Life-Study of 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemonby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In 4:6 Paul uses the expression “a good minister of Christ Jesus.” A minister of Christ is one who serves others with Christ, ministering Christ as Savior, life, life supply, and every positive thing. He differs from a teacher of the law and of other things (1:7, 3).
A minister of Christ does not mainly denote a minister who belongs to Christ, but a person who ministers Christ to others. He is one who serves people with Christ. For example, if we say that a man is a serving one of a particular meal, we do not mean, of course, that he belongs to the meal. We mean that he serves others with that meal. In like manner, although it is true that a minister of Christ belongs to Christ, the main thought here is that he serves others with Christ, ministering Christ to them. Not only does he belong to Christ, but he serves Christ to others.
In today’s Christianity there are a great many ministers who belong to Christ, but very few of them minister Christ to others. To be a minister of Christ does not primarily mean to preach Christ, teach Christ, or tell others about Christ. The main significance of this term is ministering Christ to others.
Verse 6 confirms this understanding of the expression “a good minister of Christ.” Here Paul says, “Laying these things before the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, being nourished with the words of the faith and of the good teaching which you have closely followed.” By “these things” Paul means all he has covered thus far in this Epistle. Just as a steward lays different courses of food before guests at a dinner, so a good minister of Christ should lay “these things” before the believers. Furthermore, Paul’s use of the term “being nourished” indicates that his concept is that of supplying life to others. It is significant that here Paul does not say “being taught,” but “being nourished” with the words of the faith. If we would minister Christ to others, we ourselves must first be nourished. Being nourished with Christ, we shall have Christ as food, as life supply, to minister to others. The words “being nourished” give us the ground to say that a good minister of Christ does not merely teach others about Christ, but ministers Christ into others as food. Others should be able to testify of us that we have nourished them with Christ.
Throughout the years, my aim in the ministry has been to nourish the saints. No doubt I have passed on a good deal of knowledge. But I can testify that in every message, I exercise my spirit not just to pass on knowledge, but, while I am giving forth a certain kind of knowledge, to supply something nourishing to the Lord’s people. My desire is to minister the riches of Christ as food that the saints may be nourished. Recently, many have written me letters telling how they have been richly fed with Christ through the messages.
If you have a heart to care for others in the Lord’s recovery, you should not give them mere teaching. Whenever you fellowship with others concerning Christ, you may give them some knowledge. But while you are teaching them, you need to exercise your spirit to minister spiritual food that they may be nourished. If you do this, you will be a good minister of Christ.
With Paul and Timothy we see an excellent pattern. As we have pointed out, Paul told Timothy to lay “these things before the brothers,” referring to the things which he was writing in this Epistle. However, before Timothy could lay these things before others, he first had to feed on them himself. He had to digest them, assimilate them, and allow them to saturate his inner being. Then he would be able to lay them before the brothers. Today we should follow Timothy’s example and lay before the saints the things with which we have been nourished by the Lord through the ministry. How wonderful the church life would be if we all did this! However, if we turn from the ministry and seek to produce something different, we may give place to differing teachings. It was not Timothy’s intention to teach anything different from what Paul taught. Rather, he would lay before the brothers what he had received from Paul.
At this point, I would like to say a word concerning my burden in putting out the Life-study Messages. The aim of these messages is to produce groceries for the local churches. My burden is not mainly to “cook” these spiritual groceries; it is to produce them and supply them to the churches that every local church may be a well-stocked supermarket, filled with a variety of nourishing foods. If the leading ones in a local church lay before the saints the riches contained in the Life-studies, the saints will be abundantly nourished. I have received many letters testifying that this has happened.
It is a fact of history in the Lord’s recovery that any church which follows the ministry is strong and blessed. But those churches which neglect the ministry and try instead to do something on their own have become a failure. However, in saying these things, I wish to make it very clear that I by no means insist that the churches or the saints read the Life-study Messages. To repeat, my burden is to produce groceries. The churches and the saints are free either to use them or to disregard them. But if the saints cast away the nourishment found in these messages, I wonder what they will feed on. We are what we eat. If we eat the “groceries” produced in today’s religion, we shall be part of religion. Let me say in frankness and honesty that the leading ones need to take “these things” and lay them before the saints that they may be nourished.
Paul’s expression “laying these things before the brothers” is very significant. We need to be impressed with the fact that this also is part of the Bible, the Word of God. I do not charge anyone to lay my words before the saints. It is not my practice to charge the churches to do anything. Representatives of hundreds of churches can testify that I do not charge them to do things. I do not even know many of the things that take place in the church in Anaheim, where I live. I am very glad that the elders take action regarding many things without letting me know. This is a strong proof that I am not a pope. Very much to the contrary, I am a little servant of the Lord, a farmer burdened to produce groceries for the saints. Far from charging the churches to do anything, I simply long that they feed on the spiritual riches the Lord has given us. Do not lay Witness Lee’s teaching before the brothers. Instead, present them the riches, the groceries, the Lord has shown us from the Word.
I am deeply burdened by the fact that many who love the Lord Jesus and seek Him have been deceived and frustrated. We must find a way to share with them the spiritual riches the Lord has provided us. Many who truly love the Lord are starving. We must take up the burden to supply them with food. We all need to be good ministers of Christ, serving others with His riches. Let us first be nourished ourselves and then minister this nourishment to all the people of God.
We would emphasize that being nourished is for the growth in life. This is a matter of life and it differs from merely being taught, which is a matter of knowledge. To minister Christ to others requires that we ourselves first be nourished with the words of life concerning Christ.
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