Theology in Pastoral Ministry

The Bible teaches that there is but one God who exists eternally as three separate co-eternal and co-equal persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt 28:19).  The one God exists as a Trinity of persons.  Each person of the Trinity is fully God, yet there is but one God.  The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit each have distinct roles in the work of redemption.  However, the difference of roles that exists in the Trinity does not detract from the equality of each person.  This one triune God is infinite in all of his attributes and has existed for all eternity (Ps 90:4).  God is not a man, but has created man and all things out of nothing (Heb 11:3).  He is not dependent on anything, but upholds all things by the power of his word (Heb 1:3).

God is immutable, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and eternal.  These are known as the incommunicable attributes of God since they are not shared with his creatures.  He knows all things past, present, and future (1 John 3:20).  He exercises meticulous providence over all things and is absolutely sovereign over all events of human history (Eph 1:11).  God is all-powerful and can do anything he desires except that which goes against his own nature such as lying (Ps 135:6; Heb 6:18).  He is infinitely holy existing without the slightest stain of sin.  He is also gracious, merciful, loving, righteous, wise, and good.  These are known as the communicable attributes of God because man can also be gracious, merciful, and loving to a certain degree.

He is incomprehensible, yet has revealed himself in Scripture and through the incarnation of Jesus Christ so that his people may know him (John 1:14).  He is transcendent, yet also immanent.  God has created all things for his glory and he is to be honored and obeyed as the judge of all mankind (Isa 43:7).  God desires that his people share in the love and joy which exists between the three persons of the Trinity (John 17:13, 26).  The reason God created man is so that man might have perfect fellowship with God and worship God for all eternity.  All of creation exists for God’s glory and sin is anything which detracts from giving God the glory and honor that he alone deserves.  God desires that all people worship and pray to him because he is jealous for his own glory (Exod 34:14).  He will not share his glory with others, but the triune God is the only object worthy of glory and praise (Isa 48:11).  As the Westminster Shorter Catechism says, “Man’s chief aim is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

The implications of the doctrine of God for Christian leadership are enormous.  Because God alone is worthy of worship and has created man for his glory, all things related to Christian leadership must have the glory of God has their goal.  The Christian leader should do all things with a desire to glorify God.  The pastor must have a God-driven ministry that lives before God knowing that the Christian leader must one day give an account for his ministry (Heb 13:17).  The glory of God helps the leader avoid legalism on the one hand by doing all things for the glory of God and avoiding laziness on the other since God knows and sees all things.  The Christian leader should serve God out of a desire to spread the love and joy found in Christ to all those he ministers to.  When the minister has his eyes fixed on God and not himself, he will not serve with impure motives rooted in the love of money or personal power.  When the Christian leader lives for an audience of one, he remains faithful to the Word of God instead of changing the message to accommodate it to the sinful desires of man.

The doctrine of the Trinity has many implications for pastoral leadership.  The unity of the Trinity serves as a model for Christian unity (John 17:22).  Christians must not fight and gossip among themselves because when they do, they are not reflecting the perfect unity of God.  Because the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are in perfect fellowship with each other, Christians must be at peace with each other.  The Christian leader must realize that those he ministers to, though they may not be as knowledgeable of Scripture as he is, are equally members of Christ and co-heirs of eternal life.  Just as the Father, the Son, and the Spirit have different roles, Christians have different roles in the church because they have been given different gifts.  The pastor must not be arrogant because he has been given gifts of teaching while another has been given gifts of service.  A difference of role does not mean that a person is inferior to another because each person of the Trinity is equal, yet they have different roles.

Because God is triune, the Christian leader needs to realize that God created his people for community.  The leader cannot rely solely on himself, but he must be involved in the lives of others and ask other leaders in the church for advice.  He needs to develop relationships with others and mentor those around him.  The leader cannot be isolated from those around him, but instead seek out others to keep him accountable.  Christians need mutual encouragement and relationships to grow in Christian maturity.  The submission of the Son to the Father in the Trinity shows that servanthood is dignified in God’s eyes (Phil 2:5-11).  The pastor should imitate the submissiveness of Christ to all of those around him instead of being arrogant.  He must realize that he is part of a community where the servant is the greatest of all (Matt 23:11).  He cannot look down on the weakest member of Christ, but instead see that person as being just as much a part of the church as he is.

Because God is sovereign, he can always be trusted and relied upon in the midst of tragedy.  God’s providence extends not only to the blessings of life, but also to the tragedies of life as well.  The pastor must tell his people that God has a good purpose for the evil that they are experiencing and will use it for his glory and their good even if they cannot see it now (Rom 8:28).  Because God is good and wise, he can be trusted in the midst of loss and death.  Christians must believe that the judge of all the earth will do right instead of trying to remove God from the tragedies of life (Gen 18:25).  Because God is the judge of all mankind, the pastor must live his life knowing that he will have to give an account of the stewardship that God has entrusted him with.  This should result in godly living and humility before God.  The Christian leader must be completely dependent upon God for success in the ministry and be humbled that God would choose such a sinner to minister the gospel.  How arrogant would it be for a pastor to think that it is by his own ingenuity that he knows so much about God when all he has received is only a gift from him (John 3:27).


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