Thursday, September 6, 2018

Ordinary Work Can Produce Extraordinary Results!

Encouragements to Preachers & Churches.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Ordinary preachers heralding ordinary sermons to ordinary congregations over many years will produce EXTRAORDINARY RESULTS by an EXTRAORDINARY GOD.

I want to break that down phrase by phrase.

Amazingly, God fills his pulpits with men — sinful men! Redeemed men purchased by Christ who have submitted to Him by faith alone and who have turned from sin and who stand desperately in need of divine grace when entering the pulpit, most astonishingly, God uses men to handle His Word. But that’s just the point. God uses ordinary men. God employs frail human beings into His work of ministry. Clay pots and weak vessels are called by God to do His work. There are many preachers who have left indelible marks on human history, to God be the glory! But far more are the untold numbers who have just plodded faithfully, unpopularly, and without recognition or applause. Mark it: God uses ordinary preachers not because of who they are but because of what they do — they faithfully speak God’s Word as faithful mouthpieces declaring what He has said in His all-sufficient and fully authoritative Word.

These ordinary preachers herald ordinary sermons. God’s Word is never ordinary. God’s Truth is never just ordinary. I understand that. But I mean that God’s plan is not for there to be smashing grand slams every week wowing the congregation and stunning the congregation with amazingly new and mind-blowing ideas and never-thought-of tidbits. No! God’s plan is for men of God to stand up week by week and simply read the text, explain the text, apply the text, and trust the Spirit of God to do great work through this faithful service. There are some sermons that God has used mightily by His grace at particular times. For instance, consider Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Consider his sermon to Cornelius and his household in Acts 10-11. Consider Paul’s sermon in Acts 16 while in the Philippian jail. Or perhaps consider Paul Washer’s sermon “The Shocking Youth Message.” God has used particular sermons in great, popular ways. And praise the Lord for His kindness and mercy in these ways. Remember that God’s plan is not for there to be smashingly new, out of this world messages that bring instant changes. His plan is often done through ordinary men preaching ordinarily *faithful* sermons over the long haul. May God be praised!

Many churches in our country have attendance under 100 people. That’s not good or bad, but just the way things are. God uses ordinary congregations comprised of ordinary Christians saved by the pure and spotless blood of Christ poured out for their deliverance. Consider faithful men who deliver faithful sermons to faithful — though small! — congregations. This is plodding and serving and ministering and persevering with faithfulness. The congregation may not make headlines for changing the world. It may not have accolades for having the largest missions-budget. But this congregation is fed the Word of Christ, nourished on the truth of God, empowered and convicted by the Spirit of God. People are changing. Lives are being transformed. Marriages are strengthened and gospel-demonstrating. Young people hear truth and are equipped for a lifetime of service to Christ in whatever employment they embark upon. The plan of God is for His people, His church, the blood-bought saints of God to be taught truth, edified in Scripture, enflamed with heart-impassioned love for Christ, and obedience to Him by the Spirit’s grace.

Like many things, change does not come overnight. Plant a small tree and you’ll see it doesn’t become a towering Oak overnight. Observe a newborn just arriving home from the hospital. In a few days, not much change may be noticeable. But in 10 years, change will undoubtedly be evident. God’s common plan for His church is not for mighty moments to rock the world but for the consistent, faithful, unashamed, courageous preaching of God’s Word to His people over the long haul. God calls His people to faithfulness not to mighty moments of prominence. He calls pastors to study the Word, to pray and prepare, to protect and guard the flock, and to herald day in and day out and “do the work of an evangelist” tirelessly and unswervingly. Without distraction, without being diverted and without shame, the man of God should stand up with God’s Word, preach God’s message, to Christ’s church, empowered by the Spirit — whether or not there is visible change, growth or results. But over many years, the people of God will grow deeper in knowledge of Christ, will soar higher in worship to God, and will keep in step intimately with the Spirit. Ministry is a mandate from God to endure for the long haul — for many years. Endure! Persevere! Keep at it! Don’t give up!

And when God uses ordinary preachers who herald ordinary sermons to ordinary congregations over the course of many years, we trust that our extraordinary and awesome God brings extraordinary results by His grace and for His glory. And the extraordinary results may not make news headlines or be inscribed in world annals. The culture may not even observe it at all. But this extraordinary results consist of this simple and awesome reality: the whole body of Christ will be fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, and it will bring the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love (Eph 4:16). In a word, the church will “grow up in all aspects into Him who is the Head, even Christ” (Eph 4:15). The extraordinary result that this extraordinary God produces is the conforming of His people into the image and likeness of His most worthy Son, Jesus Christ. This awesome work does not happen overnight. But as faithful men preach the Word faithfully to faithful congregations over an extended period of time, God does His internal, sovereign, supernatural, unexplainable work in marvelously preparing His people for glory and to behold His face where all will fall before the Lamb and cry out: “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever” (Rev 5:13)!


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