MINISTERIAL BOLDNESS

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What kind of boldness must the minister’s be?

First, a convincing boldness. How forcible are right words, saith Job; and how feeble are empty words, though shot with a thundering voice. Great words in reproving an error or sin, but weak arguments, produce laughter oftener than tears.

Secondly, a wise boldness. The minister is to reprove the sins of all, but to name none. Paul, preaching before a lascivious and unrighteous prince, touched him to the quick, but did not name him in his sermon. Felix’ conscience saved Paul that labour.

Thirdly, a meek boldness. Let the reproof be as sharp as thou wilt; but thy spirit must be meek. Passion raiseth the blood of him that is reproved; but compassion breaks his heart. We must not denounce wrath in wrath, lest sinners think we wish their misery; but rather with such tenderness, that they may see it is no pleasing work to us, but we do it that we might not, by a cruel silence, be accessory to their ruin, which we desire to prevent.

Fourthly, an humble boldness; such a boldness as is raised from a confidence in God and not from ourselves, our own gifts or ability, courage or stoutness.

Fifthly, a zealous boldness. Our reproofs of sin must come from a warm heart. Paul’s spirit was stirred within him when he saw the city given to idolatry. Jeremiah tells us the word of God was a fire in his bones; it broke out of his mouth like a flame out of a furnace. The word is a hammer; but it breaks not the stony heart when lightly laid on. King James said of a minister in his time, that he preached as if death were at his back. Ministers should set forth judgment as if it were at the sinner’s back to take hold of him. Cold reproofs or threatenings are like the rumble of thunder afar off, which affrights not as a clap over our head. I told you the minister’s boldness must be meek and merciful; but not to prejudice zeal.

Some helps to produce this boldness.

First a holy fear of God. We fear man so much, because we fear God so little. One fear cures another When man’s terror scares you, turn your thoughts to the wrath of God; this is the way Jeremiah was cured of his anguish distemper, fearing man (Jer 1: 17).

Secondly, castle thyself within the power and promise of God for thy assistance and protection. Our eye, alas! is on our danger, but not on the invincible walls and bulwarks which God has promised to set about us. The prophet’s servant that saw the enemy army approaching, was in a panic; but the prophet that was the heavenly host for his lifeguard about him, cared not a straw for them all.

Thirdly, keep a clear conscience: he cannot be a bold reprover, that is not a conscientious liver; such a one must speak softly, for fear of waking his own guilty conscience. Unholiness in a preacher’s life will either stop his mouth from reproving, or the people’s ears from receiving. O how harsh a sound does such a cracked bell make in the ears of his audience! Good counsel from a wicked man produces no effect.

Fourthly, consider, if thou be not now bold for Christ in thy ministry, thou canst not be bold before Christ at His judgment; he that is afraid to speak for Christ, will certainly be ashamed to look on His face then. ‘We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ’ (2 Cor. 5: 10). Now what use doth Paul make of this solemn meditation? ‘Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.’

A serious thought of that day, as we are going to preach would shut all base fear out of the pulpit. It is a very small thing to be judged by men now for our boldness, but dismal to be condemned by Christ for our cowardice.

Fifthly, consider how bold Christ was in His ministry (1 Tim. 6:13).

Sixthly, pray for this holy boldness. Thus did the apostles come by it… it was the child of prayer (Acts 4: 29f). Mark, they do not pray to be excused the battle, but to be armed with courage to stand in it; they had rather be lifted above the fear of suffering, than have immunity from the suffering. If this be thy sincere request, God will not deny it.

— William Gurnall

 

A POOR FOUNDATION

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“Christians who are not instructed in the fundamentals of Christianity are not likely to mature into solid saints. I sincerely believe a poor foundation is the reason many are not steadfast today. Dear saint, do not be too proud to go back and learn the basic precepts of the gospel if you have not yet mastered them. Too many are more concerned about their reputation than their salvation.”

—William Gurnall

Hebrews 5:12-14 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

BORN A MAN OF STRIFE

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“The length of a man’s combat with Satan measures the same as the length of his life. He is, as Jeremiah said of himself, born ‘a man of strife’ (Jer. 15:10). And once he becomes a saint, the struggle increases. From your spiritual birth to your natural death, from the hour you first set your face toward heaven until you set your foot inside the gate, you will have wars with Satan, sin, and self. Israel’s march out of Egypt is, in a figurative way, our open declaration of war against the forces of darkness. And when did they have peace? Not until they reached Canaan.”

— William Gurnall

Jeremiah 15:10 Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me.

STUDYING AND GROWING IN THE WORD

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“As you study and grow, be wary of new doctrine. Do not hastily accept everything you hear, even from the pulpit. Now I admit that to reject a doctrine simply because we have never heard it before is foolish. But we have every right to wait and inquire before embracing it. When you hear a new notion about the truth, go to God in prayer and seek His counsel. Search the Scriptures. Discuss it with your pastor and with other Christians whose wisdom and maturity you trust.

The truth will stand up under scrutiny. It is a fruit that never bruises or spoils from handling. But error, like fish, begins to stink after a few days. Therefore, let new ideas sit before you make a meal of them. You do not want to poison your soul with rotting mackerel when you could be feasting on manna from heaven!”

—William Gurnall

2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

1 Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

SEARCH FOR TRUTH

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“Perhaps you have guessed by now that your search for truth should begin with knowledge and lead to wisdom. The Word of God is called a light unto our feet – not to our tongues, merely to speak about – but to our feet, to walk by. Getting knowledge is your work; opening your heart to understand is the work of the Holy Spirit. But you must ask Him for wisdom and believe He will give it to you. God has promised wisdom to those who “ask in faith, nothing wavering” (James 1:6). Strive for wisdom, not so that men will respect and admire you, but so that they will celebrate God’s greatness. The end of every human effort should be to magnify His name. Go to God with David’s prayer on your lips: “Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works” (Ps. 119:27).”

—William Gurnall

James 1:5-6 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

Proverbs 2:3-6 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

Psalms 119:105 NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Proverbs 18:15 The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.

Proverbs 15:14 The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.

Proverbs 8:9 They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.

RUNNING THE RACE SET BEFORE YOU

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“Have you joined the troops that fight to subdue the insurrections of evil men spurred on by Satan? Just standing on the sidelines and cheering other saints to victory is not enough. You too must run the race that is set before you. If you are a saint, you belong to God and you run, not for yourself, but for Him. His desires must come before your own. If subjects could choose where they would like to live, most would ask to stay in the palace with the prince. But usually this is not in the best interests of their lord. So those who love him most not only gladly deny themselves the delicacies of court, but volunteer for service along the border where the enemy is strongest. And they thank their prince for the honor of serving him!

Paul, upon these terms, was willing to have his day of coronation in glory postponed and his day of tribulation on earth extended, so that he could keep on sowing seeds for the kingdom. Serving God is what makes life worthwhile. It gives us a great opportunity to prove our gratitude to Him for redeeming us from Satan’s power and translating us into the kingdom of His dear Son. Begin at once, Christian, to redeem your time. What you mean to do for God, do quickly.”

—William Gurnall

Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Ephesians 5:15-16 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Colossians 4:5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Colossians 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

PUTTING ON THE WHOLE ARMOUR OF GOD

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“Who wears armour in times of peace? Armour is designed for those going into battle! Do not think simply putting on the grace of God will frighten the enemy away. He is not impressed by a show of force. On the contrary, the very sight of God’s armour upon your back is like waving a red flag at Satan. So to have it on for show is not enough; you must have it securely fastened at every point.

Satan is not challenging you to a mock battle; this war is a life-or-death struggle. If you do not believe me, look what he has done with God’s servants in times past. Charging full speed ahead at many a dear saint, he has battered their armour until the grace of God in them was almost unrecognizable. All this he does when he catches a saint off guard.

Do you remember what happened to Jacob when he unbuckled his girdle of truth and sincerity, and used a trick to get his father’s blessing? He got the blessing all right, but he also was repaid in kind when Laban switched Leah for Rachel. Think how much suffering he might have saved himself by keeping his whole suit of armour in place!

What about David? Oh, the battering he took by removing his breastplate of righteousness in the matter of Uriah! He sustained a dreadful wound, being shot right through the heart. And Jonah, when God wanted to send him to Nineveh, got caught without his shoes on. By that I mean he lacked the preparation and readiness with which his mind should have been shod, to have gone at the first call. Then there was poor Hezekiah. He had his helmet of hope knocked askew and so badly dented that he cried, ”I shall not see the Lord…in the land of the living” (Isa.38:11). Even Abraham had fits of unbelief and distrustful qualms that crept in at some rusty spots in his graces.

This war is a spiritual holocaust. Either you destroy the power of Satan in your life by putting on the whole armour of God and keeping it on, or Satan will destroy you.”

—William Gurnall

Ephesians 6:13-17 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

THE HEAVY FOG OF TRIBULATION

“Satan will try to draw you off your steadfast course to heaven in still another way – by the presence of circumstances you cannot understand. With them Satan argues against God’s love, and for your soul. First, (by God’s permission) he pillaged Job’s earthly possessions, and then fell to work on his spiritual estate. He used every circumstance and everybody at his disposal. He had Job’s wife blame God; he had Job’s friends condemn the man himself. Satan convinced them all – except Job – that an afflicted condition and a state of grace could not live together in the same house.

Here is a timely warning when you find your soul adrift in a heavy fog of tribulation: Neither accuse God foolishly of your enemy’s mischief, nor charge yourself with belonging to the enemy. God can chart a straight course in the worst storm. He can be righteous when He uses wicked instruments, and gracious when He dispenses harsh providences. Do not over-react to changes in your temporal estate. Christ told us to expect some rough sailing before we reach heaven’s shore.”

— William Gurnall

John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

1 Thessalonians 3:3-4 That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.