The Long Forgotten Ministry

The ministry of the Church is of a prophetic nature, in the sense that, it is carrying on the role of the prophets of old, of Jesus Himself and of the Apostles.

God communicates through His creation. In the early days God chose someone to be His prophet, to be His mouthpiece, to speak to people. God would speak to him something and he was to repeat it verbatim. Through the prophets He gave people rules to follow. Through them He announced what He would do in the days to come and warned people about impending judgment for disobedience. The prophets also fulfilled the office of the priests in the early days.

Today, there isn’t much of the foretelling aspect of it, because whatever God wanted people to know regarding their eternal salvation during their temporal life on earth has been put together in the form of a book – the Bible. So, it is just a matter of forth-telling, proclaiming it as it is written. Prophets of old said, “Thus says the LORD“, while we say, “Thus says God’s Word”.

All believers have a part in the Church’s mission today. We have a prophetic/priestly ministry to fulfill (1Pet.2:5, 9-10). Prophetic ministry encompasses all that the Church is commanded to do in the areas of its worship, nurture and evangelism. The Church should focus on all the three. Prophets should encourage the practice of God’s Word and rebuke the negligence of it. We must allow the Word of God to guide us in every area of our lives. 2Tim.3:16 says,

Everything in the Scriptures is God’s Word. All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live.“(CEV)

Jeremiah’s life was typical. In Jer.28 we read the contrast between a true prophet of God and a false prophet.

Saying What God says!

The prophets’ job has never been a comfortable one. He was the most unwelcome person among his people. He proclaimed the most unpleasant message and people considered him as a stumbling block or obstacle on their way. He brought messages of rebuke and judgment.

However, because of their people-pleasing and pleasant messages false prophets thrived. Messages of prosperity and wealth who wouldn’t want to hear! So, they had entry into royal palaces and wealthy homes. They would speak in the name of the sovereign LORD things which the sovereign LORD has not spoken. They are neither true to themselves nor to the LORD. But, a true prophet of God has to speak on God’s behalf whether the message is what people would like to hear or not.

Jesus fulfilled the ministry of a prophet in its true sense though He was much more than a prophet. He spoke all what God wanted to speak to the people and only what God wanted. Jesus said,

I don’t speak on my own. I say only what the Father who sent me has told me to say.” (Jn.12:49 CEV)

Jesus was disliked by the Pharisees because He announced God’s displeasure on their hypocrisy.

We are called to be the prophets of God within our family, church and community. We need to use the Word to correct an erring brother, strengthen the weak, and build up the body of Christ. We need to build mutual accountability among ourselves where we can check each other for our own good. But often we fail to fulfill our responsibility as true prophets of God because we are afraid of the response of the audience and damaging our reputation.

I am thankful to God for the Godly people who have helped me watch myself through their eyes. John K. is one of the first among them. I still remember our meetings, when the first thing he would ask is “What did the LORD speak to you today?”

Saying it at any cost

The true prophet receives no accolades from the hearers. But, with their lying flattery the false prophets earn favours and honours. Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet. At the end of the day he had only tears and agony for the reward. He was interrogated, threatened and attacked. His life was at risk (Jer.26:7-16). Yet he conveyed God’s message. It was not that Jeremiah did not desire his people’s deliverance and prosperity, but that was not what God told him to convey.

Jesus satisfied God’s law by offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the entire human race. He conveyed God’s message of salvation to the people. But he had his share of agony and sorrow. He had a lowliest birth, poor man’s life and no place to stay. He went through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. He received a cross and a crown of thorns. Knowing all this ahead of time, He committed Himself to God and finished His mission. The result! God honoured Him with the name above every name, the name at which the entire creation will bow down and worship!

We need to help build the body of Christ by proclaiming the Word which is able to reprove, rebuke, teach, correct, encourage and edify. We are asked to share one another’s burdens (Gal.6:2) even if it is not the most pleasant thing to do. We may not be appreciated but we are becoming obedient. God will be glorified and His kingdom strengthened on earth.

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