Commentary on "Every Member Ministry"
Day 2: Sunday, April 8, 2012 - Every Member Ministry
The author quotes Ephesians 4:12: to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, to support the idea that every member is a minister. Since all who have been reconciled with Christ have been given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:15-20), the pastors have the role of preparing all members for ministry. Jesus came to serve and instructed his disciples to serve in their turn. The source of the service comes from being connected with Him.
There are many positive elements that should be appreciated. The greatest thing affirmed is the reality of the believer’s being reconciled with God as the source of the proclamation of the reconciliation. Every believer is an ambassador of peace, announcing that God reconciled the world to Himself in Christ, something already accomplished, something finished. There is no need to work in order to appease God, or to make Him render a favorable verdict in the judgment. At this point the Adventist theology is not following the biblical account. Some may wonder what they mean by affirming that the believer's ministry of reconciliation originates in his being already reconciled. The words, while used by Adventists with reference to themselves have a different meaning than what they have in the evangelical world.
Christ indeed came to serve, and there is a joy in serving others because Jesus gave us all we need; His love liberates us to love others as He loved us (1 John 4:19).
Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive (Colossians 3:13).
In the Adventist understanding, the forgiveness is not final; it is conditional. It depends on further acts of obedience. There is no freedom in such forgiveness; the believer is not let off the hook; he can suffer punishment later for sins that had been forgiven today. Adopting this model in serving others results in the same conditional love shown toward those who need to see God's unbounded grace in action.
Still serving and proclaiming God's reconciliation, while making the believer a servant and an ambassador for Christ, doesn't qualify him as a minister. There is a problem in the way the author of the quarterly understands Ephesians 4:12. Because this is a technical aspect that requires some skill, here is how Michael Horton in the book The Gospel Commission deals with the interpretation of it:
What is the purpose for these gifts? In many of our modern translations, the next verses read, “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (vv. 12–13). The Greek verb translated “to equip” (katartismon) can also be rendered “to complete or perfect,” as in fact it was in older English translations. If so, then it is through the work of pastors and teachers that the Spirit completes or perfects the body. This makes the most sense with Paul’s analogy of a building. It is the saints in general who are being built up into a structure with Christ as its head. They are equipped not for this ministry but by this ministry for other godly callings in the church and in the world. Another point: eis can be translated either as “into/unto” (purpose) or as “by or with” (instrument). The translation makes all the difference. Are pastors and teachers given “to equip the saints for the work of ministry” or “to complete the saints by/with the work of ministry”? It could go either way, except for the fact that this clause is the first in a series of others: “for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature [adulthood], to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (vv. 12–14, emphasis added). In other words, Paul is saying that Christ has given the church the gift of pastors and teachers for the following purpose: to complete the saints with the ministry of the Word so that they will be united in the faith and in the mature knowledge of Christ instead of being children who are carried about by every wind of doctrine.Michael Horton, The Gospel Commission (p. 192).
The work of ministry is a special work destined to equip the saints for something else, not for ministry per se. Confusing the categories has practical consequences that will constitute the subject of future evaluation.
Copyright 2012 BibleStudiesForAdventists.com. All rights reserved. Revised April 9, 2012. This website is published by Life Assurance Ministries, Casa Grande, Arizona, USA, the publisher of Proclamation! Magazine. Contact email: BibleStudiesForAdventists@gmail.com.
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