Tag Archives: Ministry

Apostles, Messengers and Workers

Now go, but remember, I am sending you like lambs into a pack of wolves. Don’t take along a moneybag or a traveling bag or sandals. And don’t waste time greeting people on the road. As soon as you enter a home, say, “God bless this home with peace.” If the people living there are peace-loving, your prayer for peace will bless them. But if they are not peace-loving, your prayer will return to you. (Luke 10:3-6 CEV)

These days, Christian ministers and workers are competing to establish their influence and popularity among the masses. The Largest church in town, the fastest growing church, and what not. They enrich their people so much that they are spiritually obese and become so cult-like, almost worshiping their leader. They become so closed to the people of the world. There are some who take up on themselves big titles, like Apostle, Patriarch, Bishop, and so on, to show their superiority. But Jesus tells us to forget about ourselves and labor for His kingdom.

Pray for Workers, but you too go

Jesus before commissioning His disciples told them to pray for more laborers to do the harvesting. There is always a scarcity of laborers in His field. The Lord of the harvest has to commission more laborers into His field before the crops are lost. Then He sends us to do our part. Because the harvest is too large for a few churches or denominations or organizations can handle.

Don’t worry about your needs or future

He tells specifically not to carry any money, personal goods or items of comfort when you are out in the field. This is a little difficult for us to digest, but the principle is that God will take care of you and your needs. ‘Seek first His kingdom…and all these things will be given’ is the promise of the Master. But how often we try to secure our own position and our future forgetting the fact that it is He who holds our lives and our future?

He has made it pretty clear that He is sending us like sheep into a pack of wolves. And yet tells us we need not be concerned about our maintenance or safety, because He will take care of that.

Announce God’s peace, proclaim God’s kingdom

Don’t waste time on they way greeting and entertaining others but go straight into your business. Announce God’s peace up on the family and people you meet and tell them about the kingdom that is so near so that they can enter in. As you give the message, heal their sick and exhibit the love, compassion and the power of the King who sent you. You are the messengers of God’s peace. God’s peace will rest on those who welcome it and will leave those who reject it.

Accept hospitality

Wherever you are welcomed, minister to the people there, accept their hospitality. The worker deserves his wages. God provides through His people who are willing to share.

In doing the ministry we are workers and servants of the King, carrying the message of the kingdom and sent out with the King’s authority. The least among us will be the greatest in the kingdom.

Advertisements

People-pleaser or God-pleaser

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Gal.1:10)

Right from the first century itself the Church had to face false teachers and preachers who were people-pleasers. They were selfish power mongers who lusted after worldly glory and fame. They did damage not only to themselves but also to a whole lot of well-meaning, careless believers. Since they had not been given the whole Word of God which they could study themselves they were very vulnerable. Yet, the book of Acts credits the believers in Berea for their diligence in going back to the Scriptures and verifying the teachings they received. But the Galatian Christians were easily and quickly influenced by the wrong teachings that apostle Paul was in a state of shock when he wrote them the letter.

People-pleasers can not be God-pleasers

Paul makes it clear from his own life that those who are led by the flesh will adapt the message to suit their circumstances. They will quote the Bible to justify their misdoings. They would be popular among the masses because their messages are pleasing to them. But those who stick to the truth will not be popular and they won’t be hailed or honored because truth often hurts. Gospel truth would pierce through man’s self righteousness and ego. Paul reiterated that he, in all his ministry, never tried to please people but always remained faithful to God who appointed him as His servant. It is usually the ones that are unsure of their calling that would dilute the Gospel. They are doing the ministry because they were forced by their parents’ oath, or because it is a respectable profession, or because it is an easy way to make a luxurious living. Some of them make big money in the name of God and religion. God has not called them to serve because they have no relationship with God. Paul emphatically puts it in Gal.1:10 that those who try to please people can not be true servants of Christ. In other words, they serve the enemy and are working against God’s kingdom and His purposes.

People-pleasers invite God’s curse

There is only one Gospel. The eternal message of the Gospel is that salvation is a free gift of grace from God through faith in Jesus Christ as the only Savior. Saying ‘faith plus something’ is not the Gospel but heresy. Saying salvation is universal by default which doesn’t require faith in Jesus because Jesus died for the whole world, is also not the Gospel. However, the seriousness of preaching such a perverted fake gospel is seen in Gal.1:8-9. Irrespective of the source they come from or the channels they come through, it is counterfeit and the messengers are under God’s curse. They will be judged for adulterating the Good News of God as well as misleading people.

So, if you are a servant of God, remember to stick to God’s Word in your preaching and teaching, lest you come under judgment. Say all what God says and only what God says. Please Him and not people.

Godly Wisdom Versus Human Intelligence

When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.    (1Cor.2:13-15)

Worldly wisdom can not fathom God’s Wisdom

Much of the Christian ministry today is being done according to worldly wisdom. They follow worldly principles rather than Biblical principles. They adopt secular strategies than following the Spirit’s instructions. Christian workers want to appear on par with the CEOs and Executives of multinational corporations in their lifestyle but forget the fact that they are called to be different. They are called to suffer for the sake of their Savior. They are sent out like sheep among wolves. Instead, they take cover under ‘prosperity theology’, quoting Bible verses out of context, drawing heavily from the Old Testament. God’s wisdom is available to those who have surrendered themselves to His Lordship, because of the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God.

Being an example of a servant who has absolute dependance on God’s power, Paul makes this clear in his writings (2Cor.1:12). Wisdom of God is foolishness to the intelligentsia (1Cor.3:19). The worldly wise do not realize that it is God who wired their brains and their intelligent conclusions about Him is utter foolishness in his sight. The greatest irony of human history is that man the finite creature, claiming to know everything, is trying to make the infinite Creator a non entity. Man does not even comprehend what is happening to him in the now and here but is trying to discover what happened in the past and draw conclusions about the future. This is true with all those who have not discovered and yielded to the amazing grace of God.

Worldly wisdom can not fulfill God’s purposes

But for men and women called to be His representatives here in this temporal world God grants the wisdom to carry out His mission. They don’t mind the ridicule and the humiliation they receive from the world because their eyes are fixed on their eternal home. Only when they begin to consider themselves worthy of honor and respect from the world, they will have to prove the same to the world. That is when they will begin to employ worldly wisdom to accomplish a heavenly mission. Then, they will begin to copy secular strategies and methods that are foolishness in the sight of God. God has His way of doing His work and He does not allow anyone to teach Him what they think is a better way. God wants His people to follow His strategies and methods in His service. Our work for God has to stand His ‘fire test’ on the day of reckoning (1Cor.3:12-15).

In spite of having credentials that placed him on par with, if not above, many of the contemporary scholars, Paul did not consider himself to be wise enough to handle the God-given mission (1Cor.2:1-5).

Allowing God to work through you

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts.5:29-32) NIV

Ignoring an eye-opener

Peter and John were locked up in prison for doing the ministry as God directed them. God was with them and He commands His angel to unlock and free them, not for a comfortable ministry, but to be booked again. God directed them to the Temple and they start teaching there. Meanwhile the authorities summon the prisoners for investigations and probably with the idea of silencing them. But God has His purposes fulfilled in all these unpleasant situations. The Apostles let God have His way through their lives and the authorities were confused about the missing prisoners. To their surprise they discover that the Apostles are still free and doing what they had prohibited. This was more than an eye opener for any open minded truth seeking individual regarding what the Apostles were proclaiming. However, they chose to ignore it and secure their seats of power.

Opposing God

The authorities obviously recognized the supernatural element in the message of the Apostles. They also realized the influence these men had up on the lives of the people. So the police behaved gently with the Apostles (Acts:5:26). The Council blamed the Apostles for teaching in the name of Jesus while the Apostles blamed the Council for the killing of Jesus. Peter in his explanation asserted that Jesus was the Messiah who rose from the grave and is alive and willing to forgive the nation for their sins when they turn back to Him. However, the Council was not ready to accept the Apostles’ explanation. They wanted to get rid of them because of their stand to “obey God rather than men”. One among the Council was a wise and mature man named Gamaliel. His advise was more of common sense. He said,

“…Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:38-39)

Gamaliel probably had the inkling that the Apostles were on a supernatural mission as their message and the attesting miracles revealed. This message had the power to transform lives and opposing it will be opposing God Himself.

The Church has been commanded to proclaim this message of salvation to the entire world. As opposition and threat mounts we must remember that we should be obeying God rather than men. The fear of men will cause us to water down the message or conveniently alter it to suit the situation. Let God’s message be proclaimed as God intended it to be. Allow God to do His work. If you fear men, don’t meddle with God’s business, better keep away. The Apostles were warned and whipped but they never stopped proclaiming the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. They allowed God to work through them. They were happy that God found them worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ.

The Ministry of the Gospel

The high priest and his officials, who were Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But an angel of the Lord came at night, opened the gates of the jail, and brought them out. Then he told them, “Go to the Temple and give the people this message of life!” (Acts 5:17-20) NLT

The work of God must be done as directed by God, not as deemed intelligent to us. This is what distinguishes a genuine servant of God from a fake one. Today God’s workers are adopting worldly ways to do God’s work. Every serious employer has a specific job description, a standard of performance and service rules for his employee. An employee can not operate on his own whims and fancies. We see this in the lives of the Apostles.

God’s work should be done God’s way

The Apostles were guided by the Holy Spirit in every detail of their ministry. They went where the Spirit led them and preached the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. God allowed persecution to scatter them all over the world so that the message will reach far and wide. Sometimes they were asked to leave their thriving congregations to go to deserts and other new places, sometimes to give the message to individuals. They were allowed to be imprisoned so that the rulers and people in authority could receive the message of the Gospel. The Apostles did not chose comfortable mission stations, because they did not have their choice, but went wherever they were sent. That is why they were called “Apostles”. Today, some christian ministers have the audacity to prefix their names with the title ‘Apostle’ without being obedient to the Spirit of God in conducting themselves and doing the ministry.  

God comes with you wherever He sends you

The Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and were speaking the message of God as the Spirit of God directed them. Hence there were visible results. It was God who was adding people to His Church as the Apostles proclaimed His message. There was definite and visible transformation in the lives of those who came to Christ. The influence of these unschooled men up on the lives of the thousands of new believers whipped up jealousy in the minds of the Religious leadership who felt threatened by the popularity of the new Way. They arrested the Apostles and threw them in jail. But God goes with His servants wherever He sends them. He opens closed doors when you do just what He tells you to do.
     
Today, servants of God do not want God to go with them, because they are preoccupied with their own agenda. They do not want God to disturb them in their business. They justify their programs and activities in the name of their ministry strategy instead of following God’s strategy. So we have less and less of God’s ministry and more and more of individuals’ ministries. Wonder who is serving whom? It is to these, who ‘perform miracles and wonders in the name of Jesus’, that the Lord would say, “Depart from me… , I do not know you.”

Some ministers feel threatened by the work done by their co-workers and other ministers. If you feel threatened, it may be  because you are expecting human praise rather than God’s approval. You desire that glory and praise should come to you. It may also mean that you are trying to establish your authority, or your kingdom and not God’s. Then you lose your focus on God and begin to focus on yourself, your ministry, your church and your influence. Serving God as per His directions does not necessarily mean that yours should be the largest congregation in town, or the largest team of missionaries working around the world. There are many unknown servants of God who obediently serve Him in the most unassuming manner undergoing untold sufferings and pain. There is no substitute to obedience in the kingdom of God. 

God’s Work and His Workers

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning. I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.

Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. (1Tim.5:17-22)

Christendom is plagued with leaders who portray larger-than-life images, demand celebrity status and live in royal style. Their point is that they are the ‘royal priesthood’, ‘princes’ and ‘princesses’, children of the King of kings and the ‘heirs’ of God. But they forget that they are ‘co-heirs’ with Jesus Christ, who emptied Himself of all His glory as the Creator God to take up on Himself the form of one of His own creation, that too, the likeness of the sinful humans. There are arguments about the status of a worker in God’s vineyard. Paul reminds Timothy to be careful about the work of God as it involves different people handling different responsibilities.

Honor Good Workers

The body of Christ is not an autocratic set up. Perhaps it is close to a democratic style except for the over all submission to the authority of God. It is a team of workers that are on the job, almost like the honey bees. Each one has his/her role to play, both initiative as well as supportive. That is why Paul is using the analogy of the body with different parts working together. However, there is an element of mutual accountability that should keep the work going.

Paul reminds Timothy to honor good workers, workers who do their jobs well. These are people who are committed to the call and work without selfish motives. There is special mention about those who are preaching and teaching the Word of God. The honor is in financial terms, double the pay of an ordinary worker. Paul refers to Deuteronomy 25:4 in his quote about the oxen that is threshing corn. He states that such workers are worthy of their pay. He recommends in Gal.6:6 that “Those who are taught the Word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them”. He also argues that “the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it”. (1Cor.9:14)

Rebuke Bad Workers

It is the collective responsibility of the Church to rebuke the erring servants. Discipline of the body is so important as we see in the Word but it is the most neglected responsibility. Leaders refuse to discipline people for fear of losing members. There should be a mutual accountability among the servants of God who check on each other for their walking in godliness. Paul recommends public rebuke of the erring worker so that it will serve as a warning to all.

However, there is a line of caution! In honoring the good worker as well as rebuking the bad one there should not be any partiality or favoritism. It is possible to reward someone who pleases you and to frame someone whom you don’t like. People pleasers will get favors and those who have difference of opinion will suffer. So, don’t jump to conclusions before allegations are authenticated.

Appoint Mature Workers

Much of the problems can be avoided if there is proper screening at the time of appointment. Read through 1Tim.3 and other passages where the qualifications of workers are mentioned. Look for faithful people as Paul reminds Timothy in 2Tim.2:2. By appointing unworthy workers we will be party to their sins and the impending judgment. So Paul warns not to be hasty, biased, or careless in appointing people for the ministry.

Personally we need to keep away from sin. Timothy was also reminded to take care of his health because our body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. (1Cor.3:16-17; 6:19). The suggestion to use a little wine as a medicine for his frequent stomach problem is not an excuse for habitual drinking. In all these, the real nature of a servant of God will be revealed through the years and it may lead him to condemnation or commendation accordingly.