“On Your Mark”
Training and Equipping for Service (Chapter 1 Verses 14-20)
As the Lord preaches he calls men to himself. There is a great work that lies ahead of them, so he not only calls them, but teaches and trains them, on-the-job training. It is while in their secular employment and under the ministry of the word that these men are called to serve the Lord (Luke 5.1-11). Simon (Peter) and Andrew are the first. Now they will lay aside their fishing labours and take up a ministry of fishing for men v17. There are three important points we need to see here. The first is, that a big part of the Lord’s ministry is in teaching others to carry on the work of the gospel, that good news they will carry forward into the world (Acts 1.8). Surely that is a principle we need to be more aware of in our Churches, on-the-job training. It was alongside the Lord these men made the most of their mistakes, grappled with their misunderstandings, and eventually were equipped to go on with their given task. Surely that ought to be an integral part of Christian ministry today? Instead we have someone with the inclination to serve, what happens? He goes to Bible college, afterwards to a church, and all too often it’s a disaster. If Churches were growing their own talent they wouldn’t have to be scouring the country looking for a pastor/evangelist they don’t even know has been converted let alone properly nurtured and trained.
The second point is that these men were not clever, learned men. That is not the criteria for ministry, we’re not eulogizing ignorance, learning is valuable, imperative, for ministry. But surely it is godliness, holiness of life, closeness to Jesus, and hearts gripped with the truth of God’s word that is much more important. Also, these men are not layabouts with nothing else to do. They are hard-working men, skilled in the fishing industry, when they are called away to the ministry by the Lord himself. The third important point is, that it is under the ministry of the word that they are called to serve Jesus Christ (Luke 5.1-3). Now that would seem to me to be very important, that would be how a person would be called. If a man has no time for the Bible, either reading it for himself, or sitting under the authority of the word of God, he has no place in the Christian ministry. When I say that these were not clever men, doubtless there was a desire to learn and so there would be in anyone called to serve God. Are there people today in ministry who have little knowledge of the Bible, little desire to learn? If so, we can only wonder, how on earth can they be of any spiritual benefit to anyone regarding the Kingdom of God? We must pray the Lord to raise up men in our day (Matthew 9.35-38).
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)