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Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Charge to Candidates for the Gospel Ministry - 6 February 2015


A Charge to Candidates for the Gospel Ministry: 6 February 2015
“Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD”

Gentlemen, I am going to give you this charge out of Hosea. We will begin in the middle, go backward and then move forward.

Right smack in the middle of Hosea is this welcome from God: “Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth” (Hosea 6:3). Notice the welcome is for us to know this God, to press on and surge forward to know this God who, like the morning sun scatters the darkness; like the spring rain showers brings refreshment, restoration, rejuvenation. This is the God we are to know!

Though this is God’s welcome, earlier there was a warning: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (Hosea 4:6). Now, likely, this lack of knowledge was not a lack of facts, figures and theological foci. These were the trained leaders of God’s people. Instead, this lack of knowledge was likely a lack of taking it all to heart!

Therefore, God’s warning and welcome is for us to take the facts, figures and theological foci to heart, to know; to press on to know the LORD. And so God continues to welcome us a few verses later – a verse made popular by our Lord Jesus: “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6). The facts, figures and theological foci taken to heart should draw us to know this God – that ought always to be the goal.

Then in chapter 10 pressing on to know the LORD is put in agrarian terms: “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you” (Hosea 10:12).

Finally, God’s welcome comes out in chapter 12, “So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God” (Hosea 12:6). We are to eagerly, longingly wait for, look for the LORD.

So there it is. The warning and the welcome are clear: Don’t substitute the facts, figures and theological foci for knowing the LORD. That’s always a danger in seminary, with all of the reading and all of the gaining of data; it’s a danger when one gets ordained as a deacon, or a ruling elder or a teaching elder; to get so caught up and wrapped up in the technicalities that you substitute the facts, figures and theological foci for knowing the LORD.

So I challenge you, “Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD”!


At this point you are possibly asking, “But how do we know the LORD?” Thanks for asking that question. The answer is found in the Gospel according to John; “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known” (John 1:18). “Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD,” and that happens by coming to know Jesus his Son!

{Feel free to use this charge. If you publish, post, publicize or print this charge, please give credit where credit is due. Thanks, Mike}

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