Westminster Assembly

Westminster Assembly

Acts 6:4

"But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word."



1 Timothy 4:6-16

" If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." 1 Tim 4:6-16 (KJV)

"God Blesses the Well Planned Ministry" By Shane C. Montgomery

Thursday, July 28, 2011
Scripture Reading: Romans 15:14-33

  We are drawing to a close in our study of this great epistle to the Romans, and the apostle ends it just as he began it, with a word from Paul about himself, and about the church in Rome. What we will be looking at today is a picture of what the Roman church looked like, a mature, disciple making church, but more importantly, we will see what Paul's ministry looked like, a well planned ministry, and we will see just all the planning that went into Paul's ministry. We will see from our text today that just as Paul had to plan out and follow this plan in order to have a effective ministry, so we must do today in our ministry here at Covenant Reformed Church.

There are Two Themes in the closing section of Chapter 15 -- one is the church at Rome, and the other is the ministry of Paul. If you would, follow with me in your Bibles, for this is a very long section of text, and it would be easy to let our minds wonder off. Paul begins in (Verse 14):

I. Step One In Paul's Well Planned Ministry.....Vs. 14-22
And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. 15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God, 16 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. 17 I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God. 18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, 19 Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. 20 Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation: 21 But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand. 22 For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you.”
In this chapter of Romans, Paul gives us a little further insight into this church, and tells us certain things that were true of it. Here, in Verse 14, there are three things that he says about this church, three great qualities that they possessed.

  1. They were full of goodness.
  2. They were filled with all knowledge.- Meaning, they knew much of what Paul writes to them in Romans.
  3. They are able to admonish one another, or able to edify each other and teach each other about God's Word and Will.

Now, this may seem like Paul is kissing up to the believers in Rome prior to his visiting them, maybe in hopes that they might help fund his Fourth Missionary Journey, that one, the one that never happened, was to be in Spain. But Paul did this more in referring to what we have been going over the past few weeks in chapters 14 and 15 concerning the problem of the “Strong” and “Week” believers. In this one verse, Paul is saying that he knows that the Roman church has not only accepted, but also understood and acted upon the things he has told them in this letter.

Even knowing this, Paul says in the following verses, 15-17, that he felt “Lead by the Holy Spirit to write these things” or as our text from the King James puts it, “I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace (or Spirit) that is given to me of God.” God's Holy Spirit put it upon him to tell them many things they might very well know and accepted and acted upon as true already. Paul understood that even the most mature believers, such as the ones in the church in Rome, need to be reminded of the Basic Truths of the Christian faith, sound doctrine as originally taught by the apostles is always under attack by worldly things that make us forget sometimes, a little refresher course in sound Biblical doctrine now and then will not harm anyone.

For instance, taking our text from previous weeks, both the Strong and Week believers in the Roman church knew of the great need for unity in their churches, but they forgot this in the middle of their on-going conflict, so we see Paul being led by the Spirit to “Boldly Exhort” them to remember those principles and to follow them once again.

We see in Vs. 15 and 16 that the reason Paul had the Boldness to write so forcefully was “Because of the grace God gave him to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles.” This clear statement of authority is due to Christ anointing Paul as an apostle and more than that, as a “Minister” to these very Gentiles. Even in a mature, faithful church like the Roman church, God will rebuke and exhort from time to time when they wonder too far away from the worship and teachings that He desires of us.
In Vs. 17, Paul speaks of “glory through” and what he means of course is “boasting through” and we know it is wrong of anyone to boast and brag of their accomplishments, especial a minister or anyone doing the Lord's work, they should never boast in and of themselves, but as we see Paul do with the Romans, it is another thing and a good thing to boast in Christ. We see in this verse that Paul is proud and overjoyed in what God has accomplished through the Gospel of Christ in the Gentile mission, he is proud of what Christ enabled and allowed him to accomplish in his ministry. In each of our lifetimes, there will come a time that we will accomplish something good and wonderful in our ministries, but for us to brag on our good works would be wrong, we know that any success we might have in service to the Lord begins and ends with the Lord, he will “Give the increase” after we “Plant” or we “Water.” None of the work is of us, being sinful, we cannot accomplish anything good outside of Christ and without His help our ministry will go fruitless. A Well Planned Ministry will be blessed by God because it doesn't try to do anything in it's own power, but through supplication and prayer, will allow Christ to do the work and we must make ourselves available, to be used as instruments of Christ. A ministry that works in its own power and on its own terms, is a ministry that is destined to fail.

Paul carries this thought over into Vs. 18, as he says “I would dare not speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me.” Paul's boasting was entirely in Christ. If those folks today could only take this cue from Paul in their own work for the Lord, it seems as if boasting in ministry has become the modern day churches favorite past time. We all know a few local mega churches that cannot seem to stop bragging about how great they are. Just check out some of their many billboards and full page newspaper adds. But returning to Paul, he knew that he was simply the Instrument and Christ was the True Force that produced results.

In Vs. 19 it looks as if Paul is claiming that he alone has taken the Gospel to the entire world, but really he is saying something much simpler, that he is now finished with a major part of his ministry. See, Paul had a plan to bring the Gospel to every region and his strategy was to plant churches strategically in central cities and to use them as hubs to reach the rest of the area, this is what Paul had accomplished and what he had finished.
Paul is saying here two things,

First- all of this great ministry was only possible because of the power of the Spirit.

Second- He had finished his mission in the eastern part of the Roman empire and now it is time for him to move west, on to Rome and then Spain.

We see in our next two verses that in Paul's Well Planned Ministry, he did not want to preach in places where the Gospel has already been preached and I don't think there is anything wrong in preaching in areas that have already been evangelized in the past, Paul is not saying that, but he believed his mission was to preach in places that had never heard of Christ. He believed this is what he was called to do, he felt lead to establish churches in unreached areas and to use these churches as bases of operation in the future. We see that Paul had a great plan for his ministry, by planting churches in unchurched areas, he was able to start up a local church and move on to the next area, leaving behind in that church, someone he trained to take over that church as pastor. Paul had “Planted” and now the local pastor will “Water” and of course, God will “Give the Increase.” - 1 Cor. 3:6-7 says- I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.”

II. Step Two In Paul’s Well Planned Ministry....Vs. 22-29

For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you. 23 But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you; 24 Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company. 25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. 26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. 27 It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. 28 When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain. 29 And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.”

Step Two in Paul's Well Planned Ministry is to continue in his plans to evangelize the western regions, but not until he fulfills his previous commitment to the poor saints back in Jerusalem. Paul's mission now turns west to the lands of those who have not yet heard the Gospel, like I mentioned earlier, that he planned to visit the church in Rome on his way west and maybe the believers in Rome will hopefully financial y support his ministry. But before he can visit Rome and head to Spain, he must first fulfill his commitment to deliver the monetary gifts given to him by the Gentile church to give to the poor Christians in Jerusalem. This one point shows us the importance of fulfilling our obligations in our ministry. Too many times those who serve the Lord will rush into one project after another, often times never completing any projects they make, always trying to stay busy in their service. Paul makes sure that he mentions that he must fulfill his previous obligations before he moves on to the next phase of his ministry. Today, we often mistake busy work in the church for service that serves a divine purpose. Most of this work we place upon ourselves, not from the leading of the spirit, but instead, trying to stay busy. We must first finish what we started before we can move onto the next mission or act of service. The spirit leads us to begin a task, then he wants us to finish it.

But in our text, we can see that this was not the case with Paul, he truly wanted to visit Rome by this point in his ministry, I mean this was his third missionary journey as of his writing to Rome, and Paul is saying.........
Hey, I wanted to visit on you by now, but I have been prevented from doing so by the Holy Spirit and this because His spirit understood that my work here in the east is not finished yet, but after I take these gifts of money to the poor believers in Jerusalem, I can come and visit you all.” Paul is clearly pointing out that we cannot rush our ministry, no matter how anxious we might be to serve, we ultimately are not on our own time clock, but we minister on God's schedule, how can we be fruitful if we rush ahead of God’s clock for our ministries? So we see a ministry that plans on keeping God's schedule, showing patience, will be the ministry that is blessed by God. Just as God would not allow Paul to interrupt his ministry in the east so he could rush out west, neither will God allow us to move forward until he deems we have completed our tasks, here today.

III. Step Three In Paul's Well Planned Ministry....Vs. 30-33

Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; 31 That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; 32 That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. 33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.”

Step Three in Paul's Well Planned Ministry is to take full advantage of the prayers of the saints in Rome. Why did Paul's ministry succeed? Why has it remained successful to this day? Paul owes so much of his success to the prayers of others. Believers in the churches he set up prayed for Paul, they did this because he often asked them to, he coveted and valued their prayers because he knew how important they were. I often wonder how our own little ministry might look today if we all took more time over these last three years or so, if we would have spent more time in our prayer closets, pleading with God to use us, to build up this infant ministry. I know for a fact that I have not spent enough time in prayer, especially concerning this ministry, and if I would have spent half the time on that rather than on pleadings for other things, health, finances, etc. then God may have blessed our work more so. Deep in our hearts, we know that if we are serious about being an effective ministry, one that will be used by God to His glory and for the salvation of souls, then we must spend considerable more time in prayer in pleading for this to happen. I know things have been hectic this past year or so and I know the economic climate has not been ideal for us to grow and to be all that we could be, but I know that for me, I have not spent enough time in prayer and my goal is to change that, I want to seek the throne of God in supplication on behalf of the church, to be used and to grow, to be effective. May God allow this happen.

Prayer comes from God's Spirit. Before we can have the ability to pray we must first cry out to God to send forth His Spirit into our lives. Of course there will be days and weeks where we feel the absence of His Spirit and that makes for a rather dry and arid forced approach to prayer, but we must continue to pray, I am convinced that the only way out of these arid seasons of prayer is to pray even more. That is what the apostle appeals to here. >"Join me in my work, be apart of the mission" The Christian life is hard, as we have seen already, and Paul sees prayer as a way of fighting in that combat. Prayer is to be our weapon of choice in this battle, knowing we have such a powerful and effective weapon, why then hold out too long in using it? This type of prayer can move mountains, this type of prayer can protect and encourage. So Paul seeks this kind of prayer from the church in Roman.

Notice from these last few verses that Paul asks the Romans to pray for his protection, he says...."Pray for protection from the unbelievers, and for acceptance from the saints." The reason he asked that is that these are the two areas that Satan always attacks. If he can sideline a believer with illness, or spiritual attacks, he will. Prayer is particularly powerful at this point. It can protect those in danger. When Satan is involved, we cannot pray enough.

Pray then that we be protected in our ministry, pray for each other, pray for others in service to the Lord, we soarly need God's protection in our going forward from here on out. Pray that God will send more of His Spirit so that we may be improved in many areas and we will continue to improve and to be molded into the church God wants us to be, if we allow, if we seek Him in prayer. We must not allow our duties in prayer to grow lax, we must stay vigilant in prayer.

After using the Church in Rome, we see what a mature, faithful church looks like. And after seeing the apostle Paul's plan of ministry, we see just what a Well Planned Ministry looks like and we see just why it is so important to perform our duties in the power of Christ and not in our own strength. Paul was very successful in his ministry because he had a plan. He was faithful to Scripture, he was obedient to the Lord, and he knew and was prepared for a ministry that never ends, just as ours will never end as long as we draw breath from this earth, the Christians ministry will endure and bear fruit only if we allow it to on God's terms.

I hope that this look at Paul's ministry will be of help to you, and to remind us that we are in a battle and unfortunately there are no periods of rest for those in the Lord's service. We have to maintain our plans, and we have to be faithful to what God has called us to do. Above everything else, we must seek the intervention of the Holy Spirit in every thing we do, so that the power of God is released among us. Anything else is destined to fail. May God grant us the ability and desire to be used by Him for His glory and the Salvation of Souls! 


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