“And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.” Acts 3:4.
As George Whitefield was making one of his whirlwind preaching tours through North America, thousands were being awakened to salvation by his preaching. He preached with authority, unlike the majority of dry, croaking preachers of the day. When he first entered Boston, he was met on the street by a very unfriendly and formal minister. “I am sorry you have come,” said the minister boldly to the great evangelist. Replied Whitefield (just as boldly), “So is the devil.”
This is what we want. It is what the world needs–a ministry with no illusions relating to their calling; a fearless ministry, one that knows where they stand with God and the devil and who will boldly declare war on the latter and all of his hiding places; who can stand before a lost and needy generation and proclaim with Peter and John, “Look on us!”
This is the cry of the ministry of this present restoration. With Paul, they see their calling to confound the wise and mighty and to bring to naught the things that are (1 Cor. 1:26-28). Though they tremble indeed at their own inadequacies, yet they take God as their sufficiency and fail not to declare to the people the whole counsel of God (2 Cor. 3:5; Acts 20:27).
Such is not a popular position to hold in our day. It has been said that today’s generation looks upon “traditional” structures of leadership with skepticism. Instead, they value the “servant-leader,” one on equal footing with them who is glad to serve tables and be their chum. If he will watch the football game with them, and go with them on camping trips, then they are glad to hear him “speak” or “share” on Sundays. If he wears blue jeans or casual clothes in the pulpit, so much the better, as it makes everyone feel “welcome” and “comfortable.” If his sermonettes lack moral courage (because they require no radical commitment from the hearer), then this is a plus, for fanaticism is distasteful. And everyone knows legalism is taboo.
This is the degree to which the ministerial office has fallen. But such is not the mark of a true minister.
True ministers know they have what the world needs. They take the posture of Peter and John, and the certitude of Whitefield. They are not content to leave the Word of God to serve tables. A true minister is blameless and harmless as a son of God, friendly and pleasant to souls and will instruct with meekness those that oppose themselves. But they are equally as bold as lions against sin and all unrighteousness. And because they know exactly where they stand scripturally and prophetically, they can say, “Follow me, as I follow Christ,” and mean it. Their holy examples and burning love for God and man command and demand that we follow them.
Sectarian preachers are afraid to make such scriptural statements. Why? The answer is simple. They are not following Christ. Consequently, they have no authority that produces biblical obedience in those to whom they preach. They use fair-sounding platitudes to discourage people from following them. “Look to Jesus,” they say. “Don’t look to me.” What they mean is that they have no true calling, no word from the Lord. Unlike John, they have the silver and the gold. They can toss a few coins from their missionary fund to help you and feel they have been good Samaritans. Yet, they leave the spiritual need unmet.
Such pretenders to the biblical office, because they lack divine authority, contrive substitutes of their own making and seek out many inventions to bolster their tenuous positions. Some bask in the glory of bygone eras. They quote Wesley, Finney, Fletcher and Warner. Their speeches are replete with anecdotes of famous men and women but are woefully deficient of personal testimony and power. These are modern sons of Sceva, who, having no glory of their own, seek to fight the forces of darkness and meet the spiritual needs of mankind on the bona fides of another. At such the devil laughs and asks, “Who are you?” And at such, the lame at the gate look expectantly and are disappointed.
The devil no longer fears Wesley or Warner. They are no longer here and can do him no harm. The common people scarcely even know about them. Their concern is not with dead people, but with problems more immediate. Though they cry out for alms, they are wanting more than the silver and gold from a so-called “social gospel.” The devil will tremble at, and people will respond to, a living, burning, and shining light. Such is the true minister.
We thank and praise Almighty God that He has not left Himself without witness in this end time. Though false ministers abound, He has raised up a ministry which has more than silver and gold–holy men and women with discernment, gifted to meet the spiritual needs of mankind. Because they say, “Look on us,” they are called proud and exclusive by sectarian preachers. Because they are certain and have spiritual authority, they are called “fanatics,” “popes,” and “lord’s over God’s heritage.” The devil, coward that he is, can only content himself to stand afar off and try to pelt these dear ones with epithets (he dare not come close). But wisdom is justified of her children. There is a whole multitude of formerly lame that are walking, leaping, and praising God. If you doubt it, just come and see.