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Dever reminds of man’s brevity versus eternal nature of God

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Pastors who minister in the midst of change must preach loyalty to the eternal God, not to the temporary kingdoms of men, according to Washington, D.C., pastor Mark Dever.
Dever, who serves at Capitol Hill Baptist Church, was the guest speaker for Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s 1997 Week of Preaching. He began his Sept. 2 chapel address by noting all the reigns of the great kings recorded in the Old Testament Book of Daniel eventually came to an end. The same is true today, he said.
“Whatever their names — Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, or Versace and Diana — earthly power will not remain,” Dever said. “Kings come, kings go, and as surely as a reign commences, it has a conclusion.”
Dever said pastors must remind church members who wield considerable power in their communities that the power does not come from themselves, nor will it remain. Some of the most important words in the Bible, he said, are, “This, too, shall pass.”
Pastors also must learn to respect a man not for his success, but for his faithfulness to God, Dever said.
“I don’t care how successful your church is,” he said. “You must not be entranced by your own apparent success. It is God who lifts up and it is God who puts down.”
In stark contrast to the brevity of man is the eternal sovereignty of God, Dever said. Powerful men, such as Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, may exercise sovereignty on this earth for a time, but it is a temporary trust from God. Dever said according to Daniel 4:17, God chooses the lowliest of men to serve in such positions.
“How often have we thought of those in power as the lowliest of men?” Dever asked. “It’s almost as if the only ones fit to be kings are those who could do nothing else, so great were their needs to be served, and so slight were their abilities to serve others.”
Pastors must not shirk from preaching the biblical perspective of God’s sovereignty and man’s inability, Dever said. Rather, they must exhort their people to follow Daniel’s example of faithfulness to a sustaining God in the midst of change, trial and persecution.
“Do you perceive the importance of this for you and for your people?” Dever asked. “I could spend half of my time telling you things which you would be much more easily mentally engaged with, and which might get me a better response immediately after speaking, and which you might even mistake as movement of the Spirit of God, because of your excitement at the time,” he said.
“But I deliberately choose in the pulpit to teach people the Word of God, to put up with times that people may not seem as engaged, when it may not be what people want, exactly because they need to know about this truth — of the changing nature of this earthly life and the unchanging nature of our heavenly Father,” Dever insisted. “If we are going to face the day that he has for us to face, this is the only way we can do it.”

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  • Clinton Wolf