PASTORAL MINISTRY
(TRAINING FOR PASTORS)

IV.

Assignments

 
  Following are some essential qualifications of a pastor.  
   
 

1.

Preaching

   
   

a.

Preach the Good News of Christ, not your pet projects, irritations, or causes. Preaching is publicly proclaiming the centerpiece of the Gospel, Jesus Christ. The Gospel must be privatized through study before it is publicized through proclamation.

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15, NIV).

"In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word, be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage­ with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry." (2 Timothy 4:1-5, NIV)

"Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." (1 Timothy 4:13-16, NIV)  
 
   
   

b.

Perpetuate the Gospel (Evangelism and missions). Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20, NIV)

"But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry" (2 Timothy 4:5, NIV).
 
   
   

c.

Proclaim the truth.

"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I am now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something man made up." (Galatians 1:6-11, NIV)
 
   
   

d.

Portray the Gospel (Practice a righteous lifestyle). Remember who you are—a Christian—one belonging to Christ.

"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:1-3, NIV)
 
   
   

e.

Personalize your evangelism (Follow the Spirit as He leads you to use your gifts and resources in outreach).

"Do the work of an evangelist" (2 Timothy 4:5, NIV).
 
   
   

f.

Pursue God's will in where and how your spend your ministry.

"When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.'

After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them." (Acts 16:7-10, NIV)
 
   
 

2.

Ministering

   
   

a.

To befriend.

God describes Himself as Friend. Jesus was called a friend of sinners. The closest relationship we have with Jesus is as His friend. (See John 15:14)

To minister as Jesus does is to befriend.

To comfort.
   
   

b.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God" (2 Corinthians 1:3-5, NIV).
 
   
   

c.

To intercede.

"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone­ for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior." (1 Timothy 2:1-3, NIV)

"Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (James 5:13-16, NIV)
 
   
   

d.

To encourage.

As a pastor, you represent the Spirit of Christ. Furthermore the Spirit of Christ dwells in you. Just as Christ encourages, you are to encourage.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)
 
   
   

e.

To counsel.

If we are encouraged to come to God for counsel, assured that He will not criticize our questions or our confusion, we should extend that God-likeness to those in need of our understanding and insight. And we should ask God for wisdom in providing counsel.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does." (James 1:2-8, NIV)
 
   
 

 

f.

To exemplify.

You are to lead by example, avoiding worldliness—such as the desire for riches. "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (1 Timothy 6:10-12, NIV)
 
   
 

3.

Equipping

   
   

a.

The church for ministries to and in the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is the church.

"It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." (Ephesians 4:11-16, NIV)
 
   
   

b.

The church to penetrate the culture, as salt and light penetrates.

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:13-16, NIV)
 
   
   

c.

The called (Those set apart for vocational ministry).

Pastors should be alert to those sensing a call to ministry and be prepared to mentor them.
   
   

d.

The leadership of the church.

"It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." (Ephesians 4:11-12, NIV)
 
   
   

e.

The church to discover and develop spiritual gifts.

See 1 Corinthians 12:1-12.
 
   
   

f.

The church to discover needs and use gifts.

See 1 Corinthians 12:18-31.
 
   
   

g.

The church to learn the Bible and to learn to pray.

Pastors teach their churches about Scripture reading and prayer first and best by a genuine pattern of personal Bible reading and prayer. A pastor serves as a model of encouragement. Pastors need to have a pattern of personal Bible reading and prayer apart from their preparations for preaching and teaching.

Church members need practical guidelines from their pastors about how to start, and sustain, personal quiet times (devotional Bible reading and prayer).
 
   
 

4.

Homebuilding

   
 

 

A pastor's life and spirit are to be becoming to The Gospel or it will reflect poorly upon The Gospel. The first place where such commendation or distraction is felt is in the home.

Instructions for the relationship between husbands and wives are given in Ephesians 5:22-33. Husbands are to love and care for their wives just as Christ loves and cares for the church. Christ died for the church. Wives are to respect their husbands and submit to them, just as the church submits to Christ.

Husbands and wives have different needs. Willard F. Harley, Jr. Ph.D., author of His Needs, Her Needs: Building An Affair-proof Marriage, offers free advice concerning meeting the needs of a spouse. You can download the Emotional Needs Questionnaire (see the Most Popular Links box) and other information from the following website.

   
Dr. Harvey advises couples to negotiate with mutual respect in order to reach joint agreement. If joint agreement is not possible on some matters, the Scripture admonishes wives to submit to their husband’s leadership (Ephesians 5:22).

It is helpful for a married couple to seek out an older Christian couple as mentors. If the older couple has a successful marriage, they can offer advice and help to mediate conflicts that arise between a husband and wife.

Instructions for the relationship between parents and children are given in Ephesians 6:1-4. Parents are to teach children to honor their father and mother. Parents who praise and love their children continually, while expecting obedience from the children, are following Scripture. The Book of Proverbs contains wise advice for child rearing.
 
 

5.

Worshipping

   
 

a.

Personal worship (private and corporate).

Pastors must be worshippers before they can lead others in worship.
 
   
   

b.

Leading worship.

Pastors must realize that they are not only preachers, but they should also plan worship to be a meaningful experience.
 
   
   

c.

Developing worshippers and worship leaders.

Pastors should call upon church members to expressive styles of worship and teach them how to lead others in doing the same.
 
   
 

 

d.

Worship through baptism.

Jesus commanded two rituals: baptism and communion. These two commands or ordinances do not give eternal life. Instead, the ordinances are symbolic. These ordinances of the church are for believers only.

The ordinances serve as a testimony of faith
. Those who have not committed their lives to following Christ may learn from seeing believers follow the ordinances. Children especially can learn from seeing people baptized, so when appropriate, children may be invited to come to the front of a congregation for a better view of the baptismal service.

Consider the scriptural basis for baptism. Christ was baptized (Matt. 3:13-16). Believers in the early church were baptized (Acts 2:38-41). Christ commanded his disciples to baptize (Matt. 28:18-20).

Water baptism does not give eternal life
. The criminal who died on a cross beside Jesus at the crucifixion had no opportunity to be baptized; yet Christ told the repentant criminal that he would be with the criminal in paradise (Luke 23:40-43). If baptism were necessary for salvation, it would appear that Jesus would have baptized people, but he did not (John 4:1,2). Jesus did all that was necessary to save believers; he died as the one perfect sacrifice for sin. So those who believe in Jesus are saved (Romans 10:9,10,13; John 11:25,26).

Some in the church hold that water baptism is required for salvation. Rather than arguing as to whether or not water baptism is necessary for salvation, let us agree that Jesus commanded that we practice water baptism. So each person should repent and be baptized.

Baptism is symbolic: it signifies that a believer has given up a sinful lifestyle and has a new life in following Christ. The believer is immersed in water (like Christ was buried), symbolizing that the sinful lifestyle is dead. The believer is raised from the water (like Christ was raised from the grave) to live anew in Christ (Romans 6:1-5).

Baptism is important spiritually for the believer
; the one being baptized should identify with the death and resurrection of Christ. Christ lives forever, and through faith in Christ, the believer lives forever. Baptism is a testimony that the believer is a follower of Christ. As we remember our baptism, we are encouraged to live a Christ-like lifestyle. We believers have been baptized with the Holy Spirit to receive eternal life, and then baptized with water as a testimony of our faith, so we are Christians. Let us remember who we are.

Baptism is for believers only
. Baptism is not for infants, but only for those who have repented of sin and placed their faith in Christ (Acts 2:38,39). Scripture reveals that believers were baptized (Acts 8:12,13,36,37; 16:30-33; 18:8). Scripture calls for believer’s baptism only. It is important that people in the church understand that salvation is by faith in Christ, and not to be misled into thinking that they are saved merely because they were baptized as infants.

In Scripture, baptism is by immersion. In fact, the Greek word for baptize “baptizo” means “to immerse.” Biblical examples of baptism show that those being baptized were immersed, because “they came up out of the water”(Matt. 3:16; Acts 8:38-39).

Jesus said that his followers are to be baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”
(Matt. 28:19 NIV). These are the essential words that are to be said during a baptismal service.

One does not have to be an ordained minister in order to baptize a believer. Any believer can baptize another believer. Pastors generally conduct baptismal services.

Baptism is an act of obedience--a sacred, open statement of one's belief and should be worshipfully done. The leader at a baptismal service can explain that the baptismal water does not save the candidates for baptism, rather that each candidate has trusted in Christ and has received eternal life.

The leader may wish to have each candidate confess his or her faith publicly during the service. The leader may guide the candidates in confessing Christ as Lord and Savior. Then the leader may say something like this, “Now upon your profession of faith in Christ and your obedience to his commands, I baptize you, my brother/sister in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Scripture appropriate for a baptismal service includes Romans 6:1-4 and Matthew 28:18-20.
 
   
   

e.

Communion is also called “The Eucharist” or “The Lord’s Supper.” Believers have communion by sharing the same faith in the Savior who gave his life for us. The Eucharist means “thankfulness,” and so Christians celebrate the Eucharist with a grateful heart that Christ died for our sins. The Lord’s Supper was the last meal that Christ took with his disciples before going to the cross.

Jesus did not say when or how often communion should be observed. He instructed his disciples to eat bread in remembrance of his body, which was broken on the cross, and take the cup “whenever you drink it” in remembrance of him (1 Corinthians 11:24,25). The cup represents the New Covenant of Grace. By the grace of God, our sins are forgiven through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross (1 Corinthians 11:25).

The Apostle Paul taught the practice of communion to the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 11:23). The Eucharist has played a primary role in the worship of the church throughout the centuries.

Scripture appropriate for a communion service includes 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; and Luke 22:14-20.

There is a mystery in Communion about which sacred care needs to be exercised by the leader and participants. The Apostle Paul admonished those in the church to examine their hearts and attitudes carefully before participating in the Lord’s Supper. A pastor should teach the congregation to observe Paul’s instructions in 1 Corinthians 11:17-22,27-34.

In keeping with the sacred nature of communion, this ordinance is to be practiced by Christians only
. If there are non-Christians present in a congregation, the pastor may explain to the congregation that communion is a memorial to our Savior, and “all those present who have received Jesus as Lord are invited to participate by taking the bread and the cup.”
 
   
   

f.

Worship through funerals.

Pastors should take advantage of funeral services to share the Gospel, to give tribute to the deceased, and to comfort the brokenhearted. Funerals present an opportunity to share the hope of eternal life in Christ to those who might otherwise never hear this message. After the death of a loved one, a non-believer may be trying to understand what happens at physical death. He may ask questions like, “Is there life after death?” “Does the spirit go to be with God when one dies?” “If God exists, why does he allow death?” A pastor can use scripture to answer such questions, and lead some to salvation in Christ. A pastor shows his love for non-Christians by inviting them to receive the greatest gift available-—eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.

We give tribute to the deceased because every human life is valuable. Scripture teaches that we are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). At a funeral we can recognize how God has used the deceased to love his or her family, to serve others, to achieve, to set an example, to protect, to nurture, or to do any good thing. Such recognition helps those at the funeral to understand that in the midst of sadness, there is satisfaction in knowing of the contribution of the deceased.

If the deceased was a Christian, a pastor can comfort the brokenhearted by sharing scriptural promises that the body goes to the earth, but the spirit goes to live with God (2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23; John 11:25,26). So the one who has departed to be with Christ has received perfect peace and joy. Those who grieve need only grieve for their temporary loss of the companionship of the one departed. If those grieving trust in Christ, they too will someday be with Christ—and will again be with the one who has departed from this world.

It is helpful to prepare a variety of funeral messages in advance. When someone dies, you may be too busy to develop a sermon for the funeral. But if you prepare ahead of time, you can prepare a better message, and you can adapt the message to the particular funeral service. Following are suggested scriptures for funeral messages.

If the deceased was not a Christian:  

   Psalm 39:4-7
(Life is short, and our hope is in God.)
   Psalm 46:1-3,10 (God is our refuge. Be still and know that he is God.)
   Psalm 90 (God is eternal, and we depend on him.)
   2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (God comforts, and we can comfort.)

If the deceased was a Christian:

   Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (Choose life.)
   Job 14:14; 19:25-27 (We will live again and see our redeemer.)
   Psalm 23 (The Lord is our Shepherd.)
   Psalm 73:24-26,28 (Take me into glory.)
   Psalm 91 (God is our refuge.)
   Psalm 103:13-18 (God has compassion on those who fear him.)
   Malachi 3:16-18 (God remembers the righteous.)
   John 5:25-29 (The dead will rise from the grave.)
   John 11:1-44 (The resurrection of Lazarus. Verse 26: Believers never
                        spiritually die.)
   John 14:1-6 (Jesus is the one way to eternal life.)
   Romans 8:28-39 (Nothing can separate us from God’s love.)
   1 Corinthians 15:26 (The last enemy to be destroyed is death.)
   1 Corinthians 15:50-58 (The dead will be raised.)
   2 Corinthians 5:1-10 (We long for our heavenly home.)
   Philippians 1:21 (The deceased one gained a better life.)
   2 Timothy 4:6-8 (I have kept the faith.)
   Hebrews 11:40 (God has a better home for the faithful.)
   Revelation 21:1-6 (Our eternal dwelling on the new earth.)
   Revelation 22:1-5 (Eternal life with God.)

If the deceased committed suicide:

   Romans 8:35-39 (Nothing can separate us from God’s love.)

If the deceased was a virtuous woman:

    Proverbs 31:10-31

If the deceased was a child:

   2 Samuel 12:15-23 (King David would go to be with his deceased child.)
   Matthew 18:1-4; 10-14 (Humble, child-like faith. Not willing that any will                                     be lost.)
    Mark 10:13-16 (Jesus blessed the little children.)
    Luke 7:11-15 (Jesus is concerned for the parent of a deceased child.)

If the deceased gave his/her life for friends or country:

    John 15:13

Following is a web page presenting a funeral message on the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man—a message about heaven and hell
(Luke 16:14-31).

   
The web page below gives access to examples of funeral messages for unique situations, examples of graveside services, suggestions for proper pastoral etiquette, and answers questions related to death and the afterlife. After opening the page, click on a title to link to that funeral message.
 
The length of funeral services will vary from culture to culture. In general, it is better for the funeral to be brief. In the same way, it is better for words of committal at the grave to be brief. We want to comfort the family of the deceased, not extend their grief. At the same time, it is important to present the Gospel, giving all those present at the funeral the opportunity to hear Good News that there is eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.

Having a well-prepared sermon for the funeral service is important. But more important than how much you know is how much you care. When you, a pastor, promptly visit the family of the deceased, you show your concern for the deceased. Your presence, your listening ear, your prayers all communicate that you care. Let God speak through you by the power of his Spirit. The family and friends of the deceased seek spiritual and emotional comfort that you bring.

Depending on the customs of the culture in which you are working, you may want to get input from the family in planning the funeral service. This will help you in preparing personal remarks about the life and accomplishments of the deceased.

After the funeral
, you can provide comfort to the family of the deceased. You can visit the family and encourage deacons and other church members to visit the family. By listening and counseling, you help people through the grief process—through shock, anger, guilt, fear, decision-making, loneliness, remembering, and taking new paths into the future.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Powell, Paul W. The New Minister’s Manual.
     Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1994.
 
   

g.

Worship through weddings.

As a pastor, it is your responsibility to meet all legal requirements for performing a marriage. Are you licensed to perform marriage in the place where the marriage will occur? If the couple must get a marriage license, you should have this license in your possession prior to performing the marriage ceremony. If the couple is required to get a blood test, have they done so? In order to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases to a spouse and/or children, some political jurisdictions require a blood test prior to marriage. Is the couple considering marriage currently single? Has either the prospective groom or bride been divorced? What are the laws concerning divorce and remarriage in the political jurisdiction?

Does the church in which you serve allow divorce and remarriage
? If the church does not allow this, then you are not free to perform the ceremony.

If divorce and remarriage are allowed legally in your political jurisdiction, and if your church allows divorce and remarriage, you must decide whether or not Scripture allows you to conduct a marriage ceremony for a divorced person.

Scripture teaches that it is against the will of God for people to divorce and remarry other people. But because of the grace of God, divorce and remarriage to another person might be allowed in some cases.

Consider scriptural prohibitions against divorce. Moses allowed divorce in certain cases due to “something indecent” about the spouse (Deuteronomy 24:1), but Christ said that Moses only allowed divorce because of the hardness of people’s hearts (Matthew 19:8). Jesus said that divorce is only allowed in the case of porneia (Matthew 5:32; 19:9). In the context of Matthew 5:32 and 19:9, what does the Greek word porneia mean? Various interpretations include adultery, premarital sex, incest, homosexuality, bestiality, or unlawful marriages.

Porneia
might refer to premarital sex during the betrothal of a couple. In Biblical times, couples were betrothed--engaged to be married. Such betrothals were strong bonds almost equal with marriage. In such cases, if a man found that a woman was guilty of premarital sex with another man, he might break the betrothal. Consider the situation of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who was pledged to be married to Joseph. When Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant prior to their marriage, he considered “divorcing” her—that is, he considered breaking the betrothal (Matthew 1:19 NIV).

It is uncertain as to exactly what porneia means, so it is uncertain as to exactly when divorce is allowed. Notice that divorce is only permitted in the case of porneia--divorce is not advocated. If the marriage is lawful, then the couple should try to reconcile their differences and keep the marriage intact. Jesus proclaimed that God joins together a man and woman in marriage, and man should not separate this one flesh (Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:2-9; Luke 16:18).

The Apostle Paul taught against divorce. He wrote that a woman is bound to her husband as long as the husband lives, and that if she remarries while her husband is alive, she commits adultery (Romans 4:1-4; 1 Corinthians 7:10,11). Paul wrote that a believer must not seek to divorce an unbeliever (1 Corinthians 7:12-14), but if the unbeliever leaves, the believer is “not bound in such circumstances” (1 Corinthians 7:15 NIV). What does the phrase “not bound” mean? Does it mean that the believer is not bound to remain together with the unbeliever, so a separation (not a divorce) may occur? Does it mean that the believer is not bound to remain married, so a divorce may occur? On the following website, Lehman Strauss writes about the permanency of marriage (see the end of the article) and argues that 1 Corinthians 7:15 does not give the believer freedom to remarry.

   
In contrast to the position taken by Lehman Straus, the organization of 1 Corinthians 7 may suggest that divorce and remarriage is allowed when a believer is deserted by an unbeliever. It is interesting that Paul identifies three groups of people in 1 Corinthians 7:8,10,12-13. First, there are the unmarried (believers?) and widows (believers?); second, the married (both partners believers?); and third, the rest (one partner is a believer and one partner is not a believer). Among the second group--married believers--Paul does not allow divorce and remarriage. In verse 11, Paul writes that if a believing woman departs from her husband, she is to “remain unmarried.” But among the third group—only one partner is a believer—Paul writes that if the unbeliever leaves, the believer is not bound. Paul doesn’t then say that the believer in this third group is to “remain unmarried.” Comparing the second and third groups suggests that believers must not divorce and remarry, but if an unbelieving partner leaves a believer, the believer may be free to remarry.

New Testament scripture that directly addresses marriage and divorce
provides one exception that clearly allows divorce—when a spouse commits porneia. But it is not clear exactly what porneia means. A second exception might exist in the case of a believing partner being abandoned by an unbelieving partner.

Old Testament scripture allowed divorce, but only because of the “hardness of hearts” of people
(Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Matthew 19:8). Jesus said that God intended from the beginning that marriages remain intact (Matthew 19:3-9). God hates divorce (Malachi 2:13-16).

To divorce and remarry another person is to commit adultery, except in the case of (1) porneia or possibly (2) in the case of a believer being deserted by an unbeliever. But does this mean that the adulterer cannot be forgiven? I believe that the adulterer can be forgiven of this sin, just like he or she is forgiven of other sins. Consider some scripture concerning forgiveness:
 
        “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19 NIV).

“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:10-12 NIV).

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)
 
     
      When God forgives us, our sins are wiped out and forgotten. So are not the sins of divorce and remarriage wiped out and forgotten? Are these sins different from other sins?

The purpose of this brief exposition on divorce and remarriage is to give some of the major points for you to consider in your study of this topic. Then after study and prayer, you will need to decide what God would have you to do in regard to conducting weddings for divorced people.

Websites are available to help you in your study. One website provides a forum on various biblical topics:

http://www.studybibleforum.com/webtools.php

Type in the word “divorce” and click on search to link to the forum on that topic. Save this website in your favorites, and you will be able to see various views on a number of scriptural issues.

The following website summarizes scripture relating to marriage, and states that one must not marry another partner:

http://anabaptists.org/writings/marriage1.html

The following web site argues from scripture that a Christian has the right to divorce for a just cause.

http://christiandivorce.1hwy.com/

For an extensive list of web sites on the topic of divorce, go to the following website, type in the word divorce under “search site” and click on “go.”

http://www.bible.org

Regardless of whether or not you perform weddings for divorced people, you are encouraged to love divorced and remarried people. Consider how Jesus was concerned for the welfare and salvation of a woman who had been married five times and then had a sexual relationship outside of marriage (John 4:4-30). Let us not single out one type of sinner as being different from others. Those who divorce and remarry are not the only adulterers, but also those who lust in their heart (Matthew 5:28). All of us are guilty of sin, and must rely upon forgiveness in Christ.

As a pastor, you should provide pre-marital counseling to the prospective marriage partners. You will need to meet one or more times with the couple together. You may suggest that the couple consider a number of pre-marriage questions such as those given on the following websites.

http://www.calvaryle.org/Premarital.pdf

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/premarital-counseling-questions.html

It is important for the marriage candidates to communicate and agree on issues related to marriage prior to their getting married. So the man and woman should be encouraged to spend time discussing these pre-marital questions with each other prior to your final pre-marital counseling session.

Marriage planning varies according to culture. In some cultures, a man and a woman each have complete freedom to decide who their spouse will be. In other cultures, the parents may choose a mate for their child. Regardless of culture, a Christian should not marry a non-Christian (2 Corinthians 6:14). A believer married to a non-believer is certain to experience conflict in the relationship. The couple will disagree on many issues including how to teach children in matters of faith, setting priorities for using financial resources, and following scriptural guidelines for the relationship between husband and wife. You have the responsibility to determine whether or not both the man and woman are professing Christians.

Encourage the couple not to rush into marriage
. Depending upon what is possible within the cultural setting, it is good for a couple to spend a year prior to marriage getting to know each other.

In your counseling, you may wish to emphasize about five key points for marital happiness. Following are suggestions that, if implemented, will greatly increase the likelihood of a successful marriage.
 
   
     
1.
As a couple, pray together out loud daily and have Bible study together daily.      
     
2.
Take an active role in church each week. Determine your spiritual gifts and use them in service to the Lord.      
     
3.
Follow the biblical model for marriage found in Ephesians 5:22-33. Husband, love and sacrifice for your wife—don’t dominate her. Wife, respect and submit to your husband, don’t have power struggles with him.      
     
4.
Understand your spouse’s needs and seek to meet them. Men and women have different needs. See the above section “homebuilding” and the related link.      
     
5.
From time to time, seek an older Christian couple to mentor you.
 
     
      For additional information, you may wish to check Biblically based pre-martial counseling on the Internet at websites such as the following.

http://www.bible.org/topic.asp?topic_id=50

http://www.missiontoisrael.org/premarriagequestions.php

If possible, it is helpful to have someone other than yourself direct the planning for the marriage ceremony—preparing the facility, instructing the bride and groom regarding inviting guests, and other practical aspects of preparing for the wedding. That wedding director preferably should be a Christian who is familiar with the cultural practices of weddings in your area. But you are to maintain control over the spiritual aspects of the marriage ceremony, avoiding heathen practices that oppose scripture.

The wedding service gives great opportunity to share The Gospel and to make marriage and the home sacred
. You can teach scripture to the congregation to help them understand God’s will concerning marriage. The language of the Bible lends itself to the setting of marriage: Jesus is the Bridegroom; the Church is His Bride (Ephesians 5:22-33; Rev. 19:7,9; 22:17). Other scripture relevant to the marriage ceremony includes the following.
 
   
        God ordained marriage (Genesis 2:18-25).
Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding feast (John 2:1-11).
Giving God priority in the marriage blesses the marriage (Psalm 128).

 
     
 

6.

Fellowship and Mentoring

   
   

a.

With fellow ministers.

Pastors should seek and give encouragement with other Pastors, especially befriending and mentoring younger pastors.
 
   
   

b.

With different denominations.

Allow Jesus as Personal Savior to be the foundation of Christian fellowship, not artificial or exclusive comfort zones.
 
   
   

c.

With personal friends.

Pastors can allow themselves friendships with church members, neighbors and unsaved acquaintances but never allow such friendships to compromise or forfeit convictions pertinent to pastoral example and leadership.
 
   
             

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