Long day ahead for me but I am excited because I get to have a better glimpse of how to read God’s word.
I have been on a journey through the New Testament recently and it has been exciting but as a source to refer to while reading the NT, I have started skimming through Mark Dever’s book, The Message of the New Testament. It is a book that gives an overview of each of the books of the NT. Very good so far.
I am in 1 Thessalonians right now and he had some great insights into what a good minister would be concerned about. It really convicted me to live more to the high calling that God has brought me into.
He labels them the seven signs of genuine ministry:
1) Self-sacrifice – Paul was willing to sacrifice his own safety throughout his missionary journeys. Paul had shared the gospel with the Thessalonians at cost to himself. 1 Thessalonians 2:1-6; 13-14
2) Motherly love – Paul was not harsh, but gentle with them. He did not take from them but was delighted to share with them. They are dear to him, like a child to a mother. 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8
3) Fatherly integrity and encouragement – Paul says that he exhibited a fatherly integrity among them and now he encourages them with fatherly counsel. Like a good father, he set an example of holiness, righteousness, and blamelessness in his work. And like a good father, he urges them to live lives worthy of God. 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12
4) Desire for fellowship – Paul writes, “But brothers, when we were torn away from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you” (2:17). Since he has not been able to visit, Paul sent Timothy to strengthen and encourage them, and to bring news of them (3:1-5). Such a desire for fellowship is another evidence of a genuine ministry.
5) Joy – Several times Paul says that he rejoices because of them. First, in chapter 2, he writes, “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy” (2:19-20). 1 Thessalonians 3:7-9
6) Prayer – Another sign Paul gives of genuine ministry to the Thessalonians is his prayers for them (2:13).
7) Hope – The first six signs are fed by the hope he has for them. In other words, Paul has dealt with the Thessalonians according to the hope of God’s calling in their lives. His work among them in the past had been premised upon his hope in God concerning them, and his expectation of the future is also premised upon this hope in God. Hope for the future – hope that God will do what he promises – is crucial to the ministry of caring that Paul has among the Thessalonians.
This hope has implications in the present. Paul prays in chapter 3, “May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones” (3:13). Hope in the coming of our Lord Jesus leads to holiness in the present.
All the above is taken from Mark Dever’s book, The Message of the New Testament. Then Mark Dever suggests that we should ask ourselves the following questions, which hit me pretty hard:
Do these characteristics mark my ministry?
Do they mark the ministry of those who are over you in the Lord?
If you are called to labor as a parent, an elder, a teacher, or a leader of any kind in the church, do these qualities mark your labors?
Or is your ministry just a self-centered sham with a religious veneer?
Are we genuinely ministering out of real faith, real hope, and real love to God and his people?