IT IS not proper for servants of Jesus Christ to be ignorant about what should inspire them in ministry. It is equally not good for children of God to be unaware of what actually gives hope, joy and glory to the preachers of the gospel. Christians everywhere need to know about what really must motivate preachers to endure trials, name-calling, hunger, loneliness, rejection and all forms of persecution.
I often teach that God does not produce ignorant children. Rather, He produces knowledgeable children. It is a grave mistake to suffer deception and perish eternally. The Word of God is taught to us for our knowledge, obedience and salvation. And from the Bible, we understand how the Christians of old worshipped God in spirit and in truth; we see what served as the source of their hope, joy and glory.
Money, sophisticated cars, jets, mansions and exclusive wardrobe were never the source of the joy, hope and glory of the early apostles. The aforementioned material things are not evil per se. They are good to be used and can be very useful for modern ministry, but they certainly were not the things that greatly caught the attention of the early apostles to publicly flaunt and boast about them as we see and hear today.
Of course, times have changed, but Christ, His Word, vision, mission, commandments, teachings, will still remain unchanged. They are constant and everlasting. Thus, the things that served as hope, joy and glory to Peter, James, Paul and the other apostles remain unaltered.
Concerning these things, the apostle Paul, in his letter to the church in Thessalonica, asked, “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, ESV). Again, in Philippians 4:1, Paul wrote, “…my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved”.
Paul made it clear to the churches he wrote to that they – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers – had a cause to boast or rejoice at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. And their greatest joy and hope for doing the work of the Lord was not about the wealth they would flaunt, but souls they would present to the Lord on the last day.
Paul saw superior wisdom in boasting about souls he saved than material wealth he had. He knew that one soul is worthier than the whole world. He knew from the onset of his apostolic duties that the Christian ministry was all about Christ and the preparation of souls for eternal salvation. For this reason, Paul and the other ministers preached Christ Jesus, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that they might present everyone mature in Christ (Colossians 1:28). The word mature means perfect.
Now, if today’s preachers also claim to have been called of Christ, prepared in His Word and filled with His Spirit, then, we ought to have the same mindset, vision and understanding which Paul and his brothers had. Exhibition and boasting of powerful cars, planes and mansions have no place in the Christian ministry. Christ did not die for cars and houses but for souls. Thus, He frowns on earthly mindedness, as it leads to death.
Indeed, a genuine servant of Christ is not self-centred, self-glorifying, self-ambitious and self-exalting. A true pastor does not seek his own interest; he is not in ministry for selfish gains but to do the will of Jesus Christ who appointed him. The greatest concern of such a minister will always be about the salvation of souls. He will be committed to praying for and teaching the believers entrusted to his care about the good and right way (1 Samuel 12:23).
And the right way a servant of Christ will teach his congregants is Jesus Christ, who is the only good and right way, the truth and the life. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation given to Christians to teach and learn.
Consequently, the early ministers greatly preached and taught about Jesus Christ. Peter preached and taught about Jesus Christ (Acts 2); Philip preached and taught about Jesus Christ (Acts 8); Stephen bore witness about Jesus Christ (Acts 7) and John taught and wrote about Jesus Christ.
One servant who greatly preached and taught about Jesus Christ was the apostle Paul. He was given great grace for that great work. Paul, a Pharisee, who was knowledgeable in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and Psalms preached and taught about nothing except Jesus Christ.
In Acts 28, the Bible says “…from morning till evening he (Paul) expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. He…welcomed all who came to him…teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance” (Acts 28:23, 30-31).
By James Quansah