What makes the Christian ministry special?

 Posted at Reformation Scotland:

All of Christ’s people are called to be His witnesses, and speak His truth into the situations and relationships they find themselves in. There is one body, and each member its own place and usefulness. Yet not all are called to be preachers or hold the office of minister in Christ’s church. John Brown of Wamphray explains the distinctiveness of the Christian ministry in the following updated extract. After showing that it is not unspiritual to value the forms and order of Christ’s church, he points to a large number of Scripture references which demonstrate that some but not all are called to be ministers. It is when people follow the Scripture pattern in preference to the promptings of their own spirits that God the Holy Spirit is genuinely honoured and will add His blessing.


[Our opponents in this controversy are prone to] accuse us of adhering to externals, devised by human wisdom, because we cleave to the rules and methods and orders prescribed by Christ to be followed in His house. On the other hand, they see themselves as the ones who follow the Spirit and are led by His direct help and influence.

The problem is that they end up accusing the Holy Spirit of leading them in a method and order that is not prescribed in the Word, but is only the invention of their own brains, blasphemously attributed to the leading of the Spirit of God. There is no basis to imagine that the Spirit of God will lead anyone in courses opposite to, and reflecting on, what Christ has instituted, because He is the Spirit of Christ, and sent by Him from the Father, with the work of testifying to Him, and not working at cross-purposes to Him, or trampling on what He has appointed.

Although there are differences of opinion about the order to be observed in the house of God, there is no warrant for our opponents to reject all order. They seem to want to bring in the confusion of Babel instead of the beautiful and edifying order which Christ, the supreme head and king of the Church, has appointed, and signally blessed, for His own glory and for promoting the good and edification of His subjects.

According to our opponents, it was not the mind of Christ “that Christians should establish the shadows and form of officers, without the power, efficacy and Spirit of Christ.” However, the power, efficacy and Spirit of Christ, is not in Christian’s power to establish (the Spirit bloweth where He listeth; John 3:8). I am not familiar with the Spirit which can be established by men — it is not the Spirit of God who is so under their power that He can be established by them as they please.

Also, although we are not trying to make a case for shadows and forms, yet we acknowledge (and desire to observe) the ordinances which Christ has appointed to continue in His Church, “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:11–13), even to “the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20). We have no ground to think that all these offices and officers were appointed only for that time and age, seeing the work is of the same necessity now as it was then. It is true, there was a special piece of work called for then; i.e., the founding and settling of gospel churches, and of gospel order and ordinances, and special, extraordinary officers were called, qualified and empowered then, which are not now necessary.

Now that the foundation has been laid, no is more required but a continual building on that foundation, for which, ordinary officers, and a standing ordinary ministry, are sufficient and necessary, in order that the ordinances of perpetual use may be administered, according to Christ’s appointment, for the constant edification of the Church. When the Church is denuded of her officers and watchers, she becomes easier prey for these grievous wolves who now enter in, not sparing the flock, and speak perverse things to draw away disciples after them.


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