The Nature and Dynamic of Ministry and The Nature and Purpose of the Church (continued)
The Growth of Ministry Is Through "Afflictions" and "Consolations" (continued)
The ministry of Christ should be out of darkness into Light; and you remember the commission to the Apostle Paul at the beginning, "To whom I end thee, to turn them from darkness to light." - The right translation in the Greek language is: "That they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of satan unto God, that they may receive an inheritance." This is ministry, the turning from darkness to Light, from the power of satan unto God, to have an inheritance which they lost in Adam. It is very full. That should be the impact and influence out of our presence as ministers of Christ.
When Christ was present, He did say a lot of things; He did preach, mostly to His disciples, preparing them for their work ahead; but it was not only what He said, it was as much His personal presence. He would come somewhere and He had not said anything, and demons would cry out: "I knew Thee Whom Thou art; the Holy One of God." They could not hold their peace. His Presence dragged them out. His very Presence was an exposure of man, an exposure of satan: His Presence, and that is the ministration of Christ.
O Lord, make us ministers, make me a minister, as far as I can bear it, that the impact, the registration, the influence may be people moving into the Light, really seeing the Light in an inward way. The Light - not of truth, or even of Scripture to begin with, but through Scripture - the Light of Jesus Christ.
The Test of Ministry Is In Its Eternal Value
That is all I have time to say this morning about ministry - unless I add this word again, from Corinthians: - the test of ministry is in its eternal value. Now the Apostle Paul associates the two things: Affliction and Eternal Value. He says, "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while ..." (now do not stop there, get your conjunction) "...while we look not at the things which are seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; (passing, transient) but the things which are not seen are eternal." The test of our ministry is perhaps not going to be what we see in our own lifetime, but what is afterward, going on to eternity.
When you get to glory, do you not want to discover that you meant far more than you knew you did? That there was a great deal more value in your being here than ever you saw. Oh, this soul life of the old humanity does want to see, it is always doing things to see, to see the result, to see the value. "While we look not at the things which are seen." I think perhaps this is one of the most testing words in the Bible to the old man. How can we live on what is not seen and what is in the eternal future and be satisfied? Oh, that is not the old humanity, but it is the New - the eternal value of ministry.
The Nature and Purpose of the Church
Now for a little while I will go on to the next thing: the nature and purpose of the Church, now and in the ages afterward; and here again, we need a revised version of what we mean when we speak of the Church. Through the years I have talked and written much about the Church. But on this very matter of the Church I find that I am being forced to a revision, not to abandon what has been said, taught, and believed, and acted upon, but as we go on, a great deal of what we did at the beginning, of hat we called our Church teaching, a great deal has, shall I say, broken down.
Now, brethren, what are you finding about the Church today? To begin with, you may be looking around everywhere and saying: "Whee is it? Is this the Church? Well, this does not come up to Ephesians; far from it, it is very much like Corinthians." So, what is the Church? What is its function now and in the ages to come? The Apostle Paul always linked these two things together: "Unto Him be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus through all ages, forever and ever" - the function of the Church afterward, as well as now.
(continued with # 37 - (What is the Church?)