Three Things I Love About an Ordination Service
December 12, 2015
During a recent evening worship service at our church, the Rev. Scott Cook was ordained to the gospel ministry. Scott is a recent graduation of RTS (Charlotte) and had previously been an outstanding intern at our church. I had the enormous privilege of preaching from John 3:22-30, on the theme, "The Friend of the Bridegroom." Ordination services are important, and I'd like to note just a few reasons why I love them.
- The Church. An ordination service reminds us that the church is not just a social body where we have all decided to hang out for a while. Rather, it is the household of God and the repository of the means of grace. God is always acting in the church through the means of grace, but in an ordination service we especially see God's hands resting on the man he has called. It reminds us of God's presence in all that we do according to his Word. An ordination service also reminds the church members that it is Christ's church more than it is their church. Few things helps communicate to the church better than an ordination service the spiritual authority invested in the church, to which Christians are to yield proper submission by receiving God's Word from the minister's mouth. It is also most wholesome in these gender-confused days for the church to see faithful and loving men exercising biblical leadership for the good of the whole church. (My wife says that ordination services are her favorite: "It makes me feel like a woman to see all those faithful men in God-given authority," she says.
- The Gospel Ministry. An ordination service involves the exalted Lord Jesus' on-going fulfillment of his promise to provide ministers to his gospel. Paul writes that when Christ ascended into heaven "he gave gifts to men" (Eph. 4:6). Among these gifts are "the pastor/teachers" (Eph. 4:11). So to see a faithful man called and ordained into Christ's gospel ministry is to realize that our Lord continues to provide for the needs of the gospel in this world. It gives me chills to lay hands on a new minister and to realize (without imbibing any Romish apostolic succession theories) that we are today carrying on a divine provision that goes back to the apostles and to Christ himself. It reminds us what history is really about.
- The Gospel Minister. An ordination service speaks extremely powerfully to those already ordained. It reminds us of our high calling and its divine origin. It points out to us the privilege and thrill of being a minister of the gospel. It also invokes a fearful sense of responsibility and inadequacy that drives us to the grace of our Lord for our lives and ministry. Just as, when conducting a wedding, I always make eye contact with my wife when the bride comes down the aisle -- seeing with crystal-clear memory the glory of my own wedding day -- during an ordination service I lift my eyes to my Savior and Master, letting him know that I do realize the privilege and obligation that he has given me by making me a steward of his grace.