All across the world, ministers are studying hard, stressing and struggling to lead the flock and come up with fresh food to feed the sheep, usually multiple times per week. This term “fresh food” can be a bit confusing, in that it is not that parts of the Gospel are stale – no, God’s Word is always fresh, but that the Holy Spirit has a specific word for the people at that specific time, and there are many ministers today who find it difficult to know what that word is and how to deliver it to the people; or worse, they have utterly given-up.
So today, as part of our series on leadership, we are going to be studying how to have an effective ministry that is led by the Holy Spirit (which is the only way one can be truly effective). This applies not only to pastors, but also to every minister and indeed each one of us as well as we go about our day and encounter areas to minister and share Christ with others as well.
The concepts we are going to study today are simple, but it is this simplicity that has been lost in much of Christianity today. To see what the Word of God has to say, let’s look at Matthew 10:24-27:
“The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.
It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?
Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.
What I tell you in darkness, that speak you in light: and what you hear in the ear, that preach you on the housetops.”
Starting at verse 24, we see that we are not above Jesus, for it is impossible to be above One who is infinite. Yet verse 25 continues that we have the same standing as Him, because it is His righteousness, honor and glory that we stand before the Father with today. If you are unsure of this fact today, a reading of John 17:22 will make this fact beyond dispute, as well as many other verses in the Bible.
Verse 25 also references the fact that in Matthew 9:34, when Jesus cast-out the demon from the possessed man, the Pharisees blasphemed Jesus by claiming that He was in-league with Satan, casting out demons through the power of Beelzebub, and if they said such things about Jesus, they will say equally derogatory things about those who follow Him as well.
Next verse 26, follows that fact about slanderous accusations with comfort and strength. Jesus tells us to not be afraid of such men, and the reason for this is very interesting: Jesus says for there is nothing covered that will not be uncovered, and nothing hid that will not be made known.
This is either very terrifying or very reassuring, depending on what your relationship with Jesus is. All secrets will be exposed eventually. Every false word, every evil accusation and every derogatory remark against Christ and those that are His will one day be brought to light and revenged upon. As believers in Him, this is a magnificent comfort that we can be utterly assured of, because Jesus spoke it. So don’t allow the fear of being heckled stop you from proclaiming the Gospel of Christ, our goal is to save people from damnation, not to usher more people into it by keeping silent!
This continues right along into verse 27, and here is the key: Jesus says What I tell you in darkness, speak that in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach that on the housetops. Jesus wants us to share the things He speaks to us with others openly.
Now, there was a time when I was very timid… my thought was “I’m not important enough to be sharing what God says to me with anyone… and even if I did, no one would listen.” Notice though, that Jesus doesn’t say to give any thought about how important or significant you are, nor does He say to worry about whether anyone listens, He simply wants us to share what He speaks to us. He wants us to openly share with others how much He loves us, to let them see the intimacy that we have with Christ freely and without hesitation or reservation.
So then, how do we know what Jesus is speaking to us? To answer this, we need to look at a couple more verses of scripture, the first being John 6:63:
“It is the spirit that vivifies; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
Again, we see here that is is a personal statement. Jesus says the words that He speaks to you. These are not general words spoken in public or to a crowd of people, but personal words of revelation that the Holy Spirit illuminates to us in the Word of God.
In the original Greek text, the word for “words” used in this verse is rema,which means “present spoken word”, it is the personal words from God to us that carry His Spirit and have effectual power for us. All of the Bible is the Word of God, and all of the Bible is His Rema – but not all of the Bible is His personal rema to us in a particular moment in time. There are many people who try to dry-quote the Word of God without any personal quickening of it in their spirit, as a result it is just dead words with no life, because as we read here, it is the Spirit which vivifies (gives life), whereas the flesh (the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence) has absolutely no profit.
Next, look at Proverbs 8:6-9:
“Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.
For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing fraudulent or perverse in them.
They are all plain to him that understands, and right to them that find knowledge.”
When Jesus speaks, it will always be excellent and right; it will always be absolute truth, and it will never lead to wickedness or compromise. Also notice that whenever Jesus speaks, it will always be in righteousness. For us today as believers this is the righteousness of of Jesus that we have in Christ. When Jesus speaks, He will build us up in righteousness, strengthen our faith and remind us of His finished work. For a confirmation of this, let’s read one more verse of scripture, John 16:8-14:
“And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
Of sin, because they believe not on me;
Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and you see me no more;
Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it to you.”
Thus is the job-description of the Holy Spirit, given to us by Jesus. Notice that He has different jobs for different groups of people. First, He reproves the world of sin because they do not believe in Jesus. Next, see that He reproves of righteousness, because Jesus is going to His Father and you see me no more. Finally, He reproves of judgment, because the prince o this world is judged.
So, to bring this all together. As we read our Bible and listen, the Spirit will illuminate to us the perfect Rema words of Jesus to us; words that will reprove unbelievers and show them their need for Jesus. Words that will uplift believers in the perfect righteousness of Jesus; and He will remind the whole world that the prince of this world – that is the devil – has already been judged, and his defeat is already declared. Our victory in Christ is assured.
Furthermore, in verses 13 and 14, we see that He will guide us into all truth. The Holy Spirit is the ultimate teacher and educator, and He will always glorify Jesus. The Holy Spirit will never draw attention to Himself or to another person, but He will Glorify Jesus in all things. Then finally in verse 14 we see that it is the words of Jesus that the Holy Spirit conveys.
Here’s the application, an effective ministry is one in which the minister, the one speaking, is actively listening to the words which God is speaking to Him, and faithfully speaking them to those that are listening and operating under the direction and guidance of Jesus Christ. Those words will accomplish all of the things outlined in the verse which we have just read in John 16:8-14.
A minister who just recites dry words without any real revelation, will have a dry ministry without any real power. Also a ministry that just seeks signs of the spirit without any foundation on the Word of God, will crumble like the house built on the sand.
This is why in 2nd Timothy 2:15 we are instructed to study to show ourselves approved unto God, rightly diving the word of truth. The word “study” used in that verse, can be translated as “diligent care or caution”, making sure that the word we bring forth for others to hear, and also the word we listen to is the word of God and not another voice… does it exalt Jesus and give Him glory? Or does it exalt something or someone else?
This is the key to effective ministry, made possible when we are diligent in receiving the Word which God speaks to us by His Holy Spirit; not of ourselves, but the free gift of God.