God is moving in the earth today.
There are many places where God is changing lives, changing cultures and changing nations through the power of His gospel. There is a great restoration of New Testament Christianity back into the body of Christ. Believers in Jesus Christ are moving in the power of the Holy Spirit; seeing the lost come to Christ, the sick healed, the oppressed and possessed delivered and true change is taking place.
I want to speak to you about the “Ministry of the Believer”.
Those of us who are believers in Jesus Christ are called to serve. We are to serve both God and man. Our life is to be an example to the world of Jesus Christ, His love, His character and His Lordship. 1 Corinthians tells us that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians tell us that we have a heavenly treasure in a jar of clay. Colossians tells us that Christ living in us is the hope of glory. 1 Peter tells us we are a royal priesthood and a holy nation. Over and over throughout scripture the Christian is called and empowered to minister to the world and the church the love, life and message of Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 12 goes into detail about the members of the body. We each have a different function within the church, but we are all vital to the body. Our gift, calling and purpose will vary from person to person, but our adoption into the family of God is uniform. We will have many things in our lives, both spiritual and natural that will set us apart from other believers:
- Spiritual Gifting
This list could go on and on, but what truly matters is what we all do have in common.
- One faith
- One Lord
- One Baptism
- One destination
- One Holy Spirit
Regardless of your ranking on the first list, we are all equal on the second list. The cross is the great equalizer of humanity. Let’s take it one step further. If we are equal in the sight of God as far as His love and offer of salvation through Jesus Christ are concerned are there areas in our Christian life that we remain equal at? Are there ministry expectations for all Christians or only for certain among us?
Most of us are familiar with this verse:
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (Ephesians 4:11)
Most of us are also familiar with these verses:
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. (Mark 16:15-20)
These verses are not exclusive of one another. Each believer is called to go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature and to help better facilitate this God has placed the gifts of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor & Teacher within the body. Ephesians goes on to say about these special gifts:
Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. (Ephesians 4:12-16)
This is God’s leadership plan for education and discipleship for believers. The Ministry Gifts are in the body to equip and train the body to fulfill the Great Commission. This is the primary purpose of these gifts. In most churches the pastor is the number one soul winner in the body. The pastor makes the most visits to the sick. The pastor is required to pray for the sick in their homes, the hospital or at the altar. The pastor is the one who casts out the demons. The pastor is the one who provides counsel. The pastor, the pastor, the pastor.
The people are supposed to give in the offering and sing with the worship team. Many times we are told to send money and pray (both very important), but neither of these actions replaces the individual call of God upon our life to fulfill the Great Commission. We each have a personal harvest field that we will answer to God for. Your life influences a set of people who no one else in the body of Christ can. You are uniquely positioned to share the love, life and message of Christ in your world.
Across the world a paradigm shift is taking place within the church. We are moving from being spectators who root for the Professional Christians to being active participators in fulfilling the Great Commission. The church of the 21st century can be a harvest machine composed of the entire body.
It is really simple math, but if each believer in Christ could successfully share the gospel with a unbeliever on an annual basis the church would double in size every twelve months. This can never be accomplished by our pastors and preachers; it can only be accomplished when each one of us activate the ministry of the believer in our own lives. One person in the next twelve months. One person who you can share the love, life and message of Christ with. One person you can teach and disciple. One person you can pray with and truly connect into the body. One person who you can truly make a difference for. I believe you can do it and I know God does; the only obstacle is you.
We need to remove the “Hero Complex” from the minds of our fellow believers. God does not need a hero; He is the hero. We as believers should not be frantically searching for Brother Wonderful or Sister Spiritual to connect us with God or to bring our friends, family members and co-workers to Jesus. The pastor or preacher who leads your church or whom you follow on television or through the Internet did not receive a different Holy Spirit. We all got the one and only. We all believe in the same Jesus. We all required the same blood as payment for our sins. We all pray to the same Father in the name of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. If we share the gospel and love people, the Holy Spirit will use us to bring people into the kingdom,. If we will lay hands on sick people and believe that God will heal them, He will. The color, shape, size or age of our hands is irrelevant. God doesn’t need you to be a hero nor does He want you to depend upon one; He simply wants you to believe. People who do great things for God should not be the exception, but the norm.
There is a significant amount of vanity in the pulpit. There is a lot of personality worship. We are divided in the church by our heroes, our prophets and our singers. We have segregated ourselves into tribes and rally more around the ministry gift God has given to a person or persons instead of rallying around the call He has placed on each of us. God wants to do a new work in the earth and He wants to use His church – all of us. The work that God desires to do through His church is one that will cause the world to take notice of a people instead of a preacher.
My challenge to each of us is to embrace the call and responsibility of being a Christian. Jesus said this:
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip. The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.“After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’ “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
“The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’ “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
“Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’ “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’ “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:14-30)
This was not spoken at the Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor & Teacher only seminar, but was spoken to all who believe. Notice the emphasis on dividing it according to their abilities. Do not compare yourself with what God has given to someone else. We each have the responsibility to multiply what the Lord has deposited into our lives. Jesus continues in the same chapter:
“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
I write to you because you are unique and special. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ that means that God has made a deposit into you. He is expecting a return on that investment and the return He desires is more souls for His kingdom. Take up the annual challenge of one person each year for the kingdom of God.
May your life reflect the love, life and message of Jesus Christ. May you be salt and light to a lost and dying world. May you be everything that Christ died to provide for you. May you be a Christian.