The Purpose of God for the Minister
God’s eternal purpose was carried out in Christ Jesus, our Lord (Eph 3:11). Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came from heaven, took on flesh, in order to save His people from their sins (Jn 1:14; Mt 1:21). His purpose, in obtaining eternal redemption, being the Mediator of the New Covenant (Heb 9:12, 15), was to offer Himself, as a substitute sacrifice, on behalf of God’s elect (Eph 5:25). His purpose was to die, as an acceptable payment for their sins (1 Pet 2:24). Thus, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1).
The redemption work of the Lord Jesus Christ is finished (Jn 19:30). He has cancelled our debt of sin owed to the Law of righteousness (Col 2:14). The person and work of the Messiah was known to the fathers, through the revelation of God given to the prophets (Heb 1:1). God spoke to and through the prophets in past ages and generations (Col 1:26).
Today, it is Christ Himself, who is speaking to us (Heb 1:1), through vessels of mercy known as diakonos, which can be translated “ministers.” The apostle Paul used this term to describe himself in Colossians 1:25. As a minister, called by God, and entrusted with a stewardship (Col 1:25), Paul expressed the struggle (Col 1:29) to labor in conveying one message: the mystery of Christ, unveiled.
Paul’s ministry is endured in the same way by faithful ministers, today. It is a ministry of suffering (Gk. pathemasin). Despite the afflictions issued to his body (2 Cor 11:22–33), Paul noted the joy of His labor amidst diverse sufferings (Col 1:24). James also wrote that we should count it all joy when we suffer for the sake of Christ’s name (Jas 1:2–8). This is what Paul was appointed to do, by the Lord Himself (Acts 9:16). Faith and suffering were given to Paul (Phil 1:29), and His suffering was for the sake of the elect (2 Tim 2:10).
The church suffers persecution until the afflictions of Christ are complete, on the day of His coming again. It is God’s purpose for the minister of God’s Word to follow in Christ’s steps (1 Pet 2:21).
We proclaim Christ by preaching the Word of truth, the hidden mystery of Christ and His atoning work. Paul encourages us to value this revelation of God with utmost earnestness. The mighty work of God, energized by the Holy Spirit, is to illumine His saints with all wisdom (Col 1:25, 29), and we know Christ, the wisdom of God and the power of God (1 Cor 1:24). To bring the knowledge of Christ, is not just an information off-load, by those who teach and preach, but it is a grace imparted by the Holy Spirit (Phil 3:10).
The Christian’s union with Christ is a mutual indwelling. Christ in you (Col 1:27), and you in Christ is part of the mystery (1 Cor 1:30). Or put another way, the Holy Spirit in you (Jn 14:17; Rom 8:9, 11), and you seated with Christ in heaven (Eph 2:6). If the power of God is working mightily, in the steward of the mystery of Christ revealed, then, it is a demonstration by the Spirit (1 Cor 2:4).
God’s will for His servants is that they walk in humility before Him, as Christ did (Phil 2:5–11; Jas 4:10; 1 Pet 5:5). He gives grace to the humble, so that they might not preach themselves, nor boast in themselves (2 Cor 10:17; Gal 6:14). Rather, it is the Spirit boasting in Christ crucified, our only hope for the propitiation of God’s eternal wrath in eternal fire (Rom 3:25; Heb 2:17; 1 Jn 2:2; 4:10). This just punishment by God, against unrepentant sinners is bad news, and all men everywhere must be admonished to repent from the course of this world, the wide way that leads to destruction (Mt 7:13; Acts 17:30).
The minister also teaches sound doctrine for the edification of God’s saints. It is this teaching (Gk. didaskontes) of truth that sanctifies His elect, regenerate, children, who are growing up into Christ (Eph 4:15; 2 Pet 1:1; 3:18), that they may be presented complete in Christ, holy and blameless before God (Col 1:22, 28).
The minister is being spent, even as he redeems the time allotted to him (Col 4:5), for the good works for which He was created to perform (Eph 2:10). He does not wish to labor in vain, but to labor as unto the Lord, in a labor of love (1 Thess 1:3). He is constrained by the love of Christ shown to him (2 Cor 5:14), so that he reduces his own title to “slave of Christ (Eph 6:6).”
For a minister to deviate from this simple stewardship, bestowed upon him from God (Col 1:25), is an act of unfaithfulness to his Lord. To preach philosophy or psychology, the doctrines of men and demons, is to deny this high calling from God. The distractions and gimmicks of today’s carnival church must be completely forsaken by the man of God.
The means by which God’s eternal purpose in Christ, is manifested to His saints, is by the powerful preaching of the Word of God, in the Spirit (2 Tim 4:2). There is nothing else. Men of God, who faithfully endure this entrusted stewardship, do suffer, but with the joy of the Lord as their strength (Neh 8:10). The mystery, however, is great: Christ in the preacher; Christ in the believer; together illumining the world with the riches of the glory of Christ, unveiled. This is the purpose of God for the minister.
Spokane Valley, Washington
November 27, 2021