Recognizing True Ministry 2
In our article last week, we saw how to recognize true ministry by fruit. This week we will see how to judge the Word preached and the power manifested in ministry.
Now, we are to judge the quality of the Word of God that ministers preach and teach.
The depth of the wisdom of God that proceeds from their mouths is indicative of the degree of the lowliness of heart they posses: the good treasure of the heart (Lu. 6.44).
Proverbs 11:2 NKJV: When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom.
A proud heart cannot receive the deep wisdom and revelation of the Word of God:
1 Cor 2:10,12-15 NKJV: But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
So, we recognize true ministry not by power or gifting alone but by the fruit of their character and ability to rightly divide the Word of truth bringing forth deep wisdom and revelation from the Word.
Matthew 7:15-23 NIV: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!‘
So it is possible to have power and gifts in manifestation and yet not have God’s approval:
Psalms 68:18 KJV: Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.
Why does God manifest His power and gifts through rebellious and disobedient leaders?
One reason is that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance (Rom. 11.29). So when God calls a man and equips him with the gifts of the spirit, God does not withdraw the gifts immediately if the man becomes rebellious and disobedient. We see this Balaam, Samson and Saul (2 Pet. 2.15, 16; Judg. 13. 24-24, 16. 1-3; 1 Sam. 19. 22-24).
Now, God does this so that the presence of God can be manifest to men and His work of the gospel continue even when men are rebellious and have wrong motives:
Philippians 1:15-18 NKJV: Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.
It is instructive to note that the kind of power God gives to those whose character and wisdom is not developed, maybe spectacular but will be limited and will not last too long if they continue in rebellion and disobedience as judgement will fall on them like it did with Samson and Saul.
Where there is fruit and wisdom power will certainly follow with time. God’s pattern is always firstly to develop a man’s character, filling him with knowledge and wisdom from His Word, before giving him great and lasting power. We see this in Moses, Joshua and of course Jesus. In fact, John the Baptist who did no outward miracles was called by Jesus the greatest of all prophets in the Old Testament.
John 10:41 NKJV: And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true
Luke 7:28 NKJV: “For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
So, God measures greatness of prophetic ministry not by outward miracles alone but by depth of revelation. Daniel was given a revelation of the entire plan of God for the whole of human history: God called him a man greatly beloved (Dan. 10.11). Yet Daniel did very few outward spectacular miracles.
Outward spectacular miracles are vital: Jesus demonstrated them and promised we would do the same and even greater (Jn.14.12).
However, like with the Lord Jesus, God will not release us into that level of power until our character and wisdom is developed enough to handle it! Selah!