We have talked about the need to know those who labor among us; now let us look at the responsibility of the ministers, with grace to serve Christ in life. There is a great need for ministers to be able to discern the spiritual needs of the church, and to be seeing the same goal. After they see the needs, they must function together to supply the needs. Every need can be summed up in one, and that is to know God in the area of need. Before this can be supplied, each brother who has a gift of ministry must be prepared.
This preparation is not natural, but spiritual. The preparing is done in the presence of God, that the word of ministry might be a ministry of faith. The brethren must be given a place in which to respond to God. That is what ministry should be doing--constantly bringing the hearer to a place of response to God. Faith comes from hearing God, and faith is also our response to God in obedience.
There is no way for the believer to attain to and prove his union with God's will, except by obedience. In this walk of faith, there is no place for reasoning. Every response to the word of the Lord is obedience. All of us are to live this life of faith.
Time must be spent in the presence of God. Preparation must be made in His Word as the Spirit makes it alive to us. The Word must be delivered in life. The minister is to speak as an oracle of God, in the ability the Spirit gives. These truths are set out for us in I Peter 4:10-11: "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in ail things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever."
The minister is a steward of the gift of grace. There is one thing that is needful in stewardship, and that is faithfulness. Everything in the functioning of ministry must be under the direction of the Spirit. It is when the Spirit directs and the minister is faithful that he will be ready to function, having been prepared in the presence of God.
There are many responsibilities that go with spiritual ministry. The ministry (all gifts of grace and leadership) must be moving together to build up the church, and they must be moving together with knowledge. The word of God must be alive in you and real to you by the Spirit at the time of sharing or ministry. The message must be new and living at all times. Each minister must be spiritually alive, able to discern the capacity of the hearers. He must know when the word has been given, and whether there is a need for more building in an area.
We all need to realize that there is very little reason for the church to come together if there is to be no strong ministry to feed, challenge, and inspire. God's speaking to us through ministry should dominate, master, and unify. The functional union of Christ with His body is essential. It is essential to Him for the fulfillment of His purpose, and to us for the fulfillment of our very lives as Christians.