Saturday, January 07, 2006

Hands On Ministry

One of the important and neglected elemental doctrines is the laying on of hands. It is seen as a mere formality or an afterthought to most evangelicals these days. What a shame; indeed, it should be a central part of the life of a believer. The laying on of hands is for various purposes but more than one can occur at the same time (for example in Numbers 27:15-23, Joshua received a commission before all the people and an impartation of authority). So you will definitely see overlap in the Scriptures and in personal experience, but sometimes it is for one, i.e. you are being confirmed but not sent. Lay hands suddenly on no man (1 Timothy 5:22) refers primarily to ordination. Hands should be laid upon those persons "in whom is the Spirit", those truly called for the purpose who have shown themselves of good report. Acts 14:21-23 – saving souls, strengthening saints, and sending servants. Seeing 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 in the light of 1 Corinthians 6:17 will help build an understanding of why this doctrine is so important.

C – H – R – I – S – T – six basic functions of the laying on of hands

(Acknowledging your calling – such as ordination: into the body as a local member – hands are laid on new members to confirm them as approved: or for a particular mission /ministry)

Numbers 8:10-11 – the Levites consecrated – liken this to a new church plant, the start of a new ministry, or to a ceremony where multiple people are being set apart for service.

Numbers 27:15-23 – Joshua follows Moses (Deuteronomy 34:9) – if God has called you and His authority figures on earth have confirmed you, this should keep you encouraged in tough times.

Mark 3:13-15 (ordained) / Luke 6:12-19 – not stated directly, however, the context of Mark 3 and Luke 6 show that Jesus had prayed all night and probably fasted, prefiguring Acts 13 and the sending of Saul (Paul) and Barnabas. Most likely He laid hands on the twelve of His disciples that were named apostles, and when He began to heal the multitude they all wanted to touch Him as they saw what power this had. Luke 10:1 – The seventy were sent out and it can be reasonably assumed that Jesus laid hands on them as well, as Christ often used physicality in His ministry.

Acts 6:5-6 – the confirmation (their qualifications for ministry were already known – vs.3, 5), consecration (vs.6), and commission (where God place you He graces you – Stephen Acts 6:8, 10, 15, Acts 7:1-60 / Philip Acts 8:5-13, 26-40) of the first deacons.

(Anointing with oil usually occasioned with the laying on of hands, point of contact such as the handkerchiefs delivered from Paul, deliverance included as well)

Many instances: 1 Kings 17:21-23 / 2 Kings 4:34-35 / Matthew 8:2-4, 14-15 / Matthew 9:18, 25 / Matthew 20:34 / Mark 1:41 / Mark 6:5, 13 / Mark 7:32-35 / Mark 8:22-25 / Mark 16:18 / Luke 4:40-41 / Luke 7:14-15 / Luke 13:11-13 / Luke 22:50-51 / Acts 9:10-12, 17 / Acts 19:11 / Acts 20:10 / Acts 28:8 / James 5:14-15

(This is personal prophecy, revelation of calling, ministry gifts, confirmation of God’s will, etc.)

Genesis 48:9-14, 17-19 – personal prophecy / blessing

Acts 13:2-4, 14:4 – Paul and Barnabas were already considered prophets, and they were revealed to be apostles and then sent. In that sense, you may find yourself functioning in one capacity or another until a designated time when the Holy Spirit decides it is time both to reveal your calling to you and to release you into that calling. When that moment arrived for Paul it was while he was in Antioch and up until that time he had been functioning as a prophet or a teacher or both. Then the Holy Spirit said, “Separate two from the rest of them.” And what happened then was that hands were laid on them to confirm that they were being separated out from what they used to be, confirm what it was that the Holy Spirit had declared that they were and then they were released to go into the work to which they were called, which was, of course, the work of apostles. This is not a unique experience in the Scriptures with somebody working in a certain capacity and then the time came for the Holy Spirit to establish them in something else.

Acts 16 with 1 Timothy 1:18, 4:14, 2 Timothy 1:6, 14 and 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2:6 – Timothy was a disciple who had a good report among the brethren, and Paul was looking for replacements for Barnabas, which was Silas, and John Mark, which would be Timothy. He received a personal prophecy that he was to be called as an apostle, the presbytery laid hands on him, and Paul also laid his hands on Timothy, giving Timothy revelation, confirmation, and spiritual gifts. We see that Timothy was indeed an apostle.

So it is the same picture with Paul as it was with Timothy, that is: they were doing something else, the moment arose when, in the timing of the Lord it was time for them to be confirmed in their calling as apostles. So there was a prophetic utterance in both cases – both in Paul’s case and in Timothy’s case – a prophetic utterance, and it was followed by the laying on of hands. The laying on of hands then was a confirmation of a prophetic utterance by those who already knew what the nature of the work of Paul and Timothy was. So this is an important truth about the laying on of hands: you do not lay hands on someone and, by that, you make them into something. Before hands are laid on someone, first, the nature of the work that they are doing should be apparent; it should be clear. Secondly, those who lay hands on that person should be familiar with the work of that person, and then finally, when hands are laid, it is the declaration by those persons of what they know to be true about the work and the calling of this individual.

2 Kings 13:16-17 – true prophetic ministry

A word about personal prophecy; it should usually be only a confirmation of something the Spirit had already spoken to your heart. Sometimes even true prophets can overstep their understanding and make a paragraph where there was a period. For example, in Acts 21:4 true prophets said by the Spirit, so it was true stuff, that Paul “should not go” to Jerusalem. What is evident is that the prophets heard from God that Paul was to suffer in Jerusalem, but what they didn’t know was that the Spirit had already informed Paul of this (Acts 20:20-24). To Paul this was just a confirmation that although he would indeed suffer, the Lord had ordained that it be and this was a comfort rather than a concern for him. The other prophets took what they had heard from the Spirit and extended it out to application, rather than simply leave it as proclamation; they put their personal feelings for Paul in it. Agabus, a mature prophet (Acts 11:27-28) confirmed the dread that would come to Paul, but did not add his “two cents” of application on. Of course, the crowd further begged Paul not to go (Acts 21:10-12). Paul understood this and answered them in Acts 21:13, saying that he was willing to die for the Lord if need be, and they understood the will of the Lord (vs.14).

(Of spiritual gifts or spiritual authority for leadership)

Numbers 27:15-23 (The word here translated "honour" may correctly be rendered "authority.")

Acts 8:17-21 – money or social status does not earn the power of God.

Acts 9:10-12, 17 – Paul filled with the Spirit; the calling was revealed to Paul (Acts 22:12-16).

Acts 19:6 – as Acts 8 & 9, activating baptism with the Spirit; need to look at previous teaching.

1 Timothy 1:18, 4:14 / 2 Timothy 1:6, 14 – Timothy’s calling, gifting as previously discussed.

(Into service locally and elsewhere: in the church is commissioning, outside, or parachurch ministry, is sending: missionaries that come in to our body should go out with our blessing)

Luke 10:1 – see previous discussion.

Acts 13:2-4 – releasing someone into their calling.

Acts 6:5-6 – local ministry that can take place outside of the four walls of the church building.

Acts 20:17-38 – when someone leaves the church to go to another place of ministry.

(Of agreement or as a blessing, symbolic regarding agreement)

Matthew 18:19 – as touching any thing, it is symbolic of agreement (1 Corinthians 1:10). Prayer for needs definitely justifies the laying on of hands. This is also to restore an erring brother (Galatians 6:1: the Matthew 18 context of church discipline fits, also Genesis 33:4 / 45:14-15).

Genesis 48:9-14, 17-19 / Matthew 19:13-15 / Mark 10:13-16 – dedication ceremonies of children, not baptism, using Numbers 6:22-27 as a blessing, prophetic utterance can be included if done in the Spirit, caution not to let just “anyone” do this, only those proven over time.

Acts 20:17-38 – when anyone is leaving the church in good standing hands should be laid on them to send them out in love.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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