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Paul’s Approach to Ministry:

Link to pauls_approach.mp3

We are often perplexed by the question of; how to minister.   We can hardly look to the denominational examples considering the obvious “hook-um, fleece-um, bind-um” approach used to build political power and influence within  organizations. 

Considering the abusive leadership styles that we have all experienced and been taught,  we must carefully consider how God would have us proceed.  Because proceed me must considering we have Christ in us and have been given the ministry of reconciliation. 

One of the travesties of Christian history is the violence and abuse perpetrated by organizations and their privileged bullies.  History is replete with examples. 

I grew up in Northern New Mexico.  Early New Mexico history is filled with violence.  In the 1600’s Spain sent conquistadors to search for gold, silver and acquisition of territory.  The treachery and debauchery of Coronado and others like him are infamous.   But along with the  conquistadors came the Catholic church.  Each army contingent had priests and friars to convert the heathen at any cost.  At the Taos pueblo, the Franciscans used torture to solicit confessions of conversion.  If the native did not convert they were killed.    By the end of the 16th century, whole tribes had been wiped out and others enslaved.  This is not the model of ministry I would recommend. 
Taos is a typical historical example for the 16th through the 18th century.   Hardly can we call it Christian.  It certainly didn’t originate from the gospel of Jesus Christ in any stretch of the imagination.  Although physically less violent, many organizations calling themselves Christian continue to perpetuate mental and emotional abuse and bondage.  There is only one well that we can go to for a fresh drink of living water:  Christ.   

 In the early church the revelation of the mystery was given to Paul.  The Bible calls him the architect or master builder.  As he proceeded to carry out the revelation of “Christ in you,” he and his companions were pursued, persecuted, and became victims of violence and eventual murder.  Yet they continued, not in revenge or retribution but in the love and mercy of God.   The persecution was instigated and lead by people calling themselves Christian.  Law based performance Christian religion fought tooth and nail to wipe out the true gospel.   Law based religion calling itself Christianity has raged for two millennia since Paul’s time.  Today in America in a setting of political correctness, the denominations are forced into more subtle means of operation.   Let loose without restraint the fruits of the flesh would rule supreme again.  

So, here we are looking to Paul to give us an example of Godly ministry, lest we fall back into the fleshly models we were taught so well.  Here in the second chapter of Thessalonians the “Christ” approach to ministry is described.

Read along with me starting in verse one:  

1st Thessalonians Chapter 2  (King James Version)

1 For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:

2 But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.

3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:

4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:

6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.

7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:

8 So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.

9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.

10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:

11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,

12 That ye would walk worthy (axiws Strong’s 516 appropriately) of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

That we would walk appropriately as a son or daughter of the King. The king’s kid walks with a different step than the child of a beggar outside. The king’s kid knows who he is. He is somebody!  He is heir to the kingdom, because of his birthright.  The beggar’s kid knows he is heir to nothing and lives accordingly.  We are the king’s kids by birth.  We are heirs to the kingdom.   We should walk knowing who we are.  It’s not about trying to walk “worthy,” that is, “good enough” for God.   He is the one that made us good enough, He made us holy, justified and righteous.  He made us his sons and daughters.  We walk as holy people made fully worthy in Christ and therefore we can walk appropriately.

Paul’s entrance and deportment in Thessalonica is an excellent example of one walking appropriately.  The summary of the appropriateness of Paul’s walk can be seen in the contrast between walking in the flesh and walking in the spirit.  In Romans 8:5  Paul wrote by revelation:  “For they that are after the flesh have a mind-set of the flesh; but they that are after the spirit have a mind-set of the things of the spirit.” 

Keep your finger in Thessalonians but go to the Book of Galatians chapter five verse 16.  The fruit of the spirit is contrasted against the fruit of the flesh.  If you consider the underlying motivations for performance based religions there is very little ground to cover to reach the level of violence of 16th century Taos.   Think about the change that occurred in the life of Saul of Tarsus, who was a mass murderer out on a rampage in the name of religion.  He was a perfect example of performance based religion.    Yet here we are looking to this same man, now called by the Roman version of his name: Paul.  

Paul, now reborn illustrates walking in the Spirit.   His motivation has changed.  His purpose has changed. His methods have changed.  Christ is working in and through him.  Paul is carrying out Christ’s ministry:  The ministry of reconciliation. 

Galatians chapter five verse 16:

16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Now back to Thessalonians.    You will notice here in the second chapter of Thessalonians that Paul’s service is devoid of the fruit of the flesh.   Briefly notice some key words:

Exhortation:    G3874    paraklēsis   par-ak'-lay-sis  “to call along side” From G3870; imploration, hortation, solace: - comfort, consolation, exhortation, intreaty.

    Webster’s:  language intended to incite and encourage

    Paul’s exhortation was without:
    or guile, 
    or uncleaness, 
    or flattering words, 
    or cloke of covetousness,  
    and didn’t seek glory,

    Paul and his companions were gentle among them,
    as one nursing a babe: 
    and charged.  

    Paul says they behaved holily, justly and unblameably.

13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
(decomia vs lambano)

So here we find our example. Our example is Paul living and working IN Christ. Our example is Christ living and working in and through Paul.  
Let us be examples to one another of Christ working in and through us.  We have the same anointing as Paul , the same calling, the same sending, because we are one; in Christ, with Christ in us.

As Jesus said,   Go ye and do likewise. 


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