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Pastoral Confessions (1) – Introduction

March 19, 2010

This morning I was struck by the words in Revelation 2 verse 5 with the word “repent”, and that of me, in my calling as the pastor of Christ’s sheep.

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. – Revelation 2:5

Oh, being prepared to repent of pastoral and personal sins, is the most searching thing.  It strips me of all things.  It makes me feel very vulnerable, but praise God it is before Jesus my Lord.  The Lord Jesus tells me graciously, “except thou repent”, “except thou repent, my friend, my servant, my under-shepherd, my younger brother – repent my child for your own good and the good of my lambs, and I will receive you”. 

My emptiness and coldness and lifelessness and poverty of soul and spirit is this lack of prayer of repentance, the few pastoral confessions.  There is so much filth and rubbish to throw out before the Lord.  Oh, the self-raised hindrances – Lord save me from myself.  Oh, the old habits, and the new ones.

The Lord has spoken, “except thou repent” – Except  I repent, I will remain barren, dry, cold, empty, poor, naked, miserable, fruitless, without spiritual children, no power in or out of the pulpit, and Christ will come in His quick time and remove the candle stick from the church that I pastor.  I am not the only one affected, but it will affect others too.  What a disgrace, what a shame? All for the want of continual attitude of repentance.

I aim to ponder over matters that need to be repented of, and list them for my benefit, to be a reminder – to be there before me continually.  Oh Lord, help thou me.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Peter Mitchell permalink
    March 21, 2010 9:11 pm

    Dear PM

    My heart was warmed by your candid inner thoughts and prayers on repentance. It is only when we see ourselves as nothing that Christ can have the pre-eminence in our lives. The daily purging of sin is so necessary in order that Christ be more perfectly formed in us. I am reminded of one of my favourite verses in Scripture; “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being…” Acts 17:28a. What a great comfort that is!

    Warmest Christian greeting to your dear wife and children.

    Love in Christ Jesus our Lord,

    Peter Mitchell (Adelaide, Australia)

    • March 31, 2010 9:20 am

      Thank you Peter for your gracious words.

  2. January 18, 2011 11:33 am

    I am thankful to God to be able to read this example of godly humility. It reminded me of something I wrote a while ago in English Churchman which I have copied below. It is not meant to be an argument for the Book of Common Prayer but rather a plea for sincerity. I could have edited the piece again to make it more ‘nonconformist friendly’ but please forgive me for not doing so due to time. I am sure God has humbled many ministers over the years and used it to His glory but we all have to experience this humbling in our own lives. That is not least with those of us who love the doctrines of grace. We must love the Lord of grace above all.

    Pray for Ministers of God

    When you assemble as a local church you need more than mere formality. Outward forms, however lively, are no substitute for true communion with God.

    What we mean is that you need more than to hear mere orthodox truth about God. It is not impossible to be blessed in such a meeting but even the greatest truth will sound lifeless if coldly delivered. Neither is this a call for an outwardly enthusiastic presentation whether with a beaming smile or the most solemn of tones.

    Some men are merely enthusiastic to exhibit their own oratorical skills and theological dexterity. Such things can be very stirring and inspiring and moving. Such men can draw crowds. No, what is needed is none of this. What is needed is not a certain kind of production or style that will ‘impact lives’. What is needed comes, within the bounds of reverence toward God, in many styles and ways. Preaching ministers are still themselves, but they have one thing in common regarding this matter of what is needed. It comes from men who have been with God, not merely in their books or in their study. This is what is needed. This is what Robert Murray M’cheyne meant when he said that what his people most needed was a holy minister. This is what makes a sermon. It is a preacher who can talk about God because he has been spending time with God. He has followed Christ and been acquainted with grief but he also knows the joy that is set before him.

    This is greater than the claims of the charismatics and is the only thing that can save the church from the influence of the charismatic movement. The sheep will follow the voice of Christ and seekers will come back when they can see that the minister has been with God and that God is still with him in the pulpit. Then there will be a desire in the pew to follow our great God and Saviour.

    Only then, in appreciating something of the glory of God, will hearers be brought to repentance. Repentance, when just thought of as a turning from sin, has no motivation. When repentance is focussed on turning to God through the Lord Jesus Christ, then the sinner is drawn and lifted up. That is why we need ministers who are not so much managers but are simply men who love God and love being with Him. Let us pray for truly godly ministers, not because we deserve them but because we need them, not because of an outward form, but because they really are dependent upon the unsearchable riches and grace and knowledge and love of God in Christ through the blessed Spirit.

    God will hear our prayers. It may be that some godly widow somewhere will inspire a young stumbling preacher who will go on to inspire a whole generation. There might be a bright future in our midst. O what great things might happen if this whole nation including many from all walks of life and out of the various diverse cultures were brought to the Lord Jesus Christ.

    While a water butt or reservoir is no substitute for rain, it is vital through a drought. Likewise, while no substitute for a godly minister, the Book of Common Prayer can at least be a help to get a church through either a period without a minister or a time when the minister is less than at his best. Many have said, when the preaching has been less than what it should have been, that at least they have the truth in the Prayer Book Services. This is never to be thought of as an acceptable situation, as edifying preaching is essential to a true church, but at least if the Prayer Book is used, the congregation may pray that they may be provided with better preaching while they continue to be fed by the provision of the Prayer Book and Bible.

    While we thank God for the water butt during drought, we must pray for rain. Likewise pray for new preachers to be raised up, old ones to be revived and for liberal heretical ones to be converted.

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