Feeling fragile?

John Piper
But we have this treasure in jars of clay,
to show that the surpassing power
belongs to God and not to us.
2 Corinthians 4:7 ESV

Some days we wake up feeling fragile, aware of all our weaknesses, when we would prefer instead to wake up feeling strong, and fit, and full of energy to face the day ahead of us. But, even on those days, and whether we feel it or not, at any given moment, in Christ, by grace through faith alone, we may discover again that He is with us, in us, in all his strength, to work through us; the power is His, and the glory must be His as well. This first of three brief posts on the theme of treasure in clay pots comes from John Piper…

John Piper says…. The third reason you should use your gift for the good of others and the glory of God is that your ordinariness is no reason not to. Too many people say, ‘I’m so ordinary, so average and undistinguished. I can’t do anything significant.’ 2 Corinthians 4:7 shows that this argument is wrong and why. It says, ‘We have this treasure in earthen vessels (or clay pots!) to show us that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.’ God’s concept of ministry is so different from the world’s concept. The world stresses the classy container, not the glory of God in human weakness.

“If there is one thing that we are coming to learn together in this church, it is that God’s purpose to get the glory in all things determines how we do all things. Here God’s purpose is to make sure that we see that the surpassing power belongs to him and not to us. How does he do it? He puts the treasure of his gifts and his gospel in clay pots like you and me. Your ordinariness is not a liability; it is an asset, if you really want God to get the glory.

“No one is too common, too weak, too shy, too inarticulate, too disabled to do what God wants you to do with your gift. … No matter what your condition, you have a gift, and the humble use of it in reliance on the Spirit will bring glory to God.

“It is no liability to be a clay pot in the kingdom of God.”

From John Piper in a sermon entitled ‘Calling All Clay Pots’ in Desiring God Resources

Signpost or distraction?

Ministers of God

How awful if people in need of a hospital were so distracted by the signs along the way that they never reached the care they truly needed. This final brief post on the theme of the Ministry of Christ also comes from Leon Morris…

“If we are to grasp New Testament teaching on the ministry it is important to be clear on the place assigned to Christ’s ministry. His is the one essential ministry. All human ministry depends on His ministry, and, indeed, is nothing more than a continuation of it. Christian ministers must take their starting point in what Christ has done, and they can do no more than minister His gospel to men. Their task is to point men to Christ that He may meet their need. As T. W. Manson puts it, ‘The ministry of Jesus is the standard and pattern of the Church’s task; but, more than that, the Church’s task is the continuation of the ministry of Jesus…All our endeavours are to be understood as ways in which the Risen Lord continues his work in the world.’”

From Leon Morris in Ministers of God.

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.

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.