". . . Make full proof of thy ministry." II Tim. 4:5
Paul commands young Timothy to "make full proof of thy ministry." This means to fulfill his ministry in every part. Also it means to fully perform all the duties of his ministry. If this command was needed in Paul's day, you can be sure it is needed today.
Every saved person has a ministry. Therefore, this verse has application to every Christian for them to fully perform all the duties of their ministry. This involves following the Lord's will and plan for the ministry He has set each person apart to accomplish.
In context Paul is speaking to a young preacher, telling him to perform all the duties of his ministry. This command should be a warning to every preacher of this day to make certain he fully performs the duties of his ministry. The reason I say this is because there are many in the pulpits of our churches today who do not know what their ministry involves; therefore, they have the wrong kind of ministry.
What kind of ministry do you have? Many would say, "I have a soul winning ministry." It is true the Bible says in Pro. 11:30, ". . . He that winneth souls is wise." The word "winneth" means to influence and persuade, which is what it means to be a witness in the New Testament sense of the word. Even being a witness takes the power of the Holy Ghost for one's message to be effective. "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
In the day in which we live the work of the Holy Ghost is either left completely out or short-circuited by many preachers who are performing their ministry according to man's plan instead of God's. And the result is that they have a `tare-making' ministry which in turn leads to a `propping-up' ministry. Let me explain what I mean by these terms.
Jesus spoke a parable concerning tares in Mat. 13:24-30. Then he explained the parable in Mat. 13:36-43. He stated plainly in verse 38 that, "the tares (in a spiritual sense) are the children of the wicked one." They look like the real but have no genuine root, therefore, no fruit. Thus tares represent unsaved church members and professors of Christ but in reality they do not possess Him. "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." (I John 5:12) How come they are tares instead of wheat? This could be due to various methods preachers use to pressure decisions from sinners. You may ask, "What methods are you referring to?"
Let me give you an illustration of a couple of these methods that make tares. First, there is the method of "raise your hand and repeat after me." The preacher asks all to bow their heads at invitation time. Then he makes the statement, "Raise your hand if you are not saved." Next he says, "Repeat after me" and he leads the person through a `canned' prayer. When through with the prayer, the preacher makes a statement something like this, "If you prayed that prayer, you are saved." That preacher just gave the sinner the wrong information and 99% of the time made a tare instead of a saint. Prayer does not save. The Lord Jesus saves and then, only when the Holy Ghost completes His work of conviction. (John 16:8-11)
Many today are against this practice and call that `easy-believism.' Yet they practice this second method which is just as damning because tares are also made by this method. They use a `canned' plan such as the `Roman Road' or `Four Spiritual Laws' getting everyone they deal with to answer their questions in the affirmative. Finally they bring them to Romans 10:13 and get them to pray. After they pray (usually the sinner prays silently at this point) then the preacher ask the one who prayed if he was saved. The conversation usually goes something like this:
Sinner: "I don't know," with a peace-less look on his face.
Preacher: "Let's go through this again," using the same verses and questions. Usually, this time he stresses the "whosoever" in Rom. 10:13 as referring to the sinner to whom he is talking. The sinner will agree that he is the one to whom the verse is referring. Then he says, "Let's pray again, but this time you pray out loud." The reason for this is that he wants to hear the sinner call on the name of the Lord.
The sinner then prays out loud and when he is through the preacher asks, "Are you saved?'
Sinner: "I don't know," still with an unsettled look on his face.
The preacher raises his voice with sternness in it and points to Rom. 10:13 and says, "The Bible says whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Did you call?"
Preacher: "Are you calling God a liar? He said if you called He would save you."
The sinner then usually says he is saved because he does not want to call God a liar, yet the majority of times when this pressure tactic is used a tare is produced. ". . . No man can say Jesus is Lord but, by the Holy Ghost." (I Cor. 12:3) If the Holy Ghost did not complete His work of conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment, then every time this method is used a tare is made. Is your ministry a `tare making' ministry?
Many preachers spend a lot of their time propping up their converts or giving them assurance. Let me illustrate some ways this is done. The preacher will have a person who is in doubt as to whether he is saved or not, to pray the so-called `sinner’s prayer,' telling him to just get it settled today. The problem with that is a person must realize (more than recognize; to realize takes a work of Holy Spirit conviction) he is lost before he can be saved. (Luke 19:10) This type of prayer will not work, "Lord save me if I am lost." The preacher who leads you in this way has a `propping-up' ministry and is not fully performing the duties of the ministry to which God has called him.
Another way is that every time one is doubting his salvation, the preacher begins to play God and tell him he knows he is saved because he was the one who led him to Christ and he was there at the time he called on the name of the Lord. The problem with this is that no preacher can see all of someone's heart. In fact the sinner does not know his own heart. (Jer. 17:9) The reason many continually do this is because they do not want their converts to make another profession because it makes them look bad and hurts their pride. Salvation is of the Lord and not of the preacher, even though the Lord uses a preacher.
Still another way to prop up someone is to turn to the tradition of man to give assurance. One of the most used tradition is that of `answered prayer.' They tell them if they have an answered prayer, that is one way to know they are saved. But we read in Acts 10 that God heard Cornelius' prayer while he was a lost man. Those who practice such have a `propping-up' ministry and are not fully performing the ministry God has called them to do.
Some use the `Word only' prop. Just claim a verse and it will be OK. But I Thess. 1:5 states, "Our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost and much assurance." Isa. 32:17 states the work of righteousness will be assurance forever. It is not our job to give assurance, neither to save. If one practices such they have a `tare-making' ministry and a `propping-up' ministry or a ministry that is not well pleasing to the Lord. As a result they will have a lot to answer for at the judgment seat if they make it there. (John 10:27,5)
I could give you more illustrations of the practices of `tare-making' and `propping-up' in man's ministry. Space does not allow more at this time. If you are interested we have many articles and booklets based on God's Word that we would gladly send you.
Write us concerning your thoughts. Our prayer is that preachers would get back to fully performing the duties of the ministry by doing what Paul said in II Timothy 4:2, "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine." Practicing this and allowing the Holy Ghost to complete His work of conviction will produce saints and not tares. And the amazing thing about the saints is they have assurance given by the Holy Ghost and do not need the preacher to continually prop them up. (Rom. 8:16; I John 5:8-12)
This way the Lord gets all the glory, which is the way it should be.
THE PERSUADER - December, 1996 - January, 1997