In week one of Restorative Discipleship, we established that the gospel was meant to be believed, and that this same gospel is the answer to EVERYTHING. In week two, we established that idea that you and I are just as much children of God as Jesus is to the Father. This week, instead of assigned scripture reading, I'd like you to review what has been said so far because on Friday, we are going to do open Q&A. I do not want to move forward without the assurance that we are all on the same page. So, please read the notes from the prior two weeks and BRING YOUR QUESTIONS so that we can answer them, together.
Now, here's something that is heavy on my spirit: "Woe unto them that are at ease in Zion..." Zion can be seen throughout the scriptures to represent the church. In my personal prayers, I grieve because of my fear that we are too relaxed. Let's move on from being church people to being disciples of CHRIST who can make a difference in this city. This discipleship is reflected in your prayers, worship, service, giving, witness, and lifestyle. Please, take seriously the scripture reading (as some of you currently are). Prioritize your giving so that the blessing of the Lord can fall on your household. Commit to coming to prayer on Tuesday nights. And finally, get involved in the work of the ministry. That's how you grow and develop your gifitng in Christ.
If you think you are already "there," then you only prove that you are not. None of us have "arrived." So, be humble. Be dedicated. Be generous. Be prayerful. But, please, DO NOT BE AT EASE, ZION.
By now you have read Romans 8. By the end of this lesson, It is my hope that you become spiriually minded. This is indeed, a requirement for true freedom. So in week 1, the guiding proinciple was that the gospel is the answer to everything. THis week, we will establish sonship with the Father.
For to be carnally minded is death, but to spiritually minded is life and peace (Romans 8:6).
If you live after the flesh, you shall die. But if by the Spirit, you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live (Romans 8:13).
Second Principle: You are just as much a son of God as Jesus.
Goal: To commit to becoming spiritually minded
You inherited His mission, to SEEK and save the lost (Luke 19:10).
You inherited His POWER (Luke 10:19).
You inherited His sonship (Romans 8:29; Matthew 12:46-50).
Our mentality about what being the CHURCH must change. We are called to be spiritually active as sons and daughters of God, not as spectators and organizational volunteers. This is life.
Questions to discuss:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16).
Believing the Gospel
But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name (John 20:31).
First Principle: The gospel was meant to be believed!
Goal: To establish the idea that freedom is not just possible. It is promised.
By now, you should be finished with the entire book of Matthew. I asked that it be read in four days because I want it the teachings of Jesus to be fresh on your mind as we go through this lesson. Teachers teach, not to give you revelation, but to give you all the ingredients so that you can have revelation as you seek the Lord and continue studying the scriptures.
Romans 1:16 tells us: For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, the just shall live by faith.
The Good News tells us how God makes us right in His sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. (Romans 1:17, NLT).
The Gospel is the POWER:
It is not stating that the gospel HAS the power. The gospel IS the power. This means all of us have access to the POWER through the revelation of His Word.
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13)
Salvation: The original meaning behind the term includes deliverance.
Second Principle: The gospel is the answer to everything.
If a person cannot get past the doctrine of Christ part, they cannot be free. They can learn to cope with their trauma, but there is no real healing without Christ. Outside of Christ, there is only an illusion of freedom. True healing from Jesus is fellowship with the Father. His healing is not for this life only, but even for the life to come.
The goal of the gospel is not to feel better. The goal is not to change the situation. The goal is not even to reconcile. The goal is RIGHTEOUSNESS! The priority is this one thing: Righteousness through faith. The good news is that God has made a covenant that will remove the sin issue that separates mankind from Himself. He started with the Jews, but the salvation was for EVERYONE, including you. (Jeremiah 31:31).
Questions to discuss:
I am so excited about the coming weeks, that I cannot contain myself. But first, we have to conclude our teaching on the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit. Tonight, we will look at the ministry gift of the Teacher: The Truth-Telling Theologian
As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 4:10-11).
You might have the image in mind, already: the monotone, nerdy looking professor that stands in front of the classroom, endlessly rambling about some theological matter, ad nauseum. Or, maybe the cheerful old lady in the Sunday School class who knows more about the bible than the pastor of the church, but has been relegated to sharing with the children, because…women aren’t allowed to preach. Perhaps more than any other, the office of the Teacher is the most overlooked and undermined of the five-fold ministry. The church has turned this office into a classroom instructor, when it is far more than that!
Teachers were involved in the appointing and sending of Paul and Barnabas.
Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away (Acts 13:1-3).
They are a part of the governance of the Church with a focus on the truth. To a teacher, the truth is what matters, period. Feelings, childhood trauma, issues of life, and even demonic torment are all subject to one primary question which a teacher will not allow to be overlooked: Is it biblically true? I have often said that wen a prophet is speaking, a teacher should be looking on, intently. In fact, teachers should make prophets shake in their boots. They are the “experts” in scripture – at least, more than others. They are the ones who laugh inside when a pastor tries to say, to say the Greek word, splagchnizomai. Still, there is an element of being a teacher that serves a greater purpose than biblical and theological accountability. They don’t just teach empty facts. They reveal God through the scriptures in order to keep the church focused on the truth. Just as the discipline of Apostles is to suffer, and the discipline of the prophet is intercession, the discipline of the teacher is to study, study, study. They do this, not only to be able to communicate facts, but to help people understand how to think and be curious about the truth; to never just accept things at face value. Teachers understand that we must not only know things, but we must also understand WHY we know things. Furthermore, teachers do not just engage the mind, but the spirit – the inner man.
Many who have this gift of teaching are called as elders/pastors of churches. They are strong in the area of giving instruction, and always have an answer when questioned. When everyone else is depending on the Holy Spirit to give them revelation, the teacher tirelessly studies – and the Holy Spirit meets them at their desk. The Spirit of God moves them to study, and they produce fruit that does not look glamorous, unless you are one who is interested in understanding the principles behind what we believe ourselves to know.
God as Teacher
Just as the gifting of Shepherd is a picture of Christ’s relationship with His Church, God reveals Himself as Teacher to His people: For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, “Be gone!” (Isaiah 30:19-22).
Just as the fruit of the Teacher relationship with God is for one to destroy their idols, the fruit of a good teacher results in a person rejecting lies, and embracing truth – this is the way, walk in it!
“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. – Mark 6:34
Teachers do their work, not only because they love the truth (which they do), but because they love people. That’s the dividing line between teachers who are true (in the sense of spiritual gifting and calling), and teachers who are not. Teachers study, not for their own academic ability, but for the sake of those who will hear. They sacrifice time, money, and even personal goals so that they can pour out their precious gift of knowledge to those who are hungry for God.
Teachers Teach with Power
“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.” Matthew 4:23-24
“And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory” (1 Corinthians 2:4-7).
You cannot separate the ministry of teachers from the demonstration of spiritual power. Those who are gifted in this area must not relegate their gifting to classroom instruction. Those who know, demonstrate.
If you do not begin to act in the role God has gifted you in, this will soon get old. It is vital that you find yourself in the study of the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit. Still, there are other giftings that may not look as spiritual, but are just as vital for the life of the church. We can find them in Romans 12:4-21, and 1 Corinthians 12:28, they include helps, governments, service, exhortation, giving, leadership, and mercy. Such gifts suggest an attitude in which we should function for the sake of the church. It is imperative that we discover HOW we should serve so that we can do so in a way that pleases God.
In order to do this requires a changed life through the grace of God through Jesus Christ. Next week, we will begin a conversation on Restorative Discipleship. I will be sending out notes BEFORE the gathering so that we can share together. It is vital that you attend these gatherings because more than anything else, this will include the central teaching at First Love Fellowship, and the fulfillment of our mantra to “win the church to Christ.” Not only will you find personal freedom and victory, you will also understand how to walk others into freedom and a discipleship relationship.
Remember why we’re doing this: For you to find yourself. The scripture says, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.” You may not be called to the five-fold ministry, but if you are in Christ, you have SOMETHING. The time spent on these gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit ought to be seen as a journey of discovery. Whether you are a mature believer, or you are just getting started, it is vital, for the sake of the church, that you begin to operate in the spiritual gifts God has given the church.
Today, we will be looking at the ministry gift of the Pastor/Shepherd/Overseer. This ministry gifts has likely touched more individual lives than all of the other gifts, combined. It it the one most recognized by “institutional” churches. People study for years in seminaries, and Bible schools to attain the knowledge required to function in this office. Others serve in churches for years, looking to “climb the ladder” so they can be recognized in this ministry gift. Still, worldy pursuits do not grant the things which causes one to function in this ministry gift. The Father alone, gives such men and women to the church.
The Greek term for “Pastor” comes from a root word meaning, to protect. In a literal sense, it means “herdsman,” or “shepherd.” This term “Pastor” is used interchangeably with other terms in the New Testament such as “overseer” and “shepherd.” This person is one “whose care and control others have committed themselves, and whose precepts, they follow.”(Source). A pastor is a prophetic symbol of Christ (the Good Shepherd’s) relationship with His church. We can see this demonstrated in Ezekiel, when God corrects the shepherds of his day:
Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?
3Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.
4The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them (Ezekiel 34:2-4).
Again, even in the Old Testament, the term “shepherd” spoke to the idea of guarding, caring, and ruling. It also suggests the idea of “looking upon with pleasure,” and to function as a “special friend.” (Source). According to the scripture in Ezekiel, there was correction because the shepherds were neglecting:
Return, O backsliding children,” says the Lord; “for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding (Jeremiah 3:14-15).
New Testament pastors function to help keep people in the faith, when the entire world is trying to get them to turn away. They run after the backslider. They are passionate protectors. Just as Evangelists are focused on introducing people to Christ, Pastors are laser focused on causing people to follow the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Pastors teach, but are not necessarily teachers. Their main concern is to teach people to follow Christ, and they function primarily in a discipleship role in the lives of the people in their care, with the expectation that those who are under their care will actually do the things they say. The author wrote to the church in Hebrews:
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they watch over your souls as those who must give an account. To this end, allow them to lead with joy and not with grief, for that would be of no advantage to you (Hebrews 13:17).
Pastors are leaders. As ministry leaders must give account as they watch over the souls of those they lead. They will have to stand before God, and speak, not only of how they treated their own selves and families, but also how they treated those God has placed in their charge. In their humanity, all are equal. In terms of authority, God has set pastors in place as a voice of spiritual accountability.
Even if you are strong, there is a need for accountability. Priscila and Aquilla are biblical examples of pastors (1 Corinthians 16:19, Acts 18:24-26). Although Apollos was ALREADY mighty in the scriptures, he needed to submit to pastors who could teach him more accurately. Timothy was also a pastor, as was (possibly) the Elect Lady of Second John. They were necessary to encourage the believers, guard against false teachers, and to teach the church to follow Christ. At times, pastors were charged to do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5).
Pastors may be the most versatile of the five-fold ministry. If they are true, they love, genuinely. They care, not because it’s their job, but because they ACTUALLY care. Many give up dreams and desires to serve God in such a way. They open up their homes, set aside their time, contribute from their own resources, and they take hits so that those in their charge can be safe.
Who is an Evangelist?
Simply put, an Evangelist is an announcer of the good news that Yeshua has paid the price of redemption of man from the yoke of Satan and sin and that new, eternal life is possible in Him! Such men and women are personally consumed with the function of reconciling the lost to their heavenly Father to the degree that it becomes the primary thing they live for. They are wired to bear fruit in the form of souls coming into the kingdom of God. They also inspire people in the church to engage in telling others about the good news of the gospel, whether they are evangelists, or not.
Evangelists may not carry an apostolic burden. They are not necessarily the suffering sent ones. Neither are they necessarily prophets, who are interceding orators. They may not even have a pastoral calling or burden for the believers within a local body. Finally, evangelists may not have a masterful handle on many of the doctrines of the bible, as their message is very narrow: Jesus is alive!
Not everyone is an evangelist. Evangelists are ministers, chosen by God, Himself. Still, all believers have a calling and a charge to bring the good news of the gospel to others.
Evangelists in the Bible:
Phillip was the most prominent Evangelist in the New Testament. In this ministry, he:
PERSONAL BELIEF (But, take it seriously): If you are confirmed and appointed in the five-fold ministry (Apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher), there must be some operation of the gifts of the spirit (signs and wonders) following what you do. The biblical examples of all of these ministries seem to show the operation of signs and wonders.
Question: What is the gospel?
We're continuing our series on the ministry gifts of the Holy Spirit. Here is an idea of where we are going:
Also, I have here, a synopsis of last week's message on Apostles. This week, we will be looking at the ministry of the Prophet. Now before we continue, I want to make something clear: never think of these ministries as levels. Nothing in the scriptures suggests that these ministries are on levels of power or spiritual depth. The one who lays the foundation is not more important than the one who finishes the house. Neither is the one who finishes the house more important than the one who sells it. Most importantly, remember that the house being built belongs to God.
First, we must be clear on this: a person who prophesies is not necessarily a prophet, just as a person who teaches is not necessarily a teacher, and a person who shepherds and disciples is not necessarily a pastor. We must not overlook the vitality of being appointed and affirmed by God, through the people He has sent to you for accountability. Otherwise, any online search can take you to a website that can make you a "prophet" or a "pastor." Such sites can give you an ordination certificate, today. But,they cannot give the affirmation and commisioning before God they way an Elder will give to one who is faithful. Seeing this, an ordination certificate does not make a person a minister in the church of God. Faithfulness (2 Timothy 2:2), biblical qualifications (Titus 1:5-9), and the laying on of hands (2 Timothy 1:6), does.
Now, on to Prophets! A prophet (prophetes, Gr.) is a person who speaks under divine influence and inspiration. This includes the telling of future events, exhorting, reproving, and even threatening of individuals or nations as the ambassador of God, and the interpreter of His will to men (Zodiates, Spiros, (1992) The complete word study dictionary new testament, 1992, AMG). They speak the thoughts of God while retaining their own consciousness and self-possession.
Such people are especially sensitive to evil. They are men and women who conquer callousness, to change the inner man, and revolutionize history. He speaks of God's motives, desires and emotions. Yes, he or she not only has a message, but a greatly affected heart. They weep. They yell. They "cry aloud and spare not." They are more than mouthpieces. They are partner; and associate with God. They are people who associate with the feelings of God -- a sympathy with the divine pathos.
Here is the primry concern of the Prophet: And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2:36-38).
From this verse, we can see specific things this prophetess did:
1. She worshipped, fasted and prayed, constantly.
2. She spoke of Jesus
Then, there are prophets like Daniel and Jeremiah who also prayed and interceeded for their nation (Daniel 9). See especially how Daniel prayed in chapter 9, saying in verses 5 to 13, "we have sinned," and to "us belongs shame." not "they" have sinned. Being a godly man, he stood in the gap for the nation. In the same way, New Testament prophets must stand in the gap. The primary discipline of a prophet is to intercede for those to whom God sends him or her. That's the day job of a prophet, just as the day job of an apostle is to suffer on behalf of the cause of Christ, and His church.
Finally, prophets give stern warning. Agabus was one such prophet, who foretold a famine in the Roman world (Acts 11:28). This same prophet also warned Paul of the sufferings he would face (Acts 21:10). Another prophet, John the Beloved penned the Revelation as God showed him things that have been, things that are, and things to come (Revelation 1:19). Prophets do indeed predict, but they also speak of NOW. They speak of the spiritual climate of this very day. They feel the emotions of God, even His grief and anguish for His church, as well as the world.
Apostles are the "Sent One's." The word "apostolos" means "one sent forth with orders." Keep in mind that as with all of the ministry gifts, the apostles, according to Ephesians 4:12 are ones who have been set in the church for a very specific reasons:
The church need apostles, to this day. I believe the reason why many have not embraced the idea of modern-day apostles is because they do not fully understand the calling and charge of apostles. But, these are individuals who are called to establish churches by overseeing the appointment of elders. Still, there is much more to being an apostle than that, alone. But first, let's look at what a "church" is. In the NT, there is the church (Acts 2:47, Ephesians 1:23, Ephesian 5:32), and then there are the individual churches (Acts 16:5, 2 Corinthians 11:28, Revelation 2:7, 2 Corinthians 8:18-19). Further, there are ministries within each of the churches (1 Corinthians 12:5, Romans 11:13, 2 Timothy 4:5, Acts 21:9).
So, the church is the body of Christ, and Jesus is the head. Within the Church are individual churches. These are separate organizations that work under Christ, and governed by Elders – they are not just gatherings. Within those churches are believers who have ministries. These are not necessarily organizations, but services offered by the Spirit through individuals who God has gifted. Still, it is biblically supported for believers to organize and publicize a ministry (see Romans 11:13) that is unique to the gifting and grace upon their life (Acts 20:24, 2 Timothy 4:5, Colossians 4:17). Apostles are one such ministry, and they are called for a special and holy service.
Here are the marks of an apostle:
First, if you are to be an apostle, you have to be sent to establish churches in unreached areas, and appoint elders (Acts 13:2-3): "While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off."
You are not allowed to make yourself an apostle (see 2 Corinthians 11:13-15). You are appointed by people of prayer and fasting, yourself, and then sent. Being a REALLY good preacher does not make a person an apostle. Having revelation from scripture does not make a person an apostle. Being a best-selling author does not make you an apostle. Finally, having a large, influential church and denomination does not make a person an apostle. An apostle is "one sent" to an unreached region to establish churches and appoint elders for those churches. Apostles are the tip of the spear. They go first. They lay the foundation for the presence of the body of Christ in a region or people group.
Secondly, according to 2 Corinthians 12:12, an apostle moves in signs and wonders: "The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works. An unreached people group must see the power of Christ manifest. They must experience the power and glory of the Living God through these "Sent Ones." In defending the monostry of the apostle to his critics, Paul said he would test them, not by their words, but their power: "Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power" (1 Corinthians 4:19-20).
Thirdly (and possibly most importantly), apostles suffer. If you are an apostle and you do not suffer for the church, then I believe you are a false apostle. I would ask any one who claims apostleship, "Where are your scars?" "For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things (1 Corinthians 4:10-13). Apostles do not go unscathed. Every apostle in the Bible suffered, but it was not just for suffering's sake. They suffered for the church. THey suffered for the cause of Christ. They did not only go through emotional anguish. They were physically beaten, imprisoned, and tortured. Many of their familes paid the ultimate price. Still, they labored for a prize that this earth cannot give. Modern Apostles do not have a lesser qualification.
Keep in mind that as we study the ministry gifts of the Holy Spirit, be prayerful as you find yourself in each of the callings we discuss. We are not learning about these things as a scholastic endeavor, but as a discovery -- an unveiling of the calling upon your life.
Ice...then, subzero temperatures, then snow. Ugh...I would have never guessed that Oklahoma weather would get this crazy! Since being here for the past 20+ years, I don’t think I’ve ever seen temperatures drop as low as they have in the past week! Still, even though we didn’t gather, I am so happy to announce that our involvement in the solution for MANY families was great. This past week, we were able to provide meals, supplies and assistance in housing for families in transition, those experiencing homelessness, and woman who are in crisis. As a church, we were able to keep many people safe, and out of the cold. Still, we are not done yet. Tonight, I’ll be picking up some winter gear kits for those who are currently sheltered, so they can be better prepared for the rest of this season. We’ve also reached out to some addiction recovery organizations to see if we can find some permanent options for those who are now in temporary housing. We’re moving forward in a big way to help those who are unable to help themselves.
We have also made it official: Deliver Hope Uganda is a part of the First Love Fellowship family. As a satellite ministry, DHU is pouring into the lives of children by providing food, shelter, education, and discipleship to 88 children. Please remember them in your prayers. I’ll be sending out some names and pictures to you soon. To answer the question: Yes, a small church can make a HUGE difference in the lives of hundreds and even thousands. What’s important is not how many gather, but how many lives are impacted by the few that gather. If you are activated in your calling and gifting, then you, alone, can rock this city! So, please stay prayerful, and be prepared to walk in those spiritual gifts.
Speaking of spiritual gifts – were still diving into them! This week, we will begin to look at the ministry gifts. Please refer to the post I sent out earlier this month on the Ministry Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Read it and be prepared to discuss the church in relation to the office of the Apostle, tomorrow night. This is a hugely important issue, as it seems that everyone is an apostle these days. We’re going to discover what a modern-day apostle actually is – and trust me, you don’t know many (if any at all).
Finally…I missed you all. I look forward to tomorrow night. Let’s prepare to receive the Word, fellowship, break bread, and pray. The days ahead are going to be interesting, and we want to make sure we are spiritually prepared to face them. Let’s humble ourselves and not assume that we are ready. Come to church. It’s no small thing to gather as the family of God. We’re going to need each other more as the days go by.
IMPORTANT: Remember to read the post I sent out containing the narrative called, The Riverbank
The Riverbank Narrative
Thousands of people, led by five people are at the bank of a wide river. Based on their respective gifts, they have to lead the crowd across to a large island:
Apostle jumps in first, but swims alone because if anyone can do it, he can do it. He faces poisonous snakes and alligators, and almost dies, trying to get across. Miraculously, he makes it, and then swims back, warning the others not to go his dangerous route because they are inexperienced. After he eats and gathers more supplies, he goes back across the river, facing the same danger. Now, being a great swimmer and communicator, he decides to build a rest house. It’s pretty bad. He begins to lay a good foundation, but the roof is unfinished, the walls are not painted, and there is no HVAC, electricity, or indoor plumbing. The house is barely good enough to provide shelter. Of course, he thinks it’s perfect for everyone.
Prophet swims the same route as Apostle. She is an excellent swimmer as well, and upon arrival, sees the shoddy house Apostle built. Rather than rest inside, she stays at the shore, calling the others to swim across, now! She warns them to hurry because a huge storm is coming -- the biggest storm, ever! To prepare for the multitude, she kills all the alligators, but cannot kill the snakes because they are hidden under the mud. After all of that work and preparation, hardly anyone comes. This brings her to depression, and she isolates herself in the forest for three days. Afterwards, she returns to help Apostle finish laying the foundation of the house for the few who swam across. Although she thought she could do it, she soon finds out that like Apostle, she’s not that good at finishing and maintaining a house. Because of this, she runs back to the forest in anger and depression. It’s starting to rain.
Evangelist eloquently convinces people from all over, to cross the dangerous river. No need for them to swim though. He collects money, and builds a state-of-the-art, covered bridge for everyone to cross. The more, the better. The people love it as he leads them across. Afterwards, he tells everyone that they should become bridge builders, as there is nothing in the world more important than to build bridges as he does. Every other method of crossing water is inadequate. Prophet stares at him from the forest, in frustrated disbelief, and then goes back into the forest. Evangelist then puts on a pair of alligator shoes made from discarded alligator skins (from the ones killed by Prophet), walks past the rest house, and goes inland to see what else is on the island.
Pastor is among the multitude crossing the bridge, and upon getting across, cannot believe the horrible condition of Apostle’s house. With no other choice, he personally remodels the house, hires a volunteer staff, and makes the house far better for everyone. The remodeled house saves thousands of lives by providing them rest, shelter, food, and instruction on how to manage their new life on this side of the river. In response, the people go happily into the house, sharing great stories of the amazing things done by…Evangelist! Pastor is frustrated because no one understands the burden of the work he has to do. Also, people are bringing snakes into the house! Furthermore, Apostle also keeps coming to the house to fix things that aren’t really broken. Pastor wishes he would just maintain the foundation because his meddling is going to tear the house apart. And, where…is…Prophet?
Teacher also crosses the bridge, and moves to the beautiful house. He works very closely with Pastor. He instructs everyone in the house on how to kill snakes. Everyone loves the lesson, but they brush the snakes aside so they can continue to maintain the house, just as Pastor said. Soon, the storm comes (the one predicted by Prophet), and the snakes that were hidden under the mud become exposed. Teacher calls the whole multitude to go out and kill the snakes! No one responds. Then, Pastor calls the whole multitude to go kill the snakes. Everyone responds positively, but there are no volunteers. They ask to stay behind, to bear the burden of managing the house. Pastor is satisfied with that answer. Teacher isn't. Nevertheless, Teacher and Pastor go to kill the rest of the snakes. Teacher spends a lot of time slowly separating them into groups, according to their breed, and kills them methodically. Pastor doesn’t have time for that, and flails violently at every snake he sees. He thinks teacher is too slow and immature to do this job well. Pastor is indeed effective, killing more snakes than Teacher, especially near the house. Upon killing the remaining few snakes, Teacher privately informs Pastor that he did not kill the snakes according to the instructions. Because Pastor did not group the snakes by breed, some of the remaining snakes can reproduce, causing more snakes in the future. Pastor feels horrible because he feels like he always makes mistakes due to his personal inadequacies and lack of support. He joins Prophet in the forest to cry. It’s still raining.
As both cry and lament in the forest, wondering why they ever had to cross that water, Prophet tells Pastor about an especially good swimmer among the multitude of people who crossed the bridge with Evangelist. He was good at killing snakes, and was one of Teacher’s best students. He spent most of his time maintaining the house. They find him and give him the name, Apostle. They then send him inland to another riverbank. Evangelist is waiting for him at the new riverbank with a new multitude of people. Apostle jumps in, first.
We have to avoid the idea of thinking we don't need these people because we have the Holy Spirit and our own relationship with Jesus. Ephesians 4 tells us why we have such people.