Beloved brothers and sisters,
It is a privilege to greet you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, our precious Savior, hoping that all things related to life and ministry are being blessed and guided by Him at every moment.
This last year has been a great blessing for our church, despite the many difficult situations in our country. When the pandemic started in 2020, around 100 people congregated with us. Of this group, half were part of the membership. But in the midst of the pandemic, many people began to visit us. Some had been evangelized by our members and others learned of the Reformed doctrines online and upon discovering these truths they looked for a healthy church and met us through the internet. The current number attending the church is about 190 people, each of them with a strong desire to hear gospel-centered preaching.
Part of the group sits in the auditorium, but not everyone fits there. There is another group in a different room of the house and at times there are people standing outside on the patio listening to the sermon standing up. The joy we have is enormous to see so many people who, despite their many needs and limitations, come every Sunday very early with a desire to be edified by the faithful preaching of the Word of God and to enjoy communion with the Lord’s people.
ACADEMY FOR EXPOSITORY PREACHING
Beginning last year in each of our classes and student meetings, we have emphasized not only the importance of doctrine but also the importance of truth changing our lives. This semester in our subject of “Puritan and Reformed Preaching,” I took it upon myself to emphasize to my students the need for God’s truth to impact not only our minds but also our hearts.
Dr. Joel Beeke once wrote the following:
“Christ came to give us knowledge and understanding of the truth (John 18:37; 1 John 5:20). We cannot float the knowledge of the heart in the air. The true knowledge of the heart is rooted in the knowledge of the head. By itself, however, head knowledge is insufficient to save us or make us holy; the Spirit must apply the truth to the heart. The heart is the source from which all our choices and actions flow.”
This emphasis brought greater understanding to our students, causing us to give greater attention to our own hearts. We are seeing growth in the lives of many pastors and we are very grateful for this.
PRAYER BEFORE ELOQUENCE
Every morning before our first class, a student leads a devotional. It is a time in which we meditate on the character and work of our good God. Then we have a time of prayer for our souls and for the churches that the Lord has placed us to shepherd.
The preacher must work hard to bring true and relevant facts of the text to his listeners. He must, with his words, make his argument more persuasive and he must move his listeners to act, that is, to apply what they have learned in love and obedience.
Although such hard work will be helpful to the preacher and to the congregation, the preacher can never forget the importance of prayer, and this is something that we put a lot of emphasis on in our devotionals. As I have heard it said, “…[the preacher] must become a man of prayer before he becomes a man of words.”
In March of this year, we hope to receive more students in our academy. Men who represent various churches in our country. Men who have recognized their shortcomings, but who have a lot of desire to learn to preach the Word of God.
Pastor of Iglesia Bautista Reformada in Caracas, VenezuelaMore By Plinio Orozco