Building up believers and the New Testament church

God's Call to Ministry

"Christ has given gifts unto men for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come into 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" (Ephesians 4:8-13).

The question that always seems to be before us is whether men called of God are going to meet man's requirements or God's requirements. How are these men prepared for this ministry? What is needed, with regard to education? To answer these questions, we can only look to God and to the instruction He has given us in His Word.

It is God who calls, and it is God who prepares men to labor in His church. When the Lord calls men, He always reveals His purpose to them and gives them the grace to function in what He is building. In saying this, we must state that the building God is doing in the church is by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22). Christ gave gifts to men, and men with gifts of ministry are given to the church as channels for grace to flow to the body (church) from the ascended Christ.

Today, when a man is called of God, he is faced with a choice: either to let man prepare him for ministry, or to let God. Men who look to man and man's institutions will never be a gift to the church, because man in himself does not know what God is doing. If man does not see God's purpose, how can he be faithful to it, or have the ability to function in it together with others under the Holy Spirit? There can be no mixing of head knowledge with spiritual knowledge. What God is doing is all spiritual. Let us look at the spiritual work that God is doing in the world.

II Corinthians 3:3, "Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in the tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart." Verses 5-18: "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

"But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: how shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

"Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: and not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: but their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which veil is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."

II Corinthians 4:1-2, "Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God."

If we look to the religious system of our day as being any different than the religious system of Jesus' day, we are blinded. It is the same religious system and religious people that once cried out, "Crucify him!" What God is doing today, as in the past, is a living organization, not a religion with a form of godliness that denies the power of God. We must be able to discern the difference between what man is doing for God and what God is doing by His Spirit. To be able to do that, we must be spiritual, controlled and taught by the Spirit.