From “Feast of Tabernacles,” Chapter 8- Tabernacles – The Feast of Unity, continued
THE MEANS TO THIS END
It is because such a measure of unity and harmony is so positively beyond us, and almost inconceivable, that men refuse to believe it is possible. And of course, it is impossible. But with God “all things are possible.” Let us not limit the Holy One of Israel. For God has established a sure and a certain means by which this inexpressible unity is going to be brought into being, even the ministries of “apostles, …prophets, …evangelists, …pastors, …teachers.” These are given, we are told, “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry,…” Step by step the work is brought to pass: the ministries perfect the saints, and they in turn are empowered “for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). Thank God the hour is at hand when this glorious unity for which Christ prayed, and for which He ascended on high and bestowed gifts unto men, is about to be manifested. Ministries are being raised up and established in the Body of Christ–and these constitute Christ’s love-gift to the Church for their perfection. Will they bring this unity to pass? To doubt it is to doubt God’s Word. It is not a case of rejecting man, because of his faults and failures; but to reject the God-ordained ministry is to reject God who gave him. Many would much rather prefer to perfect themselves through prayer, fasting, reading the Word, and so forth. These, of course, all have their place, and will do much to prepare the heart and soul. But in themselves they will not produce this perfection. God has ordained ministries in the Body by which this perfection shall come to pass. To refuse the ministries, then, is to say to Christ: “I don’t need your Ascension Gifts. I prefer to be perfected some other way.”
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF CHRIST’S MINISTERS?
The sincere saints of God are being subjected to a great test; of that there is no question. For they are being called upon to receive God’s ministers on the one hand, and to refuse the false minister on the other hand. And in this great hour when God is establishing His ministries in the Body of Christ, Satan is likewise sending forth His ministers of light; and we must learn to discern the true from the false. Truly the saints are like the multitudes over whom Christ yearned in the days of His earthly ministry–for He beheld them as sheep having no shepherd. Yes, there were Scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees, men who loved to wear the garb of religion, and say long prayers, and receive greetings in the marketplace, and to be called “Father,” and receive the applause of men. But there were no true shepherds. Even Paul in his day was forced to testify: “For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s” (Phil. 2:21). It is therefore with the greatest concern and tenderness that the Holy Spirit doth now raise up true ministers in the Body of Christ to establish the saints, and to lead them in the path of righteousness. And though it might be difficult for us to discern the true from the false, if we will pay good heed to God’s Word, and the pattern of the true minister as outlined therein, we shall not go astray. Here are a few ways and means by which we shall be able to discern the true from the false: GHW
The five-fold ministry continues to be one of ignorance, at best, and suspect, at worst, in the Body of Christ. People either know nothing of its existence or know just enough to be weary of it. The apostle Paul says some things in 1 Corinthians 12 that explain God’s design and intention for the body.
14 For the body is not one part, but many. 15 If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has arranged the parts, each one of them in the body, just as He desired. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 But now there are many parts, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again, the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those parts of the body which we consider less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor, and our less presentable parts become much more presentable, 24 whereas our more presentable parts have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that part which lacked, 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same care for one another. 26 And if one part of the body suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if a part is honored, all the parts rejoice with it. (1 Cor. 12:14-26 NASB)