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Partnership One With Another


Chapter 3           Our Ministry

There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man, Christ Jesus. I Tim. 2:5  This arrangement that God has set in place is essential to the understanding of relationships within the church. God's word is reliable. When our thoughts and traditions place us in opposition to what God has spoken, then we are wrong. There is no mediator between God and us except the one Christ Jesus.

In Luke 22:24-27, Jesus makes it very clear that within the body of believers, there are to be no rulers exercising dominion over God's people. In the body of Christ, we lead by serving one another.

In Matthew 23:8, Jesus again clarifies this truth by stating: "One is your master, even Christ; and all ye are breathren." Paul, by revelation, in the book of Ephesians, tells us that, "God hath gave him (Christ) to be head over all, to the church, which is His body." Christ is the head. Christ is the mediator. Christ is our example.

    The nations have kings that rule over them ... but ye shall not be     so. Luke 22:25,26 

Over the past 1900 years, men have set up innumerable organizations that have claimed to be representative of God's will. Christ said: "But ye shall not be so." This truth continues to stand. Any time a person or organization claims to represent "God's government" or claims to hold God's authority to rule over others, the word of God proves them false. We have one master, Christ; and we are brethren.

We are called into partnership with God through Christ Jesus, therefore we can be in partnership with one another.  There are two Greek word groups that need to be understood to grasp the reality of the truth concerning our relationship with God and with one another.

Doulos and related words are the first group that are usually translated "servant". The second group of words revolve around diakonos which is also sometimes translated servant. To get to the truth of God's word, we must see the difference between these words.

In I Corinthians 7:23, we are told, "be ye not the servant of men," but in Galatians 5:13, it is written, "serve one another." These two statements seem to be a contradiction. They are not. We are not to be a servant (doulos) to men, but as a doulos to God we are to be a servant, (diakonos) to one another in the body of Christ.

Doulos literally means "bond slave". In the Old Testament, according to the law, an Israelite slave had to serve his master seven years to buy his freedom. At the end of those seven years, he was set free. He then had a choice. He could go free, or he could choose to stay with his master as a slave for life. If he made the choice to stay a slave, he became a "doulos" or bond a slave by choice.

We are not under the law. The New Testament tells us that we are free and that we are not to be bond slaves to men.   However, I Corinthians 7:23 also says that "we are bought with a price". The price was the death of Jesus Christ. He paid the ransom if full to make us free from sin and death. He made it available for us to be in partnership with God. He is our only mediator. To be a faithful partner with God we must (like the Old Testament slave) choose to "sell out to God."  We need be a "doulos for God. He is the boss. We are the servant. (By choice) He bought us with the price of Jesus Christ to set us free. Now we can choose to be a doulos. To sell out to God is to reject all else but God and His word.

This is the first step toward being an effective partner with God. But this does not deal with what the Bible says about being partners one with another. For that understanding we must look to the words diakonos, diakonia, and diakoneo.

    Diakonos: noun, means "a servant"

    Diakonia: noun, means "service" or "what a servant does"

    Diakoneo: verb, means "to serve" or "wait upon"

These three words are all forms of one word. That word is diako,
which means "to run errands."

A ruler does not run errands, nor does an administrator. Within the body of Christ there are no administrators, only ministers. There is no leadership "offices" or "positions", only ministers.  Christ is the only administrator, he is the head of the body. The body only has one head. We are the body. We serve (diakoneo) one another under the leadership of Christ in us, the gift, holy Spirit.

Diakoneo is used is Matthew 4:11: "Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. Angels came and ministered, served, provided his needs, physically, mentally, spiritually to him.

In Luke 10:40: "But Martha was cumbered about much serving." "Serving" is diakonia. Martha was extremely busy being a hostess. (She was preparing food, providing places for people to sit, greeting people as they came in, etc.)

Diakonos's usage is extremely revealing in relation to the role of individuals within the partnership. "But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister". (diakonos) Matt. 20:25,26

Note the contrast that Jesus is emphasizing here. Dominion vs minister. The nations (Gentiles) have rulers (princes) that have privilege over them. We do not. In contrast to the nations, the body of Christ has but one ruler, God through His son, Christ Jesus. We are to serve one another as brethren. Not exalting any man above the other. We minister one to another in equal partnership.

All of us in the partnership have received the gift of Holy Spirit. Every one of us is responsible to minister to the other via the gift of Holy Spirit. "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." I Peter 4:10

As doulos for God, we all have one ministry. We all have one errand to run for God, the ministry of reconciliation: "And all things (new) are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;" II Corinthians 5:18

We are all ministers (diakonos) of reconciliation. God, through Christ has made it available for people to be brought into partnership and fellowship with God. We have been commissioned and sent in place of Christ as messengers to the word with the word of reconciliation. "Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." II Corinthians 4:1-4

We have this ministry of reconciliation, which is understood via the word of God. We can carry out our ministry only to the extent that we understand, believe and carry out the rightly divided word of God.

From the very first, the devil has subverted the word of God. Deceitful use of the Word only comes from the devil. It is his goal to hide the truth of our power, position and ministry.  By blinding the minds of multitudes throughout history, Satan has inspired mankind to build huge organizations with ruling positions to prevent us from rightly dividing the word of truth.

By crafty translation, the Bible becomes powerless. We must be very careful to remove the subtle mysticism from the translations of the word of God. We must cut through the organizational terminology intrinsic to the translations and go straight to the original meaning of the word of God:

Diakoneo is a generic word: It means the same thing every time it is used. It always means "to serve" or "to minister" in the original language.

Diakonos is rendered "to serve" tables in Acts 6:2. But in I Timothy 3:10, 13 where it is erroneously put as "office of a deacon", it still means "to serve" and should be understood accordingly.

All who are born again are diakonos (ministers). All have a diakonia (ministry). We all should be diakoneo. (serving or ministering)

The ministry of reconciliation is the central pivot at which point our partnership with one another revolves around. There are many aspects to this ministry. It is according to our believing of God's word, how we individually carry it out.

Removing pompous, man made titles is the key to understanding the many ministries that combine to accomplish our ministry of reconciliation. We render many "services" to carry out our "service" of reconciliation.

The Bible is a "how to" manual for ministers of reconciliation. It spells out how to carry out the many aspects of our ministry

Link to Chapter 4

    By Neil Tolman

Neil's House