Shepherds Conference 2019 Session 2 Notes

Session 2

Sinclair Ferguson

Faithfulness and Holiness in the Life of the Minister

Hebrews 12

There is a stress on holiness in this book.

It seems that holiness has lost its position in the vocabulary of the life of gospel ministers.

Success and satisfaction are more often used.

Hebrews emphasizes faithfulness.

Hebrews emphasizes holding fast and being faithful.

Those to whom God is faithful become faithful.

Jesus is the revelation of the radiant glory of


HE is the Creator and the heir of the cosmos

HE is also the one who made purification for sins.

Holiness is written all over Jesus’ ministry.

Moses wished all of the people could have God’s Spirit. HE saw that the Old Covenant could not accomplish all that he wanted.

Christ’s priestly ministry effects holiness.

Christ brings us an imputed holiness.

Imputed holiness is inseparable from an imparted holiness.

Paul says we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

And yet we are being sanctified.

Sanctification is an accomplished reality in our lives.

We do not aspire to be saints or holy ones; this is what we are.

But there is also an ongoing sanctifying of believers.

There is a progressive sanctification.

Eventually, all who have looked to Jesus for salvation will come to look like Jesus in sanctification and ultimate glorification.

The therefore in Hebrews 12:1 is great.

It is true in you and your ministry.

You should desire to be holy.

You should desire to be as holy as it is possible for a saved sinner to be.

It is a rare thing to hear a gospel minister described as holy.

  1. The absolute necessity of holiness in gospel ministers

Hebrews 12:10, Disciplines are for our good that we may share in holiness.

12:14, holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Lack of holiness indicates that one has not received the grace of God.

We live in strange times when we see unusually gifted people falling horribly.

They have confused natural gifts with saving grace.

What do we substitute for real sanctification?

Do we substitute effectiveness in our gifts for actual sanctification?

If it is true that, without holiness, no one will see the Lord, then it is true that no minister of the gospel, without holiness, will ever see the Lord.

  1. Six Areas of Battle that are Vital in Gospel Ministers

Where do we stand strong under pressure?

Where do we battle?

  • Practices that may not be sinful, but which will not advance gospel in our lives

What might distract us?

Be careful with approving activities that you only say of them, “Well, there’s nothing wrong with it.”

Watch out for things that do you no gospel good.

Is there something that enslaves you?

Things that may be legitimate can actually become things that ensnare us in gospel ministry.

  • Sin that clings to us
  • Compromises to which the stresses of ministry may tempt us

The devil loves to exhaust our resources to resist.

He will tell you 99 things that re true to set you up for the 100th.

He will let you win the first set in order to wear you out in the match.

2 Cor. 4, Paul twice points out that we do not lose heart.

HE knows that is tempting.

The evil one is out to destroy our pursuit of faithfulness and holiness.

  • We find ourselves struggling with or even against divine providences

Might gospel ministers experience more painful providences than the generality of Christians?

Why do we experience these?

We are sore.

These humble us.

Laziness and pride are two great sins in the ministry.

If God is going to deal with men through you, he wants to deal with you so he can get through you to them.

You are the one who is most under your ministry of the word.

The congregation has no idea this is going on.

They do not understand how unclean you feel as you study the word and try to communicate it.

Often, we fight against this.

We forget that God has given us all that we need.

  • The danger of a root of bitterness

One of the most alarming danger signs in a minister of the gospel is, especially when he speaks of a person in a bigger ministry, the first thing to emerge is always negative.

I must come to the sweetness of Jesus Christ to dilute and cleanse my bitterness.

  • Sexual immorality

We need the expulsive power of a new affection.

Be careful compromising for short term gratification.

  1. The encouragements to holiness in gospel ministers

We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.

Not the point that they are watching you.

But their story of their faithfulness should encourage you toward holiness.

What God did in them he can do in you.

Keep on running and enduring as they did.

The Old Testament is for this.

It is there to say keep going.

OT saints say that you got what they never saw.

I have a heavenly Father who is training me as a son so that I may share his holiness.

He is remaking us in his image.

God wants to enable us to say Abba, Father.

What a risk.

People often think that God is somehow like the person through whom his word comes.

Therefore, we must pursue holiness.

There needs to be real integrity between the word that we preach and the atmosphere and spirit and love and devotion with which we communicate.

We now enjoy what the saints of old did not have access to.

We have the Spirit.

We have come to a heavenly city.

We have New Covenant access to Christ.

Paul believed, in 1 Cor 11, that angels were present at that church and Jesus was leading the people in worship and speaking through the preacher.

How amazing that we can go into the presence of God with his people and worship him.

We want Jesus to preach his word to his people through our lips.

That must make you want to be as holy as you could possibly be for sake of the people of God.

We want the people to see pastors who are more and more like the Lord Jesus.

IF what we do is really important, then let’s give ourselves entirely to holiness.