Quit Doing Ministry (1)

  • Doing or Being the Ministry. What’s the difference? A lot. Lets see if we can discover something from the Apostle Paul from the great grace book of Romans Chapter 15. We’ll kick this off with verses 18 and 19 and see where Holy Spirit takes us. Here it is in the NAS.

    18 For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, 19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

    These verses are an aside to this book. Paul is summing up. He’s basically done with what he will say. This is like a post script, as if he’s coming in for a landing. Paul is speaking here of ministry, but here he lets out his own understanding of what ministry truly is.

    We seemed to have gotten mixed up on what ministry is. We have so much emphasis on the DOING or performance of ministry. We’ve lost sight of the BEING of ministry. The being of ministry is where the doing of ministry arises. If we have only doing of ministry, without being of ministry we become hollow walls. Sooner or later it will collapse in on us because there will be nothing in the center to hold it together.

    These verses allow us to tap into being of ministry as Paul understood it. Look at verse 19. Paul says FULLY preached. The statement fully preached means fulfilled, or better yet, fully unloaded myself, in terms of the gospel. Paul understood his commission in terms of the gospel.

    What does the word Gospel mean? We’ve heard it many times over and over to mean The Good News. Actually, it’s the exciting completed good news.

    Gospel is a funny word. When the Bible was originally translated into English back in the 1600s, the translators looked, with great difficulty, to find a word that would adequately describe what the Greek word meant. This Word Gospel in those days, 1611 and before, was a peasant word. Now it is totally a religious word, but not understood very well.

    The plowboys used this word. To them it meant “Good, glad, merry news that makes a man fairly leap for joy”. They would walk into a pub to have a pint of beer and if it was your birthday, they would greet you by saying “have a great grace day”. That’s the gospel.

    It’s a word that means something far beyond the noun or subject of the statement. In other words the almost-too-good-to-be-true truth. Jesus said, “Go into the world and preach the gospel, and these signs shall follow…”

    Many times we focus and put emphasis on the things that follow, instead of on the gospel. This gets us in trouble, because now we’ve put an emphasis on casting out demons, divine healing, and talking in tongues among other things. We do this even to the point a person will say…. “That’s my ministry”.

    I know what they mean here….don’t want to get too technical. There are some who are used more than others in certain areas, but you can’t have a ministry that is just divine healing or casting out of demons. These are following things. These are signs and wonders.

    Our ministry, all of us, in one way or the other is proclamation of the Good News. News by definition is something that has happened, already accomplished, or has already taken place. This Good News – The Gospel – The Goodest News ever, is the announcement of something God has already done.

    That’s the meaning of this word Gospel. The announcement to the human race of what God has already accomplished. God, who was always in the human race. God who entered the human race in Christ Jesus. He lived for us and as us, and died for us and as us.

    He’s risen from the dead, and He now lives, sitting at the right hand of the Father. Exalted above all else. Given the name above every name. The giver of and baptizer in the Holy Spirit. THE FINISHED WORK OF CHRIST. We are commissioned to be the announcers of that finished work. It’s the message. The Good News. You see, it was God taking the initiative when man didn’t want God or anything to do with God.

    You say something spiritual to the lost like “Wouldn’t you love to go to heaven?” Of course they wouldn’t. They’ve spent their whole life running from God. Why would they want to spend eternity with Him? That’s not how you appeal to the lost.

    It’s this Good News. The Invasion of the Love of God charging toward us when we didn’t want it. You will see this statement again, but it fits right here. It’s from Malcolm Smith, one of my mentors in grace. “God who is love refuses to be God without us. He is the one that must come to where we are.” The only contribution we make is our sins and our hostility.

    It’s like this little story. A saint once knelt down and prayed, “Dear God, I have only one desire in life…Give me grace to never offend you again”. When God heard this, he roared with laughter. He couldn’t contain Himself (Now there’s a sermon in itself). When He finally got hold of Himself (There’s another sermon), He said the following: “That’s what they all ask for, but if I granted everyone this grace, tell me, Whom would I forgive?”

    You see, In Christ the old man, the first Adam is done, finished, completed. Christ destroyed it and the works thereof. Now, in Christ, we have all that was lost in Adam. That’s the foolishness of preaching.

    If our gospel be hid, it’s hid to those who are lost or perishing. Basically, the Greek word is saying, if you believe this story of the Gospel, you’re a moron. Actually, if you look at this story closely…It is moronic. But that’s the foolishness of our God.

    God, who is all powerful comes to earth taking on frail humanity. He’s the God we see hanging on a cross. The cursed of God in the eyes of the Jew. The trash of the world in the eyes of the Roman. Hanging on a cross. The foolishness, the weakness of God to allow human beings, His creatures, to nail His hands and feet to a cross. The foolishness of God. That God, the creator of life and light. That God should lay in a darkened tomb…Dead in Body….UTTER FOOLISHNESS. Then, to add to all that foolishness, He says He’ll take that message, and announce it to all the world through our lives, and do it no other way. God does nothing unless it’s through man.

    Foolishness upon foolishness. Weakness upon weakness. Then God ends it all by saying it pleased Him, by the foolishness of preaching. No other explanation. Nothing will ever take its place. It’s God’s way, to save those who are lost. He did it by the foolishness of preaching.

    Remember, He sacrificed the very life, for those who caused the death, of the very life He sacrificed. Then He asked those same people, you and me, to tell that story by the foolishness of preaching to bring to Himself those that would be saved. Crazy!

    Here’s the key. The Gospel is not me telling you to try again. It’s rather that “YOU’RE FINISHED”. So, we don’t try to get you to quit sinning, but rather that you come to know Him. It’s not you trying to do things for God or to please God. That’s man centered. It’s instead what God has already accomplished. That’s God centered. He didn’t do it through mankind. He did it all Himself according to who He is. Not who we are…NO BOASTING. It’s the righteousness from God. Not any of our own.

    We will stop here before moving into the law of Moses portion of Doing Ministry rather than Being Ministry. Grace and Peace.