We often think of ministry as that of making sacrifices to God, serving Him, obeying Him, following Him, or relating to Him in some way of religious sanctity. Although this is how much of the church thinks, it is not what God desires. God has always desired a body by which His will could be fulfilled. God has always desired a place where He can live among men. He has desired a place of habitation, not merely a place of visitiation.
Hebrews 10:5-7 5 Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come — In the volume of the book it is written of Me — To do Your will, O God.” (Ps. 40:6-8)
God’s will is not a ‘what must we do?’ but rather a ‘who are we?’ We are the body of Christ and the body of Christ is made up of individuals who have been divinely joined together for God’s holy purpose and glory. These are individual members who have been set apart to be joined together as a corporate expression of God in the earth. They have been set apart for the governmental decisions of the kingdom of God in the earth. Those decisions are not about right and wrong, they are for the purpose of releasing God’s life into the world. The administration of the body of Christ is not based upon a justice system of good verses evil or right verses wrong. The administration of the body of Christ is based upon a justice system of love. This is what God desires to do in the earth through the body of Christ.
A body of saints, people divinely joined together for God’s purpose, is not a new idea. Saints are simply people who are called and sanctified unto God to love Him and serve Him together. This was God’s plan for the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. Israel was considered to be a holy nation. Israel was a type and shadow of the body of Christ. The nation of Israel was not just a group of people joined together. They were a nation of people expected to live according to the standards and testimony of all that God was in His character, nature, way, power, and authority. Although Israel was a nation depicting what God wanted, they lacked the internal testimony of the kingdom of God and the life that comes by the Holy Spirit and the Tree of Life. The actions of the nation of Israel were based upon the knowledge of God, but the inspirations of the body of Christ are based upon knowing God.
When considering the body of Christ, its structure and its governmental administration, a syntactical look at the Scriptures reveals a theme of calling, purpose, and destiny. A ‘type’ of the Church in her calling was the Old Testament nation of Israel. Israel as a nation was God’s expression of the Church in the Old Testament. The Old Testament Temple was a ‘type’ of the Church’s structure, and the Old Testament city of Jerusalem was a ‘type’ of the Church’s testimony, influence, and destiny. The Church is not meant to be merely a natural expression in the earth, however. The called out assembly of God in the earth is made of men and women from the natural nations of the world who are supernaturally changed and supernaturally empowered to become expressions of God’s heavenly will in the earth.
The various expressions of the Church are expressions of letters written upon the hearts of leaders and upon the hearts of those they lead as divinely joined members for God’s purposes. Leaders in the body of Christ are responsible to the Holy Spirit in His desire to write the will of God upon the hearts and minds of men and women in the corporate expressions of God’s purposes in the earth. Members of the body of Christ must desire Spirit-led leaders who will lead them to become what God desires for them to be in this world. Paul, an apostle of the first century Church, understood this well. He understood his role as a leader and the role of those that God had sent him to in building the Church.
2 Corinthians 3:2, 3 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.
Paul confirmed that the purpose of that letter was to express Christ, its source was the Spirit of the living God, and the parchment of the letter was the corporate heart of the Church in Corinth. He professed a dependency upon the Holy Spirit to participate in the administration of this letter and to see the corporate expression of this letter become a living reality.
2 Corinthians 3:4-6 And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
The letter that God desires to write in any expression of His Church involves the fellowship of divinely joined believers. Without unity and the bond of fellowship there cannot be a full expression of the corporate calling, purpose, and destiny of the Church.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson