Faith-Filled Expectancy in Ministry
What am I doing here? Who am I to be giving the Gospel to others? Why would God use me? Why should people listen to me?
I imagine that most Christians have asked questions like these when seeking to obey Christ and witness. When these thoughts come, what we do with them becomes extremely important. If we allow ourselves to dwell on our weakness, we will witness less and ineffectively, if we witness much at all.
Hindrances to Expectancy
When it comes to making disciples for Jesus Christ, no matter who we are or what our circumstances, all of us struggle at times with man-centered thoughts that handicap us. We make ourselves too important.
- We overemphasize personal abilities and spiritual gifts—“I can’t lead anyone to Christ because I am not gifted” or “I am not like Bob or Susy.” We tell ourselves that God only uses certain kinds of people, people who are created different from us.
- We get despondent about how decadent and evil our society has become—“These are such evil days.” “We cannot…God cannot…It is not like the old days…we are too different from society now, we can’t connect.” We allow the evil around us to zap our strength and cause fear instead of allowing such times to urge us into action.
- We become negative about our local church when we compare it to other ministries that we think are more successful—“We don’t have the money, we don’t have the talent, we are not equipped to be like that Bountifully Blessed Baptist Church up the road.” We conclude we cannot really be used of the Lord like they can.
- We set up our own agendas about what God should do or what He must do by making foolish statements and goals—“We are going to see so many people added to the church this year by faith…our goal is to get 50 people saved in 2023…” When God does not meet our goals, we lose heart.
- We tend to think too much about our personal limitations—We are either too old or too young. The location of the church is terrible. We deem ourselves handicapped by illness, not educated enough, or not quick enough in discussions. We might even be concerned that we are not “spiritual enough.”
Such thoughts reveal a man-centered view of evangelism. We all struggle with “ME-centered evangelism.” Our need is to have a simple understanding of evangelism that is grounded in God’s Word. What does that look like? We need a God-centered, faith-filled expectancy in Gospel ministry.
When we are expectant it means that we have anticipation that something is going to happen. An expectant person assumes that something is going to happen and so waits for it in hope.
I believe that there are many reasons why we as believers in Jesus Christ should serve Him with a spirit of expectancy that God will work through us in evangelism. Here are two of them.
1) We should have a spirit of expectancy because we have God’s Spirit in us.
In Luke 24:47-49, Jesus said to His disciples,
“And that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”*
Luke records Jesus saying this in Acts 1:8:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Jesus gave to His people the Great Commission of making disciples among all peoples, but He told them not to act on that commission until they had received the Holy Spirit. They could not fulfill the commission without the Spirit. The Spirit’s indwelling and empowering presence in their lives was crucial to their ability to obey this command of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit of God did come upon Christ’s disciples at Pentecost, and He has indwelt every believer in Jesus Christ since then. One major purpose of the Holy Spirit is to enable us to be witnesses for Jesus. God’s people everywhere should have a spirit of expectancy that God desires to use them and speak through them because they have God’s Spirit!
Don’t let Satan deceive you with the excuse, “I’m not a preacher!” The Holy Spirit’s enabling is not merely for preachers, but for all of God’s people. It is true that some have additional gifts of teaching, preaching, and evangelism—these should have even more expectation that God desires to use them to reach the lost.
Do you have a spirit of expectancy that God wants to use you to help lead sinners to Jesus? It does not matter what your position in life is, what kind of job you have, what your background is, or where you live. God’s Spirit is in you to enable you to be His witness for Jesus’ sake.
2) We should have a spirit of expectancy because the Great Commission was given to us.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:19-20).
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15)
“As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” and “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (Jn 17:18; 20:21).
God did not give us these commands in order to frustrate us with an impossible task that He would not help us to accomplish! God intends to use His people! Fruitfulness in the ministry of the Gospel should be the norm, not the exception.
Yes, there is a tension here; how much visible fruit we see, and how quickly we see it, is up to God; but we can expect fruitfulness. God desires to use you to have a part in reaching the nations and peoples for Jesus’ sake. This reality should affect how we pray, give, and go. It affects our willingness to send our children and grandchildren with a spirit of expectancy that God can and will use them for His glory!
As Spirit-indwelled gospel-commissioned believers in Jesus Christ, we have every reason to have the expectation that as we witness for Him, He will indeed do His work.
*All Scripture quotations will be from the ESV unless otherwise noted.
Photo by Jan Tinneberg.
Forrest McPhail Bio
Forrest has served as a missionary in Buddhist Cambodia in Southeast Asia since 2000. He presently serves as the Asia/Australia/Oceania regional director for Gospel Fellowship Association missions. He enjoys writing and teaching on missions and the Buddhist worldview. He and his wife, Jennifer, have 4 children.