[Papercut Press Publishing] 1998-06-29 - Thomas Shepherd

Part 1

1 Peter 5:3, " … proving to be examples to the flock."

Thomas Shepherd is a name, I would guess, not many know about. This is sad. He was a faithful minister of the gospel approximately 350 years ago in colonial America. He struggled with something some of us may have never thought about, namely, doing good for the wrong reason. It was his question, how do I know that when I am doing good it is in response to God's grace and not for my own selfish ends? How can I know that there is not hypocrisy in my heart? Here are some of his comments:

I never preached a sermon which did not cost me prayers, and strong cries with tears, in the composing of it. I never preached the sermon, of which I had not first got good to my own soul. I never went up to the pulpit, but as going up to give an account to God of my conduct.

I perceive four sad evils which attend me in my ministrations:

  1. The devil treads me down, by discouragements and shame, on account of the meanness of that which I have prepared.
  2. Beside my natural dullness, my former enlargement and respect among the people makes me careless.
  3. Want of such light, life, and power, in delivering the truths of Christ, as to affect others in a due manner.
  4. Want of success, when I have done my best.

When I saw God angry with me, I was apt to attempt to pacify him, by abstaining from sin for the time to come. But I saw, that this was resting on my own righteousness, which could not satisfy God. I saw, that a righteousness was already prepared, and finished in Christ for me. I saw, that God's afflicting me was not intended, that I should satisfy for my sin, but that I might be humbled for it, and separated from it; being reconciled, and made righteous only in Christ. I was made to see.---

  1. That, in myself, I am a condemned wretch; but by Christ reconciled and alive.
  2. That in myself, and all creatures, there is an absolute insufficiency; and that there is no rest but in God all-sufficient; and in him there is enough for me.
  3. That I am unable to do any thing in myself; but in Christ, am able to do all things.
  4. That though I enjoy all these good things imperfectly in this world, I shall soon have them all perfectly in heaven; where God will manifest himself, perfectly reconciled, sufficient, and efficient; and will abolish all sin, and live perfectly in me.

"'Putting on Christ' is not one among many jobs a Christian has to do; and it is not a sort of special exercise for the top class. It is the whole of Christianity. Christianity offers nothing else at all." C. S. Lewis

Soli Deo Gloria,