Paul the apostle wrote: “But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about God’s wonderful kindness and love.” (Acts 20:24 NLT).
I, like Paul, and am amazed at the work that he did as an apostle in the early Church. After a number of years of preparation after his conversion his ministry began powerfully and impacted the then know world; and since, the whole world for the last 2,000 years. He was a powerful preacher; a terrific teacher of God’s Word – teaching by revelation; a church planter; worked in miracles sign and wonders; discipled, trained, equipped and mentored young men for apostolic ministry; developed and deployed teams; earnestly contended for the Christian doctrine (defended the faith – Jude 3); powerfully confronted various works of the devil; and was one of the leader of those who turned the world upside down.
But, by his own admission, all of this and everything else he accomplished for the Lord in his lifetime would be worthless and pointless if, intermingled with all this activity and work, he had not been involved in THE basic ministry of soul winning … “…telling others the Good News about God’s wonderful kindness and love.”
In other words, stack up everything else that he did and accomplished for the Lord in his lengthy ministry – including receiving revelation from the Lord that became the content of half of the New Testament – and he states, it would all amount to absolutely nothing IF he had not also been, in the midst of all of life and ministry, telling others the Gospel of salvation. This from the man who was honored to visit the third heaven by personal invitation from the Lord – the only way anyone is allowed to do so as the Bible does not state this is a right or even a priveledge of believers.
Paul had discovered a truth. Every believer is called – called to be a soul winner for the Lord. This is the basic call on every Christian’s life. Oh, I know, people chase after prophets and apostles to find out what their call is, what ministry the Lord has planned for them and the details of that ministry. However, even when a believer receives this type of prophetic word and comes to know something about their destiny in the Lord… this should not be the focus of their walk with the Lord. Jesus did not say “follow Me and I will make you a prophet (apostle, pastor, worship leader….)”. He said, “follow me and I will make you fishers of men (soul winners).” This is basic to every believer’s life and must come first.
If a believer does not pursue and fulfill this first calling upon their life – there will be little likelihood of any subsequent calling ever coming to pass. If a believer is not working with the foundational structures of a healthy Christian life (witnssing and winning souls, tithing, prayer, Bible reading and study, forgiving, loving, accepting) there is little fear that the Lord will ever allow a building (ministry – calling) to be built upon the faulty or imcomplete foundation.
As well, if a building is built – a ministry is launched – by effort and will power (in the flesh and not by the Spirit) it will not last. It will, one day, collapse due to the faulty foundation it is built upon. And, regretfully, many undiscerning lives that have been influenced by the ministry will be damaged and defiled. This is why the scriptures tell us to “know those who labor among you…” There will be wolves dressed as sheep, false teachers, prophets, apostles and even false Christs. Much will be taught “by revelation” that is not from Heaven or from the heart of the Father even though it sounds good and is presented using Bible verses.
One of the key Bible tests for all ministries – and all true converts to the Christian faith – is whether they are fulfilling the basic call upon he life of every believer, ministry, church, network (denomination, union) to seek and save the lost. If they are not – don’t follw them as they are not following the Master who specifically stated to His first followers (and all since) “follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.”