The Awesome Responsibility of the Gospel Ministry

I Peter 5:2-4; 2 Corinthians 4:2
        Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
       Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

EDWARD PAYSON (1783-1827): If ministers only saw the preciousness of Christ, they would not be able to refrain from clapping their hands with joy, and exclaiming, I am a minister of Christ! I am a minister of Christ!

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Of all works or employments, the ministry is the most noble employment.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): I can wish no higher preferment than to be an ambassador of the King of kings…Yet I find the ministry a bitter sweet; the pleasure is tempered by many things that make a near and painful impression upon the spirit; but, on the whole, it is given unto me—and I trust to you likewise—to rejoice in it.

THOMAS ADAM (1701-1784): How glorious a distinction for a man to be employed under Christ, in the recovery of souls!

EDWARD PAYSON: Though, in committing the gospel to their trust, God has conferred on ministers the greatest honour and favour which can be given to mortals, yet, like all other favours, it brings with it a great increase of responsibility.

JOHN NEWTON: We are called to an honourable service; but it is arduous.

MATTHEW POOLE: The titles of gospel ministers are not mere titles of honour.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): We are ministers. The word has a respectable sound. To be a minister, is the aspiration of many a youth. Perhaps, if the word were otherwise rendered, their ambition might cool. Ministers are servants: they are not guests, but waiters; not landlords, but labourers. The word has been rendered “under-rowers,” men who tug at the oars on the lowest bench…We are not captains, nor owners of the galley, but only the oarsmen of Christ. Let us remember that we are the servants in our Lord’s house.

JOHN BOYS (1619-1625): For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, Ephesians 4:12. The word work forbids loitering, and the word ministry lording.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): As a minister, one is but a servant to hew wood and draw water for the house of my God. Yea, Paul, though a son, yet counted himself not a son but a servant, purely as he was a minister―a servant of God; a servant of Jesus Christ; a servant of all, and your servant for Jesus’ sake, Titus 1:1; Romans 1:1; I Corinthians 9:19; 2 Corinthians 4:5.

ISAAC BACKUS (1724-1806): An office than which there is nothing in this life, and especially in this age, more difficult, more laborious, more dangerous, or, on the other hand, more blessed before God, if a man conduct himself therein as a true soldier under the banner of Christ.

JOHN ANGELL JAMES (1785-1869): The end and aim of the ministry are to be gathered from the apostle’s solemn and comprehensive language, They watch for your souls as they that must give account, Hebrews 13:17. There, in that short, but sublime and awful sentence, the end of the pastoral office is set before us.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): They must give an account how they have discharged their duty, and what has become of the souls committed to their trust, whether any have been lost through their neglect, and whether any of them have been brought in and built up under their ministry.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): We are labouring for eternity, and we count not our work by each day’s advance, as men measure theirs; it is God’s work, and must be measured by His standard. Be ye well assured, when time, and things created, and all that oppose themselves to the Lord’s truth shall be gone, every earnest sermon preached, and every importunate prayer offered, and every form of Christian service honestly rendered, shall remain in the mighty structure which God from all eternity has resolved to raise in His own honour.

ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER (1772-1851): Keep habitually in view the awful importance of the office before you.

THOMAS COKE (1747-1814): The work of the ministry must be acknowledged by all who believe the truths of revelation, and hope for happiness beyond the grave, to be the most important in which a human being can possibly engage.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): It is an honourable thing to bear the Word of God: but our condemnation will be the greater if we think not on it, to employ ourselves therein with fear and humbleness…If he do not his duty faithfully, the honour he was placed in will cost him too much, and it had been better for him that he had never known what a pulpit meant, nor the office which was committed to him, then to have occupied such a place and not served God as he ought.

C. H. SPURGEON: Martin Luther declares that he never feared the face of man―yet he said he never went up the stairs of the pulpit at Wittenberg but he felt his knees knock together with fear lest he should not be faithful to God and His truth.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): When I was but a young divine, methought Paul did unwisely in glorying so oft of his calling in all his epistles; but I did not understand his purpose, for I knew not that the ministry of God’s Word was so weighty a matter.

RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691): When I think what I am and Who sent me, and how much the salvation and damnation of men is concerned in it, I am ready to tremble, lest God should judge me a slighter of His truth, and the souls of men, and lest in my best sermons I should be guilty of their blood.

PHILIP DODDRIDGE (1702-1751): Oh, my brethren, let us consider how fast we are posting through this dying life, in which we are to manage concerns of infinite moment; how fast we are passing on to the immediate presence of our Lord to give account to Him!

THOMAS ADAM: Remember this, O my soul, it is for eternity.

J. W. ALEXANDER (1804-1859): It is recorded of the excellent John Brown of Haddington—and I regret that I have forgotten his very words—that to a former pupil who was complaining of the smallness of his congregation, he said: “Young man, when you appear at Christ’s bar, it will be the least of your anxieties that you have so few souls to give account of.”


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