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Vieraskieliset / In-english

Ser­vant of the Word

Siionin Lähetyslehti
Vieraskieliset / In-english
2.4.2014 0.00

Juttua muokattu:

1.1. 23:46

The task of a ser­vant of the word is ba­sed on the mis­si­on com­mand gi­ven by Je­sus. Those who be­lie­ved in Je­sus were gi­ven the task of brin­ging the gos­pel to all parts of the world. The cong­re­ga­ti­on cal­ls ser­vants of the word from among its mem­bers. It is their task to pre­ach the word of God on the ba­sis of the Bib­le.

Pre­ac­hing the word in the cong­re­ga­ti­on of God is ba­sed on the com­mand of the great emp­lo­yer, Je­sus: “Go ye in­to all the world, and pre­ach the gos­pel to eve­ry cre­a­tu­re” (Mark 16:15). The task of a pre­ac­her of the gos­pel was gi­ven to those who be­lie­ved in the Lord Je­sus, fol­lo­wed Him, and were in the fel­lows­hip of the Spi­rit which Je­sus sent to His apost­les. Even to­day, eve­ry be­lie­ver is a mem­ber of the ro­yal priest­hood, whose task is to proc­laim the great works of God (1 Pe­ter 2:9).

Cal­led by the cong­re­ga­ti­on

In ad­di­ti­on to the ge­ne­ral priest­hood, throug­hout all time the cong­re­ga­ti­on of God has cal­led brot­hers from among its mem­bers to ser­ve as spe­a­kers. Bar­na­bas and Saul, for examp­le, were “se­pa­ra­ted” in this way in An­ti­och (Acts 13:2–3). Ti­mot­hy re­cei­ved this grace gift and task “which was gi­ven to him by prop­he­cy, with the la­ying on of the hands of the pres­by­te­ry” (1 Tim. 4:14).

The ba­sic prin­cip­le in cal­ling so­me­o­ne to the task of a ser­vant of the word is this: “We have the same spi­rit of faith, ac­cor­ding as it is writ­ten, ‘I be­lie­ved, and the­re­fo­re have I spo­ken;’ we al­so be­lie­ve, and the­re­fo­re we speak” (2 Cor. 4:13).

What kinds of brot­hers are put up to speak?

Paul exp­lai­ned ex­ten­si­ve­ly to Ti­mot­hy the cha­rac­te­ris­tics and skil­ls a per­son cal­led to be a shep­herd of the cong­re­ga­ti­on should have (1 Tim. 3:2–7). This desc­rip­ti­on ser­ves as a gui­de when cal­ling ser­vants of the word yet to­day:

“A bis­hop then must be bla­me­less, the hus­band of one wife, vi­gi­lant, so­ber, of good be­ha­vi­or, gi­ven to hos­pi­ta­li­ty, apt to te­ach; Not gi­ven to wine, no stri­ker, not gree­dy of mo­ney; but pa­tient, not a braw­ler, not co­ve­tous;

One that ru­leth well his own hou­se, ha­ving his child­ren in sub­jec­ti­on with all gra­vi­ty; (For if a man know not how to rule his own hou­se, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

Not a no­vi­ce, lest being lif­ted up with pride he fall in­to the con­dem­na­ti­on of the de­vil. Mo­re­o­ver he must have a good re­port of them which are wit­hout; lest he fall in­to rep­ro­ach and the snare of the de­vil.”

Put­ting so­me­o­ne up to speak

The prac­ti­ces of put­ting so­me­o­ne up to speak va­ried du­ring the ini­ti­al pe­ri­od of the La­es­ta­di­an awa­ke­ning. La­es­ta­dius cal­led as­sis­tants to help him, first to do edu­ca­ti­o­nal work and la­ter al­so to pre­ach. La­ter on it was cus­to­ma­ry—when it was no­ti­ced in the cong­re­ga­ti­on that a brot­her had sui­tab­le cha­rac­te­ris­tics—to ask him to “con­fess his faith” at ser­vi­ces.

From the be­gin­ning it was im­por­tant that the cong­re­ga­ti­on who knew the brot­her cal­led him to pre­ach. The same prin­cip­le is still ap­p­lied to­day. The of­fi­ce­hol­ders of the lo­cal cong­re­ga­ti­on (RY in Fin­land) dis­cuss the mat­ter first among them­sel­ves and then with the per­son in qu­es­ti­on. So­me­ti­mes re­a­sons may come up in the dis­cus­si­on on which ba­sis the per­son as­ked to be a spe­a­ker may dec­li­ne to ac­cept the call.

The cong­re­ga­ti­on cal­ls and sends the spe­a­ker. New spe­a­kers should not be put up in a si­tu­a­ti­on where there is dis­har­mo­ny and doct­ri­nal dif­fe­ren­ces in the cong­re­ga­ti­on. A per­son who seeks to be­co­me a spe­a­ker should not be cal­led to the task. It is im­por­tant that the cong­re­ga­ti­on is una­ni­mous in cal­ling so­me­o­ne to speak.

Pre­ach the word

A spe­a­ker—a ser­vant of the word—is a ser­vant of the word of God. He should fa­mi­li­a­ri­ze him­self with the Holy Bib­le and ad­he­re to it when ser­ving the lis­te­ners. It would be good if the per­son being put up to speak had stu­died the Bib­le and was fa­mi­li­ar with its con­tent al­re­a­dy be­fo­re re­cei­ving the task. The cong­re­ga­ti­on should re­mem­ber that among the most im­por­tant cri­te­ria of the task of the spe­a­ker are per­so­nal faith and the un­ders­tan­ding of faith that it opens, as well as an in­te­rest in and a fa­mi­li­a­ri­ty with the word of the Lord.

The task of the spe­a­ker is to speak the word of God. Paul’s inst­ruc­ti­on to Ti­mot­hy is clear: “Pre­ach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2). He me­ant the word to which al­re­a­dy the prop­hets ad­he­red when “the word of the Lord was gi­ven to them.” The apost­les al­wa­ys re­fer­red to the scrip­tu­res of the Old Tes­ta­ment when pre­ac­hing the gos­pel about Christ. The Bib­le is the ba­sis of Evan­ge­li­cal Lut­he­ran faith and con­fes­si­on. It is the hig­hest aut­ho­ri­ty of faith and life. That’s why the old prac­ti­ce in our Chris­ti­a­ni­ty of exp­lai­ning the text ver­se by ver­se on the ba­sis of the Bib­le is still sound.

Eve­ry spe­a­ker brot­her has on­ce been a new spe­a­ker and has felt ti­mi­di­ty and fear, even im­pos­si­bi­li­ty, when fa­ced with the task. It is im­por­tant for ot­her spe­a­kers and the whole cong­re­ga­ti­on to en­cou­ra­ge and bless a new spe­a­ker. It is ab­so­lu­te­ly a grace be­ne­fit if a yo­ung spe­a­ker has the sup­port of a more ex­pe­rien­ced brot­her with whom he can free­ly exc­han­ge thoughts on how to “un­ders­tand” texts. Paul ad­vi­sed brin­ging up the fact that each spe­a­ker has his own gifts.

In pre­pa­ring for one’s turn to ser­ve it is good to study the Word using not on­ly the Bib­le, but al­so exp­la­na­to­ry books and ot­her ma­te­ri­al that de­picts Bib­le his­to­ry and the en­vi­ron­ment of the text. The ser­mon should be ba­sed on the Bib­le. It is worth re­a­ding the Bib­le al­so at ot­her ti­mes, and not on­ly when pre­pa­ring for a ser­mon.

The pre­ac­her’s per­so­nal life of faith

A spe­a­ker does not ac­hie­ve sal­va­ti­on by pre­ac­hing. It is im­por­tant for him to al­so be a he­a­rer of the word. A ser­vant of the word needs the same ser­vi­ce that eve­ry Chris­ti­an re­cei­ves in the grace care of God’s cong­re­ga­ti­on: he­a­ring and re­a­ding the word, pra­yer, fel­lows­hip with the cong­re­ga­ti­on, the Lord’s Holy Com­mu­ni­on, and con­fes­si­on.

If a spe­a­ker does not take care of his cons­cien­ce, it gra­du­al­ly be­co­mes ap­pa­rent in his pre­ac­hing. In co­ve­ring up a cons­cien­ce that has not been ta­ken care of a spe­a­ker may gra­du­al­ly be­co­me law-min­ded. Then the voi­ce of the Good Shep­herd can no lon­ger be he­ard in his ser­mons; ins­te­ad, the inst­ruc­ti­ons of grace in God’s word be­co­me a whip with which he las­hes out at un­suc­ces­s­ful child­ren of grace.

So­me­ti­mes a spe­a­ker may be re­lie­ved of his task. This is de­ci­ded by the cong­re­ga­ti­on that cal­led the spe­a­ker. A spe­a­ker should not uni­la­te­ral­ly an­noun­ce that he is withd­ra­wing from the task to which he has been cal­led. A pre­ac­her may have cau­sed un­rest and of­fen­se be­cau­se of his way of life or te­ac­hing. In such a case re­lie­ving him from the task is a pas­to­ral act to­ward the spe­a­ker and the cong­re­ga­ti­on. Re­lie­ving a spe­a­ker should not be an act of pu­nish­ment or a tool for wiel­ding po­wer. When the spe­a­ker cor­rects his mat­ters he is con­si­de­red a dear brot­her. Ho­we­ver, this does not au­to­ma­ti­cal­ly mean he will be cal­led to be a spe­a­ker again.

Cong­re­ga­ti­on’s res­pon­si­bi­li­ties

The he­a­rer al­so has his or her own res­pon­si­bi­li­ties re­gar­ding the spe­a­ker. Old Chris­ti­ans of­ten taught that one should not come to hear the word with the thought: that brot­her sure is skil­l­ful. The he­a­rer should lis­ten to the spe­a­ker cri­ti­cal­ly—not loo­king for faults but rat­her scru­ti­ni­zing in a he­alt­hy man­ner whet­her the brot­her is spe­a­king words of God.

The apost­le re­minds us that it is the cong­re­ga­ti­on’s duty to pray in be­half of the spe­a­ker that he would be gi­ven words to speak (Eph. 6:19–20). Spe­a­kers them­sel­ves are just as sin­ful as the lis­te­ners. In ad­di­ti­on to ot­her cor­rup­ti­on of sin, they al­so have temp­ta­ti­ons re­la­ted to the spe­a­ker’s task, such as “text-re­la­ted temp­ta­ti­ons” and the temp­ta­ti­on to seek wrong glory.

We are ser­ved

A ser­vant of the word is al­so a pro­vi­der of pas­to­ral care who lis­tens to his neigh­bors’ ca­res and sor­rows; he “re­joi­ces with those who re­joi­ce and weeps with those who weep.” He may al­so act as a con­fes­sor fat­her. In this way he ser­ves with the love of Christ and was­hes the feet of friends in faith in ac­cor­dan­ce with the examp­le shown by our Lord (John 13:12–17).

The cong­re­ga­ti­on of Christ does not base its faith on a spe­a­ker or his gifts, but ins­te­ad on Je­sus Christ, who is the “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). At ser­vi­ces we of­ten hear the an­noun­ce­ment: “We will now be ser­ved by our brot­her –.” This is well said. A spe­a­ker is a ser­vant of the word. Je­sus gave us an examp­le of this: “Even as the Son of man came not to be mi­nis­te­red un­to, but to mi­nis­ter, and to give His life a ran­som for many” (Matt. 20:28).

Text: Erk­ki Piri

Pub­lis­hed: SRK Ye­ar­book 2012

Trans­la­ti­on: Keith Ko­so­la

Jul­kais­tu eng­lan­nin­kie­li­ses­sä kie­li­liit­tees­sä 2/2014


Ar­mo­lah­jo­ja on mo­nen­lai­sia, mut­ta Hen­ki on sama. Myös pal­ve­lu­teh­tä­viä on mo­nen­lai­sia, mut­ta Her­ra on sama. 1 Kor. 12:4-5

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