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Msindisi # 132

October 5, 2015

SALVADOR & DIANNE’S MSINDISI MONTHLY

NUMBER: 132.        Oct 2015      

PO BOX 1481

VRYHEID 3100

KWAZULU NATAL

SOUTH AFRICA

+27 (0) 728311008

+27 (0) 723843786

Email:  msindisi@gmail.com ,

salv.di@gmail.com

KwaZulu Mission Website: http://www.kwazulumission.com

Hi all, after returning from Joburg last month we both returned with the flu. September weather changes very quickly from temps of 31+ down to 15 in a matter of a day. Recently it has been very warm with high 30 temps.

Di with Asimbonge

Di with Asimbonge

Early on in the month we had David Nathan, Moriel SA administrator who pastors the “Bread of life” assembly in Boksburg, come to minister with us for a few days. This was truly a wonderful time of us getting to know him and vice versa. He arrived on the Wednesday were we shared a meal with Phumlani together, Thursday morn Sal drove him around the local area so he could get a feel for the place. On the Thursday afternoon he shared the word with the Zulu fellowship at Mkhulu’s home. Friday he travelled with Phumlani and Sal to KwaBhekephi to teach the 3 ladies that Phumlani usually teaches that side. Then he also taught at the Friday night bible study which was hosted with us that week. Sal had asked that he bring a teaching on the Holy Spirit for these meetings. It was encouraging to share together how great the need of the Spirit is in our lives to worship and minister to each other in the body and bear witness. After David left we felt we all had got to know each other more and were blessed by his visit.

David Nathan with Mkhulu

David Nathan with Mkhulu

David Nathan and Phumlani at KwaBhekephi

David Nathan and Phumlani at KwaBhekephi

Time to say goodbye

Time to say goodbye

An Old Picture of Phumlani Preaching.

An Old Picture of Phumlani Preaching.

On Saturday after kids club we invited Tholakele and her family back for lunch to share some time together. She is a single mum with 5 children and now has a grandchild. Her walk has been very difficult and at times she has fallen hard but her heart of repentance is there. Di has offered to help teach her oldest daughter how to sew so she maybe able to make a very small income from the local community with repairs and orders. While there she would also help to teach her second to youngest with English. Tholakele is currently in the very early stages of setting up a small business to sell chicken packs to people in her local area. We ask you keep this in prayer also.

The Kids drew a picture of the Bible with their names in Hebrew and Greek letters to learn that the Bible was not written in Zulu or English.

The Kids drew a picture of the Bible with their names in Hebrew and Greek letters to learn that the Bible was not written in Zulu or English. Here is Thabi with her picture.

Due to the lack of job opportunity for many people this side, Di has it on her heart to open a second hand clothing shop where clothes that have been donated could be sold for a small price to help generate a small income. This would be built on the property of Celani Sibiya where we meet for the church meeting. Celani has 3 girls who are not currently working so this would become their project. Washing the clothes, sorting, pricing and then selling. A secure 5 by 6 metre hut with 2 barred windows and solid locking door would be required. Many people donate clothes and other things to the ministry. If for whatever reason we ever have to leave SA, good relationships have been formed with others who would continue to help supplying. Please can we ask you keep this in your prayers.

Owethu with her Hebrew and Greek work

Owethu with her Hebrew and Greek work

Sal is currently very busy with his project to reach out to people stuck in ancestral traditions. He is planning and organizing filming interviews with four people over South Africa for the production of a DVD documentary on “Allegiance: walking with the dead” . This is a huge project which will take sometime but we both feel strongly that it is needed for South Africa. This project is something that is being planned over and above all the other ministry requirements so time is stretched. Next week we go to Ballito where Salvador will be teaching at Coming King Ministries, visiting a cell group from Calvin Josiah’s congregation and spending some time with a brother in the Lord called Graeme who makes documentaries for a living. Graeme is acting in an advisory capacity. A week after that we will be going to Gauteng and start filming the interviews. We have a limited time frame with one of the ladies being interviewed, as she is about to head overseas at the end of the year for mission work so hence the urgent need to have this part completed has increased. The end of the year is busy with creche gradations in November so the next couple of months will be very busy.

Mo with her Hebrew and Greek work

Mo with her Hebrew and Greek work

We are currently having computer hassles which thankfully are being sorted, and the Lord has graciously undertaken for equipment that was needed.  We are on the road traveling a lot so ask please can you keep us in prayer and the project. This project has the potential to reach thousands of South Africans all over the country. We plan on completing it by the middle of 2016.

Sabelo with his Hebrew and Greek word

Sabelo with his Hebrew and Greek word

It has been a difficult month for Di health wise as after the flu from Joburg she managed to crack her rib and her muscles in her right shoulder and neck have cramped badly. This has made it very hard for her to maneuver easily and she has been in a lot of pain. Please can you keep her in prayer.

Di teaching the kids

Di teaching the kids

This month we visited the crèche of Joyland, Care Bear and the school of Victory to sing and share the word. We are going using and adapting the New Tribes Mission material with the kids and they are really enjoying it as it builds on itself and we recap each month. We continue with Friday cell from house to house. Discipling, kids club, evangelism. Wednesday evening is prayer and bible study at the baptist church in town. Di continues to visit the old age home and cut hair when necessary on the Wednesday.

Asimbonge with her picture

Asimbonge with her picture

With the economical situation in South Africa, Phumlani’s small business of buying and selling mealie is no longer viable for him. He is wanting to find part time work so please can you keep him in prayer.  His truck is also starting to cost him extra cash that he doesn’t have.

Salvador and Dianne

Salvador and Dianne

In all these matters we trust the Lord. He is faithful and true and we praise him in good times and difficult.

Prayers requests:

  • For the small business of Tholakele
  • The second hand clothes project
  • Phumlani for other work
  • Travelling mercies on the road
  • God’s wisdom for the DVD project
  • Disciples to continue to grow in the love and knowledge of the Lord
  • Di’s health
  • Jacob Prasch’s health
  • Persecuted believers  all over the world

We know that the increase of evil will abound. 2 Tim 3 v 2.

May our Lord give us the grace to endure and reach out in love sharing the gospel of peace and truth. He desires that no man should perish as He clearly says He will not tolerate evil and when He comes again it will be with His judgement. No man can stand on that day unless they are found in Christ’s righteous for our good deeds are like fithly rags before him. Without Christ we are lost  ……….. What a gift He gives, may many hear, understand and believe.

God bless always for your love and support.

Salvador and Di

THIRTEEN

THE CALL TO PRESENT OUR BODIES AS LIVING SACRIFICES TO GOD AND IN MINISTRY

ROMANS 12: 1 – 8

Paul has demonstrated a wealth of insight concerning God’s salvation plan. Paul knows all about the gospel, he knows all about the condemnation of mankind, he knows all about the Law and about grace, he knows the typology of the two covenants in the Old Testament scriptures, he knows all about the promises of God to Israel and how they are to be fulfilled, he knows all about the use of the Gentiles’ salvation to provoke Israel to jealousy, he knows all about the restoration of Israel in the future, he knows all this and much, much more. Peter said of Paul’s writings that they are difficult and hard to understand. Paul’s insight is deep, his writings complex, and his knowledge exhaustive and yet what does Paul say in verse 33 of Romans 11. He says in effect, “I know all of this but I cannot figure it all out. I know all this but my knowledge is nothing. I cannot search it out. I cannot fathom God’s ways. I do not understand how or why God does stuff the way He does.” God alone is wise and verse 36 shows that He is the focus of everything. He is the originator of all things, He is the means of all things and He is the purpose of all things and therefore He alone is to be praised.

Now this should impact us on an emotional level and have a sobering effect on us. It should cause us to evaluate our lives and our attitudes. The bible is not merely a collection of intellectual statements claiming to be true. Though the bible is intellectual or at the least intellectually stimulating, it is not only intellectual. It touches every area of life. Therefore, the Gospel is not merely a verbal message to be believed and professed but, as Romans 1: 16 – 17 show us, it is a message that has God’s righteousness manifested in it as we believe from faith to faith. We are to become righteous. And it does not mean that we are to be righteous only on a Sunday morning or a Wednesday night. It is to be righteous when we clock in at work, when we play sports at the local sports club, when we are with our families. In other words we are to be righteous in every sphere of life. Hence from Romans 12 onwards Paul becomes very practical. It is just as J. Gresham Machen said of the Epistle to the Ephesians. “The Church can never, therefore, dispense with old-fashioned, patient study. Such study is quite insufficient if it is not applied in daily life; but on the other hand the best of application is useless if there is nothing to apply.”

And Francis Schaeffer said in His book, ‘True Spirituality’,

“Doctrine is important, but it is not an end in itself. There is to be an experiential reality, moment by moment. And the glory of the experiential reality of the Christian, as opposed to the bare existential experience, or the religious experiences of the East, is that we can do it with all the intellectual doors and windows open.”

In this we are going to spend a lot of time looking at the first two verses of Romans 12. I want to use this chapter as an introduction to the rest of the epistle. The reason for this is that the rest of this epistle hangs on these two verses. If we can grasp and remember the truths contained in these two verses then we will have a foundation and an impetus to implement the rest of the epistle.

VERSES 1 – 2:

THE SACRIFICIAL LIFE UNTO GOD

Paul commences this chapter with the word ‘therefore’. As has been said oft times before, by various people, ‘therefore’ is a term of conclusion. This word is built on what has been said before. What was said before was a declaration of God’s wisdom in His whole plan of salvation. That declaration was a conclusion to the whole 11 chapters that we have looked at. On the basis of all that we have looked at Paul compels us to do something. He compels us to present our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice. This one verse is full of meaning that we cannot exhaust it but we will try to highlight several points.

OUR BODIES AS LIVING SACRIFICES

Firstly Paul urges the readers, by the mercies of God, to present their bodies. His urges his readers by means of the mercies of God. In other words our servitude, love and commitment to the Lord are based on what He has already done for us. It is reasonable, rational and based on content. There are choruses sung in churches where love and a desire to worship are expressed. But the song supplies no reasoning for that praise. Like the song ‘I will worship, I will worship, with all of my heart. I will praise You; I will praise You, with all of my strength… You alone I long to worship. You alone are worthy of my praise’. And sometimes the reasons for worshiping supplied in the songs we sing are superficial. Compare that song with Revelation 4 which says that God is worthy of honour and glory and power. It does not stop with that statement but goes on to say why God is worthy. He is worthy because He created all things, and all things were made for His pleasure. We owe Him our very existence. All things were made by Him and for Him. Thus, the praise in Revelation 4 is reasonable. The reason Paul gives for our servitude is the mercies of God which we have received. If we are not reminded about these mercies, it will be easy for us to become ungrateful like the children of Israel in the desert. Think of all the spiritual benefits we partake in, which unbelieving Jews have been cut off from. We are not simply servants but we are adopted children who have a great inheritance waiting for us. There is a hymn that says ‘Count your blessings’. If we would count out blessings more often then we would be encouraged to live a life of obedience.

Secondly Paul urges his readers to present their bodies as a sacrifice. The term ‘to present’ denotes a deliberate act of the will, something specifically placed on the altar for the use of someone else. It must be done willingly as when the early Church set aside money to helping suffering Christians in Jerusalem. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 9: 7, that a person must give as he has purposed in his heart. Not begrudgingly or under compulsion. Why? It is because God loves a cheerful giver. Everything that we do must be done in faith, not merely because it is expected of us. Romans 14: 23 says ‘what ever is not of faith is sin’. And the reason that faith is so important is because Romans 1: 17 says that the just shall live by faith. The same means of our justification is also the means of our sanctification. Our sacrifice is something that we must give and is not taken away from us. But what are we to present?

Thirdly we are presenting our bodies. To avoid ambiguity here Paul has given us the word in its plural form. If Paul had said that we are to present the body or our body, such a statement could possibly have been taken to apply to the Church. But he does not give the word in its singular form but plural. That is, it applies to the physical body. There were some Christians who would reinterpret Paul’s theology in light of their own form of Gnosticism. They believed the body was inherently evil but the body would die anyway. The spirit would be saved and the spirit cannot be tainted by anything physical. So the antinomians (against any form of rule) said ‘go ahead and sin. Sleep around, get high, and get drunk! Did Paul not say we are not under law? Did Paul not say that where sin abounds grace abounds even more? Then why not go ahead and do what you want?’ But Paul says, ‘No, real Christianity is not just a matter of the spirit and the soul but is also a matter of the body.’ Just because we will get a new resurrected body, it does not mean that our actions do not affect the soul because we do not will, to do the things we do, with the body. Our decisions are made with the will which lies in the soul. But what kind of sacrifice are we to present our bodies as?

Fourthly the sacrifice is to be living and holy. When you read through the book of Leviticus every single animal sacrificed was killed. The only animal that was not to be killed was the scapegoat that was to be sent out into the wilderness. Leviticus 16: 10 “But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat.” Every other animal given for atonement was killed. But what does Paul say concerning our bodies? We are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. Why is it that you and I battle with the same sins or the laying down of the same desires again and again and again? We die to these things. We put them on the altar and submit these things to the Lord. We get temporary release from the hold of those sins and those desires. But then the temptations come back with power and force. We are presenting a living sacrifice. You put a dead goat on an altar; is it going to move?  But if you put a live goat on an altar will it stay there? It might for a time but then it will get off especially if it is a wild goat.

But the sacrifice is not only to be living but also is to be holy. In other words, there should be a difference between the way I conduct my life and the way the people in the world conduct theirs. The word ‘holy’ in Hebrew is the word ‘Qodesh’, or ‘Kadosh’. It means something consecrated, set apart, sacred. It is not for common use and not profane. In the Old Testament, all the things and the people that were in the temple were classed as ‘holy’. So in the new temple, being the body of Christ, all its members are holy and therefore holiness should mark our meetings, or fellowship, our relationships, our ministry and activity. 1 Corinthians 3l: 17 says that we as the temple are holy. 1 Corinthians 6: 19 says that Children of a believing parent are considered holy. 2 Corinthians 6: 6 says that the Spirit we have received from God is Holy. Ephesians 1: 4 says that we have been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy. We are even to give one another a holy kiss in 1 Corinthians 16: 20, which according to Ryrie, was restricted to ones own gender. Holiness covers everything in our lives as believers. But the reality is that sometimes we cannot even see the difference in our lives and the lives of people in the world. And, even worse, people in the world look at us and see no difference.

But remember what we looked at in Romans 8. God has given us salvation by faith. This is not a faith that is a one off act of repentance, but it is a living faith. But whatever is there by faith is not final. It has to be realized and brought into our own experience. Faith is the evidence of things not seen but what is not seen will one day become seen. Therefore, God sees us as righteous now and he is making us into the image that he sees us to be. Jesus will present His church to Himself without spot or wrinkle.

But there is another application of this word ‘holy’ in the context of sacrifice. Deut 15: 19 – 21.

19 You shall consecrate to the LORD your God all the firstborn males that are born of your herd and of your flock; you shall not work with the firstborn of your herd, nor shear the firstborn of your flock. 20 You and your household shall eat it every year before the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses. 21 But if it has any defect, such as lameness or blindness, or any serious defect, you shall not sacrifice it to the LORD your God.”

We see in the offering of the firstborn as a sacrifice, there was not to be any serious defect. In sacrifices to God, the animal had to be without blemish; it had to be holy. Think of when Cain and Abel brought their offerings to the Lord. Cain just brought an offering from the ground. But Abel brought of the firstlings of the flock and of their fat portions. In other words he brought his best. It was a holy sacrifice. It makes me wonder, what am I offering to the Lord with my life? Am I offering God my best or only the left-overs? As Barnes says in his notes, “In like manner we are to consecrate to God our best faculties; the rigour of our minds, and talents, and time. Not the feebleness of sickness merely; not old age alone; not time which we cannot otherwise employ; but the first rigour and energies of the mind and body—our youth, and health, and strength. Our sacrifice to God is to be not divided, separate; but it is to be entire and complete.” Think of it in terms of our time with the Lord, our study of His word, our prayer life, our family life and our church life. We are always to give our best because it is to be a ‘holy’ sacrifice.

Fifthly the sacrifice is acceptable to God. In other words He is the one who determines whether our offering is worthy or not worthy. He is the one who draws up the criteria for acceptability. Therefore, we are to have Him as the focus of our lives and of our living sacrifices. Remember that Paul is not urging us to present our bodies as living sacrifices on the basis of our love for one another. That comes later. He urges us by the mercies of God. It is on the basis of what God has done for us and what He has given to us. Our obedience and love for God is a response to God. Therefore, we desire to please Him because of His love for us. We are not to try to earn His love. We must never lose sight of what God did, because once we do that then our Christianity becomes a false Christianity and our Gospel becomes a false Gospel.

But sixthly, when we do all this, then we are really worshiping. Paul says that this is our spiritual worship. I play guitar and I love music. I have written over 155 songs. I used to have a fair collection of Vinyl records and CDs. I have been in Church music groups since I was about 12. I have no problem with music. But saying all that, the early church knew absolutely nothing of the contemporary worship scene. There were no organized worship events as we picture worship. There were no worship groups in any kind of lime light. The book of Acts does not record any worship leaders such as Patrick the Pan piper going round Galatia, Pamphylia and Bythinia holding a primitive worship festival, or promoting “Peter and the Apostles” as the most happening, hip hop artistic group ever to shake the world scene of worship music paving the way for the future of Byzantine chants. Why did you not see any of that? The reason there is a difference between worship of today and of the time of the Apostles is because our modern definition of worship is different to the bible’s definition. Our modern view of worship is hymns and choruses. Paul’s definition is a surrendered and obedient life. Paul’s definition is what we do in our bodies. In Revelation 11: 16 – 17 the twenty-four elders fell on their faces and worshiped God. Did they suddenly burst out singing Handel’s Messiah? No, the scripture says that they were saying, ‘We give you thanks, O Lord God’. My worship is what I do in my house at night. My worship is how I do my work, the way I run my household, and the way I treat other believers. My worship is my life. Remember what Jesus said to the lady at the well in John 4 when she asked Jesus about where a person should worship.

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be his worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Worship is not about a geographical location. We all accept this and yet how often do we look at worship as something that we do at a particular place? ‘I worship at Lime Grove Baptist Church’. It is not about the place any more but it is about the Spirit and the Truth.

THE RENEWAL OF THE MIND

But let us move onto verse 2.And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed. The word for conformed in the Greek is ‘suschmatizo’ and it means to fashion something according to something else. The word for transform however is ‘metamorfoo’ and that means to ‘change into another form’. It is to be transfigured, as Christ was on the mountain. In other words, do not copy the world and put yourself into the world’s mold, but have yourself changed into another form than the one you are currently in. There is a great truth in this one phrase and that is this. We are separate from the world, in that Paul compels us not to copy the world and fashion our lives according to the world. But we are not yet separate in the fact that we need to be changed from our current form into another form. Remember in Romans 6: 11 that Paul urges the readers to consider themselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. We have been set free from the servitude to sin and yet when we do not walk according to the spirit we still fulfill the lusts of the flesh. We still carry a sin nature and, as such, we have to be continually transformed from faith to faith.

In Romans 3 Paul showed us that outside of Jesus men are lost sinners. There is no one righteous. In Romans 5 he taught that through Adam, sin came into the world. We were born children of wrath. We still carry about that sin nature in our bodies though we belong to God now. We are disciples of Jesus. We have started a whole new life with Christ. We cannot live two lives. We cannot live our own autonomous life and Christ’s life at the same time. We have to accept one and reject the other. Therefore, if we are committed to Christ’s life, and agree that the old life is on the cross with Christ, then where should we take our cues from? Should we walk according to the pattern of the world? Psalm 1 says ‘happy is the man who does not walk according to the advice of the morally wrong.’ We must allow ourselves to be changed from the image of the world that still remains in our lives into the image of Jesus. The image of Jesus is our future glory and what we were predestined for as Romans 8: 29 tells us. And how are we to be transformed? We are to be transformed by the renewing or the complete changing of the mind. Paul also writes this in Ephesians 4: 23, which is linked to laying aside the old self. In Titus 3: 5, Paul classes renewal as a work of the Holy Spirit. How? Christ likeness is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. What we are looking at is a partnership between us and the Holy Spirit. As we delve deeper into the Word of God and the Word goes deeper into us, the Holy Spirit ministers the change. But this is not only a work of the Holy Spirit. We too are exhorted to set our minds on things above, not on the things below. The Christian life is not simply God determining and everything coming to pass, like He did at creation. The Christian life is a relationship with God and all relationships must contain a two way communication or interaction.

Verse one dealt with our bodies and verse 2 deals with our minds. There is a link between our thought lives and the actions that we do in our bodies. These two things are fundamental to the implementation of the commandments that Paul writes in the following chapters. We must act like Christ and we must think like Christ. This is not initiated by ourselves but is based on the finished work of Christ on the cross and upon His earthly example. At the heart of it is a mind set of submission and servitude to the Lord. We need not worry about our rights. If we humble ourselves before the Lord, and keep His ways, He will exalt us in due time. Being reminded of all this; let us look at the next section of Romans 12.

VERSES 3 – 8:

THE SACRIFICIAL LIFE IN MINISTRY

We have to continually sacrifice our pride. We must not think thoughts that really are too high for us to think. In 1 Timothy 3: 6 Paul tells Timothy that whoever he puts into the ministry of an elder, or bishop must not be a new convert because he will become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. What happened with the Devil is the same as what will happen to a new convert who becomes a leader in the church. Being puffed up with pride he will go ‘I will ascend above the other elders. I will place my bishop’s throne above the members of the oversight.’ Suddenly you have a pope figure who is worshiped in the sense that he becomes the focus and the figurehead. In verse 3 Paul tells his readers “through the grace given to Me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think”. Now what ‘grace’ is Paul taking about? To answer this, we have to go right back to the beginning of the epistle. In Romans 1: 5 we see that Paul received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the gentiles. From Romans 1 – 11 he sets down the doctrinal basis, smashing down all the counter arguments that claim Paul’s Gospel is unbiblical. Therefore, if what Paul has taught is true, that the Gospel is the power of God to salvation, then we would want to see the reality of that power lest it be an empty claim. Paul does not stop at Romans 11 and congratulate himself on such a fine exposition of the Gospel, but he carries on into where it personally matters, our day to day lives.

Through that grace, to bring about the obedience of faith, Paul tells us that we should not think too high thoughts but we should think so as to be sober minded; or as my translation puts it, so as to have sound judgment. In your drinking days, if you ever had them, did you ever go to a party where there was so much noise and mindless activity? The best part of that for me was when I walked out of the house into the cool and tranquil night air. Clear-headedness is a gift. Let us not be confused and caught up with all the excitement of what WE can do in ministry but let us catch the sobering wind of the Spirit of God and the truth of God’s word. Put ambition on the altar and think clearly about our place in ministry. Paul has already given a few reasons why we cannot think too highly of ourselves.

  • Firstly Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. In Romans 11 we are told that we stand by our faith. If God did not spare the Jews who did not believe, He will not spare us either. This reminds me of Baruch in Jeremiah 45: 5. 5 ‘But you, are you seeking great things for yourself? Do no seek them; for behold, I am going to bring disaster on all flesh,’ declares the LORD, ‘but I will give your life to you as booty in all the places where you may go.” Are we seeking great things for ourselves? Rather we should look at the salvation that we have. Being saved from hell is a greater reward than being the president of any ministry. Rather our service in ministry should be a token of our gratitude to the Lord.
  • But, secondly, Paul continues to say that we have each been allotted a portion of faith. Why do we each get a portion and not the whole lot? Because Paul continues in saying that we are a body. Faith is the principle thing here.

BODY MINISTRY ENABLES US TO BECOME MORE LIKE CHRIST

The righteousness of God is manifested in the Gospel from faith to faith. Therefore, our becoming righteous is something that grows as we believe from faith to faith. Now here is the thing. We cannot become more Christ like if we are on our own, doing our own thing. We may think that we can become more Christ like and we may think that we are more Christ like when we are on our own. But the truth is that I am just as Christ like when I am in a group as I am when I am on my own. It is simply that when I am on my own I have not been put to the test in certain areas in order to see my own deficiencies. Intimate fellowship has a way of exposing our weaknesses as we are caught up in the dynamics of relationship. Any married person will understand what I am saying. Also, fellowship is God’s ordained way for us to attain to Christlikeness. Ephesians 4: 11 – 16. 11 And He gave some as apostles; and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

We are to do acts of service for the building up of the body until we attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God. But look at verse 6. The whole body is being fit together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each part. That concerns you and me. By faith, we are to know what God wants of us individually and do it for His glory. Christianity is both an individual faith and it is also a corporate faith. When we sacrifice one or the other we end up in trouble. If it is all simply corporate then we lose our diversity. We have individual callings and ministries. But if we are only individual then we will never do anything for the sake of the body and, therefore, we lack that dynamic of being built up into the image of Christ and that unity of the body. ‘Do not think too highly that you can do everything yourself, but work according to your portion of faith that God has given you’. We need each other.

Look at the glory of this membership. In Romans 6: 6 Paul speaks of the body of sin being done away with, and in the Greek it is THE body of sin, as opposed to OUR body of sin in the NASB. FF Bruce took this to refer to the community of people under Adam in antithesis to the body of Christ. Christ  intends to break the community of Adam down and also its hold on our lives. Therefore, because of Christ’s sacrifice and our identification with His death; because we have died with Christ, we have ceased to be part of this community. We have ceased to be a member of the Body of death. And what is death? Death is alienation from God. Life is to know God and death is not to know God. But the fall not only alienated us from God, it also alienated us from each other. But through dying with Christ we have been liberated from the Body of death and we have been brought into the Body of Christ. This is a community where each individual has value, but not to the destruction or the devaluing of the whole. This whole aspect of fellowship and community is an undoing of the effects of the fall. And this is to happen in our present experience before glory. The goal of it is Christ likeness, to be free from sin, to know Christ more.

We are one body but we are all individually members of that body. Notice who we belong to in verse 5. It says that we do not only belong to Christ but we also belong to one another. Therefore, our activity, though primarily directed to God, is not only directed to God alone but also to each other. There is no competition. There is no comparison. There is only God’s grace manifested in each of us for His purpose and glory and for the benefit of one another. We are to exercise the gifts according to God’s provision. On my Acting degree we looked at the role of an actor and an actor was said to be like a sponge in that he can only give out what he has taken in personally. As an actor you bring yourself into the role and, therefore, if you cannot relate to certain aspects of the character, you cannot play them. In a different way the sponge analogy fits in here. We are to render to God a spiritual service of worship. But as Paul said in Romans 7: 14 ‘I am of flesh sold in bondage to sin’. How can I be spiritual when I am so bent on the flesh? It can only be through the grace of Christ. Therefore, I must be as a sponge. I can only give out in service, that which I have received. If I soak in the muddy waters of the flesh, that is what I am going to give out. But if the Spirit is working God’s riches into my life, then I have something else that I can present to Him.

VARIOUS MINISTRIES IN THE BODY OF CHRIST

Look at the various ministries; firstly prophecy. Prophecy is the declaration of God’s specific message into a specific situation in order to give instruction of what that person or those people should do. Maybe it will warn us of something yet to come but usually, in the Old Testament, prophecy was to call people back to repentance. Prophecy will also have something bigger to say than a simple application for the present time. You think of Agabus in Acts 21: 11 where he took Paul’s belt and said “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” The belt in our spiritual apparel is Truth. There is a spiritual application of these words of being bound up by the belt and handed over to the Gentiles. These words were exactly true about Jesus and they were true of Paul, they were true of believers in Communist lands where fellow “believers” betrayed them and they will be true in the Great Tribulation. We will be bound up by the truth of what we preach and handed over to the Gentiles. Prophecy, God’s specific proclamation into a situation, also speaks of something greater spiritually. But it must be given according to the proportion of someone’s faith. Faith is taking God at His word, knowing what God is saying and accepting it.

Then you have service. The word here is the same as deacon and means attending on people, or ministering. Considering the fact that all these giftings, in these verses, are various ministries, we must take ‘service’ to represent a specific ministry. But as to what it is, is not clear. But whether it is the ministry of Deaconship, attending to the physical needs of believers, or something more spiritual like pastorally attending the spiritual needs of the church, Paul is simply saying ‘serve within the sphere of the ministry you have received and do not covet another man’s ministry’.

In teaching we are to teach according to the teaching we have received. That is why study is the most vital part in doing a message. I have a message by an independent Baptist preacher called ‘Lessons of life from the eagle’, and he claims that one of the things an eagle does when it gets meat for its young is it chews it up. This preacher said ‘God told me it would do good for you to chew up some of your messages before you unleash them onto these little ones.’

Exhortation is the next ministry on this list and the word for this in the Greek is very descriptive. The word in Greek is ‘Parakaleo’ which means to call to ones side. The picture that comes to mind is of those people we have known in our Christian walk, who, when they see something is up, put their arm round us and say ‘Come here, tell me what’s up’. They do not ask you how you are but they warmly and openly offer you comfort. Paul talked about his ministry of exhortation in 2 Corinthians 1. And in that passage of scripture we see that in order to be a source of comfort to others, Paul had to go through suffering himself in order to receive God’s comfort so that he may comfort others. Do not be surprised, if God has this ministry for you, that you go through hardship in your life. Your ministry is a glorious ministry and an essential ministry. We need exhorters. We need people to come along side us and to spur us on in our walk.

Giving is the next ministry, and this is to be done with liberality or as the King James puts it, with simplicity. This means we are to give without pretense. We must give freely. Maybe God has materially blessed you and given you the faith to give. Maybe God has not given you a lot materially but He has given you the faith to give even in your lack. Which ever way you look at it, it is to be done without pretense but genuinely, sincerely and with an open hand. The more cheerfulness there is in giving, the less stingy that giving will be. Whether that giving is of money or time or abilities and skills; it is all giving.

Leading comes next and that word to lead means ‘to stand before’. He is the one who goes before, faces the dangers and shows us the way. God is our ultimate leader but here we see there is also a ministry of leadership. A pastor fits in this category. Someone who stands at the front, to take people through a meeting, fits this category. But how should we lead? With diligence. Not being slothful, not careless or dragging our feet but enthusiastically and with attention.

What about showing mercy? This is also a ministry for the body. This word for mercy is the word ‘Eleo’ and speaks of a demonstrative compassion. It is to see someone in suffering and pain and to actually do something about it. It is not simply to say ‘Ah, there, there; Everything will be alright.’ It is to bring help to the wretched. If this is our ministry we are to do it cheerfully. The word for ‘cheerfully’ in Greek is the word ‘hilarotes’ where we get the English word hilarity from. It does not mean nonsensical laughter but to be joyous and prompt to do anything.

We all have a part to play. We all have a role in building each other up into Christ likeness. Ministry is not about status but about obedience and every ministry is just as important as the other. There is no need for competition. The issue comes down to two questions.

  • Firstly what does God want me to do?
  • And secondly to what capacity has God given me the grace and faith to do this ministry?

If I have less faith I should not pretend that I have more faith. But in accepting the position I am in, without thinking that that is where God wants me to finish, I can then grow. Paul was given the grace to bring about the obedience of faith and through faith he speaks to us in this word. We are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. Not only a sacrifice in terms of serving God; but also a living sacrifice in serving other believers.

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One Comment
  1. Tikvah permalink

    Dear Salvador and Dianne, May the Lord continue to give grace, strength and provision for all He has called you to and for all that arises in your service to Him. Love and blessing, Sue.

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