Discover more from Frank Viola UNFILTERED
The Way God Raises Up Workers
Welcome to another Thursday UNFILTERED substack article, the only substack newsletter that did a personality test recently, and it came back negative.
Quick update: A huge thanks to everyone who has been contributing to help with the upcoming book, The Untold Story of the New Testament Church: Revised & Expanded. (Details are in last Thursday’s email.)
My most important book – Insurgence: Reclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom – is STILL discounted at $1.99 in all digital versions (at least in the USA and some other countries).
The publisher told me that the offer is supposed to end July 31st.
Now for today’s subject: “The Way God Raises Up Workers.”
A few months ago, one of the leaders in the IXP Mastermind I’ve been working with asked me to expound on the way God raises up apostolic workers.
He’s a seminary-trained lead pastor.
It’s been my contention for years that many (not all) traditional church pastors are really called to be apostolic workers, but most of them aren’t in touch with it.
And most of them have no idea what an apostle is and does, at least according to the New Testament (which is very different from the way many Christians understand “apostles” today – more on this in next week’s article.)
Here is what I said to this leader in my answer.
BEGINNING OF MY ANSWER
Jesus lived outside the system. He had no formal religious training. He was a blue-collar worker, a day laborer, a working-class hero, tutored by His Father in an artisan’s shop.
And thus He began a new line of spiritual (“ministerial”) training that Paul of Tarsus later duplicated.
Every person who is not a professional clergyman who works for a living can identify with Jesus because He grew up as a day laborer not as a paid cleric.
He was certainly familiar with the leading teachers and teachings of His day. But a person does not have to be part of the religious establishment and enrolled in the theological education system to be familiar with what the system teaches.
I am an example as I intentionally have never been to seminary, though I’ve been invited to speak in seminaries and have gone nose-to-nose with numerous seminary professors.
I am keenly familiar with the kind of training that seminary gives (which is incredibly limited and much of it not spiritually profitable). Some of it is helpful, of course.
The religious leaders were baffled by Jesus and they were also baffled by the apostles who also were “unschooled” men (see Acts 4).
The implications are super important and they should not be separated from our Lord's earthly life.
The whole Gospel narrative is crystal clear that Jesus was not a trained priest, rabbi, or scribe.
He was NOT part of the religious establishment.
That's why people marveled when He spoke, impressed that He spoke as "one with authority" not like the religious leaders. (In other words, He didn’t use footnotes like the other teachers did.)
Jesus made Pharisees, scribes, and Sadducees have running fits.
He condemned them with general terms, "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, etc."
If he was part of that religious crowd, the Gospels wouldn't make sense.
Paul of Tarsus WAS a trained Pharisee, but he came out of the religious system and spoke against its frame of mind as well as its traditions.
He merely used his “credentials” to connect with the synagogues, pulling the Gamaliel card (which is the equivalent of saying he was a Harvard Grad. But it meant zero to him personally as he put it in Philippians 3).
Paul’s primary enemy was an ex-Pharisee who followed him everywhere he went (he referred to him as a “thorn in the flesh”).
The religious leaders hated Paul just as they did Jesus.
Paul raised up workers in Ephesus exactly like Jesus did in Galilee. And they were all outside the system. (The main difference is that most of Paul’s apostolites—apostolic apprentices—were Gentiles, with a few Jews.)
The "education" given in both contexts was completely different from what was given in the religious establishment of their day.
In short, in Jesus, we have the way that God raises up workers. (Again, Jesus is the human face of God.)
God the Father trained Jesus in the grind of everyday life as a working man. Jesus learned to hear the Father’s voice and respond to that voice. It was also a training by OBSERVATION.
Jesus often said “I do what I SEE the Father doing.”
Jesus trained the Twelve in the same way. They learned to hear the voice of Jesus and respond to that voice. And they OBSERVED Jesus 24/7, watching His ministry and how he founded a community, which was made up of twelve men and about seven women.
Later, Paul took the torch and trained eight men in Ephesus, with a ninth added later. They OBSEREVED Paul’s ministry and how he raised up a community of God’s people in Ephesus.
The Father called Jesus to His work (He was the first “apostle,” which He is called in Hebrews), the Father trained Jesus, and then the Father sent Jesus after His baptism.
In the same way:
Jesus called the Twelve to the work, He trained the twelve, and then He sent the Twelve.
In the same way:
The Lord called Barnabas to the work, the Twelve trained Barnabas (and others, unwittingly), then the Spirit sent Barnabas (and others).
In the same way:
The Lord called Paul to the work, Barnabas trained Paul, and Paul was sent by the Spirit.
In the same way:
The Lord called nine men, Paul trained them, and he sent them to the Lord’s work.
It’s an unbroken pattern throughout the New Testament narrative.
For details and Scriptural support, see:
Jesus: A Theography, chapter 6.
Finding Organic Church, Parts 1-3.
Pagan Christianity, chapter 10.
My article (on the blog) “Rethinking Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh.”
All of this goes along with the lessons from David’s life that I’ve been sharing with you and the others in the Mastermind.
Would that the Holy Spirit give fresh light as you read and allow that paradigm to shift. :-)
END OF ANSWER
Next week, I plan to share my most important resource on apostolic ministry and organic church planting.
If you preach /and or teach, we still have openings in next year’s IXP Mastermind.
Related: Where are the workers?