CHRIST MAGNIFIED IN MINISTRY
Christian discipleship beginning and sustained in the home is vital. C.H. Phillips early life was impacted by the great Christian witness of His parents. Christ is exalted when men and women seek to study the Scriptures, becoming skilled in understanding and growing in the Word of God. The pastor or teacher who sincerely labors in the Word of God for Christ glory, will not be ashamed. Finally we will see that true ministry is that which shows Christ as only preeminent.
In C.H. Phillips ministry, he labored long and hard to reform local churches. Through his efforts, God did a great work adding converts to the church, providing wisdom for many church leaders to reduce their financial debt and become an overall impact for the society at large.
Christ is magnified in ministry when men and women use their gifts for God’s glory. Consider that Phillips used all of his educational background not for the furtherance of himself but Jesus Christ. This speaks a great deal to the works of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. His biographer comments that Dr. Phillips was a “modest, genial, dignified, sincere…and broad in sympathies.” These are the testimonies Christians need to the greater society. We have echoes of this in Scripture concerning the qualifications of an elder who is “must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil” (1 Tim 3:7). Also we see the testimony of such Christians like Gaius and Demetrius who was commended by the Apostle John in his third epistle for their walking in the truth and support of fellow believers.
In the defense of the gospel, Peter says we should be characterized “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). Christ is not only magnified then in ministerial endeavors but also how we as Christians conduct ourselves.
What can we learn?
African American Christians should endeavor to seek higher levels of Christian education. Paul admonished Timothy to “do his best to present yourself to God, as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15). I am hesitant to make a blanket statement, yet many of our African American elders resort to the “old time,” method of whooping and singing rather than providing Scriptural substance for their hearers. What is the aim of the elder? That he along with all believers rightly divide the Word of Truth.
Second we must resist the opinion that to attend seminary or attend a Biblical institution in some way, hinders the work of the Holy Spirit. Undoubtedly, this has become a serious error in the church as; complete Scriptural revelation has been replaced with subjective reasoning. What is the result? Many African American churches are producing illiterate Christians concerning God’s Word. Dr. Phillips life displayed the grave and utter importance for elders to the study the Word of God. A book that I would highly recommend is Thabiti Anyabwile’s The Faithful Preacher:Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African American Pastors. In this text, Anyabwile looks at Francis J. Grimke. Grimke spoke concerning this matter of pastors and teachers who were negligent in their faithfulness. In his sermon, Christ Program for the Saving of the World (1936) Grimke states, “If we are not going to preach the gospel and teach the Word of God faithfully, we have no business in the ministry. And the sooner we get out of it, the better.”
I must echo this sentiment to all those who call themselves pastors, evangelist and teachers. Educated, Scripturally sound biblical leaders must seek with all their heart the importance of rightly dividing the Word of God and proclaiming with clarity the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If this is not your aim, please step down.
Lastly, we see that Christ will use men and their families to magnify Himself. C.H. Phillips had parents who taught him the Word of God. So fathers it is vitally important you do the same for your children. The greatest wisdom we may give our children is the Word of God. The impact of parents teaching the Word of God produced men in the Phillips family that preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our call is enhanced when we endeavor to study the Scriptures and teach them to our families. Christ will be magnified greatly in those who earnestly hunger for His Word. Pray that God would give all of us a hunger for Him in sanctification and the study of His Word for the blessing of future generations.