IN LAST week's edition, we discussed three key things pastors would do when they learned from Christ Jesus.
First, besides studying the Bible, they would sit down to listen to the teachings of other ministers, and ask questions as Jesus Christ did before He began His ministry. Then, they would wait on the Spirit of God to teach them, and finally train other ministers without necessarily charging them tuition fees as we see being done these days.
As I explained, this is not in any way seeking to condemn the operations of Bible schools or seminaries we have today. There is no doubt that the complexities and financial demands of modern society including governmental regulations often influence the church to stray from pure biblical practices.
However, it is to tell the biblical methods Christ adopted to train His early ministers as described in Scripture. Christ Jesus trained His apostles personally. And He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures so as to appreciate everything that was written about Him in the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms. Thus, the apostles understood the birth of Christ, the life of Christ, the ministries of Christ, the sufferings of Christ, the death of Christ, the burial of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, the ascension of Christ and the second coming of Christ.
Now, if the 21st Century pastors, especially those in Ghana and Africa as a whole, can be used of Christ to train others, we must first understand these things. Disciples must be encouraged and inspired through sound teaching and preaching of the gospel to encounter Christ personally. If Paul and others could encounter Jesus Christ personally through a series of revelations, we also can.
Jesus Christ lives. He is not just a historical Lord. Some people even think Christ does not exist; others think He is just a myth. But the Lord Jesus lives and manifests Himself to many people at His will. I encountered Him at a higher level of intimacy when He appeared to me in a dream and healed me of a medically incurable disease in 2016.
An encounter with the Holy Spirit should be deemed as an encounter with Jesus Christ. They are one. The Holy Spirit who dwells within us is the Spirit of Christ. In Galatians 4:6, it is written, “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!” Thus when you encounter the Spirit of Christ, you actually encounter Jesus Christ.
Above all, the proof of the early apostles' training for ministry was not certificates they were awarded, but the Holy Spirit they received to dwell within their hearts and be upon them. The coming of the Holy Spirit to indwell them was for them to experience recreation, regeneration or spiritual renewal in their inner being. This is what is often referred to as being born again.
This occurred when Jesus Christ breathed on them shortly after His resurrection (John 20:22). An important question we must ask is: why did Jesus Christ breathe on the disciples to receive the Holy Spirit after His resurrection and not immediately after calling them? Well, just as Ephesians 1:13 says, we must all hear the Word of truth, the gospel of salvation in order to believe in Jesus, and then receive the promised Holy Spirit, the early apostles also needed to receive knowledge of the teachings, suffering, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus before they could receive the Holy Spirit to dwell within them.
The highest point of the apostles' complete training for ministry was the coming of the Holy Spirit to be upon them to empower them so they could bear witness about Jesus Christ. Before the Lord ascended to heaven, He told the disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
In Acts chapter two, we read about the fulfilment of the prophetic words of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit came upon the apostles, after which Peter received power and fearlessly bore witness about the resurrected Christ, winning 3000 souls.
You can see that the apostles were not given the Holy Spirit before being trained in the Word of truth. It was the other way round. They were first equipped with the Word or they were first trained in the message they should preach and teach before they received the Holy Spirit both within and upon them. It is the Holy Spirit who qualifies, validates and makes men and women overseers (Acts 20:28).
Today, many people claim to be born again, and enrol in Bible colleges to be trained as pastors, but they do not have the Holy Spirit. The key problem is that they have not been properly prepared in the gospel to genuinely believe in Jesus Christ, repent of their sins. Throughout the New Testament, no child of God received the Holy Spirit for ministry without first being trained in the Word of Christ. Even Christ Jesus first taught the apostles the Word before sealing their preparation with the Holy Spirit.
And they had evidence of the Spirit's presence on their lives with great passion and zeal to preach and teach about Jesus Christ. We ought to understand that a person on whom Christ Jesus has breathed the Holy Spirit will have witness of the Spirit's presence. Romans 8:16 states, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Henceforth, let us diligently follow Christ Jesus and learn from Him so that we can find rest for our souls. To be continued in the next edition.
By James Quansah