Is it Jesus?

Ministers of GodWhen the apostles were arrested for preaching in the temple, again, (after their miraculous release from prison – Acts 5) they responded to further demands that they stop preaching, in Jesus’ name, ‘all the words of this Life’ (Acts 5:20) saying, ‘…we are witnesses to these things and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.’ (Acts 5:29, 32). When Jesus was persecuted by religious authorities for healing on the Sabbath, he replied to his accusers, “My Father is working … and I am working.” (John 5:17 ESV). The apostles, in faithfully following their Lord, recognized the true source of their ministry.

This second of three brief posts on the theme of the Ministry of Christ also comes from Leon Morris…

“When the ministers of Christ work it matters little that certain men are saying or doing certain things. But it matters very much that Christ is working in and through them.

As G. W. Bromley puts it…

It is Jesus who speaks when the word of the Gospel is truly preached. It is Jesus who is proffered and who blesses when the sacraments are rightly administered. It is Jesus who heals or helps when practical assistance is extended to the needy. It is Jesus who bears and endures when persecution or hardship is imposed and accepted. It is Jesus who rules when spiritual discipline is exercised….it is He Himself who is the true Minister.’

“Whenever there is a stress on the human agents there is a perversion of New Testament teaching, and there is an ineffective ministry. Such a ministry may indeed be successful by human criteria, but it will always be a failure in the place that matters, namely in the souls of men.”

From Leon Morris in Ministers of God.

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Ministry 101?

“There is but one essential ministry, the miMinisters of Godnistry of Christ. All valid human ministry is a reflection of that.” This first of three brief posts on the theme of the Ministry of Christ comes from Leon Morris…

“The really essential thing about the New Testament view of the ministry is that the one basic ministry is that of Christ Himself. Ministers in the Church are never regarded as exercising a ministry by virtue of any inherent power or right of their own. All that they do they do only because of what Christ has done for them. More than that, what they do they do, not only on the basis of that work of Christ, but as a continuation of it. Thus Paul can speak, not of the work that he himself is doing, but of the work that Christ is doing through him. ‘For I will not dare’, he says, ‘to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me…’ (Romans 15:18).

“The outside observer might feel that Paul was engaged in some work of ministry. And in a way of course he was. But to the apostle the essential thing was that Christ was doing the work of the ministry.

“In the particular instances of which he speaks, Christ, not Paul, was the real minister, though it is true that He was choosing to work through Paul. This will be found to be consistent with the thought of the whole New Testament. There is but one essential ministry, the ministry of Christ. All valid human ministry is a reflection of that.” 

From Leon Morris in Ministers of God.

Christ-shaped Fruit?

Baptism Stott

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…
Galatians 5:22-23a ESV

John Stott suggests that these nine fruit (there are almost certainly others) that the Holy Spirit bears in our lives are shared in fellowship; with God, with others and with ourselves, but even then the health we derive from the fruit in ourselves is for the good of others, and the glory of God alone. This final brief post on the theme of the fruit of the Spirit also comes from John Stott…

John Stott wrote… “Thirdly, our relationship with ourselves: ‘faithfulness, gentleness, self-control’. The word for ‘faithfulness’ is that usually translated ‘faith’ (pistis). But here it seems to mean not the faith which relies on Christ or on others, but the faithfulness which invites others to rely on us. More simply, it is not trust but trustworthiness, the solid dependability of those who always keep their promises and finish their tasks. Gentleness is a quality not of the soft and weak, but of the strong and energetic, whose strength and energy are kept under control. Self-control is mastery of our tongue, thoughts, appetites and passions. This, then, is the portrait of Christ, and so – at least in the ideal – of the balanced, Christlike, Spirit-filled Christian.”

From John R W Stott in Baptism and Fullness

No Fruit (just) for YOU?

Baptism Stott

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…
Galatians 5:22-23a ESV

The fruit of the Spirit can only be borne and enjoyed, in relationship, never apart from a living connection with Jesus, the true vine, and, through Him, with other Christians. How awful, anyway, to think of bearing fruit for ourselves alone to eat… This second brief post on the theme of the fruit of the Spirit also comes from John Stott…

John Stott wrote… “Secondly, (in) our relationship with others: ‘patience, kindness, goodness’. Here is the patience which bears rudeness and unkindness from others and refuses to retaliate; the kindness which goes beyond the negative toleration of not wishing anybody any harm to the positive benevolence of wishing everybody well; and the goodness which turns wish into deed, and takes the initiative to serve people in concrete, constructive ways. It is not difficult to see ‘patience, kindness, goodness’ as three ascending steps in our attitude to others.”

From John R W Stott in Baptism and Fullness