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."