We are taking a closer look at evangelistic apologetics in this new series. It follows the popular series Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack, which published as a 33-part series on FaithandSelfDefense.com from January 2014 to March 2020. That series is now available for free as a set of five eBooks.
In the first part of our new series, we asked whether evangelism is our job. Our answer is that evangelism is the job of every Christian. Jesus Christ gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to His Church, “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).
In the second part of our series, we looked at what Jesus had in mind when He gave His Church apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. What role do they play in the Lord’s Eternal Plan?
We move now to our third question: what is every Christian’s ministry and how should they do it?
Our ministry (service) is to do whatever Jesus Christ tells us to do.
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15
Jesus has all authority in Heaven and on earth and wants Christians to make disciples of all nations through the preaching of the Gospel. Every Christian can go into their world and tell someone they know about the good news of Jesus Christ. Every Christian can make disciples. Every Christian can teach those disciples to observe (obey) everything Jesus commands us to do.
We need to remove from Christian thinking that only a particular class of Christians can do ministry. There is no classism in Christianity. We are all children of God and co-heirs with Christ.
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”Galatians 3:26-29
“And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”Galatians 4:6-7
Many Christians have the wrong idea of how Jesus is building His Church. Getting the right idea is simply a matter of reading the writings of the New Testament in context and doing what you read.
Our Best Examples
Jesus Christ and His disciples are our best examples of how to conduct a ministry God will bless. We can call what we do ministry, but it’s not a real ministry until God blesses it. Jesus and the apostles established a pattern for us to follow in our life and ministry.
Let’s begin with the ministry of Jesus while He was on earth to see how He ministered (served) and how God blessed Him.
We see that from an early age Jesus of Nazareth was laser-focused on serving His Heavenly Father –
“And He said to them, ‘Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?'”Luke 2:49
Jesus, 12-years-old at the time, was not being rude or disrespectful to His mother when she asked Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” Mary and Joseph didn’t understand what Jesus was doing or why. Jesus simply responded that He was doing His Father’s business. That may have been confusing to Mary and Joseph because Joseph’s business had nothing to do with the Temple where they found Jesus talking with the teachers there. They didn’t understand what Jesus meant by His statement. However, Jesus was referring to the business of His Heavenly Father. That’s why Jesus came to earth from Heaven – to do the will of His Father.
[You can read more about why God the Father sent God the Son to earth in our special series The Great Reveal: Our Epic Journey Through Time, Space and Eternity.]
Did God bless Jesus as a boy for His faithful service? He did –
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”Luke 2:52
The next time we see or hear from Jesus in the Gospel accounts is when He was about 30 years old. What was Jesus doing during the 18 years between the ages of 12 and 30? He was increasing in wisdom and stature and favor with God and men. God blessed Jesus during all those years.
We know that Jesus was an older brother to His half-siblings. We know that Jesus learned a trade from Joseph and worked closely with him. We don’t know every detail of His life during those 18 years, but what we do know is that Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men. God blessed Jesus and His service during that time.
We might say that Jesus burst on the public stage at His baptism. Here are the Gospel accounts concerning what happened at the beginning of what many Christians view as the beginning of Jesus public ministry.
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’ But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:13-17
“It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, ‘You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”Mark 1:9-11
“When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, ‘You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”Luke 3:21-22
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.’ And John bore witness, saying, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”John 1:29-34
I’d like you to notice several very important points –
- Jesus humbled Himself and identified with the humans He had come to save
- Jesus was obedient to His Father’s will
- Jesus was joined by God the Father and God the Spirit at His baptism – the Trinity was present in all of God’s glory.
- God the Father identified Jesus as His Son and said to Jesus “in You I am well pleased.”
- John the Baptist, the promised messenger of God who would prepare the way for the Messenger of the covenant from Malachi 3, baptized Jesus and said, “And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”
Water to Wilderness
“Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.”Mark 1:12-13
The Spirit of God who had descended as a dove on Jesus at His baptism in the Jordan River, immediately “drove Him into the wilderness.” The second step in Jesus’ blessed ministry would be testing and overcoming.
The Gospel of Mark gives us the shortest version of what happened during the important testing period following Jesus’ public display of obedience. Here is a longer version of what happened in the wilderness –
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ But He answered and said, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ‘Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ‘Jesus said to him, ‘It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.”Matthew 4:1-11
Notice that at the end of the wilderness test “angels came and ministered to Him.” Jesus passed the test and God the Father blessed Jesus by sending angels to minister to His physical needs.
You will find similar information in Luke 4, but we do see something that gives us more insight into Satan’s response to Jesus and his evil plans –
“Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.”Luke 4:13
Satan was not done with Jesus. The wilderness test was phase one of Satan’s war against the Son of God, a war that had been prophesied thousands of years earlier –
“So the Lord God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”Genesis 3:14-15
Here’s what we’ve seen so far about the ministry of Jesus –
- Doing the business of His Father as a child
- Humble and obedient at His baptism
- Tested in the wilderness
- Passed the test (overcame)
- Blessed by the Father
We will take a closer at what Jesus did immediately following His successful wilderness experience when our special series continues.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.