What Makes a Ministry Appealing? Part 2 :: By Paul J. Scharf

What Makes a Ministry Appealing? Part 2 :: By Paul J. Scharf

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In the previous installment, I began building upon a statement by my professor of systematic theology at Faith Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Myron J. Houghton.

Basing his thoughts on 2 Cor. 2:15-16, Dr. Houghton stated: “Your ministry is like a fragrance. It will attract some, and it will repel others.”

We are considering here some Biblically legitimate means of making our ministries of the utmost appeal to the greatest number of people. In the first place, we considered the need to know our audiences. We will look at the final two ideas in this, the concluding installment.

  1. Know Your Subject

I am presenting these ideas in what I see as a logical order. However, this point is really, objectively, the most important and necessary.

An attorney may have tremendous passion. If he does not understand the law, however, he will be of little value to his client. A medical doctor may have incredible empathy. If he is not skilled in the practice of medicine, however, his patient will only continue to suffer.

As ministers, preachers, and teachers of the Word of God—dealing with eternal souls—it is not enough for us to rely on emotion or zeal. We need to dispense the precepts of Scripture clearly and, especially, with exact faithfulness to all that He has revealed.

Many volumes could be written on this subject, so it is my intention here just to share a few pointed reminders.

If we want our audiences to be fascinated, we have to impart something they’ll find fascinating. Thankfully, the Bible is filled with such material. Our task is to mine it out.

If there ever was a time when the preacher could get by with being less than prepared (or, heaven forbid, less than truthful), that time is gone. Most people in the crowd have a phone in their hands—a click away from fact-checking the sermon.

I accept the fact that preachers and teachers are at different levels of education and understanding. All of us ought to be learning and growing. Some things, however, are simply inexcusable.

In my experience, I have seen messages developed off of a misquoted verse, or a partial reading of a verse, or a misunderstanding of a theological concept. To use a word from James, “My brethren, these things ought not to be so” (3:10).

People are hungry to learn. They want to know the historical and cultural backgrounds which impact our understanding of the Biblical text. They want to be able to trust their teacher—and discover the truth from him.

Almost every time I speak, I also remind the congregation that each one has their own obligations, as well, to “consider what I say” (2 Tim. 2:7), then “(search) the Scriptures” (Acts 17:11) for themselves. Mind you, this is really not an out for the preacher but actually another level of accountability for him.

  1. Know Your People

The final suggestion I offer for making our ministries more appealing to more people is to get to know, as much as possible, those whom we teach.

The people in the pews are not props for our presentation but eternal souls to whom we minister—and we will “give account” (Heb. 13:17) for them.

“I know my sheep,” Jesus said, “and am known by my own” (John 10:14). He added, “I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).

In the providence of God, and by His grace, He allowed me to have an experience in pastoral ministry that made an indelible mark upon my heart and mind in this regard. I was greeting people in the foyer one Sunday after the service, and a dear lady came up to me, humbly asking for my assistance.

“Yes, __________,” I responded.

The woman was immediately taken aback, and paused.

“You know my name!” she exclaimed out of surprise.

That was a powerful moment for me. It is a lesson that can be hard to practice consistently with all of the people that I meet in my ministry with The Friends of Israel. But, with God’s help, remembering someone’s name makes a deep impression. And I believe it will serve to make our ministries more appealing.

The Apostle Paul concluded the passage on which this series is based by asking this probing question: “And who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Cor. 2:16).

May God give us the strength and wisdom which only He can supply, to the end that our ministries might appeal to the most people, in the worthiest manner.


Paul J. Scharf (M.A., M.Div., Faith Baptist Theological Seminary) is a church ministries representative for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, based in Columbus, WI, and serving in the Midwest. For more information on his ministry, visit sermonaudio.com/pscharf or foi.org/scharf, or email pscharf@foi.org.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version.


The post What Makes a Ministry Appealing? Part 2 :: By Paul J. Scharf appeared first on Rapture Ready.


  • Reply June 21, 2023


    North American Christians have become increasingly aware of their battle with demonic forces. Teaching on spiritual warfare is in great demand today. And the doctrine that Christians can be inhabited by demons is popularly taught by respected teachers across divergent theological lines, from charismatic to anticharismatic dispensational. Entire ministries have been founded for the purpose of delivering Christians from demonic control. As a result, stories like those of “Carl” have become almost commonplace, causing concern to some.

    Can a Christian have a demon? The question is not merely academic. The answer affects the type of pastoral care one can expect to provide or receive (e.g., can a point be reached in a counseling relationship where an exorcism becomes necessary?) and the way a believer perceives his or her battle with the world, the flesh, and the Devil.

    In this article we will first examine the currently popular view that, while a Christian cannot be “demon possessed,” believers may be “demonized.” This means that (1) demons can reside within believers and exercise control over them, and (2) the appropriate method of dealing with this problem is to cast the demon out.

    The second view to be considered (and, in this article, defended) states that a believer cannot be inhabited and therefore controlled by a demonic spirit since he or she is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. This view does allow that believers may be externally “oppressed” by demonic forces, but maintains that resistance, not deliverance, is the proper method of dealing with this problem. Let’s look at the reasons given for these two opposing views.


    Etymological Considerations

    View no.1 understands the Greek verb daimonizomai to be translated “demonized” rather than “demon possessed” because (1) possession implies ownership and Satan does not own anything; (2) the verb is passive and pictures a demon controlling a passive person; and (3) the verb’s root means a “demon-caused passivity.”1

    It is obvious that “demonized” is a more attractive translation than “demon possessed” to those who believe a demon can invade and inhabit a believer’s body. This avoids the emotive connotations associated with demon possession. One might take this translation to mean demonic influence from without. But this would be misguided, since (1) this is the main term used in the New Testament to describe people inhabited by demons (along with variations of “have a demon”), and it is never used for anything less; and (2) those who teach that a believer can be demonized also teach that wicked spirits can actually reside within a Christian. These demons would then need to be cast out. Thus, the issue is not the translation of the verb, but the location of wicked spirits relative to the believer. In other words we may ask: Can demons control Christians from within or only oppress them from without?

    View no. 2 understands the verb to mean “demon possessed” because (1) the Greek lexicons and theological dictionaries all translate daimonizomai as “to be possessed by a demon”;2 and (2) one of the English dictionary definitions for possess is “to gain or exert influence or control over; dominate” (American Heritage Dictionary, 3d ed.). Thus, demon possession can be understood as “possession to control.” W. E. Vine translates the verb this way: “To be possessed of a demon, to act under the control of a demon.”3

    View no.2 better fits the etymological facts (i.e., the historical usage of the word) because: (1) the issue is not ownership (as in the popularized myth that one can “sell his soul to the Devil”) but the location of a demon relative to the believer, for only if the demon is within the believer is it truly in a position to control (and thus possess) him or her; (2) in Jesus’ parable of the strong man (Matt. 12.29; Luke 11:21-22), He compares His freeing the captives of demon invasion with someone first binding a strong man (i.e., Satan) and then plundering his possessions (Greek huparchõ, in Luke 11:21). Since the possessions in the parable represent the people Jesus delivers from demons, there is a biblical sense in which Satan can possess people; (3) in Greek the passive voice merely means that the subject is the recipient of the action, a fact perfectly consistent with the term demon possessed when properly defined as being inhabited, and thus controlled by, a demon.

  • Reply June 21, 2023


    Scriptures Cited to Support Invasion of Christians

    The Case of King Saul. Two passages say that an evil spirit from God came upon Saul. Both times he tried to pin David to the wall with his javelin (1 Sam. 18:10-11; 19:9-10). The first question to be considered is whether Saul was a genuine believer. Although at the time of his anointing as king it appeared as though he were a man of God (1 Sam. 10, ff.), his subsequent behavior was not consistent with an authentic conversion (James 2:14). The fact that he was anointed and used by God proves he was a true believer

    “The Hebrew text says that the evil spirit would come upon Saul or depart from upon him; it is never said to have entered into Saul, as would be expected if demon-possesion was the intended idea but certainly denotes demonization of the king

    The Case of the Woman Bent Double. In Luke 13:10-17 we read of a “daughter of Abraham” who “had a spirit of infirmity” (KJV) which left her bent over, unable to straighten up. Satan is identified as the one who bound her for 18 years (v. 16). There is no question that this sickness was demonically instigated and this is enough evidence to suggest that the woman was a true believer indwelt by a demon ie demonized

    In Demon Possession and the Christian, C. Fred Dickason, the dean of Moody Bible Institute’s theology department, affirms that the weight of the evidence points in the direction that she was a genuine believer. First, she worshiped at the synagogue. Second, she glorified God because of her healing (v. 13). Third, the phrase “daughter of Abraham” implies salva­tion when taken with the passage about Zacchaeus (Luke 19:9).5

    That she was a regular synagogue attender, and that she praised God for her healing, are prime points here. One could not worship in synagogue without being a true worshiper of God — consider the scribes and Pharisees who were not. There is a mention of her coming in faith to Jesus. As a result she was delivered from demonization

    It is prettyl clear that the woman bent double was demonized. Modern translations render the literal Greek phrase “spirit of infirmity” as “sickness caused by a spirit” (NAS), “crippled by a spirit” (NIV), and so forth. This would seem to be the intended sense of the phrase, as Jesus delivered her (as He consistently did in clear cases of demon possession) and pronounced her cured.

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