Trained For The Work of God
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable…..that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.(2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Inspired is Spirit-breathed-the life in a seed. God’s Holy Spirit is in the word. The Spirit in the word and the Spirit in our heart is One. As by the power of the Spirit within us we take the Spirit-filled word, we become spiritual men.
This word is given for teaching, the revelation of the thoughts of God; for reproof, the discovery of our sins and mistakes; for correction, the removal of what is defective to be replaced by what is right and good; for instruction which is in righteousness, the communication of all the knowledge needed to walk before God in His ways.
It is the man of God who allows God’s word to do its work of reproving and correcting and instructing in his own life who will be complete, completely furnished unto every good work. Complete equipment and readiness for every good work- that is what every worker for God must aim at.
You may feel as if you know not how or what to work aright. Fear not- all learning begins with ignorance and mistakes. Be of good courage. He who has endowed human nature with the wonderful power that has filled world with such skilled and cunning workmen, will He not much more give His children the grace they need to be His fellow workers? Let the necessity that is laid upon you- the necessity that you should glorify God, that you should bless the world, that you should through work ennoble and perfect your life and blessedness, urge you to give immediate and continual diligence to be a workman completely furnished unto every good work.
It is only in doing we learn to do aright. Begin working under Christ’s training. He will perfect His work in you, and so fit you for your work for Him.
Everything we attempt to do comes with its own learning curve. In the natural, we aren’t born with the ability to feed ourselves. As a parent I know that when a child is learning to feed themselves or to drink from a cup quite often more goes on the floor than in their mouth. However, we don’t stop them from learning and one day we find that they have mastered eating from a plate and drinking from an open cup. As they learn to dress themselves, they often put their clothes on backwards or inside out or shoes on the wrong foot and again we don’t tell them they must stop trying and eventually they are able to dress themselves well.
In the spiritual realm we often forget that no matter how old one is when they receive Christ, they are born again as babies who do not know how to feed nor to clothe themselves. That’s ok for new Christians and that’s the norm but like the natural child, the spiritual child must also grow up into a productive member of the family of God. Just as in the natural, there comes a point when the child is expected to contribute to the household through assigned chores so also is the time when the child of God is expected to contribute to the kingdom work.
We must begin by defining what that work is. In the natural home, things like cleaning their room, washing dishes and mowing grass may be some of the assignments. In the kingdom of God the work of sharing the Gospel, caring for and training new believers in the ways of God are the assigned tasks. Just as every natural child is expected to serve so also is every spiritual child.
None of us know how to do anything unless we are taught and so God has provided us an instruction book called the Bible so that we may learn to do the work He has assigned us. Paul tells us that the Scriptures are God-breathed by none other than the Holy Spirit- the Pneuma or Breath of God. This literally means that the Word we read was spoken- breathed out by God- providing His will and desires. So we begin our work by reading and accepting what God calls us to do in the same way a child is first told what to do. Now even though we may know what needs to be done we need further instructions on how to do it. Back to my illustration of the natural child- we tell them to eat or dress and then we teach them how. We do not give elaborate explanations or detailed instructions. We just put a spoon in their hand, guide it from the food to their mouth and then we let them experiment until they figure it out. It’s a messy but rewarding process for at the end the child is capable of feeding theirselves. When we begin the work of God it is the same. We receive knowledge of the what- “Go into all the world and make disciples.” Since we have never done so we wait on instructions as to how. The disciples received such knowledge of what God wanted them to do and then were given follow-up instructions. First they were to remain in Jerusalem and wait for the Promise-the Holy Spirit. They were not to wait idly but they were to spend the time in prayer. They were to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and when He filled them with His power He would also give them the words to speak and instruct them where and to whom to speak those words. We in the church have made this involvement in the work of God so complex that few if any ever find the courage to engage themselves in it. I’m sure they are those who could write books on the proper way for a child to learn to feed themselves and while they were waiting for that child to learn all the intricate details of eating, he would be starving. So we give the child the plate with the food along with a spoon, give simple instructions and demonstration and let him begin. And lo and behold without knowing the engineering process he begins to feed himself. We give new babes in Christ the plate of food (the Word of God) and the spoon (the Holy Spirit) and with a few simple instructions (read the “red- the words of Jesus” and pray for the power) and to our amazement they begin to grow into disciples. In the natural, it seems almost overnight that the little child who couldn’t feed himself is all grown up and has now become a parent who is teaching his child to eat and without great engineering the process continues from every generation to the next. In the church we seemed to have forgot to teach new believers how to eat on their own.
In my own story, I can say that the church risked using me and training me for ministry. I was born again as a new believer in August 1974 and in September was asked to teach a junior boy’s class. I knew that I didn’t know enough to teach them anything so I began to read and study in truth for their sake as much as mine. I have no doubt that I made a lot of mistakes but God in His grace used my willingness in spite of my lack. Today of those five boys in that class, four of them are in full time vocational ministry. Little is much when God is in it. And my journey doing the work of God grew from there and at each step, my cry or prayer to God was, “God I don’t know how to do this thing.” I had never been a youth leader until I was assigned that job by my pastor and I didn’t know what to do. Yet through the help of the Holy Spirit and godly men and women of the church I was able through a lot of trial and error lead a group of youth, most of them close to my own age, toward a deeper walk with God. I remember when I told my pastor that I was feeling the call to ministry. His immediate response was, “Preach next Sunday.” Now I had taught junior boys and led youth meetings but the very thought of standing before an adult congregation scared me so bad that I was literally sick for the whole week. Besides the fear of the congregation, I was even more afraid that I would misrepresent God. So I studied and prepared and prayed and studied and prayed and prepared and went to church that Sunday with almost the dread one has going to the dentist. Walking into the pulpit with the sweat of fear pouring off me I began my first sermon. I must have preached the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation in about 15 minutes and not knowing what else to do, I gave an invitation for salvation and to my great surprise five individuals confessed Christ that Sunday as Savior. I knew that it was not through what I had done in some great way but God taught me if I would be a willing vessel, He would work His work through me and if God will work through me then He will also work through you. From there I went on to become pastor of my first church, to preach my first revival, to proclaim the gospel to Satanist and Wiccans who became Christ followers and to begin my work in missions in Africa and Europe and other parts of the world. At each point, I had no idea what to do but through the guidance and instruction of the Holy Spirit and the counsel of spiritual men and women, I have been able to carry out the work assigned to me. Oh it is surrounded by lots of mistakes and failures and fears but some how God has worked His work in this weak flawed vessel.
Here I am nearing fifty years of serving God and I confess I am still learning both what He wants of me and how He wants me to work. It is an incredible adventure to learn to feed your self and clothe yourself and then to be able to start some else on their journey to accomplish these things.
So let us pick up our spoon and begin and if you will try to do the work of God He will teach you and help you to do so. I’ve learned over the years that even the greatest of teachers cannot teach someone who has no interest to learn. But I’ve also learned that even us who have learning challenges can learn if our desire is strong enough.
One day we will all stand before Christ to give account for our lives and our deeds. Will He say to you, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, you have been faithful in a few things…..? Or will He say, “You lazy and wicked servant….Cast him into outer darkness?”
To the work while it is yet time for God permits OJT.
Dr. John Thompson