SC Gen Session 4: Rick Holland on Ministry
Rick opens by recounting the life of John Knox, the Reformer who brought the message of the Gospel to Catholic Scotland. Mary, knowing Knox’s prayers against her and the Catholic crown, said she feared his prayers more than all the armies of Europe. Knox feared no man, but labored because of his love for Christ.
Today, Knox’s grave is a parking spot, a symbol of what Scotland has done with the Gospel.
We should look at 2 Cor 11. In verse 23–27, we read of Paul’s bravery in the face of awesome trials. However, this bold man said he was afraid in verse 3 of the same chapter. He was afraid that the Corinthians would be led astray.
There are false teachers, prophets, apostles, and brethren in the church: enough for anyone to fear.
Rick calls us to note three applications of pastoral theology:
1. A Fearful Ecclesiology
In verse 2, Paul says he “betrothed” the Corinthians to Christ. Paul doesn’t call them to allegiance to himself, he wanted to present a treasure. However, he was fearful that they were flirting with another Christ (cf. v. 4). He had a “divine jealousy,” a fatherly care that they remain true to Christ.
2. A Functional Bibliology
Paul took the creation narrative has absolute fact. Rick notes that Paul probably never saw a talking serpent, but he believes a snake spoke with Eve (cf. v. 3). It was not a distant myth, and Paul doesn’t use it in a tongue-in-cheek manner. Rick notes, “The enemy is always trying to promote a self-centered, Christ-distancing faith.”
This is the same method of eighteenth-century “enlightened” hermeneutics. It is the same approach used by the Emerging Church, which is little more than redressed liberalism. Is it better to give people questions or to call them to believe that there are answers to life in the Bible?
Consider Genesis 3 again. Hollywood has made us believe that Satan must be fearful. In reality, Satan wants you to take him home for dinner. He laughs when we think of him as the stuff of horror movies, because then we don’t think of him as coming into our churches to subvert. What does Paul say? It is no wonder false teachers and apostles disguise themselves and sneak in, for “even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14).
Another thing Satan does is to divide the Trinity. The Father got the Old Testament, and the Son got the New Testament. No, Genesis begins, “In the beginning, Jesus created the heavens and the earth” (see Col 1:16). The Old Testament God was not mean and Jesus the gracious Savior: they are one in the same.
3. A Jealous Christology
“The mind is the primary target of Satan.” Satan doesn’t walk in and say, “Hey, I’m the devil.” He says, “Hey, here is a new way of thinking about Jesus, a fresh way of thinking about Him.”
He wants to get our minds off the true Christ, and he wants us to get our minds off the true Gospel.
What is the legacy of our ministries? “He was a good preacher?” “He was a good…?” No! It should be “Hallelujah, what a Savior.”
2 Cor 13:5—test yourselves. Is Jesus in you? Matt 7:21–23—does Christ know you, or is Christ a means to an end?
Gal 2:20—Christ is our life. Eph 4:12—we are to attain to fullness in Christ, not to become more moral. Phil 1:21—our life is to be Christ. Christ is to be first place in all we do. He is not to be just number 1, but 2, 3, 4, etc. We don’t simply have a time of devotion in the morning, then set Christ aside and live our lives for the rest of the day. He is not a mere priority to be checked off the list.
Rick says his “A-ha” moment, when chills went up his arm, is when he read John 17:3 in a new way. Eternal life is in knowing Christ. Consider the problem Christ had with the Ephesians—they had left their first love (Rev 2:4). When Paul left the Ephesians, he warned them that false teachers would come “speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:23). One of the dangers we face is turning our eyes away from Christ and desiring to build a following.