Revival of the Mind (Part 5)
If the church is going to see a revival of the mind, it first must be modeled by its leaders. Pastors must model how faith and reason are inextricably linked. There’s a great need for our pulpits to once again be filled with pastor-scholars. Today, many Christians are suffering from light, airy, meatless, short, moralistic, human-centered sermons. There is truly a famine of the Word in the land (Amos 8:11). To counter this trend, a pastor must model sound biblical exposition. He must pay special attention to the nuances of grammar and do a thorough historical investigation of the cultural setting of the text. This careful study will help him determine what the text meant to the original hearers. He should consult other scholars (preferably from a variety of time periods and denominational backgrounds to keep from getting theological tunnel vision) in commentaries and theological journals. Once he has a solid understanding of the meaning of the text, he must then build a bridge from the biblical time period to the twenty-first century.
In order to accomplish this, he must be a student of the culture by observing current thoughts and trends. He must understand differing worldviews and engage in apologetics to defend the faith (1 Peter 3:15) and to dismantle the influence of worldly philosophies (2 Cor. 10:5). As C. S. Lewis once wrote, “Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.” The pastor then needs to bring all of this to bear in his teaching, carefully expounding the Scriptures, anticipating and answering objections, and helping the church to apply the truth of God’s Word.
As one can imagine, this takes hours and hours of hard study (2 Tim. 2:13). This is why C. H. Spurgeon wrote to his students, “A man great at teadrinkings, evening parties, and Sunday-school excursions, is generally little everywhere else. Your pulpit preparations are your first business, and if you neglect these, you will bring no credit upon yourself or your office.” Many church members, however, would rather have a light sermonette on Sundays as long as the pastor is out drinking tea with them during the week. This suggests that the pastor is central to the life of the church, rather than the Word of God proclaimed. When the pastor’s study time is guarded, the Word of God is honored.
What about other ministry tasks, such as counseling, administration, visitation, etc.? A careful study of Scriptures shows that it was never God’s plan for one man to fulfill all of these tasks. First Timothy 5:17 says, “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” This verse suggests a plurality of elders [pastors], one in particular whose job it is to “work hard at preaching and teaching.” Deacons were also added to assist the pastors.
If the church continues to demand that its pastor/teacher fill his days with countless duties other than prayer and study (Acts 6:2-4) it is unlikely that the church will experience a revival of the mind or of the heart, which means that the church’s impact in our culture for the Kingdom of God will continue to be negligible.
Article by Pastor Billy Elkins