Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ministry Principles for Following

Paul’s dealings with the church in Ephesus serves as an excellent outline for all Christians. Serving in the Lord’s church is an honor and every member should take the opportunity to carefully read through Acts and specifically the texts centering around the church in Ephesus. Throughout these chapters, evangelistic principles are perfectly arranged in God’s word by Luke’s penmanship and await us to explore the treasures. For one who desires an opportunity to serve in a leadership capacity as a minister, I hope I will consistently remind myself how Paul’s ministry principles are applicable to the Lord’s church today.

Our first glimpse will start in Acts 18:19. It appears at first Paul wastes no time getting to Ephesus, making a few acquaintances, making sure Aquila and Priscilla are settled, and off he goes into the sunset. It’s possible it was a rather quick stop in relation to past duty assignments, but we should not overlook his actions in verses 18-21. I appreciate the fact Paul remains consistent throughout Acts in regard to always entering the local synagogue, then teaching and reasoning with the Jews. I get a sense Paul understands these Jews who are faithful in the synagogues can also be just as diligent in the Lord’s church. He used to be just like them desiring to please God as he believed who God was. This is an important principle reminding us we should never forget who we once were and that there are many lost souls who need to be reached. I also see a principle in making sure that faithful, well grounded Christians are in place to be the constant the church needs during times of growth and maturity, just like Aquila and Priscilla were to the Ephesians. Aquila and Priscilla take Apollos aside and teach him the way of God more accurately (Acts 18:26) which shows their competence in the Word and indicates Paul’s wise decision on who should remain in Ephesus.

Paul returns to Ephesus in Acts 19:1 and immediately another ministry principle is observed. He becomes acquainted with disciples who were baptized into John’ baptism. Paul, too, teaches them the way of God more accurately and baptizes them into the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:5). What I notice is Paul being the excellent protector of the faith by asking questions of those who say they are disciples of Christ. I believe he never beat around the bush and always got straight to the point in discussions with people regarding Christ. Paul continues his synagogue teaching and does so for three months. Verse 8 says that he continued reasoning and persuading them. This is a wonderful example of persistence and patience. These words “reasoning” and “persuading” imply gentleness and a genuine attitude that would be different from simply arguing with someone. It is taking the time and patience needed to figure out exactly what method would best teach and reach someone.

In Acts 19:8 it states Paul spoke out boldly. As a minister, I see I should never be timid in teaching in class, sermons, or whatever. Being bold does not equate to being harsh as some people would think. Boldness is a display of confidence in God’s will. Paul moves on to the school of Tyrannus when the hearts of the Jews become hardened. Paul has the presence of mind to realize there is no more growth and to continue in the synagogue would not benefit the Lord’s church (Acts 19:9-10). While the people were willing to be reasoned with, he stayed. When they “spoke evil of the Way” he realized that it was not time for patience any longer.

Within the two years at the school, all of Asia heard the word. I see an excellent principle that if any secular (school) or religious (synagogue) institution allows a Christian to teach in their building, do not hesitate!

In Acts 19:15, the evil spirit is well aware of who Paul is. This shows me Paul was respected and feared in Ephesus. Congregations and ministers must be diligent in spreading the gospel of Christ with accuracy everywhere possible in their community. Not all of the citizens will like the church but they will know of it and quite possibly have a healthy respect of her.

Acts 20:17-38 is rich with principles for ministers and their elders. Paul’s emotional departure clearly shows the bond he has with the eldership. Paul indicates that he disclosed all information to them (vs. 20). He honored their position as elders and God’s ordination of them. Paul also indicates this life is not about him but his ministry he received from the Lord (vs. 24). Paul charges the elders to be on guard for the sake of the flock and for themselves (vs. 31). These principles are of the upmost importance in having a relationship with the local congregation’s eldership. There are occasions where an eldership is not following God’s will and a minister must pray how to handle the situation forthright and as loving as possible. When a minister has an eldership that is in compliance with God’s will it is the minister’s duty to submit to them and serve. When these leaders (elders and minister) are a cohesive unit the following of members will be great and great things will be done for Christ’s church.

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