Who Do You Partner With
The word of God holds a simple truth in the midst of Scripture which can protect us from life’s trap and snares. It seems like as long as the internet is the key tool used to communicate and there is world-wide awareness of tragic events, there will be that continued threat of ministries and outreaches taking advantage of people who have generous hearts. The King James Bible holds a simple truth which is a solid guide to follow, “know those who labor among you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12) To “know” (aida) generally means to know instinctively, to have intimate or close relationship with or have knowledge of the work someone is doing for the Lord. (The Complete Word Study of the New Testament; Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament)
This brief passage of Scripture is in the midst of several brief exhortations. Each one is quite capable of standing on its own, just like many of the Apostle Paul’s instructions and benedictions of which holds truths for all who read them. (Martin, D. M. (1995). 1, 2 Thessalonians (Vol. 33, p. 170). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.) Although the context deals with how people are to respect and esteem those who are over them “in the Lord,” (1 Thessalonians 5:12) the King James Bible uses, “to know” (aida) is a key truth to focus on.
If you look at this passage of Scripture in the other translations, it could appear we are simply to show respect and esteem “those who work hard, care for us in the Lord and admonish us” (1 Thessalonians 5:12) just because someone holds a position in the church structure. Not knowing the application of this one key truth which is wonderfully interpreted by the King James Bible, “to know” (aida) has opened the door to people holding religious position who are not appointed by the Lord nor do they have the Holy Spirit’s anointing. Thus, people have been sexually assaulted, the spiritually blind lead the blind and the innocent have been scammed out of their hard-earned money.
All mature outreaches which deserve your prayers, participation and financial support will be upfront with their vision, their call and be fully accountable. We see this truth in the Biblical account of Peter’s work with the Lord.
The Biblical accounts of the Apostle Peter’s outreach lays out the foundational truths to “[knowing]” those who labor among us. The Bible says, “The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the Word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him… Peter began and explained everything to them precisely as it had happened… When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God.” (Acts 11:1-4, 18)
A successful outreach of any kind begins with a desire to be a “devout” person, one who wants to please God. (Acts 10:1-2) A “devout” (eusebes) person is respectful to God and the things regarding to worship and honoring Him. (Complete Word Study of the Bible; Vines Amplified Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words; Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon; Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament) A successful outreach that meets the needs of others and brings praise to the Lord must be birthed from a heart that is “God-fearing” (phobeo) meaning to have a reverential obedience toward God. (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon)
In determining what work for the Lord, you participate in begins with determining if the outreach is center around pleasing God and pointing the people you help to the Lord’s blessing and intervening for them. This is the foundation for receiving revelation from God. Cornelius and the Apostle Peter were God-fearing and devout servants of the Lord, thus God gave them the same revelation. (Acts 10:1-22)
Ministries or outreaches must be clear in their vision, and they must be able to substantiate their work. (Acts 10:23-48) A ministry worth your participation and financial support must have witnesses who are known to be able to give a trustworthy account. (Act 10:45; 11:12) The Bible says, “…these six brothers were with me.” (Acts 11:12) These brothers were Christians who were able to determine what a real work of God was. It should be noted that Peter took double the number of witness needed to substantiate a testimony. (1 Timothy 5:19) No doubt Peter expected trouble and criticism – he wisely and correctly did what it took to get people to accept, understand and prove his work was genuine.
When you are considering participating in a work which helps those who have needs, consider learning from a quality ministry which can walk you through the process of determining a genuine work. Make sure you partner with ministries or outreaches which look for overseers who will hold them accountable as Peter was in his work with the Lord.
Overcoming the Intimidation to Be Silenced
There are many passages of Scripture people use to stop all discussion on truth and morality. The one at the top of the list are the very words of Jesus Christ, “Do not Judge” (Matthew 7:1; Luke 6:37) which is only a portion of what He said and used out of context for of what He is teaching. Most of the time, those referring to this passage have not, “[done] their best to present [themselves] to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
The full text says, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. He also told them this parable: Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye, when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:37-42; Matthew 7:1-5)
Grasping the whole truth of God’s Word we understand all people are sinners, no one is worthy to condemn another along with the enlightenment, the degree we judge others is the degree other people and God will judge us. For Christians, it is a reminder to ask God to look into their hearts, they know the teaching of Jeremiah, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10) Humble Christians are in continued prayer, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way of everlasting! (Psalm 139:23)
Jesus also said, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:24) The Greek for this passage of Scripture is imperative, “μὴ κρίνετε κατ’ ὄψιν, ἀλλὰ τὴν δικαίαν κρίσιν κρίνετε which is, ‘do not judge according to appearance, but pronounce a righteous judgment’ or ‘… deliver a righteous judgment.’ It may also be possible to translate ἀλλὰ τὴν δικαίαν κρίσιν κρίνετε as ‘judge in a righteous manner’ or ‘judge according to true standards.’” (Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 363). New York: United Bible Societies.) The King James Bible says, “judge righteous judgements” (τὴν δικαίαν κρίσιν) meaning “to make right judgements appropriate to the case in hand.” (Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 2, p. 160). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.)
1.) Christians do not declare judgement on lifestyles or teachings which intrigue others to sin. They are in agreement with God’s Word. Jesus said, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:1-4) He also said, “…whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)
2.) Christians do not make decisions on what sin is, they are in agreement with what the Bible says is sin. The writer of the New Testament teaches us, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21) Paul’s warning to the Corinthian Church, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
3.) Christians do not declare what marriage is, they simply marry in accordance with the whole counsel of God’s Word. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife…” (Genesis 2:24) The Hebrew word for “wife” (אִשָּׁה ʾiššāh) “is a feminine noun meaning woman, wife or female.” (Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (p. 104). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers)
Jesus taught about marriage, “Have you not read that He [God] who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife’” (Matthew 19:4-5; Mark 10:6-7) The Greek word Jesus used, “male” (ἄρσην ársēn) has a Greek synonym (anḗr) meaning “male, husband.” The Greek word Jesus used, “female” (θήλυς thḗlus) has a Greek synonym (gunḗ) meaning female, wife.” The Greek word Jesus used for “wife” (γυνή gunḗ) means “woman, wife.” (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.)
The three applications we have just looked at are just a few of the truths God’s word holds which keeps from condemning people and make wrong judgements about life and morals. Anyone who really cares about how people are being judged will do the hard work to make sure they are in agreement with God’s Word. Paul writes, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but himself to be judged by no one. For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:14-16)
Let the Holy Spirit of Christ examine your heart, where are you on the platform, judging? Does is it fit in line with the whole counsel of the written of God?
The Necessity of pointing to God’s Word
There has been a trend in the past few years of very good speakers using their talent of communicating to win a crowd, rather than be obedient to God’s Word. They are failing to preach in a way which challenges hearers to make a decision to agree or disagree with God. Too often their messages are of eloquent (σοφία sophía) speeches intriguing the human flesh, based off worldly wisdom of mankind, full of philosophy and rhetoric. This is in contrast to the work of the great Apostle Paul who wrote, “…preach the gospel – not with words of eloquent wisdom…” (1 Corinthians 1:17) and, “My message to you was not with wise and pervasive words.” (1 Corinthians 2:4) Today, proclaimers of God’s Word must make it clear, their listeners are hearing thus says the Lord on the issues people face today.
Biblical truth challenges hearers to make a clear choice to live for the Lord and be guided by God’s Word. Anyone who would counsel a friend, instruct the misguided or correct falsehood without pointing clearly and directly to the whole council of the written Word, the Bible, is committing a terrible injustice.
There is a phrase in the New Testament, “it is written” (γέγραπται) referring to the Old and New Testament, with reference to the authoritative writings of the Holy Scriptures. (Geisler, N. L., & Nix, W. E. (1986). A General Introduction to the Bible (Rev. and expanded., p. 79). Chicago: Moody Press.) It means it has been written, and stands written. (Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 1, p. 28). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.)
The most revealing phrases of Jesus after His entrance in ministry were, “It is written.” (Matthew 4:4) “It is also written” (Matthew 4:7) and, “for it is written.” (Matthew 4:10) His first proclamation to Satan, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3. In His second refute to Satan’s temptations, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:6. On His third rebuke to Satan, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:13.
Ninety-two times in the New Testament are expressions of authoritative Scriptures such as: “How is it written of the Son of Man [Jesus]?” (Mark 9:12), “as it was written of Him [Jesus]. (Mark 14:21) “All things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.” (Luke 18:31; Luke 24:44) And Jesus spoke the prophetic truth about Jerusalem which was fulfilled, “For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written.” (Luke 21:22)
In His dealing with the Pharisees the Lord spoke, “Haven’t you read?” (Matthew 19:4) and “Have you never read in the Scriptures?” (Matthew 21:42) Jesus knew His charge to preach the Word and so did the Apostle Paul, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:4) In Romans chapter one we read, “I am obligated both to the Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. …I am so eager to preach… just as it is written…” (Romans 1:14-17) The charge “to preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2) is just as imperative today.
The great evangelist Billy Graham had often been heard saying, “The Bible says.” Obedient servants of the Lord get the Word of God out addressing the issues of the day. Speaking with eloquent words touches the emotions, the Word of God “is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) Be careful to teach in a way which proclaims “It is Written!”
Biblical Prayer Truths for an Empowered/Effective Outreach
Praise: “Know that the LORD is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:3-5) Thank the Lord for opening to us the door of opportunity to teach God’s Word outside church buildings (Norton Telegram, KQNK Radio, Sermon Central, Logos Bible Sermons, Facebook, Twitter) and new ministry opportunities which come as He blesses.
The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus was for Himself, His disciples and all believers. (John 17:1-26) Jesus said He would be with us “always” to fulfill the “Great Commission.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Thank God for sending us for: “How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” (Romans 10:14-15)
Pray that this ministry is powerful and effective. “Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.” (1 Thessalonians 3:1)
Pray that God would call lost souls to Christ for Jesus said: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…” (John 6: 44)
Pray that God would release the finances needed to assure this Word-base, Christ-centered ministry will be provided for.
Close with Praise: The call to pray is from God’s Word and we are given a sure promise, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16b) Our righteousness is accomplished by having Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord. By His sacrificial death and victory over sin we are found to be righteous in God’s sight. For this be sure to thank God and Jesus Christ.