In 1978 when I was a young disciple filled with zeal for our Lord Jesus Christ, I took my wife to preach the gospel to those who never heard at the ends of the earth. In my zeal we left everything behind in the US without a degree or certificate in theology, without any financial support from any church, without any mission agency to send or train us, without any church or organization in our target country inviting us, and for that matter without even having finished reading the entire Bible. I REALLY had great zeal for the gospel.
Gradually over the next 40 years the Lord was gracious to bless us with wisdom and knowledge to go with that burning zeal. As a result we have been fruitful for the kingdom of God and stood the test of time, producing fruit that lasts.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last–and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. (John 15:16)
We would like to share this wisdom with you—especially if you are just starting out in ministry or not long in ministry for the kingdom of God. Many of you are extremely zealous for the Lord, just as we were in 1978. It would behoove you also to have wisdom and knowledge to go with that zeal so that you also will go on to bear fruit that will last for the Lord.
For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. (Romans 10:2)
The wisdom the Lord has given us is to major in what is major according to Scripture, and to keep in the background those things which—according to Scripture—are relatively minor.
Scripture tells us that preaching the gospel and making disciples are of major importance in the sight of God. Most born-again believers, regardless of their stripe or background, will agree. Because the Lord’s commands to preach the gospel and make disciples are so clear-cut and unambivalent, there is general unanimity in the body of Christ that we should be doing and teaching such things. When we do, unity is fostered in the body of Christ—something that pleases God.
A song of ascents. Of David. How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! (Psalm 133:1)
However, there are doctrines and practices seen within the Church—while although they might have some basis in Scripture—which are not as clearly and strongly supported by the Word. Now of course we do not necessarily abandon them. However, we should relegate them to the background if we sincerely desire to have maximum impact for the kingdom of God.
Here are some examples:
- The teaching of the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues
- The teaching that God heals every sick person
- Deliverance for believers from demons which is often accompanied by physical manifestations (ministers of deliverance, please click here.)
- Eternal vs. conditional security
- Pre-, mid-, or post-tribulation rapture and other questions relating to the end times
We may have strong positions on these matters, and they could be relevant and impactful for us personally. The Lord might even be using us quite effectively in these areas. The reality, however, is that believers in the larger body of Christ will generally hold differing views on these matters depending on their background. And none of these positions or practices is essential to salvation. And so it may be good to remember what the apostle Paul said about such things:
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister (Romans 14:13). So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God (Romans 14:22).
There may indeed be a time or occasion to teach on the subject or to engage in the practice. But if you want to have maximum and lasting impact for the kingdom of God, it should be relegated to the background, meaning, it should not be your major preoccupation. The consequence of doing so will be the closing of some doors for you to do what is most important to the kingdom of God on earth: preaching the gospel and teaching the Lord’s disciples to do everything the Lord commanded us. While those who agree with what you do or teach may seek you out and invite you to minister, ultimately you will be limiting your ministry to that small minority. Now if that ministry indeed turns out to be your calling from the Lord, fine. For example, if the Lord has clearly called you to specialize in deliverance for saved believers, we understand. We are not speaking to every believer here. However, whatever you are called to do, it should eventually take you back to preaching the gospel to all creation and to the Great Commission—the calling of the entire body of Christ.
Moreover, if we hold strongly to some minor point which is generally not accepted by the larger body of Christ, we run the risk of dividing the body over a point which is non-essential. And Jesus’ fervent prayer is for us to be one (John 17:21). In view of this wider perspective and these larger considerations, therefore, let us apply wisdom and in general strive for healthy, overall balance in what we teach.
So if you have extreme zeal for the Lord, are desperate to bear much fruit for His kingdom, and are still praying about your calling—then you should consider our words carefully.
If that describes you, then you should consider concentrating on what the wider body of Christ agrees as having paramount importance to the Lord especially during these last days: preaching the gospel and the Great Commission. And let our teaching reflect that.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Although we personally at The Elijah Challenge may have definite positions (and even experience) on the non-major issues and practices of the faith, we have chosen for the most part to keep such things to ourselves. Instead we have chosen to major on what is major to the Lord according to the Scriptures. And the Lord has been gracious to open more and more doors for us around the world, enabling us to bear more and more lasting fruit during these last days.
Our counsel to younger servants of God or to those who have not been in ministry long is to seek and ask for the Lord’s wisdom to add to the great zeal you already have. In that way you will be able to bear much fruit for the long run.
-Posted in 2015 for zealous disciples on fire for the Lord Jesus Christ who are desperate to have impact for the Great Commission during these last days