"And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in
much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not in
persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit
and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of
men, but in the power of God... Let a man so account of us, as of
ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God."
(1 Cor. 2:3-5; 4:1).
"For we would not have you ignorant, brethren,
concerning our affliction which befell us in Asia, that we were
weighed down exceedingly, beyond our power, insomuch that we
despaired even of life: yea, we ourselves have had the sentence
of death within ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves,
but in God who raiseth the dead." (2 Cor. 1:8-9).
"Therefore seeing we have this ministry, even as we
obtained mercy, we faint not... always bearing about in the body
the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested
in our body. For we who live are always delivered unto death for
Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our
mortal flesh. Are we beginning again to commend ourselves? or
need we, as do some, epistles of commendation to you or from you?" (2 Cor. 4:1,10-11; 3:1).
Paul is speaking concerning the
ministry being accredited, and links this accrediting with his
sufferings. Before writing 2 Corinthians he went through a very
deep experience in Asia: "...weighed down exceedingly,
beyond our power... we despaired even of life". God "who
raiseth the dead" became his only way out, and from that
deep experience this second letter sprang.
Ministry is that of the Church.
Apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers were given as gifts for
perfecting the saints unto the work of ministering; the ministry,
therefore, belongs to all.
Truly accredited ministry
is through suffering. Accredited ministry represents a tremendous
victory, set in a background of great conflict.
A determined effort is made
through the age to discredit spiritual ministry, and to do so
through the one engaged in that ministry.
In the case of the Lord, there
was a persistent effort to discredit Him, and thereby discredit
His ministry. It drew forth the words: "No prophet is
acceptable in his own country" (Luke 4:24).
In the case of Paul, the
Judaisers sought to discredit him, and thereby discredit his
ministry. At Corinth a great battle raged over his position as an
Apostle, and 2 Corinthians is much taken up with the
establishment of his own position, and therefore his authority in
One who counts for the Lord, is
a joint of supply, who can be of value in any way to the Lord's
people, and stand in His testimony, will know the enemy's effort
to render those spiritual values nil by discrediting. The enemy
will give a strong sense of unworthiness, unfitness, uselessness
to the Lord, or he will cause something to be associated with the
vessel for the discrediting of the ministry; he may even
patronize in order to compromise, as when the demons cried:
"These men are servants of the Most High God, which proclaim
unto you the way of salvation". Sometimes he will cause to
associate with a pure thing people who are unsaved, to bring
The Lord's answer to that is to
keep the vessel of ministry in weakness, dependence upon Himself;
so that all is kept spiritual, and all is of the Lord alone.
The essence of the second
letter to the Corinthians is that here there was a wholesale
discrediting of the Apostle and his ministry. He will not be
accredited by asserting his rights. God will take him into death
itself, where there is no way out, and then as from the dead
bring him back, and pour through him a new stream of life for the
Lord's people. In the realm of spiritual intelligences, where all
is known and understood, there is a clear recognition that the
effort to discredit has broken down, that this ministry is of
God, and cannot be overthrown.
Such ministry may be personal
or through those who constitute the assembly, or of a home.
Resurrection becomes the
hallmark of that which is accredited of God.
Metal is passed through the
crucible and refined then the stamp is put upon it to show its
So God brings through the fires
of Satanic antagonism, allows the thing to reach a point where He
alone is its life, and then brings it up out of the conflict, and
puts the stamp of resurrection life on it, so that it has in it
the power of an indestructible life - that only comes through
All ministry that is to be
accredited will be bound up with suffering; a decision we have to
make is as to the object of our ministry. A good many things can
be taken into consideration, but there comes a point where all
other things have to be ranged on one side, and one thing on the
other side - the real spiritual value, without alloy: that which
is wholly of God and not at all of man. In the measure in which
that is true there will be suffering. To stand utterly for what
is spiritual is a costly thing.
There must be a willingness to
be dealt with by the Lord, in such a way as to keep the ministry
living and pure. All ministry which issues from such suffering is
going to count. It may not be welcomed or desired by the mass,
but where there is need and a call for that which we have gained
through suffering there will be response.
Two tragedies today amongst the
(1). So many have no knowledge
of the truth in any adequate way, and are therefore spiritually
(2). So many have a great deal
of truth, and are dead. The Lord needs a vessel to meet these
conditions - a vessel that has gone through the fire, and is
living in the power of resurrection.
Such a vessel is going to be a
suffering vessel, which has come to the place where God Himself
meets the situation.
This may explain much; it may
be a challenge; it may be a call.
"Seeing we have this
ministry... we obtained mercy" - we have received grace to
help - and so "we faint not". But the treasure is in
vessels of fragile clay, the vessel is being broken day by day.
To stand in the power of God, the revelation of the light of the
knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,
represents cost. Are we prepared for that? That is the way of the
God has accredited the ministry
of His Son, yet there was a universal combination to set Him at
God has accredited the ministry
of His servant Paul, but he was taken through depths of
So for us; ministry accredited
of God is linked with suffering, but the suffering produces that
which is wholly of God and cannot be destroyed.
First published in "A Witness and A
Testimony" magazine, Sep-Oct 1946, Vol 24-5