9th July 2023

Preaching, Healing and Teaching

Passage: Ephesians 2:19-20, 4:4-14, Matthew 4:12-5:2
Service Type:

Automatically Generated Transcript

As is our normal custom, we are continuing at a slow pace to work our way through the Gospel of Matthew, and where we were at previously in Chapter 4 is moving past the temptations of Christ to begin seeing his beginning of his public ministry. And so, we've been in Chapter 4 and we're going to head into, maybe not today, but Chapter 5 is a very famous part of the New Testament where it's talking about the time that Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, and that's where we're wanting to head to. And I was hoping to race there because there's such a lot of good preaching material in the Sermon on the Mount, but I discovered that in between finishing up with the temptations and getting into the Sermon on the Mount, there's also a number of revealed things that God has told us as to how Christianity has come about, as to how Jesus founded his ministry.

And we touched on that last week by looking at why he moved from Nazareth to Galilee and became a more permanent member of the family of Peter. He wasn't really owning the house, but he lived there with Peter and his wife. That was the scene of how he healed Peter's wife's mother. And so, we were looking at that last week. And I want to continue on that theme about Jesus' ministry and talking about ministry in general. It's quite a word that's used in Christian circles, ministry. Once upon a time, it generally meant someone who had a dog collar. I have been in the ministry, but I've never let myself wear a dog collar, mainly because the advertisements for people who wear dog collars are always so puny. They're mowing the lawn or tripping over, and generally speaking, not looking terribly capable people on the TV when they picture a clergyman. That's a person in the ministry. So, I've dodged having that appearance, if I could help it. Anyway, so what is the ministry? Is it just people who have become ordained? Are they people who live in a manse? Are they the clergy and the rest of us as Christians are the laity?

Or is that just a division of understanding that's in the past? The Bible speaks to those questions, and I got a bit of an insight into that, particularly seeing as we'd been going through the book of Ephesians about how God has set up the church. That was where we previously were at before coming to the Gospel of Matthew. I got a window in, a beautiful drama picture of the whole scene of how God works to form the people of his church by going up and spectating at SMADD. I wasn't there all the time, but I went up on the Saturday with Lachlan, who by the way is back from overseas. We went up together and we listened in, and the first thing that happened was at the meal table that we arrived in time for, there was a lot of activity going on in the room, and these young people at this mad Scripture Union camp, they were all having an excitable time, and the fervour and the happiness in the room was impressive. But one of the people who got up and began to give a bit of a lead in it, in fact most of the people who got up and began to give a lead in it, were people that I would think of as really young.

As a matter of fact, one of them was one of Ryan's kids, not even the oldest of the two that went, but one of the younger ones of Ryan O'Connor's kids were there. He'd never done this before, but he'd been recruited to be able to give some of the lead that was involved at the mealtime, and he did it really well. He didn't think that he could, but somehow or other in the exercise of that camp he moved up a step, and a step closer to being someone that's involved in the ministry of what that Scripture Union camp was. So, I had a beautiful demonstration of something, because there were a lot of people there. As a matter of fact, do you know of the people who were there to do the work of the leading, which is what ministry is? I think there was about almost 30 of them, I'm not sure if I could have those numbers right. But anyway, there was not quite as many as there were campers, but there were a lot of them, and quite a few from our church, and they were busy doing things for the Lord. And I saw ministry happen in that camp. The way they did the speaker was, normally they have a speaker who's usually an older person who's at least 30 or some very old age like that, who goes along there and speaks and would be of the four spiritual sessions they have, the one speaker who's trained and everything, does it very well.

But what they did this time was that the young friar, who were the leaders of the camp, they all took a turn. And the four of them, I won't list them, but there were four young people from our church, and maybe there was one that was from another church, but they gave the talks, which is part of why I was keen to go up and listen in. And I heard ministry come, and I saw some people come to get right with Christ. One of them was, that I was standing nearby when I saw it happen, was a person who was coming to Christ for the first time and getting converted. And it was an amazing thing for me to see, now I'm actually in the middle of going through Matthew's Gospel, and I've been gearing up to bring a very important point to the church that I've started, or tried to start several weeks in a row, hardly got very far, but let me point to you what I'm trying to say. And I've got four points. Now this is copying the young people, because they had their talks, four points, and they've been telling me I get too complicated, and so I've been trying to copy their four points. And anyway, the four points follow four Bible passages. And so, to turn to them, it'll take us eventually back to, about ministry and my illustration.

I've got a couple of other illustrations that will really bring the point out to you, but we have to go a bit further adrift, or further apart, or back to more deeper matters, and we'll turn to Ephesians in Chapter 2. Now Ephesians in Chapter 2, excuse me, I have a bit of a weeping nose, and my feet are not running very fast, but my noses are running too fast, and anyway, Ephesians Chapter 2, and here's the next Bible passage, and Ephesians Chapter 2, and verses 19 and 20. And so this is in the Book of Ephesians, which is probably the chief letter that Paul wrote about the church, and how the church was set up by Christ. And the big point that he made in the Book of Ephesians, of course, is how the Jews and the Gentiles are no longer two separate groups, but they have become united in a brand-new group, and the brand-new group is all those in Christ as the church. And in Ephesians 2, verses 19 and 20, it says, So then you're no longer strangers and aliens. He's talking to the Gentiles, I always felt their noses put out of joint by the Jews who insisted how they, the Jews, were special and the Gentiles were not.

And he's saying, You are fellow citizens with the saints, and members of the household of God. And then in verse 20, look at this, this is very important, built, verse 20, on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. So right on the foundation of the church is Jesus Christ, and he's called, in the next part, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone. And it's referring to how they used to do the building in the ancient world, where they have a very carefully constructed, orthogonal angled cornerstone put down first. And then they would get two other stones, one going off this way and one going off that way, at a right angle, and they were to be the apostles and the prophets. I mentioned this even last week, they weren't just prophets and apostles, because that might be understood as Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles, which would make sense. But no, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, that order because they're New Testament prophets, obviously New Testament apostles. And the church has been built on two of the specialist gifts that are involved in ministry. And this verse 20, when you put it together in the next couple of chapters, in chapter four in particular, which lists the five building blocks of the church that Jesus set up, when you put it there, you see that it makes the top two in the five very special, because they're foundational.

And then the rest that follow need to be replaced as they keep on dying off as is normal. And so, we'll turn then quickly to chapter four, Ephesians four, the next one. And this is how we've been going through the book of Ephesians. So, this is not new territory to those of us who've been at the church a while. But in chapter four, it's going to talk about the fact that Christ gave five gifts, and the first two are the two we've just noticed that are foundational. Now I want us to read through here. So, verse four, we'll start, there is one body and one spirit, just as you're called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, and father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each of us. Now notice he's talking about you and us. There's a general truth that's here that a lot of people pick on is what it's trying to say, but I think they're missing a part of a special truth. Both are true, but the special thing is that there's a you and an us. And the you is everybody in the church, not just Jews and Gentiles, but the you is everybody in the church.

And you're called to one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, all us Christians, doesn't matter what denomination you're in, or whether you've even got a good denomination, you might even have some semi-cult. But if you're a Christian, then, excuse me, if you're a Christian, then you are a part of the building of God's church, even if the group you're going to is a bit wayward. But then it says, but grace, verse seven, was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. Now who are the us? The answer is the us are the people who are the list of five, which he goes on to say. And the us is including the Apostle Paul, because he's the one writing this, so he has to be one of them. And they have been given gifts which are to be the leadership of the church. And it's why this passage in Ephesians 4 is talking about the leadership of the Christian church. And he goes on to say, each of us was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore, it says, he sent it on high and led a host of captives, I won't go into that, but he gave gifts to men.

So, Jesus' resurrection and ascension, crowned King of kings and Lord of lords, then he gives from heaven gifts to the church. But interestingly, the way the language is, the gifts are not just abilities and things given to people, but the gifts are the people. And his gifts were, if I can find the right spot, okay, just skip over the next bit, just if you get down there to verse 11, see if my eye can go back one, all right, thank you. He gave, can you spot verse 11 in the screen? He gave the apostles, see the gifts of the people. He gave the apostles, the prophets, they're the first two that we saw from Ephesians 2.20, which are foundational, the evangelists, the shepherds, and the teachers, and the word shepherd is another word for pastor, pastors and teachers. And so, there's five of the us's, and Paul is explaining to his readers that these have been given from Christ's ascension to be the leadership gifts for the church. And the two beginning ones are foundational in that they will never be repeated. The apostle Paul is an extra one added because he's the apostle for the Gentiles to bring together the Jews and the Gentiles.

So, there they are, the five special gifts for leadership. Now what's really interesting is that when you have the right leadership, you end up with everybody having the ministry. Because it goes on to say, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that you've probably heard from me, there's different ways to word that, and I don't like the way it's in our Bible, but nonetheless, there's a truth there. For the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ, until we all again attain to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God and mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we all may no longer be children tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, craftiness and deceitful schemes. And if God had left the church, just to what our humanity would make of it, even in Christian humanity, we would make a terrible mess. As a matter of fact, the denominations of the Christian church look a bit of a mess.

That's the human side, our fallen human side. But God's purpose is that we'd no longer be children tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness and deceitful schemes. And if ever you have anything to do with Christian organizations, one of the things you're confronted with is, although it's generally better than non-Christian organizations, I might say, on the overall, nonetheless, within Christian organizations, you'll still come across human cunning, craftiness and deceitful schemes, especially when it comes to leadership, when people have different understandings as to what ways they want to go. And that is something that comes out of our fallen human nature. And God doesn't intend that we stay as we would be as, like non-Christian backgrounds we have, which cause us to be, but we grow up to be this unified thing.

Now what I saw up at this mat camp was really beautiful for me to see, because I know that how you get people who live out the Christian faith, and when you see it, you know why it's there. It's because there's been something beforehand that happened that caused this process, I should point to where you're looking, this process, to come about. I get, I don't know whether you get a lot of emails coming from people, I'm not very good at handling mine, the ones that, all the people who want to get your money somehow or other, not necessarily scams, but sometimes it's hard to tell which ones are scams and which ones are not, but they arrive at my email spot, and I have actually replied to a few about things that they'd send out if, you know, you want to have vitamins or something, I've taken a few times where I've ordered in some things like that, and the moment you've done it once or twice, somehow your name gets to be on the list, and quite a lot of the others all are trying to get my interest.

And what they don't know of course is that they send out these things to listen to, but if they make them too long, I realise this must be some trick in it, why don't they just tell me the information straight up, why does it have to make me listen for a good three quarters of an hour in order to be convinced? I smell a craftiness in that, and so I've got a few of them who are saying, Jim you won't answer to my emails, you know, no I'm not going to. But one of them that's come and has got a good idea, I think it's mainly addressed to women, not because they're easily deceived, but because of what it's offering, and it's talking about getting your skin to be perfect. And what the point of the scientist man, he's a doctor fellow with all sorts of degrees, he says is this, that if you get your food right, if you get what's happening in your intestines, and deal with when the bad stuff breaks out of your intestines and gets in the wrong places, if you deal with all of that, it'll finish with you having clear skin. And the same sort of statements are made about people whose hair is falling out, and what it points out is that what you eat causes what you'll be. The same is true in the spiritual world.

As a man thinks in his heart, so is he, says the scriptures. And if you give yourself to the word of God, and spiritually speaking, you give yourself a diet, it comes out eventually in the more appearance parts of your personhood. What you eat will affect how you look, and how your health is. That's how it is in Christianity, how it is with Christian health, that it starts way back in what you take in, and where you've been led. And so, I found in these passages, I was getting geared up to talk about discipleship being prior to ministry, which is true, and that's actually the point that I've got of the opening Bible reading, I don't know that I gave all the verses, but chapter 5 of Matthew is really fascinating, and what's fascinating as I was reading through about how the church gets healthy, that it starts with one person, one person without whom none of us are, and that is none of us are even Christians. Who is that person? The Lord Jesus Christ. It goes one step further to who are going to be the ones that he has used to found the Christian church. No extras, no asking permission, Jesus didn't ask permission when he was ascended on high and crowned Lord of Lords and King of Kings, as to how he'd set up his church.

He didn't have a forum, he certainly didn't have a voice from any individual group, he didn't ask the western nations to decide how the church should be. Jesus, as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, he gave gifts to humanity, and the gifts to found his church are the apostles, and the prophets, and the evangelists, and the pastors, and the teachers, and there's five roles, five roles that he gave. When a church has those roles, we call it the ministry, and if we have leadership that is based on that, then the church is healthy. The result as Ephesians 4 shows, the result is in the flowering of the church, where there being all the members, all finding something to do with the differentiation of gift that Christ gives to all of the different church people, but all working together, all knitted together. When we were going through, a couple of years ago now, but we were going through Ephesians 4, I had the biggest picnic every week, looking up all the words in that chapter about how all the different parts of the body of Christ are knit together, and how all the ligaments and everything, all the little parts of the body, the metaphor is that we're like the body of Christ, he's the Christ, the head in heaven, we're the body on earth, and all the little parts of us, the body, the multitude, excuse me, list of differentiated parts in the body, they all work together.

Now it's one of the features of the way the spirit moves in his Christian church, that when the Holy Spirit has his way, he moves us, that we will be all fitted together, and be a unity, and he moves toward that all the time, revival makes it very much happen, when God steps in, sometimes to discipline his church, and do what's necessary for there to be the unity he's always intended to come about, that's his destiny for the Salisbury Baptist Church, that we should be a unity, this church has a history of not being that, but God has an intention of the opposite direction, and he gives his leadership, but as though that works its way out, it's like the food, the teaching, the Bible instruction, the gifts of the spirit of the evangelist, the giftings of a pastor and teacher, all of those things happening, it brings about a unity in the body of Christ, and then you see it right across the membership, the treat that I had this week last.

Was to see it in another generation down, because what I mentioned before about Ryan's kids, he was our youth pastor about 10 years ago, and they were little squelchers like down there somewhere, and now they've grown up, and one of them, the second oldest, he got to be giving a lead, I saw it, and even the ones who were the older ones, like my kids, I still look at them as little attackers, but they're not, but they're giving a lead, what a fantastic thing to see, where's it come from? The multitude of the gifts of the different people all operating comes from there being the feeding of the word of God through those who've been gifted to do that, happening in the church. So, it's a fascinating thing to see that development, and one of the things you'll notice in the Gospel of Matthew is the question of teaching and healing and preaching, and the different subtle meanings of what those Christian activities are, especially if you take Jesus as a model, because Christianity is founded by Jesus coming, and he's doing everything, and there's nothing that we do that, we can't do everything Jesus did, but we may have gifts that will do some of the things he did, but those gifts are spread out across different people, but when Jesus came and founded the church, what's the first thing he really did to get going? We were on about this as he shifted from Nazareth to Galilee the other week. What did Jesus do differently, or do even more, that's probably a better way to put it, once he moved to Galilee?

Well, Matthew's Gospel actually tells us, has an emphasis that Jesus did preaching and healing. I won't go into the details, but preaching and healing he did, and then if you read on more closely, he also went to the synagogues, particularly the Jewish synagogues, Matthew's Gospel tells you, and in there he did teaching. Now the Bible mentions about Jesus, those three things for that particular, and at the end of Chapter 4, you can look it up at home when you go, there's Jesus who's preaching, he's healing, he's teaching. What's the difference? Unfortunately for us in this generation of the Christian church, there are some places where they only have preaching and they never had much teaching, or maybe that's not our generation, but previous ones, what the ministry of the church did was someone giving a harangue, someone giving a sermon where it was preaching. In fact, when I first started to get involved with preaching, I did something different from what was normal. That used to be back then that you'd be like a boy preacher, and you'd have to use your arms and have to shout a bit and all the rest. I learned from an older evangelist how to just give a normal speaking type start, and so I copied him. It was a bit unusual; people couldn't tell when, was it the sermon that's just started, or this fellow who's a bit of a compere talking on, and it suddenly turns out to be the sermon. Because there was a cultural thing that people had in their heads as to what is preaching.

People think preaching is when you have a microphone. Well, I've got a microphone, that's not what really makes it preaching, because if you went to the university, the lecturers used microphones, just because you've got more numbers to hear better with a microphone. What makes the difference between preaching and teaching? Now if you're a small group, I'd ask to hear people's answers, I'd be rather fascinated to know what you understand is the difference between preaching and teaching. The truth actually is, and I won't ask your opinions, because that won't work with our numbers, but teaching is a bit of a subset of preaching. But there is a spiritual difference, there is a charismatic difference between preaching and teaching. And it is the difference between, of those five gifts that Jesus ascended and gave, he gave to gifted persons, apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher. So, what's the difference between a prophet and an evangelist? Well, the prophets particularly are a special type of prophet in those five lists, and they're people who came with the word of God that would be written down as part of our scriptures.

They also used to give public prophecies, like Agabus, who went somewhere and gave a prophecy, but the prophecy was a very big thing. The Bible is rather particular to say that there are some people who prophesied, but doesn't call them prophets. I think it was Philip's daughters, they had two of them, who prophesied. The reason why, excuse me, it says it that way, is that they certainly had prophecy happening in them, but they were not known in the office of prophet. You can check up on that idea of mine if you look at Acts chapter 1 and 2 and 3, about when the day of Pentecost came, it says about the fact that the young men prophesied, and the young maidens did too. They became prophecies, so there is a spirit of prophecy that came upon the church on the day of Pentecost. And it is something that happens every now and then in our Christian communities and amongst our friends. I don't know whether you've ever had a moment when you suddenly got a burden. I think some people have a gift in this area more than others, but everybody has a touch of it, where you suddenly know something and you say something, or God makes you the mouthpiece of you telling a friend something they were needing to hear. And you've heard from me before about this, but I think we underestimate or have less awareness of the fact that we all have a touch of the spirit of prophecy that was one of the signs of the day of Pentecost when it came. All the church does.

And if you walk after the spirit, if you're involved as a prayerful person, and you're involved close to Christ, there come times when without your meaning to, you say things, and it's like an arrow straight into a person. That's the type of prophecy that doesn't mean that you are one of the prophets. The Bible designates some people as prophets, and they were involved in giving us our New Testament along with the apostles. That's how they're foundational, the apostles and the prophets. But there is nonetheless a gift of someone in the body of Christ having prophecy as something that they do without it making them one of the apostles of Ephesians 2.20 says you're a foundational gifted person, one of those big building blocks on the church, Christ's cornerstone, apostles and prophets. And so those foundational gifts is what gave us the scriptures. And then the scriptures become very much right at the, right at the central source of how we get all the vitamins so our faces glow. The scriptures are the source. If you spend time in them, it changes what comes out of you. It changes your appearance.

It leads you more and more to be able to walk with God. And if a church is built upon the exposition of the scriptures, you're going to get the phenomenon of seeing the ministry come out of all the people, coming out of the young people. God help us, the old ones might say, because they don't always have the same culture, but it's a fascinating thing in our church for me to go along to something that I've just seen this last weekend and seen young people who were just little whippersnappers once and here they are serving God. And here they are leading people to Christ And also what I observed, and I can't, haven't got time to prove this to you, but I observed that some of the four of the leaders of SMADD gave their talks. Some of them were exercising teaching gifts and some of them were exercising perhaps evangelistic gifts. And I saw it. Now isn't this happening in our church?

It's because of this book. It's because of the word of God. And if you put it in, it's like putting good food in your stomach, it will turn out in your hair and your face or wherever. And God wants us to understand the connection. Don't be a skimpy person with your Bible reading. Don't be someone who says, I've got to give a church attendance now and then. That's like you're being someone who says, I've got to have a meal now and then. I'm preaching to myself because actually it's one of my faults, I don't eat enough. And what goes in is what comes out. And you can't be skimpy and not go to church.

In fact, when you read biographies of people that God has used, you'll suddenly realize if you read several of them, there's a common theme that keeps turning up. Like Billy Graham. He kept going to church and he kept responding to the appeals, even though he was a Christian, he just wanted more. He wanted to be sure that he's close to God. Or like some of the older saints that now have passed away that we've had amongst us, who have an emphasis, come to church twice on Sunday. Now that's a bad thing if you make it a legalism. Ooh, you don't go twice. That's not what we should do. But coming whenever, when you have time, come when you have the opportunity. Don't think that having a listen to the word of God is once a week is really enough. Fancy going twice. Oh, it's not right of that church putting on evening service. Oh, goodness me. They're going being fanatic. Well, being fanatic about Jesus is not abnormal.

I'm going to tell you that the Bible is fanatic about Jesus. I'm going to tell you that when you're committed to being a Christian, one of the things God, the Holy Spirit will do to you is to stir you up, to have seasons when he calls you to come on in closer. There's seasons when he calls you to make deeper dedications. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. And God is in the business at different times of calling Christian people, take another step. Go deeper. Don't stay shallow. Oh, I used to say, I had a little saying, I haven't done it for a while. So, I'll tell you again, about the mother who had a little girl kept falling out of bed. Some of you older ones will remember my illustration. And the mother says to the little girl, how come you keep falling out of bed? And she answers, I think I go to sleep too close to where I got in. I think I go to sleep too close to where I got in.

And if you've come to Christ, and then you've taken a style of Christianity, it doesn't ask too much of you. It's like going to sleep too close to where you got in. It's very easy to fall out of bed. This book, it speaks to us. And when a person gets a habit of learning this book, my dad used to tell me that the Bible somehow changes you, it Christianates your mind. You find it so much easier to not think the bad thoughts. So much easier to walk after the Spirit. Because somehow your mind has been touched by the Word of God. When Jesus had temptation, what did he resort to? Excuse me. What did he resort to? To quoting the Word of God. How did he quote the Word of God? Well, he's the author behind it for a start. And as he grew up, the Spirit led him to understand in the Old Testament, which was his own word. Because he was a baby, he had to start from zero. He learned the Word of God. And then when the devil tempted him, he quickly retorted the Word of God says, God says, we need to put this book back in the middle of everything.

Because it's where you get the food that makes all the flourish in the rest of your personhood. And if you use that as a metaphor, you understand where the flower of the church comes. Why is it that there are some churches you can go to and there's no young people? Isn't that the strangest thing? Especially because it's very natural for people to have children. Why would there be no young people? Have they fled there because there wasn't any life, fled away because there's no life? Well, God has blessed us with young people. And I've been blessed by watching them at the SMADD Camp. And I'm just so glad for the organizations like Scripture Union to have the vision to see those things happen. I'm so glad when I see another group, which is not so much for young people, I wish that more could get into it. But Gideons, we have a good Gideons representation here. All those things get staffed by people who've gotten on fire for Christ. And we need all of us to be amongst the people who staff out the action scene, the ministry expression of all of them, Bishop of the Body, getting busy for Christ. Let's have a word of prayer.

Well, Father, I do thank you this morning. I've got one of my higgledy-piggledy messages again, and I haven't given the four points quite clearly. But Lord, I thank you for the joy of seeing the church and things happening in it, because it is the Holy Spirit who's moving and for the ministry that's occurring. And I give you praise in Jesus' name. And I pray, Lord, for every person here this morning that they will receive from today a challenge to go on deeper, to take a step closer, to be prepared to be a fanatic. Maybe it's the world's definition of fanatic. We don't really want to... Well, they may think we're fanatics, but Lord, you can't be fanatical. You can't be more... You can't be enough fanatical is really what I want to say about loving you and letting you work in our lives. And I pray that you'll use this morning as a challenge for people to clear the decks, to be available for what you want to do through them, I ask in Jesus' name. Amen.

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