[“…I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily” (Col. 1:25-29).]
My word to you … is just one of reminding you of the ministry which we have felt to be that committed to us by God. It is but one among many given to His people, but it is one which is fulfilled with an ever increasing sense of its necessity.
May I say again, in the first place, what it is not. We claim no new revelation. We aim at no new “movement”. We desire no new body of Christians as apart from all the Lord’s people. We never say to any, “You should come out of your church, or mission, or society”. We deprecate being called a “Fellowship”, in the sense of being people in and for a special association…. We have nothing but horror of a peculiar phraseology and shibboleth. Exclusiveness and legality are far from our thoughts and hearts. Finally, we do not fail to recognise the value of all other work and ministry which has the knowledge of Christ as its object, and is carried on from a true love for Him.
What then is our ministry? We did not set out with this as a full-orbed vision at the first. The Lord just wrought in us a deep and terrible sense of spiritual need and dissatisfaction, and created an intense longing for something altogether fuller than we could find. Then He led us – by way of such exercise, and its resultant quest in prayer – through deep experiences, which made possible and fruitful the unfolding of His fuller thoughts, intents, and ways for us, and for all who would “go on” to His full end. This has gone on through many years, and every bit of new living light has come out of a deepening suffering and cost. So that nothing is just theory; it is experimental.
Thus there has steadily grown this sense of Divine purpose and concern that the people of God should come to “the fullness of Christ.” “Each several part” in its “due measure”, and the whole “Body” to the “stature of the fullness”[Eph. 4:11-16]. Every practical issue has to be a personal matter between those concerned and the Lord. We have made mistakes in the course of the years, but we have learned the more deeply by these. Many have prejudiced our ministry by misapprehension, misrepresentation, and precipitate action. We expect such a ministry to have many adversaries, and we shall not seek to vindicate ourselves. But our desire is that no unnecessary obstacle shall lie in the way of the Lord’ s people receiving any value from Him through this instrumentality.
It is clear that, even in New Testament times, not all believers were ready to go right on with the Lord, and more than ninety percent of the New Testament was written to urge Christians to do so. The uprise of the Convention movement amongst Christians in many lands is itself a strong evidence that this urge is greatly needed.
But Divine fullness is only going to be reached by a progressive and ever increasing revelation of Christ and His significance. Such a revelation – unless we misunderstand the record of God’s ways from of old – comes firstly to an apprehended instrument which is taken into the deeps with God; then it is given forth as His truth for His people; and then it becomes the inwrought experience and knowledge of such as really mean business with God – not as to their blessing, but as to His purpose and inheritance in them.
In relation to this end each one must know for himself or herself what God requires in any given matter, and it would be unsafe for us to say what they should do. We can never do more than enunciate the principles of Life and growth. To “present every man perfect (full-grown, complete) in Christ” is, then, the burden of our hearts. “Let us, as many as be perfect (undivided in heart or mind) be thus minded” [Phil. 3:15].
The Lord make you know “what is the riches of His inheritance in the saints” [Eph. 1:18].
An Editor’s Letter titled “Our Ministry” first published in A Witness and A Testimony magazine, Jul-Aug 1942, Vol 20-4. austin-sparks.net/english/000536.html
Although we don’t claim to same caliber of godliness and wisdom as the late T. Austin-Sparks, we “amen” the mission, values, and motives that this leader shared in this letter from 1942. Pray that we at Grace Fellowship would be a good stewards of this “Not I, but Christ” message as it relates to the field of international biblical counseling and discipleship. -JBW