Thoughts from Horatius Bonar Pt. 3

Posted: February 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

In the first chapter of Horatius Bonar’s “Words to Winners of Souls,” more specifically to pastors, he exposes the dangers of those who are not giving themselves wholly to their office.  The pastor must be sincere and have a sense of seriousness about the task at hand.  That task is to “convert sinners and edify the body of Christ.”  Zeal to see this task through till the end of our days should consume us.  A man may have a sound theology “yet be a dry and empty cistern…he may be repelling men from the cross even when he is in words proclaiming it.”  Horatius says, “since these men do not believe the doctrines they are preaching, there is no need of their hearers believing them.”  Preacher, preach in a way that shows your people that you believe what you are saying!

Horatius goes onto to show that the type of ministry he is describing is not to be detached from the ministers “true life and walk.”  The true minister of Christ is one who truly knows Christ (is saved) and is wholly set-apart for the work (sanctified).  “The true minister must be a true Christian.  He must be called by God before he can call others to God.”  Amen and Amen!  How many men stand in the pulpit and call people to follow after Christ when they have never begun the journey themselves?  They preach the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, the atonement of Christ, and the need for faith…indeed they preach heaven and hell…but have never themselves been gripped by such truth!  They rest on their position or title as proof they know Jesus.  May it never be!  Let us not rest on the number of sermons preached, Sunday School lessons taught, or amount of Christian literature consumed.  Instead,  let us be sure we rest on Christ crucified and risen.  May we be found in Him first.  Only then can we set out to call others to do the same.

After being sure of our union with Christ we must then enter into a life of “ministerial holy living.”  There is little passion and concern for holiness today.  We are too comfortable with sin.  Jerry Bridges has written a book and aptly titled it “Respectable Sins.”  The very title puts the situation in context.  We have forgotten how horrific sin is in the eyes of God.  We do not remember (or have chosen to ignore) the command of God through Paul, “Hate (abhor) what is evil, cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9).  Do you pursue holiness of living? 

Horatius quotes McCheyne at length in this section on holy living.  His point  is to show that a life of “ministerial holy living” cannot be attained apart from communion with the Lord.  If we are to “walk worthy of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27), then we must prepare our souls for the task.  This preparation begins early each day.  A mind that is not set on the Lord early is put at a disadvantage.  A pastor who does not seek the Lord through prayer has no power.  As Bishop Hall says, “we are weak in the pulpit because we are weak in the closet.” 

Allow me to end this post by doing the same as Horatius and quoting McCheyne at length on the importance of prayer in the ministers life:

“If my heart be early seasoned with His presence, it will savor Him all day after…I ought to pray before seeing anyone.  Often when I sleep long, or meet with others early, and then have family prayer and breakfast and forenoon callers, it is elven or twelve o’clock before I begin secret prayer.  This is a wretched system.  It is unscriptural.  Christ rose before day, and went into a solitary place…Family prayer loses much of power and sweetness, and I can do no good to those who come to seek for me.  The conscience feels guilty, the soul unfed, the lamp not trimmed.  Then, when secret prayer comes, the soul is often out of tune.  I feel it far better to begin with God, to see His face first, to get my soul near Him before it is near another…It is best to have at least one hour alone with God before engaging in anything else.  At the same time, I must be careful not to reckon communion with God by minutes or hours, or by solitude.”

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