Friday, September 21, 2007

A word for men and women of God

When John looked at Christ’s right hand, he tells us that in it he saw seven stars. These are generally understood to be the ministers of the seven churches of Asia; we are told, in the twentieth verse [of Revelation ch. 1], that “the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches,” and I do not know who the angels of the churches can be unless they are the messengers of the churches, those ministers of whom Paul wrote, “they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.” At any rate, we shall take it for granted that these stars represent the pastors of the churches, the ministers of Christ. These stars are said to be in the Lord’s right hand, first, because he made them stars. They are in the hand of him who made them what they are. Under the old covenant, there were to be, in the tabernacle, seven lights always burning upon the seven-branched candlestick, or lampstand; but John saw in Christ’s hand seven stars; not ordinary lamps, but stars shining with a greater brilliance and a more heavenly light than could ever be seen in the oil-fed lamps in the ancient tabernacle. If any man in the Church of God shines like a star to guide others to the port of peace, he owes his light entirely to Christ. It must be so, because it is Christ’s right hand that has made him what he is; he is a light because Christ has given him light, he owes his spiritual radiance entirely to him who is the Lord and Giver of light in the midst of his Church.

My dear brethren in the ministry, if you want to shine for Jesus, you must be made into stars to be held in his right hand. There is no possibility of your being of spiritual use to your fellowmen, or exercising a ministry that shall tend to their eternal salvation, except as you are made into a light to be held in the right hand of the Lord Jesus Christ. All the education in the world, all the natural talent that any possess, all the acquired practice of oratory, all the powers which are the result of long experience, can never make a good minister of Jesus Christ. The stars are in the right hand of Christ; ministers are not made by men, but by the Lord himself, if they are worthy to be called ministers at all.

From a sermon entitled "A Portrait No Artist Can Paint," delivered April 26, 1885.

Photo by Ibrahim Iujaz; some rights reserved.

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