Can you conceive of the amount of effort invested, the energy expended, the time in preparation, the contacts made, as well as the preaching and teaching that was necessary to consolidate the converts, and the necessity of renewing the occultists that had been set free while Paul was in Ephesus. Imagine the explanatory sessions demanded by people who were absent from the meetings, but received healing from handkerchiefs that had touched Paul’s body. The entire concept of biblical teaching and ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit takes on an incredibly fuller meaning than is considered by many churches today.
Gentile heathen minds need to be repeatedly and in a concentrated manner disabused of world views, attitudes, concepts believed, as well as issues of character after conversion. Paul’s public ministry was 35 hours a week. Some people need 35 hours a week of the power of God being ministered to them to consolidate their faith.
Conversion to Christ is one of the most beautiful things to observe. But the dynamics of people suddenly elevated to serenity and a glorious sense of peace in the early days after conversion must not be misunderstood or mishandled.
Never forget that the climax of John 8 was when some new believers wanted to kill Jesus. Once they believed that Jesus was the Messiah (John 8:30-33) the response of Christ was not to say, “Thank you! You have done me a favour in believing who I am! You have spiritually arrived!” Catastrophically, that is the kind of response some church leaders manifest. I have seen it.
Christ’s response to the turning to faith of these people was to say something that absolutely shocked them.
“If you continue in my word you will be my disciples indeed. You will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). It is that very response of the Master that led to the argument that brought them to the point of wanting to kill him (John 8:59). What’s my point? It was the unfed converted that wanted to kill Him. In fact it was the information that they needed their faith to be added to that upset them so chronically.
Faith needs feeding. Wherever one is in understanding and no matter how much one knows of character and scripture, we all need to feed our faith. Faith is nourished by precepts, concepts and understanding that radically alters one’s paradigm or world view.
Putting a genuine and vital faith in Christ is glorious and necessary, but it is only the door opener to God’s kingdom. Following Christ is about grasping how faith works in the bad times, indeed how to understand bad times at all. Feeding one’s faith is all about finding the will of God about character, life style disciplines, and a grasp of how to hear God. On top of that, healing, deliverance and prophetic guidance is required by almost all. One’s personal world view is required to be placed under a full frontal attack by learning biblical principles of how to walk with Jesus, and “walk the world in white.” None of these things come naturally no matter how sincere, or powerful one’s conversion is.
“Spiritual warfare” is referred to twice in the New Testament. There is the Ephesian 6 type warfare which is the modus operandi of prayer and ministry that most people think of when the term is used. However there is also the 2 Corinthians 10 (verses 3-5) type of warfare which is needed in a more widespread every day manner for practical living. I do not believe there has ever been a single Christian who did not necessitate a thorough overhaul in their world view after conversion. This is what Jesus referred to as continuing in His word. This is the task of simply stopping belief of things that are inaccurate, unhelpful, wrong or just ungodly, and replacing those beliefs and convictions with something that has the knowledge of God as its prime motive.
Paul’s approach to this basic requirement of ministry was utterly comprehensive. Truths contained in the apostle’s letter to the Ephesians has fed the church for two millennia. God help us follow Paul’s example in ministry.