By Brian Sauder
Attention Church…Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to infiltrate behind enemy lines and strategically demonstrate the love and the power of God in the places where people work and live. Is this Mission Impossible ? No, this mission is very possible. But first we have to know where the enemy has drawn the battle lines.
Our enemy (Satan) wants to convince us that church is a two hour meeting in a building where we watch someone “minister” in the front. These are the battle lines the enemy’s has drawn to keep the church neutralized and the power and revelation of God out of society. His strategy can best be described in two ways.. .the Holy Building myth and the Holy Man myth. These are the battle lines we need to cross. If the enemy can keep the church trapped in this deception, he knows he has a chance to win the battle.
The church is not something you go to, it is something you are. As believers, anointed by the Holy Spirit, infiltrate behind the enemy’s lines you can imagine the potential to expand the Kingdom of God. The church is literally spread throughout the community at any given time. It’s at workplaces, grocery stores, shopping malls, sporting events, neighborhood picnics, cell meetings…It’s everywhere ! The enemy cannot possibly contain the church of the living God.
If we look at Ephesians chapter four, I think we can see the heart of God expressed.
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…” Eph. 4:11,12. These two verses indicate that Jesus gave leadership the job of preparing the people to do the works of service (ministry). Leaders are called by God to train, equip, empower and release the saints to do the ministry.
Let’s take Jesus as our primary example. He did not keep the Holy Spirit to himself. Instead he launched a training track that prepared his disciples and others to be empowered and anointed by the Holy Spirit for the work of ministry. Then He left and sent the Holy Spirit.
Let’s take a closer look. Since the book of Luke and the book of Acts were both written by Luke, we could actually look at these two books of the Bible as a two volume set, with one leading into the other. Luke shows how Jesus prepared his disciples to receive the Holy Spirit. Acts describes what happened when the disciples received the long awaited Holy Spirit.
The thread of the Holy Spirit’s coming to the earth is evident all the way through the book of Luke. It starts when the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus as a dove. Shortly after this experience, we find Jesus being led by the Holy Spirit, (initially into the desert). After being tempted in the desert, Jesus boldly declares in the synagogue that he is anointed by the Holy Spirit and that Isaiah 61 is talking about him. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”, Luke 4:18-19.
But now Jesus starts the training process. He chooses twelve for his first pilot program. “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Luke 9:1,2. It worked ! They preached the gospel and healed the sick just like Jesus did.
Next he tried it with the seventy-two. He trained them, gave them instructions and sent them out. This was not just the twelve “big guns” now. This was the average guys. They again returned with positive results. They preached the gospel, healed the sick and set people free from demons.
Jesus response to the successful ministry of the seventy-two was electricfying. He said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” I believe that Jesus saw the potential of the Holy Spirit being available to all the believers. He saw the potential for what would soon be called the church to expand, defeat the enemy, and fill the whole earth with the Glory of the Lord. You see, all through the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was only available to a few, selected leaders. What Jesus had just seen working was a radical departure from this paradigm. Luke tells us Jesus was full of joy! He saw what was coming.
The rest is history. Jesus died, rose again, and ascended to heaven with the promise of the Holy Spirit to come. The Holy Spirit came and was poured out first on the 120 in the upper room, then on the 3000 later on the same day. But they were not 3000 members, they were 3000 ministers. New converts don’t just become members of the church they become ministers in the church.
We understand from church history that Martin Luther restored the truth of the priesthood of all believers to the church. This was incredibly valuable. The church may have died without it. But he did not restore the ministry of all believers to the church. The churches associated with Martin Luther today rely strongly on the clergy to do the ministry. The restoration of the truth that all believers are called to ministry is happening in a new way in our generation.
We say the name Jesus Christ without a full understanding of what it means. Jesus was “the Christ.” It was not his last name. The word Christ means anointed one. It literally translates as Christ, the anointed one. The believers at Antioch were the first to be called Christians, or we could say, “ The Anointed Ones.” All Christians are anointed by the Holy Spirit and called to minister.
Larry Kreider, the Director of DOVE International, says it like this, “Every believer is called by the Lord to be a minister, and healthy cells provide the opportunity”. Cell groups provide the arena for believers to begin to be led by the Holy Spirit, exercise their spiritual gifts, pray for the sick, drive out demons and experience God in a supernatural way.
In our small groups, believers are encouraged to step out and try using their spiritual gifts. It is a safe environment for believers to learn to be led by the Holy Spirit. They can learn to pray and minister to each other, taking authority over evil spirits like Jesus did when it is necessary. They pray for the sick to recover when healing is needed. Preaching the gospel includes all the things Jesus talked about in Luke chapter four. As the believers are released and trained in ministry, soon leaders emerge who will be cell group assistants or the leaders of a new cell group.
But the ministry of the believers doesn’t stop in cell group. It only starts there. Most of the examples of the spiritual gifts being used in the New Testament were not in meetings. Rather the gifts were used in the marketplace, where people were. Peter and John healed the crippled beggar on the way to the temple, not in the temple meeting. We must allow the Holy Spirit to flow through us wherever we are…at our workplace, at the coffee shop, at the lake, at family gatherings…everywhere we go. This is the New Testament model.
I do believe the church can fulfill it’s mission on the earth. But it is going to take everyone…every believer ministering…every gift released…every anointing activated… to see our mission successfully completed.