Sunday, September 27, 2009

Spurgeon Fellowship: “Successful or Faithful: Shattering the Dichotomy”


Last week I promised to give you a run-down on the Fall Spurgeon Fellowship meeting at Western Seminary.  Each year, the director of Spurgeon Fellowship, Art Azurdia, gives at least one of the major presentations.  Dr. Azurdia is Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and Director of Pastoral Mentoring at Western Seminary here  in Portland. He was the founding minister of Christ Community Church in Fairfield , California , which he subsequently pastored for 19 years. He is also the founder of The Spurgeon Fellowship at Western Seminary, a fraternity of ministers devoted to seeking the wisdom of classical pastoral theology for contemporary church ministry. Art is the author of Spirit Empowered Preaching (Christian Focus Publications) and a contributing author in two additional volumes: The Compromised Church (Crossway) and Reforming Pastoral Ministry (Crossway).

Art’s presentation last week was not so much on preaching (the primary focus of this blog), but on ministerial leadership generally.  His theme was “Successful or Faithful: Shattering the Dichotomy.”

You can find the audio here.

Here are my notes in outline form:

John 3:22-30

We aim at God’s glory when we are content to be outshined by others in gifts and esteem --Thomas Watson

No other sin has wrought such havoc among the ministers of Christ as the inordinate love of place and power.  --Charles Jefferson

A preacher must despise praise  --William Willamon


  • The dangers of pastoral jealousy:
    • “The bitch goddess of success”- William James
    • Unsanctified ambition: the lust to succeed.
    • An acid rain that can burn holes in your heart.
  • John & Jesus were baptizing in close physical proximity to one another.
    • v. 35-as a consequence of these two very similar ministries in the same geographical area, questions arose over competition.
    • Johns disciples: John’s baptism is the original; the “real deal”
      • The disciples went to John & tried to imply that Jesus was inferior to John since John’s ministry was first & Jesus had co-oped John’s methodology—baptism.
      • They didn’t even refer to Jesus by name
      • Exaggerated the extent of the receiving of the message-“everyone is going to him”
      • v. 23-“was baptizing” –implies continual action.

John’s reply tells us how to battle pastoral jealousy.

Recognize that…

1. …any expression of success is the exclusive prerogative of God. (John 3:27)

    • John 6-no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the father
    • To Pontius Pilate: You would have no authority over me at all unless it was given to you by God.
    • What do you have that you did not receive?
    • “Apollos planted, I watered, etc.” Paul: sovereignty does not deny pastoral responsibility
    • Peter: “not lording it over those allotted to your charge.” God allots those who are in your church. God is the one who determines the size of your church.
    • Dissatisfaction with the sovereignty of God is not the mark of a sanctified mind.

2. …ultimate Satisfaction is found in uniting people intimately with Jesus Christ. (John 3:28-29)

  • v. 28-You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’
  • Responsibilities of bridegroom-
    • To prepare for the wedding
    • He was forever forbidden from marrying the bride
    • To escort the bride to the bridal chamber & wait outside the bridal chamber until he hears the word of the groom that the bride is indeed a virgin.
  • In America success is measured by bodies, bucks & buildings.
  • We talk about “building the church” when in fact that is exclusive role of God.

3. The exclusive preeminence of Jesus has been irresistibly predetermined. (John 3:30)

  • John bore the exclusive right to be the hinge between the old & new covenant?
  • “No-one is greater than John”
    • Greater in miraculous power? (John did no miracles)
    • Greater in revelatory insight? (John wrote no books)
    • Greater than David, Noah, Moses?
    • Greater because he is able to point to the Messiah with an immediacy like no one else.
  • John could only point to Jesus in anticipation.
  • Yet Jesus said, “the least in the KOG is greater than John the B” Why? When we declare the conquest of Jesus in his death & resurrection, we are greater than John the Baptist
  • “He MUST increase & I MUST decrease” MUST is one of John’s favorite words. The Greek word means pre-ordained.


Example of Alexander Whyte-  He was known as one who poured himself into younger ministers, even those whose abilities were greater than himself.  “All of his geese became swans.”

Again, you can find the audio here.

The second half, on pastoral responsibility tomorrow.

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