Few things will be more important to a successful Old School Presbyterian (OSP) ministry than zeal in all of our duties, and in particular, our preaching. Knox Hyndman notes: “Preachers of the Gospel are dealing with truths which always ought to grip their hearts. They are ministering to people who are of infinite worth. Their purpose is to glorify God. Zeal then is surely essential in every preacher of the Gospel. It was a characteristic of the Saviour Who in His ministry fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, ‘ He wrapped Himself in zeal as a cloak’.” Nothing will make up for the lack of it, and the presence or absence of true zeal in a ministry will be perceptible both to our congregation and those outside. How many people do we expect will be eager to become part of church that seems to be totally lacking in zeal for the very Gospel they proclaim is so important?
I would recommend therefore that OSP pastors and elders read this article by Knox Hyndman entitled Brownlow North: A Zealous Preacher which uses the life and ministry of Scottish evangelist Brownlow North to further unpack the nature of true zeal for the gospel and how it is gained and maintained.
At one point in the article, Hyndman mentions North’s famous Six Short Rules for Christians but does not list them. They are certainly worth taking to heart by every Christian and I would argue that all of these rules are essential for our continuing sanctification (and ZEAL!):
1. Never neglect daily private prayer; and when you pray, remember that God is present, and that He hears your prayers. (Heb. 11:6).
2. Never neglect daily private Bible reading; and when you read remember that God is speaking to you, and that you are to believe and act upon what He says. I believe all backsliding begins with the neglect of these two rules. (John 5:39).
3. Never let a day pass without trying to do something for Jesus. Every night reflect on what Jesus has done for you, and then ask yourself, “What am I doing for Him”? (Matt. 5: 13-16)
4. If you are in doubt as to a thing being right or wrong, go to your room and kneel down and ask God’s blessing on it. (Col. 3:17). If you cannot do this, it is wrong. (Roms. 16:23).
5. Never take your Christianity from Christians, or argue that because such and such people do so and so, therefore, you may. (2 Cor. 10:12). You are to ask yourself, “How would Christ act in my place”? And strive to follow Him (John 10:27)
6. Never believe what you feel, if it contradicts God’s Word. Ask yourself, “Can what I feel be true if God’s Word is true”? And if both cannot be true, believe God and make your own heart the liar. (Roms. 3:4. 1 John 5:10-11).