PASTORS GIVEN BY GOD
“I will give you pastors according to my heart” is God’s promise through Jeremiah to a very wayward family of backsliding children! The sovereignty and amazing graciousness of God’s giving could not be more clearly expressed; and it is a sovereignty which is also expressed by the Apostle Paul, “And he gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
The preparation and the giving of such men to be pastors or shepherds over God’s flock, is a work which is truly divine. The spiritual life, ability, and graces needful for this work are wholly in the Lord’s hands to dispense as He has determined.
However, this sovereignty of God in giving pastors is a sovereignty which is perfectly consistent with an urgent concern that such pastors be both given and recognized. Paul strongly insists that Titus, whom he had left in Crete for that purpose, should “set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city” (Titus 1.5).
The implication is clear. There would be men suitable for such ordination and that they would be found in every city! The following verses, which give the qualifications of the elder or bishop, surely indicate that Titus would find such men if he searched diligently and that the churches of Crete would recognize the calling and appointment of such men over them.
It should be a cause of deep concern when a church has no bishop, elder, or pastor, whichever of these scripturally equivalent titles may be used.
Questions need to be asked about such a situation. Could the reason be that God has sovereignly withheld the necessary gifts, and that no one is fitted for the position? If so, it must be an evidence of His displeasure and an act of Fatherly chastisement for it is a very different situation from that which existed in New Testament times.
Could the reason be that the churches have not been prayerfully concerned or diligently seeking a spiritually suitable man as their Pastor? Could it be also that churches have not taken to heart the vitally important Biblical doctrine of the church and its ministry? Could it be that for so long some churches have been pastorless that they have become addicted to change, with itching ears for a new voice each week?
Maybe, sadly, some churches have been for so long pastorless and so long lacking consistent and consecutive teaching that they are quite unaware of the true pattern of New Testament church life and assume that what is customary must be correct? One even dares to wonder, in some cases, whether a spirit of lawlessness has so invaded the church that the last thing they want is to be taught, ruled, and shepherded according to the Word of God by a God-given pastor!
A church with a true pastor, loving his people and loved by his people, is a situation of many blessings. A pastor so blessed is blessed indeed! A church so blessed is blessed indeed! In God’s rich grace, such a church will be fed ‘with knowledge and understanding’ (Jeremiah 3.15) by a man who is ‘apt to teach’ (1 Tim. 3.2), and it is very significant that God has joined such feeding, or pastoring, with increase – ‘And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the Lord Â— ‘ (Jeremiah 3.16).
How urgent is the need for prayer. ‘Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest’. And how urgent the need for a careful assessment by churches as they actively seek out those whom God has equipped for this high calling. May it be God’s gracious will to give true pastors, and may it also be His will that the churches will lovingly and prayerfully receive and support those whom He gives.
Most of this issue is devoted to this theme, with the prayer that those whom God is calling to the work of the ministry may be encouraged, and that churches concerned for the appointment of a pastor will be encouraged in their seeking.
There is a very precious portrait of a church after God’s own heart in Philippians 1.1. ‘All the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons’. Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy.’ May our gracious God so revive His work in these days that we shall rejoice, as Paul rejoiced, in the prosperity of many such churches. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good” ;Psalm 122.6-9).