“Heal the sick, raise the dead,a cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.” (Mt 10:8)
The Stradivarius violin built by Antonio Stradivarii, during the 17th and 18th centuries, has defied attempts to explain, replicate or equal the quality of the sound and tone it produces. And yet, without the four strings, the Stradivarius is but a wooden box.
I’m challenged by the command of Jesus in Matthew 10. It provokes me. A four-fold, magnificent, exciting and world-changing set of tasks were given to the apostles not as a challenge, but as their remit. Authority to heal the sick and cast out demons had been given to them. The issue set before them was not a challenge to them because it was something they could clearly do – and did.
It was a staggering missions focus for them because in the natural, every single endeavour was impossible. What changed things was the reality and the conviction that with God, all things really are possible – and so, given the remit the outcome was inevitable. The apostles took the command seriously.
It’s time to re-engage with the work of God, joining in with outreach-mission with Christ, and He enables this by His wonderful Spirit.
Where do you barely begin with this text that is a challenge to us, not an affirmation? The Church has moved out into the vast, deep and stormy ocean of history and left essential equipment ashore. I suggest an answer, but allow me to explain a little more of our dilemma.
Hidden at the end of the charge from Jesus is an interesting and challenging statement, “You received without paying; give without pay.” Could it be that God is intentionally withholding His divine presence and extraordinary power because we employ it for our own ends rather than God’s divine glory? I have witnessed some ministries in the ‘prophetic movement’ selling their prophecies, dream interpretations and even ‘tattoo-interpretations” for a minimum price ‘love gift’.
God has given them something freely, but they want something in return for sharing it. It’s a sensitive issue – but it is justified in their eyes because of the recognition that everyone needs to make a living to be able to do what they feel called to. Preachers and teachers are also not exempt from this. Where there is a will there is a way of justifying our actions, but Jesus clearly asserts himself here; don’t do it!
I’m not saying this is the reason why we are not seeing people being totally healed (significant healings), the dead being raised, the incurable being totally cured or demons being evicted. It may be one of the possible reasons.
The real thing
Sometimes the only way that you can identify a real Stradivarius is by placing the genuine article next to it. And that is what I believe God is undoubtedly doing. He’s at work!
Being a people passionately committed to the Word of God, the Work of the Spirit and an ongoing endeavour to obey the leading, prompting and direction of the Spirit.
Suggesting a taboo subject here can be a bit contentious, but today’s preaching in some quarters, is undoubtedly missing the challenges of Matthew 10:8 by wrongfully asserting that God is not doing these things anymore; effectively quenching the work of the Spirit.
It is as if God was saying, to the apostles and the church in the first century he is giving signs and wonders, astonishing miracles that inspire the hearts of thousands to turn to Christ as they testify to the good news of the gospel, but to us today, he gives the bible. Don’t get me wrong, I love my bible but I also long to see those stories in action on the streets of my city. I am certain you share the similar heart-gripping desire.
Charismatic preaching can tend to have little value for doctrine and the treasures of theology that are discovered only by hard work and significant study.
Somewhere in the radical middle, is the place where God would have us be; passionately committed to the Word of God, the Work of the Spirit and an ongoing endeavour to obey the leading, prompting and direction of the Spirit.
At the heart of prophetic ministry …
The prophetic ministry does not bring new revelation that is outside of the ample scope of teaching of Scripture, but it does call us back to God, to His Word and to discovering our purpose, comfort, hope in God. At the root of an authentic prophetic ministry is the Gospel and God’s extravagant grace.
It’s time to re-engage with the work of God, joining in with outreach-mission with Christ, and He enables this by His wonderful Spirit. We haven’t been told how to heal the sick, just to do it. We have a few examples of how to raise the dead, but need to know how to press past our civilised propriety. Cleansing the lepers is a challenge in the Western world because figuratively-speaking we don’t seem to have any – but we have lots of incurable sickness in the forms of cancer, diabetes and cardio-related sickness, to name but a few. Casting out demons is equally difficult because we think they don’t exist today. They do.
No pressure then! Let’s attend to the opportunities before us because Jesus wants us to, not because of the pressure to make something happen. We can’t. Some serious heart-searching will not go amiss.
We are the Church-together. What we do positively affects other Churches, we don’t do it in isolation of each other. That is why we genuinely need to pray earnestly for the Church across the continents.
God eagerly desires us to do the remarkable things He has called us to do. They are impossible but with God as the One who willingly sends us, tasks us, commissions us – all things are indeed possible. And probable!
Read this by Adrian Warnock: 70% of churches are growing – The Covid19 Awakening
- The phrase raise the dead is a cliche. Cliches are words and phrases, once interesting, which have lost their original effect from overuse. They are considered trite and stereotyped. What a challenge! (back)