The Nature and Dynamic of Ministry And the Nature and Purpose of the Church
What more can we say and how better can we say than: more of Thyself. O show me hour by hour more of Thy glory. O my God and Lord, more of Thyself in all of Thy grace and power, more of Thy love and truth. Incarnate Word, answer that prayer in this hour. We ask in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Amen
In our consideration of the great transition from one humanity which has been exposed, discredited, judged, and set aside to Another Humanity which has been tested, perfected, and installed in glory in our Lord Jesus Christ, we have come at length in the closing hours of this time together to the all-governing vision in the light of which this transition becomes both clear and very practical. And we saw yesterday that with the Apostle Paul to whom this vision, this "heavenly vision" as he called it, was the secret and key to his whole life ministry when he saw the Lord Jesus risen and glorified, four things became clear to the Apostle Paul in that vision. These four things we have mentioned: Firstly, the place and destiny of man in the Divine economy. Secondly, the nature and dynamic of ministry in this dispensation. Thirdly, the nature and purpose of the Church now and in the after-ages. And fourthly, the immense significance of Jesus Christ crucified, risen, and exalted, all this in these three things.
Now yesterday we were occupied with the first of these four things. This morning we proceed to the second, the nature and dynamic of ministry in this dispensation, and whether we shall get to the end of the fourth is with the Lord.
The Apostle Paul said: "It pleased God, ... to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the nations." Now we must stay for a moment to ask and answer one question: "What do we man by ministry?" Perhaps we need a revised version on this matter of ministry, for, immediately, when the word "ministry" is mentioned, people's minds automatically think of someone with a Bible in their hand standing up and teaching out of the Bible or someone preaching the Gospel to the unsaved or someone having been shut up with their Bible, studying it and making some notes and coming out into public and giving the result of their Bible study. Something like that is usually associated with the word "ministry." As I speak of ministry in this dispensation, some of your minds at once may think of someone with a Bible in hand upon a platform or in a group, teaching and preaching. I trust the Lord is going to revise that concept for you entirely before we are through this morning.
The New Testament has two things to say about this matter of ministry. It does speak in Ephesians about special, personal gifts for ministry in the Church. He gave, the ascended Lord "gave some, apostles; some prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers." These are specific personal ministry gifts in the Church, and please put a circle around that word "in." There are these personal ministry gifts in the Church; however, the New Testament has much more to say about the ministry of the Church Itself, and the Word says that these personal gifts in the Church are for the purpose of enabling the Church to fulfill the ministry - to do the ministry, to be the minister of Christ.
Now you remember the passage: "and He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of the ministry." Do not put any break in your sentence: "the perfecting (of the Church, the 'making complete,' of the Church) unto the work of ministry." I heard Dr. Campbell Morgan once say in this very connection in this passage: "and God help the minister whose Church does not fulfill the ministry..." And it is with this second thing, the ministry of the Church Itself, that we will be occupied this morning.
I am not going to talk about apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, these specific ministers, but about the ministry of the Church; and the two letters with which we have been mainly occupied this week (the two letters to the Corinthians) have in view, very clearly and emphatically so, the ministry of the Church. All that the apostle is saying is with this background of the fulfillment of the Divine ministry in Corinth, and as those letters are a vehicle down through the whole dispensation to our own time, it is what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church about its ministry.
(continued with # 32)