For nearly the past two years, I have been proclaiming the gospel from the pulpit of the Church in which I grew up in North Jersey. Most people would call this activity "preaching", and for most men, that is what it would be.
But not me.
No, for the last two years, I have been merely "exhorting" congregations to embrace the message of grace freely offered to us in the Bible. The ten to fifteen page manuscripts I have written which contain, by God's grace, the freshly squeezed juices of the fruit of Reformed Biblical Exposition were, until today, merely "exhortations" to those eagerly awaiting, hunger for the manna from heaven.
But no more.
For today, I have joined (again by God's grace) the humble ranks of those who may now call their proclamations "preaching", and call those written manuscripts "sermons".
I am a Licentiate.
First - Praise be to the Lord Jesus Christ for His provision and sustenance over the last 6 months as I went through the final stage of this process. It was a humbling experience, and I am thankful, even for the bumps in the road.
Second - though the above is a bit 'satirish', it does describe the one and only distinction between where I was in this process on April 23, and where I landed on April 24th. And although the process was long and arduous, it was merely a small step in a much longer and much larger process of candidating, receiving and accepting a call, and eventual ordination and installation as a minister of the Word of God.
Becoming licensed to preach in the OPC, while perhaps the most difficult part of the process (depending on who you ask), brings with it the least movement. However it does open the door for Churches in the denomination who are in need of a pastor to look at you as an officially stamped possibility to fill their need.
Third - please do not read any of the above as in any way disparaging of my denomination or this process. I believe it is important, because I believe this office that I seek needs to be protected. I confess that there were time when I was weary of the process, but that was my pride and discontent leading me. Unfortunately, those things do not go away with a successful examination. Even today I was battling discontent for the foolish reason that I felt my exam (which was continued from February) was too easy - even though I already had a sense that this continuation would be basically perfunctory. And that too was born out of pride.
All this to say, that it doesn't matter where I am in the process. Whether I remain a Licentiate, or become Ordained, or end up not being called to the ministry at all - I will never be adequate for this calling, and I will always need to fall on my face at the feet of Christ, confessing my sin and my need for Him to carry me all the way. The more I rest in my own study, my own strength, my own skills, the more I will stink of hell to those around me. And the more I lean on Christ, and on His righteousness, not only for my salvation, but for every aspect of all that He has called me to be by His grace, than the more pleasing the aroma will be to Him, and to all who see my life and hear the words of the gospel coming from my lips.
This will take lots and lots and lots of prayer.
This I ask of you.