To Ministers & Preachers (pt3)

On October 20th 1909, P. T. Forsyth delivered an ordination address based on John 17:6,

“I manifested thy name unto the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them to Me.“

The sermon is very short and broken down into three parts, The Property, The Gift, The Use.

We conclude with part three….

forsyth1

“I Have Manifested Thy Name to Them.”

What a charge – to be the living man on whom men depend for the living God!  The people say to you as Minister, what Philip said to Jesus, “Show us the Father” (John 14:8).

“I have manifested Thy name.”  That means nature, and nature means presence and action – not truths about God but God Himself in action.  It is not the Fatherhood of God you have to preach but God the Father.  You do not have to preach about God to people, you must preach God into people.  So true preaching is not telling people, but acting on people, making people.

No amount of telling will ever convince people of the Father; it has to be lived into them.  Therefore yours must be a personal ministry.  When the personal God revealed Himself, it was in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ; and when Christ is preached it is by men, by a soul.  You cannot reveal the Holy One by talking about holiness.  “That is true,” says someone, “You can only reveal the Holy One by being holy.”  But he knows little of himself who can say that.  If we cannot preach the Holy God except by being holy, who can preach him?

The holiness that fits you to preach about the Holy is not your personal sanctity and conduct, but your evident communion with the Holy Christ.  It is a life faith you want more than a life conduct.

Why!  Paul addressed such Churches as his by the name of Saints!  Churches in which the grossest sins were evident.  They were not saints by conduct but by faith.

Your goodness is not equal to your task as a minister but your faith must be.  You must realise that “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor 12:9).  So it is!  Not even your faith is sufficient, but only His grace, for you have to reveal Christ as Christ revealed, in this sense, that in both cases it is the soul that tells.  But there is this difference:  He revealed God to us by the resources of His own soul, while you cannot do it from the resources of your soul but only from His.  Nobody was for Him what He is for you with God.

The greatest thing you can give any man is your God and your Saviour.  The reason why some ministers are valuable for other things than preaching, even valuable in spite of their preaching, is that they preach about God, and about Christ; they do not preach Christ.  They are only messengers, not Sacraments.

A favourite type of preaching today is to analyse your soul; it is subjective, psychological preaching.  It is weak, it is exhausting, it is dangerous.  Analyse the Gospel in reference to the soul.  You are a minister of the Word, not of the soul.

And that Word will be selective.  There is real truth in the doctrine of election.  You will not appeal to all alike.  To try to do so is to make your Gospel colourless.  There will be some whom you will not touch.  On the other hand, there may be some given to you whom others have never touched.

If your Church were smaller, it might be more powerful.  If you could shed off people as Christ did, you might be stronger, like Gideon’s host.  Christ alone has the promise and reversion of all men, and He only at the last.  At first, all forsook him and fled.

You have but a corner of the vineyard, and cannot appeal to all men.  Humility then is better equipment than ambition, even the ambition of doing much good.  And remember as a last word:  in the Christian ministry, all self-seeking is fatal.

 

*** With gratitude to Jason Goroncy in his excellent book containing published and unpublished sermons by Forsyth, the one I am posting (in three parts, part one here, part two here) is previously unpublished (p.352-355), and I whole-heartedly commend the book, as I have already done in a previous post, not least for an outstanding introduction (worth the book money alone)!

To Ministers & Preachers (pt1)

On October 20th 1909, P. T. Forsyth delivered an ordination address based on John 17:6,

I manifested thy name unto the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them to Me.

The sermon is very short and broken down into three parts, The Property, The Gift, The Use.

jason-goroncy-2013Below is part one (The Property), and over Easter I will blog the other two parts.  With gratitude to Jason Goroncy in his excellent book containing published and unpublished sermons by Forsyth, the one I am posting is a previously unpublished one (p.352-355), and I whole-heartedly commend the book, as I have already done in a previous post, not least for an outstanding introduction (worth the book money alone)!

 

forsyth on wallEnough of Gralefrit!  Here’s Forsyth….

‘Thine They Were.’

These are God’s people.  Christ’s people, not yours.  You say they are “my people!”  Yes, but only because they are the people of God.

To begin with, they cost Him more than they will ever cost you.  If ever they are trying, and if ever they tax your patience, remember that.  And if ever you feel unequal to your task, remember that they are more His than yours, because they cost Him more.  Your Church . . . . is the Church of the living God, bought by Christ’s most precious blood.

You will see then that the Church is composed of those who are His people in a very different sense than, for instance, “the earth is the Lord’s” (Ps 24:1).  The Spirit of the Lord fills and moves His creation, but what made the Church, and fills and moves it, is His Holy Spirit, something far more intimate to God than the power and order of creation, something dearer, something greater.

All men are God’s as part of His creation; they are His offspring.  But there is something greater, diviner, than humanity; it is the Church of God.  The Church of God is the finest product of humanity; it is the greatest thing in the universe.  And this is so because it was produced by God in His Son and Holy Spirit.

The Church is His own as no nation is, no society, no family.  The Church is His as His Son is His – His in His Son.  He is not as a part of creation, but as a new creation in Jesus Christ.  If in Love He created the world, in much more love did He create the Church.  It was in might and beauty He created the world; it was in Holy love He created the Church.  It is His as nothing else in the world is.  It is the Church of His Son, and His Son is more to Him than all the world.

I speak of the Church of course, as God sees it; God who sees the end from the beginning.  You also must learn to see your Church like that; not as a man sees it but as God redeemed it, and as God trusts it, and bears with it, and feeds it, and serves it, and waits for it while it grows to the mature man in Jesus Christ.

I have spoken of the property.  I now come to speak of the gift….

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