Thursday, May 10, 2012

Godly Ministry in the New Testament

Mark 1:14-15 Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Yesterday we covered the subject of Godly Ministry.  We looked at the beginnings of the priesthood in the Old Testament in Leviticus 8-10 and noted five absolutes of Godly ministry in that chapter.  We used the acrostic "G-O-D-L-Y" as an aid in remembering the five absolutes or principles of Godly ministry:

Grounded in scripture
Ongoing reliance on God's approval or anointing
Dependance upon the blood
Leverage from God's power
Yearning for fellowship with God

As we saw Godly ministry in the Old Testament, we see it even more fully in the New Testament.  As we take these five absolutes, we find them in the ministry of Christ and the Apostles.

Grounded in the scriptures - the basis of Godly ministry
Jesus Himself lived out, referred to or fulfilled nearly 600 Bible passages in the course of His 33 years here on earth.  Five times in Matthew (4:17; 7:28; 11:1; 13:53;19:1) we read of Jesus going to do something with the phrase "after He ended these sayings".  Jesus spoke some 60 or so parables that highlighted things from the scriptures.

The Apostles in the Book of Acts preached some 15 sermons, with an additional one being preached by Stephen, the first martyr in Acts 7.  In the first sermon alone, Peter in Acts 2 alludes to or quotes nearly 20 passages from the Old Testament.  No doubt, ministry in the the New Testament was grounded in the Word.

Ongoing reliance in God's approval or anointing
In Luke 4:18 Jesus says from the onset of His ministry that "God has anointed me".  In 2 Corinthians 3 the Apostle Paul notes that his confidence for doing ministry derives not from man, but from God.

Dependance upon the blood
If you were to take the contents of all four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), you would find that a full 30% of their material focuses upon the final week of Christ's life leading up to the crucifixion.  Through the remainder of the New Testament we find around 130 references to Christ's blood and all He accomplished on the cross.  All Godly ministry never bypasses the blood, the cross.

Leverage from God's power
In the course of Jesus' ministry we see 35 miracles depicted.  In John's Gospel the sequence of the narrative is moved forward by seven "signs" that Jesus performed in the first twelve chapters.

In the ministry of the Apostles, the power of God was marked by the thousands of people converted through their ministry.  In Acts 4:4 we read that 5,000 people were saved as the result of the Apostolic preaching.  The Apostles did not draw the power for ministry from the appeal to popularity nor the taking of polls.  Rather they drew their strength from the power of God in Jesus Christ. (Colossians 1:27-29)

Yearning for fellowship with God - the goal of Godly ministry
As Jesus closed out his time with his disciples in the upper room in John 13-17, we see Him pray what is perhaps the most holiest prayer in the Bible.  His chief point in that prayer is to attain the fellowship with the Father He had with Him from Eternity past.  Furthermore He is praying that all those who are converted in subsequent generations following the preaching of the Gospel will get to share in this fellowship too. 

The Apostles made such a point of fellowship with God as the goal of Christian growth, theological study and prayer.  I will list some passages below from each of the main Apostles to give you a sense of the premium they placed on fellowship with God as the Goal of Godly ministry.

1. Apostle Paul - Philippians 3:7-10
2. Apostle Peter - 2 Peter 1:4-11
3. Apostle John  - 1 John 1:5-2:2

I would urge you to look at those texts and ask God to make that the yearning of your heart.  Godly ministry has as its beginning and end God in Jesus Christ.  May we as believers aim ourselves to be and practice the Godly ministry that God has called us to do. 

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