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A Portrait of Paul: Identifying a True Minister of Christ Paperback – October 1, 2010
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The apostle Paul has always been a hero whom I look to as a model for my ministry. His unrelenting faithfulness in the worst kinds of trials is a remarkable example to every pastor and missionary. In the midst of suffering, hardship, and (in the end) the abandonment of his own friends and fellow workers, Paul remained steadfast, dynamic, and utterly devoted to Christ. This invaluable study of Paul's life from Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker is a wonderful, powerful, soul-stirring examination of Paul's self-sacrifice and his unfaltering service to the church. It will both motivate and encourage you, especially if you re facing trials, opposition, or discouragement in your service for Christ. --John MacArthur, Pastor/Teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California and President of The Master s College and Seminary
The greatest need in churches today is for godly men to shepherd the flock of God. No church will rise any higher than the level of its spiritual leaders. Like priest, like people. To this end, Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker have done an exceptional job in providing a model for pastoral ministry, drawn from the extraordinary example of the apostle Paul. This book is built upon careful exegesis, proper interpretation, penetrating insight, and challenging application. Herein is profiled the kind of minister every church so desperately needs and what every true minister should desire to become. --Steven J. Lawson, Senior Pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama
This work on the Christian ministry is a clarion call to true devotion and piety in the pastorate. The theology is pure and the language is as powerful as it is beautiful. I pray that every pastor and congregant might take up this book and read it. It will hold a place in my library beside Baxter's Reformed Pastor, Bridges's Christian Ministry, and Spurgeon's Lectures. I will refer to it often. It will serve as a great antidote against all that might cause my heart to stray from Christ's call. --Paul Washer, Director of HeartCry Missionary Society
From the Inside Flap
What does a true pastor look like, and what constitutes a faithful ministry? How can we identify the life and labors of one called by God to serve in the church of Jesus Christ? To address these questions, Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker examine how the apostle Paul describes his pastoral relation to the people of God in Colossians 1:24 2:5. By discussing these essential attitudes, qualities, and characteristics of a faithful minister of Christ, A Portrait of Paul provides gospel ministers an example of what they should be, and demonstrates for churches the kind of pastors they will seek if they desire men after God's own heart.
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As a pastor, I needed this book. There were sections I read which brought me to tears as I realized just how frail and unbiblical a pastor I am. While it may surprise some to hear that a pastor is not perfect (some pastor's actually suffer from a "God-complex!"), I can readily admit that I have much room for improvement. Especially when compared to the "job description" laid out for us by Paul in Colossians 1:24-2:5.
If you are a pastor, please pick up this book. If you are thinking about going into the ministry, this book is an must read-you may quickly learn that the pastoral calling is not for you! If you have a pastor, pick up a copy today and give it to them. We are indebted to Rob Ventura and Jeremy Walker for writing this book. While many may not read Baxter's Reformed Pastor because it was written so long ago by a (gasp!) Puritan that it can't possibly speak to us today, they would readily pick up this book given its "modern" take on the ministry. In so doing, they will be the greater for it and the congregation in which they are the undershepherd will reap the benefits.
As such they take a unique approach to their book. Each chapter looks at different aspects of the Colossians passage as well as some others from Paul that add to the discussion. But then at the end of each chapter they have a section written to "Fellow Christians" where they put forth their question to you about how you will know whether your Pastor is following closely in the footsteps of Christ and like the Apostle Paul or not. The second section is written to "Fellow Pastors" and is a direct challenge to those of us who are Pastors to ask us whether we are living up to the Biblical example of an under-shepherd or not. I found this section of each chapter to be enlightening and sometimes a bit frightening as I realize how far I have to go to develop a Christlike character.
The book very carefully describes the Apostle Paul as shown in his writings. Someone who is intelligent, direct, controversial, challenging, brutally honest and willing to suffer for the furthering of the Gospel and to protect the flock. For me, Chapter three on the Hardships of Paul's Ministry spoke strongly to me. They discuss the realm of Christian martyrs and Paul's own suffering both emotionally and physically. The challenge to us as Fellow Christians is whether we are willing to suffer for the Gospel. Christ taught that the sheep will not be treated any better than the shepherd, i.e. the followers of Christ will be treated just like Christ was treated, poorly. The challenge to Fellow Pastors is whether we are willing to suffer emotionally and physically for our flock as well as for Christ. That is a difficult question but one that needs to be asked.
For Pastors this book will challenge us as to why we entered the Pastorate, was it for the glamour of leading a group of people or was it out of an intense desire to love and serve the Body of Christ? To many times authority and power corrupt people, we see that in politicians as well as in some pastors.
This book will challenge all of us in the Body of Christ as to whether we are living a Christlike life or not.
Colossians 1:24 through 2:5 - the passage forming the basis of this book - is one of those passages which, when you start to examine it in detail, cannot fail to surprise you in the depths and expansiveness with which it treats of its subject. How manifold and daunting are the roles and attitudes and actions that a true gospel minister must be characterized by as he pursues his work! And how easy to lose balance and perspective! What a daunting array of tasks to perform: warning against false doctrine without losing gentleness and humility; admonishing and rebuking those who err without failing to display a genuine, soul-deep love and compassion for them; pleading in prayer, leading in the pursuit of holiness, showing patience and compassion to the weak, preaching God's word faithfully, shedding the light of doctrine and the heat of practical application, and most of all, bringing every passage to bear on the Person and work of Christ, who is the sum and substance of divine revelation. Where can a minister find all of these various elements brought out and made to co-exist, not at variance with each other but in a mutually-supportive whole? The portrait of Paul in Colossians is one outstanding such case, and Ventura and Walker's book is an outstanding treatment of that passage.
It is difficult to highlight a few chapters from the book, because every chapter, in its way, is worthy of spotlighting; but if I had to pick a favorite, after a few moments of waffling, I would probably settle on the sixth chapter, which describes in detail what an effective preaching ministry looks like. After all, as the book suggests, the "declaration of Jesus is the central duty of the true servant of the Lord". Faithful pastors "never proclaim a mere system, nor a set of rules...They do not preach positive thinking. They do not preach themselves...[they] declare a person, a living person who is the source of all true life, in whom lies the hope of glory, the only fulfillment of the deepest needs of sinful men... This matter reveals the crucial difference between a true servant of Christ and a false one". After thus emphasizing the importance of a scriptural, Christ-centered preaching ministry, the chapter then goes on in very practical terms to describe just what that means and does not mean. This segment of the book should be required reading for any preacher or aspiring preacher.
As I previously suggested, this book is a must-read for anyone involved in searching for a pastor; but it is also geared toward a much wider audience than that - it is not simply a "how to" manual for pastoral search committees. Its nature as a book describing in detail what a faithful minister looks like makes it an obvious choice for present or aspiring pastors; and one structural feature both underscores that use and effectively extends the target audience to virtually any believer in Christ: after the bulk of each chapter deals at a very practical and expositional level with a portion of the passage in Colossians, there are concluding segments addressed first of all to fellow-believers, and then to fellow-pastors of the authors. These segments are always suffused with intentional, practical wisdom appropriate both for the sheep and the shepherds. Not only will the pastor gain much insight into how to fulfill his ministry well, but the sheep will gain much insight into how to benefit from the labors of the pastor most fully, and how to support and uphold him, not just for his own good, but also for their own. I cannot think of any class of believer that does not stand to benefit by this marvelous book. It really is, as John MacArthur expresses it, "a wonderful, powerful, soul-stirring examination".
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