Summary: Three reasons why God wants every follower of Jesus Christ to be empowered with the confidence to minister to others.
Do you know what a paradigm shift is? A paradigm shift occurs when our most fundamental assumptions are shaken, resulting in an entirely new way of looking at things. When people realized that the universe revolved around the sun instead of the earth, that was a paradigm shift. Everything we thought we knew about astronomy had to be rethought in light of that paradigm shift. A paradigm shift calls into question every piece of conventional wisdom we’ve previously held to. In many ways becoming a Christian is a paradigm shift, where everything we once accepted as true and significant is called into question by the claims of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Bible.
In two weeks we celebrate one of the most significant paradigm shifts in modern history, the Protestant Reformation. On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther published his 95 complaints against the organized church of his generation in Wittenberg, Germany. From that incredible event, a fresh wind of spiritual awakening swept through Europe, as men and women awakened to Christ as never before in their generation. From the teachings of Luther, and other reformers like Calvin, Arminius, and Zwingli, people rediscovered the priority of the Bible. Through the reformers people rediscovered the priority of grace, that there’s nothing we can do to make ourselves right with God, but that acceptance with God comes as a free gift. The Reformers reminded us that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
A critical distinctive of the Reformation was the priesthood of every Christian, that every follower of Jesus Christ is a priest who has direct access to God through Jesus. The Reformers reminded us that we don’t have to go through a human intermediaries like an pastors priests, bishops or even popes to get to God. Every follower of Jesus has free access to God through Jesus, thus breaking down the myth that ordinary Christians are second class citizens in God’s eyes.
Unfortunately the Reformation didn’t fully develop this idea. Luther, Calvin and others applied this idea to the Christian life, but they didn’t apply it in relationship to ministry to each other. So the Reformation reformed doctrine but didn’t reform the way people did church. And for over 400 years the Reformation has existed as half finished, reformed in doctrine but not in practice.
But in our generation we’re watching the completion of the Reformation. It all started back in the 1960s when a number of Christian leaders began to rediscover the biblical teaching about spiritual gifts and ministry. This led to a rediscovery of the fact that a life of ministry is God’s vision for every follower of Jesus Christ, regardless of their age, gender, abilities or education. Ministry is not the property of the ordained clergy, but ministry belongs to the people, to the ordinary men and women. Not only is every single follower of Jesus Christ a priest in relation to God, but we’re also priests to each other and to our world, ministers called by God to together communicate God’s grace through our words and our actions. To express this idea here at Life Bible Fellowship Church we have the motto "every member a minister."
But two main obstacles have stood in the way of a full realization of this new Reformation in our day. The first obstacle is pastors. We’ve often stood in the way of returning the ministry to the people. We’ve been trained and educated to think that we can do it better, that to impact people’s lives you need professional training. And many of us became pastors because we like to feel needed, so when we are the ministers and the people are the recipients of our ministry, we feel needed, successful, and important. But we also burn out, self destruct, and often quit because we simply can’t carry the load that God intended and designed the entire church to carry. So pastors themselves have stood in the way of empowering people with the confidence to minister.
But the ordinary people of the church have also stood in the way as well. Most Christians have not be enthusiastic in embracing their biblical identity as ministers because it seems so different than the way we’ve been taught. It’s safer and easier to simply pay the professionals to do the ministry. Most followers of Jesus have resisted God’s call to a lifestyle of ministry, feeling unqualified, inadequate, and afraid.
Today we’re going to look at how God can empower our church with the kind of confidence that leads to a completion of what Martin Luther started. We’re in the midst of a series through the New Testament books of 1 and 2 Thessalonians called LIVING CONFIDENTLY IN UNCERTAIN TIMES. This morning we’re going to see three reasons why it’s absolutely critical for pastors and people to stop resisting God’s call to reformation. Three reasons why God wants every follower of Jesus Christ to be empowered with the confidence to minister.