Pastoral Ministrations | Taylor Settle

by | Dec 20, 2022 | Practical Theology

*This is the second installment in a work by Taylor Settle. You can find part 1 here: https://cbtseminary.org/the-calling-of-the-minister-taylor-settle/

Public Ministrations of the Minister called of God

Having considered the scriptural call to the ministry, attention can now be turned to the work of a minister called of God. The expressed reason given in Acts 6 for the need of deacons was so that the Apostles would not give up the preaching of the Word (Acts 6:2), but rather would devote themselves to it (Acts 6:4). The same language around the work of the minister in relation to the Word is used also in the Pastoral Epistles. He charges Timothy to devote himself to the public reading of scripture, exhortation and teaching (1 Tm. 4:13). In his second epistle to young Timothy, he charges him “in the presence of God and Christ Jesus … preach the word… be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” While the right administration of the sacraments belong to the public ministrations of the Minister called of God, the preaching of the Word of God, no doubt, is his primary employment and utmost calling. Christ raises up and gives to the Church ministers of the gospel for the expressed purpose of equipping the saints and building up of the body of Christ, that she might attain the unity of faith in and knowledge of the Son of God (Eph 4:11-13).

The public preaching of the Word of God by the Minister of God must always take priority, for it is in this act that God speaks to His gathered people. As the Second Helvetic Confession says in chapter 1, “The preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God” (emphasis mine). This preaching however, must always be done with the proper handling, dividing, and applying of the Word of God (2 Tm. 2:15). The chief way that this is accomplished is by keenly and carefully maintaining and applying the scriptures with respect to Gods two words – law and gospel (2 Cor. 3:6). Martin Luther would say: “If any of you are well versed in this art, I mean, if any of you can rightly make this distinction [between law and gospel], he would deserve to be called a doctor of theology.”[1] Often regarded as one of the fathers of Puritanism, William Perkins understands this as rudimentary and the essence of applicatory preaching. He says: “The basic principle in application is to know whether the passage is a statement of law or of the gospel. For when the word is preached, the law and gospel operate differently.”[2] (emphasis mine). In order to properly feed and nourish the sheep of God, a Minister must himself understand, and also maintain and apply the proper distinction between law and gospel which the bible teaches, and the Reformers labored to restore.[3] In the public preaching of God’s Word and the correct interpretation/application of it, with respect to law and gospel, Ministers of Christ and the New Covenant not only feed and nourish the sheep, but also in doing the work of an evangelist (2 Tm. 4:5), are able to rightly call sinners to faith in Christ, as He Himself has commanded them.

Practical Ministrations of the Minister called of God

The practical work of a Minister called of God is of great significance. In addition to the character qualifications, the Minister who is called of God is also to set an example to the church in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity (1 Tm. 4:12). There is no wonder that recent converts are prohibited from this office (1 Tm. 3:6), as a man needs time to be well acquainted with the fundamental struggles of the Christian life and of the provisions of grace available to him in Christ Jesus by His Spirit. [4]

The overarching principle in the practical employment of the Minister is given to Timothy by Paul in 1 Timothy 5:21 – “do nothing from partiality.” It goes without saying that the Minister, in being partial, should not show unfair bias in favoring particular ones in the congregation, but contextually speaking, this passage is specifically referring to not withholding rebuke from those who persist in sin (verse 20). With this in mind, we can more fully understand Paul’s direction to Timothy earlier in the chapter. In relation to different groups in the congregation, the Minister is to “not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters.” (1 Tm. 5:1-2). Paul adds at the end of that sentence that this is to be done in “all purity” (verse 2). The Minister must be above reproach, and his relation to all members of the congregation must be done from purity and without partiality, for there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, but we are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 2:28).

Besides relating to different members within a congregation, an aspect of the practical employment of the Minister is handling opposition. The constant theme in the Pastoral Epistles is stand firm, continue, endure, fight, etc. Opposition in the gospel ministry is inevitable. Ministers must be ready for the onslaught of opposition. This is evidenced in the fact that Paul would write his final letter to Timothy from a Roman prison cell, awaiting his execution for the gospel ministry. Additionally, Paul would endure:

… countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. (2 Cor. 11:23c-27)

Aside from shipwrecks and robbers, this passage crystalizes what opposition to the gospel ministry looked like for Paul, and what any Minister called of God must be prepared to endure. In handling this opposition, the Minister must be vigilant in remembering the task of his commission, namely to preach the gospel for the building up of the church and the saving of sinners. Paul’s experiential exhortation to Timothy carries much weight: “I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” (2 Tim. 2:10).

Ministers must anticipate and prepare, especially spiritually, for the opposition that they will inevitably face as heralds of the gospel. The fact is, there has been opposition to the gospel since the incarnation – they crucified our Lord. Yet, “when he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Pet 2:23). Paul exhorts Timothy to similar behavior, which is required of a Minister: “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.” (2 Tm. 2:24-25). Paul specifically left Timothy in Ephesus to charge certain persons to not teach any other doctrine (1 Tim. 1:3), with the aim of this charge being “love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Tim. 1:5). It is this attitude that Ministers are to emulate when facing opposition to the gospel ministry, with full reliance upon the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to comfort and strengthen them along with way.

About the Author

Taylor is a member of Covenant Reformed Baptist Church of Warrenton, Virginia and serves there by preaching and teaching as he works on his Diploma of Pastoral Studies through CBTS. He is married to his lovely wife Harmony, and they have four children. 


[1] Martin Luther, Sämmtliche Schriften as quoted in C. F. W. Walther, Law & Gospel How to Read and Apply the Bible, ed. Charles P. Schaum, trans. Christian C. Tiews (St Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2010), 27.

[2] William Perkins, The Art of Prophesying and The Calling of the Ministry, Puritan Paperbacks (Banner of Truth Trust, 1996) 61.

[3] Herman Bavinck, Gereformeerde Dogmatiek, trans. Nelson D. Kloosterman, 3rd ed., vol. 4 (Kampen, Netherlands: J. H. Kok, 1918), paragraphs 520-521, pages 489-498, accessed at monergism.com.

[4] Albert N. Martin, Pastoral Theology, vol. 1 The Man of God His Calling and Godly Life (Montville, NJ: Trinity Pulpit Press, 2018) 93.

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