I still remember quite vividly what I was thinking the first time I sat down in my office at Capitol City Christian Church. I had served on the pastoral team of a healthy and growing church for years, and I had been serving the Lord in some kind of ministry capacity basically from the moment I came to know Christ. I had trained at one of the finest theological schools in our country. But here I was, called to serve this church as the senior leader, and in no way did I feel “prepared” for that moment.
And so I sat there, in my chair, at my desk, my eyes glazing over the way they do when people start talking about the glory years of Cornhusker football. I was in over my head, and I knew it. “What do I do now?” was a thought that crossed my mind. “How do I do this?” was another. “Should I just get out now?” certainly occurred to me.
Perhaps I am being over-dramatic, but I do remember how overwhelmed I felt that day – and how overwhelmed I still feel – by the task to which God has called me. I really wasn’t sure of the first thing I needed to do, much less the second and third and so on.
But something comforted and encouraged me in those early days and weeks here at Capitol City, and it still comforts me today. Its a principle describing how God goes about the work of ministry, and how believers like us should serve him. Its a simple statement, but one that is profoundly true: in ministry, God’s Word does the work. To be more precise, I should say it is the Spirit of God who uses the Word of God to do the work of God. As a young pastor, the main thing I need to do is to proclaim God’s Word clearly. The main thing my people and my church need is not a dynamic leader nor an innovative strategy; the main thing my people and my church need is God’s Word. Because it is the Word that does the work.
This principle is stunningly clear in the book of Acts. Luke, the writer of Acts, makes a habit of throwing in editorial comments that describe and explain what is happening as the early church grows. Here are just a few of them:
So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7).
But the word of God continued to spread and flourish (Acts 12:24).
In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power (Acts 19:20).
Acts is all about the Holy Spirit of God accomplishing the work of God to take the gospel from Jerusalem, to Judea and Samaria, to the ends of the earth. But the story makes it clear, whenever and wherever the early church is growing, whenever and wherever new people are coming to know the Lord by believing the gospel, and whenever and wherever believers are being sanctified, it is because the Word is growing or increasing. God’s work is accomplished when God works by his Spirit through his Word.
The apostle Paul says something similar in Colossians 1:
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people – the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the word of truth, the gospel…which has been bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world (Colossians 1:3-7).
Paul’s prayer for the Colossians springs from the fact that he has heard of the growth of God’s Word (revealing the gospel) in them and in the whole world. In Colossae and elsewhere, God’s Word was growing and bearing fruit…Yes, believers were growing. Yes, conversions were happening. But it was because God’s Word was growing. The Word does the work.
What does this mean for us today? Well, it meant a great deal for me those first days of my ministry here at Capitol City – and it continues to. If the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to accomplish the work of God, then I need to be steadfastly committed to God’s Word. And it means the same thing for you…Whatever work God is doing in your life, however God is using you to build his kingdom and bring him glory, that work will be centered upon and fueled by His Word.
Does your commitment to the Word of God reflect this?