PERHAPS, YOU have been a Christian for years, and belong to a prestigious local church or denomination. But do you know your pastor’s key duty to you? Well, we know how the majority of servants of Christ, today, busily perform burial services, and officiate wedding and naming ceremonies. Others only teach their congregants financial principles to make money. I do not say, here, that any of these is wrong for ministers to do, but these are not the key job Christ Jesus has entrusted to His servants.
Jesus Christ outlined the primary duty His servants must observe and perform to the Church. This divine duty is the truth this article seeks to reveal to you. Knowing this truth will liberate you from engaging in unnecessary religious pursuits. It will free you from following a straying pastor, and catapult you into God’s divine plan under the dispensation of grace. True servants of Christ are appointed to make a unique spiritual investment in the lives of believers.
This spiritual investment is found in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus where he revealed the fivefold ministry gifts to the Church. But before we talk about it, I want you to understand that a minister can be influenced to deviate from sound doctrine, stray into error or be deceived to preach and teach humanism or psychology after yielding to teachings of demons.
Now, in Ephesians 4: 11- 15, we learn that Jesus Christ sets apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in ministry. He then tells them their core duty. Paul said their responsibility is to perfect the saints, that is, believers for the work of ministry. To perfect, here, means to equip, build, develop or mature. Thus when a person places his faith in Jesus Christ and receives the incorruptible seed of righteousness in his heart, their journey to perfection to become useful ministers has just begun.
Disciples begin as babies in Christ, and must grow up as children and finally as men spiritually through the stewardship of shepherds set over them. Remember how the early believers were perfected or equipped by Jesus Christ to work in His stead as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers barely within three and half years. By this same method, true servants of Christ are required to groom other believers who are placed under their care into divine maturity. Disciples must be perfected to conform to the image of Christ. This is every genuine minister’s key duty.
Now, God’s plan or vision for all His children including the shepherds themselves is to strive to conform to the image of His Son. Jesus Christ is the standard, and becoming perfect like Him who never sinned is the foremost goal of Christianity. This is achieved through diligent feeding on and obeying the sound knowledge of the Word of God by the Holy Spirit with prayer and fasting. As we feed on the Word and obey its teachings by the indwelling Spirit, our minds get renewed, we get washed from sin and error, and gradually progress towards conforming to the image of Christ.
Paul wrote that a regenerated or spiritually renewed believer in Christ is created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4: 24). To Christians in Ephesus, he charged them to stop sinning, “Seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3: 9- 10). The Apostle wrote again that, “For those whom he (God) foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” (Romans 8: 29, emphasis mine).
To conform to the image of Christ is to be changed into or restored to the image in which man was created. Remember, in Genesis 1: 26- 27, Adam and Eve were created in the image, after the likeness of God. The image of God reflects who God is – righteous, holy, pure, kind, faithful, glorious loving and others; and this talk about God’s nature in which man was created. But this image of God in man was corrupted through Adam’s fall by sin thus causing a separation between God and man.
The reason Jesus Christ came into the world and shed His sinless blood was to repair this separation, restore the image of God in man and renew man’s relationship with God. By hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ, believing in Him and being sealed with the Holy Spirit of God, a person begins the restorative process. At birth in Christ, we are made perfect, but we must continue to be perfected until we are completely perfected at the second coming of Jesus Christ.
It is for this responsibility, Paul wrote in Colossians 1: 28- 29 that “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man (Christian) perfect in Christ Jesus. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” Yes, God powerfully worked through Paul with the goal of presenting believers perfect in Christ.
Now, as a minister, Paul himself had not yet attained the ultimate perfection, so he said to the Philippian Christians, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Philippians 3: 12). Beloved, Paul’s responsibility in ministry was to perfect the flock under him, and his personal goal was to press on to conform to the image of Christ and obtain perfection. Beloved, what about you? Are you also pressing on towards perfection?
FROM James Quansah, Kumasi