Made Ministers of the Word
A true minister of the Word is one who has been made. Not ordained by the Church, nor trained at the Seminary but made by GOD. Just as the potter's hands slowly fashion a lump of clay on his wheel into a chosen vessel, so a minister of the Word is made by the hand of GOD. By doctrine, reproof and correction which is instruction in righteousness, the man of GOD is furnished for his journey.
There never was a minister made more "throughly furnished" then was Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth. Not only did He raise the dead, heal the sick and diseased, feed thousands with a few fishes, but He also led them into the kingdom of GOD by teaching them the truth about love and sin, judgment and mercy, greed and giving; about how to be born again of GOD's spirit and how not to be possessed by a devil spirit. Their reaction to His ministry was that they marveled, their hearts burned within them, and they were astounded. Yet, for all that He was still rejected and crucified.
And after Yeshua, was there a greater minister made than the Apostle Paul? He it was who after receiving by grace the words of reproof, "it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks" (ACTS 9:5), turned from being the most feared persecutor of the early Church to being "not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles" (2 CORINTHIANS 11:5). He too raised the dead and healed the sick and diseased with GOD's words. Yet how was he rewarded by his fellow Christian? "No man stood with me, but all men forsook me" (2 TIMOTHY 4:16).
If these two mighty ministers were not able to awake the world to the reality of GOD's eternal purpose, how inadequate will our own efforts be? The measure of a minister is not by how many believe his words. The true measure of a man of GOD is who rules within himself, is it the new man or the old man? Is he driven by the lusts of the flesh or is he driven by the spirit of the LORD? When he hears that word sent by grace, does he turn at its reproof, or does he continue to "kick against the pricks"?
1 CORINTHIANS 15:10 But by the grace of God I [Paul] am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
When Paul received by grace, doctrine reproof and correction, he obeyed. He went and he did what he was told to do. He built his ark. He pressed through the crowd to touch the garment. This is how ministers are made, by hearing and doing and then hearing again.
EPHESIANS 3:7 Whereof I [Paul] was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
"The gift of the grace of God" is HIM offering HIS word to be believed. As Saul (Paul) was on his way to Damascus to take bound to prison any Christian, he "heard a voice". That was grace to Paul so as to accomplish GOD's purpose. Then, further grace was manifest when the Lord sent word to Ananias so as to continue Paul's furnishing. Grace was added again when "the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them" (ACTS 13:2). According to GOD's own purpose, HE will freely offer HIS word that HIS minister may be formed into a vessel fit for HIS use. A minister is made by simply hearing and obeying words that are offered by grace.
COLOSSIANS 1:25 Whereof I [Paul] am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
We don't necessarily hear from GOD as a result of our good deeds, for Paul was persecuting the Church when he heard. But GOD's word is always offered so as to accomplish HIS purpose. Nor was Paul required to be a minister. GOD allowed him freedom of choice to go either way. There are some who frustrate the grace of GOD by not believing the sent word. There are those who grieve the holy spirit of GOD by turning away from its reproof. Even so, GOD will accomplish HIS purpose; if not by one vessel, by another. The decision to offer HIS word always rests with GOD. The decision to believe and thus obey HIS word always rests with us.
1 TIMOTHY 4:6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.
That word is our nourishment. By continuing in those words of faith which we hear we also can attain unto the strong meat of the word. But we must continue to grow, from the day we first heard and trusted in HIS word. All each of us is, is a collection of experiences scored across our brains. If those experiences have been ordered and overseen by the grace of GOD, then they have the potential of transforming us into vessels fit for HIS use.
All that we know is what we have learned. Many times, at the time of our hearing we think little of it. But as the years roll by and we reflect upon that which we have heard, we begin to realize a creating force behind the voice. Within us HE has "begun a good work" (PHILIPPIANS 1:6). As that work on the potter's wheel progresses, we have the potential of becoming "HIS workmanship" (EPHESIANS 2:10).
EPHESIANS 4:20-24 But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: that ye put off concerning the former conversation [lifestyle] the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
To put something on and off is work. We must with a deliberate determination put off the former ways of the old man and with our minds renewed, with our minds renovated or remolded, we must receive and believe those words of grace; those of doctrine, reproof and correction. This is what it means to be "renewed in the spirit of your mind", to change within as we hear and obey the truth. Paul continued in verse 29.
EPHESIANS 4:29- 5:2 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
We may not always control what enters our mind, but we can always control what exits our mouth. Words that corrupt, "bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking" are words that grieve GOD. Why? Because HE is endeavoring to mold us into ministers of HIS word; to be "kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another"; even to be "followers" of HIM.
How can we be followers of GOD? Not necessarily by doing what HE does, for HE is the Creator, but rather by mimicking HIS word. When HIS word says 'go over there', we go. When HIS word says 'say this', we say it. Like a shadow follows its object, we can learn to follow GOD's word. Ultimately, as vessels of HIS word we can "minister grace unto the hearers", which is HIS "good pleasure".
PHILIPPIANS 2:12-13 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Being made ministers, requires our obedience. We are not just magically transformed in an instant, but we are gradually shaped on the potter's wheel by our consistent obedience to HIS word, until a form begins to appear. Then, as we continue to endure the molding, the pleasure of the Creator's hands shape each vessel for its intended use.
2 TIMOTHY 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these [the profane and vain babblings of verse 16 and the foolish and unlearned questions of verse 23], he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.
The cleansing of oneself is accomplished by hearing and believing the word that is sent by grace. GOD's word is not always pleasing to the ears. Reproof often stings. "That which is good" is not necessarily eagerly received.
Paul wrote the Corinthians, "For we are not as many, which corrupt [water down] the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ" (2 CORINTHIANS 2:17). Some will water down the reproof thinking it is too harsh. They prefer a "kindler gentler message". The same tongue that told Peter "Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men" also said to him "Get thee behind me, Satan". The same Lord that asked Paul, "Why persecutest thou me?" also said unto him "Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome". The word is for doctrine, reproof and correction; not just doctrine. GODly reproof is never unjust and its end is always a finished vessel.
JEREMIAH 23:28-30 The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.
To steal GOD's word is to water it down or take it out of the context in which it was intended. The passage in EPHESIANS, "Let him that stole steal no more" is not necessarily only in reference to common thievery, but very possibly Paul is encouraging them to quit stealing the words of GOD from one another. Hence his further encouragement "but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth" (EPHESIANS 4:28).
Was not Paul encouraging these faithful believers to receive the word, thereby acquiring a truer understanding of "that which is good", so as to be able to "give to him that needeth"? Man's great and true need is the word of GOD, not material things. "That which is good" seems most likely to refer to GOD's word.
ACTS 24:25 And as he [Paul] reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.
Unfortunately, sometimes a "convenient season" never comes. If GOD sends HIS word and we reject it, we have admitted ourselves guilty before HIM. HIS word is never sent in vain so whenever someone rejects the word, that word has justly condemned him as a result of his unbelief.
When Yeshua reasoned with Nicodemus about hearing the sound of the spirit and believing or rejecting that which GOD has sent, He said, "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed..." (JOHN 3:18).
Likewise, Paul wrote that "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (ROMANS 8:1). No condemnation is heralded by those who obey the spirit, who live in harmony with the spirit, but condemnation remains a central theme for those who reject the word of truth and continue to obey the desires of the old man. Generally, it has to do with what one is seeking. Living life according to the reasonings and thought processes of the old man is more than likely going to result in one rejecting the spirit of truth. Living life in harmony with the spirit requires us to hear and obey HIS word; this is to be in Christ Jesus. There is only one who has earned the right to condemn, that is Christ (ROMANS 8:34).2 TIMOTHY 2:4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
As a minister of the word, one has been chosen to be a soldier. We cannot allow the world to entangle us with its affairs. Either we walk by faith and please our Creator, or we walk after the flesh and become entangled with this world's entrapments. The choice is always ours, as are the consequences.