The cure of souls

The office of pastor has to do with the care, the nourishment and spiritual well-being, the protection and oversight of souls, to see that Christ is indeed and effectively, and in an ever-increasing measure, their Prophet, Priest and King. Christ himself is the Chief Shepherd; he leads his people through the wise counsel of the pastor, as he studies the mind of Christ in Scripture and seeks to present the same in a relevant and effective way to the modern man.

Ironically speaking, though in the past "the cure of souls" was seen to be "the parson's job," the inroads of psychiatry have been such that today the pastor is virtually divested from his responsibility, and said to be incompetent for such a task, as curing souls is. This is a major seduction in the church today. We need to wake up to the challenge and affirm that, we the wisdom of God as presented in Scripture, the man of God is fully equipped for the task to cure souls. The pastor does not need to refer his people to "the professional" and "the expert." With the blessing of the Holy Spirit, and by the command of Christ, he is able to cure souls.

He does this by creating an atmosphere in the church to where every member is taken care of. Once a person is converted, and is joined to Christ and his church, the pastor is responsible to cure his soul, in the sense that the remnants of sin are still in that person's heart. He needs to be taught how to mortify the flesh and vivify the fruit (virtues) of the Holy Spirit, how to consider the old man as dead and to present his body a living sacrifice to God. This is a life-long programme: the discipling of the Christian, to be sanctified through and through, to be presented perfect in Christ Jesus. In brief, the cure of souls is a sound description of the pastor's ministry, and in a wider sense, of the church's role in the world (as its light and salt).

The cure of souls is never complete in this life; they will be thoroughly healthy (sanctified) at death (cf. "the spirits of just men made perfect, Hebrews).

To the lost

The pastor cures souls first of all by seeking to win the lost. Paul told pastor Timothy, "Do the work of an evangelist." If the church may be compared to a hospital, where sick people are getting better, the world is to be compared to a cemetery. Strictly speaking, the pastor in his evangelistic efforts, is not engaged in the cure of souls, for cure implies sickness. But the lost person is not sick; he is dead (Ephesians 2:1ff), and needs to be regenerated by the Breath of God. The pastor, similar to what Ezekiel did, prophesies to dead bones; he may see them live, should it be God's purpose to make them live.

So the pastor's ministry to the world at large is even more radical; he does not try to reform people; he does not push revolutionary concepts; he brings the gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe. The situation is so extreme that only omnipotence can effectively bring life where death is. The pastor, together with the church, gives witness to the risen Christ, who alone is able to raise men from the dead. Just as he raised Lazarus, his spoken word is creative. The pastor's word is not creative; used by Christ, it becomes the means of salvation to the world.