Chapter 11: Honor the Word of God – The Ministry of the Word
Christ was Word became flesh. His life was an ‘incarnate’ life living out God’s Way perfectly. All His life He obeyed God’s will and exalted the words in the Scripture. Even at the threat of death, He ensured He fulfilled every word on Him. (Matthew 26:54; Luke 22:37). Therefore, exalting Christ naturally entails following His example in treating God’s words seriously: heaven and earth will pass away, but God’s words will never pass away. We can lose our limbs, but we cannot disobey God’s words and fall into hell .
The world began by God’s words - “the worlds were framed by the word of God” (NKJV Hebrews 11:3). At the beginning of the New Testament, in the Sermon on the Mount, Lord Jesus stated it clearly that in God’s kingdom the most important standard in deciding what is the greatest or the least is “Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19). In the conclusion of the last chapter of the Book of Revelation the Lord solemnly warns, “and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” ( NKJV Rev 22:19).
Yet the bible has plainly said, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). People nowadays emphasize on a multicultural society and say what they like in their blogs and are supported by many others. Further, overflow of lustful desires has formed a huge trend of immorality, people are not only acting as each wishes but also overtly objecting to biblical values. Therefore, we greatly need spiritual courage from the Holy Spirit to exalt the biblical truths.
There are also believers who will not endure sound doctrine but seek another kind of glory – the instant fire from spiritual healing, emotional deliverance and miraculous experiences; all these can be good if they come from God. However, if someone pursues a certain spiritual experience rather than Christ who is in the truth, or is too engrossed in excitable feelings that he fails to “look into the perfect law of liberty”, be “a doer of the work” and “bear fruit with perseverance”, then such feelings are vanity and devoid of power, unable to change lives.
Moses’ face shone after having received God’s word, and although the people were afraid of his shining face Moses still called them to give them God’s words. Only after he finished would he put a veil over his face (Exodus 34:29-35). God had also spoken to people in the past but none of their faces ever shone as a result; it happened to Moses because for the first time God gave His word in textual form, written clearly on stone tablets and becoming an evident proof of covenant between God and man. When the Israelites heard Moses giving them God’s words, their fear turned to reverence and they listened attentively, and thus Moses accomplished this glorious ministry.
Of course Moses’ shining face would slowly dim, so he covered it with a veil and removed the veil when he went before God. In 2 Corinthians Chapters 3 and 4 Paul told us about “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). This glory will never dim and so today “when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” (2 Corinthians 3:16). Whenever we are able to humble ourselves, exalt Christ and return to Him, we can see the light of God’s glory through Christ, we can receive God’s word in the glorious light and not be covered with a veil. “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17). The Lord and His Spirit are One, and when people lift up the Lord, there also will His Spirit be, and there we have the liberty to see God’s glory and the liberty to remove the veil. Today we ought to take away all obstructions and follow the Lord wholeheartedly so that we can at all times see the Lord’s glory from God’s written truth. Preachers can continue with this ancient ministry of preaching God’s words so that His light will carry on shining today; we can also boldly speak God’s word and edify each other until we “are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). What a glorious ministry is the ministry of the word!
Bible Study Passage: Acts 20:17-35
17 From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church.
18 When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia.
19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews.
20 You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.
21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
22 And now, compelled [or ‘heart bound’] by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.
23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.
24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.
25 Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.
26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men.
27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.
28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought [or ‘saved’] with His own blood.
29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.
30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.
31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
32 Now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
33 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing.
34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.
35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
1. What was Paul’s attitude when he taught the believers the truth (see Acts 20: 20, 27, 31)?
2. At the start of this passage, Paul said to the elders, “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you” (v18). What was he trying to convey? How did he lay a foundation of trust concurrently with the teaching of the understanding of the truth (vv. 18-19, 33-35)?
3. What effects did Paul believe the word of God can do to the believers (v.29 - 32)?
4. What did Paul exhort the elders to ‘keep watch over ’ God’s church? (see v28 & 1 Ti 4:16) . Can believers ‘ keep watch over’ one another too?
5. What is the ministry of the Word and why is it a glorious ministry ? (refer to Rev Siu’s article)
6. If the ministry of the Word is a glorious ministry, then shouldn’t more people yearn for it? Have you considered asking God for this ministry and encouraged yourself to pay the price for setting an example “so that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things” (NKJV Titus 2:10)?
1. How can I ‘delight in His Word’ (Psalm 1:2) – truly desiring and delighting in God’s Words rather than doing it as a devotional obligation or a preparation for bible study?
2. Dr. John Sung read eleven Bible chapters daily to show that he needed God’s Word to shine upon his darkness. How can I become open to God so that in the light of His Words, I can examine myself and stay away from sin?