Stylos is the blog of Jeff Riddle, a Reformed Baptist Pastor in North Garden, Virginia. The title "Stylos" is the Greek word for pillar. In 1 Timothy 3:15 Paul urges his readers to consider "how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar (stylos) and ground of the truth."
Image (left side): Decorative urn with title for the book of Acts in Codex Alexandrinus.
Saturday, February 02, 2013
Evangelism Series (Part Eight): Quotes "Against Lay Preaching"
Note: I ran across this collection of quotes "Against Lay Preaching" [posted on a PRC website] from various Reformed stalwarts. The quotes challenge the revivalistic assumption of many contemporary evangelicals who see preaching the gospel (euangelizo) as open to non-ordained ministers and sometimes border on hyper-egalitarianism, arguing that this kind of public ministry is expected of all Christians under the duty of "personal evangelism." They might be surprised to find that men like A. W. Pink, for example, called such views "ecclesiastical socialism" (see below). Chapter 26 of The Second London Baptist Confession (see paragraph 11) might be added to the quotes in that it notes that the Pastors are to be instant in preaching while only allowing others to peach the gospel who are "approved and called by the church." Here are the quotes:
"God has repeatedly commended its dignity by the titles which he has
bestowed upon it, in order that we might hold it in the highest estimation, as
among the most excellent of our blessings. He declares, that in raising up
teachers he confers a special benefit on men, when he bids his prophet exclaim,
'How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good
tidings, that publisheth peace' (Isa. 52:7), and when he calls the apostles the
light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13-14). Nor could the
office be more highly eulogised than when he said, 'He that heareth you heareth
me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me' (Luke 10:16). But the most striking
passage of all is that in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, where Paul
treats as it were professedly of this question. He contends that there is
nothing in the Church more noble and glorious than the ministry of the Gospel,
seeing it is the administration of the Spirit of righteousness and eternal
life. These and similar passages should have the effect of preventing that
method of governing and maintaining the Church by ministers, a method which the
Lord has ratified for ever, from seeming worthless in our eyes, and at length
becoming obsolete by contempt ... Now seeing that in the sacred assembly all
things ought to be done decently and in order (I Cor. 14:40), there is nothing
in which this ought to be more carefully observed than in settling government,
irregularity in any respect being nowhere more perilous. Wherefore, lest
restless and turbulent men should presumptuously push themselves forward to
teach or rule (which might otherwise happen), it was expressly provided that no
one should assume a public office in the Church without a call (Heb. 5:4; Jer.
17:16). Therefore, if any one would be deemed a true minister at the Church, he
must first be duly called; and, secondly, he must answer to his calling; that
is, undertake and execute the office assigned to him. This may often be
observed in Paul, who, when he would approve his apostleship, almost always
alleges a call, together with his fidelity in discharging the office. If so
great a minister of Christ dares not arrogate to himself authority to be heard
in the Church, unless as having been appointed to it by the command of his
Lord, and faithfully performing what has been entrusted to him, how great the
effrontery for any man, devoid of one or both of them, to demand for himself
such honour" (Institutes 4.3.3, 10).
Larger Catechism, Q. & A. 158: "Q. By whom is the word of God
to be preached?
A. The word of God is to be preached only by such as are sufficiently gifted,
and also duly approved and called to that office."
act of ordination stands in the mission to the deputation of a man to an
ecclesiastical function with power and authority to perform the same; and thus
are pastors ordained when they are sent to a people with power to preach the
Word, minister the sacraments, and exercise ecclesiastical discipline among
them. For 'How shall they preach except they be sent?' ... If it were an
intolerable usurpation, in a man's own family, if any man should take on him
the steward's place to dispense meat to the household, not being thereunto
appointed, how much more were it an intolerable usurpation in the church ...
Suppose they be well gifted, yet they may not preach except they be sent ...
Thus sending needs be ordination, not the church's election; a people may
choose to themselves, but they cannot send to themselves ... There are five
necessary means and ways which must be had and used by those who look to be
saved: (1) calling on the name of the Lord; (2) believing on him; (3) hearing
his Word; (4) a preaching ministry; (5) mission or ordination. If the first
four be perpetually necessary to the end of the world, so must the fifth be;
for the apostle lays almost as great necessity on this last as on the rest ...
There can be no ministerial office without a mission or ordination" (Aaron's
"... for a public, formal, ministerial teaching, two things are required
in the teacher: — first, gifts from God; secondly, authority from the church (I
speak now of ordinary cases). He that wants either is no true pastor. For the
first, God sends none upon an employment but whom he fits with gifts for it, 1.
Not one command in the Scripture made to teachers; 2. Not one rule for their
direction; 3. Not one promise to their endeavours; 4. Not any end of their
employment; 5. Not one encouragement to their duty; 6. Not one reproof for
their negligence; 7. Not the least intimation of their reward, — but cuts off
ungifted, idle pastors from any true interest in the calling. And for the
others, that want authority from the church, neither ought they to undertake
any formal act properly belonging to the ministry, such as is solemn teaching
of the word; for, — 1. They are none of Christ’s officers, Ephesians 4:11. 2.
They are expressly forbidden it, Jeremiah 23:21; Hebrews 5:4. 3. The blessing
on the word is promised only to sent teachers, Romans 10:14-15. 4. If to be
gifted be to be called, then, — (1) Every one might undertake so much in sacred
duties as he fancies himself to be able to perform; (2) Children (as they
report of Athanasius) might baptize; (3) Every common Christian might
administer the communion. But endless are the arguments that might be
multiplied against this fancy. In a word, if our Saviour Christ be the God of
order, he hath left his church to no such confusion" (Works, vol.
13, p. 43).
"... God distinguisheth persons with respect unto office. He ... puts them
into the ministry. This of old Korah repined against ... But the office is
honourable; and so are they by whom it is discharged in a due manner. And it is
the prerogative of God to call whom he pleaseth thereunto. And there is no
greater usurpation therein than the constitution of ministers by the laws,
rules, and authority of men. For any to set up such in office as he hath not
gifted for it, nor called unto it, is to sit in the temple of God, and to show
themselves to be God" (Hebrews, vol. 5, p. 362).
"Christ himself had his call to authorise him: ‘Thou hast sent me into the
world;’ therefore much more should you have a call to authorise you. If the
work doth not lie within the compass of your office, you do not glorify God,
and cannot please him; and it will be ill for your account; you cannot, when
you die, say as Christ, ‘I have glorified thee upon the earth, I have finished
the work which thou hast given me to do’ (John 14:7). You do not glorify God
with anything but that which He hath given you to do. It is notable that Christ
would not intermeddle out of his calling. When one came to entreat him to
‘speak to his brother to divide the inheritance with him,’ He said to him,
‘Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?’ (Luke 12:4). Who was fitter to
judge than Christ? Yet this was not the work He came about" (Exposition
of John 17, pp. 328-329).
"… no one, unless sent by God, ought to usurp the office of teaching in
the church, whether a new doctrine is proposed or an old one, because it is
always evident that no one ought to assume the part of a … minister unless he
is sent by the Lord. And as many as teach in the church without being called or
sent are said ‘to teach in their own name’ and not in the name of Christ (John
5:43) (i.e., not sent by God), by themselves and their own authority and thrust
in by themselves, who on that account deserve the name of thieves and robbers
and not of true shepherds (John 10:8)" (Institutes of Elenctic Theology,
vol. 3, p. 212).
Wilhelmus a Brakel:
"Question: Is a divine commission necessary for the office of minister?
Answer: Socinians and others answer negatively; however, we answer
affirmatively. The need for a divine commission is first of all evident from
several clear texts ... Ephesians 4:11, 'And he gave some, apostles ... and
some, pastors and teachers.' As you can observe, Christ has given pastors and
teachers as well as apostles 'for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of
the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ' (Eph. 4:11-12) ...
Consider also Romans 10:15, 'And how shall they preach, except they be sent?'
It is as much as being stated that no one can or may preach without being sent.
One cannot evade the issue here ..." (The Christian's Reasonable
Service, vol. 2, p. 118).
"[Preachers] must have a call both from God and men to this work; 'No man
takes this honour to himself, but he that is called of God;' which is the
inward call, and is known by the kind of gifts bestowed upon a man, fitting for
such service; and by the providence of God, inclining and directing the church
to separate him to the work to which he has called him; and the outward call is
by the church itself, upon trial of his gifts ... They must be sent forth, they
must have a mission from Christ, and that by the church (Rom. 10:15), the
apostles of Christ were sent forth by him, as he was by his Father (John
20:21), there were some in [Jeremiah’s] time who ran, and were not sent;
prophesied, though not spoken to; but these were not true prophets and
ministers of God" (Doctrinal and Practical Divinity, vol. 2, p.
"... none, without being regularly called to it, however well qualified,
ought to exercise any part of the ministerial office. (1) The Scripture plainly
distinguishes between gifts for, and a mission to that office (John 20:21, 23;
Isa. 6:6-7, 9). (2) It most expressly declares a call absolutely necessary to
render one a public teacher (Rom. 10:15; Heb. 5:4, 6; Jer. 23:21, 32). (3) The
characteristics of preachers, heralds, ambassadors, stewards, watchmen, angels,
messengers, etc. necessarily import a divine call (I Cor. 9:17; II Cor. 5:20; I
Cor. 4:1-2; Heb. 13:17; Rev. 1:20). (4) Rules prescribed for the
qualifications, election, and ordination of gospel ministers, are declared
binding until the second coming of Christ (I Tim. 3:1-8; 5:21-22; 6:13). (5)
God severely punished Korah, Saul, Uzza, Uzziah and the sons of Sceva, for
their intermeddling with the work of the sacred office (Num. 16:3-11, 32-38,
40; I Sam. 13:8-14; I Chron. 13:9-10; II Chron. 26:16-18; Acts 19:13-16). (6)
To rush into the ministerial office without a proper call is inconsistent with
a proper impression of the awful nature of the work of it (II Cor. 3:5-6; 2:16;
Eze. 3:17-21; 33:1-20; Rom. 1:1; Gal. 1:15-16; John 3:27-28; Heb. 13:17; 5:4-5)
and introduces wild disorder and error (Gal. 2:5). (7) Christ's manifold
connection with this office—in his being the author of it (Eph. 4:11-12), his
suspending much of the order and edification of his church on it (Acts 20:28; I
Peter 5:1-3), his including such power and authority in it (Mat. 16:19; 18:18),
his committing such an important trust to ministers (Col. 4:17; I Tim. 6:20),
his enjoining his people to honour and obey them (I Tim. 5:17; Heb. 13:7, 17),
and his promising present assistance in, and future gracious rewards to, their
faithful discharge of their work—manifests the necessity of a divine and
regular call to it (Matt. 28:20; I Peter 5:4)" (Systematic Theology,
R. L. Dabney:
"[Christ] has taught [his] church that her public organic functions are
all to be performed through these officers, whose names and places he has
himself assigned … It was thus the highest evangelists were appointed (Acts
16:1-3; I Tim. 4:14; II Tim. 1:6). Thus the ordinary ministers of the church
are to be perpetuated (II Tim. 2:2). We thus see that Christ has not left
anything to human invention, as to the instrumentality for preaching his
gospel; that matter is distinctly settled. It should be enough for the humble
Christian that thus Christ has ordained. Hence, we are as sure that Christ’s
plan is the wisest, as any human experience can make us; we do not need the
lessons of church history, so often repeated, where the betterments which man’s
officious zeal has insisted on making upon Christ’s plan have borne their
regular fruits of mischief and confusion, to make us content with the ordained
method. Amidst all the plausibilities and excitements of the human inventions,
we remain quiet in the conviction that Christ knows best ... If, for instance,
such laymen as the late Mr. Brownlow North and Mr. Moody have the
qualifications and the seal of the divine blessing which their friends claim
for them, this is, to our mind, a demonstration that God calls them into the
regular ministry, and they should seek a regular ordination like other
ministers, each in that branch of the church which has his conscientious
preference ... Let all Presbyterians, then, bear in mind, as one 'fixed fact,'
that the recognition of laypreaching means broad-churchism" (Discussions:
Evangelical and Theological, vol. 2, pp. 78-79).
A. W. Pink:
"It is true, blessedly true, and God forbid that we should say a word to
weaken it, that all believers enjoy equal nearness to God, that every one of
them belongs to that 'holy priesthood' who are to 'offer up spiritual
sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ' (I Peter 2:5). Nevertheless, all
believers are not called by God to occupy the same position of ministerial
honour, all are not called to be preachers of His Gospel or teachers of His
Word (James 3:1). God calls and equips whom He pleases to engage in His public
service, and bids the rank and file of His people 'obey them that have the rule
over you and submit yourselves' (Heb. 13:17). Yet, sad to say, in some circles
the sin of Korah is repeated. They demand an ecclesiastical socialism, where
any and all are allowed to speak. They 'heap to themselves teachers' (II Tim.
4:3). This ought not to be" (Exposition of Hebrews, p. 374).
"Exercising the office without ordination is a sin ... Ordination confers
authority to preach, administer the sacraments, and exercise discipline ... The
dunamis or ability of gifts is one thing; the exousia or
authority to it is another thing ... Ordination ... is not simply an apostolic
function to cease with the first century. Preaching is ordinary and regular.
Therefore, mission or sending is too. The Great Commission of Matthew 18:19-20
shows that mission is perpetual, and thus sending likewise. To the same effect
Luke 12:42. Since the illustration describes the work of a steward, its lesson
is not applicable to all Christians. The immediate application is to the
disciples or apostles themselves. The extended application is to future
stewards. The steward of the parable and the minister of a church have
therefore been appointed with authority. The connection between a steward and a
bishop is made in Titus 1:7 ... Hebrews 6:1-2 list some elementary teachings,
such as might be required of catechumens before baptism or even before a church
was organized. One of these elementary points is ordination, clearly necessary
to the organization of a church. Thus in addition to repentance and faith,
ordination ranks as an elementary doctrine ... I Timothy 4:14 shows that
ordination is an act of presbytery. I Timothy 5:22 warns against laying hands
suddenly on some attractive neophite. And Titus 1:5, by the words 'in every
city,' shows that ordination is regular and ordinary ... Ministers of the
Gospel are called shepherds, entering by the door and not breaking in; they are
called angels, ambassadors, and rulers. But men do not give themselves the
position of ambassador or even of shepherd. They must be appointed and sent ...
Paul calls himself a steward in I Corinthians 4:1, and calls all bishops so in
Titus 1:7. Ministers are therefore servants; they invite guests to the wedding
feast. But clearly no one can properly invite guests to a lord's wedding feast,
unless the lord has previously appointed him. Paul was so appointed: 'Wherefore
I am ordained a preacher and an apostle' (I Timothy 2:7), in which phrase we
note that Paul was ordained a preacher as well as an apostle. He repeats this
in II Timothy 1:11. Preachers, therefore, are to be given authority to preach
by ordination" ("The Presbyterian Doctrine of Ordination," in The
Church Effeminate, pp. 192-201).