The Church’s Ministry

MEMORY VERSE: “The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you.” —I Thessalonians 3:12


THE previous lesson showed that is was God’s design that the church should witness, and that this witnessing would bring about suffering. Our present lesson shows in some detail how the ministry of the church should be conducted.

In introducing the lesson, the apostle states, “We waxed bold in our God to speak unto you the Gospel in much conflict. For our exhortation is not error, nor uncleanness, nor in guile: but even as we have been approved of God to be entrusted with the Gospel, so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God which proveth our hearts”—I Thess. 2:24, R.V.

To be approved of God for the ministry is a great blessing, that carries with it both responsibilities and privileges. Approval is subsequent to our anointing of the Holy Spirit and the enlightenment of mind. The Apostle Paul states in I Corinthians 2:4-7, “It was in weakness and fear and with great trembling that I visited you; what I said, what I preached, did not rest on any plausible arguments of ‘wisdom’, but on the proof supplied by the Spirit and its power, so that your faith might not rest on any human ‘wisdom’ but on the power of God.” (Moffatt) And again in II Corinthians 5:18-20, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation … and hath committed unto [placed in] us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ.”

This is a staggering thought—that the church in its ministry speaks on behalf of God; that the Gospel, the good news of the kingdom, and the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, constitute a mystery revealed to those to whom the ministry is entrusted.

It is not without reason, therefore, that the apostle emphasizes the manner in which their ministry was conducted. He says that it was not of deceit (or error), which means that the doctrines that they taught were pure and not a mixture containing the ideas or precepts of men.

The ministry was not conducted with uncleanness; that is, impure motives of self-interest. He was not deceiving and flattering with secret motives of covetousness. The Greeks were familiar with such conduct on the part of traveling lecturers and intellectuals, who beguiled audiences for the fees that they could extract. The very opposite was the case with the Apostle Paul.

In verse 9 he states, “For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail: for laboring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you.” While as a minister of the Lord he could have expected to be given his sustenance. (I Cor. 9:13) But rather than be a burden, or be accused of covetousness, he worked at his trade as a tent-maker to support himself. His conduct as a minister was blameless.

But yet another and equally important part of the ministry is expressed in the memory verse. It is love for the brethren, and the manifestation of that love by works, that constitute in a large measure the Christian sacrifice, As the apostle says, “So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the Gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us”—I Thess. 2:8

The thought is that they were willing to lay down their very lives in service to the brethren. This service was accomplished by giving personal care and attention to every individual convert separately; ministering to their individual needs “as a father doth his children”; exhorting to arouse a sense of duty, and encouraging to cheer them with the respect of a faithful performance.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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