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Qualities of church leadership The Man of God
Steven Ray Bragg
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First, by way of criticism, let me establish a comparison between the man of God and current day success models to build churches. Many churches have gone the way of the business model. Formulas for success and copying successful models seem to be signs of the times.
Business models produce a product of large churches. The success models provide the same. Church organizations (denominations) sometimes claim their success on the wisdom of their leaders or adherence to a particular teaching or denominational greed. Cults can also build big churches and devoted followers. Although Biblical education is important, the MA degree can replace the sold out man of God who is filled with the Living God in his heart and soul. The man of God may be overlooked due his lack of education, etc.
Books abound on success formulas and models. But what I’m not seeing are books and teachings on the power of service through holiness by a dedicated life and humility. How about books on the man of God serving in, by and through the awesome power of God and His blessings?
Often the business model’s message is, no matter what sin you are engaged in, God’s grace is big enough for you. Grace will always abound and win the day. But the apostle Paul had this to say about grace only.
“Well then, since God's grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don't you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living” (Romans 6:15, 16 NLT).
The key words here are “choose to obey God.” The Gospel of salvation says that grace comes by way of faith. Saving faith requires not only belief but a belief that leads to repentance (a changed life) and obedience to God’s commands for holy living.
So, the business model produces mega churches via messages and programs geared to produce the product of multitudes of people. The Biblical model is a man of God -- humbly but in the power and blessing of God -- speaking repentance to hearts, resulting in multitudes hearing the call of the Gospel unto salvation.
The following verses are key segments of the first Gospel message and the results.
First off, Peter establishes that this is all about Jesus: the one that God confirmed in front of them.
"Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know” (Acts 2:22).
He points out their sin, pulling no punches. It’s not sugar coated. They nailed Jesus, the one God had sent, to the cross. They killed Him!
“This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death” (Acts 2:23).
And then he gives further proof He is the Messiah. Not only is it further proof, but it is The Proof: the undeniable ultimate proof. GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD.
"But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power” (Acts 2:24).
So the conclusion is, they killed their Messiah: the promised One.
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified" (Acts 2:36).
So here are the results of a man of God preaching Jesus the resurrected Christ and man’s need for Him because of his sin. “THEY WERE PIERCED TO THE HEART” and sought repentance if possible. They asked, “WHAT SHALL WE DO?” They were convicted of their sin and ready to repent: ready to do whatever was necessary to change their way.
“Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ’brethren, what shall we do’" (Acts 2:37).
Peter told them exactly what they needed to do – REPENT (change their heart and life) and be baptized. They needed to change, and, equally important, be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ for their forgiveness of sins” (Acts 2:38).
They were obedient, and three thousand souls were saved that day.
“So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).
Because the message was Jesus is the Christ; their sin separated them from Him; He rose from the dead; and salvation comes through repentance, baptism, and obedience, therefore, our Lord continued to add to their number daily. This is Biblical church growth: the Biblical pattern or model. It is certainly worth duplicating. This pattern was followed by the first century church and the results were phenomenal.
“And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).
The apostle Paul said this about the Gospel message.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
There is only one church, and that is God’s Church. It is established by Jesus Christ and His Gospel message.
Now the Man of God.
What about Peter, Paul, Barnabas and the other men of God who delivered the message of the Gospel of Christ: Salvation? The Biblical message, God’s message, could not have been delivered without men of God.
One of the interesting introductions of Christian speakers I have encountered in the mission field is the “Man of God.” Rather than business and success models run like a corporation, we need a more Biblical model of holy men of God in this day of evil, rather than men willing to tickle ears and pursue the appetites of their own desires and fame.
“Whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things” (Philippians 3:19).
The “Man of God” in God’s Church
At this point, I want to say that when I’m speaking of men of God, I’m also speaking of God’s leaders, including women and youth leaders, as well as biblical elders and church leaders. The term man of God refers to all leaders, regardless of gender or age.
I know many leaders answer the call of God and are willing, as were some of the disciples, to drop their nets and follow Jesus Christ. These men, women and youth were willing to lose their lives and then find the power of God serving the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
An interesting study is the term the “man of God” in the Bible. Seventy-eight times the phrase man of God is used in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments.
Moses and other great leaders are referred to as men of God.
“Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the sons of Israel before his death” (Deuteronomy 33:1).
Each Christian who flees from sin and pursues righteousness is called a “man of God.”
“But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:11, 12).
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).
So firstly, we need men of God: men, women and youth who have given it all up and continue to give up the world to serve their Savior. Jesus said we could not serve two masters: we serve the world (sin), or God through repentance and obedience.
“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
Second we need men, women, and youth who love God and love His people like He loves them.
“And he [Jesus] answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27).
These are men who love God so strongly there is room for nothing else. Men who will love His people. Men who are willing to give their all for His people. “Have this attitude in yourselves” (Philippians chapter 2).
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:3-5).
This passage goes on to say Jesus gave up His heavenly throne to become a man to die on the cross for you and me. Men of God, like Jesus, are willing to give everything for God’s people without regard for themselves.
Third, and also important, are men of God filled with the Spirit of God.
I believe, and I have experienced myself and seen in others, that to the degree that we are committed, living holy lives, and willing to place it all on the line for God, the gift of the Holy Spirit within us becomes proportionally more powerful and evident.
"And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him" (Acts 5:32).
This next verse gives me hope and helps me understand how powerful the Holy Spirit is and that He will not abandon us in our mission, but instead empower us with whatever we need at the time we need it. He gives us wisdom, discernment, sometimes gifts of healing and the miraculous manifestations, as well as messages that set the enemy off balance and convert the listener to salvation.
Peter and John were confronting the powers of the Jewish leadership that had just imprisoned them. The Jews were intimidating and threatening them so they would not preach Jesus. Even though earlier they were baptized with the Holy Spirit to be powerful witnesses, here the Spirit fills them again for the immediate task.
Act 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers and elders of the people,
We all have this same Spirit in us and leading us if we are sons of God. He, the Holy Spirit, is not diminished over time but, if anything, is poured out even stronger in the last days. Acts 2:14-21.
“However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Romans 8:19).
“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:14).
The Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit of God, is not impotent as many would want to believe. He is powerful and active in the lives of God’s men: God’s Church! He is the third person of Elohim, and He is not dead!
The apostles and leaders of the early church needed the power of the Holy Spirit, so why would we as leaders of His Church today want to deny it? If we preach the Gospel of Jesus, we will need all of God, including the power of the Holy Spirit, to deliver His message and sustain His Church.
Number four: we need men of God who pray.
We need men and leaders who understand that to accomplish the ministry given to us by God, we need to be in continuous communication with Him. We need to be leaders who follow the simple instruction of our Lord’s example of prayer in Mathew 6: with praise, focusing on His will.
• When we move in His will, He answers our prayers in even greater ways than we can imagine.
• When we are in His will and ask to accomplish it, He goes before us, because His will is providential and insured by Him.
• If we are in His will, we will see and experience the power of God in the tasks before us.
“This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him” (1 John 5:14, 15).
Because we are in His will, we can call out, through prayer, to the awesome power of God to accomplish His will: His Church.
“And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with BOLDNESS” (Acts 4:31).
Last and most important: this is His Church, not ours.
God is responsible for the success of His Church. It does not come from business or success models, education, talented people or church organizations (denominations).
God’s Church comes from Him alone.
• If we are accomplishing His will of sharing the Gospel unto salvation, then He adds daily.
• We are simply vessels for His use.
• If we are His vessels, then we walk confidently in His power and with His blessing.
• If we are His vessels, then we are His men/leaders: men of God.
The Church comes by the power of THE CONFESSION: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Because as Jesus said, “upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” Matthew 16:16.
Therefore, we are only His servants and not His lords. He is the Church’s Savior, and we are not. We are not the leaders of His churches: but leaders, men of God, in His Church.
His Church is purchased and guaranteed by His blood -- only His.
Act 20:28 "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”
I encourage you to read Acts 20:17-38.
The Lord’s shepherds and leaders in His Church.
"I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.
I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 11-15).
I pray we are not the hired hand, but the man of God laying down and sacrificing his life, all for Jesus and His sheep: His Church. The business model uses the hired hand. They hire men of talent, and if they do not perform, they are fired, and another is hired. The man of God is God’s shepherd, willing to use his life and lay down his life for the Shepherd’s sheep.
The Man of God possess the Godly qualities of a Godly life. He is dedicated wholly to God in holiness. He is God’s man for God’s purpose. He is empowered and led by God, possessing His authority and blessing. Like Elijah facing the prophets of Baal, he stands, acts, and breathes in the very presence of God. He accomplishes the will of God.
“Elijah said, ‘As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today’" (1 Kings 18:15).
This is God’s Church and He uses the man of God (men, women, and youth) to accomplish His Church.
“But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:20, 21).
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