Theology of Ministry - Lesson 6

Mission of Ministry (part 1)

We need to hear what God is saying through his word and proclaim it. A ministry of grace is characterized by a heart of forgiveness and reconciliation.

John  Johnson
Theology of Ministry
Lesson 6
Watching Now
Mission of Ministry (part 1)

Mission of Ministry (part 1)

B. Ministry of Word (cont)

C. We share in his ministry of grace

D. We share in his ministry of presence

E. Ministry is a participation in reign

  • Theology is the clarification of convictions by which we engage in ministry.

  • During the Renaissance, some people began making a distinction between academic theology and practical theology.

  • The incarnation is the prism through which we view our entire missional task.

  • Christ embodied the OT offices of prophet, priest and king.

  • Ministry is a paradox of leading by serving.

  • We need to hear what God is saying through his word and proclaim it. A ministry of grace is characterized by a heart of forgiveness and reconciliation.

  • Ministry is participation in God’s work of transforming the community of faith until it is blameless at the coming of Christ.

  • There is no ministry without church and no church without ministry.

  • Our ministry is to be done in the context of community. We can't avoid institutions, but we can avoid institutionalism.

  • Each of us is called to God, then to serve the body with the gifts we receive from the Spirit. Some have a special call to leadership.

  • Character is what validates our ministry. We earn integrity by having a rigorous devotion to the truth.

  • Giftedness should reflect in your passion for ministry, what God is blessing in your life and what other people are affirming.

  • Our mission is to advance the kingdom of God, so we are in conflict with Satan trying to advance his kingdom. God has given us authority. We need to exercise it and stand against sin.

  • When people begin a new movement, it can create an opportunity for you to re-evaluate your theology and practice to determine if your ideas are biblical or based solely on tradition.
  • It’s important to have a theological basis for evaluating the effectiveness of your ministry.

  • Much of the daily work of ministry involves menial and mundane tasks. The glorious side of ministry overshadows the inglorious.

  • It’s important for your theology to inform your ministry and for your ministry to apply your theology.

Ministry is built upon sound biblical, theological and cultural foundations. Each generation of the Church must understand and build on these foundations, as well as discover relevant contemporary innovations and applications. This course intends to help you integrate an understanding of the Word and the world with the development of a personal philosophy of ministry.

At the end, it's a good exercise to write out you own theology of ministry that you could present to a board and/or articulate as situations in your ministry come up.


Service is the term for what you and I are giving our lives to.

It underscores that there is messiness, which there is. There is a lot of messiness in ministry, like waiting on tables. [00:30] So, it gives us an understanding that what we're getting into something where we serve. Is a place of service that's going to be messy every Tuesday when our staff meets and we go over the needs in our body. I refer to that time each week has the mess.

People get their lives messed up every week and a lot of what we pray over is the mess. Sort of like the mess when you're cleaning up tables. We said that the service implies a couple of things: [01:00] submission and humility. Humility because our model is Christ and the cross and we sense that he is calling us as ministers to work and develop a cruciform community. You know what I mean by that word?

Cruciform community, marked by people who been crucified with Christ. Which goes back to the heart of the ministry. Back to the heart of [01:30] humility. Back to the heart of service. And you know we see if for example in Paul who saw his ministry much that way. I think one of the most interesting description, in one way I think we alluded to earlier, in Romans 15:16.

And let's just take our Bibles for a moment and go back to that text. Because in Romans 15 he has one more allusion to this, that I can think of and that's in Timothy, where he refers to himself as a drink [02:00] offering. Someone read verse 15 and 16.

Audience: [02:05 - 02:21] [inaudible]

[02:22] In a certain sense, Paul gives his philosophy of ministry there.

The people he ministers to, the ministry God's given him [02:30] he likens to what? The very ministry God's given him is an offering. He's the priest who comes and so he sees himself with his ministry that God has given them as something he brings to what? What does the priest do?

Audience: [02:52] [inaudible]

[02:53] He brings an offering to the altar and in that statement as he

gives it to, on the altar, what is he doing? He's giving it [03:00] to God. Just like you and me. When we present ourselves before God or we give our offerings to God they are no longer ours but God's. This is a pretty profound statement Paul makes about ministry. Ministry philosophically for him is not something he owns. It's not, these are my people. This is my thing. This is God's. And he sees himself bringing this offering to God.

This is, [03:30] okay, God, so, here's my church. Here's my, you know, the place where I counsel. This is that, this is my ministry. I'm presenting it to you on the altar. It's yours for you to do whatever you want with. Now, when we bring an offering, back in that culture, you bring something that what? You bring something that's costly. Something that cost you. So, the ministry that Paul had cost him a lot.

[04:00] When you think about ministry, philosophically, ministry is, and this all goes back to service. Part of servant hood is seeing ministry is not your possession but it is your offering that you bring to the altar to God. And you can take anything I think as I may have mentioned. You can apply that to a sermon. You're called to preach a sermon and at the end of that whole preparation there comes a moment where, really, I think if we think [04:30] about it theologically we take that and bring it to the alter.

Okay, God, this is something that has cost me. Now, if it didn't cost you, you know, if it was a quick Saturday night prep, I don't know if I think too much about the altar experience. But, if truly you know you have work this through. And, God is taking this and he is just taking you through the rigors. And yet, through it all you've heard god's voice and come now just before you present it to the people, [05:00] you presented to God as an offering.

Simply saying to you, realize how that theologically makes you think a lot differently about what you're doing? Because now you realize it's God's and you realize now it's up to him. You've done your part. Your part is to bring the offering to the altar. It's now God's to do what he wants with it. Which liberates you but it also gives you a mentality of how to look at it. See, how many people in ministry, think of their ministry like that? [05:30] As an offering brought to the altar to God.

That's how Paul saw his ministry. That's great theology isn't it? It goes back to understanding what Ministry is in its essence. It is service. It is a servant and this is part of the humility that goes with that. Now, the second major word I've been working with is this: ministry is service. Secondly, ministry is participation. And, I can, on the fact that we are in [06:00] union with Christ. And, so, in this union we who are in ministry are doing something in union with him or the word participation.

I go back to Purvis who's helped me think this through. Where, remember I said, ministry is not about imitating Christ, though it is, but it's a lot more than that. It's not just about being obedient, it is that. But it's about being in union with Christ and so, where he goes [06:30] we go and we're doing this thing. And it's a participation that starts with what did I say last week? Participation in, in word. We look at Christ. Christ ministry the essence of his ministry was the Ministry of word. Which therefore says, if we're in union with him our ministry and essence should be about word.

Whatever ministry God's called you to. Whatever it looks like out there. Ultimately it should be largely a ministry of word. [07:00] You are representing revelation. You are representing God. You're representing his will. And I'm not saying, well, if I don't preach than that doesn't really. No, it doesn't matter what you do, in a certain sense we all preach. We preach in different ways. Ministry is largely word. So, we share in the speaking forth of that of that word and it is a word.

As I think I left you with last week, entirely of its own order. [07:30] It's never in our power to speak. It is a word in which, in its own power and majesty stands against all other words, is the antithesis of human [07:40] [object slam] capacity. Let me expand on that a little bit more. What all of this means is, first of all we have no right to alter its message. A ministry by it's very fundamental nature is a participation in word and this union with the word of God.

First of all, we need to just [08:00] remember we have no right to alter its message. Paul was very much aware of that. First Corinthians chapter two, take your Bibles because we're gonna look at a few verses along the way.

First Corinthians two, verse one.

When I came, brethren, I did not come to superiority of speech or of wisdom. Proclaiming to you the testimony of God quite determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you, [08:30] and weakness, and fear, and much trembling, and my message, and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom. But in demonstration of the spirit and the power that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men but on the power of God.

I think somewhere that's a text that could be preached today. I don't know about your observation. Paul understood this, that his ministry was about revelation and what Paul was concerned with [09:00] is that he would not get in the way of that. People would not be so amazed at his rhetorical skills. That they would hear the word of God. Second Corinthians chapter two comes at this again, verse 17.

For we are not like many peddling the word of God. Bt it's from sincerity. But it's from God we speak in Christ in the side of God.

[09:30] So, he again wants to be very careful about how people perceive when he ministers word. Another passage you could just write down here, second Timothy 2:15, where he says, you know, gives that admonition to Timothy to handle accurately the word of God. Don't adapt the message to the desires and ambitions of the world. Don't tickle the ears.

[10:00] If you're in ministry and ministry is a participation in word then make sure you're representing the word. Not your word but the word. If I can put it another way, don't use the word as a launchpad to go off and stay with you now really want to say. Which is probably about 80% of the preaching out there today. That's not a participation in word. So, we have no right to alter its message. We also have no right to determine whether we want to [10:30] declare it or not.

That's also a part of participation in word. We have no right to determine whether we want to declare it or not. Well, I know the word of God can be offensive. So, you know what? Let's just keep the Bible out of this while we talk together. That's not Ministry that's something else. Ministry is not ashamed and is not intent on avoiding the word. [11:00] So, what that means is you're willing to just let it stand and say what it's going to say and realize that might come with a price.

That's part of participation in word. So, it begins with our willingness to receive it. It begins with their willingness to listen to the word and that's not always easy and it's not always easy because [11:30] the word has a certain hidden dimension to it. Have you noticed that? While in a certain sense the word is there an addressed to all and easy enough for us to understand.

Yet, in almost every verse of Scripture I find there's a mystery. Still, nonetheless, in the word there's a hidden dimension to it that is... What? Trying to just be mysterious and not reveal itself. No, it's written I think [12:00] in a way to say that it wants to unveil and disclose itself through faithful servants that allow people to say, "oh, now I hear it. Oh, now I see. I hear a voice. I hear God."

A concealment that leads to disclosure that takes the credit. That, by the way, puts us therefore in utter desperation. Which is a great place [12:30] for me and what I do. I minister word week by week by week and most, I'd say 99% of those weeks, I'm a man in utter desperation. I find working with word leaves me in that condition which often I hate.

I'm preaching Nehemiah right now. So, there I am Saturday afternoon. I thought this through. I've translated to text. I've done my exegetical work. I've gone back and read [13:00] theologies. I've read commentaries. I've done all of my work and I've meditated, reflected, thought it through. Tried to find the best minds and what they say about the passage. And nonetheless, I get to Saturday afternoon an hour before I'm supposed to preach. And I'm going, "God, I don't understand this at all. I'm a desperate man. It hasn't captured me. I'm going to go out and make an absolute fool of myself."

Any of you ever experience that? [13:30] I experience it every week. There's something about the word in that way, that is all. It's not like God just playing with your mind. But I think it's God just saying in this participation with me. A union of word and this participation. This is right where I want you, in total absolute dependence. You're dealing with something eternal, something profound.

[14:00] And when you find yourself in that condition where you find yourself begging for God to do what he's going to do and he does it. It's a wonderful moment, isn't it? It's just like, one of the greatest moments on earth. Now, it doesn't just have to happen that way in the pulpit. It can happen one to one. It's all ministry of word. There's something in that mystery.

What's [14:30] necessary is listening and that's not easy for us to do. Mark chapter 4, I think is a scary text. Mark 4:24, someone read that verse.

Audience: [14:46 -14:55] [inaudible]

[14:56] And [14:56] [phonetic] a-chair keep reading 25.

Audience: [14:58 -15:05] [inaudible]

[15:06] So, in the context of word it starts with the sower and seed.

So, the whole setting of all of this is word, about word. He is given a warning, isn't he? Be careful how you, what? Be careful how you hear. And if you're willing to really hear, what's going to happen? [15:30] You'll hear. What if you're not all that serious about hearing?

Audience: [15:35 - 15:37] [inaudible]

[15:38] Yes, now someday, I mean, this is like one of your last

sermons before you leave a church. Cause you wouldn't want to preach it somewhere in the middle if you want to keep your job. But sometime, you know, what a text to say. You know, I wonder if for some of you, you gave so little effort to hearing that today you can't hear at all. [16:00] Because there's something very serious God is saying about this discipline of hearing.

Isn't it scary? Scares me. But Jesus has given a warning about listening. And he's talking about all back in this participation in word. The degree to which you listen, that is you allow the word into your heart. To the degree to which you're willing to do that is the degree to which you will receive. [16:30] Those who knock, who pursue, who diligently dig will find disclosure. Those with a hurried search who's thinking, who study is superficial may discover, in fact, to the great, maybe even their great surprise, that they've lost even what they had.

I like Eugene Peterson who speaks of this task [17:00] in this ministry of word as turning eyes into ears. What a great chapter in working the angles and that's what he titles it, turning eyes into ears. And he makes a great statement that most of us read with a distancing eye, that's how he calls it. The distancing eye but not a listening ear. To put it another way, reading is not the same as listening.

[17:30] See, do you ever find yourself, sometimes you say, “Okay, I've just got a little bit of time for my morning devotions." I'm reading through Jeremiah and you know that your eye has connected with the words on the page but nothing else it's connected. But something sort of subtly says as long as my eye keeps connecting with word I can get through the chapter. And then you say, I read it. But if somebody said, "But did you hear what God was saying?" That's when it gets kind of convicting, right?

[18:00] The eye can fool you is part of what Peterson's getting at. We have to read to listen but we can read without going on to listening is the point. And Jesus here, I think in Mark 4, is saying you've got to listen. Nurture a listening disposition so that the voice can be heard. Another great way he describes it is contemplative exegesis. I think that's my favorite phrase, contemplative [18:30] exegesis.

In all of that, by listening to word, that's all necessary to participation in word. Don't think, well, okay, I'm in the ministry and part of this, the very essence of ministry is participation in word that it's just going to happen. It's not going to just happen. It's going to require of you and of me, a profound discipline of listening. But if we don't do that then we are negating our essential ministry, [19:00] one of our central ministries, the essence of ministry, and that’s word.

People look to you as ministers. Whatever ministry you go into they're going to need from you ministry of word, participation in word. Because in of yourself, you really have not much to offer. Just as I don't have much to offer. If I didn't have word I wouldn't have much of anything to say, I really wouldn't. I don't have the gift of gab. [19:30] Some people can wing it and I can't. And if you can wing it, that is your blessing it is your curse.

I hope most of you don't have that gift. What I hope you have is a sense of, I'm in ministry. I don't really have anything I know what to say unless it's right here but that requires listening. That then we'll move us to speaking that will shape the consciousness of people. [20:00] We'll hopefully do what Paul said in Colossians 128, that we might bring people to maturity. That's what it's all about. Nature of ministry is this participation in word to bring people to Christ like maturity, that’s ministry in a nutshell.

Part of the crisis today is I think a lot of people are enamored with their own words, their own constructions. Maybe their own self importance. [20:30] Or maybe, I think this is a bit of it, I think people won't say this and admit it. But, also, because of their own lack of confidence in the efficacy of the word. I need to add this and I need to do this because only then will people listen. We sometimes don't give the word of God the credit it deserves.

Ministry is a participation work. I think that's about [21:00] all I say about... You are listing, right? Okay, ministry is a participation. Here's the second one in grace. I mean our ministry, the essence of ministry is in this union of participation with Christ we're participating in grace. And what that means is simply this, in this union with Christ and Christ was all about Grace. As we share in his life, as we share in the life of his grace, then our ministry by [21:30] its very nature should just be all about Grace.

I mean people should see grace all over us, inside of us, outside of us, all around us. If people don't sense grace in us, they have a fair reason to question it for really doing ministry, if we're in union with Christ. Because it we're in union with Christ how can there not be but Grace. A big part of that means a heart of forgiveness. [22:00] Showing forgiveness to needy people. It is a ministry that's largely defined as reconciliation. That must be part of our main conversation because it was Christ conversation, though a lot of times people didn't get it.

You know there's a great story back in Mark, Mark chapter 2, where they're lowering the paralytic member. So, they've gotten the tile out of the way. They're lowering them down. They're really ingenious [22:30] with what they're doing and so here he comes down. So, everybody's their Christ is teaching the word and suddenly interrupted by this guy being lowered down from the ceiling. And then in verse 5, Christ, after looking around at them, he'd seen their faith. He said the most amazing thing to the paralytic. What did he say? Your sins are forgiven.

With just completely, it's the profound twist in the story [23:00] nobody expects that. You just didn't expect that to happen. He was not brought down there because he needed forgiveness. Not in the minds of those lowering him and they were hoping to get them right there, and yet, that's what Christ does. In the process he creates a scandal. And everybody gets upset with him. They just wanted, you know, a heartwarming healing not something different.

[23:30] Now, what am I trying to say? This is Christ doing the essence of ministry. He's getting to the heart of ministry. Heart of ministry is going beyond the physical needs to heart needs. He's addressing what needs to be done. And he's showing us that if we're going to be in ministry with him in this participation that in a certain sense we're looking at people, needs in the same way. We are looking beyond the obvious. We're looking beyond the physical. We're looking into the heart condition.

[24:00] Not that we can forgive like Christ forgives but we bring his ministry of forgiveness in that sense. It's the same thing, for example, is if you turn the James 5. Where, you remember, he says their if any one among you is sick James 5:14. If anyone is sick what are you supposed to do? Well, no, you got to do something first. You've got to call the elders. Somebody's got to be there [24:30] so let them call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

Okay, so, what is James saying has to happen? Got a person there they've been sick for a long time. They're dealing with cancer. Call the elders. What's the ministry here about? Praying for healing. Are we done? According to the passage of we, [25:00] i-is this what's required? All that's... If we're in ministry we're doing ministry and a legitimate part of ministry is, and a legitimate part of grace is ministering healing.

James is not done here is he? What else does he call them to do?

Audience: [25:17] [inaudible]

[25:18] Yes.

Audience: [25:19] [inaudible]

[25:22] And the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who sick

and the Lord will raise him up and if he's committed sins they will be forgiven him. What does that seem to imply needs to happen? [25:30] In that setting what are elders, ministers called to do? Just ask how you're feeling? Yes, it seems to suggest that part of the ministry there, sort of like the paralytic been dropped down and Jesus is a physician to the soul. Is to say something like this as I've been learning to do. And actually, I found that it's really, been very well received.

I thought people [26:00] would be offended at first when I would say something like this. Now, before we pray over your cancerous condition I just need to ask you is there any sin in your life that you're not dealing with? That you are not letting God come and deal with in your life. Anything you're not confessing or repenting of? Because that seems to be part of the story. You see what I'm saying? When you look at Mark 2 you realize that's part of the story there [26:30] too in the context of healing.

Which seems to say that a big part of our ministry, the essence of ministry, as ministers of Grace is to bring the ministry of reconciliation. Which means we look for opportunities to bring healing to the soul. That we're not afraid to ask some of the hard questions sometimes. So, is her sin in your life we need to talk about? That you know, maybe together we can go and seek the Lord's forgiveness together.

[27:00] A minister of reconciliation is, like in the context there, an ambassador. An ambassador sometimes is playing that role of trying to bridge alienated parties and that's our role. We've got two parties that have this barrier between them. It's called sin and a minister of reconciliation is coming to try to bridge that together. In this case, God is use-calling us to do that. So, I think [27:30] that's fundamentally what ministry is largely about. Yes.

Audience: [27:34 - 27:41] [inaudible]

[27:42] I think it's a ministry all believers have a responsibility for.

Just like it, you could take like a, Colossians 3:16. In a certain sense all ministers have a responsibility of word. Remember, we talked about that-that when we gather together bring a word. So, I think we all bring reconciliation. But, I think there [28:00] is, if I can use the term vocational ministry. I think that there is a more profound sense of reconciliation and I talked about it with identity.

That means that maybe I'm praying for people to get reconciled to themselves maybe are not out of place to seek for it. Maybe because they're too deep in sin or in ignorance. And I think it also calls for us to go a step further than maybe most would. And take advantage of a role [28:30] we have filled that others don't have that sometimes we don't take advantage of. I mean, I found that in a Pastoral role, for example people give me more room to ask questions that, maybe, otherwise I wouldn't maybe have so much freedom to ask.

So, one of our defining active ministries is to ask the question from time to time. Do you know that your sins are forgiven? Do you know that? Do you know that [29:00] he's taking our place? That there is this Emmanule, Emmanuel, God is with us. But at that, also means that now we are with God. That's what his forgiveness can provide. Purvis put it this way, Emmanuel means homecoming. We often think of it as God with us, God come to us. We're seeing that at Christmas. But this whole work of reconciliation is really us coming to God.

[29:30] So, in this here, what is in this ministry of participation and grace, we declare these things. We declare he is Lord and that he loves us. He demonstrated that by taking our sins onto the cross. So, we minister this that Jesus is God and we minister this that Jesus is grace and they both must be held together. Ministry is thirdly, participation [30:00] in presence. A minister realizes that in this union with God just as Jesus came and became the presence of God on earth, his life is the story of God. He bore the image of God perfectly.

Jesus brings us to God. In our Union with him now we are also bearers of the presence of God. To put it another way if we live in this union [30:30] and our lives are intimate and we follow Christ we can bring Jesus to people. So, for example Paul talks about it in second Corinthians one and two. As Christ has comforted him out of this comfort that he's received in Christ. He ministers what? He ministers the same thing.

He's simply a channel because God is ministered this presents, this comfort now [31:00] he simply transfers it on. In a certain sense that's what ministry is, we, in our own walk with God we receive word. It just becomes a ministry of presence to people. Comfort becomes ministry of the presence of comfort to people. Which implies that if we bring a ministry of comfort, in which people sense the presence of God, then we need to be prepared [31:30] for the fact that we will go through our own suffering.

Second Corinthians one and two suggest, anyway, that if we're going to be ministers of comfort then we will go through our own suffering. Because somehow that's generally the only way we can do that. And it's part of being in union Christ. If we're in union with him he suffered, we will suffer. We will participate in Christ's afflictions. We will share his comfort [32:00] and then we will share his presence. Now, that's kind of a tough news.

The good news is that affliction therefore for us and ministry and I think at times we will face maybe more profound affliction because we are in ministry. What this also means is this, that we can't lose sight of, it therefore it gives meaning to affliction. That it's not meaningless. That God is redeeming it for good. [32:30] Afflictions become transformed into empowerments from ministry. God is comforting us and then as we go out into this world to comfort people Christ has comforted them through us.

Comforting them through our own tribulations and trials. So, we bring comfort but back to this word we bring [33:00] presence to people. We bring God's presence and we can bring that a lot of ways. We can bring God's presence when we preach. We can sometimes bring God's presence when we pray with others. Sometimes, I've been with godly people and they minister God's presence. It's not them it's God. Just being around them because they're around God their in this holy union.

It can happen when we counsel people. It can [33:30] happen when we visit. In fact, in many ways when we visit people what they really need is not so much us, they need the presence of God. And if we share in this union with God and we understand the essence of ministry is participation with him, in his presence we can bring that.

Audience: [33:48 - 33:50] [inaudible]

[33:51] Well, that's a great question it's interesting a lot of times in

our vocabulary how will say, sometimes we'll say in worship, right. We'll just say, you know, [34:00] tonight let's just pray that God's presence just comes and fills this place. If he's omnipresent, isn't he already here? That's where sometimes I zone out a little bit into mystery. There's something about god's particular presents and his omnipresent that I'm not sure I can rationally explain but I believe both are true.

You know a lot of times people pray God I just, I just need you [34:30] to be with me in this moment. Now, they already understand omnipresence. I think they do. But they're saying, I just need something of you manifesting itself, maybe, in a way that becomes more real to me. That I think sometimes God does. And I think God will do through us as ministers. Yes.

Audience: [34:54 - 35:01] [inaudible]

[35:01] I'm not thought of it that way. J.I. Packer and his, one of the

best books on the Holy Spirit. It was written years ago but he makes the point that the Holy Spirit's primary ministry. This how he defines it. The Holy Spirit's primary ministry is to mediate the presence of Christ. Maybe I'm back to little bit of what you're saying there and I don't know if this makes sense.

Let me just try it on you. That when we sometimes, in the worship or [35:30] whatever, and we're just saying God we just, we just are seeking for a sense of your presence this morning, or tonight, or whatever it is. What we're really asking at that moment is for the Holy Spirit to do this work. The Holy Spirit whose role is not to glorify himself as Jesus said. The Holy Spirit's role, I think, is to focus on mediating the presence of Jesus. So, that when we have a profound sense of Christ in that moment I think that's [36:00] evidence of the powerful working of the Holy Spirit.

Now, back to then the nature of ministry. The nature of ministry is participation and presence. What I think that means is that we are walking in the Spirit. That we are filled with the spirit and I think a good and important prayer to pray before you counsel, before you go into a hospital room, before you preach. Whatever you do as ministry, is to say God I want to make sure I am filled with your spirit. [36.30] Because that's not an automatic thing.

That it's not permanent thing. In dwelling, yes of course. But filling, if it was permanent Paul wouldn't command us to be filled with the spirit. I would think, sometimes it's really important that we pray that prayer. And that we ask ourselves is there anything that is interrupting his filling of our lives? Because when we know we're filled with the spirit, I think then that's when we will minister presence. [37:00] Because the Spirit of God filling our lives is going to mediate presence. Makes sense?

So, you're in a hospital room, a minister comes. Whoever he or she is, but it is come in the name of Jesus to minister to you. If that person is profoundly filled with the spirit I would think that in that experience I will experience something of the presence of God. And in that, if that happens, [37:30] ministry has happened. And we got back to the nature and essence of what ministry is.

Audience: [37:35 - 37:44] [inaudible]

[37:44] Yes.

Audience: [37:45 -37:47] [inaudible]

[37:48] Yes, I think so. It's another kind of mysterious text. David

Hanson in his book the Art of the pasturing uses the phrase, be the parable of Jesus. [38:00] Our lives are to be a parable. He sees Jesus, in a sense, as a parable of God. He came and he personified the story of God. And what he takes from that, is that now we are the living representatives of Jesus as ministers. I don't know. All I can say is that works with me. Sometimes I'll find myself getting out of my car, walking into a-a hospital and I'll find myself saying Lord let me be a parable of you.

[38:30] I don't know all that that means, honestly. It's just that somehow it reminds me this is not about me seeing this person. It's about me simply being an instrument so that person experiences Jesus. Cause that's what they need. And I'm simply saying in this then that's what ministry is, that’s participation in presence, participation in presence.

Here's the last thing, ministry is a participation in reign. [39:00] Ultimately, in ministry we're participating in this work of transforming the community and preparing it until it is blameless at the coming of Christ. And maybe think of it this way, in ministry, in this union with Christ, who has died been buried and risen. And I have died and been buried and have risen with him. I'm participating in his resurrection. And I'm living out resurrected [39:30] life.

And as living out a resurrected life as a minister, what am I thing bringing to people? I'm bringing I think one of the keywords here is hope. That dispels hopelessness, dispels darkness, rebukes, in fact, hopelessness. I'm calling for a liberation from sin because sin no longer has authority over our [40:00] lives.

That's an essential rule of a minister is to remind people of that. I find that I can't remind my people enough. Sin no longer has authority. Do you believe that? It no longer has to dominate. Paul says, Colossians 1:13, we have been transferred from the domain of darkness to the kingdom of light. Jesus gives the disciples in Mark 3:15 authority over the powers of darkness.

[40:30] The essence of ministry is also I am participating in this reign with him. He has come in and he's brought the kingdom of God. I'm part of the kingdom of God. And I am part of that reign. And we need to, therefore, have ministries that reflect that. And that means we reflect hope, and power. And encourages people to pray in the kind of way in which they are laying hold of God's willingness, and [41:00] God's power to change the world.

Because God is living and his kingdom is here. What is the nature of ministry? The nature of ministry, also, in essence is giving people profound hope. And saying to people like--I like I love to always say to people, without exception, God has a profound purpose for all of you. God wants to change the world through you. That's part of reigning with Christ. And it's not just the reign [41:30] that's in the future. It's a reign that already is here.

Talk about tension, we live in the-the already and not yet. We live in this crazy tension. The kingdom of God is here and yet we're awaiting the kingdom of God. Can I explain that clearly? I can't. I just know it's both true. That Christ, when he came he brought the kingdom and it's here. And in a certain [42:00] sense, as Colossians 2:15 declares, "the enemy has been triumph over. The war is won." And yet, we're still living in this tension with the spiritual battle that rages.

And in this you and I have to bring a ministry of reign, so to speak, a ministry of hope. We have to convince saints that they are not worthless worms saved by grace because that's what a lot of them [42:30] think of themselves. And the devil laughs all the way to hell when he gets people to think that way. We have to tell people, you know what, there is now therefore no, what? No, condemnation. OK, so quit living your lives like you're condemned.

I get so frustrated sometimes with Christians that way. You know, oh, I just, you know, really getting beat up and I just, I'm so worthless, and... But wait a minute where's that coming from? Is that coming from the Holy [43:00] Spirit? I don't find anything says that's the role of the Holy Spirit, that’s the role of the devil. Holy Spirit will come to convict but what's the role of conviction? Is it to put us down? No, I don't about you but when I since the convicting work of the Spirit it's always God saying, "Come on, come on, let's go. You don't have to be there."

He convicts me to live differently, to live more powerfully. The work of th-the evil spirit is to condemn us, and to put us down, [43:30] and to push us down, and drive us down. And we minister to a lot of people who feel pushed down. And they bought into the lie. So, you ask what's the nature of ministry? A big part of nature of ministry is to go out and minister grace, and word, and presents, and reign.

Tell them, whether it's in the counseling office or from the pulpit or wherever you are at. Tell them, Christ is on the throne in the kingdom of God is come and you can live triumphantly and victoriously. [44:00] And you have a purpose for living. It's a profound purpose unique just to you. And get about discovering it. Don't let your life waste because God didn't intend for your life to waste away.

Do people need to hear that today? Golly, and I never tire of telling people that because I sense, somehow, if you're like me that God never tires of telling me that either. Cause we need to hear that. So, the ministry is about communicating that we live, we can live [44:30] powerfully. We can live in the light. That the world belongs to God's. That his kingdom has come and our hopes in him.

Okay, so that's a stab at the nature ministry. So, think about it. Next week we'll talk about the mission of ministry.