THE MINISTRY GIFT
IN THE CHURCH
"And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."
The church has lost much of its power and ministry through the years. The early church had much power and a fantastic ministry. However, since those early years, the healing ministry has mostly been lost until the latter rain revival has brought some of it back. The baptism of the Holy Spirit was lost from most of the congregations through much of church history. Recently, intercessory prayer has again been revealed to the church. Now the Spirit has been speaking to many in the church about the ministry gift of exhortation.
The church of the last days is to EXHORT one another and "so much the more as you see the day approaching." This should show the church that the gift of exhortation is vitally important in the last days.
I Timothy 4:13
"Till I come, give attendance to reading, TO EXHORTATION, to doctrine."
The word for "exhortation" is the Greek word - "paraklesis." This word means "a calling to one's side, a comforter, an advocate." Thus, we are told to be ready to come to the side of the others in the church. Reading, doctrine, study, and proper teaching are to be used in conjunction to this exhortation.
Because the church has strayed from, and neglected this ministry of exhortation, the church has become fragmented and divided. Therefore it is now filled with tares, hypocrites, weak, and spiritually impoverished Christians. Since the church has strayed from obeying the "reading" and "doctrine" part, the church is also filled with false doctrines, heresies, and misconceptions. A great deal of truth has been lost to many saints through the years.
Exhortation is the ministry gift that was to prevent the straying, and the losing of truth, power and harmony of the church. The church needs to look again at I Timothy 4:13, and Hebrews.10:24-25. The church needs to repent of years of disobedience to that teaching. The church needs to examine the gift of exhortation and begin to exercise that gift again.
The Holy Spirit is called the "COMFORTER". This word is from the Greek - PARACLETE. It has the same roots as the word "paraklesis." The Spirit is our comforter, encourager, convicter, and advocate. He is the One sent to our side to speak to us, to encourage us, to correct us, and to help us. He is a loving, caring, and purifying effect in our lives. He is easily grieved, and can sometimes be difficult to hear when we stray from the Word of God. Sometimes the Spirit is not being heard by some within the church who are in grief, troubled, hurt, angry, or drawn away by false doctrines.
Just as the Holy Spirit brings us to Christ, and Christ brings us to God the Father, we in the church are to exhort and bring some who are not hearing the voice of the Spirit back to a place where they can again hear God's Word. The ministry gift of exhortation is given to the church to enable us to lovingly correct, and lovingly encourage, and lovingly direct some within the church.
As we get close to the rapture of the church, there should be a restoration of this gift of exhortation to the church. It is needed more now than ever before. The Lord is desiring to return for a church that is pure, holy, without spot or wrinkle... and this gift is needed to restore the church to this condition. Also, the latter rain revival needs power. Power can flow better through a loving, caring, exhorting church. Too often the church of today has been accurately called the "only army that shoots its wounded." The Bible encouraged us exhort "so much the more as you see the day approaching."
If the church congregations did exhort as the Bible instructed us to do, what would be the results? How many strayed Christians would still be saved? How many discouraged Christians would have been encouraged and able to serve the Lord happily? How many sinning Christians would have been corrected? (Love will correct many problems before people get so hard-hearted and callous that even an atomic bomb won't move them.) How many misled Christians would have been shown the truth?
The church has neglected this ministry gift of exhortation too long. One of man's first sins was Cain's - "Am I my brother's keeper?" For too long the church has been verbally or mentally re-iterating this same sentiment of Cain.
Jesus tried to teach us with the illustrated lesson of washing the disciples' feet. The church has, for the most part, ignored that story. The humble service and caring for our brother or sister is a lesson we cannot afford to ignore, if we want to have the church be the pure, holy, and spotless church that our Lord desires for the church to become before the rapture. This gift of exhortation needs to be sought through prayer. It needs restored immediately. We're already too late for many situations.
I Thessalonians 2:3
"For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile."
True exhortation should be marked by a lack of "deceit." The Greek word (plane) means "fraudulence, straying from orthodoxy, error." Too much exhortation done in our day is deceitful. Some exhort to treat God like a business investment or a "sugar daddy." Some exhort things that are not scriptural or doctrinally correct.
There is a doctrine being taught today called the "prosperity gospel." I believe that God does prosper His own, but not always in dollars, new cars, and mansions. We are instructed to lay up our treasures in heaven, and not on the earth. So the exhortations that teach saints to be concerned with big bank accounts is leading people to an emphasis that is unscriptural.
The Scriptures teach us to give, to lend, and to be sacrificial. They do not tell us to do it in the hopes of material gain. They tell us to do it in love. The Bible tells of a "gift of giving." I do not find it teaching, as do some today, about a "gift of receiving." Our receiving is done so we may give. If some of these deceitful teachers would change their emphasis to GIVING, they would lose their audience. The reason the audience is wanting to know how to receive, is because most want to hoard, and be rich in material things.
Some exhortation of our times is marked by "uncleanness." This is from the Greek word -"akatharsia." This refers to "corrupt passions." This exhortation in "uncleanness" is marred by the encouragement to satisfy the fleshly desires that war against the spirit. These "ear tickling" messages cater to the fleshly desires of the listeners.
Some denominations today are trying to validate the sins of homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, and the murdering of the unborn. They cater to the fleshly desires of the people. They do not want to exhort with the truth of the Bible, they taint the Scriptures with their false exhortations.
Some exhortation is marked by "guile." This comes from the Greek word- "dolos", which means "lying, falsity". Too much of what comes from pulpits, and from saints in the foyers, is false, deceitful, and lies inspired by the devil. This talk sounds harsh, but unfortunately, it is true. Half truths, twisted truths, and outright lies are told in many churches weekly. People try to do as Jacob did when he lied to his father that he was Esau. He wanted the birthright so much that he prevaricated to get it. Abraham lied attempting to protect Sara. In churches today people lie for what they think are good motives. Yet, a lie is still a lie.
Some ministers have been taken by a practice that is called in some quarters - "priming the pump." In order to encourage the faith and zeal of a congregation, one minister had a woman pretend to be a witch who was cursing the church and soon-coming revival services. The woman was a plant from the camp of the evangelist. The congregation prayed hard and backed the revival crusade more fervently because they believed the deception. This "priming of the pump" is deceitful and is not sponsored by the Lord. It is evil, and someday must be accounted for. Hopefully, the evangelist, the woman, and the pastor will get things right with the Lord before judgment day.
Other ministers have had fake healings at the beginning of the prayer time, thinking that the faith of the crowd will rise and then real miracles will take place. I'm sure the Lord Jesus did not do this "priming of the pump" when He was here on earth. He did His miracles and healings by the power of the Holy Spirit. He also promised that we could do greater signs and wonders than He did. So why should we need to "prime the pump?"
Too much of the exhortation of the church congregations has been tainted and defiled by the sinful heresies, uncleanness, and deceit of the day. Paul said that his exhortation was not marred by these, and we must also eliminate that evil type of exhortation from the church congregations.
"...let us wait on our ministering... or he that exhorteth on his exhortation."
The gift of exhortation must be "waited on." This means that we must patiently seek the gift of exhortation. We must pray for it as a ministry. It should be purposely exercised by us, if even on a small scale. It should be worked at daily. It should not be forsaken because of failure.
Exhortation is a humbling, loving gift. It is like Jesus washing the disciples' feet. It takes a forsaking of pride to wash another's feet. It takes caring, not ignoring. One must have a desire to help the brother or sister, rather than a looking of how they can help you.
Part of the purpose of tongues, interpretation of tongues, and the prophetic word is exhortation.
I Corinthians 14:3
"He that prophesies speaks unto men, to edification, and to exhortation, and to comfort."
The prophetic message that comes from God through saints, is allowing the Spirit to do His exhorting work on the congregation. It is vital that we, as the saints, do the same type of encouraging that these messages also do.
The ministry of God to Israel during the tribulation is exhortation.
"...looking for the consolation (paraklesis) of Israel."
The Lord will comfort, encourage, and bring them to correction. It will be a pattern of exhortation that gets the nation of Israel to a place where they will accept Jesus as the Messiah. Some see this tribulation as only judgment, but the Lord sees it also as exhortation.
Often we misinterpret some of the hard things that happen to us as judgment or chastisement. Yet, the Lord chastises us to get us to the place where the exhortation will be heard.
"And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, 'My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou are rebuked of Him. For whom the Lord loveth, He chastens...' if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons."
Peter exhorted the elders (pastors of that time were called "elders").
I Peter 5:1-2
"The elders, which are among you, I exhort, who am also an elder... Feed the flock."
The whole book of Hebrews is called "exhortation."
"And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation, for I have written a letter unto you in a few words."
The preaching of Jesus was exhortation.
And many other things in His exhortation preached He unto the people."
The gift was very prominent in the New Testament times, and it needs revived in our latter rain revival. We should begin to earnestly desire this gift, and to fervently seek to restore it to it proper ministry within the congregations of our day. We have sinned in letting this gift be seldom taught, often misunderstood, and rarely exercised properly. The Lord is now instilling within the saints of the day, a desire to exhort, and have an exhorting congregation.
"write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith, which was once delivered unto the saints."
The lack of exhortation for keeping the "faith" pure and true, has led to many splintered groups of saints. Let's restore the gift of exhortation to the church congregations. Let's draw closer together, not further apart. This gift is vital and necessary for the church of the last days.
Ministers usually exhort in their sermons. Some, if not most, of the sermons are rejected, or partially rejected. Your exhortation may be accepted, and perhaps often will be rejected. Consider how often you have rejected the Holy Spirit's exhortations to you! In the same way, we will find our exhortations to be often rejected or ignored.