Friday, January 28, 2011

Sent or Went...that is the Question

America's culture has encouraged each of us to have an independent spirit. We are proud of our independence. Independence Day is to our nation, what the Day of Pentecost is to the church.

We are Americans with honest pride and humility. We are proud of our forefathers, who set forth the independence of these United States. However, I wonder how our forefathers would react, seeing our morally devoid politicians securing their positions, by voting for many anti-Christian laws, which I would assume they probably wouldn't condone in their own homes.

They've chased God away from our schools and institutions, claiming the separation of Church and State. But this doesn't mean that God should be ostracized. This is a Nation founded with liberty under God, without espousing any particular religion.

America must return to the time that there was honest pride and humility, which made our Nation, the number one Nation in the world. There was a time, when we idealized our founding fathers. Somehow, in the name of realism we subjected them to "out of touch". Why? Because we have lost our sense of values.

Let us be proud of our forefathers. Of course they had their imperfections, but nonetheless they could be looked to for guidance.

Let us be proud of our freedom; the freedom which flows from our obedience to God; from our willing adherence to His laws; from our discipline of self-control.

Today, our American culture celebrates independence and self-determination. These values are great when it comes to an entrepreneurial spirit. But when it comes to functioning properly in the body of Christ these values can be harmful.

I have never served in the armed forces (except the Army of the Lord). However, I have been taught through history and careful observance that every military branch of the United States has an established protocol.

Suppose, as a citizen of the U.S.; untrained by the military; on my own, I decide next week to go to Afghanistan to fight Islamic terrorists without the covering, protection, training or the strategy of the U.S. military.

Not only would my church think I was crazy, even the secular society would consider me to be foolish and unlearned.

Unfortunately, the way many of our brothers and sisters have "called themselves" mimics a Hollywood movie more than it does Biblical protocol. 

Even secularists understand there is something wrong with self-proclaimed apostleship for they make movies about these types of "preachers."

I receive phone calls all the time from ministers who want to share their ministry at BFWC.  I'm thankful to receive the phone calls.  However, some of the questions I ask them is:
  • Who trained you? 
  • Who ordained you? 
  • Who sent you?
  • Who's your father in the faith? 
  • Who do you submit too? 
If they say "God" I immediately know to steer clear.

A person who is "sent" will have the proper credentials, training, communication and protocol already established in their life. 

On the other side, a person who "went" without proper training, communication, or protocol with plans to do their own thing is usually a person who doesn't want to submit to anyone else or have someone over them telling them what to do.

Jesus prayed in John 17 a tremendous prayer to His Father before His crucifixion.  In this prayer Jesus constantly refers to the fact that He was "sent" or "given" things to Him by His Father to do the work He gave Him to do.  This shows He never called Himself to minister; Jesus needed to be sent or given ministry by someone higher than Himself for His ministry to be legitimate, even though He is the Son of God.

Friends, on this side of eternity we operate under Delegated Authority.  Until Jesus comes in the clouds of glory, we are called to serve under someone elses watchful eyes.  We never outgrow this.  We never reach a place of "ultimate maturity" that we no longer are accountable to another.

If the Son of God didn't call Himself into ministry then others who feel called ought to pattern themselves after His protocol for confirming the timing of a genuine call into ministry.  In addition, the Bible tells us in Hebrews 5:1, 3-6 that Jesus didn't call Himself into the priesthood; he waited until the Father called Him.  This was patterned after the Old Covenant in which a person could only serve as a priest if his physical father was a priest of the tribe of Levi from the priestly line of Aaron (Exodus 28:1). 

In essence, if we don't have a father who ordained us into the ministry (in the New Covenant this includes spiritual fathers) then we have a "bastard" ministry and have no biblical legitimacy to fulfill our calling.

Apostle Paul operated under this same protocol.  Even though Paul and Barnabas had already felt called by God into the ministry they didn't dare send themselves until the leaders of the church in Antioch also received a confirming word from the Lord to send them.  (Acts 13:1-2).
In another instance, Paul submitted the gospel of grace he was preaching (to the Gentiles) to the leading apostles of the Jerusalem Church (Peter and John) for fear his work was in vain. (Galatians 2:2;9).  This shows even Paul, the great apostle, needed the right hand of apostolic blessing to be considered legitimate.

Paul also shows it was part of the protocol of the early church that a person wouldn't preach or minister unless they were officially sent and, by implication, sanctioned by the church.  (Romans 10:15...How shall they preach unless they are sent?)

In spite of this knowledge, I've seen many start out with nothing more than a "leading of the Lord" without the training, blessing or sending of a local church body.  If a person cannot go through the grid of submitting to a process of biblical training, character development and theological and ministerial training in the context of a local church, then how can they be properly prepared to shepherd a flock under God?

Most of the time when someone has no personal submission to spiritual authority it illustrates a deeper issue within them of rebellion against God.  Jesus said that if we receive the one He sent we receive Him.  On the other hand, by rejecting the spiritual authority He sent then we reject Him. (Matthew 10:40)

In conclusion

I first received my calling from the Lord when I was 15 yrs old.  I later received my calling to full-time ministry when I was 21.  The first thing I did was submit my heart to my pastor, Rev. Ray Hylton.  Later I would be called to Indiana to serve in a local church as a youth pastor.  There, I would submit to my pastor, Rev. Leeroy Hill.  Again later, I felt called to pastor BFWC in Indianapolis.  I submitted to the counsel of my spiritual fathers, sitting under their tutelage and training till I was licensed for ministry.  I served faithfully and fully communicated my every movement under their watchful eye.  I was then sent to Indianapolis to pastor this wonderful church.

My point...I believe, because I submitted to spiritual authority from my spiritual fathers, our church has been blessed and I've enjoyed great freedom in that submission. 

I don't claim to be an authority on this subject, but I do believe I possess a special anointing to share this principle because I have walked in this and still do to this day.

I need the spiritual fathers in my life to confirm my work - even to this day.  I walk under their covering and as a result am able to model this with my own spiritual sons.

My life call is to make a generational impact.  In doing so, I desire to raise up "sons" (male & female) to answer their personal call, train them and send them forth.  Some will stay at BFWC to fulfill the vision of the local house.  Some will be sent forth into other regions to establish works.  Either way, they will remain covered with an apostolic authority.  This authority will not only provide them with blessing but also accelerated access into uncharted territory. 

The key is knowing how to operate in protocol. 

I would encourage anyone wanting to serve in ministry, start a church, preach, teach, etc. to first prove themselves in their local church under their shepherd.  If you cannot prove your pastoral calling with the blessing of a senior pastor in your local church then that is a good sign you will not be successful as the founding pastor of a new local church.