Monday, July 23, 2012

Benjamin Keach: Eight Duties of Church Members to Pastors

Note:  The article below appeared as the Paradosis column in the last issue of the RBT.  Note Keach's references to Owen as an authority as evidence of the respect he enjoyed and influenced he exercised among early Particular Baptists. 

Benjamin Keach was a Puritan Particular Baptist pastor who lived from 1640-1704.  He is the namesake for the annual Keach Conference.  The slightly edited extract below is taken from The Glory of a True Church and its Discipline Displayed (1697), one of Keach’s many works addressing ecclesiology and ministry.

Eight Duties of Church Members to Pastors

By Benjamin Keach

Of the duty of church members to their Pastor

1.      It is the duty of every member to pray for his Pastor and Teachers.

“Brethren pray for us” (1 Thess 5:25; Heb 13:18) that the Word of the Lord may run and be glorified.  Again, saith Paul, “praying also for us that God would open unto us a door of utterance to speak the mystery of Christ” (Col 4:3).  Prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.  Those that neglect this duty seem not to care either for their Minister, or their own souls, or whether sinners be converted, or the church edified or not. They pray for their daily bread, and will they not pray to have the Bread of Life plentifully broken to them?

Motives to this:

(a)   The Minister’s work is great:  “Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Cor 2:16).

(b)    The opposition is not small which is made against them (see 1 Cor 16:9).

(c)    God’s loud call (as well as Minister’s themselves) is for the saints’ continual prayers and supplications for them.

(d)   Their weaknesses and temptations are many.

(e)   The increase and edification of the church depends on the success of their ministry.

(f)     If they fall or miscarry, God is greatly dishonored, and his ways and people reproached.

2.      They ought to show a reverential estimation of them, being Christ’s ambassadors, also called Rulers, Angels, etc.

They that honor and receive them, honor and receive Jesus Christ.  “Esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake” (1 Thess 5:13).   Again, he saith, “Let the elders that rule well, be accounted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in word and doctrine” (1 Tim 5:17).  That is, as I conceive, those that are most laborious.

3.      It is their duty to submit themselves unto them, that is, in all their exhortations, good counsels, and reproofs.

When they call to any  extraordinary duty such as prayer, fasting, or days of thanksgiving, if they see no just cause why such days should not be kept, they ought to obey their Pastor or Elder, as in other cases also.  “Obey them that have the rule over you and submit yourselves” (Heb 13:7).

4.      It is their duty to take care to vindicate them from the unjust charges of evil men, or tongue of infamy, and not to take up a reproach against them by report, nor to grieve their spirits, or to weaken their hands (Jer 20:10; Zeph 2:8; 2 Cor 11:21, 23).

5.      It is the duty of members to go to them when under trouble or temptations.

6.     It is their duty to provide a comfortable maintenance for them and their families, suitable to their state and condition.

“Let him that is taught in the word communicate to him that teacheth in all good things” (Gal 6:6).  “Who goeth a warfare at his own charge? Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof?.... (1 Cor 9:7).  “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel” (v. 14).  “If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?” (v. 11).  They should minister to them cheerfully, with all readiness of mind.  Ministers are not to ask for their bread, but to receive it honorably (Matt 10:9-10).  Though the Minister’s maintenance is not by tithes, etc., as under the law, yet they have now as just a right to a comfortable maintenance as they had then.  The equity of the duty is the same.  Our Savior, saith Dr. Owen, pleads it from the grounds of equity and justice.  All kind of rules and laws of righteousness among men of all sorts calls for it.

7.      It is their duty to adhere to them and abide by them in all their trials and persecutions for the Word.

“Ye were not ashamed of me in my bonds…” (cf. 2 Tim 1:16-18).

8.      Dr. Owen adds another duty of the members to their Pastor, viz., to agree to come together upon his appointment.

“When they were come, and had gathered the church together…” (Acts 14:27). 

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