Scrutinizing Ministers

True ministers of the Gospel are slaves of Christ (1 Cor 4:1; Eph 6:6). They are called by God to minister the Word and to minister in prayer (Acts 6:4). In this, they resemble the Aaronic priests of Old Testament Israel.

Ministers are not leaders, for the church of Jesus Christ has only one Leader, who is Christ (Mt 23:10). The Holy Spirit appoints some ministers to be elders in a local church (Acts 20:28), while others may serve as street preachers, evangelists, apologists, missionary church planters, or seminary professors.

Ministers must be found trustworthy, as stewards of the mystery of the Gospel (1 Cor 4:2). They must study to show themselves approved as workmen (2 Tim 2:15), having set their hearts to study the Law of God (Ezra 7:10). Love for God’s Word causes the man of God to meditate on it day and night (Ps 1:2), for God’s Word is truth (Ps 119:160).

Ministers speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15), using spiritual thoughts and words (1 Cor 2:13). Their content is the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:24), sound doctrine that comes from the Bible (Titus 1:9; 2:1). Paul wrote, “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel (1 Cor 9:16).” He knew this Gospel was the power of God unto salvation for those who believe (Rom 1:16–17; 1 Cor 1:18).

Many false prophets have gone out into the world (Mt 24:11; 1 Jn 4:1). They promote doctrines of demons (1 Tim 4:1), false gospels, filled with deceit and mixed with the wisdom of this world (1 Cor 3:19). They are moved by the spirit of the age, the spirit of the world, and the schemes of the devil (Eph 6:11). The wind blows and their strange doctrines change (Eph 4:14; 1 Tim 1:3). They will not endure sound doctrine (2 Tim 4:3), and they must be refuted (Titus 1:9).

The motive of the minister must be love from a pure heart (1 Cor 4:5; 1 Tim 1:5). You will know his love for you, by his not exceeding what is written in the Scriptures (1 Cor 4:6). His love of the truth, as it is in Jesus Christ (Eph 4:21), is contagious.

In order to keep ministers of the Gospel humble, they often have thorns in their sides from the Lord (2 Cor 12:7). As the minister grows in the knowledge of God, we recognize knowledge can puff up in pride (1 Cor 8:1). Therefore, the minister is made weak in some manner (1 Cor 4:10). For example, he may be slandered by someone in the church (1 Cor 4:12). Others may scheme his demise (1 Cor 4:9). His family may be poor (1 Cor 4:11).

Ministers are chief fools for Christ (1 Cor 4:10). They are a spectacle to the world (1 Cor 4:9). They would teach everywhere, in every church, given the invitation. For this reason, they must not be novices, so others may imitate them in zeal and knowledge (1 Cor 4:16).

Despite the troubles that ministers face in life and the work of the ministry, each man must be faithful to persevere. He must fight the good fight and keep the faith (1 Tim 1:18–19). Many do fall away, having left their first love because of the pressures that encompass them. It is crucial for the man of God to labor as unto the Lord, keeping his eyes on Jesus (Heb 12:2), and setting his mind on things above (Col 3:2).

Ministers of the Word are to be men, not women (1 Cor 14:34–35; 1 Tim 2:9–15), and husbands who guide their homes in a manner worthy of their calling. Guidelines for overseers in the church are given in the pastoral epistles of Paul to Timothy and Titus. In essence, he must conduct himself in godliness and show himself to be an example (1 Tim 4:8, 12).

The character and execution of the ministry should be scrutinized (1 Tim 4:16). It must be evident that the minister is working hard at preaching and teaching, being thus compensated financially for his time and commitment to the church (Rom 15:27; 1 Cor 9:11; 1 Tim 5:17).

Ministers of the Gospel must not be greedy for gain, lovers of money, or lovers of this world. They must instruct the rich to share what God has given them (1 Tim 6:18). Temptation to sexual sin is also acutely problematic because of the spotlight and platform afforded to the man of God. The devil prowls around, looking to destroy those who are especially effective in sharing the treasure of this glorious Gospel.

The active minister of grace must be utterly focused, in order to please the One who called him. He must be like the farmer, the athlete, and the soldier on a mission to complete the task (2 Tim 2:1–6). He must be willing to suffer hardship for the sake of the elect (2 Tim 2:10), even when his afflictions come from within the church, more than from the world.

Difficult times come for ministers who are faithful to preach the Word (2 Tim 4:2). Wolves and goats infiltrate the sheepfold and trouble the flock of God, but the Lord knows those who are His (2 Tim 2:19). These troublers of Israel will profess to know God, but their disobedience to Scripture and detestable deeds will become evident to all (Titus 1:16). Scripture is given to reprove and correct them, in the hope that repentance will be granted by God’s grace (2 Tim 3:16; Acts 5:31).

Christian, take note of the spiritual warfare prevalent within the walls of most local churches. The true minister of Gospel grace is a key person in your spiritual growth. Your love and support of the man of God, sent to you by God, is indicative of your receipt of Jesus Christ Himself.

Pastor, you must press on toward the mark of your high calling (Phil 3:14). Therefore, you must remember your calling and kindle afresh the gifts given to you to proclaim the excellencies of Him who bought you for a price. A day of great scrutiny is coming when you and your works will be examined — not by men, nor even yourself, but by the Lord. Therefore, be diligent in study, in prayer, in godly character, and in your stewardship of preaching Christ and Him crucified…our only hope of glory.

David Norczyk

Missoula, Montana

August 4, 2022

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David Norczyk

Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher