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Ministry to the Body
"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer" Acts 2:42.
The Christian life is designed to be a "one another" experience. We each have an individual relationship with the Lord, but this is not the complete picture. There is also a "together" aspect to the Christian life. Together we are the Body of Christ (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:12,20). Together we are being built into a temple (2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:21-22). Together we express the fullness of Christ (Colossians 2:10).
"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin" 1 John 1:7.
Building One Another
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing" 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
Each of us has a choice to make as part of the Body of Christ: to tear down or to build up. Building up is a five-step process:
- Accept one another (Romans 15:5-7).
- Be devoted to one another (Romans 12:9-10).
- Encourage one another (Hebrews 10:24-25).
- Pray for one another (James 5:16).
- Serve one another (Galatians 5:13-15).
"And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. From him the whole body...grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work" Ephesians 2:22.
In the original language of the New Testament, the word "encourage" means "a coming alongside" to encourage, counsel or comfort. This is the work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:14), who is called the Counsellor, the one who "comes alongside." He also works with us in this ministry.
Receiving and Giving
"...Freely you have received, freely give" Matthew 10:8.
God gives freely to each one of us in order that we give just as freely to one another. Paul said: "For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you..." (1 Corinthians11:23). There are two things that we receive which we can pass on to others:
- Revelation (1 Corinthians11:23) - what we hear from God
- Experience (2 Corinthians1:3-4) - what we go through with God
This kind of mutual sharing is called "Body ministry".
"What shall we say then, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church" 1 Corinthians 14:26.
God desires for us to minister to one another, both during and outside of meeting times. For this reason, He has distributed gifts to every believer (Ephesians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11).
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God" Colossians 3:16 (see also Ephesians 5:19).
Body ministry has only one purpose - to build one another up toward the Lord. The guidelines given for prophecy apply to all forms of Body ministry. What we say should be "for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort" (1 Corinthians 14:3). Humility, not pride, should be the motivation behind all Body ministry. Everything should be done "for the strengthening of the church" (1 Corinthians 14:26).
"Be completely humble and gentle with one another, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" Ephesians 4:2-3 (see Colossians 3:15).
"...But God has combined the members of the body and...its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it" 1 Corinthians 12:24-26.
Body ministry works on the basis of mutual identification - knowing what the other is going through. Romans 12:15 (KJV) says: "Rejoice with them that do rejoice; weep with them that weep." As ministers of God's grace, we must learn to feel with the other person, before we can truly minister comfort and encouragement to their heart.
"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ" Galatians 6:2 (see Romans 13:8-10; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Anointing of the Spirit
Each of the gifts of the Spirit is a "manifestation" of the anointing of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7). There are many expressions of the Spirit's anointing, but five are common in Body ministry: prophecy, prayer, tongues (if interpreted), sharing and song. During Body ministry, the anointing of the Spirit can be expressed in any of these (and other) forms. It is the same anointing (1 John 2:27), but expressed in different ways. This anointing is controllable (1 Corinthians14:32-33), and can be expressed in a form that best fits the time and situation.
Not every meeting is suited to Body ministry, but under the guidance and correction of leadership, ministry through the participation of many believers can bring great encouragement and growth. When a believer shares with another believer, it should never be directive or absolute. Prophecy is something all believers are encouraged to move in - in the right place and if it is for the "strengthening, encouragement and comfort" of the believers (1 Corinthians 14:3-4).
"For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged" 1 Corinthians 14:31 (see also verse 1).
God desires for us to be filled with His Spirit, and that the overflow of this infilling will spill over in the form of encouragement and comfort to the lives of others within the Body and out in the world.
"...be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs..." Ephesians 5:18-20.
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