30 July, 2021

Richard Baxter: Timeless Advice

by | 28 September, 2018 | 0 comments

E2: Effective Elders Blog

Editor’s Note: Each Friday we publish a new blog post from our partners in ministry, E2: Effective Elders. We publish it here simultaneous to E2’s posting on their site. The leaders of E2 write an article for our print and online magazine every month as well. Those articles are full of wisdom and practical help for elders. Please check them out!

_____

LARRY CARTER

By Larry Carter

Richard Baxter, a preacher who lived in the 1600s, wrote a book to help church leaders understand the nature and task of ministry. Among his many wise instructions and observations in The Reformed Pastor, he included a chapter titled “The Oversight of Ourselves.” Though written in 1656, his words are still relevant today.

“Take heed to your spiritual condition first,” Baxter wrote.

We in leadership often put others first in our work with the church. When we serve others, we emulate the actions of Christ. But in the area of spiritual devotion, we must focus first on the condition of our own heart before God.

In 1995, the late Henri Nouwen wrote, “In the spiritual life, the word discipline means ‘the effort to create some space in which God can act.’ Discipline means to prevent everything in your life from being filled up. Discipline means that somewhere you’re not occupied, and certainly not preoccupied.”

In his book, Baxter went to the heart of the matter when he wrote, “A holy calling will not save an unholy man.” We must continue to seek God’s heart and work out our proper response to his leading.

“Take heed,” Baxter wrote, “because the tempter will make his first and sharpest assault on you. If you will be a leader against him, he will not spare you. He bears the greatest malice against the man who is engaged in working the greatest damage against him.”

Baxter continued:

The enemy has a special eye on you. You shall have his most subtle insinuations, his incessant attention, and his most violent assaults. As wise and learned as you may be, take heed lest he outwit you. The devil is a much greater scholar than you are. He is a more able debater. He can transform himself into an angel of light to deceive. He can cheat you of your innocence or faith before you realize what has happened to you. For his bait is always fitted to your temperament and disposition of character. In this way he can always take advantage of you.

Those of us who serve in church leadership, I think, would agree with Baxter’s analysis. We have felt Satan’s infernal pressure. We have seen fellow leaders fall. “Take heed” indeed.

Baxter evidently came to thoroughly understand and internalize Paul’s reminders to the church at Corinth. “When you forgive this man, I forgive him too—so that Satan will not outsmart us. We’re familiar with his evil schemes” (paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 2:10, 11).

I will continue doing what I have always done. This will undercut those who are looking for an opportunity to boast. . . . They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness . . . (2 Corinthians 11:12-15, New Living Translation).

Spiritual warfare is real. Paul understood that well when he wrote about the armor of God (see Ephesians 6:10-20).

Finally, Baxter wrote, “Take heed . . . because the honor of your Lord and Master rests on you more than other men.” Enough said.

___

Larry Carter serves as president of Great Lakes Christian College, Lansing, Michigan.

 

 

 

 

 

Click here for more blog posts from E2: Effective Elders. While there, please be sure to check out their excellent events and resources for elders.

<a href="https://christianstandard.com/author/admin/" target="_self">Christian Standard</a>

Christian Standard

Contact us at cs@christianstandardmedia.com

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Articles

Stories

By taking these symbols of Jesus’ body and blood, we announce we believe there really was a Jesus, and he really did die for us and carried all our sins down to a grave . . .

Documentary Highlights Christian Response to Pandemics

Southeast Christian Church’s “Purpose in Pandemics” is a documentary that follows the response of the church to pandemics throughout history. The “Purpose in Pandemics” website also includes a study guide for small groups and individuals.

Used of God

I soaked up Sam Stone’s wit and wisdom during our lunches together. Afterward, I’d take notes about our conversations. After hearing of his passing, inspired by his wordsmithing, I felt compelled to share just a small part of his story.

Sam E. Stone: ‘He Tried to Speak the Truth in Love’

In memory and appreciation of our former editor, Sam E. Stone, who died early this week, we share this 2011 column from Christian Standard’s archives in which Sam discussed four Scripture verses significant to his life.

Elliott Library ‘Cornerstone’ Laid

Three Bibles of historical significance to Cincinnati Christian University were the first books place on the shelves during relocation of the George Mark Elliott Library.

The Death of Evil

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saw in minority groups’ struggles for social equality in America a parallel with Israel’s bondage in Egypt. King envisioned God’s goodness would deliver the U.S. from the evil of segregation.

Mark Scott’s Greatest Kingdom Impact

Since I first enrolled at Ozark Christian College, Mark Scott has been my kingdom hero, and I’m not the only young preacher Mark has shaped. Over his 35 years at OCC, Mark has inspired generations of students.

‘Have We Plans for 1921?’

“All the Standard asks is the opportunity to serve, and it yearns to render in 1921 the greatest, finest, and best service of its history. . . .”

CCLF Concluding Strong First Year in Greater Cincinnati

In its first full year, the Christian Church Leadership Foundation has accomplished much to ensure Christian education and resources would continue to be available to people in the Greater Cincinnati area.

News Briefs for Dec. 9

Items from Timber Lake Christian Church (Moberly, Mo.), Choateville Christian Church (Frankfort, Ky.), Johnson University, and more.

My Counsel for Young Preachers

If I were counseling an aspiring young preacher fresh out of Bible college or seminary, champing at the bit to lead in the church, I would offer these three bits of advice.

My Memories of Marshall Leggett

By Ben Merold
As I think about Marshall Leggett, who passed away on March 2 at age 90, two personal experiences keep coming to my mind . . .

Powell Quintuplets Graduating from High School

When the Powell quintuplets were born in 2001, all of Kentucky celebrated, including Southeast Christian Church, where the Powells are longtime members. Now the quints are 18 and are all headed to the same university.

Reentry: It May Be Harder Than We Think

When the COVID-19 crisis eases, I anticipate that reentry is going to be harder than some people think. Churches, especially, need to prepare for this.

#Faust25: ‘Time-out’

Christians certainly don’t need to condemn sports; but we do need to keep sports in their proper place.

#Faust25: ‘No Cloned Sheep’

(A classic column from David Faust in celebration of his 25th anniversary of writing for us weekly.) No magic formula, no technique dreamed up in a church growth laboratory, can replace the power of personal discipleship.

David Faust Marks 25 Years of Weekly Column Writing

Today is David Faust’s 25th anniversary of writing a weekly column focusing on God’s Word and Christian faith. On this date—July 28, 1996—Faust’s first column appeared in the pages of The Lookout magazine. “I view writing as an extension of my ministry,” Faust says.

News Briefs for July 28

GNPI is reaching hundreds of thousands weekly in China. Plus briefs from the Russell School of Ministry, Englewood Christian Church, Christian Arabic Services, and more.

Follow Us