So far I have shared the following

1. My preliminary response to the sermon by the Pastor
2. My thoughts on the Magi Gifts To Jesus

Now lets take a look at the second point used by the pastor

Pt 2 : Jesus had many rich (multi-millionaires) followers which keep donating to his ministry.

He also claimed that Jesus ministry was a “sophisticated travelling organization” where he travel to every city and every village.

An ministry like this requires substantial funding to operate. He quoted as example, how much it needs to run a healing ministry and how evangelistic campaign cost a huge amount of money.

He claimed that Jesus managed to finance his “sophisticated ministry” through donations from wealthy partners. And he quoted Lk 8:1-3 to support his view

“ Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons,  and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.” Luke the Physician (Lk 8:1-3)

He said that Chuza is like a minister of home affairs, chief of staff in the palace of Herod, and he claimed that they constantly contributed to the ministry.

Demystifying the work of a “Steward”

According to the Pastor, Chuza (the husband of Joanna) was the minister. Fact is that the word steward in Lk 8:3 was επιτροπου (epitropos) which means  a commissioner, that is, domestic manager, guardian: – steward, tutor.

The same word is also used Matt 20:8 in the Parable of Workers In the Vineyard. Paul uses the word as well in Gal 4:2

A steward is a servant to the master, he may have charge over his masters treasury (IE in  Matt 20:8, the steward is doing a job of a payroll clerk, giving out wages to the workers)

A Steward is far from a minister , he could be a freeman working under the employment of the master, or he could possibly be a slave in the master house (think of Joseph being a steward in the house of Potiphar)

Being a steward does not make one a millionaire (unless of course he is like the unjust steward Lk 16:1-13)

Demystifying The “Sophisticated Travelling Ministry”

This “Sophisticated Travelling Ministry” might have been applicable in modern churches. In the recent years many ministry make use of sophisticated equipment and state of the art sound systems, they  would often rent comfortable auditorium to used as venues for churches to reach out.

The work of Jesus is somewhat less complicated as I have shared in the first blog entry.

I think a more realistic depiction of this “sophisticated travelling ministry”  can be seen when Jesus systematically send out his 70 disciples to work. These are the specific instructions given by Jesus to his 70 disciples.

“ Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.   Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road.

But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’  And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. 

Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. 
And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 

But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.’But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city.” – Jesus (Lk 10:3-12)

You will notice the pastor quoting the same verse in one of my later blog post. and he had a “interesting understanding” regarding this.

Personally you will notice that the disciples then do not bring extra cash , in fact they are running the ministry with almost “zero capital”. They run their ministry using resources offered to them by the people in the city.

In event that no one receives the disciples, they are allowed to move to the next city and to leave it alone.

It is useful for us to note that after the establishment of the church in Acts, the disciples do perform their ministry prepared. But I would dare say that their method of service would be as frugal and simple just like how Jesus would have taught them.

Venue For Church Ministries

While it is a fact that the modern churches needs exorbitant amount of cash flow to finance their ministry, these cost are mainly due to exotic and state of the art equipment used in their hymn singing to the Lord. The ministry of Jesus is much more “cost effective” compared to those and perhaps the church should consider emulating Jesus’s ministry instead.

The gospel work during the time of Jesus thrives when there are people who loves the truth and are willing to provide lodging and accommodation to the travelling preachers. The preachers will make use of their homes as location to preach and to heal people. 

This practice of offering up personal home for church use was evident in the time of the apostles, in the bible we an see many examples of believers offering up their houses for church gatherings. For example

  1. The house of John Mark was used for the first church (Acts 1:12-14)
  2. Aquila And Priscilla allowed their house to be used for the church in Rome (Rom 16:3-5,  1 Cor 16:19)
  3. There are house churches in Colossae (Col 4:14-15)
    1. Some sources suggested that the church of Colossae met in the house of Philemon(Phm 1:2)

So  I guess I would leave the reader to draw their own conclusion into whether to accept the idea of “A sophisticated travelling ministry” as presented by the prosperity teachers, or to accept a ministry of Jesus that is more frugal that thrives on people who  love the truth and are willing to offer up their homes for church use.

Other Thoughts While Researching Into The Ministry Of Apostles

As I read into the bible about how God establish churches. It seems to me that although God has the power to force and brainwash people into worshipping him. But Jesus do not want blind followers.

God would through the holy spirit move and convict the world of sin (Jn 16:7-11) and he would move individuals to provide resources to establish his church.

This could only be done if believers were to be willing to go forward and preach the gospel. (Rom 10:12-15)

Therefore, let us realize that the commission of Jesus and to go into the world to preach the gospel. (Mk 16:15-16)

We know that in the last days, there will be a lack of the word of God.Even if the word is being preached, people will refuse to listen. Let us not be alarm or dismayed for it was already prophesied by Paul

“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;  and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” –Paul (2 Tim 4:1-4)

Paul concluded his exhortation to Timothy saying

“But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” Paul (2 Tim 4:5)

Let us be steadfast in preaching the word of God, let us continue to speak it, and allow spirit of God to convict the world of sin. Let us not focus on just merely result of the number of people whom believe.

Once the disciples of the Lord asked  “Lord, are there few who are saved?"

His answer was

"Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.  When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’

then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’  But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’

There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.

They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God.  And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last."  – Jesus (Lk 13:24-30)

Let us strive to enter heaven and let us learn to follow the command of the Lord. Let us work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Php 2:12-13), especially in a world where people prefer “sophisticated travel ministry” over the word of God.