“Major in that which is major, and minor in that which is minor”
I may have stretched the title a bit to get your attention, but nevertheless I would like to share some things I have learned from the Lord during the thirty-plus years of our full-time service for Him. The Lord has graciously blessed the work of our hands beyond what we have asked or imagined since the year 2000. (And we are told this may be just the beginning.) For some years before 2000 we were in the position of Moses, taking care of some sheep on the back side of the Sinai desert; like young David following and watching the flock in his father’s pasture. Perhaps you are in the same position right now. Perhaps what I have to share will be helpful to you.
The apple of God’s eye is His Church (Deuteronomy 32:10). Whatever we are called to be, whether apostle, evangelist, prophet, pastor, or teacher, we should be building up the body of Christ. It pleases the Lord when we expend our efforts to equip His Church for works of service.
Ephesians 4:11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…
Thus when we minister, it should not be simply as a one-man-show, drawing attention to ourselves and our ministries through our great anointing when we preach. Rather we should spend more of our efforts equipping the Church to do what the Lord has taught and anointed us to do. Many now preach, but few teach and equip. You must decrease and Jesus Christ must increase.
John 3:30 He must become greater; I must become less.
And Jesus is now represented by His body, the Church. In the world we must become less and the Church must become greater. Don’t just preach to the Church, teach and equip the Church so that it will become greater like Jesus. Preaching, on the other hand, is primarily for the lost.
Secondly, our ministry and its practices should be centered on that which is strongly supported by the word of God. Let me define what this means to me. There are various practices which appear to be referred to or implied in Scripture, for example the practice of spiritual warfare waged directly against powers and principalities. However, we do not see in Scripture anyone actually doing this. It is not recorded in Scripture that any servant of God actually spoke directly to Satan or demonic principality to rebuke them. (Prayer to God asking Him to war against such spiritual entities is of course a different matter.) When a practice is not explicitly found in Scripture—there is no instance recorded of a believer actually doing it—it would be better not to practice it or at least not to emphasize it. It should be kept on the periphery. Such a practice might actually “work” and appear at the time to bring glory and souls to God. However, outward “success” is not necessarily the stamp of God’s approval and His will. Since it is not found clearly in Scripture, it would be better not to emphasize it or make it a focus of our teaching. There are reasons for this.
When we engage in practices not explicitly supported by Scripture, we might run the risk, however slight, of going “beyond what is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6). When we do this, we might be going beyond what we have been authorized by the Lord to do. And when we go beyond our authority, we can be open to eventual counterattack and payback by the enemy. It is as if we step out from the umbrella, however gradually, that the Lord has put over us. It can be a “slippery slope” that we go down without even being aware of it. Now although we are indeed called to suffer for the name of Jesus Christ, none of us wants to suffer unnecessarily. If we go beyond what is written, we might be inviting tribulation not according to the Lord’s will. There are believers who are suffering in this unfortunate way. Thus it is safer to be conservative in our interpretation of Scripture and practices. This does not mean that we cannot live “risky” for the Lord. If we want to be bold and take risks for the kingdom of God, let it be with wisdom and proper understanding of Scripture.
There is yet another reason for taking care not to major in what I call “peripheral” and thus non-essential practices.
The Lord clearly desires unity for His people. What is the basis for this unity? It is the Lord Jesus Christ and the word of God which is the Bible. All born-believers stand in agreement that the word of God should be our rule for doctrine and practice. There are doctrines and practices that are universally (or nearly so) accepted by the body of Christ; these are those that find strong support in Scripture. If in our ministry we emphasize teachings and practices that are not strongly supported in this way, we will run the risk of being rejected by some part of the body of Christ even though we may be embraced by another part. There will be some believers who say that what we are presenting is not scriptural. And we will not be able to answer them satisfactorily from the word of God even though what we teach may actually “work.” When this happens we might in effect be encouraging division in the body of Christ despite our good intentions. This might hurt the Lord. We are all part of His body for whom He suffered and died.
Romans 14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall. 22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.
Therefore we ought not to focus attention on food or other non-essentials that do not lead to peace and edification to the body of Christ. “Whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.”
Rejection always hurts. We will of course face rejection from the world. But rejection from other sincere, God-fearing disciples of Christ is another matter entirely. If we minister in our own limited circles, we can be free to teach peripheral doctrines and engage in peripheral practices. If you feel this is what the Lord has called you to do, that’s fine. But what if we desire to minister to the greater body of Christ around the world, or if we desire to promote the unity that the Lord so desires for His whole Church? We ought to take care to limit ourselves to those teachings that find strong support in Scripture. In this way, rejection and controversy within the body of Christ will be minimized, and unity in the Church maximized and encouraged.
I am not advocating compromising God’s word. I am saying that we should major on that which is major in God’s word and minor on that which is minor. This healthy balance will result in a healthy church which will advance the Kingdom of God in the world.
• The Lord will be blessed because His body is being built up and united.
• The Church will be blessed because believers of every stripe are being equipped by you for fruitful ministry and no longer chained to a Sunday morning pew. Believers are getting tired of being preached to; they long to step onto the battlefield and to fight the Lord’s battles.
• And you will be blessed because you will be “happy and successful.” When you correctly divide the word and teach it according to the Lord’s highest purpose for His Church, you will prosper in His hand and find favor in the eyes of His people. More opportunities will be opened for you, the Lord’s unworthy servant, to bless the greater body of Christ around the world.
This article is based on the Word of God, the Spirit behind the Word of God, and on our own personal testimony.