Monday, February 22, 2010

Going the Distance - Chapter 16

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives. 

Chapter 16 - Justification by faith - a truth that works!
If I had to rank any one teaching of Scripture as of primary significance for my own nourishment as a person and a pastor, I would choose 'justification by faith alone'. It was Marin Luther who suggested that justification by faith was the article of a standing or falling church. My own view is that it is also the article of a standing or falling pastor. (p244)

In what areas does the doctrine of justification by grace help us as pastors and pastors' wives?

1. Self-esteem - my worth does not come from my job, position or the esteem of others, but rather, my status as a loved child of God.

2. Failures - "my own worth and value does not depend on my performance", I do not have to do a perfect job to be acceptable to God.
We work not in order to gain salvation or acceptance from God, but because we are already accepted in Christ. (p247)
Failure which has resulted from sin must be repented of. However failure due to mistakes, inadequate support, or sinfulness of others need not be a reason for despair. Failure can be seen as forced growth.

3. Relationships - we can accept people for who they are, rather than having 'performance-based' criteria and expectations. When we accept people for who they are and how God has made them, both encouragement and correction can flow from that relationship.

4. Leads to real work - we stick to the real tasks, seeking only the approval of God and his standards of faithfulness, rather than success.

5. Helps me to think straight - as a human 'being' not a human 'doing'. We will be aware of our relationship with God and our value to him, not assessing ourselves in light of others or our own unrealistic expectations.

6. Helps me to love & value the flock more:
Justification by faith will keep me from either idealizing or, more likely, criticizing or resenting the congregation for its imperfections. Far from finding it surprising that churches will have problems, we should expect it as the norm. God loves sinners. (p254)

Some things to think about:
  1. Have you thought about how the doctrine of justification by faith can change your attitude to your ministry?
  2. Do you struggle to accept that faithfulness is more important than 'success'? Or, instead, is it of great comfort to you?
  3. Do you have a realistic view of the people you minister to - that they are also sinners trying to live by grace?

Next Monday: Chapter 17 - Summing up

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