The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

The pastor’s burden

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John Angell James’ wrote The Christian Professor to describe the true profession of faith with its peculiar qualities and particular challenges. In a chapter on “The Dangers of Self-Deception,” he is speaking not only of how easy it is to be self-deceived, but of how dangerous it is to the one who is so deceived, and the difficulty of the one so deceived realising his self-deception. Therefore he speaks, almost as an aside, of the pastor’s role in this regard, of helping men to know their own hearts and their state before God:

. . . some ministers feel it to be the greatest perplexity of all their pastoral avocations, to give answers to people, who come to advise with them on the subject of making a profession. If from suspicion that their hearts are not yet right with God they dissuade them, they may be discouraging those whom they ought to receive and encourage — sending away a babe that ought to be laid in the bosom of the church — breaking the bruised reed and quenching the smoking flax. While on the other hand, if they encourage the inquirer to come forward, they may be strengthening the delusion of a self-deceived soul, and become accessory to the ruin of an immortal spirit. Some conscientious men have found and felt this to be the very burden of their lives, and from which there is no way of gaining relief or ease—but by laying down the marks of true conversion, begging the questioner to bring forward his heart to this test, stating what is implied in a Christian profession, and making him, as has been already said, responsible for the judgment of his own case, and all its consequences too.

There is little that so burdens a pastor as the need to be a right and true counsellor at this point.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 9 August 2011 at 08:00

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