Tuesday, April 13, 2010
How Shall They Preach Except They Be Sent?
Paul asked the rhetorical question, "How shall they preach except they be sent?" (Rom.10:15), expecting, of course, the obvious response, "They cannot preach except they be sent." No one can understand either Paul's question or the answer, without first being made aware of the difference between being called and being sent. Jesus first called disciples to follow him. Later, from among those whom he had called, and there were many, Jesus chose certain ones to send to preach the gospel. As Jesus said, "Many are called, but few are chosen."
It may seem at first to be a small matter, but we need to know that no one has ever been "called to preach". That phrase is found nowhere in the Bible. Rather than "calling men to preach", our Lord calls for men and women to be silent and to learn of him. Then he chooses some of those followers to be sent with his gospel of peace. He calls men not to preach, but to be quiet. Only after teaching his disciples the fundamentals of the faith did Jesus send some of them to carry his gospel.
In Matthew 5:1-2, we read, "And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain. And when he was set, his disciples came unto him, and he opened his mouth and taught them." After this lengthy session with his disciples, teaching them the moral requirements of the kingdom of God, Jesus descended from the mountain (Mt.8) and demonstrated to his disciples the miraculous power of God to heal the sick and deliver the oppressed. Then, in Matthew 10:1, we find that Jesus gathered his disciples, and "He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease." Mark describes this sending of the disciples with these words, "And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sickness and to cast out devils" (Mk.3:14-15).
Notice, please, that these disciples were ordained after they were called. And ordained for what? "That they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out devils." What about this, preacher? Now, when were these disciples ordained to preach? Not when Jesus called them to leave their nets, tax office, etc. Not when they were being taught in the mountain. It was only after Jesus had led them down from the mountain and demonstrated in their presence the power of God by healing a great multitude of all manner of diseases, that he anointed these disciples with "power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease." It was at this time that Jesus ordained his twelve disciples and sent them to preach, saying, "freely ye have received, freely give."
Prayerfully consider, my dear pastor friend, this question which I ask in deepest sincerity: Have you been sent? Or have you only been called? Each experience is definite and wonderful. But most ministers never speak of more than being called. There is no cause to doubt the reality of their call to follow Jesus; however, their own testimonies are witness that Jesus has not sent them to preach his gospel. There is a seminary of God, where the Spirit reveals the true doctrine of Christ and gives power which no man can give. Men are not able to confer upon other men the power to preach the gospel. Only Christ can send a man to preach. In the seminary of God, Christ alone confers the degrees. As wise Peter said, "If any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth."
Yes, my reader, it was by receiving the power of God to heal and to deliver the people from evil spirits that the twelve apostles were ordained as ministers of God. Now comes the big question - and it is at this point that many stumble - is this power for healing and deliverance required of present day ministry? In other words, is the church of today as important to God as the church of the apostolic days? Does God love us as much as he did them? Our answer will have to be "yes", since Christ puts no difference between his early disciples and us whom he sends to carry his word today. He put his first followers and us on exactly the same level, so far as preaching the gospel is concerned. Surely he who healed so many in the days of his apostles has made provision for the people of all ages to receive similar benefits of his grace and power, for God is not a "respecter of persons."
Demons were subject to Jesus' disciples, just as they were subject to him, for he gave them power to heal the sick, cast out devils, cleanse the lepers, and even to raise the dead. This, of course, was all done in the wonderful name of Jesus. And God has given the privilege of the authority of that great name to all His ministers.
Nothing could be clearer than this, and it is proving to be so among every one today who has been anointed and sent by Christ with his power of deliverance from sin and sickness. Still, there are multitudes who regard the cleansing and healing power of God as something belonging to another age and altogether out of the reach or right of their ministry. Who has bewitched them to think this? Oh, my friend, so many people are sick and dying, not because God's healing power is unavailable, but because real faith is becoming rare. How it must grieve the heart of God, who has willed His power of complete deliverance to all faithful ministers!
The Pharisees opposed both Jesus and ministers of the early church because of the power of God which they possessed to heal and deliver the people. Every unanointed minister today, like the Pharisees of old, senses that the power of God is a threat to his unauthorized, man-appointed ministry. It seems easier for some of them to fight the power of God than to seek God and receive it. Hear Paul's description of such religious leaders, and note his warning that follows: "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. From such turn away" (2Tim. 3:1-5).
Paul was not the first man sent by God to prophesy concerning the latter-day surge of false prophets. God spoke through Jeremiah, "I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they should have turned them from their evil ways, and from the evil of their doings" (23:21-22).
What a warning! What a description of every mocker, who walks after his own ungodly lusts and prophesies out of his own spirit! "These be they", Jude tells us, "who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit [holy Ghost]." May God anoint and send men to heal His divided, hurting people! Only men who are sent from God have God's answer to our deepest needs.
Every minister must face this issue: "Shall I resist or yield to the power of God - the force that not only cleanses the soul, but also heals the body and mind?" This is the supreme issue in the life of everyone who has been called. Many have already answered, either by denying the power of God or by receiving it. Some are evading the issue. Every true and wise minister has or will joyfully yield to it. Their answer can only be, according to God's word, "Here am I; send me." And remember that he who said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" also said, "And these signs shall follow them that believe: in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."
Contrary to what anyone may think, this same gospel with the same authority of the apostles is for us today. Thousands of ministers, ignorant of the true gospel, have established word-only ministries of their own, ministries without the power and signs that Jesus said would follow believers. The unrepealable gospel which Jesus preached is to be preached and practiced by all believers, even to the end of this age. May our God enable us to do so! Amen.