The Christian’s Responsibility
By Dr. Ken Matto
(Acts 13:36 KJV) For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:
When speaking of the responsibility of the Christian, we will find a very good insight in Acts 13:36. It speaks about King David having served his own generation and when his days of service were over, he fell on sleep, which means he went to be with the Lord in Heaven. There are two phrases which I want to look at which will give us the catalyst for this article. They are “had served” and “his own.”
Had served - It is the Greek word “hupê retê sas” which carries with it the meaning of “minister” or to “act in submission to another’s will.”
His own - It is the Greek word “idí a” which means “ones own or peculiar to oneself.” It is a possessive pronoun.
When one looks at the life of David, one of the first things that comes to mind is his sin with Bathsheba. However, in the book of Acts, God teaches us that despite the hardships and the times of disobedience of David, he was one that served his own generation. David was called by God to faithfully execute His will to the people of God. When we look at the life of David, we ask ourselves the question, how does his life affect ours? We can respond to that question by applying Acts 13:36 as the answer.
David was born at the appointed time by God and was given a responsibility to serve his generation by means of being the King and a believer. It is the same situation as Queen Esther who was given a very important principle by Mordecai. (Est 4:14 KJV) For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Queen Esther was not raised to be a queen by some kind of chance happening. God had a specific ministry for her so that she served her own generation. It was through her that the Jews in Persia were saved from being exterminated.
Moses was another who was raised up to lead the nation of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. He served his generation by challenging Pharaoh and then when God sent ten plagues, Moses was the one whom God raised up to lead the children of Israel for forty years. (Exo 3:10 KJV) Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.
Whenever we begin to look at the people in the Bible which God had raised up, let us not look only that they were specific characters but let us look at them in reference to the fact of them serving their own generation. If you notice, God raised each of them up for specific purposes. Let us just name a few:
Apostle Paul - Church planting, preaching, apologetics, and writing Scripture under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Joshua - Chosen to lead the people of Israel into the Promised land and successor to Moses
Nymphas - Had a church in his house (Col. 4:15)
Jochebed - She gave Birth to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam
Urbane - Helper in Christ (Romans 16:9)
We have just looked at five personalities which were raised up by God for certain purposes. Three of them are well-known and two of them are not, yet God saw fit to name them in the Scriptures. Now let us look at five the Lord has raised up after the Bible was completed. God continues to raise up Christians and gives each one a specific purpose whereby they will serve their own generation.
Martin Luther - God used him to start the Reformation in 1517
Desiderius Erasmus - God used him to print the Greek text - First edition in 1516
William Carey - (1761-1834) God used him as the father of missions to India and gave us the great missionary motto, “Expect great things from God: attempt great things for God.”
George Washington - God used him as the father of the greatest missionary nation in history, America.
Dr. Paul Freed - God used him to begin and build Trans World Radio in 1954
As you can plainly see that God has continued to call Christians throughout the ages and gives them a specific ministry and purpose. Just because the Bible has been completed, the principle of calling and serving have never been negated and are needed more today than ever. Christianity is more than just going to church each Sunday or going to some Christian music concert. Just like David, each Christian has been called to serve or minister to their own generation. Some people like to bring up the argument about the length of a generation.
(Luke 11:50-51 KJV) That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; {51} From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.
In Luke 11:50-51, Jesus refers to the fact that the blood of all the prophets which were martyred from the beginning of the world would be required of the generation in which He came into the world. Was Jesus stating that the responsibility of the murder of Abel was placed on the Pharisees some thousands of years later? The answer is yes and no. No because Cain will still have to answer for that sin on Judgment day and yes because Jesus was facing the same mindset of hatred toward the things of God that Abel faced. Jesus was referring to the generation of evil as the entire history of mankind from the entrance of sin to the last day. So a generation can be thousands of years or it can be a few years, and it is really academic because you and I were given a certain amount of time on this earth to minister to our generation. Your generation will be the span of your life, whether it will be 20 years or 80 years. It is within the confines of your day of salvation and the day of your home going where you will minister to your generation.
So then the question remains is that since we have seen at least ten people who have ministered to their own generation, both from the Scriptures and from time after the writing of the Scriptures, how then do we serve our own generation? First I want to bring to light a subtle trap which we can fall into if we are not careful. The following was sent to me by a date setter who believes he is divine and his date setting is by the Holy Spirit, making his calendar equal to Scripture.
“I can therefore more understand why anything in the form a study written by Dr. Matto always seem to be dead and lifeless and without the Spirit of Christ. His writings come across in this bland manner and there is never any spiritual insights just things that we could naturally have gotten ourselves without any assistance or reliance on the Spirit of Christ!”
Some Christians feel that they must be profound and that they must leave a lasting impression by creating some type of new theological system. The bottom line is that we have enough of them and they only engender confusion. The man above has denigrated my Bible studies by claiming they are bland and lifeless and that is because I reject the biblical calendar for date setting. I also reject new movements such as the Emerging Church with all its esoteric teachings, the purpose driven church fiasco written by CFR member Rick Warren which has caused major strife and divisions in the churches. I also rejected Promise Keepers when it first came out because it too was a source of many unbiblical teachings by Roman Catholic priests and men like Jack Hayford who came out on stage in Atlanta and did a native Indian dance which was probably to some devil. Yes, what I am going to share with you may seem bland but it has been God’s way of Christians serving their own generation.
Teach the Bible Alone
(Psa 119:16 KJV) I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
One of the reasons that the person accused me of being bland and lifeless is because for people like that, the Gospel is boring. When someone becomes saved, there are no whistles or fireworks. The reality is that the true word of God makes changes in the inward man and not in the flesh. So when someone comes along and states that studies are lifeless, it is because they are into sensationalism.
(1 Ki 19:11-12 KJV) And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: {12} And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
Elijah had listened for the voice of the Lord and it was not heard in the wind or in an earthquake but in a still small voice. Those who are into sensationalism and fanciful interpretations of the Bible are treading dangerous ground. God expects His true children to teach His word as He gave it to us and not to add meanings to the words or create complex theological systems which only exalt the people who create them and cause Christians to stumble over these false teachings.
As we progress in our Christian walk and get to the point that we are able to teach the Bible, then it is our responsibility to teach what God has placed in the Bible. We must keep in mind that those who we will be teaching will not be on the same level of understanding. So when we teach the basic doctrines of the Bible to newer believers, we are grounding them in the Word of God and it is on the basic doctrines of the Bible that becomes the foundation for further understanding and growth. For example, I am not going to teach the Doctrine of Imputation without first teaching the Doctrine of Christ. A doctrine is an established teaching which is well grounded in Scripture. They are basically principles and truths encapsulating a certain subject. For example, some basic doctrines in the Bible which are necessary to understand are: Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, Salvation, Christ, God, Angels, Satan, Sin, Salvation, Hell, etc. On these basic doctrines we build our understanding of further doctrines such as the Doctrine or Inspiration, Imputation, Illumination, Incarnation, Creation, the Fall, etc.
So we must keep in mind that these doctrines, although familiar to us, will be new to them. Then as they mature in the faith and we step off the scene, the cycle will repeat itself as they now teach the Bible to new Christians. This is how we ground them in the truths of Scripture. By teaching the basics of Scripture, we are serving or ministering to our own generation. Every generation which has come and gone since the close of the Canon in 95 A.D. has done the same thing and paralleling the true teachings has always been the false teachings. When a believer is grounded in the true teachings of Scripture, they will know when they are being assaulted by a false teaching and this is how the truth of the Scriptures is passed to each succeeding generation. As you teach a Christian true Bible doctrine, they in turn will build on those teachings and will be preparing themselves to teach others as they mature in the faith. Just as David did politically, you will do spiritually. David’s sphere of influence was the whole nation of Israel. Our sphere of influence may be much smaller. God raises up each Christian for a certain time and a certain purpose. He raised up Martin Luther and used him as the catalyst for the Reformation. When he nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the cathedral at Wittenburg, he had no idea it would spread worldwide. (Zec 4:10 KJV) For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth. We must never look down upon our ministries as being too small. We never know what God has planned for the future and what part we are playing in it in the present. When Martin Luther was being prepared for his ministry, he read one small verse which the Lord used to propel him into a deeper study of the Scriptures. (Rom 1:17 KJV) For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
When Martin Luther, under the illumination of the Holy Spirit, saw that the just live by faith, it was a small verse but it opposed the works gospel of the Roman Catholic Institution. It was one man with one small verse who took on the largest and most powerful religious organization of the day, and won. It was God’s Word which broke the power of Roman Catholicism in 1517. So Martin Luther had served his own generation by exalting the Word of God. This is why it is so important to each generation that the Word of God is taught from the Word of God without a biased commentary.
Adopt a Mission
(Mark 16:15 KJV) And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Another very important way we serve our own generation is by supporting missions. Just as the generations before us sent and supported missions, our generation must also be involved with the Great Commission. If you are not called to the mission field, then you can adopt a mission organization and send monthly support. Since I like to write, I have chosen a literature ministry named World Missionary Press. You may like shortwave radio and may decide to adopt Trans World Radio, HCJB, or Far East Broadcasting Company, or maybe another one which the Lord lays on your heart. You may also want to support a missionary or a missionary organization like Africa Inland Mission. You would send the money to them and they would disperse it as needed. Maybe each of us could do with one less CD or MP3 player or even a DVD. The money we spend on ourselves yearly could fund missions greatly. After we play a DVD or CD a few times, it normally gets shelved and the money is lost forever. Christians must adopt a missions mindset. How can one read the book of Acts, and not see the calling of every believer in there? Those who could not go with Paul were eager to send funds to partake in that ministry. We need to look beyond the borders of our own lives and realize that we can serve our own generation by supporting missions.
(2 Cor 8:1-5 KJV) Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; {2} How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. {3} For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; {4} Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. {5} And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.
You need not be in position of great financial possessions but even small amounts are welcome on the mission field. The churches in Macedonia were going through great affliction, yet they supplied a great gift for the ministry even while being in deep poverty. Never let us forget the principle of the loaves and fishes which Christ multiplied. The source was a little boy’s lunch which could hardly feed him, yet when put into the hands of Christ, it fed thousands. Missions is the reason of existence of Christians. We will serve our own generation well when we maximize our outreach and this we must do.
Personal Involvement
(Col 4:17 KJV) And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.
If there is one thing which is severely lacking in fulfillment, it is the personal involvement of Christians in ministry. Too many have excuses for not being involved such as time constraints, family responsibilities, sports, etc. A friend of mine was telling me a few days ago that he visited a church and one of the members told him that the pastor spoke too long because now he is missing the football game on Sunday afternoon. This man will sit in front of the TV for 7 hours and watch multiple games, yet a one hour sermon was too long. When will Christians realize that Satan has set up Sunday as a big sports day to divert the Christian from being involved with ministry and to keep them away from the evening service? When will they also realize that this life is transitory and not permanent and we only have a few years to do ministry?
Just think, if you did not watch sports on Sunday afternoon, what could you possibly do for those few hours? Let’s see, one could hand out a thousand tracts, nursing home ministry, hospital ministry, prison ministry, afternoon Bible study, visitation, etc. Christians must adopt a mindset that we are to reach others for the Kingdom and while there will be time to rest or vacation, it must not become the lifestyle. You need to have something to rest from. God has given each Christian one or two spiritual gifts and we are to exercise those gifts by personal involvement in some type of ministry. How can you serve your own generation if you are not doing anything? Do you remember I mentioned Nymphas and he is only mentioned once in the Bible and that is because he had a church in his house. It may have been a small gathering, but God saw fit to let us know two thousand years later that he had one in his house. Maybe he was the teacher or not, but the fact was he got involved even on a smaller scale. You may not be able to teach the Bible but you may have the room in your home to host one. Remember, in the beginning there were no church buildings just houses where they met and out of those house churches came many solid Christians who went forth to preach the Gospel.
Involvement is the key and to what extent will be determined by two factors, 1) how serious a commitment you have, and 2) based on your commitment, how much God will bless and grow your involvement. Any Christian which takes serious their commitment to Christ will be blessed in their endeavors. When I started a writing ministry about 1988, I had no idea that the studies would be going into so many countries around the world. When I first started, I made a monthly ministry mailing to about 60 local churches and some friends on my list. Some liked it and some requested removal but that is all part of ministry, but the ones who wanted removal, did not deter me from going on in the writing ministry. I adopted the principle years ago that I would never charge for any materials and the Lord has blessed that because I have been offering my studies on the Internet since 1996, before I had my present website, I had a 6 MB free site through EarthLink. So if your involvement is small now, if it is a serious biblical endeavor, it will not remain small very long.
Just one more quick statistic. I mentioned that many Christians come home to watch football on Sunday Afternoon and may watch the games for maybe 3-7 hours. Let us say across the country, this is being done by 10 million Christians and that number is conservative. How much ministry do you think could be accomplished in one afternoon across this country by means of an investment of 30 to 70 million hours, just on Sunday afternoon. Now another reality multiply it by 16 weeks for the football season from September to December, not counting the playoffs and Superbowl in January. That comes out to 480 million to 1.12 billion hours of ministry. That equals out to between 20 to 47 million days of ministry which is lost to sports on Sunday Afternoon, and that does not include the NASCAR, Baseball, Hockey, or Basketball seasons, so the number I calculated is really much lower than the lost time for just football season. (Psa 90:12 KJV) So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
The reality is that you are not serving your own generation by doing nothing. Going to church or listening to MP3’s or listening to sermons is not involvement. The essence of involvement is sacrifice. (Mat 16:24 KJV) Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Do you see the principle in that verse? It is the denial of self but it does not stop there, when you deny yourself, you must pick up your cross and follow Christ. That means you must become dead to your own self and your worldly desires and exchange them for the cross life of Christianity. You must be a living sacrifice for the purpose of reaching your own generation. That means no half measure but full speed ahead. (Rom 12:1 KJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. When God saved us, He left us here on earth with a responsibility to reach our own generation with the Gospel.
Just as David served his own generation, we must do the same within the sphere of influence where God has placed us. Don’t worry about the size of your ministry because a small ministry in obedience to God is of greater value than a large ministry in disobedience to God. One of the greatest con jobs that Christians get from the pulpit is the idea of some kind of rewards and it is that mindset which propels Christians to want to have large ministries, thinking the larger the ministry, the greater the reward but that is not true. If you look at some of the larger ministries, they are compromisers and deceivers that is disobedience to the Lord. What kind of a reward would one expect if they are peddling a false gospel? Never look at the size of a ministry, look at its faithfulness! Faithful is what the Lord expects of us. So don’t you think it is time to get busy because how do you know how much time you have left?