Key Players – Saints
It seems obvious that the Lord Jesus was most effective in ministry that was “one on one.” It is true that we often find Him speaking to the multitudes that thronged after Him as He performed miracles and taught strange and new doctrines. But just in the Book of John, for example, we see Him singling out men and women for special encounters. Nicodemus, the woman at the well of Samaria, the man at the pool of Bethesda, the woman taken in adultery, the blind man of chapter nine, Pilate in the judgment hall, Thomas after the resurrection, and Simon Peter at the Sea of Galilee are all examples of Jesus’ special and individualized ministry. It is no different today. He still ministers to individuals, and He does it through the individual members of His body. What we call “mass evangelism” certainly has its place in the overall scheme of reaching the lost, but nothing can ever replace the love and ministry demonstrated by one person to another.
Jesus prayed with the disciples in John 17:18, “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” It’s not a different ministry at all! It is still Jesus working with individuals, only now it is through us. As His love impacted so many in the Gospels, so should we be responsible for touching the lives of those around us. But this can only happen when we allow His great love to flow through us. As Paul said in Romans 5:5, “…because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” In this passage Paul confirms that the seal of the Spirit of God on our lives is not only a seal of faith, but also a proof that He forever loves us. If this is so, how can we ignore the need of letting this love touch others? And this is something that cannot take place through mass evangelism campaigns. It is done in homes, on the job, with our neighbors, etc. It is one person reaching one person. It is one family embracing another for their personal salvation. It is the apostles working intimately with the lame man at the Beautiful Gate, Philip with the Ethiopian eunuch, Ananias with Saul, Peter at Cornelius’ home, Paul with Lydia, Aquila and Priscilla with Apollos, and Paul and Silas at the Philippian jailer’s house. It is Jesus alive and well and working through His Church.
Each member of this great Church has his own talents and gifts. Some have been present since birth; others are learned or gained through experience. And while some people seem more talented than others, no member is better than another. Each is uniquely called and then placed in the body according to God’s great wisdom. Paul warns the Romans in the twelfth chapter not to think of themselves more highly than they should because of this equality in the body. He simply exhorts them in Romans 12:6, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, …” The same writer also told the Philippians, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13) So while we realize that the power available to us is unlimited for the ministry whereunto we are called, we also know fully well that we share an equal importance in the body with the other members. What a great balance that exists in the Church!
One thing is for sure: building the Church is a work of God’s Spirit and the carnal man simply cannot produce spiritual fruit. He can imitate it, however, and therein lies a hidden danger. The foundation of this discussion thus far has been that healthy and spiritual saints will produce other healthy members in the process of personal evangelism. If this is not happening, whether on a national or local church level, something is wrong. And this “something” lies in the area of the saints’ spiritual health. Something is lacking in their diet, their care, their protection, or in their vision. In short, they are not being satisfactorily equipped for the task. Those in leadership cannot allow an outward semblance of spirituality produced through the flesh to substitute for the real thing. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.” In other words, we need to be very careful to treat the disease rather than just the symptoms. Putting a bandage on the outward man by making him “look” more holy may not cure the sickness that lies deep within him.
Many people in the Church seem to be “performance oriented,” that is, they base their good standing with God upon what they do or how they look to others. In the kingdom of God, however, the reverse is actually true. We do what we do because we have been changed by the power of God. Jesus said it simply in Mark 2:22, “And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.” When God fills us with His Spirit, Paul said, old things are passed away and all things become new. As the change becomes more pronounced and as we yield more and more to God, the things that we do result from the new wine inside. We pray, we sing, we give, and we worship because we love Him and are loved by Him, not in order to be acceptable to Him. It is the same with our personal ministries. We minister to others because of the new wine experience, not to prove that we are worthy in God’s sight. The motive is a pure and simple one: we are filled with the Holy Ghost! He has already made His Church worthy.
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