The Principle of:
Being Joined With Others in Ministry
A joined ministry is the most effective for the Kingdom of Christ.
I THESSALONIANS 1
1 Paul, and Silas, and Timothy, unto the Church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Those early preachers nearly always were joined with one another in ministry. Although this Epistle to the Thessalonians was specifically from Paul, the greeting was from Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus. They followed a principle that finds support throughout the New Testament.
1JESUS EXPECTED HIS DISCIPLES TO MINISTER TOGETHER.
Mk 6:7 tells of Jesus' commission to the twelve Apostles when he sent them out. It was two by two. And He called unto Him the Twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits. From Lk 10:1 we find that He continued this practice. He appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two into every city where He Himself would come. In Mt 18:18-20 we learn three reasons Jesus sent out His disciples together. These are verses so important they need our careful attention. In each verse there is a reason why ministries should be joined.
(1) Ministries that are joined carry with them the authority of Christ's Kingdom.
Mt 18:18--Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. • The word ye occurring two times in this verse is a Plural form. The promise is not to you alone, but to "you in company with someone else." • Shall be bound and shall be loosed are both from Future Perfect forms of their Verbs. This means when a work is done, something else shall already have been accomplished. "Whatsoever you together bind on earth shall already have been bound in heaven," etc. Through ministries joined in Christ, the resources of heavens finished work can be released into the earth. Together, there is an increase of spiritual authority to deal with situations and persons under the influence of evil forces. This means demons can be bound, and souls can be loosed for Christ's Kingdom. • But then, think of the word whatsoever. The binding and the loosing can be without limit. Finances can be loosed. Situations opposing the Gospel can be loosed. The spread of sin and sickness can be bound. Villages and towns can be loosed to the Gospel.
2) Ministries joined in heart and purpose have the promise of unlimited answer to prayer.
Mt 18:19--Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven. This shows the authority given to believers who pray together. The word agree comes from the Greek sumphonéo from which we get our English word "symphony." It means "to sound together, each one supporting the other and joining in harmony." This does not mean all sounding together with no one hearing or understanding the other. It means one hearing the other and joining in agreement with an "Amen!" or "Yes" or "Be it so, Lord!"
3) When believers are joined in Christ, His presence becomes known.
Mt 18:20--For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them. Those who come together because of a certain teaching, or because they follow a certain man, or because they belong to a certain denomination, may not be aware of Christ's presence. It is those who gather in His Name who know His presence. It is Christ's presence that convicts sinners, empowers believers, and causes miracles to happen. For the furious days upon us, any other joining may prove meaningless.
2 THE APOSTLES FOLLOWED CHRIST'S INSTRUCTIONS ABOUT MINISTERING TOGETHER.
They proved it true what He said in the above verses. Consider the ministry of Peter and John as recorded in Acts 3. This is the record of how a lame man was healed at the gate of the temple in Jerusalem as the two men ministered together to him.
1 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer,... (It was the practice of these two men to pray together. They were prayer partners.)
2 (At the gate of the temple they found a crippled man begging.)
3 Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. (The expectation of the beggar reached toward both men.)
4 And Peter fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. (Peter did not say, "Look on me." He said, Look on us. He did not draw attention to himself alone, but to both himself and John.)
5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
6-10 (In these verses we find how the man was healed and how his testimony spread to the whole town.)
11 And the lame man who was healed held Peter and John. (He regarded that his miracle had come through them both.)
12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, "Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? (Even though Peter was the spokesman, he included John in his speech. He did not use "me," "my," or "I." He used us, our, and we. Peter and John were joined in one ministry. In this way the Lord was exalted, not the ministry of one man.)
13-15 (In these verses we find Peter taking the occasion of the man's healing to point the crowd to the Lord Jesus.)
16 And His Name through faith in His Name has made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. (In this verse we learn the secret of the miracle that took place as Peter and John ministered together. It is that the miracle came from the Lord Himself. The Lord was present to heal as Peter and John ministered together in His Name.
3 PAUL MADE A PRACTICE OF HAVING OTHERS JOINED WITH HIM IN MINISTRY.
Even though he was one of the main voices through whom the Lord spoke to the church, most of Paul's Epistles came from himself--plus someone else. He was not bound always to name others with him, but he did it enough to show he did not function alone. Nearly always we find his name associated with someone else. Note the following verses taken from the beginning of his Epistles. He was not alone when we wrote them.
• 1 Cor 1:1--Paul, called an Apostle of Jesus Christ, through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother.
• 11 Cor 1:1--Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth.
• Gal 1:1, 2--Paul, an Apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead;) and all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia.
• Phil 1:1--Paul and Timothy, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.
• Col 1:1, 2--Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse.
• I Thes 1:1--Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the church of the Thessalonians...
• 11 Thes 1:1--Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
When Paul wrote Ephesians, he did not mention any persons with him, but in verse after verse he used our, us, and we. This is a sign he was not alone in putting forth the revelation of that Epistle. Ephesians, along with Philippians and Colossians, were written near the end of Paul's life. It seems he never graduated from the need to have others joined with him.
4 OTHER SCRIPTURES EMPHASIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF BELIEVERS AND MINISTRIES BEING JOINED.
(1) John 17--This is the great High Priestly Prayer of the Lord Jesus. With a great burden on His heartr He prayed it shortly before He was crucified. Note 17:11 and see this cry of His before the Father: And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine Own Name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are. See also verses 17:21-23 where time and again He cried out, That they all may be one. Dare we ignore this plea, even in the face of not liking another person, or of having a different doctrine or practice?
(2) Eph 4:1-16--It comes through powerfully in this passage. There is one body, joined in one Spirit, one hope of.. .calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. The Five Ministries (Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, Teachers) appointed by the risen and ascended Lord and named in 4:11 are for the perfecting of the saints. Perfecting is from the Greek katartízo which basically means "to adjust thoroughly; to knit together." The same word is used in Mt 4:21 and Mk 1:19 to speak of James and John mending their fishing nets. This give a picture of what the Five Ministries are to accomplish with people. (Because of the importance of our understanding with regard to these ministries, we expect to devote some later lessons to them in the ongoing manual.)
These ministries are to continue till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ--Eph 4:13. Knowledge is from epignósis which means "acknowledgment or full knowledge." The ministries are to continue till we all come into unity with regard to acknowledging the Son of God.
What a powerful and important passage Eph 4:1-16 is for this hour! For the present, let us just soak ourselves in it and see the energy of its revelation released in us.
(3) Phil 2:1-5--This passage sets forth qualities that will work to bring us as believers together in one accord, with one mind. One striking admonition is in verse 3--Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Another is in verse 4--Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. This means we are to look out for the reputation and ministry of others, helping them advance in ministry even if it means they exceed us in reputation. Then there is the admonition of verse 5-Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…Who…made Himself of no reputation. These last words, He made Himself of no reputation, are from kenóo which means "to divest one's self of one's perogatives; to abase one's self." Theologians call this the "Kenosis" of Jesus, the emptying of Himself. This Scripture is calling us to take on the same frame of mind.
5 CONSIDER SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF BEING JOINED WITH OTHERS IN MINISTRY.
(1) Being joined with others in ministry increases the spiritual strength we need in order to effectively oppose the enemy. This is a principle first laid out in Deut 32:30. It speaks of one putting a thousand to flight, while two put ten thousand to flight. This follows over to the authority of New Covenant ministers and believers to withstand opposing spirits. Two are ten times as effective as one. While one is teaching, or preaching, or praying for the sick, the other can bind the power of the enemy and make way for the one ministering to do so without demonic interference. It's like working together on a great team. The one who is ministering in the spirit is as important as the one who is ministering to the congregation.
One of the most powerful joinings in ministry can be between a husband and wife when they are both committed to the Kingdom of Christ.
A serious enemy of this is pride. When a minister, or any leader, knows he is weak and not sufficient in himself to lead a congregation, and humbles himself with others, he then becomes open to the divine aid that comes by being joined with others. Then, the promises of Mt 18:18-20 can become real.
(2) When the faith of one is weak or being tested, encouragement can come from the other. In a ministry that works as a team, each one prays for the other. This is like one pumping life into the other. While one is preaching, testifying, teaching, or ministering to the sick, the other member of the team prays both for the one ministering as well as for those who are there to receive. In this way the anointing of the Spirit is increased and the power of the Gospel reaches into lives to bring transformation. Sometimes, the ministry of the one praying is more like warfare.
THERE HAVE BEEN TIMES I came forth from a meeting feeling I had been anointed to minister the word the Lord wanted, only to learn that Glenda nearly wore herself out dealing with opposing spirits and praying for me while I ministered. I knew, that if any reward were ever given for that time of ministry, it would go to her the member of the team who ministered without others knowing.
(3) The testimony of two is stronger than the testimony of one. We learned this in street ministry While one bears witness to the power of the Gospel, the other stands by in attentive agreement—never taking the eyes away, and either nodding the head, saying a quiet amen, or raising the hand in assent. This is a principle so strong that it reached even to the Lord Jesus and His Father. See Jn 8:17,18 where Jesus said, It is written in your Law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am One that bear witness of Myself, and the Father that sent Me bears witness of Me.
6 THERE ARE SOME OBSTACLES TO BE OVERCOME IN THE JOINING OF MINISTRIES.
(1) The desire to build ones own "kingdom." This is a danger that may arise in any ministry, and will certainly have its final results in disappointment. It can be overcome by the Pastor or Evangelist (etc.) who submits his or her ministry to the Lord, and who desires only that the Lord be exalted. In this way others can be joined into the ministry so only the Kingdom of the Lord will be advanced. This is a difficult principle for some to accept, but one that will be pressed upon us by the circumstances of the last days. In that day the lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted (Is 2:11).
(2) Jealousy. This means regarding someone as a rival and being resentfully suspicious of them. More often than we like to admit, this is a problem existing in many who try to minister the Gospel. More often than not, it is devastating to a relationship that could be useful in the Kingdom of Christ. Feelings like this grow out of old wounds, envy, fear, personal insecurity, etc. One way to overcome this is by praying, in a positive manner, for the one toward whom these ill feelings exist. Some times, just pure warm fellowship will break down this kind of barrier. Any who have this fault and see their need for help can find it through what is laid out in Jas 5:16. Confess your faults one to another and pray one for another, that you may be healed.
(3) A spirit of criticism. This often takes place while one person is preaching, testifying, teaching, or ministering to the sick while another stands by. The one not ministering will judge the one who is ministering. This criticism (which could have been intercession) may arise for several reasons. • The one ministering was struggling with opposition from either spirits or people, and needed a "team member" to "run interference." • The one ministering may actually be wrong. In this case, intercessory prayer and warfare with hindering spirits would be more effective than criticism. • The words spoken are not for the one standing by in the ministry but for the people gathered. They hear from their viewpoint and it is that to which the ministry is addressed. • The one standing by while the other ministers may be overcome with insecurity. This causes one to find fault with the other in order to build up one's self. Praying one for the other is a great aid in overcoming this obstacle. If we earnestly pray for someone, then we are prone to find good in them and their ministry.
(4) A lack of patience. If ministries are going to function together, it is often necessary that one learn to wait for the other. This can be a good thing lest one run ahead into matters not ordained of the Lord. If a phase of ministry is to carried out successfully, it should have the peaceful agreement of all concerned. Some hear from the Lord more readily than others. These can learn patience as they pray and hold matters before the Lord while waiting for the other members of the team to find their peace about what should be done. Many times I have found that some idea conceived in my own mind, but not born of the Holy Spirit, was better laid aside. I have learned to submit ideas to others who pray with me. If an idea is indeed born of the Holy Spirit, how much better to have the agreement of others in its unfolding.
(5) Allowing the other to be imperfect. It would be nice if every one we worked with were perfect in all their ways--if they always spoke in the right tone of voice, if they always were considerate of others, if they always listened, if they never spoke offensively, if they always respected our right to privacy and to have certain possessions and areas that were off limits, if they always dressed properly and never had a bad odor, if..., if..., if.... On we could go, but there is probably never going to be the perfect person with whom to work. So what do we do? We allow God's love to take over. That's all. In doing this, we find each person with whom we work is very dear to Him. As we look at them in the light of God's love, they change before our eyes.
7THERE ARE PRINCIPLES THAT WORK EFFECTIVELY TO BRING ABOUT THE JOINING OF MINISTRIES:
(1) Praying one for the other. When one in ministry prays for another one in ministry, there comes a desire to see the other anointed by the Holy Spirit and used of the Lord. Praying for another person who is ministering the Gospel brings about a sense of being one with that person in the presentation of the Gospel.
(2) Studying the Scriptures together. This brings about a unity of understanding and desire to see others brought into the truth of the Gospel. All who minister together should spend some good time each week in the Word together.
(3) Learning to love with the Lord of the Lord. Persons in whom works the love that flows from the Lord can easily be joined with others in taking the Gospel to the lost and ministering to believers.
(4) Looking to the Holy Spirit to effect the joining. Persons joined out of human effort or soulish attachment often move into fruitless efforts for the Kingdom of Christ. What is brought about by the Holy Spirit can move to the advancement of His Kingdom.
TWO PERSONAL ACCOUNTS:
(1) Some years ago when Glenda was just starting in ministry, her Pastor asked her to take the leadership with some young people. Five high school students came, only because their parents "forced" them to. Through many tears, prayers and Bible lessons, all five were born again. They brought others to their meetings and before long they had nearly forty young people saved and on fire for the Lord,
A new woman came into the church who had been a youth leader in the church she formerly attended. The Pastor asked Glenda if she would allow this new woman to help. The thought of added help made her grateful.
What a disaster! In their first meeting this woman began to put Glenda down and told of the better way of doing things that she had practiced before. This continued meeting after meeting. Before long, Glenda grew tense. Soon, simply seeing her approach brought grief and resentment.
Glenda became ill with a sinus infection. No matter what she did to get relief, nothing helped. Medicine the doctor gave only made her worse. She asked the elders to pray with her, but she continued sick. Finally, in desperation, she asked the Lord why she was so ill. He showed her it was because of the resentment she felt toward this dear woman who was supposed to be her co-worker. Then she asked the Lord to forgive her and to help her love the woman like He loved her.
A wonderful change came. Glenda could see that woman in a new light. She was new to the community and was lonely. She had been active in her former church but now suffered from insecurity and felt personally threatened. One day, she called Glenda and asked for prayer. Her daughter had become pregnant out of wedlock and was terribly troubled. The two of them began to work with the girl and a bonding came between them. It wasn't long before they became close friends. Out of this, not only was the troubled girl salvaged but many others were helped.
Incidentally, Glenda was healed right away as soon as she repented of her attitude.
(2) This is a very personal account of something that happened with me. I tell it because of the insight that came as to why there may be divisions between co workers in Christ's Kingdom. I became disgruntled with a brother with whom I had worked for some time. Feelings became so strong that I began to resent even his presence when I ministered. He was warm toward me, but I could not return his warmth. I spoke much of him to Glenda, telling her the many ways he was wrong in some of the things he was doing. Actually, it became somewhat of an obsession with me. She said to me that she felt I might be wrong in some of my assessment of him. I quickly responded that she too knew he was wrong and he could not be trusted.
In that time, I was invited to be the speaker in a conference. To my dismay, this man with whom I was at odds also attended. He was friendly toward me but I greeted him with ill feelings in my heart. I didn't think he should have come, and so on. I think some who read this may know of the kind of feelings I was holding.
After the last meeting in which I ministered, the host Pastor asked that we stop by his house for a brief time of fellowship. It was near midnight. I remember the little alarm on my wristwatch going off. As we were ready to depart, we asked that Pastor and his wife pray with us. We simply stood in a little circle. He laid hands on me and, for the first real time in my life while someone was ministering to me, I "went out in the Spirit." I felt something leave me. A weight was gone.
As Glenda and I traveled on to where we were to stay, I told her, "You know, there's nothing wrong with Jesse." I felt the return of that old warmth of fellowship we had once known. A dissenting spirit had taken hold of me in an effort to stop something precious for Christ's Kingdom. I think I never felt any greater warmth and respect for any brother more than for him that night. This has continued for several years now as we share together in the purposes of God's Kingdom.
What are we saying? Sometimes dissension between workers for Christ may be caused by the interference of a spirit. Yes, a demon. Oh, but there's help for this!
(5) Perhaps the most powerful way for ministries to be joined is in praying together. It's alarming when we discover many who work together in the Kingdom do not pray together regularly. We're not speaking of the brief time of prayer just before a meeting. We're speaking of extended times of coming together to wait in the presence of the Lord, bringing petition before the Throne, bearing one another's burdens, interceding for those to whom the ministry is extending.
We suggest this can take place sometimes daily, at least once a week, without hurry, with each one encouraged to participate openly and with the loving encouragement of the whole group if more than two are present.
What a time this is for healing! We remember that powerful promise from our Lord. For where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them (Mt 18:20). There is no greater balm for the healing of relationships.
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Elk Park, NC 28622-0038
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