Authentic Ministry: Servanthood, Tears, And Temptations -- By: Joel R. Beeke

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 04:1 (Jan 2012)
Article: Authentic Ministry: Servanthood, Tears, And Temptations
Author: Joel R. Beeke

Authentic Ministry:
Servanthood, Tears, And Temptations

Joel R. Beeke

Paul M. Smalley

Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations.

Acts 20:18b–19a1

In 1688 conflict erupted between the city authorities of Rotterdam in the Netherlands and the Reformed minister Wilhelmus á Brakel (1635-1711). The government paid the salary of ministers and had a role in confirming their calls.2 When the civil magistrate refused to approve an otherwise duly called pastor, Brakel preached a sermon entitled, “The Lord Jesus Declared to be the Only Sovereign King of His Church.”

The government responded by prohibiting Brakel from preaching and suspending his salary. Brakel believed the government had no right to exercise such control over the ministers of Christ, so he ignored his suspension and kept on preaching. For some weeks he lived outside the city, commuting to Rotterdam to fulfill his ministerial duties. He said he would rather face exile, even death, rather than stop preaching the Word of Christ. However, when Brakel’s consistory asked his permission to let another minister preach until the controversy cooled, Brakel submitted to the authority of the elders. In so doing he demonstrated that he was not a revolutionary. Yet it took

the influence of William of Orange (Willem III) to prevent Brakel from being sent into exile.3

Brakel later said of the ministry: “There must be self-denial, that is, a willingness to sacrifice one’s honor, goods—yes, even one’s life.... The servant of Christ...should let Paul be his example.”4 Today we can learn from Paul’s description of his ministry in Acts 20:19 that the Lord calls pastors to do His will with lowliness of mind and heart, compassion, and faithfulness.

Just as Jesus Christ set His face toward Jerusalem to fulfill His Father’s will (Luke 9:51), the apostle Paul knew that he, too, must go to Jerusalem, and knew what it would cost him (Acts 20:22-23).5 He gathered the Ephesian elders, his dear friends, around him for one...

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