Sermon #†††† 55†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††† Luke Sermons

 

†††† Title:††††††††† Are there any like these left?

†††† Text:††††††††††† Luke 9:1-6

†††† Subject:†††††† The Work of the Ministry

†††† Date:††††††††††† Sunday Evening Ė June 3, 2001

†††† Tape #†††††††† W-45a

†††† Readings:†††† Ron Wood Ė James Jordan

†††† Introduction:

 

[Luke 9:1-6] "Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. [2] And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. [3] And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. [4] And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart. [5] And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them. [6] And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where."

†††† As I began to prepare my message for this even, I read those words, thought about them a good bit, and asked myself this question: -- ďAre there any like these left?Ē That is the title of my message. -- Are there any like these left? I am fearful that the answer is too obvious to be alarming.

I know this: -- Along with the ministries of the evangelist, and the pastor/teacher, the New Testament speaks of the ministries of the prophet and the apostle. I am fully aware that, strictly speaking, The prophetic office ceased with John the Baptist and the apostolic office ceased with the apostles. There are none today who have the supernatural gifts of either the prophets or the apostles. No matter what the charismatics claim to the contrary, there none today whoÖ

 

        Have a new or fuller word of revelation from God.

        Have the gift of performing miraculous works.

        Have the gift of tongues.

 

Yet, in the sense that the apostles were men who had seen the Lord, men who were chosen, taught and sent out by Christ as his messengers, all true Gospel preachers are apostles, messengers of God to the souls of men.

 

The ministry of a prophet is more difficult to grasp. It is very hard to find anything being said or written today, that is worth hearing or reading about the work and ministry of a prophet. It is, in many ways, a mystery, ministry that is known by all who hear a prophetís voice, but a ministry no one seems to have words to define.

 

I know the old definition: -- "A prophet today is a forthteller rather than a foreteller." We generally apply those words to preachers as spokesmen for God. But Ephesians 4 speaks of the prophet as a distinct gift of the risen Christ to his church. A pastor is Godís appointed teacher in the congregation he serves, Godís messenger to that assembly. A faithful pastor both instructs men and women in the Word of God, preaching the gospel to them and does the work of an evangelist, seeking the salvation of menís souls everywhere and endeavoring to establish gospel churches where none are found.

I want, in all these things, to be a good, faithful pastor to you, by the grace of God. But I must acknowledge that I covet this as well. I want to serve you and serve my generation as a prophet. There have never been many prophets; there are few today; but I have, I believe, had the privilege of knowing, hearing, and walking with two or three in my day. (Rolfe Barnard, Henry Mahan, Harry Graham. But never was the need greater and the supply smaller than it is in our day.

Someone, I donít know who, once described a prophet like this: -- ďThe prophet is a voice in the wilderness. It is his business to sound the trumpet, proclaim the ideal, not work on details or set up a program. He does not devise ways and means. Others are gifted along that line. He does not belong on boards and committees. He is a solitary soul and does his best work alone. He is no parrot, puppet or promoter. He is nothing but a prophet, and if he tries to be anything else he is an embarrassment to himself and to everybody else. He is not popular with politicians either in state or church. He is not cowed by dignitaries, and will call Herod a fox if occasion demands. He is an unreconstructed rebel, an odd number in a day of regimentation. He has no more patience with mere religion than Isaiah had when he thundered or Amos when he called on Israel to come to Bethel. It is his business to say what others cannot, will not, or at least do not say. The politician has his eye on the next election instead of the nations welfare. It is possible for a preacher to get his mind on promotion, the next rung of the ladder, a high seat in the synagogue, and being called a rabbi. The prophet has no axe to grind. For him the grass is no greener in the next pasture, nor does he seek any man's office.

We are looking for scholars, specialists, socializers, showmen. We need some seers who, like Isaiah, have seen God in His holiness, themselves in their sinfulness, and the land in its uncleanness. The prophet does not pack the house, nor produce impressive statistics. He may get but poor response, but whether they hear or not, his listeners will know that a prophet hath been among them. People do not crowd churches to hear prophets. An age of ear-itch seeks not troublers of Israel.

The Prophet is not popular with the Pharisees. "Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?" "Ye are the children of them that killed the prophets." So said the greatest of the prophets to the Pharisees of His day. From Abel to Zacharias, He said, prophets have been stoned while living and honored when dead. Be not misled by monuments; they may be the gesture of one generation to cover up the crimes of their fathers.

The Prophet is not popular at home. In all four gospels we read our Lord's pronouncement, "A prophet is not without honor save in his own country and in his own house." Strange that any modern prophet should expect to fare better than his Lord.

But prophets do have their reward, and so do those who befriend them, even with a cup of cool water. God will not overlook the "prophets chamber," where his unpopular servants have been made to feel at home. There have not been many candidates for Elijah's mantle. His path is not easy. There are many ways of getting rid of prophets. John the Baptist's head is not brought in on a charger these days, there are smoother and more adroit ways of hushing up lone dissenters like Micaiah these days. Some can even be promoted into silence. Success has stopped some mouths when persecution failed.

Like John the Baptist the prophet is out to pull down the high places, build up low places and make a way for the Lord. His business is not interpretation but application. He does not lecture on mustard, he makes a mustard poultice and lays it next to the trouble. Others may comfort when afflicted, but he must afflict the comfortable. We are trying to accomplish now by pep, publicity, propaganda, and promotion what once was done by preaching. The woods are full of trained personnel, but none of these things can save us if the prophets disappear.

Any young Elisha in line for Elijah's mantle will need the mind of a scholar, the heart of a child, and the hide of a rhinoceros. He may irk those who like to preserve the status quo, for he is a disturber of Israel, but no one else can take his place in the divine economyÖThere is not much prospect as to pay, promotion, or prestige. But there has always been "yet one man" who will scorn the hatred of Ahab and seek the honor of God.Ē

†††† Here, in Luke 9:1-6, the Lord Jesus Christ sent out his twelve disciples, the twelve apostles, as Godís messengers to eternity bound men and women, to do the work of prophets. He sent them forth to preach the gospel. These twelve men were the first men to be sent forth in this gospel age as Godís messengers to men.

Proposition: The instructions our Lord gave to these men tell us plainly what the work of the ministry is and what is expected of any man God puts into the work.

†††† I have no idea why the Lord has given me this message; but I am sure he has given it to me for you. So listen, and ask God the Holy Spirit to apply the message to your own heart and life. I have already preached the message to myself. I hope the Lord has truly taught me something about myself and that he has taught me something about what is involved in this great work to which he has sent me. As we look at these six verses of Scripture, I want to simply echo in your hearing what the Lord spoke to my heart by them. In these six verses the Son of God tells those men whom he sends forth what those men who speak to men in Godís stead must be and do. I will give you my message in seven statements.

I. Those men who are sent of God to preach the gospel are men who possess a God given authority to do their work.

 

[Luke 9:1]"Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases."

†††† I am not talking about trumped up authority and power, demagoguery, or religious showmanship. Our Lord gives his messengers power and authority, -- power and authority by which they prevailed over Satan, the influence of hell, and the havoc of sin in the lives of men. What is this power? What is this authority? Let me give your four answers.

A. The power and authority Christ gives his servants is the power and authority of the gospel we preach.

 

[1 Thessalonians 1:2-5]"We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; [3] Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; [4] Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. [5] For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake."

 

[Romans 1:15-16]"So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. [16] For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."

 

[Hebrews 4:12]"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

 

[John 12:32]"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."

B. It is the power and authority of the anointing and unction of God the Holy Spirit upon the man by whom he speaks.

 

[1 Corinthians 2:1-5]"And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. [2] For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. [3] And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. [4] And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: [5] That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."

C. The power and authority by which Godís servants speak is the power and authority that arises from confident faith.

 

[Galatians 1:11-12]"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. [12] For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."

 

[2 Timothy 1:9-12]"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, [10] But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: [11] Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. [12] For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."

 

D. This power and authority, which only God himself can give to a man, is the power and authority of true meekness.

 

        The Meekness of Noah in His Generation

        The Meekness of Moses before Pharaoh

        The Meekness of Elijah on Mt. Carmel

        The Meekness of John the Baptist before Herod

        The Meekness of Peter before the Sanhedrim

        The Meekness of Paul at Jerusalem

 

II. Godís prophets are men who know their work and stick to it.

 

[Luke 9:2]"And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick."

†††† I do not pretend to know anything at all about any other manís work. I do not make any claim or pretense of being a man of learning, a theologian, or historian. But I do know exactly what God has called me to do. I know exactly what my work and responsibilities are as a pastor and preacher. ďThe glorious gospel of the blessed God has been committed to my trustĒ (1 Tim. 1:11). It is a trust for which I am responsible. Therefore, I am determined, for the glory of God and the sake of the gospel to let nothing and no one turn me aside from this great work. It is all-consuming. Basically, it is a work that demands three things.

 

        Study Ė Incessant Study!

        Prayer Ė Fervent Prayer!

        Preaching Ė Gospel Preaching!

 

III. Those men who are called and sent of God to the great work of preaching the gospel are men who care for men.

 

†††† These twelve men went about serving both the bodies and the souls of men, preaching the gospel to them and healing them. They made the needs of others their own. They hurt for those who hurt. They wept for those who wept. They carried in their hearts the burdens of those to whom they preached. How I pray that God will give me the grace to do that! I know this: -- If I am Godís servant, if I am Godís messenger to your soul, I do and I will care for you and your needs.

 

        Your Soulís Needs Ė (Rom. 9:1-3; 10:1)

        Your Bodyís Needs

        Your Familyís Needs

        Your Heartís Needs

 

IV. Men who are called, gifted, and sent of God to preach the gospel must live for the gospel and live by the gospel.

 

[Luke 9:3]"And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece."

 

†††† Our Lord here specifically forbids his servants to provide a living for themselves.

 

[1 Corinthians 9:7-14]"Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? [8] Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? [9] For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? [10] Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. [11] If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? [12] If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. [13] Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? [14] Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel."

 

V. Godís messengers are men who care not for the world.

 

[Luke 9:4]"And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart."

 

†††† They are separated unto the gospel. They seek nothing for themselves: -- Neither their place of service nor property. They seek neither the approval of the world, nor the riches of the world.

 

        A prophet is content to serve God wherever God sends him.

        A prophet is content to live and labor without recognition.

        A prophet is content to live in this world as a stranger and pilgrim, passing through for only a brief time.

 

[Philippians 4:12-13]"I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. [13] I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

 

VI. Prophets are men undaunted by men.

 

[Luke 9:5]"And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them."

 

†††† They seek to please God, not men. If their work appears to be in vain, they go on, knowing that their labor is not in vain in the Lord? They go on sowing the good seed, planting and watering as God enables them, knowing that it is God alone who gives the increase. They cast their bread upon the waters, knowing that it will return in due season. They preach the gospel faithfully, knowing that Godís Word will not return to him void.

 

[Isaiah 55:11]"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."

 

VII. Prophets are men used of God.

 

[Luke 9:6]"And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where."

 

†††† The Lord Jesus sent these men to preach the gospel; and they preached it everywhere. The Master sent them out to heal the sick; and they healed them. The Son of God sent these twelve men out to be a blessing to the world; and what a blessing they have been!

 

Application:

 

[2 Corinthians 4:1-7]"Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; [2] But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. [3] But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: [4] In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. [5] For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. [6] For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. [7] But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."

 

Amen.