A Pastor’s Prayer

I wish to be thankful for what the Lord is pleased to do among us; but, at the same time, to be more earnest with him for a further out-pouring of his Spirit.

— John Newton, To the Rev. Matthew Powley, Letter III

Because THAT’S what matters…

The preacher in the pulpit proclaims the acts of salvation in the event of the Exodus: a whole people is redeemed out of slavery; a treacherous sea passage is negotiated miraculously; God saves his people — by grace! The pastor in the parish has the responsibility of insisting that the Exodus event continues to be a design for salvation to the person who does piecework in a factory, to the youth who pumps gasoline, to the woman in the daily negotiation with the demands of diapers and career, to the man trying to achieve poise between ambition in his profession and sensitivity to his wife and children at home. Pastoral work is a commitment to the everyday: it is an act of faith that the great truths of salvation are workable in the “ordinary universe.”

Eugene H. Peterson, Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), 33.

Defining “Mercy” and “Grace”

Mercy and Grace are two important theological concepts throughout the New Testament. They are listed side-by-side in 1 Timothy 1:2, and therefore refer to two separate gifts from God. Read how Lenski helpfully describes them:

ἔλεος (mercy) “. . .always deals with what we see of pain, misery and distress, these results of sin; and χαρίς (grace) always deals with sin and guilt itself. The one extends relief, the other pardon; the one cures, heals, helps, the other cleanses and reinstates.” R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel 1-14 (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2008), 191.

in Knight, Pastoral Epistles.

Stott on 1 John 2:24:

“Christian theology is anchored not only to certain historical events, culminating in the saving career of Jesus, but to the authoritative apostolic witness to, and interpretation of, these events. The Christian can never weigh anchor and launch out into the deep of speculative thought. Nor can he forsake the primitive teaching of the apostles for subsequent human traditions” (emphasis mine).

— John Stott, The Letters of John (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2009), 116.

“No one can become and remain a theologian unless he is compelled again and again to be astonished at himself. . .[he must ask] ‘Who am I to be a theologian?'” —  Karl Barth, Evangelical Theology: An Introduction (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 71.