September 09, 2011

Ministry of ...?

"Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory.  Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory."
2 Corinthians 3:7-11

If you believe yourself to be called to ministry, then what does God intend His ministry through you to look like?

The Gospel given to the Apostles and handed down through generations is a meesage of hope and grace; power for living, salvation, and freedom.  Paul states in many of his letters, that the gospel message is a ministry of encouragement and unity in the Spirit.  In other words, the ministry of the Word produces spiritual peace and spiritual unity among believers and between God and man.

It often brings sinful man to a crisis point, where he must acknowledge sin and change to experience those said fruits, but the life of the believer is a life idenitifed by continual peace with God and fellow man, not continual antagonism to both.

In this letter to the Corinthian church, Paul reminds his brethren that the old covenant ministry of condemnation, the ministry that condemned men for their sins and wickedness in the light of a Holy God, with no hope of reprieve outside of their strict adherance to a set of rules, was a ministry that was no longer active.  "A ministry of death" is what he called it.  It's glory is no more.  It came to and end because it was surpassed by a ministry of righteousness.

So why do so many ministers dabble in the ministry of condemnation?  There is no longer any glory in such a ministry.  The new covenant has come.  The new ministry of righteousness is about the peace God has made with men in their completely helpless estate.  He offers grace and forgiveness.  There is encouragment and hope when He reaches out his hand.

Contrary to many popular notions, God does not continually threaten to crush believers for sin.  He disciplines them.  Big difference.  And those He disciplines, he does so because He loves them (Hebrews 12:6).  Christ died for those HE loves (Galatians 2:20).  Discipline for those He loves and died for is not the same condemning that awaits the unredeemed in the Great Judgment to come.

True ministers of the Word of God warn the unrepentant of wrath, but preach the peace and love of God found in the righteousness and completed work of Christ, which has surpassed all human understanding.  It encourages and lifts up.

If you are redeemed, live encouraged that God's Word to you is peace, and hope and grace.  Be built up in a community of saints who understand that and share the faith.

If you are not redeemed, there is an inconceivable wrath awaiting you at the Judgment of all things when Christ returns because of your sin.  But the good news is that He has made a way to offer you peace and forgiveness for that sin, and you may live forever in grace and freedom if you respond to His call of repentance.  Don't listen to the condemnation and shaming of man.  Truth is, they probably don't know enough to shame you or condemn you enough, but God does.  And even though He does, He offers grace.  Think about it.

If you long to serve the Lord as a minister of His Word, make sure you understand what it is you are supposed to offer others.  Become to others what Christ is to you now after your repentance, not what He was to you before grace.  That is not now, nor was it ever your role to play.  Tomorrow, I will look at and clarify biblically what is referred to as a "ministry of righteousness" as we look at 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:6.

With you for His glory