "formal education" in Bible College, University, or Seminary. It is not so intended. I would encourage every young man who even suspects he might some day be called to preach to get a good general education as well as a good Bible education, at whatever cost or sacrifice to himself. But these decisions about formal education should be determined and decided with much prayer, with advice from his pastor and others sound in the faith, and with the prayerful support of his home church.

I would encourage any young man especially, to get as good an education as he can, and also to read and study his Bible, and any sound books and booklets he can find to help in his studies and growth as a Bible student, with or without a specific call from God! In other words, prepare yourself for service, even before you are called. And in all your studies, measure everything by God's Word, and by the practices of sound, Bible believing, independent Baptists!

SUGGESTED SOURCES FOR ADDITIONAL
STUDY ON THIS THEME

Clover, L. L. The Church, Her Origin, Purpose, Doctrine and History, Minden, Louisiana Missionary Baptist Institute and Seminary, 1973.

Dearmore, Roy F. (Manuscript of Book Nearing Publication) Biblical Missions, pgs. 271-294 there is a good treatment of the call and preparation of Pastors with emphasis on the Missionary aspect. Date of publication will be "early 1997."

Gill, John. A Complete Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity (Vol. 2), Grand Rapids, Baker, 1978.

Godsoe, Frank A. The House of God, A Blood-Bought Body, Franklin Allen Godsoe, Del City, Oklahoma, 1973.

Harvey, Hezekiah. The Church, Its Polity and Ordinances, Rochester, Backus 1982.

Huckabee, Davis W. The Constitution of The Church, Little Rock, Challenge Press, 1973.

Johnson, Charles K. Local Church Missions, A Doctrine and Practice Manual, Lubbock, Tabernacle Baptist Church, 1984.

Pendelton, James Madison. Christian Doctrines, A Compendium of Theology, Judson Press, Valley Forge, 1964.

Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. Lectures To My Students, Pilgrim Publications, Pasadena, 1990.

Wells, Norman H. 50 Lessons on The Church, Little Rock, Challenge Press, 1975.

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