The Doctrine of God impacts every other loci of theology. However, its influence is not relegated to the realm of theology. The Doctrine of God must also inform our religious practice. For too many, too little thought is given to this necessary truth—even in the pastorate. As pastors, the Doctrine of God is to inform our pastoral ministries. We cannot detail every way pastoral ministry should be impacted by the Doctrine of God, but let us think through a few areas.
First, God is a personal being. The fact that He is a personal being means that our pastoral ministry cannot be relegated to simply teaching facts or conveying information. If God solely existed as an idea or a reality, then we could instruct about Him like we might instruct a classroom of college freshman about the intricacies of molecular biology. But God is not a subject to be examined under a microscope. Neither is He a concept to be debated or even doubted. Rather, He is a personal being. This informs our undertaking of pastoral ministry. Since He is a personal being and men are by birth alienated from Him, we labor to see men reconciled and then conformed unto Him. It can be an overused and misunderstood phrase, but the modern Christian cliché of “Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship” contains truth.
Second, God is spirit, the only true God, and is a God of truth. The first table of the Ten Commandments presses home the practical importance of these truths. This impacts our pastoral ministry. As pastors, we are to point others to the One True God. We cannot allow any variance here. We preach, teach, disciple, evangelize, and counsel according to the truth that He is One. We emphasize that He is not to be worshipped in vain images, because He is Spirit. And those who worship Him, must worship in Spirit and in truth. He is a God who does not lie and defines truth. Therefore, we rely upon the Word of God, knowing that it alone is inerrant. We do not doubt its infallibility or efficacy. We rely upon the Word of God to accomplish the will of God to the glory of God.
Third, God is sovereign. Therefore, we rely and entrust all our pastoral ministry to Him. This necessitates that we labor according to His appointed means. It matters very little whether we rise early and go to bed late laboring with all our energy throughout the day, if we are not depending upon the Lord to accomplish His work. And He accomplishes His work by His means. Thus, we are to bathe everything we to do in prayer. We are to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) that He might honor our efforts and establish the work of our hands. We bring His Word to bear, because He has sovereignly chosen to work by it and through it. Though the world may employ other means, we refuse to listen to the Siren’s voice. The promises of culture, entertainment, and the business world cannot rival the promises of a sovereign God. If He is sovereign, then all is in His hands. We are to labor hard according to His appointed means and then rest. We are to rest knowing that He rules, governs, and sustains all. He will decide what fruit is born. This grants great freedom to the pastor in his labors even as it demands great dependence.
Finally, the attributes of God inform our practice of pastoral ministry. As pastors, we serve as under-shepherds of the Great Shepherd of the sheep. We are to reflect Him in our persons, our actions, and our ministries. His attributes are to inform what we believe the Christian seeking virtue should look like and we teach to that end. It is not a singular attribute of God that is to dominate our preaching, teaching, and counseling. Rather, we maintain a full-view of God that informs all that we do, say, or think. We do not have the freedom to preach only about the love of God, while neglecting the holiness God. We dare not teach the justice of God apart from the mercy of God. His entire person informs our ministries. One cannot embrace an attribute of God, but must cling to God as He has revealed Himself. We want to boldly declare Who He Is and point others to live their lives conformed to His likeness.
The impact the Doctrine of God should have upon pastoral ministry is as varied as the facets of God Himself. He is not an abstract being, but rather a God who informs all that we do. “So whether we eat or drink, let us do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31)—including pastoral ministry!
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