Our mission and authority are modelled on Jesus
Leave the miracles to others. Today’s ministers have the mission to teach and preach the gospel to everyone and in all circumstances. At a recent divine service for ministers, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider reminded them of their tasks.
Jesus Christ chose twelve of His disciples and gave them a mission and endowed them with authority. “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5: 42). This was the Bible text Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider used for the divine service for ministers in our Limete-Central church in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Those present had already received a mission with their ordination, and now listened intently to what the Chief Apostle had to say to them about the proper exercise of their ministry. He used the example of Jesus Christ.
The secret is proper preparation
Before Jesus was able to teach the gospel, He had to prepare Himself. He read the Bible, listened, and asked questions. And only when He had learned enough did the Holy Spirit inspire Him to carry out His mission. “Now that He knew the Scriptures well, He began to interpret them in the light of the Holy Spirit,” the Chief Apostle reported. And the Son of God always made sure to emphasis: “What I am telling you here is not My teaching; it is that of the Father.”
“What is valid for Jesus is valid for us.”The Chief Apostle strongly recommended to the servants of God that they study the Bible extensively. Interpreting it in the light of the Holy Spirit means checking to see whether what we preach corresponds with the teaching of Christ. “If it does not correspond, then it is not for us.” And the Holy Spirit helps us to distinguish what is indispensable for salvation, and what has nothing to do with salvation.
A minister should also always examine himself to see if he is not preaching his own doctrine, the Chief Apostle said. “Our preaching must correspond with the teaching of the Apostles and the doctrine laid down by the Chief Apostle.”
Mission: proclaim the gospel
It is not the mission of the ministers to perform miracles. “Leave the miracles to others, we have another mission. Preparing the bride of Christ, that’s the miracle.”
So what should we preach? The grace of the Lord, not judgement, is to be proclaimed; and love for God and the neighbour is to be deposited and secured in the hearts of the people. He added that the role of the ministers is not to dictate a catalogue of rules.
The proper use of ministerial authority
“We have received the mission to teach, and we have received ministerial power,” the Chief Apostle reminded the brothers. “How are we to use this power?” Here too Jesus is our model. As with Jesus, the activity of the ministers should be motivated by the wish to serve. Jesus did not want to interfere in the lives of His followers. “We cannot use our ministerial power to direct the lives of our brothers and sisters, nor to solve the problems of society,” the Chief Apostle said. “Nor are you to use your ministry to shine or to show off.” The ministerial power does not mean that the laws of Christ do not apply to a minister. On the contrary, the Apostle, the brother must be the first to do what he preaches: “His authority does not put him above the rules. His authority compels him to apply the rules to himself first,” the Chief Apostle explained.
Day after day
The first Apostles taught and preached day after day, our Bible text says. “That does not mean that we have to preach every day,” reassured the Chief Apostle. It means that the good news applies to everyone and in all circumstances. The truth of the gospel does not depend on the living conditions of the faithful, nor does it depend on the state of society or the personal circumstances of the minister. “The truth of the gospel is valid in all circumstances, all over the world at all times.”
Teaching in the temple and in the homes
When necessary, Jesus also went into people’s homes to preach to them and to proclaim the gospel to them. He went to see Mary and Martha to console them after their brother had died. And He invited Himself into the home of Jairus, when the man’s little girl became sick. The Chief Apostle went on to say that it is a minister’s mission to not only preach at the altar, but to do pastoral work, to be there for the brothers and sisters and encourage and strengthen them when they need it.
“Use your ministry to be a blessing to your wife, children, and grandchildren by doing at home what you preach at the altar, and by showing how the gospel is best applied and how we live it,” the Chief Apostle urged the ministers. “Do not use your ministry to rule at home but to serve and to bless.”
Toward the end, the Chief Apostle mentioned one last point. He spoke about the “personal house”, one’s own heart. “I have often said this, and I repeat it, that one can be an excellent servant of God and not enter the kingdom of God,” the Chief Apostle reminded the ministers. “Do not forget your own soul and your own salvation.”