Over the next few days, I will be blogging about what a pastor should look like.
My aim is to take the acronym of the word ‘pastor’ and outline what a bare-bones philosophy of ministry should look like:
- Preacher and Teacher
- Apologetics, Engaged In
- Shepherd of the flock
- Training and equipping leaders
- Reverent in worship
The Preacher and Teacher
In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus told his disciples:
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Jesus established his authority by his resurrection (Matt 28:16-17), and then passed the mantle of his ministry on to his disciples with this Great Commission, in which he gives an important rationale for expositional preaching. Leon Morris gives helpful insights into this rationale:
The church’s teaching function is thus of great importance. We teach because Jesus commanded us to teach. . . . But Jesus is not speaking about education for education’s sake. He speaks of the taught as “observing” what Jesus commanded. In other words, Jesus is concerned about a way of life. . . . He continually urges his followers to live in a manner pleasing to God. . . . So there is to be instruction and there is to be purity of life.
This commission points to the nature and purpose of expositional preaching: preaching under the supreme authority of Christ (28:17) who commanded his disciples to reproduce disciples who, through the public nature of believer’s baptism, identify with the Trinity (28:19). He showed them that making disciples involves teaching the nations to “observe all that I have commanded you” (28:20). Jesus commands them to preach every word and teaching they have heard from Christ. The apostles would accomplish this through the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5, 8).
John MacArthur believes that Jesus gives a twofold mission to the church as they proclaim the Gospel.
Jesus did not spend time teaching in order to entertain the crowds or to reveal interesting but inconsequential truths about God or to set forth ideal but optional standards that God requires. His first mission was to provide salvation for those who would come to Him in faith, that is, to make disciples. His second mission was to teach God’s truth to those disciples. That is the same twofold mission he gives the church.
Leon Morris aptly states, “Jesus is not suggesting that his followers should make a selection from his teachings as it pleases them and neglect the rest. Since the teaching of Jesus is a unified whole, disciples are to observe all that this means.” The Great Commission that Christ gave the Apostles also serves as the commission for all Christians, including preachers in the twenty-first century, in that we are called to preach all that Christ commanded, without exception.
Jesus’ commission to the apostles was a commission to make disciples by the expositional teaching and preaching of God’s Word. In addition, he promised to be with them always, “even to the end of the age” (28:20). Preaching Christ expositionally from the Scriptures will stoke the fires of hatred from this world’s system because the world hated Christ and his message (John 15:18-21). Yet, as preachers continue to make disciples amidst this contentious culture, they do not operate alone—Christ will be with them, empowering them for the task “to the end of the age” (28:20).
John Jason Owen neatly summarizes the teaching and preaching ministry of Jesus and what he passed along to his disciples:
The great fundamental principles of the gospel, which were communicated to them personally by Christ, or through the inspiration of the Spirit, have been handed down in the New Testament to us, so that to the end of time, ministers of the gospel, who go to the word of God for instruction, need to be at no loss on how to train up believers in the way of Christ’s commandments.
 Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 749.
John MacArthur, Matthew 24-28 in MacArthur New Testament Commentary Series, (Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 1989), 345.
Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew, 749.
John Jason Owen, A Commentary, Critical, Expository, and Practical, on the Gospels of Matthew and Mark (New York: Leavitt & Allen Publishers, 1857), 414.