Thursday, September 03, 2009


I found this two point charge for ministry given by John Murray, Prof. of systematic theology at Westminister Seminary to be profoundly significant for ministers of the gospel. Now nearly fifty years later it bears repeating.

I'm going to publish it in two posts, one for each point made in the charge. [I recognize this may appeal to a selective audience but it would be wise for all to consider.] The first one is....PREACHING THE WORD and the second is PASTORAL CARE. All highlighted emphasis is mine. Enjoy.

A charge to Wayne F. Brauning at his ordination and installation as pastor of the Fifth Reformed Presbyterian Church, Phila., PA on October 13, 1960 by John Murray, prof. of systematic theology at Westminste

"You have been called as minister in this congregation and you have been ordained in pursuance of that call.

There are many functions which devolve upon you in that particular capacity, but I want to draw your attention particularly to two of these functions because I believe they are the two main functions which devolve upon the minister of the Gospel. And these two functions are the preaching of the Word and pastoral care.

Now first of all there is this duty of preaching or teaching the Word. You are to labor in the Word and doctrine. And in connection with that function I want to mention three things.

First, do not burden yourself and do not allow others to burden you with other business so that you are deprived of the time and energy necessary to prepare adequately for your preaching and teaching administration. The Word of God indeed, in all its richness and in all its sufficiency, is in your hands. It lies before you.

But in order that you may discover the richness of that Word and bring forth from its inexhaustible treasure for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for the instruction which is in righteousness, there must be the blood and toil and sweat and tears, the earnest labor, and the searching of that Scripture, and in application to its proper understanding, so that you may be able to bring it forth in a way that is relevant in your particular responsibility.

The second thing I want to impress upon you is that you realize deeply and increasingly, your complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit for understanding of the Word and for the effectual proclamation of it.

Now that is not the counsel of sloth. That is not to be an alibi for your earnest labor and the study of the Word of God and your earnest application to effective proclamation, and neither is that a counsel of defeat. Your absolute dependence upon the Spirit of God - this is the counsel of encouragement and confidence. It is the Spirit and the Spirit alone who gives the demonstration and power by which the Word of God will be carried home with effectiveness, with conviction, and with fruitfulness to the hearts and the minds and lives of your hearers. It is He and He alone who produces that full assurance of conviction, and it is your reliance upon the Holy Spirit that in the last analysis is your comfort.

The Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost. And do not be so God dishonoring as to pray for Pentecost. Pentecost is in the past. Pentecost was a pivotal event in the unfolding of God's redemptive touch, when the Holy Spirit came. The Holy Spirit abides in the church. He came and He abides in order to perform those functions which Jesus himself foretold: 'When He, the Spirit of Truth' is come, He will convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, and that He will also glorify Christ by taking of the things which are Christ's and showing them unto us.'

It is necessary, it is indispensable, however, that you earnestly pray for the unction and the power and the blessings of that Holy Spirit. Because it is only if there is that accompanying demonstration of the Holy Spirit and the power that men and women will be arrested and stunned with the conviction of sin. And it is then that they will give expression to the word of another, 'What shall we do to be saved?'

Likewise, in that particular situation of overruling, overwhelming conviction produced by the demonstration and power of the Holy Spirit, that you will be able, by the understanding given by the Spirit, by the unction imparted by the Spirit, to bring into that conviction of need, that conviction of sin, that conviction of misery, the unsearchable riches of Christ.

That is my second aspect of this charge. To realize more and more your complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit. It is as you will realize your complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit, that you will be more diligent in the discharge of all the duties that devolve upon you in the understanding of God's Word and in its effective proclamation.

Third, I wish to mention, in that precise connection, that you are to think much of the privilege. You are to think indeed of the responsibility, and I have said enough with respect to that responsibility already. I want particularly to impress upon you now the appreciation of your privilege.

It is yours to be a fellow of the Gospel - of the glorious, the blessed Gospel. It is yours to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ. It is yours to be the ambassador of the King eternal, immortal, invincible. It is yours to be the ambassador of him who is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, of whom you have heard already that He walks among the candlesticks. There is no greater vocation on earth. There is no greater vocation that God has given to any than the vocation of proclaiming the whole counsel of God - proclaiming the gospel of the glory of the blessed God, and proclaiming the unsearchable riches of the Redeemer. Think much of your privilege."

Paul B.


Aussie John said...


They are great words from a great man,whom I have appreciated for many years, and words most certainly needing to be heard, and heeded,by any claiming to have such a call, as it seems they were, by the one to whom they were directed.

It is my conviction in these later years (some reading this might say in my dotage), that most of what he said is applicable to ALL who claim to be followers of Christ, especially what your next post will reveal.

Chris Ryan said...

Sage words.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie John,

Right on. Thanks for stopping by. Be careful with the "dotage" idea though. You and I are FAR from that as of yet. [[Aren't we?] :)


I agree. Hope Seminary is going well.

Dennis Newkirk said...

This is an inspiring and encouraging word, Paul. Thank you for sharing it.

Paul Burleson said...


Thanks for stopping by AND for being my pastor. The message you preached yesterday [Sept. 13] was right on as they are prone to be.