Essentials in Ministry


Essentials in Ministry (Level 100) Class

When one is called to the ministry, he/she usually starts looking for a mentor to help him/her learn the ropes; to choose a college or seminary for further education in ministry. With your education, you usually start with a 100 Level or 101 Level classes, then progress upward towards the 200s, 300s, advanced classes, graduate studies, post-graduate studies, etc.  Jesus used the same process in equipping His disciples who became Apostles. Jesus started with the Essentials in Ministry Level 100.

Jesus called two, then four, and eventually to twelve men to follow him and help him conduct the ministry the Father had sent Him to do.  For almost three years, the “called out” ones lived with Jesus almost daily and learned from Him by His example.  It was like what we would call an internship or an apprenticeship today – working alongside a master, learning as you go.  The disciples worked alongside and learned under the tutorship of the Master teacher – Jesus.

 To whom did Jesus’ call?  
Notice that the first disciples to be called were common fishermen – Andrew, Simon Peter, James, and John.  They were working men, fishermen, casting their nets into the lake and drawing in fish.  They were not sitting in an unemployment line waiting for an unemployment check, they were actually out doing a job.   Jesus said to Andrew and Peter, [a Jim paraphrase] “You guys seem to be quite successful at fishing, I want you to follow me, and I’ll teach you to fish for men.[1]  These men were workers.  These guys had skills to catch fish and they were fishing. As they walked a little farther down the lakeshore, Jesus saw two other fishermen with their father mending their nets, getting ready to launch out to fish – James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Jesus called them.[2]

 Paul tells us something about those who are called. “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.[3] Jesus called the common people, people who work for a living just like Andrew, Peter, James, and John, working men.

Jesus called working men, men of character, those who were willing to follow him.
“At once they left their nets and followed him.” “…and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.”[4]  He called those who were willing to leave what they were doing and follow Him; leave their chosen profession, leave their home and family, leave everything they had.

 Paul also says something about those called: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to conform to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover, whom He predestined, these He called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.[5]

Those who are called according to His purpose, those who are willing to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, and those who do get a reward for following Him. They are ready to learn what they need to learn and develop the skills they need to perform their ministries.

Peter gives us another glimpse of those called. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.[6]
This calling is not just a run-of-the-mill calling, it is a “high calling” a “chosen people,” a “royal priesthood,” a “holy nation,” God “special possession” to declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  It is a privilege to be called to serve the Almighty in such a way.

After those disciples completed their Essentials in Ministry class, he sent them out.
These interns (disciples, learners) were now called Apostles (sent out ones). The word Apostle in the Greek is “Apostolos” meaning “one who is sent out” giving it a proper connection with the word apostle, meaning in the English “messenger” referring to the followers of Jesus.

What does it mean to be called?

The word “calling” is used several times throughout the Bible, in different contexts. In this instance Jesus is using the word “called” as an invitation. This parable is an analogy of what we have been invited to. An invitation to something more than a life lived serving only ourselves. An invitation to live a life together with Christ, serving God and experiencing the fulfillment that brings to life. An invitation to be Jesus’ disciples, to follow in His footsteps. To fulfill a specific direction of calling – ministry, music, chaplain, counselor, etc. etc. And ultimately, an invitation to spend eternity with Him!

This is a calling that God puts in the heart, and there are many ways people sense this. Anyone who gets the chance to hear the gospel and decide about whether or not to become a disciple is considered to be among the many who are called. Many people receive this invitation. Jesus gave the disciples the job of going out and making disciples of all the nations. But who among those many becomes the few chosen?

What does it mean to be chosen?

To be chosen is to accept the invitation and to do what is necessary to accept the invitation: to give up everything in this world to follow Jesus. Like Andrew, Peter, James, and John did, giving up their chosen professions and immediately following him. That is, to say “Yes!” to the calling and then to follow it up with a faithfully discipled life. God calls us, but those who are chosen are those who wholeheartedly accept the invitation and its conditions.

Why are there so few who are chosen?

Because not many want to pay the price! Jesus says that the gate is narrow, and the way is hard that leads to life, therefore, few choose this way.[7]  The reason it is hard is that we have to give up everything in this world (like Andrew, Peter, James and John did). Our egotism, our own ideas, our stubborn opinions, thoughts and feelings, our own will, our own desires get in the way. It is required to be a disciple (a learner) of Jesus or an apostle (a send out one) to be completely obedient to the leading of the Master. To be chosen, you must show that you really want this life with all of your heart. I went through this many years ago. I was “called” and was working with a job that afforded me financial security.  I had to decide, will I hold on to my financial self-seeking position, or be obedient to Jesus, 100%.
I made that decision by faith, and God honored that decision.  I never got rich, but I had almost 60 years of fruitful ministry. You can’t hold a little back for the world, for relationships, for your self-seeking, etc. It is 100% obedience to Jesus; 100% faithfulness.

Jesus’ Essentials in Ministry Class (Level 100)

At the outset of Orientation in the Essentials in Ministry Class , He stressed some basics in Matthew chapters 6 and 7. Jesus gave them the basic orientation for the ministry:
-Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men to be seen of them, when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets. 
-When you pray go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 
-Do not store up treasures on earth but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. 
-Do not worry about tomorrow.
-Do not judge others, let God be the judging.
-Do not throw your pearls to pigs, they will trample them under their feet and turn on you
  and tear you to pieces. 
-Ask, seek, knock. Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it
  will be opened to you.
-Build your house on the rock, not on sand. Having the foundation on the rock will stand,
  building on any other substance will fall with a great crash.
– You must be aware of the cost of being a disciple/apostle of Jesus
– Notice that the workers are few (the 80 -20 ratio, 20 do the work,80 take the ride)
–  He told them (in a parable) that as you must sow the of the gospel; many will fall by
    the wayside, many will fall on rocky soil, many will be choked out by thorns, but
    some who will become fruitful.
–  There will weeds among the wheat, but let God sort them out, you job is to plant seed.
–   Jesus told them not to worry about what other say about you, a prophet is without
     honor in his own hometown, and sometimes in his own house, but you stay the course.
–   He reminds His disciples that His own forerunner (John the Baptist) was killed, many
    will not like your message, and even kill you, but stay the course.
–   Jesus then predicts His own death, trying to prepare the disciples for what is to come.
–   In many of the parables He told them that there are a lot of bad things in this
     world, but there are pearls of a great prize too, keep on preaching the Word.
These are the basic essentials in ministry. Jesus build a foundation on which to build a group of
learners (disciples) into becoming a group of sent-out-ones (apostles).

Jesus used a kind of “show-N-tell teaching method [like some of my laboratory research classes in seminary that were church-based under supervision of a faculty mentor, which  involved in requiring reading, study, preparing lessons, presenting lessons to the congregation, being videotaped, having students evaluate the quality of the course, then me doing a follow through in real-life, my evaluation of the quality of the course for the students and me, and culminating with me writing about the whole experience for a grade]. These were some of the most valuable studies of all my seminary experience.

 Jesus was the faculty mentor of the disciples, He told them many things about the ups and downs of the ministry, He shared many stories [parables] easily understood by the disciples, and he constantly demonstrated through experience.  All through the teaching phase of the Essentials in Ministry, Jesus was doing the “stuff.”[8] – He healed, He encouraged, He rebuked, He asked questions of them, to make them think. He even toyed with the religious leaders of the time who thought they had an edge of God’s Word and even God himself, but in ever case He brought the “truth” to the surface in the face of the disciples. 

Jesus was a Master teacher; he used those laboratory classes almost exclusively in training his disciples.  For examples, while Jesus was teaching his interns about some of the basic foundational stones in ministry, a leper came up to him and knelt before him and said, “Lord if you are willing, please make me clean.” Jesus stopped what he was saying to his disciples (a teaching moment) and he reached out his hand and touching the man, said “I am willing, be clean.”  Immediately he was cured. Jesus was demonstrating “how to do ministry” to their very eyes. Jesus was tell-n-show with them.

And as Jesus was sharing with his disciple other great truths about not to worry, not to judge others, giving to the needy, loving your enemies, etc.  A man came up to Jesus, saying to Jesus, “Lord, my servant at home is paralyzed and is suffering terribly. Jesus said, “I see of your great faith, “Go, it will be done.” The servant was healed at that very hour.

After this discourse and experience of show-N-tell of his healing, Jesus said [my phrase again], “Okay, guys, let’s have a little break.  Peter probably said, “Master, how about let’s go to my place for a cup of tea.  Since it was close by, they went to Peter’s house for some tea.  While they were at Peter’s house, Peter could have said,” Master, my mother-in-law is sick with a fever.”  Jesus probably said, “Show me where she is.” Jesus went to her room, greeted her with a warm smile, reached out and touched her hand, and the fever left. What a wonderful opportunity to show the essence of ministry to the disciples. Peter, his wife, and his mother-in-law were especially thankful for that healing. It was up close and personal to them.  Jesus wanted this disciples to make their ministry up close and personal to them, as well as ministering to those they did not know, and maybe even didn’t like very well.  I can imagine the mother-in-law told everyone she knew about what Jesus had done for her – that is witnessing.

After the tea party was over, and after word had spread around about the leper being cleansed, and the Centurion’s servant healed, and the disciples had seen Peter’s mother-in-healed, many others were brought to him, demon-possessed, and sick.  With a word, Jesus healed all the sick.  So many were coming to him, he crossed to the other side of the lake.  Two demon-possessed men who were violent, Jesus said to the demons, “Go” so the demons came of the men and went into some pigs. 

Then there was a paralytic, lying on a mat, Jesus said, “Get up, take your mat and go home.  A woman bleeding for 12 years, slipped up behind him and touched the hem of his garment, Jesus said, “your faith has healed you.” 

Jesus going into a ruler’s house, seeing the grief-stricken family. What happened? His   daughter is dead. Jesus said, she is not dead, just asleep. After he had gone to the house, when everyone had left the house, Jesus took the girl by the hand and she got up. Word of this raising the girl from the dead spread like wildfire though out the region.[9]

As they moved on, there were two blind men following Jesus, calling out “Have mercy on us, Son of David.”  When they had gone indoors, Jesus touched their eyes, and their sight was restored. What a wonderful opportunity to teach disciples first-hand about being an apostle. 

Then as they were walking by, Jesus looked over and saw a man Matthew, sitting as the tax collector’s booth. Jesus, simply said to Matthew, “Follow me.” While he was at Matthew’s house having lunch, other tax collectors and other sinners ate with them.  Religious folk didn’t like that he was eating with sinners.  He just had another opportunity to share his mission on earth, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”[10]

After some first-hand experience of hearing about Jesus and seeing what he was doing in real-life ministry, Jesus thought it was time for them to exercise what they had learned in the Essentials class; He gave a little more show-N-tell instructions and hands-on ministry, he said, [my paraphrase again] “Fellows, you’ve been with me for some time and you have heard me tell you what to do and shown you how to do it, I think it’s time for you go out an practice –  “I am giving you authority to drive out evil spirits, and to heal every disease and sickness.”[11]

Jesus gave them further instructions, go to the house of Israel first, and as you go, preach this message: The Kingdom of heaven is near.  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.  Freely you have received, freely give. Do not take money with you. Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay in their house.  If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, sake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town; be careful as you go, I am sending you like sheep among wolves, people will turn on you in a heart-beat, but you go and do what I am instructing you to do.  Just remember, don’t worry about what to say or how to say it, you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.[12]

This is the first intern experience for the disciples.  You have just received the Essentials Class of Ministry.  It is by hearing the Word and seeing it demonstrated by the Master teacher Himself and going out and doing it.  That is the best way to learn to be called and chosen one. Much more was he to teach them, but they had learned by experience a great deal of how to do ministry.  He taught about the sign of Johah, the parable of the Sower,
the parable of the weeds, the mustard seed, He walked on water, He fed 5,000, then 4,000, He told about the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

After some experience of going out and performing actual ministry, Jesus thought it was time for a very important test.  He asked a question to his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” As you could expect, they were telling Him about what others are saying, “Some say John the Baptist; others said, “Elijah; and still others said, “Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 

Then it was time for the test for the disciples who had gone through the Essentials class, “But what about you?” probably for a few seconds of silence for effect, He asked the very most important question of their training, “Who do you say I am?”  Simon Peter (probably surprising himself) blurted out with a firm certitude of conviction, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  Jesus affirms the acclamation as a product of divine revelation [of which Peter must have totally agreed]; it came from the Father in heaven.

Now Jesus was going to make a statement that probably everyone there and everyone who is reading this today was astonished at.  “And, upon that kind of certitude of  conviction I will build my church [ecclesia] that even the gates of hell cannot prevail against [what a powerful affirmation].  Jesus, further states that one who has that kind of certitude of conviction, “will have the keys to the Kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”[13]  (see note in Appendix 1 about Peter’s wavering faith, and promised stand).

It is true that we have only scratched the surface of Jesus’ Essentials of Ministry class; that we have only begun to understand the fullness of God’s living Word, and our amalgamation with Jesus/Holy Spirit.  We are only in the beginning of our kindergarten learning process which we can attain with diligence.  As I was told early in my ministry, “You need to get some dirt under your fingernails while digging into the unsearchable riches into God’s Word and yielding to the Holy Spirit.”  Only the beginning!

I was told by an old minister [actually he was Chairman of Religion for a Christian college and 35 year veteran minister] get all the theological education you can get, but don’t ever quit – be a life-long learner.  You can never learn it all. Amen to that!

I am 82 years old and I am still learning.  I am taking on-line courses from
two seminaries – Dallas Theological Seminary and Hillsdale College – right now.


Appendix 1

A NOTE about Peter’s wavering faith and final conviction.

After Peter had made such a magnificent confession of faith in Jesus as Christ the Son of the living God, and followed as one of the leading apostles during the rest of Jesus’ earthly ministry, yet he was the disciple who denied Jesus three times in the heat of the battle of His life during the mock trial and crucifixion.
Peter denied Jesus three times in the heat of Jesus mock trial [probably a time to confirm his discipleship would certainly be hanged with Jesus]; yet after the rooster crowed, and Peter remembered Jesus prediction that he would deny him three times before the rooster crows, Peter went out an wept bitterly [we see a sincere confession and repentance at that time].  Peter was the same Peter who denied Jesus under the extreme stress of the time, who stood boldly during the post-Pentecostal event where the Holy Spirit had come upon the church, filled with boldness Peter stood flat-footed and proclaimed the gospel with the winning of 3,000 souls.   

I see something here that is very important – If you have received the certitude of conviction that Peter did and continued to follow Jesus, no matter how low you fall in the heat of evil, that is a promise still stands – hell will not prevail against you. 

I experienced that with one who became one of my very best friends several years ago.  This friend had been saved, called to preach, and under very difficult circumstances, he fell into a deep dark place; he even tried to commit suicide, but God brought him back; he rededicated his life to Christ and spend the rest of his life serving as a pastor and drug and alcohol abuse counselor.  I can say with a certitude of conviction that this friend was one of the most fruitful ministers I have ever personally known. 

Don’t ever count one out who has received the revelation Peter received and acted upon it, no matter what!

[1] Matthew 4:18-19

[2] Matthew 4:21-22

[3] 1 Corinthians 1:26

[4] Matthew 4:20, 22

[5] Romans 8:28-30

[6] 1 Peter 2:9-10

[7] Matthew 7:13-14

[8] “the stuff” was often referred to healings, and other outstanding feats of the Holy Spirit, by Smith Wigglesworth

[9] Matthew 9:23-26

[10] Matthew 8:13

[11] Matthew 10:1-16

[12] Matthew 10:19-20

[13] Matthew 16:13-20

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