Sometimes God’s truth goes into your life like a quiet whisper. Sometimes it goes in like a hand grenade. Have you had one of those times? One day you hear a sermon, or you have a conversation with a fellow church member, or maybe a friend confronts you with a sin they’ve seen in your life, and in a moment it’s like something inside has exploded. You suddenly see a sin you’ve never identified before, or you see an area of weakness and know that God is calling you to address it, or you are overwhelmed with conviction that it is time to address that area of spiritual apathy. God’s Word is powerful.
In the book of Romans, Paul talks about the power of God’s Word in a way we can too easily miss. In Romans 15:14 he says to that congregation he loved: “I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.” When Paul said these people were able to instruct one another, he actually said they were powerful to instruct one another. They had the ability, but even better, they had the power. They had everything they needed to rock one another’s lives with the truth of God.
Paul says these people in Rome were powerful to instruct one another. To instruct one another is to teach, to encourage, to challenge, to equip, to counsel. But it’s more than that. It’s doing all these things from the Bible and with the authority of the Bible. It’s not just giving good advice, but communicating the truth of God as recorded in the Word of God. It is speaking God’s Words into particular situations or circumstances. The power in the words is the power of the Word.
Instructing one another is a hundred different ways of simply bringing God’s truth to bear. Sometimes this is done by a pastor preaching a sermon that calls people away from wrong behavior and toward right behavior. Far more often, though, it happens in the context of normal life, of one Christian interacting with another one. It happens when a friend encourages a friend to just carry on, to keep practicing the spiritual disciplines. It happens when a church member speaks up to tell what God has been teaching her from his Word. It happens when a brother sits with a brother to encourage him with a passage of Scripture. We tend to think this falls under the responsibility of pastors, and it does. But it is not just the job of pastors. This kind of instruction is the task of every Christian. We are all called to be ministers.
Did you know that you are a minister? That word “minister” isn’t a job title. It’s an action. A minister is simply someone who tends to another person. You minister healing to an injured person by bandaging their wounds. His title is “doctor” but his job is to minister healing. You minister comfort to a hurt child by picking her up and cuddling her. Her title is “mom” but her job is ministering comfort. And you minister truth to others by bringing God’s Word to bear on their life and circumstances. Your title is “Christian” and your job is to minister truth.
This is a task for every believer. One of the great joys and responsibilities of the Christian life is to open your Bible with others and to show them what God says. There is way more ministering to be done in the church than can be done by paid pastors or even by elders. Your church needs you to minister the Word! Yes, we need pastors and trained counsellors. They have their place. But this is first the ministry of every Christian, the ministry of every member.
When Paul commends the church in Rome for their ability to instruct one another, he’s really commending them for their ability to minister God’s Word to one another. They loved God, they knew God, they honored God, and so they were able to minister the Word to one another in effective ways. And as they did that, they brought unity to the church and they grew up into maturity together. No wonder, then, that Paul could tell this church, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world” (Romans 1:8).