GOT LITTLE FAITH? PART 3

POWER FOR MINISTRY

 

Mat 14:24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

When Peter realized he was losing control of the situation, he grew fearful and began to sink. Whether they care to admit it or not, many in ministry today are afraid of relinquishing control to the Lord. Because of their desire for control, a lot of ministers in the American Church unwittingly preach a gospel of another Jesus, while there are others who are well aware that they preach a gospel of another Jesus.

Their gospel says that God doesn’t expect every believer to be active in ministry.

Their gospel says or at least strongly infers that there are comparatively only an elite few who are qualified to lead the masses in the Church that Jesus Christ founded.

From looking at the polished professional clergy of today, one would be led to believe that those who are mighty, those who are educated, those who are wealthy or those who have been born into an affluent family or possess a combination of those attributes would be the most qualified to lead the people of God, but that’s not the case.

1Co 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

If we look at the first twelve that Jesus chose as His disciples, we can see the truth of that scripture. I have a difficult time picturing the brothers Peter and Andrew, or James and John the sons Zebedee as being eloquent speakers or being arrayed in fine linen. They were rough, hardy fishermen, the lot of them! With calloused hands and weather-worn faces, these men no doubt seemed out of place when in company with the professional clergy of the day, the scribes, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Their speech was probably coarse and to the point, and their mannerisms were no doubt unrefined and uncultured when compared to the pros of their day. Most of the time they probably had a distinct body odor from sweating out in the streets all day ministering to the people. “Repent” would be a common word in their vocabulary, and they preached with an uncompromised zeal that they learned from their Master, Jesus.

These men visited the temple and the synagogues, but they understood that the real ministry was out in the marketplace. They understood the temple and the synagogue to be a place of worship, prayer, and instruction, but they also understood that true worship is expressed not in the songs they sang, nor in the prayers that they prayed in the sight of men, nor even in the teaching and preaching at the “House of God”. They understood that true worship is expressed through a soul who is yielded to the Will of God on a continual basis, whether in the Synagogues or in the streets.

While the professionals loved to be noticed in the market place with their hair just right and attired in their fancy robes that would distinguish them as “men of God”, Peter, Andrew, James and John and the other disciples were more than likely often times ministering one on one with some downcast soul in some alley or side street where no one would ever notice. We know that their very ministry went against the grain of accepted “religious practice”.

We read that Jesus gave His disciples authority and power for ministry, instructed them in the finer points of ministry and sent them out to do the work of the ministry.

Mat 10:1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.

According to context here, over the period of time covered from chapter 4 to chapter 10 in the Book of Mattew, Jesus had been gathering His disciples to Him. The New Testament is not clear exactly when He called each one of His disciples, but we know that in Matthew Chapter 4, He called Andrew, Simon (Peter), James and John, the sons of Zebedee.

I believe that according to John 1 (vs 37-40), the author of the Book of John was also called by Jesus at that point in time. As we read Chapter 1 of John we can discover that the next day, Jesus called Phillip and Nathaniel. In Matthew Chapter 9, He called Matthew. Then by the time we get to chapter 10, He has all 12 disciples with Him (Matt 10:1-4). In verse 1, the twelve are referred to as disciples, and in verse 2, they are mentioned as “apostles” after He commissions them to the Work of the ministry.

What I want the reader to notice is that it doesn’t appear to have taken too long for the Lord to commission the disciples for ministry after He called them. Once they were commissioned, then they were sent out which is literally what “apostle” means:

Thayer Definition: Apostolos 1) a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders

Mat 10:2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;
4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

An interesting thing to notice here is that although the twelve are referred to as apostles here in verse 2, as you read the Word of God, you will see that they also continue to be called “disciples” (see Matthew 28:16, for an example). To me, that demonstrates 2 things.

1) None of us ever can truthfully claim to have “arrived”. No matter how long we are in ministry, we should be continually open to learning how to be more effective in that which the Lord has taught us.

2) Since that is true, then we can’t allow distinctions to be made between those who are walking in their calling in ministry, and those who are yet trying to discover what their calling is: “I was once in discipleship training. Now I have graduated, and am now God’s gift to the Church. You can call me APOSTLE Jones!” Whoever you are, you will ALWAYS be a disciple. Those who are sincere in their calling will always be learning about the things of the Lord (Unfortunately, there are some in leadership that may be always learning, but they never come to the knowledge of the TRUTH). That kind of understanding should help a person not to get puffed up, and should prevent them from “Lording it over the flock”.

Disciples of Jesus are expected to enter into ministry. There is a teaching in some Christian circles that not everyone who receives Jesus Christ is a disciple. These teachers try to differentiate between disciples as those who are being trained into ministry, and Christians or “lay believers” who constitute the majority of the Church. The reasoning goes that the “common believer” is not gifted by the Holy Spirit to do ministry. Their “partnership with the ministry” in their tithes and offerings is sufficient.

But this is wrong thinking. It is extra-biblical reasoning that serves to contradict the Word of God and to place some men on pedestals (although almost every one of them who propagate this type of thinking will assure you that they are not seeking to be put on a pedestal, the truth is that they actually are allowing themselves to be placed there) while those men and women of “low estate” will have to hope for a momentary glance or a nod of recognition from the celebrity. If they are really “fortunate” the “common” person will be able to get an appointment to see the senior pastor sometime during “working hours”.

CONTRARY TO POPULAR THOUGHT AND ACCEPTED CHURCH PRACTICE, EVERY BORN AGAIN BELIEVER IS A DISCIPLE OF JESUS CHRIST, AND AS I SAID IN THE PREVIOUS PARAGRAPH, EVERY DISCIPLE IS EXPECTED TO ENTER INTO MINISTRY. If that is true, then the chances are that many who read this web pagehave bought into a lie, and that is why many of you haven’t found your place in ministry. Many of you have been taught that God doesn’t expect you to be a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. IF YOU ARE READING THIS, YOU ARE CALLED TO BE A MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL IN SOME CAPACITY. GOD IS NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS. HE IS JUST LOOKING FOR OBEDIENT AND WILLING VESSELS THROUGH WHICH HE CAN FULFILL HIS WILL AND ESTABLISH HIS KINGDOM.

The word translated as “disciple” is the Greek word “mathe¯te¯s”. According to Thayer’s definition, it means “1) a learner, pupil, disciple.” It comes from the word “manthano¯” a verb: 1) to learn, be appraised 1a) to increase one’s knowledge, to be increased in knowledge 1b) to hear, be informed 1c) to learn by use and practice 1c1) to be in the habit of, accustomed to

Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

If we are to take the Bible literally, in verse 19 Jesus is saying this: “Go and make disciples of everyone” (nations=greek: ethnos, ethnic groups). “Teach them about the Kingdom of God, and train them how to do the things I have taught you.” The problem with many (not all) who are in leadership is that they are into control, and they think that it is up to them to determine who should be in ministry and who should just occupy the pew all their lives. The Word of God NEVER teaches that.

As I pointed out earlier, although the actual time frame isn’t real clear, Matthew was called by the Lord to be His disciple in chapter 9, and in chapter 10 he is appointed as an apostle! Was Jesus just careless in His appointments? MOST who are in leadership today would shudder at sending anyone out to minister “under their covering” in such a short period of time. No, today they need formal training, preferably as a seminary graduate, or at the very least, have been saved for at least a year, have successfully completed the 6 week membership training class, have successfully completed a 12 week class on evangelism, are faithful tithers, and attend at least one service a week. There is nothing wrong with going to seminary if you are going for the right reason (not so you can “get a job”), and as long as you know that the seminary is not the FINAL authority concerning the things of God.

I don’t necessarily think there is anything wrong with training in classroom settings. It all depends on the motivation. But for all of this to be a necessary prerequisite for a person to enter into ministry is wrong.

I hate to belabor the point (although I often do), but the SAME HOLY SPIRIT that dwells in the preacher up front is dwelling in every born again believer, and the SAME HOLY SPIRIT is as willing to use those in the pew as much (in some instances, maybe even more than) as the one with the title up front.

Study 1 Corinthians 12 – 14 for a true picture of what “church” is supposed to be like. Those who are jealous for control would never pattern their fellowships after these chapters. As a result, there continues to be the “us and them” mentality from the pulpit as well as from the pews, and the Work of the Holy Spirit is quenched in most of the Church today.

Mat 20:25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

How does that measure up with those who love to be called “pastor” or “reverend” or some other title that bespeaks authority worthy of honor and recognition? I know that I harp on this a lot, but JESUS is our model. It is His Words that are life. It is Jesus Who died and gave Himself for us.

Their gospel says that God doesn’t expect everyone to be vocal about their faith. But read Mark 8:38 where Jesus said: “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and of My Words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of Him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Their gospel says “God doesn’t expect everyone to walk in holiness, or to be in ministry. Just donate to my ministry and you will be a partner with me in ministry and we can both feel good. I’ll feel good because you gave me money to salve your conscience for not responding to the Call of God for your life, and you’ll feel good because I told you that you’re not required to do anything in your Christian walk but give some money to the cause. Life is safer this way!”

Those in leadership are not the only ones who have a penchant for control. Because we don’t have faith in the Lord’s ability to protect us, we keep silent about our Christianity, and we treat Christianity like some kind of spectator sport, paying money to hear about the exploits someone else is doing instead of going out to do it ourselves. Yet Jesus said:

Act 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

The sad truth is that a majority of those in the pews would rather be touched by the “man of God” and experience holy goosebumps, rather than being commissioned by the Lord to obey His commandment to “GO!” The fear of the unknown keeps us from entering into the ministry the Lord has called us to. We want to be able to remain in control of our situation. Peter saw the Lord walking on the water, and he asked the Lord to allow him to do the same. A lot of Christians will sing a song saying “send me”, but in reality, most won’t even get out of the boat. Others may get out of the boat but then when the first opposition or difficulty appears, they are fearful, and swear they will never do that again. It’s because they no longer have control over the situation, and they realize they need to trust the Lord completely. Because they have little or no faith, they would rather sit in the pews.

The other gospel that too many preachers preach says, “well, that’s O.K... You just remain in the comfort of the sanctuary. Not everyone is called to “GO”. But Jesus plainly said:

Mat 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Some might counter this by saying, “Well, Lance, that was the original disciples that he was saying that to. That doesn’t necessarily apply to me.” Yes, He was commanding the disciples, but what was it that He commanded them? “Go and make disciples of everyone, baptizing them, and teaching them to observe EVERYTHING that I have commanded you, and what I have commanded you is that those who you disciple need to go and make disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them to observe every thing I had commanded you, which is that they need to go and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them…..etc. etc. etc.”

MINISTRY IS NOT AN OPTION FOR THE CHRISTIAN WHO HAS BEEN TRULY BORN AGAIN. Consider the Words of Jesus Himself:

Luk 6:43 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

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