Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: An Awkward Introduction
Part 3: Looking Outward
Part 4: Legalism in Eden
Part 5: Jesus Grows in Favor with God
So many aspects of ministry demand excellence, and there are not enough hours in the day to be excellent in all of them. When I was a young man, I heard D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones comment that he would not go across the street to hear himself preach.Now that I am close to the age he was when I heard him, I am beginning to understand. It is rare for me to finish a sermon without feeling somewhere between slightly discouraged and moderately depressed that I have not preached with more unction, that I have not articulated these glorious truths more powerfully and with greater insight, and so forth. But I cannot allow that to drive me to despair; rather, it must drive me to a greater grasp of the simple and profound truth that we preach and visit and serve under the gospel of grace, and God accepts us because of his Son. I must learn to accept myself not because of my putative successes but because of the merits of God’s Son. The ministry is so open-ended that one never feels that all possible work has been done, or done as well as one might like. There are always more people to visit, more studying to be done, more preparation to do. What Christians must do, what Christian leaders must do, is constantly remember that we serve our God and Maker and Redeemer under the gospelof grace.From D.A. Carson, Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor (pp. 92-93).
It is wrong to put 'serving tables' before the preaching of the Word of God because it is always wrong to put man before God. That, in a nutshell, is the real trouble with the world. Man is at the center; man is everything....
So it is wrong to put man before God, and, second, in exactly the same way, it is wrong to put the body before the soul. In other words, we are not only wrong about God, we are wrong about man. What is man? According to the modern theory, man is only body, and so you must attend to everything to with the body; give it plenty of food, plenty of drink, clothing, shelter, medical care, plenty of sex. Oh, the tragedy that humanity should think it is complimenting itself and exalting itself by turning its back upon God to concentrate on physical needs. And this is what this Word of God encounters, what it denounces....
Finally, is it not the height of folly and indeed the greatest tragedy to put time before eternity? The feeding of the body only belongs to time. A day is coming in the life of all of us when we will not be interested in food, and when food will not be able to help us at all; we will be beyond that" (Victorious Christianity: Studies in the Book of Acts, v. 3, p. 236, 237-8).