Growing Up Spiritually

Growing Up Spiritually - Chapter 7

Chapter 7 - MOVING INTO MINISTRY

Hebrews 6:1,2 gives the 7 ingredients of the milk of the Word, the Foundational Doctrines of Christ - what people need to apply to their lives to grow spiritually. The 4th Foundation is Baptisms We have looked at (1) the Baptism into Christ and (2) into Water. Today we look at the 3rd Baptism - the Baptism in the Spirit which gives power for Ministry, and the 5th Foundation - the Laying on of hands (which describes Ministry in action).

We see the growth process in how Jesus brought his disciples on.

1st: They became believers. Responding to the call of salvation they are saved by grace through faith. As new-borns they are spiritual babes who need to grow. Unfortunately many stay babies (unproductive Christians).

2nd: He called them to be his disciples (followers, learners, who put Jesus and his word first in their life). A disciple is one who continues in the word, knows the truth and is set free to grow into who he is as a son of God (John 8:32). Jesus told them discipleship will be hard and cost everything. It will take everything you have got. You must lay down your life, but the rewards are great. It is worth giving your life for Christ and His cause, rather than fritter it away. He called them to count the cost and give all (Luke 14:25-35, Matthew 10:1-42, 16:24-27). He warned against half-hearted decisions which will result in failure and a falling away in the tests of life. In the Parable of the Sower only the good soil, the committed ones, continue to grow and produce fruit. Discipleship is first learning to do the Word in our everyday life- living by Kingdom ways of humility and love.

3rd: True Discipleship leads to Ministry.

Jesus said: “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” A true disciple starts to MOVE OUT IN MINISTRY. This is the fulfilment of the growth process and a mark of maturity. A baby has everything done for it, but as he matures he takes on more responsibility and reaches out to others. He said: “The greatest in the Kingdom is the one who humbles himself and is the servant of all.” The aim of a disciple is to be like his teacher.

So we are to be like Jesus:

(1) In character and commitment to God and His Word

and (2) in supernatural ministry (John 14:12).

In James 1:26,27 the mark of true religion (discipleship) is:

(1) The Tongue - bringing ones life under control of the Word.

(2) Ministering God's love to the needy. This is the doer of the Word who is experiencing growth (the saving or developing of the soul).

As we grow we must answer 3 CALLS from God:

(1) To enter Salvation - 'come to Jesus.'

(2) To enter Discipleship - 'follow Jesus and learn His Word.'

(3) To enter Ministry - to give ourselves for others to be blessed (and get blessed in return). The result of discipleship is ministry.

Matthew 11:28-30 shows all 3 Calls and Stages:

“Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

(1) “Come unto Me..and I will give you rest” (salvation). 

(2) “Learn of Me”

(3) “Take my yoke (Spirit) upon you”, 

so that we can labour together in the harvest fields. 

Jesus (our example):

(1) was born of the Spirit

(2) grew to personal maturity and character

(3) received power and moved out in ministry.

The Great Commission says:

(1) Mark 16:15-18: “Go preach the Gospel to the whole world ...those who believe will be saved.” 

(2) Matthew 28:18-20. “Having gone disciple all nations” HOW? (A) “Baptising them” (the entrance into discipleship, the culmination of the call to be 100% committed to Christ). 

Baptism is a confession of our new identity in Christ and our new lifestyle as his disciple. 'I have decided to follow Jesus.'

(B) “Teaching them to observe all that I (Jesus) commanded you.” 

So, (1) We give the Gospel for Salvation.

(2) We challenge them to be a committed Disciple, resulting in their Baptism.

(3) Now as Disciples, starting with the Gospels, we systematically teach them the Teaching of Jesus.

(4) This process culminates in them moving in ministry - so that they give out what they have received and disciple and care for others. In fact, the teaching of Jesus concludes with the Great Commission - a call and command to Ministry.

In our words and prayers we want to help people on to maturity.

God's programme for people is:

(1) to be saved.

(2) to be committed to God, the Church and the Word.

(3) to move out in Ministry.

GOD IS MOVING and we are to move people along this track.

God's Word is: 

(1) To the unsaved - “receive God’s free gift of salvation.”

(2) To the saved but drifting - “get committed to Christian living -put God first, get involved in Church, in fellowship, in the Bible and prayer for these are all means (channels) of grace for you, so that you may grow in grace.”

(3) To those faithful in the Bible and in Church, who are established in the truth - “move out in ministry - give what you have received.” Ministry is like being a waiter, you see the need and go to the Lord to receive the answer and serve (minister) it to the person.

(4) To those already ministering and giving of their time and gifts, God wants you to remember you are first His son, second His servant. Do not get so caught up in the work that it becomes more important than your relationship with God. He loves you unconditionally, not because of the work you do. Rejoice and rest in the fact that He has accepted you, and live out from that.

The proof of discipleship is moving into fruitful ministry (John 15:7,8; 2Peter 1:8, Luke 8:15, Matthew 4:19). The purpose of discipleship is to bear 'ministry-fruit' (John 15:16). We prove ourselves to be true disciples, abiding in the Word, by walking in love (John 13:34,35) and bearing much fruit (John 15:7,8). 

Paul said to some: “By this time you ought to be teachers (ministering, giving out the word to others), but you need more milk (they were still babes)” (Hebrews 5:12). Had they put the Word first, by now they would have been ministering (not necessarily in the pulpit, but helping, teaching and discipling others). The fact they had not moved into ministry revealed they were not true disciples for they had not grown as they should. Growth in maturity means growth into ministry.

KEYS FOR PREPARATION FOR MINISTRY

*(1) FIND your SECURITY and IDENTITY IN GOD, not in your ministry. Grow in your personal character and relationship with God, in knowing who you are in Christ. Ministry can only be as strong as the foundation of character. Jesus set the example of being a servant (minister) when he washed his disciples' feet. He did this from a place of security in God: “Jesus knowing the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God ROSE” (John 13:3). He then put on a towel and washed their feet.

In Luke 9:57-62, Jesus gave the call and cost of discipleship. Then in 10:1,2, He described the great need for labourers (ministers) and sent the 70 , who passed the test of commitment, to preach the Gospel (v9). In v17-20 they returned rejoicing at the power that flowed through them (seeing demons subject to them in Jesus name) Then Jesus warned them of the danger of basing one's security and identity in one's works, ministry and anointing, for this means being lifted up in pride like satan who was cast out of heaven: “I saw satan fall like lightening from heaven.” He was warning them to watch out for pride which can come from being used of God and having His glory on you in ministry because it will lead to a big fall. “Rejoice not that the spirits are subject to you but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (v20). We are to rejoice in that we are beloved sons of God and give Him all the glory.

*(2) PROVE YOURSELF FAITHFUL. 

Faithfulness is the number one thing required by God (1Corinthians 4:2, Matthew 25:21). If we are faithful in smaller things we will be entrusted with more (Luke 16:10-12). God considered Paul faithful and set him into ministry (1 Timothy 1:12). Lack of self-discipline (e.g. in our words) will also disqualify us from ministry (James 3:1, 1Corinthians 9:26,27).

*(3) GET and KEEP YOUR MOTIVES STRAIGHT. 

If your motive is to look good or important or be popular we will never stay the course. Our motive for ministry is LOVE and GRATITUDE to God, not to get popularity or status with men. It is to freely give what we have freely received (God's love), to bless others, and to please our Father by walking in His will, following the example of Jesus - our big-brother.

Part of maturity is to be dead to praise or censure. Of course we like praise and do not like criticism, but we cannot let either of them get to us to puff us up or stop us (1Corinthians 4:3,4): “With me it is a very small thing for me be judged of you, or of man's judgement, yea I judge not myself. For I know nothing of myself, yet I am not hereby justified, but He who judges me is the Lord.” Paul was motivated by the fear of the Lord - his main concern was to please Him. We should receive constructive correction and not be not overly upset by destructive criticism. Paul sought only to commend himself to God and was not bound by fear of man. We will get criticised when moving out in ministry but it is the love of God that constrains us and keeps us reaching out (2Corinthians 5:14). “Love is not touchy, fretful or resentful, takes no account of the evil done to it - it pays no attention to a suffered wrong” (1Corinthians 13:5 Amp) 

When you move in ministry you come on the front line and satan tries to discourage by raising up critics (who do not do much themselves-true disciples are to busy with the work to look round at others and criticise). Likewise do not be overly exalted by praise, success and results-stay grounded in who you are in Christ and you will stay the course and bear fruit.

*(4) RECEIVE THE POWER. 

So spiritual growth involves moving into ministry. But Jesus never sent anyone without first empowering them. “You are My witnesses..I send the promise of my Father on you, but tarry until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:48,49). This is the Baptism in the Spirit. Jesus did not move into a full supernatural ministry until He was Baptised in the Spirit. The same is true for His disciples (Acts 1:4,5,8). 

“You shall receive power when the Spirit comes on you and then you shall be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8) - fulfilled in Acts 2:4 on the day of Pentecost: “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” They were filled with the power of the Spirit, ministered and as a result bore much fruit. 

So to grow we must receive the basic teaching of 'Baptisms' (Hebrews 6:2), so that we can receive power to minister. Come to the Father in the Name of Jesus and ask for the Holy-Spirit confifdent He will give us what we ask (Luke 11:9-13): “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Receive the infilling of the Spirit by faith: “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24).

First you receive the Holy Spirit on the inside of you, and then secondly by yielding your tongue to the Spirit and speaking His words you release the rivers of Spirit to flow out to bless others. So, receive the Spirit, and then by faith YOU speak out in tongues trusting the Spirit within to give you the words. Until you speak you are like a hose-pipe filled with water but the nozzle (tongue) is closed and so the benefit (power) is blocked.

You have the Word, you have the power so MOVE OUT, REACH OUT, believing that as you do His power is flowing through you! It is not enough to be BAPTISED in the Spirit. Many sit around; they have received power but are not using it. Power is for a purpose - to minister (Acts 1:8). This means risk! 

Having received, we are to MOVE OUT TO MINISTER God's Love - and that is what “LAYING ON OF HANDS” (Hebrews 6:2) refers to. Jesus said to all Christians in Mark 16:15-18: “GO - preach - lay hands on the sick and they will recover.” 

This is symbolic of all Ministry. To lay hands on the sick or needy is to REACH OUT in LOVE to a hurting, dying world that needs a touch from God. As His representative when you touch them, God is touching them with His love. It is a picture of loving hands reaching out to hold and IDENTIFY. Joining as one with them, you bring God's love and power to them, helping them receive from God. You are just a channel. 

So minister compassion not judgement. When you do this, God's love and recovering power is transmitted into their lives.

God's will for all Christians to have 2 areas of Ministry:

(1) In the Church (not necessarily officially, it could be welcoming and encouraging new ones or intercession). We are all members of the body and contribute to life of body and together we are a witness. Whatever you do in the Church you strengthen her witness, if done well. 

(2) In the World, we are all called to share the Gospel (Mark 16:15-18), we have all been given the ministry of reconciliation: 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 

We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says: “ In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2Corinthians 5:17-6:2).

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