The Gospel Duty of a Christian Preacher - a Thought by William Perkins

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


In preparation for writing an article about the call to ministry for a theological journal, I came across and chose to use as a conclusion the following quote by Puritan William Perkins. Taken from his work The Art of Prophesying (Banner of Truth, pp. 102-3), he is explaining the truth that the pastor must preach the righteousness of God in Christ to all men. He writes...

He is to do this when a poor sinner…by the preaching of the law, is brought to a true sight of his misery; and then, by the preaching of the gospel, is brought to lay hold on Jesus Christ, then it is the proper office of a minister ‘to declare unto that man his righteousness.’

Although in himself he is as sick and foul as sin can make him, and as the law can show him to be, in Christ he is righteous and just. Indeed, he is so justified by Christ that he is no longer a sinner in God’s presence or in his reckoning.

This is the righteousness a Christian has; this is the justification of a sinner. To declare this righteousness to those who repent and believe is the proper duty of a true minister.

Thus, we find the following elements in a minister’s calling are underlined:

Firstly, a true minister may – indeed must – tell sinners where righteousness is to be found, namely in Jesus Christ the righteousness.

Secondly, he will make clear how that righteousness may be obtained, namely by fulfilling two duties:

1. By denying and rejecting his own righteousness which is done by repentance.

2. By claiming and clinging to Christ’s righteousness, which is done by faith.

Thirdly, a true minister may and must declare this righteousness to his hearers.”

Lastly, all conscientious and godly ministers may receive comfort here not to be discouraged or driven from God’s presence because of their sinfulness or weakness…Let them still approach with fear and reverence. Far from being driven from their duty, because as sinful men they dare not come into God’s presence as sinners without much fear, let them be assured that the more they tremble at God’s presence here they less they will need to fear it at the last day.”

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