Tuesday, September 01, 2009



When I was a young believer, I adopted Romans 1:16 as my life verse: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes." Paul prays that the "eyes of your heart my be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe" (Ephesians 1:18-29). And when the gospel message of Jesus went out to the city of Thessalonica, "the gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." (I Thessalonians 1:5). It's difficult to read the life and works of Jesus and the early church and miss the powerful explosiveness of the Good News!

So, how can believers today embrace that same kind of power? Is there a spiritual formula that I must discover? A special, supernatural experience that I must know? A certain version of the Bible? A specially anointed denomination or group that I must join? Do I need more of the Holy Spirit?

None of the above is the answer. It's more simple than that! In fact, Paul put it this way: "I'm afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, that your minds might be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ" (II Corinthians 11:3-5). This simplicity of Jesus is all wrapped in the fellowship principle. Let's examine the model of Jesus, the mode of the disciples and the mandate for the 21st Century.

First, the model of Jesus. Think about it! If you were out to start a movement that would change the world through its message of faith, love and hope, how would you have orchestrated it? I would have launched into doing massive seminars and workshops to as many people as possible. My model for reaching the world would have been filled with the latest papyri flyers being handed out by the best-trained management and sales team ever!

Jesus did just the opposite. He came into this world with a quiet, yet supernatural birth. He performed quiet, yet powerful miracles, mostly on individuals. Instead of a series of massive, promotional events, Jesus chose to work with a few. At first He chose only three just to come alongside Him-to be with Him. Note that He didn't lay out a plan to reach the world right away. That came later. Then, after experiencing the power of being together with the few and learning how to love one another, He sent out several more followers. The movement became contagious from the very beginning.

Jesus' strategy proved to be the most dynamite movement ever launched! This movement of a few were unlikely people, untrained and uneducated who were used to turn the world upside down! Now that's powerful!

Second, the mode of the disciples. The disciples of Jesus learned to follow the model that was set. They always traveled and ministered in teams of two or more.

When you read the book of I Thessalonians, you will discover that the ministry that followed Jesus' pattern echoed forth from the believers in Thessalonica throughout Greece and much of the rest of the world. They were known for their faith that worked (work of faith), their love that worked (labor of love) and their hope that stayed (steadfastness of hope). These believers saw people in Thessalonica and all of Greece turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for Jesus to return.

The most shocking thing about this powerful explosion in northern Greece is how it all began! Since first seeing this through a brother and friend, I have asked a question over and over to pastors, professors, counselors, bible students and to hundreds of people within church congregations. The question is simple. After reading the first chapter of the book of I Thessalonians, I ask "Who wrote I Thessalonians?" I have never received the correct answer yet!

Most everyone answers, "Paul!" I did the same thing when I was asked. However, in the very first verse it clearly tells you that it was Paul, Silvanus and Timothy. These three wrote the book! And it was the dynamite relationship of these three men that the Thessalonians imitated! These three men practiced the fellowship principle and their work proved to be most effective-most powerful! Maybe this is the missing link that we've all been praying and searching for-the fellowship principle.

Third, the mandate for the 21st Century. Paul must have been a southerner, because he used what I call "the y'all principle" throughout most of his writing. Take a look: "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you (among y'all), with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God" (Colossians 3:16). Or, "I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you (in y'all)" (Galatians 4:19). Or, "Christ in you (in y'all), the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).

Paul is commanding believers everywhere to allow Jesus to make His dwelling place (make Himself at home) as you come together into the fellowship. The dynamite (power) of the gospel will be present in the midst of a few who are gathered together in Jesus' name. The y'all principle is the fellowship principle!

If you want to be powerful and effective in spreading the message of Jesus, you must do it His way. WDJD? (What Did Jesus Do?) is far more powerful than discussing WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?). Your "I" will be powerfully turned into "we." That's the dynamite of the fellowship principle!