I am just over six years into being senior minister of a church and over ten years in full time Christian ministry. It’s been a hard road for a while, but God put a book in my hand this term, “An All Round Ministry”, which is a collection of addresses by C.H. Spurgeon at his minister’s conferences. His first address, “Faith”, has been a great help. I’ve summarised the structure below and have found it helpful to see where faith is strong (in Christ) and where it needs strengthening (in the experience of ministry). I hope other weary souls may be helped as I have been.
The minster’s faith
We are born again, not of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but by the will of God. It is by faith, through faith that we are saved.
If our status before God is by faith, and we lay claim to the promises of the covenant by faith, and we go on by faith, then surely our ministry is of faith, too.
The goal of ministry is to set forth the saving gospel of Christ so than the sons of men may grasp it by faith.
It is proven by all observation that success in the Lord’s service is very generally in proportion to faith. It is certainly not in proportion to ability, nor does it run parallel with a display of zeal; but it is invariably according to the measure of faith, for this is the law of the Kingdom without exception.
Wherein and upon what matters have me, as ministers, faith, or great need of it?
1. Faith in God. God is the creator, sustainer and the one by whom all things are ordered for his glory and the good of his people. God is personal, relational, He alone is the I AM, for ever and ever. By faith, we see the hand of God in creation’s grand design.
2. Faith is fixed on the Christ of God. We trust in Jesus. He made atonement on the cross, rose from the grave, ascended into heaven and has taken us captive as he intercedes for us before the throne.
3. Faith is an equal confidence in the Holy Spirit. We believe in his deity and personality; his influences and offices. Have we trusted our life to him?
4. You and I believe in the doctrines of the gospel. The facts of the gospel are the same today as they were two thousand years ago. We ought not to dilute them, but many do just this! Our faith is rooted in the truths of the gospel in all it’s simplicity and complexity.
5. Faith believes in the power of prayer.
6. One other point, which I believe is essential to a minister’s faith, is that we believe in our own commission to preach the gospel.
7. We believe that the Great Shepherd of the Sheep will grant us an all-sufficiency with which to feed His people.
8. Our faith discerns upon our side unseen agency. While we are at work, God is also at work. All week long, by care and affliction, and trouble and sometimes by joy and consolation, making the people ready to hear what He has charged us to teach them.
9. Faith leads us to believe in difficulties being overruled to promote success. Because we believe in God and the Holy Spirit, we believe that all difficulties will be greatly sanctified in us. We believe in defeat, and going back with the banner trailed in the mire, persuaded that this may be the greatest way to everlasting triumph.
10. We believe in the gospel as God’s power to save. We know that, for every case of spiritual sickness, we have an infallible cure.
What does our faith work in us?
1. A glorious independence of man. The man who believes in God, and believes in Christ and believes in the Holy Spirit, will stay himself upon the Lord alone; not leaning or depending on the help of others.
2. A great courage under all circumstances. “Fear, I don’t know him.” “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
3. An abundance of good works.
4. Bear much hardship, exercise much self denial. True faith makes a man feel it is sweet to be a living sacrifice to God.
5. Faith is to us a great enlargement of our souls. We narrow our souls if we are morbidly anxious to possess a self-consistent creed. In other words, to make everything fit and to discard as worthless any doctrinal statement which will not fit an easy rationalism.
6. Those who believe firmly are made strong for service. Doubts about this and scruples about that do not make us strong for service. I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded, that he is able.
7. Faith is our refreshment. Our faith in God revives us from our battle fatigue and weariness.
What does our faith say to us in the morning?
1. It claims to be well founded. The older I grow the more I realise the things I believe tally with my own soul’s best experience.
2. Faith asks us this question, “Have I ever deceived any one of you?” God asks, “Have I ever turned my back on you?”
3. Faith says “Give us wider range. Trust your God more.” Keep going deeper, like the river from the temple. Trust me to make you preach better. Do not fight your own battle in the church meeting, leave it to God. Trust me, go with prudence but with zeal into the darkest haunts of vice. Find the worst of men and seek their salvation.
4. Faith says “Feed me, feed me!” Faith feeds on Christ in his word and by prayer, mediation and study.
5. Faith says “we must go forward.” Faith presses on toward the goal, to which Christ has called us heavenward. Keep focused faithful solder and press on.