The unique principle for the work in the New Testament is that the work of the Holy Spirit can be revealed only at the time of ministering to the Lord.
We see this in Acts 13:1-2, where there were some brothers in the church in Antioch who were ministering to the Lord and fasting, and the Holy Spirit set aside two or them for the work to which He has called them.
It was not human opinion, democratic voting, a board of missionaries, volunteering from the side of these two, or the church that initiated this move and work, but it was the Holy Spirit, the pneumatic Head of the Body, who initiated it.
This shows that all the work for God should be initiated by God and not by us. We may have the desire to serve God and work for Him, but we should not initiate anything; what we should do is simply minister to the Lord and be in His presence, opening our whole being to Him, and let Him initiate any work.
All our work and service in the church must be initiated by God and must be according to His desire, otherwise we may commit the iniquity of the sanctuary in our service to God.
Everything in our service to God must come out from Him, being according to His perfect will. Everything in our service to God must be through Him, according to His power and energy. Everything in our service to God must be unto Him, for His radiant expression and testimony.
Anything that we initiate to do for the Lord is presumptuous, violates the principle of God being the source, and will become nothing but a religious activity devoid of the presence of Christ.
Too much Christian work has been done in the name of God throughout the ages without first ministering to the Lord, without having God as the source, and without the presence of Christ. We should be very cautious when initiating anything in the work for the Lord.
What we should do is, as the Lord expressed His desire in Ezek. 44 and the five brothers did in Acts 13, minister to the Lord and be one with Him in His presence.
This will save us from committing the iniquity of the sanctuary, and this will result in ministering to the Lord rather than just outwardly ministering to His house.
And when we serve God, we should not sweat, that is, we should not serve God by our human effort and zeal but come to the Lord again and again, deal with Him properly, and work by His power, in His strength, and under His blessing.
When we take God as our source and we labor one with Him in His power, we will accomplish the most amount of work with the least amount of strength.
The Work of the Holy Spirit can only be Revealed at the Time of Ministering to the Lord
We need to be brought back to the pure divine revelation in the Word of God and be unveiled concerning how is the work for God initiated and carried out.
In Acts 13:1-2 we see how the Lord Himself, as the Head of the Body, initiated the work through a group of people who were ministering to the Lord and fasting. This was a new beginning in the work, a pure beginning, an initiation of the work not by man or by the church but by the Holy Spirit, the pneumatic Head of the Body.
As the five brothers were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Set apart for Me now Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. This is the unique principle for the work of the New Testament.
The work of the Holy Spirit can be revealed only when a group or people are ministering to the Lord, open to Him, and allowing Him to initiate, call, and send out whom He wants to send out for His work.
If we do not place ministering to the Lord as the top priority, everything will be out-of-order, for we will initiate thing, we will validate decisions by men, and we will not take Christ as the Head, source, energy, and power for the work.
Only the Holy Spirit has the authority to commission men to work. What the Holy Spirit has begun in Antioch was without any organization of a mission, without the raising of funds, without human ordination or decision, and without any human plan or method.
This work was initiated by five faithful and seeking members of the Body of Christ who have Christ, the Head of the Body, an opportunity through their ministering and fasting that He, as the Spirit, would set them apart to carry out His great commission.
In order for us to have a move absolutely by the Spirit and under the leading of the Spirit, we need to minister to the Lord. The work of the Holy Spirit can only be revealed at the time of ministering to the Lord.
May we be those who do not despise or run from having a personal time with the Lord, but may we place ministering to the Lord as our top priority.
May the Lord grace us that we would not consider it a suffering (or a waste of time) for us to be in the sanctuary of God, that is, for us to minister to the Lord.
A day in the sanctuary of God is much better than a thousand days in another place, for it is here that we are infused with God, He reveals to us the desire of His heart, and He can have a way to commission and work.
May we treasure the work of the Holy Spirit and spend much time with the Lord personally and intimately in the mingled spirit, to give Him a way to initiate the work and do everything in us and through us.
Lord Jesus, grace us that we would not consider it a suffering to be with You in the sanctuary. May we treasure our time alone with You, our time of ministering to You in the mingled spirit. Oh Lord, may we be those who place ministering to the Lord as our top priority, so that we may have Your leading, Your infusion, and Your speaking. May we be those ministering to the Lord so that the Holy Spirit would have a way to initiate His work and commission those whom He wants to send to do the work of the Holy Spirit.
God doesn’t need “Volunteers” for His Army – He Drafts those He needs for His Army
Brother Watchman Nee makes a very clear distinction between being a “volunteer in God’s army” and being “drafted by God for His army”.
On the one hand, we all should be the Nazarites, those who are voluntarily consecrated one; our intention, desire, and yearning should be that we would be one with the Lord willingly and voluntarily for His purpose to be accomplished.
On the other hand, we should not initiate anything in God’s work, neither should we be the source of doing something for God. God doesn’t want men to volunteer for His army; He only has conscripted, that is, drafted, soldiers.
In a country there are two types of soldiers: those who volunteer for the army and those who are drafted by the country to join the army. It is noble and good to desire to join the army, but when the country asks for your service, that is even better.
In doing things for God in His work, we need to not be “volunteer soldiers”, the “lone rangers” who take justice in their hands and do what they think it’s right for the Lord. The Lord wants to draft the soldiers He wants to use for His interests.
No one, because of his preference, should go do something for the Lord; no matter how much we love the Lord and desire to do things for Him, we cannot and should not initiate anything in our work for the Lord.
God’s work cannot be accomplished according to our will – God’s work is completely His, and we need to check if the work we do for the Lord is of ourselves or of the Lord.
We need to ask ourselves, Are we volunteering ourselves to the Lord for this, or did the Lord really call us, “draft us”, and send us in the Body to do this?
Only the Holy Spirit has the authority to commission men to work; in this matter, the church has no authority at all, and no board or group can do this in God’s name. May we learn to minister to the Lord and not merely minister to the house.
May we be those who minister to the Lord directly so that, in His time and in His way, the Holy Spirit may set us apart for the work to which He has called us. God desires to have those who will minister to Him directly and receive the commission by the Holy Spirit directly.
Ministering to the Lord doesn’t mean that we forsake all the work on the outside, that is, that we stay at home and minister to the Lord, and let others do all the work. Rather, as we serve the Lord in the church in many practical and necessary things, we need to inwardly minister to the Lord.
Our work outwardly should be based on our ministry to the Lord inwardly. Our going forth should be based on our ministry to the Lord. There’s a great difference between ministering to the Lord issuing in our working for Him, and working for the Lord coming out of our desires and preferences.
Lord Jesus, cause us to see the difference between serving God out of our ministry to the Lord, and serving God out of our preference and natural desire. Make us those who minister to You directly and receive the commission by the Holy Spirit directly. We don’t want to do our own work for the Lord; we want to minister to the Lord in spirit so that we may be commissioned to do the work of the Holy Spirit. Lord Jesus, gain in us what You are after. Gain us to be those who minister to the Lord and who prioritize our time with You!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by Ed Marks for this week, and portions from, Collected Works of Watchman Nee, vol. 11, “Ministering to the House or to God?” as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Crystallization-study of Ezekiel (2), msg. 9 (week 21 in the HWMR), Ministering to the Lord to Enjoy Him as the Hidden Manna, the Budding Rod, and the Law of Life.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Take time to behold Him, / Let Him be thy guide; / And run not before Him / Whatever betide; / In joy or in sorrow / Still follow thy Lord, / And, looking to Jesus, / Still trust in His Word. (Hymns #643)
# Day by day I look forward to / That time I spend with You. / Just as Mary poured her love out, / O Lord, I would too. / Grant me, Lord, a heart / that’s single and true. / And a daily life that’s living just by You. (song on spending time with God)
# To the holiest often come, / In the spirit touch the throne, / Let the Lord flow thru in prayer, / Thus the building work is done. (Hymns #849)