The Ministry of the Church
by Seattle ALC
SOME EVANGELISTS, AND SOME PASTORS AND TEACHERS
The ministry of the church is carried on through the use of a variety of the gifts of the Spirit. When we have been called into the family of God and Christ dwells in our hearts by faith, we have become part of the one body of believers, and we have received one Spirit. Jesus, Who has ascended into heaven, has led captivity captive and has given gifts unto men. Apostle Paul writes that the various gifts which have been given–apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers–are for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. “Til we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4: 13)
The health of the body of believers is dependent on the working of the Holy Spirit and the Word. In writing to the Corinthians, Paul states that God divides these spiritual gifts to every man as He will, and although there are diversities of gifts, they are of the same spirit, there are differences of administration, but the same Lord, and diversities of operations, but it is the same God which works in all. Having thus equipped the church, it is God’s will that every member employ the gift or gifts that he has received for the profit of all, always remembering that though there are many members, yet but one body. It is not the will of God that there should be any schism in the body, but that the members would have the same care for one another, and whether one member suffers, all the members suffer with it, or one member be honored, all members rejoice with it.
Since no member possesses all gifts and we do not all possess the same gifts, Paul states that we may desire the best gifts–yet he shows us a more excellent way. That way bears the indelible imprint of charity or love–otherwise the gifts and their use are in vain.
The angel of the church of Ephesus had used his gifts in his ministry. The Lord knew and recognized his works, that he had discovered the false apostles, and he had patiently labored for the name of Christ without fainting. Nevertheless, the Lord found fault with him–a fault so serious that he was warned to remember from whence he had fallen and to repent or the Lord would come to him quickly and remove the candlestick out of his place. Jesus did not leave this messenger of the church to wonder where his fault lay. He was told explicitly: “Thou hast left thy first love.” (Rev. 2)
In our individual lives as believers and in the exercise of the gifts which God has given for the edifying of the body of Christ, it is of primary importance that we remain children of grace so that we may be motivated by God’s love through the working of the Holy Spirit. Unless this pure source is our enabling power, there is danger that the pursuing of our calling will be as vain as described by St. Paul in the two opening verses of his often-quoted thirteenth chapter of the first letter to the Corinthians. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”
Let us pray for one another that we may abide in the Vine, that is in Christ, for the natural branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, neither can we except we abide in Christ. (John 15)
TAKE MY LIFE, AND LET IT BE CONSECRATED, LORD, TO THEE.
TAKE MY MOMENTS AND MY DAYS,
LET THEM FLOW IN CEASELESS PRAISE.
From the archives of the late Pastor A. C. Holmgren- September 1988
Submitted by Pastor Stan
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