- The Washington Times - Monday, October 15, 2001

Excerpts from a sermon given yesterday by the Rev. James L. Martin at Corinthian Baptist Church in the District.
We are living in a time when many denominations are emphasizing the work of the Holy Spirit. To please God in our walk with Him, we should know what He has to say on the subject.
Paul discusses this question of spiritual gifts in the context of the Corinthian church [I Corinthians 12:18-28]. Here, we find division, immorality, stunted spiritual growth and confusion in the assembly. Paul is trying to explain to them how the Holy Spirit works within the body of Christ.
In Verse 28 we discover an activity called "the ministry of helps." It is a supernatural work in the church God uses to fulfill a vision carried out by the pastor. Its definition is "one who gives assistance to the weak and needy." Every member, whether old, middle-aged, young, educated or not-so-educated, helps complete this puzzle that makes up the body of the church. It does not matter how long is your stay or how short your attention span every believer has a job of helping care for God's people.
Paul goes on to say in Verse 25 that we ought to treat brothers and sisters the same. If you kiss my brother, then you ought to kiss me. Or if you hug my brother, I'm expecting a hug, too. What we give anybody, we should give everybody. This is part of our calling, which is to watch out for the needs and welfare of others in the body of Christ.
When one is saved, he or she has been called to serve. This call leads us to feel a sense of ministry. We'll no longer do things halfheartedly or without prayerful consideration. If you don't do your part, Paul says, someone suffers and the body has no comfort. You may be that someone who recognizes this problem. And then, perhaps you are the someone God has put in the church to do something about the disharmony in the body. The church is strong when you brighten the corner where you are.
In the book of Numbers [11:10], God has made Moses overseer of Israel, but the job was clearly too much for one man. So God set up the ministry of help, beginning with 70 elders who were supernaturally empowered to assist in fulfilling the vision of Moses. The anointing flows down, and that order still exists today. God gave all power to His Son, Jesus Christ, who sent the Holy Spirit, who anointed a fivefold ministry of the church. This flow of authority finally goes to you, men and women of God, here to equip and perfect the body of Christ.
In this process, the pastor does not build the church, but he trains and directs the membership so they may do the building. We should listen and learn about God's way of building, and as the church reflects this order, the vision and anointing flows into you. God will enable us, just as He did the elders of Moses and the disciples of Jesus.
Now, the book of Exodus [24:13] also tells us that Joshua was called to minister to Moses, in the sense of a servant. Like the waitress, to serve is to make sure that every need of that meal is met. God chooses us to wait on each other, the pastor and the church. There are people who make the sound system work, who usher you in, who have a nurse ministry. Only Joshua was able to go to Mount Sinai with Moses to witness the great revelation because he was faithful. He did not see his work as menial.
The ministry of helps includes an endless list of duties that make the church operate in a smooth and connected fashion. And God promotes us based on our faithfulness. Jesus' parable of the talents [Matthew 25:12] says you who are "faithful over a few things" will be ruler of many and have the joy of the Lord.
Jesus passed the anointing on to us and expected us to do some things that even He never did. For the Bible says, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do."
Next week: a sermon by the Rev. Peter James at Vienna Presbyterian Church.

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