x474.....The NT Church--A church which was carrying on Jesus' ministry.
Jesus had a simple and direct ministry. It is the same ministry which He does today.
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, (Luke 4:18, KJV).
1. Jesus brought the Gospel.
2. Jesus healed the sick
3. Jesus brought deliverance from the enemy.
4. Jesus made apostles--He released people to serve God.
5. Jesus operated His ministry toward the poor and those in need
This was exactly how Jesus ministry operated. When someone met Jesus, they received the Gospel of the coming kingdom--if they needed healing they immediately received healing--if they needed deliverance, the devil was cast out of them. But, the one thing that we don't seem to realize is that Jesus released people to serve God--He "set at liberty"--(the Greek word used here is "apostello"--meaning to "send" someone--to release someone to serve God--we can call it apostleship).
Think about it--Did Jesus bring the Gospel?--of course! Did Jesus heal people?--of course! Did Jesus cast out the devil--did He bring deliverance to those who needed it?--of course! Did Jesus make apostles?--of course!!! Jesus "set at liberty" thousands of people. Of course we recognize the 12 apostles whom He worked with in His ministry--but do we recognize the 70 that He "sent" (see Luke 10:1) on another occasion? do we recognize that after He fed the 5,000 He "sent" away" the crowds--the words translated as "sent away" are the Greek "apoullo" meaning "to release"-Jesus released thousands of people to serve God.
Jesus ministry consisted of the preaching of the Gospel--healing--deliverance--release--and also the feeding of the poor. These 5 things are the completion of every Christian. They are the simple and direct example which Jesus set for us to follow after--but as a body--as a church--as a group of people each with his or her own parts to play.
the church which is given to us as our example in the Bible was carrying out these things very simply and directly--exactly as Jesus had done. They were meeting in their homes--teaching the Gospel--praying for the sick--bringing deliverance to those in need--and they were feeding and caring for the poor in great numbers. These were what ministry consisted of. These were the simple and direct things which Jesus had given as the example, and which this church began to carry out as illustrated in the book of acts.
What if the church of today looked like this? The church of today is expert in assembling together--but little else exists of these simple ministries which the Bible tells us about. These simple and humble ministries have been exalted as positions of rulership in the church--and thus limited to only "some". Yet the fact remains that the church is NOT overcoming the world anywhere near as quickly as the church which the Bible illustrates--and this church faced the greatest persecution that any Christians have ever faced--that of the Roman government. The history of the church shows us that Christianity was in fact joined up with the Roman form of government--it became the very definition of "the church"---and ministry has since always been defined and associated with the Roman concept of rule and hierarchy.
What would it take for the church to look like the church in the Bible? Really not much--it is system which is not based on money--it is system which is aimed to build Gods' kingdom in the earth--an invisible kingdom--a kingdom made up of people rather than church buildings. Think of the church as a place where people got together and operated in these simple ministries--some would be interested in witnessing the Gospel--some would be interested in praying for the sick (going out in the world and serving those in need--going to hospitals and visiting the sick and those in prison--and those in need)--some would want to feed the poor--bringing in meals and feeding the poor would be an activity that many Christians would love to do--contributing to and operating a church -run food bank is one of the greatest blessings anyone could have. People should be able to work together to go out and bring the Gospel--as God leads them--whether it is handing out tracts in the shopping mall--or having an outdoor praise service for the world to see. The church would be a place for all to operate and function in their own gifts--no matter how big or small the church--no matter how many or few Christians there are in an area. The church would operate out to the already existing homes of Christians--there is no real need for elaborate assembly places--there is no real function in us spending most of our time effort and money building church buildings. In the NT Bible they were selling possessions for the operation of Gods church in the earth--an operation which flowed thorough all the people. The leader was God the Holy Spirit--and Christ was truly the Head of the church.
It would be a simple and direct way for the church to operate and it would be very effective for the kingdom of God. It could withstand any attack, and it would spread quickly and give people so much hope, and solve so many problems that we have now in our churches. It would perhaps eliminate those who just want to sit and watch while others serve God--but it would also free so many others who truly desire to serve God actively. There would be no age limits or limitation of experience--we would all truly be brothers and sisters in Christ--working from the common level that the Bible tells us about--working from true fellowship--which is-- common purpose together in joint participation.
"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." (Hebrews 13:8, KJV).
We would be giving Jesus the opportunity to carry out and continue His ministry in the earth. We would be allowing Him to function thorough us--through all of us--as the Bible defines the church--not as tradition has come to define the church. Jesus would be the Head--the Holy Spirit would operate and function through the group of people who collectively call themselves "the church"--each a different part with a clear function and purpose. This is the example set for us by the NT church--the example which the Bible calls for. Are we that example today? Perhaps "behind the scenes" God does operate in this way--whenever we give Him the chance. Most Chrisitan churches function in these operations and minstries as Jesus did---but only to a degree. We allow another voice in the church--the voice of tradition--of Roman rule--which tells us that we must provide a nice meeting place, and meet all once a week, in a place where most "watch" the ministry. But what if it became our clear goal and aim to do the few simple things that Jesus did together?
What if it became our specific goal to preach the Gospel together--to pray for the sick together--to pray for deliverance together--to feed to the poor together--and to encourage and release others to do the same--together? What if it became our goals in church to all get together and look like Jesus--to allow Him to function through all of us together?
The description of the glorious church is that of ministry flowing through every member. This was lived out by the church of the NT Bible. Don't we want to be glorious today as well?