Pastors Need the Gospel Too! (Newton)

On June 13, 1772, John Newton wrote a letter to a fellow pastor who had been struggling with sin in his life. Newton comforted his Christian brother by pointing him to Christ. He also noted that a pastor’s struggle with sin helps him preach better to fellow struggling sinners. Furthermore, a pastor’s realization of his own sinfulness keeps him humble in and out of the pulpit. Here are Newton’s words:

Though sin remains, it shall not have dominion over us; though it wars in us, it shall not prevail against us. We have a Mercy-seat sprinkled with blood; we have an Advocate with the Father; we are called to this warfare, and we fight under the eye of the Captain of our salvation, who is always near to renew our strength, to heal our wounds, and to cover our heads in the heat of battle.

As ministers, we preach to those who have like passions and infirmities with ourselves; and by our own feelings, fears, and changes, we learn to speak a word in season to them that are weary, to warn those who stand, and to stretch out a hand of compassion towards them that are fallen; and to commend it to others, from our own experience, as a faithful saying, “that Jesus came to save the chief of sinners.”

Besides, if the Lord is pleased to give us some liberty, acceptance, and success in preaching the Gospel, we should be in great danger of running mad with spiritual pride, if the Lord did not permit us to feel the depravity and vileness of our hearts, and thereby keep us from forgetting what we are in ourselves.

 Newton, John, The Works of the John Newton. Vol. 1. London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824. Print. 665-666.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

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