The Best Question Asked At My Ordination

— JARED SEGERSTROM —

Two weeks ago I participated in an ordination council at Soteria. Ordination is a time for area pastors and church people to examine a man’s doctrine and character and determine whether he is called to serve in pastoral ministry. Prior to my council, I spent hours reviewing my doctrinal statement. For two weeks every shower time turned into a mock ordination council where I rehearsed how I was going to answer a particular question about spiritual gifts or the imputed righteousness of Jesus. I wanted to be ready with an answer for every question.

The Tuesday morning came, and although I was sweating through my undershirt, I felt I was as ready as I could be. Several area pastors arrived, my family drove down from Waterloo and Webster City, and even a dozen church people showed up which was a welcome surprise. Pastor Mike, who moderated my council, made it clear to everyone that the floor was open for questions from church members as well as pastors. As the examining began, I was asked good, ministry-focused questions from the area pastors, many of which I had anticipated beforehand. There are a few questions I would have liked to re-answer with more clarity, but all in all it was going well.

Then we arrived to Angelology, which in my opinion is one of the areas of doctrine which is fairly “cut and dry” with little application to real life. I was surprised to see a hand go up from one of our church members, a dear friend with a son in our youth group. Her husband died unexpectedly a few years ago, and one of the statements her children heard most often was that their father is now an angel and he is looking down on them. She shared how frustrating it was for her kids to hear that statement repeatedly. She wanted to encourage her kids and provide them with an answer for people who offered this well-intentioned, but theologically inaccurate encouragement. 

God used that question to remind me of an important truth. Every area of Christian doctrine is important for life and ministry. Even the more obscure areas of doctrine, like angels, connects to real life. God reminded me that I’m not called as a pastor to know my Bible just so I can sound smart in front of my peers or pass examinations. I need to know my Bible so that I can give people what they desperately need: truth from God’s Word which helps them navigate life by faith. 

I looked at that dear friend and gave her the best answer I could come up with.  I reminder her that her husband and her kids’ father is living in perfect fellowship with his Savior Jesus Christ. Angels are incredible creatures with some extraordinary abilities, but they don’t have the kind of relationship with Jesus that Christians enjoy. Regarding the salvation experienced by humans who place their faith in Jesus, Peter says that angels “long to look into these things” (1 Peter 1:12). This family can take hope that although their dad is not an angel, he is something better, a child of God who enjoys unrestricted access to his Savior as someone cleansed by the righteousness of Jesus.

I was asked many good questions that day, but the best question was the one I wasn’t expecting. I’m so thankful for a good and sovereign God working through a dear and precious saint to remind me of that important and eternal truth.