Pastor’s Pastor

When pastors need help

Ramon J. Canals, DMin, serves as ministerial secretary of the Ministerial Association, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

Have you ever had a problem you thought you could solve yourself, only to discover it was beyond you? A few years ago, I was dealing with an ingrown toenail. It was painful. I tried to fix the problem by cutting it out but only made it worse. My toe started bleeding. After many tries, I decided to see a doctor. After careful examination, the doctor said, “This was beyond you. You could not have taken care of this problem by yourself. Only a doctor could solve it because it requires surgery.”

Aubrey Hoeppner serves in her church’s high school ministry in Illinois. She acknowledges, “Sometimes we avoid asking for help out of fear that it admits failure. We think, I should be able to handle this on my own; I’m supposed to succeed. I just need to push through.

“But the truth is that God created us with a need for help. Asking for help isn’t admitting failure, but recognizing the way God made us.”1

We are pastors—but we have a problem. We are sinful creatures with depraved minds and selfish hearts, desperately in need of help. The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians that we were dead in trespasses and sins, walking according to the course of the world and following the prince of the power of the air, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind (Eph. 2:1–5). How can one be justified before God? Paul answers, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (vv. 4, 5, NKJV).

How are people justified before God? This question propelled the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century. Martin Luther studied Scripture and discovered that we are “justified by faith” (Rom. 3:28, KJV). The church received the idea of sola fide, by faith alone, from the Protestant Reformation. The powerful idea is that we are judged righteous in the sight of God based on our faith in Jesus Christ.

God’s final message to the world proclaims “the commandments of God” and the “faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12, KJV). But what is the faith of Jesus? It is faith in the ability and power of Jesus to save us from our sins. It is to trust that He took our sins so that we might take His righteousness.

God promised to solve the problem of sin in our lives through Jesus Christ, our Righteousness. In the book of Jeremiah, God promises,

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD,

“That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;

A King shall reign and prosper,

And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.

In His days Judah will be saved,

And Israel will dwell safely;

Now this is His name by which He will be called:

THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jer. 23:5, 6, NKJV).

As ministers of the gospel, we are called to preach this final, most precious message revealing Christ’s character of love and mercy. Christ our Righteousness is the beautiful gospel that energizes the soul and brings joy to the heart. God dresses you in Christ’s pure and holy robe of righteousness. The fact is that no matter what you have done in life, in Christ Jesus, God will consider you as if you have never sinned.

But this is the truth the devil does not want people to understand. Ellen G. White writes, “The thought that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, not because of any merit on our part, but as a free gift from God, is a precious thought. The enemy of God and man is not willing that this truth should be clearly presented; for he knows that if the people receive it fully, his power will be broken.”2

Sometimes we try to resolve the problem of sin ourselves but get discouraged when we discover that we cannot. Hoeppner says, “Take freedom in this: God has designed us to need help, and we honor him in asking for it.3 The issue of corruption is beyond us. It requires surgery of the heart and of the mind. It requires a doctor. Only Doctor Jesus can do it. Preach that.

  1. Aubrey Hoeppner, “Three Reasons Why Asking for Help Is Honoring God,” Open the Bible, October 1, 2015, https://openthebible.org/article/three-reasons-why-asking-for-help-is-honoring-to-god/.
  2. Ellen G. White, Gospel Workers (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1915), 161.
  3. Hoeppner, “Three Reasons Why."

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Ramon J. Canals, DMin, serves as ministerial secretary of the Ministerial Association, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

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