Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Ministry in the Spirit

Brief: Reflect on your own experiences of using spiritual gifts and those that you have witnessed. Highlight what you consider to be marks of Biblical and spiritual authenticity in the use of the gifts of the spirit.

All scripture is taken from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version unless otherwise indicated
Ministering in the Spirit

And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will
drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly
poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick
people, and they will get well. Mk 16:17&18

In Tennessee a group of men take part in a bizarre ritual. As the worship service reaches fever pitch, participants lunge their bare hands into a pit. Inside are some of the most deadly snakes known to man. Participants claim the origin of this spectacle is a firm belief in the Bible and particularly the verse above. But is this genuine biblical Christianity? Is this the "signs following" ministry we are to expect? Should we be expecting gold dust to fall whenever we sense the presence of God is near?

What does it really mean to minister in the Spirit?

This essay argues that according to the Bible, Spirit led ministry is evidenced by:

  • Churches which know and teach the Gospel.
  • That this teaching is directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
  • That this teaching and empowering is evidenced by lives of ordinary men and women being supernaturally changed, transformed, renewed and made whole.

Taking up the second point first, ministry that is spirit led results in a fruitful harvest. There is a growing. Any organism that is healthy grows. This is growth both numerically in fulfillment of John 12:32 and in terms of maturity within the believer.

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."
Joh 12:32
Spirit led ministry results in converts. Sinners far from God who repent and experience a fundamental life change, an unshakeable paradigm shift. These coverts display over time a different set of priorities and values from what they did previously. Their passion in life changes.
What results are mission minded believers who plant New Testament Churches faithfully. These are planted according to the pattern and design laid out in the manual. These churches are careful to not depart from the Word of God, the Bible. This is evidenced by the centrality of Christ (Acts 4:11) in the preaching and teaching.

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus
Christ. 1Co 3:11

These Churches take seriously the great Commission and the great Commandments.

These Churches understand that we are in partnership with God. This partnership is initiated sovereignly and involves the perseverance of the saints. This partnership has a corporate nature, each member of the body of Christ needing the other and working in concert toward the building up of one another staying at all times and in every way submitted to the head, which is Christ. This ministry to one another may take three forms Build up, (or edification) hold up (correction), and fill up (encouragement).

Biblical Christianity is by nature supernatural. Not only do we have a God who became one of us, we have intimate fellowship with a God who is interested and involved with our daily lives, the living out of our faith.We believe in a God who speaks.

Baptism in the Holy Spirit is often evidenced supernatural guidance, such as a word of knowledge or a word of wisdom. Paul exhots us to earnest desire such gifts.

Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may
Co 14:1

It is the testimony of many Christians, including myself, that as Christians we can enjoy supernatural guidance, provision and protection. Such care and protection encourages Christians because they know wherever they go, they can never be truly alone. There is a deep longing within us that only the Indwelling Holy Spirit can satisfy.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not
receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the
Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"
The Spirit
himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
and if
children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we
suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Rom 8:14-17

It is this witness that is the most reliable evidence of the ministry of the spirit.

Other witnesses include speaking in tongues, and the operation of the nine gifts. Frequently these are accompanied by phenomena, which are inexplicable. At various times an emphasis on these phenomena has distracted many from the heart of the matter, the life changing Gospel of Jesus. One of the marks of baptism in the Holy Spirit is an invigoration and a greater release for ministry.

The Character of this Supernatural release is that it brings consistent change. Consistent in that it works towards Gods agenda, restoration healing and wholeness.
Signs and wonders follow true ministers filled with the Spirit of God. The sick are healed, deliverance from demons happens. People find freedom from binding habits and addictions.
All these do not only demonstrate the Spirits power but also the nature of God. God saves, delivers and heals because it is his nature to do so. As ministers we cannot and should not forget that we are ministers of His grace and for His Glory alone.

It is my firm belief that Faithfulness, Fruitfulness and Supernatural power are the sure signs that follow those who believe.

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