500 years ago Europe went through a Reformation wherein Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Hus, Waldo, Wycliffe, Melanchthon, Knox, Cranmer, Tyndale, Cromwell, and scores of others influenced the movement away from the Roman Catholic Church’s distorted teachings towards biblical theology (even despite their differences, these Reformers were agreed upon foundational doctrines such as that salvation was through Jesus alone, not by works, and so forth).
Richard Baxter (1615-1691) was an English Puritan whose most notable work is The Reformed Pastor. This book was not about Reformed doctrine (though Baxter was Reformed), but about reforming the pastorate. The Catholic church had created not only theological deviations, but had altered the pastorate and it was often not being taken seriously and biblical requirements were not being applied. Baxter wanted to make men aware of the seriousness and the necessity of spiritual maturity to their ministries.
- “Nothing can be rightly known, if God be not known; nor is any study well managed, nor to any great purpose, if God is not studied. We know little of the creature, till we know it as it stands related to the Creator: single letters, and syllables uncomposed, are no better than nonsense. He who overlooketh him who is the ‘Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending,’ and seeth not him in all who is the All of all, doth see nothing at all.”
The pastor’s duty is to seek God, to get closer to Him, and to then guide his congregation to know God more deeply as well. This is why he studies the Word because that is the primary way God has communicated Who He is to the world. The lost seek after spiritual enlightenment through meditation, drugs, rituals, and other means, but God spoke to us in His Word and through Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-2). That means that we need to go nowhere else.
Remember that old Maranatha Singers song by Sam Scott & Randy Thomas, “I Want to Praise Your Lord”? There’s one line that I love:
I want to know You Lord
Much more than I do
I want to know You Lord
Much more than I do
Learn to seek Your face
And the knowledge of Your grace
I want to know You
Let me ask you, is this your deep-down heart’s desire? Do you really want to know your Lord?
Then that is what your pastors are working towards. They are assisting you in knowing Him and bringing you the deeper things of the Word that will guide you to holiness. Christian music, movies, dramas, books, and the like are nice, but are not God’s intended means of bringing you into a deeper relationship with Him. It’s through His Word.
Are you spending time in His Word each day? Getting your 30 chapters of reading in each week?
- Have you ever felt discouraged in life? _________________________
- What are some encouragements from God’s Word that you can refer to when you are down? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Do you feel confident where to look in the Bible for answers to life’s problems and your daily needs? _______________________________
- What topics/areas do you think you are not confident? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- What new things about God have you learned this last week of Bible reading? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- How can you pray for and support your pastors as they deliver to you the Word of God? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Give Me the Bible Hymn by Priscilla Owens
1 Give me the Bible, star of gladness gleaming,
To cheer the wand’rer lone and tempest tossed;
No storm can hide that radiance peaceful beaming,
Since Jesus came to seek and save the lost.
Give me the Bible! Holy message shining,
Thy light shall guide me in the narrow way.
Precept and promise, law and love combining,
Till night shall vanish in eternal day.
2 Give me the Bible when my heart is broken,
When sin and grief have filled my soul with fear;
Give me the precious words by Jesus spoken,
Hold up faith’s lamp to show my Saviour near.
3 Give me the Bible, all my steps enlighten,
Teach me the danger of these realms below;
That lamp of safety, o’er the gloom shall brighten,
That light alone, the path of peace can show.
4 Give me the Bible, lamp of life immortal,
Hold up that splendor by the open grave;
Show me the light from heaven’s shining portal,
Show me the glory gilding Jordan’s wave.