Did you know that you have a ministry? Whether you are an ordained minister or not, regardless of your age, education, ethnicity or background, a ministry has been given to you, and for you. It is a ministry first and foremost for you to receive personally in your own life, and then it is a ministry to share with others. Many people do not realize that this ministry is for them, assuming that it is only for the super-spiritual or special holy men, but the Bible makes it clear that this ministry is for everyone.
Today in this study, we are going to be examining this ministry; what it is, how we receive it, and then how we are to share it, because even though the Bible says that it is ours, if we do not know that we have it or what it is, it doesn’t do us any good.
Let’s begin today by reading 2nd Corinthians 5:17-20, and see what ministry you have received:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be you reconciled to God.”
Verse 17 begins by telling us about our new nature in Christ Jesus. This information is essential to the truth of what Jesus has done for each of us, and this is why we did a detailed study on our new nature back in March. If we do not understand that Christ has changed us and He has purified us on the inside, then we will always be trying to change and purify ourselves, and it will lead to frustration, hopelessness, guilt and condemnation. However once we realize that He has already done the work, and that the work is complete, lacking nothing, then that truth once it is received, will result in everlasting joy, thanksgiving and praise to God, naturally and effortlessly.
Notice that the verse says old things have passed away. That phrase “old things” is the Greek word ἀρχαι̑ο, which means that which is from the beginning of time, ancient things. Everything that was from the old Adam, it all has passed away. The old life under bondage and curse has been done away with. The verse than continues: Behold, all things are become new. The verse says to Behold. See the truth of your new nature in Christ. I can not even begin to tell you how many church-folk from the pastor all the way down through the congregation, fail to behold the reality of their new nature in Christ today.
But we are to behold it; we are to see the truth that all things are become new. We have a New Covenant based on new and better promises (Hebrews 8:6). We have a new and living way by which to enjoy a personal and intimate relationship with God (Hebrews 10:20). We have a new way of serving, no longer from self-effort and man-centered rules, regulations or rituals, but by the Holy Spirit (Romans 7:6)
Verse 18 continues by solidifying this point saying all things are of God. It is God who works them, not man. This New Covenant, this new and living way, this newness of the Holy Spirit, all of these things are of God. It’s important to remember this fact because the enemy will often try to paint these new things with a negative brush, as just being lazy, calling them “greasy grace”, “cheap grace”, or “resting on your blessed assurance.” But this verse makes it clear that the people who say these things are actually insulting the word and the work of God Himself, for it is He who has worked the New Covenant of Grace, and it was by no means done cheaply; it cost Him everything – it cost Him His beloved, only begotten Son. And it pleased Him to crush Jesus for us so that we could rest. (Matthew 11:28-29)
We see from verse 18 that God has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, this was the purpose for Jesus coming, not to condemn, not to increase the burden upon us, but to lift the burden and to set free, and to reconcile us to God. Some people act as though now that Jesus has come, the burden is even heavier and that we are shackled even tighter, when Jesus Himself said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).
The second-half of verse 18 states that Jesus has given us the ministry of reconciliation. This is the ministry which you have received: reconciliation. Not enmity, not fear, not guilt or condemnation. But reconciliation, friendship, peace with God. One more time… what is the ministry you were given? Reconciliation! Who gave you this ministry? Jesus! Remember this always, because there is a lot of bad teaching out there which tries to present this ministry as a false doctrine from the devil. But we have just read it from scripture that Jesus is the one who has given us the ministry of reconciliation. Why did He give us this ministry? Because He is the One who made such reconciliation possible. He is the One who removed the enmity. He is the One who removed the fear. He is the One who removed the guilt and condemnation, so that today through Him, we can have absolute peace and a fully restored and rich relationship with the Father, and be one with God (John 17).
Verse 19 continues further to say that through Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself. Salvation is for the entire world. Regardless of ethnicity, age, gender or status, all are free to receive salvation through Jesus Christ and be reconciled to the Father in Heaven. Now how is this possible? How did Jesus remove all of the roadblocks? How did Jesus remove all of the enmity, fear, guilt and condemnation? Look at the next part of verse 19: not imputing their trespasses unto them. This is the New Covenant of Grace which Jesus came to enter us in to. Do you understand that today in Christ Jesus, your trespasses are not being imputed to you? They have already been judged and paid for in the body of Jesus Christ on the cross; and the way I always like to say it is there is no reason for two people to pay the same debt! Your debt of sin is already paid, your sin has been removed for your entire life! God is not imputing them to you any longer, so stop paying! Stop allowing legalistic people and Pharisaical pastors to continue beating you with the hammer of guilt!
Well what should they be preaching? Continue reading verse 19: God through Christ has committed to us the word of reconciliation. First it was the ministry of reconciliation in the previous verse, and now it is the word, so both your service and the very words that you speak should align with the message of Christ’s completed work on the cross, and be of reconciliation; peace and friendship with God.
In the Bible, Paul encourages Timothy on this very thing, and it shows us how much importance the message of Grace carries in the eyes of God. Turn with me now to 1st Timothy chapter 1 and let’s read verses 1 through 11:
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Savior, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;
To Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
As I sought you to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that you might charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
From which some having swerved have turned aside to vain jangling;
Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.
But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for murderers,
For fornicators, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for enslavers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.”
In verse 1 we have an introduction, but even introductions can show us things about Jesus. Remember that nothing is in the Bible by accident. Paul, who is an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Savior. This is not a person who just woke-up one morning and said “Gee, I think I’ll be an apostle today!” and started on a whim. No, this is someone who received a direct commandment of God to be an apostle, and that commandment told Paul to be an apostle not of Moses or the Law, but of Jesus Christ, which is our hope. This is Biblical hope (Greek: ἐλπίς) not a maybe, but a confident expectation.
Verse 2 continues the introduction with an address, To Timothy, my own son in the faith. Timothy was not Paul’s physical son, (as some say today) – we know from 1st Corinthians 7:8 that Paul remained unmarried for the sake of his dedication to the LORD; but Timothy was Paul’s “spiritual son” in the sense that Paul was Timothy’s mentor, and was guiding Timothy as he ministered the church at Ephesus. Notice how Paul greets Timothy: Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. Just in-case there was any lingering doubt about where grace, mercy and peace comes from, they all come from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
Now verse 3 is where things really start to get interesting… Paul tells Timothy to remain at Ephesus while he himself went on to Macedonia, and here is the reason why: that Timothy may charge some that they would teach no other doctrine. There were some people at Ephesus who were teaching false doctrines, and Paul tells Timothy here make sure that these people teach no other doctrine than the truth. So what is the true doctrine? In order to know what the false doctrines are, we first must know what the true doctrine is…and while we could make it easy on ourselves and look one verse prior and say Grace, mercy and truth, if we did that there would still be some remaining doubts. However, if we can prove from scripture what Paul’s consistent doctrine has been from the very beginning, then we will have a solid foundation. So hold your place here in 1st Timothy 1, and let’s take a look at the first message that Paul ever preached, it’s found in Acts 13:16-42, where one Sabbath morning, Paul and Barnabas were in Pisidian Antioch (which is today a Turkish region) and they entered the Synagogue and set down. And after the traditional reading of the law and the prophets, the leaders of the synagogue asked if anyone had a word of exhortation, and the verses of Acts 13:16-42 tell us what Paul stood up and said (emphasis added where appropriate in the following verses):
“Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and you that fear God, give audience.
The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelled as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it.
And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.
And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot.
And after that he gave to them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.
And afterward they desired a king: and God gave to them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years.
And when he had removed him, he raised up to them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.
Of this man’s seed has God according to his promise raised to Israel a Savior, Jesus:
When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think you that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there comes one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.
Men and brothers, children of the stock of Abraham, and whoever among you fears God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.
For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.
And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.
And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulcher.
But God raised him from the dead:
And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses to the people.
And we declare to you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made to the fathers,
God has fulfilled the same to us their children, in that he has raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, You are my Son, this day have I begotten you.
And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.
Why he said also in another psalm, You shall not suffer your Holy One to see corruption.
For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid to his fathers, and saw corruption:
But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.
Be it known to you therefore, men and brothers, that through this man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins:
And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.
Beware therefore, lest that come on you, which is spoken of in the prophets;
Behold, you despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which you shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it to you.
And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles sought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.”
So we can clearly see here that even from the beginning of Paul’s ministry, he was preaching Grace, mercy and peace through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the Gospel message, it always has been and it always will be, and this is the very doctrine which Paul instructs Timothy to hold steadfastly on to and ensure that no-one preaches any other doctrine.
Now back to our text of 1st Timothy 1, picking-up at verse 4, Paul also tells Timothy not to listen to fables or endless genealogies. Now a fable is a “fictitious tale” and there is nothing wrong with fiction generally, until it is present as a fact. That is when it becomes dangerous, and we have an entire teaching on common fables. Also endless genealogies, which many people get caught up in. Paul says that these things minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith. Paul says that this Godly edifying in faith is what should instead be done. Now the word “edifying” means to be built up – but many pastors today do the opposite, as if they think the mark of a good sermon is when people are crushed under the weight of their guilt and sin. But here Paul is saying that instead of ministering questions and confusion about God, Timothy is instructed to rather teach Godly building-up, and this building up is not to be of works, or effort of any kind, but edifying in faith.
Continuing on in verse 5, Paul says something that every legalistic person cringes at: the end of the commandment is love (charity), out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned. How many understand that the end of the commandment is love, and God is love. You can’t accomplish anything without Him, but once you have Him He fulfills everything in you. How many understand that when you have Jesus, you will have a good conscience (which we looked at last week). How many understand that when you have Jesus, you will have sincere faith, because He is both the author and finisher of your faith (Hebrews 12:2); He originates it, and He completes it. Everything is of Him. And verse 6 proceeds to say that some have tuned aside to vain jangling, which means “worthless words or empty speech”. They speak things, but it is not really out of love, not with a pure heart or a good conscience free from sin-consciousness. Their words have no faith, because there is no Jesus in what they are saying; therefore their words are worthless and empty, because whatever is without Jesus is worthless and empty. As Solomon says all throughout Ecclesiastes, all is vanity apart from Jesus.
Now verse 7 tells us why their words are worthless and empty; verse 7 tells us why their words lack Jesus: they are Desiring to be teachers of the law. (Not Grace, mercy or peace) Understanding not what they say, nor whereof they affirm. Those who teach the law today are missing the point. Jesus told the Pharisees that the entirety of the scriptures testify of Him, and keeping the law does not give eternal life (John 5:39). Many however do not understand this fact, and continue to persist in the Law, because that is their desire. They have a heart for the Law that condemns, instead of Jesus who saves.
Verses 8 and 9 tell us though that there is a place and purpose for the Law. The law is not evil, it did come from God, it is just being misused and misappropriated by many. Verse 8 tells is that the Law is good if it is used lawfully. And what is the lawful use of the Law? Continue to verse 9: Knowing this, that the law was not made for a righteous man. My friend, if you have received Jesus, you are righteous with His divinely-perfect righteousness, and the law is not for you. Galatians 3:24-25 make it quite clear that the Law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
The law has one purpose, to bring the lawless and disobedient to Christ. Legalistic people cannot understand this, because they think that without the law sin will abound, even though Romans 6:14 clearly says the opposite, that sin will have no dominion over you because you are not under Law but under grace.
This truth is most perfectly demonstrated by Jesus Himself in the account of the woman caught in adultery. In closing today let’s examine this more closely in John 8:3-11:
“And the scribes and Pharisees brought to him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the middle,
They say to him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what say you?
This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said to them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the oldest, even to the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the middle.
When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said to her, Woman, where are those your accusers? has no man condemned you?
She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.”
There’s a whole lot that I could share with you about this account, and I have taught on it in the past several times, however I want to leave you today with a specific detail and a principle which many skip-over and miss entirely…
The woman was caught in the act of adultery, no question about that. Under the Law, death was the punishment; she was to be stoned. However when she is brought to Jesus, He is the one who imparts Grace. Those who promote the Law despise Grace, just as the Pharisees despised the giver of Grace, Jesus. But Jesus, after having dispatched with the accusers, gave the woman Grace and mercy and peace. He first showed her that the accusers had left and then told her Neither do I condemn you: go and sin no more.
Today, we also have accusers, ultimately the accuser of the brethren is Satan (Revelation 12:10), and there are many people inside and outside of the church doing the work of the accuser today. But in Christ Jesus today, no-one can lay any accusation against you (Romans 8:33). Jesus has dispatched with your accuser. And then He says Neither do I condemn you.
The Law would bring death upon you if it could, but it could not, Jesus could, but He would not.
Christ has given you grace. This is the ministry of Grace in Peace. He says to you I do not condemn you. And it is this love, this mercy, this grace and peace, which empowers you to now go and sin no more. The church today has reversed what Jesus said, and made it “Go and sin no more, then I won’t condemn you.” – but it is the free gift of grace and no condemnation from Jesus that transforms lives and breaks chains.
This is the ministry you have received, and this also is the ministry which you are to share. We have read it today together fro scripture. Receive and believe, You have Grace, mercy and peace with God directly from Jesus Christ. To His glory, because He loves you.