Friday, February 22, 2019

The Rewards of Ministry in The Salvation Army: William Booth's Vision of Heaven

Audio Message:

This is a personal blog. The views on this blog do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the Salvation Army, it's employees, or partners. The views on this blog are solely of those making them, based on the teachings of the Bible, in the Spirit.

We are each called by God to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as officers of The Salvation Army to love and serve him supremely all our days, to live to win souls and make their salvation the first purpose of our lives, to care for the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love the unlovable, and befriend those who have no friends. Today we gather to celebrate the rewards of ministry! We gather as a body of believers, as Christian soldiers. But we are not alone.

We find ourselves surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, down through the ages of history, that attest to the life of faith. And it goes back much further, to the very beginning, when one man named Abraham dared to believe God and strike out into the unknown. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Samuel, David, Solomon, Daniel, Nehemiah, and Erza, into the new era of John, Peter, James, Matthew, Paul, Justin Martyr, Augustine, Martin Luther, William Wilberforce, Charles Spurgeon, John Wesley, William Booth, Samuel Logan Brengle, Evangeline Booth, Paul Rader, Israel Gaither, Linda Bond, on and on the list goes. Look to your left and your right and you will see a present day hero of the faith. And they speak volumes.

Throughout human history, a lucky few, like you and me have had the privilege of being added to the number who are called by the name of Christ. That lineage goes back through history, and to the present day, where in these last days Christ has called you and me, to be preachers of this gospel.

There is a road, leading through the murky wastes of this life (can you see it?) It leads toward the brightness of God’s glory. Millions today are walking on this path home. And along this sacred road, God has assigned us, as way-makers, on the pathways home. We’re soldiers in the army of God marching along passage ways of glory, leading souls out of the darkened wilderness, and onto the pathways of life. What an amazing ministry we have! What a great journey we’re partaking of, to call God’s people home to Him.

Some of us sooner, and some of us later, will be sent out to outposts along these roads of glory, assigned to serve as officers of the Salvation Army. And we know though trials will come, we look forward to life full of the blessed rewards of ministry.

There are two areas of reward in our ministry. The first area is in the now, today. We experience the presence of God with us each day. 

As we serve in ministry, we get to watch as God changes people’s lives. We will see miracles happen in our corps. We will see people healed as they are prayed for by the congregation. We will get to see hopeless alcoholics and drug addicts suddenly change. We’ll get to teach children about Jesus, and watch their eyes light up as they realize how much Jesus loves them. We’ll spend our lives going from place to place in the mid-west of the United States setting the fires of revival and great awakening amongst the ranks of fallen humanity. We’ll get to minister to people of all walks of life, the poor, the rich, the mighty, the weak, and the hurting. Many of us will even go beyond the borders of the United States, to different parts of the world
 overseas to different parts of the world, like India, China, Tanzania, Kenya, Brazil, France, Pakistan, and others. We will come to people who no longer believe in a future or a hope, and get to see the moment when God relights the fire of hope in their soul. Like He did for me.

For many of us, we will have the honor and joy of serving alongside our own spouse, our wife, our husband, in ministry together, both called as one couple to serve together in officership. That is one of the most beautiful things I can imagine. Serving God together… how romantic… to live out the war romance of the Salvation Army.

The second area of reward in ministry, is in the future.
In the future, when we share in eternal life, with God almighty on the new earth, in the city of God called the New Jerusalem. There we will share in particular closeness with God, as we venture into a future of joy, peace, and unparalleled intimacy with God. In the new city of God we will experience an infinite future of new adventures that we can hardly imagine.

And as ministers of the gospel, having faithfully completed our calling, and won the race, we will be rewarded for every good deed we did, every soul we won to Christ, and every need we met in the world. 

William Booth experienced a foretaste of this blessed future in a dream once. Booth had several visions from the Lord in his life, the most famous being the vision of the platform, and those drowning in the sea. But he recorded another vision, in which he saw a heaven, from the book “Amazing Visions” Booth wrote:

“I am constrained to say no human eye ever beheld such beauty, no earthly ear ever heard such music, no human heart ever experienced such ecstasy as it was my privilege to see and hear and feel during the first hours I spent in the celestial country. Above me was the loveliest of blue skies. Around me was an atmosphere so balmy that it made my whole physical frame vibrate with pleasure. By the bank of roses, on which I found myself reposing, there flowed the clearest and purest of rivers, which seemed to dance with delight to the murmurings of its own waters. The trees that grew on its banks were covered with the greenest foliage and laden with most delicious fruit, sweet to my taste beyond all earthly sweetness. By lifting my hand I could pluck and eat the fruit to my heart’s delight. In every direction, above and around, the air was not only laden with the richest of odors yielded by the loveliest of flowers but also rendered vocal with sweetest sounds and filled with fairest forms. Floating about me were beautiful beings I felt by instinct were angels and archangels, seraph and seraphim, cherub and cherubim, together with the blood-washed and perfected saints who had come from the world below, sometimes far away and sometimes drawing nearer. The blue sky appeared at times to be full of white-winged, happy, worshiping, joyous beings, while the whole country—apparently of limitless extent—seemed to be filled with a blissful ecstasy that could only be realized by being experienced.”

The rewards of ministry are many, today in the joys of service, and tomorrow in the eternal life we’ll inherit. We are blessed beyond measure, to be chosen by God for this task. Let me leave you with this thought:

If Jesus Christ is really real, and the true and only way to eternal life, then what we do, proclaiming the gospel, is literally the single most important job on the planet. Nothing is more meaningful than what we do. Nothing is more critical. That is our greatest reward. And the saying is absolutely true: We are doing the most good imaginable.