True Christian Ministry

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 by David A. DePra

What is true Christian ministry?  It is just this:  It is the Person of Jesus Christ being ministered – that is, it is the life and light of the very Person of Jesus Christ – being manifested and communicated from one person to another.


Don’t misunderstand -- no one can transfer Jesus Christ from themselves to another.  But those who would minister can be vessels through whom Christ can be seen – through words, actions, attitudes, and prayer – and then those who are convicted will be able to choose.

God does not need any of us.  But God has chosen to use His Body to manifest Christ; to minister Christ.  Thus, it is important to understand the nature of this ministry, and its purpose.


What is Christianity?


If Christian ministry is CHRIST HIMSELF being ministered, then this demands that Christ must be living IN and THROUGH the one who would minister.  But this brings us to even more fundamental question:  What is Christianity? 


Christianity is, “Christ in you.”  (Col. 1:27)  Or, if you prefer, Christianity is a matter of being IN CHRIST.

This was Paul’s proclamation at the end of one of the most important passages of scripture – found in Colossians 1.  This is one of the passages we need to look at in order to grasp the Truth about ministry.

As we break into the passage of Colossians 1 at verse 24, Paul is already writing about ministry.  However, he does not first write about preaching or teaching.  Rather, he writes about another aspect of ministry that is not often mentioned or thought about among Christians – in fact, it would seem that most believers are unaware of such ministry.  Paul writes:

Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:


Paul is stating that his suffering for Jesus’ sake is actually for the sake of the Body of Christ.  Is this not MINISTRY?  In other words, what God is accomplishing in Paul through suffering – through the work of the Cross in Paul’s life -- was resulting in a contribution of LIFE unto the entire body of Christ. 


We will see later that this is what Paul teaches in II Corinthians 4. There he says, “Death works in us, but life in you.”  (II Cor. 4:12)  This is spiritual ministry – it is Christ being ministered – yet not by words, but by LIFE.  Here we see a fundamental Truth about true ministry – but we will get to that at greater length later.


But for now, Paul was telling his readers that his ministry – at the core – is spiritual in nature.  It is the ministry of LIFE – for the sakes of the Body of Christ.


Paul then begins to expand upon the nature of this ministry:


Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God.  (Col. 1:24)


Note that the ministry of Paul was given to him TO FULFILL THE WORD OF GOD.  This is an immense statement.  It means that the ministry of Paul was being used to bring to pass the plan and purpose that God intended from the beginning of creation.


There could not be a more important ministry.  And of course, the ministry of Paul is likewise supposed to be the ministry of the body of Christ. 


But what is this ministry that fulfills the Word of God?  Paul continues:


…To fulfill the word of God.  Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints.  (Col. 1:26)


So, this ministry that fulfills the Word of God – is gathered up in the term, “the mystery.”  THE MYSTERY – which had been hidden from ages and from generations past – constitutes the ministry of Paul that God gave him to fulfill the Word of God.


What is this MYSTERY?  What is this MINISTRY?  Paul states it outright:


…To fulfill the word of God.  Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints…Which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  (Col. 1:27)   


The MYSTERY which was now revealed -- that FULFILLED the Word of God was, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” 

Note that Paul was not merely talking about a MESSAGE that he preached called, “Christ in you.”   No.  He wrote, “WHOM we preach….”


Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:  Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which work in me mightily.  (Col. 1:27-29)

Paul preached the PERSON of Jesus Christ.  His ministry was to reveal that Christ was IN believers – and that everything that God does is based upon that reality. 

Paul’s ministry was to reveal Christ Himself, and His presence in His people, as Christianity – as the New Covenant. 

Jesus Christ is THE Truth of the New Testament. Everything is out from Him for the believer.  And all of God’s working is unto Him.  That is why He is called, “The Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, He that was, He that is, and He that is to come.”  (see Rev. 1:8-11)  In other words, Christ is ALL.


It is unfortunate that any time Christ is preached as being revealed IN believers; as the Living Word of God, that there are always those who immediately jump to the conclusion that this preaching minimizes the importance of Biblical doctrine.  There are going to be folks who jump to this accusation no matter how many times, and no matter in how many ways, such an accusation is shown to be groundless.  It would seem that when a person has no revelation of Christ within themselves that they will question, if not attack, the Truth that they are supposed to have such a revelation.  Thus, let it be stated outright, lest there be no misunderstanding:  Christianity is CHRIST IN YOU.  But this never minimizes the importance of sound, Biblical doctrine – rather, it is the Truth from out of which all Biblical doctrine emerges, indeed, it is the Truth to which all Biblical doctrine points.

There is only ONE Truth. Thus, our discernment and knowing of Jesus Christ will always be in complete harmony with scripture. Jesus Christ is the Truth. Jesus Christ is the Light. Jesus Christ is the Living Word of God. The Bible is the written counterpart – and will therefore reveal that same Truth in written form. But believers are not indwelt by the Bible. We are indwelt by the Living Christ – the exact Christ who is revealed in God’s written Word.

The Bible itself proclaims that, “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” is the great mystery that fulfills the Word of God – and that all ministry must constitute a preaching of the Living Christ as One, yes, who redeemed us, but as the One who presently IS the life of the believer.  God wants to reveal His Son TO us – but more importantly IN US. And if that happens, then our inward revelation, or realization, of Christ will be in harmony with the written Word.

Is Christianity nothing more than a belief system?  Is it faith in doctrines about Christ?  Or is it a living relationship with a Living Christ?  Doctrine is essential because it represents the One who is the Truth.  But we need to do what our doctrines teach:  Live in fellowship with Jesus Christ.

Paul preached the Person of Christ, that is to say, Paul ministered the Person of Christ.  That included teaching and doctrine.  But that teaching and doctrine was unto the end that believers would come into a personal and individual realization of the Living Christ Who was in them.  This is ministry that is of God – and the ministry that ought to be happening in the Body of Christ among all believers.


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