The Gospel and Pastoral Ministry
Recently, having heard John piper's amazing lecture/sermon given during T4G, my first thought about it was that John Piper is not deconstructioning the Text but it has deconstructed him ... it has gripped and taken hold of him and he was just being used as an instrument to proclaim it. Then today when I saw this quote by Andrew Purves, I thought it expressed this sentiment quite well:
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were entrustedâ€¦
Andrew Purves, Reconstructing Pastoral Theology (pg. xvi)
Paul does not have it backward. One might think that doctrines are to be entrusted to believers, but believers are entrusted to doctrines, meaning by this the reality of God in Christ for us. It is the gospel that possesses ministry, not ministry that possesses the gospel. ...[T]he actuality of the gospel is the basis for the possibility of our ministry. It is not Jesus Christ who needs pastoral work, it is pastoral work that needs Jesus Christ. Just as faith lives not by human effort, but solely by the grace of God in, through, and as Jesus Christ, and through our incorporation into his life, so also ministry must be understood to be built not upon human striving for growth, well-being, and health but upon the grace of God which is understood now as a participation in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, on earth, in heaven, and as the one who will come again. The focus of pastoral theology, then, is on Godâ€™s extrinsic grace in Jesus Christ, on the gospel that is verbum alienum, a Word from beyond us, and to which gracious Word and to that Word alone pastoral theology and pastoral practice must submit in order to be faithful to the gospel.