The Ministry of Jesus vs. the Ministry of Paul

32372485_sI find that many church leaders, especially those who were born again during the Pentecostal and Charismatic Revivals of the 60-80’s, emphasize the ministry of Jesus more than the ministry of Paul. What is the difference between these two apostolic ministries, and what should be the focus of each?

During the earthly ministry of Jesus, He ministered primarily to the “lost sheep of Israel,” with the exception of his teaching ministry to the disciples whom He had chosen to be in the school of ministry. The mission statement of Jesus, found in Luke 4:18, is directed to the needs of people for repentance, healing and deliverance: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”

This was not a message of spiritual growth and maturity, but of liberation to those “whom Satan had bound.” Jesus came to “bind the strongman and spoil his goods” by preaching, healing and casting out devils. Jesus was not speaking to born-again people who could understand the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. But so often, church leaders are trying to duplicate the ministry of Jesus to the church every Sunday, as though they were the unsaved crowd Jesus was ministering among. We often use John 14:12-14 as the basis for this philosophy of ministry: “The works that I do, shall he do also” (referring to the deliverance ministry of Jesus). By following this practice each week, we actually are keeping the congregation in need of healing and deliverance, because they are never growing up spiritually and taking their position as sons of God through Christ. We need the ministry of Jesus to the masses of unsaved people, and we need the availability of that ministry to people in our congregations that need it.

But we need to shift our focus for the church to the ministry of Paul as stated in Colossians 1:25-29: “…of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.“ Notice especially verses 28-29, where Paul outlines the

functions and purpose of his apostolic ministry to include both “preaching to warn every man” and teaching to “present every man complete in Christ.” As we read the letters of Paul, we can sense that “power that worked mightily in him” as he taught the church who they are “In Christ.” The apostolic ministry of Paul weighed heavily on a teaching ministry that would produce Christ-like people who understood the New Creation completely.

Herein lies the difference between the Ministry of Jesus and the Ministry of Paul. We need both operations in the world, but we should realize that the Ministry of Jesus was more to the unsaved world, while the Ministry of Paul was more toward the church, even though Paul’s apostolic ministry included preaching to people who were hearing the gospel for the first time, and was confirmed by miracles, signs and wonders; yet he spent most of his time teaching the believers New Creation Realities. When believers have understood completely what God’s work in Christ means to them, they will not need the Ministry of Jesus every Sunday to get them healed and delivered again. The reason pastors are often trapped into doing the Ministry of Jesus weekly is because the people don’t have a New Testament understanding of redemption. This may be because the leaders themselves have not yet received the revelation contained in Paul’s writings. We need to understand more than, Justification, Sanctification and Regeneration – we also need to know what it means to be a son of God with all the privileges and inheritance of the Family of God: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12) Much of the church is still living as “servants” and have never moved to “sonship.” There is a transition from servant to son that must take place where we are not relating to God based on our “performance” but from our “position” in Christ.

The church today desperately needs the Ministry of Paul so that they can come to maturity and “do the greater works” of which Jesus spoke. The Lord said that believers would do the works that He did listed in Matthew 11:2-5, referring to the deliverance ministry of Jesus: “And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: the blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.’ ” But He also said we would do “greater works than these,” referring to getting people born again, spirit-filled and grown up in Christ.

The world is waiting for the mature sons of God to manifest, those who will reveal the nature of the Father, who is Love. May the Lord help us to see when each of these apostolic ministries is needed, and release them accordingly for His glory.

Overcoming the Independent Spirit

25459205_sIt is not a new revelation that we have a “fatherless” generation in our world presently, with all the attending consequences of dysfunction, independence, anger and hopelessness.  God called it a curse in Malachi 4:5-6: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”

A number of years ago, God began to change the hearts of religious leaders into spiritual fathers, who say to their disciples “come follow me” (Mathew 4:19).  They were seeking a genuine relationship of love where sons and daughters are blessed with the generational inheritance of a double portion (Deuteronomy 21:17).

After this change occurred and fathers were in a place to receive sons into relationship, God began to “turn the hearts of the children” with men and women seeking out their spiritual fathers and mothers.  These followers whose hearts have been delivered from the orphan spirit also have a cry in their hearts which says, like Elisha, “I will not leave thee” (2 Kings 4:4).

When Elisha asked Elijah for a double portion of his spirit, the elder prophet responded, “you have asked a hard thing.”  What difficulty was he referring to?  It certainly would not be hard for God to give Elisha the blessing, and it wouldn’t be hard for Elijah to lay hands upon him either.  So what was the problem?  It was going to be hard for Elisha to become the son he wanted to be.

When Elisha asked for the double portion, he was referring to the generational inheritance that belongs to a firstborn son (Deuteronomy 21:17).  In effect, he was actually asking Elijah to become his spiritual father.

Many “would-be” sons and daughters have identified the need for an “Elijah” in their life.  They have asked for relationship as well, not fully realizing the process that would qualify them for the inheritance and right to be called a son or a daughter.

Those who have grown up without a natural father in their life have many of the results mentioned above.  I personally know the struggle of growing up with a “breadwinner” and not a “dad.”  After getting saved and called to ministry, I sought for a father through every spiritual leader in my life and found only those who had not been fathered themselves.  This kind of a person was incapable of being a father to me.  I often encountered the abuse of a “Saul” type of religious leader, or the rejection of an insecure one who was trying to minister from their own dysfunction.  These experiences caused me to press into God for a “fathering spirit” myself.  This is when God gave me my first revelation of the Elijah anointing.

It is possible to be raised by God in the absence of a real spiritual father in your life, but that is not the pattern that God intended.  God planned for spiritual fathers to raise their families and leave a legacy of sons and daughters for generations who would continue the process with their own offspring in the spirit.

When we grow up without a spiritual father, we develop an independent spirit.  An independent spirit is a characteristic of an orphan heart.  A person with an independent spirit has had no one to approve, appoint, protect, or promote them.  They end up having to do these things themselves.  These are normally the functions of a father in our lives.  The independent spirit is easy to identify because it is self-appointing, self- protecting, and self-promoting.  The problem then becomes one of being able to function within a family.

Relationships are difficult, many often ending in offense and discouragement.  This is why we see people with an independent spirit are not able to stay in one place very long.  They wander and roam not knowing they are looking for a “family.”  But families have fathers.

When this happens, recognizing and accepting a father into our lives becomes a “hard thing.”  Remember the words of Elijah to Elisha…”you have asked a hard thing.”

An independent spirit will not let an individual be the “representative of another” – they can only represent themselves.  But in the process of becoming a son or daughter, we learn to “represent another.”  Jesus said, “If you have seen me you have seen My Father” (John 14.9).

In relationship to our earthly spiritual fathers, others should be able to see the spirit of the fathers in the sons and daughters.  The Apostle Paul said Timothy was a “true son” because he was able to represent Paul accordingly (Philippians 2:19-22).  If we have not served with another as a son does with a father, God will connect us with a father whom we can serve until we become a son.

We will have to enter another’s vision and become representative of it in order to be delivered from the independent spirit of “self” that has grown from our orphan heart.  Our spiritual fathers will know when true “sonship” has occurred, just like Elijah knew when Elisha was ready to receive his inheritance.  Elijah said, “If you see me when I go up,” which in the original language means, “If we see eye to eye.”  Elisha had learned to see eye to eye with his spiritual father’s vision.

Can you see your spiritual father’s vision and represent it?  This is the pathway to deliverance from an independent spirit, and the road to recovery from an orphan heart.

When we become true sons, curses resulting from an orphan heart are broken in our lives (Malachi 4:6).  We enter into freedom from a self-directed life.  We have a deeper revelation of our Father’s Love for us, because the independent spirit keeps us blinded to a degree.  We are able to receive and give love without the hindrances of insecurity, inferiority, and poor self-perception.

Without seeing a father’s vision and serving it, we have been left to serve our own vision.  Of course we have individual visions, but sonship occurs through the process of relating to a spiritual father as we serve the vision of another man.  This is what Elisha did.  This is what the disciples of Jesus did.  This is what Joshua did, and it is what we must all do.

Many believers have an independent spirit because they have encountered abuse from parents or other authority figures.  Because of this they have decided that no one else is worthy of trust when it comes to their life and destiny.  With the availability of Chris- tian TV, radio, seminars, conferences, and ministry partnerships with nationally known ministers, other believers have grown spiritually without relating to a local church family where there was a spiritual father in the house.  They approach the church with the “self-approved, -appointed, -promoted and -protective attitude” and are difficult to deal with.

This is the “hard thing” brought about by fatherlessness.  If their established agenda is not appealed to by the leadership, they simply move on looking for the “right place” (meaning a place where they can represent themselves without confrontation).

Pastors can usually see the calling on a believer’s life, and will believe in their personal vision, but still will not be able to release that person within the church because of their inability to see beyond their “own thing.”  Such dear people can cause unintentional damage if they do not understand and relate properly to the “vision of the house.”  This can cause offense and confusion which gives place to accusation and betrayal, ruining many good churches.

The same is true with ministry sons and daughters who are being connected to today’s apostolic movements.  If they have developed their ministry vision through an independent spirit, the apostle to whom they connect may have the same problems as the local pastor we just described.  These anointed vessels may have the same traits of the independent spirit and will need to understand that they must be in submission to the father whom God has placed in their life.

This simply means they must submit, or come under the mission of another.  The independent-spirited one may fight for recognition for a while, wanting the father to recognize their call and vision, providing opportunity before any loyalty to the father’s vision is established.  They have not yet realized the move of the Spirit today to “restore the hearts of fathers and children,” and that this is the prophetic mandate upon the church at this time.

This process will produce the “mature sons and daughters” who really represent the Heavenly Father as Jesus did, and will release the greatest blessing of God the earth has ever seen.  Malachi said, “unless I smite the earth with a curse…” meaning that when the restoration occurs, the earth will be mightily blessed.  The mature sons and daughters who have been blessed with their double portion will do the works of the Father and usher in the return of the King of Kings!

Let’s ask God for understanding of the work He is doing at this time and find our place within it.

Secrets of the Christ Life

Jesus Christ is the “pattern Son” for all other born-again believers.  In other words, Holy Spirit has come into our lives to enable us to “pattern our lives” after the life of Jesus Christ as He lived it on earth.  Jesus didn’t have a life free from problems and harassment by the devil; on the contrary, He was in a continual battle that required a diligent walk of faith every day of His earthly life.  Jesus experienced trauma, disappointment, betrayal, physical abuse, and finally a cruel death.  What was the secret of His victorious life over all these circumstances?  How did He never lose his testimony and remain faithful and continue to glorify His Father in Heaven?  The first secret of His continual victory was this:
 
He remained surrendered to God’s will, regardless of the hardship it might bring.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, He “counted the cost” of full surrender and embraced God’s will over His own human desires.
 
Secondly, Jesus depended on the grace of God to enable Him to fulfill His commitment.  After He said, “Not my will, but Thine be done,” we read that “angels came and strengthened Him.” (Luke 22:42-43).  The Father always provides the supernatural strength, the “grace of God,” after His will is embraced by His children.  This is what Paul meant when he said, “I can do all things through Christ (the anointing or grace of God) which strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13).
 
Today’s Christian should not always be looking for a “way out,” but a “way through” their problems.  I hear many crying out for freedom from the problems that result from living a righteous life in a wicked world, when we should be “appropriating more grace” to deal with our problems triumphantly in a way that will glorify our Father.  Instead, many churches are filled with people who continually whine and whimper about their problems, expecting the “professionals” to work a miracle for them whenever needed.  Paul’s advice to the Ephesian Christians who were encountering great spiritual warfare and problems from living in an idolatrous society was: “Finally brethren, BE STRONG IN THE LORD AND THE POWER (GRACE) OF HIS MIGHT” (Ephesians 6:10).  Paul didn’t escape all his trials, but rather was told that “My grace is sufficient for you.”  This made Paul rejoice and respond  by saying, “Therefore I will boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).  Let’s humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand, and receive His grace to live victoriously above all things.