First Things First

October 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Pastor

In 1994 Stephen Covey’s title First Things First was published. His focus was getting the big rocks in the jar first, correctly ordering life’s priorities.

What is the top “First Thing” priority for a Pastor? As an Image-bearer, we must love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. We must love our neighbor as ourselves. As a husband, we must love our wives as Christ loves the church. As a father, we must lead and guide our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

As a Pastor I want to suggest that the “Fisrt Thing” we must do is accurately interpret the Word of God. As Pastors we are Ambassadors, residents of another country given the sacred task of delivering the message of our Lord. We are not free to add to or detract from what God has given us in the text of Scripture. This means that we must interpret the text with precision and deliver the message to God’s people with passion, compassion and in a manner that results in Applied Theology. God uses our labors to Transform his people.

Transformation is our goal. Not eloquence. Not profundity. Certainly not entertainment or placating the listener. We speak for God and our “First Thing” must be accuracy in the content of the messages we deliver. Preaching has fallen on hard times in post-modern America. Any number of issues serve as the ultimate authority in churches other than the Word of God (Tradition, A Constitution, By-Laws, Robert’s Rules of Order,etc.)

Let me offer a paradigm for what should provide ultimacy in all things in the church of Jesus Christ. We embrace the Sufficiency of Scripture as a statement of faith. This must also be true in practice. Orthdoxy & Orthopraxy are inserpable postulates. Jesus said, blessed are you if you do these things, not merely have knowledge of them and offer intellectual assent.

The Word of God, correctly exegeted/interpreted and proclaimed by the man of
God under the enabling grace and power of the Spirit of God to the people of
God. They surrender unconditionally to God’s message and are Transformed
by his Grace for their good and God’s glory.

Here are the options we have in coming to the text under this premise.
Your interpretation is correct and mine is in error.
My interpretation is correct and yours is in error.
Both of us are incorrect.
But, both cannot be correct and claim that we have accurately interpreted the text.
This is our challenge. How do we resolve this issue? Do we attack the exegete, or, do we submit ourselves in humility to the rigors of serious exegesis? Do we level our bombastic aresenal at ‘the enemy’ and fire away? Do we claim ‘tradition’? Do we champion the denominational or party line? This issue has serious and eternal consequences. Apply this to some of the challenging ethical and cultural challenges of our times. Difficult as they may be, we are responsible to offer a response that is shaped by exegetical and hermeneutical accuracy. What does the text say? Consider James 3:1!

The Holy Spirit had one and only one intended meaning when the human authors wrote what we now possess as God’s Word. Our’s is to surrender to this message rightly understood and communicate that message with grace and power. No capitulation to culture or any other source of opposition.

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