Stephen Caswell © 2001
Recently we have been looking at Christ's command for the apostles to make disciples of all the nations. In a word this is called ministry! Who is responsible to do the work of the ministry? Is it the just apostles, pastor, evangelists and teachers? Or is it the responsibility of gifted believers or committed Christians? Ephesians 4:11-12 gives us the answer: And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; All the saints do the work of the ministry. Ministry involves everything in the disciple making process. Evangelism through to building each other up in Christ. The early Church did this through giving, praying, serving, sharing, teaching, preaching, helping, comforting and encouraging. The body of Christ needs all its members to work together. What qualities is Jesus looking for in His servants?
Jordan Management Consultants - Evaluation Of Twelve Men
Dear Sir, Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for management positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests and we have not only run the results through our computer but have arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant. It is the staff's opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has no qualities of leadership. The 2 brothers James and John, sons of Zebedee place personal interests above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine moral.
We feel it our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau, James the son of Alpheus and Thaddeus definitely have radical leanings and they both registered a high score on the manic depressive scale. One of the candidates, however shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind and has contacts in high places. He is motivated, ambitious and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right hand man. All of the other profiles are self-explanatory. We wish you every success in your new venture. Yours sincerely, Manager Jordan Management Consultants.
Do we have to be especially talented or gifted for God to use us? Does God require eloquent speakers? Do we need to be highly qualified in leadership or administration? Does the Lord have special requirements for His disciples? Yes He does! But He doesn't use the same list we do. Most directors would have rejected the disciples that Jesus Chose. But God is interested in character not ability. Today I want to look at Christ's Ministry Priorities. We will look at two things, Christ's Assessment & Christ's Appointment.
Firstly Christ's Assessment
Mark 3:13 And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him.
Christ's Evaluation List
Christ was very careful in choosing His servants. This is because the kingdom of God is just so important. The Lord won't trust this vital task to just anyone. Multitudes of people followed Christ during His earthly ministry, but only a few were really committed. Many dropped off along the way when the going got tough. Jesus carefully assessed His followers. Because of this Jesus chose His servants very carefully. Luke 6:12-13 brings this out better. Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Jesus had spent a lot of time with these men already yet He prayed a great deal before choosing the twelve. I would suggest that there are three main qualities that God looks for in His ministers. They must be Faithful, Available & Teachable. FAT
Firstly, Christ is looking for faithful people. He is looking for people who believe in Him and will persevere to the end. So many people drop out when it gets tough. Christ knew this only too well. John 6:64-68 But there are some of you who do not believe. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father. From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, Do you also want to go away? But Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
Do you apply the same standards of faithfulness to your Christian activities that you apply to other areas of your life? If your car starts once every three tries, is it reliable? If your paper boy skips delivery every Monday and Thursday, is he trustworthy? If you don't go to work once or twice a month are you a loyal employee? If your refrigerator stops working for a day every now and then, do you say, Oh well it works most of the time? If you miss a couple of loan payments every year, does the bank say, Ten out of twelve isn't bad? If you attend half the service's a month, and skip your quiet time once or twice a week should you still be called a faithful Christian? If we expect faithfulness and reliability from things and other people, shouldn't God expect this from us?
Jesus wants faithfulness. He is looking for people that He can count on year after year. Faithful people are the only ones He can use. How can God use people who don't turn up half the time? Paul told Timothy to pass God's Word on to faithful men. 2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Many people willingly offer to serve the Lord. They promise to serve Him in the Church but can't be relied on. They pull out at the last minute. Or they prepare their ministry in a mad rush just before the service. They don't give God their best. Others suggest that the Church start some new ministry or program and even volunteer their service, but then pull out. Basically the problem with these folk is they lack faithfulness. God is looking for faithful servants. People who will keep their commitments to Him. Servants who keep serving to the end. Only faithfulness enables us to finish our race well.
As Usual With Wesley
A lady once asked John Wesley that suppose he were to know that he would die at 12:00 midnight tomorrow, how would he spend the intervening time. His reply: “Why madam, just as I intend to spend it now. I would preach this evening at Gloucester, and again at five tomorrow morning; after that I would ride to Tewkesbury, preach in the afternoon, and meet the societies in the evening. I would then go to Rev. Martin’s house, who expects to entertain me, talk and pray with the family as usual, retire to my room at 10 o’clock, commend myself to my heavenly Father, lie down to rest, and wake up in Glory.”
Secondly, God is looking for people who are available. Today life is so busy and people complain that there just isn't enough time to do everything. They would love to serve God but have no spare time. Others say that they are too tired to serve the Lord. They just aren't available for service when Christ calls them. Some people pray about helping out in a particular ministry. This is the right thing to do. Unfortunately some folk never say yes to anything. The amazing thing is that many who use these excuses still have time for sport, T.V going out to the movies or dinner. Really it's not a matter of being too busy, it's just a matter of priorities. If we choose to make ourselves available for sport or recreation, we can also make ourselves available for service. God can't use us unless we're available. He doesn't need our ability just our availability.
Take All The Keys, Lord
Dr. F. B. Meyer came to a crucial, transitional time in his ministry. He sat dejectedly in his study. My ministry is unfruitful, and I lack spiritual power, he said to himself. Suddenly Christ seemed to stand beside him. Let me have the keys to your life, Christ said. The experience was so realistic that he reached into his pocket and took out a bunch of keys! Are all the keys here? Yes, Lord, all except the key to one small room in my life. Christ said: If you cannot trust me in all rooms of your life, I cannot accept any of the keys. Dr. Meyer was so overwhelmed with the feeling that Christ was moving out of his life because he was excluding Him from one interest in his life that he cried out, Come back, Lord, and take the keys to all the rooms of my life!
Teachableness - Kindergarten Blues -- Vivien Davies
When Mike returned home from his first day in kindergarten, his mother asked if he'd had a good day. I can't read and I can't write and they won't let me talk, so what's the use? he said.
Thirdly, disciples must be teachable. God can't use people who think they know it all. Some people believe that they are always right and will even fight to prove it. They will never admit they are wrong. They won't be instructed by anyone, even God. The Lord can't use people like this, He needs humble people that can be taught. How can we grow if we think we know it all now? Benjamin Franklin said, He that cannot obey, cannot command.
Do you feel that you lack the right qualifications to serve God? You feel that you aren't an eloquent speaker or knowledgeable theologian. You don't possess many leadership qualities. If so, can I encourage you to look again at the list God uses. God is looking for people who are faithful, available and teachable. Do you faithfully attend the worship services? Do you keep your quiet time each day? Are you available for ministry? Or are you too busy for God? Do you have a teachable spirit? Will you pursue these qualities in your life?
Secondly Christ's Appointment
Mark 3:14a Then He appointed twelve
After prayerfully choosing twelve men, Jesus appointed them to serve as His ministers. Jesus chose people most leaders would have rejected. He chose the twelve because they had the right character. They were faithful, available and teachable. Luke 6:13 says that He appointed twelve to be apostles. An apostle is someone sent with authority. Jesus chose these men to continue the work that He had started. However, before they would be ready to oversee the ministry they needed further training. The truth is that we aren't qualified to be Christ's ministers. But the good news is if we are faithful, available and teachable, Jesus can supply what we lack for the ministry.
a. For Training
Mark 3:14a Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him
Jesus chose twelve men out of probably hundreds to train them for ministry. Christ's training involved two steps.
Firstly, the apostles would be with Him. That doesn't seem very important. In fact only Mark's Gospel records this fact. The twelve lived with Jesus for about three years. They walked with Him, talked with Him, and watched Him live according to God's will. They saw Christ's example. They saw Jesus pray, preach, teach and minister to people. They saw the way He loved people, and how He healed the sick. He always had time for people. Jesus taught them how to live and to minister. He rebuked them, corrected them and endured their unbelief and selfishness. The disciples couldn't have had a better example of ministry.
Secondly, the apostles worked with Jesus. Christ involved them in ministry from the start. When he fed the five thousand, the disciples distributed the food to the people. Jesus worked with them and thus trained them on the job. After all a disciple is an apprentice. Jesus gave the disciples on the job training. Often people won't serve the Lord till they have attained a level of spiritual maturity. But you don't find this taught in the Bible. As soon as Paul was saved He preached Christ in the synagogue. The Samaritan woman immediately shared Christ with her village. A new Christian has many non Christian friends that he can share the Gospel with. We should minister straight away. This doesn't mean we don't need to learn God's Word. It just means that we learn while we are serving. That's the way the disciples were trained. Too many Christians wait too long to serve. God doesn't need our theological degrees. Just believers who are faithful, available and teachable.
Actual Training Of Leaders
Leaders are more trained than born. Evangelism is more caught than taught. The average person can no more learn to evangelize in a classroom than he can learn to fly an airplane in the living room. There should be more on-the-job training.
b. For Ministry
Mark 3:14b-15 and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons:
Firstly, Christ sent them out. This was in fact Christ's third stage of training. Jesus wasn't present to guide them and work with them. This gave them the opportunity to put into practice what Christ had taught them and shown them. They also learned to rely on God themselves. Jesus Christ trained these men for ministry. He taught them so that He might send them out to minister in His name. In fact the words sent out translate the Greek verb ajpostellw. It's the same word that we get apostle ajpostolo" from. Remember an apostle is one sent with authority. Their training was for this sole purpose. Jesus trained them to out and minister in His name, to make disciples. Jesus gave the disciples more than just training, He sent them out on a mission.
Christ has given the great commission to every believer. It requires us to go and make disciples. Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The lost will not come to us, we must go to them.
Secondly, Christ gave them the message. Matthew 10:7 And as you go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. He also gave them the message to preach. We needn't concern ourselves on what to preach. We don't have to concern ourselves with all the problems in the world. Jesus has given us the message to preach. We are to preach the Gospel. We have good news to share with all men, Jesus saves sinners. Mark 16:15-16 And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
Only One Plan
There is a legend that recounts the return of Jesus to glory after His time on earth. Even in heaven He bore the marks of His earthly pilgrimage with its cruel cross and shameful death. The angel Gabriel approached Him and said, Master, you must have suffered terribly for men down there. He replied that he did. Gabriel continued: And do they know and appreciate how much you loved them and what you did for them? Jesus replied, Oh, no! Not yet. Right now only a handful of people in Palestine know. But Gabriel was perplexed. He asked, Then what have you done to let everyone know about your love for them? Jesus said, I've asked Peter, James, John, and a few more friends to tell others about me. Those who are told will tell others, in turn, about me. And my story will be spread to the farthest reaches of the globe. Ultimately, all of mankind will have heard about my life and what I have done.
Gabriel frowned and looked rather skeptical. He well knew what poor stuff men were made of. He said, Yes, but what if Peter and James and John grow weary? What if the people who come after them forget? What if way down in the twentieth-century people just don't tell others about you? Haven't you made any other plans? And Jesus answered, I haven't made any other plans. I'm counting on them. Twenty centuries later, He still has no other plan. He's counting on you and me. High on God's To Do list is the evangelization of the world. His early disciples adopted His priorities and devoted themselves to reaching the world. Christ counted on them, and they delivered. Have we done as well?
Thirdly, Christ gave them authority. Jesus also gave them authority to minister in His name. He empowered them for service. Jesus gave them the message to preach, miracles to confirm the message and authority over Satan to free captives. What more could they need? Luke 9:1-2, 6 Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. Christ holds all authority in heaven and earth. He has commissioned us to make disciples. What more authority do we need?
Matthew 28:18-19 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. When we read the Book of Acts, we see that the early church operated on the basis of the Lord’s sovereign authority. They ministered in His name. They depended on His power and guidance. They did not face a lost world on the basis of their own authority, but on the authority of Jesus Christ. As a result some accused these disciples of turning the world upside down.
The Pennant Hills Team
Twelve people came up from Sydney last weekend and blessed us greatly. They were such a joy to be around. How could such a small group bring so much blessing? Because they were faithful, available and teachable. They prepared themselves well. That took time and effort. They were available for God to use them. They came and served willingly and joyfully. They delighted to give of themselves to others. They were humble and teachable. They learnt from this experience. They ministered in Christ's name and in His power. Therefore God blessed their ministry. What's more they were happy from serving God.
Can we minister like that? Yes we can!! But it will require us to be faithful, available and teachable. We must serve willingly and cheerfully. There is no room for reluctance or excuses in God's service. If we wait for someone else to start serving, why should God bless us? Will you determine to be faithful to God, available to serve Him and teachable so that He can develop your fruitfulness? Life is short, let's make it count for God!
Clock Of Life
The clock of life is wound but once, And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop, At late or early hour.
To lose one’s wealth is sad indeed. To lose one’s health is more.
To lose one’s soul is such a loss, That no man can restore.
Thirty-nine people died while I read this short poem. Every hour 5,417 go to meet their Maker. What are we doing to help reach them with the Gospel before they are cast into Hell?
If Christ called you for salvation, He also called you for service. Are you seeking to develop your ministry skills? Are you using your gifts while you learn? Christ wants His disciples to train on the job. Are you doing this? Are you learning from older Christians? Are you availing yourself of the resources Jesus gives us? He has provided the message and the power we need to minister. Christ has called us to go out and minister in His name. Will you do this? Will you take part in the community survey? Will you willingly serve Jesus Christ?
I. Christ's Assessment
Jesus doesn't need eloquent speakers or specially gifted people to serve Him. He is looking for people that are faithful available and teachable. Will you pursue these qualities for God? Will you attend the services regularly? Will you keep your ministry commitments? Will you keep your word and support something you have committed to? Will you make yourself available for God's service? Will you seek to be humble and teachable?
II. Christ's Appointment
Christ doesn't need perfect workers in His service, just committed ones. Will you work alongside your brothers and sisters? Will you learn on the job? Will you go out and minister in Christ's name and in His power? Will you help in the community survey? Will you invite your unsaved friends along to Church? If you will, then God can use you!
2 Thessalonians 3:16,18 Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.