Forty Years of Pastoral - and Expositional - Faithfulness

Geoff Thomas, pastor of Alfred Place Baptist Church in Aberystwyth, Wales, has been pastoring the same church for over forty years. More importantly, he has been faithfully expounding Scripture throughout that time.

I have benefited from Thomas's writing (both his sermons and one of his books) and was encouraged to press on in reading these words from this faithful pastor:

The Christian wants to change the world, and the one great instrument for change which we have been given is the Bible. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16&17). As it is preached God the Spirit takes it and then he sets to, and constantly teaches, and rebukes, and corrects, and instructs the hearers in all the divine requirements for righteous living. That is because Scripture is the breath of God and part of the saving work of God. So the Lord’s requirement is that all of Scripture be preached and applied to all of the people of God. That is why he has given it. There is very limited use in a preacher saying correct things about bits of Scripture, a truth here, a verse there. The entirety of this embarrassing Book has to be preached on. The opening 11 chapters of Genesis are to be received as a word from Heaven; Romans 9 and Ephesians 1; the book of Leviticus, the historical books with their record of inhumanity and weak leaders, the 42 chapters of the book of Job, the Song of Songs. All of the Scriptures are to be preached in proportion to their importance (the Christian will hear the life of Christ preached on four times as frequently as other parts of the Bible). The Bible must be preached to every Christian during his lifetime, so that he may hear all the revealed Word expounded before he dies. That is why God has given it to us. It takes fifty years to preach through the Bible in two services each Sunday. Little is gained by hurrying that process. The purpose is that a congregation experience the power of a passage rather than get an outline down in their notebooks. The preacher is so to preach the Word that the congregation wants the Bible to be opened up, demands that the Bible be preached to them, and increasingly loves expository preaching. We are to seek such ministries and not sit under a pulpit where our prejudices are rearranged week by week. By such a standard both a ministry and a congregation are to be assessed; other criteria - musical and numerical and emotional criteria - are inadequate. We must be committed to Bible-based change, and those refusing to change will move on, or while they stay they will grumble, but God will also use even that to drive the preacher nearer himself to improve his preaching and make it lively, relevant, simpler and full of pathos.I have preached about 55 of the 66 books of the Bible, including virtually all of the New Testament. I am not sure whether I will ever ‘finish’ the task God gave me to preach the word. Sometime I feel I have left for myself some of the more demanding books of the Old Testament (as far as a preacher is concerned), or the second halves of books once started which after a year or two were abandoned as, alas, wearying to myself and the congregation. Generally I have felt an unease about a number of books before I commenced them, or about verses and passages looming up ahead. How could I preach on such passages? Yet in the illumination of study and meditation those chapters and books have come alive; they have been a delight. I do wish I had had more role models of preachers and preaching through Old Testament books. I have proved to be an uncertain guide myself in that department.

Wow! 55 of the 66 books of the Bible expounded. What a legacy!

To read more from this address, go to Reformation 21.

To access an archive of Geoff Thomas's sermon manuscripts, go to Alfred Place Baptist Church.

(HT: J. Ligon Duncan at Reformation 21).

1 comment:

Barry Wallace said...

Hi, Brian. I'm with you on Thomas' ministry. I teach Sunday School (currently studying Philippians), and often refer to Geoff's sermons as a teaching resource. What a goldmine!