In a real and practical sense, the New Testament ministry is the completing ministry of Paul and the mending ministry of John. Peter, Jude, Luke, James, Mark, and others had also their portion, but the main ones are Paul with his completing ministry and John with his mending ministry.
Paul unveiled to us the great mystery, Christ and the church, which comes into being through the continual dispensing of the Triune God into man to regenerate man, renew man, transform man, sanctify man, and eventually glorify man to be the corporate Body of Christ, the new man, the warrior, the kingdom of God, and the masterpiece of God.
It seems that Paul spoke about everything there is to know – why do we still need John? After Paul wrote his epistles to unveil God’s economy, the central line of the divine revelation, there were many heresies that came in, making holes in the church and in the “Christian net”.
There was therefore the need for mending, and after the Lord has transformed the Apostle John from one of the “sons of thunder” into a person of life, light, love, and fellowship, he could write his gospel, epistles, and the book of revelation to mend the church. Only those who are firstly mended by God can be used by Him to mend others.
To mend may be accurately yet minimally be understood as repairing something, as in repairing a tear in a garment – but to mend is much more! The way God mends the church is not through teachings or doctrines but by gaining persons who are qualified and willing to be one with Him in mending the church.
First, God gained John by working Himself into him, building Himself into him, and training him, and then through John the Lord could mend the church and the Christian net.
Ministry in the real New Testament sense is not a gift or an endowment but the costly working of God Himself in our being through the killing of the cross and the power of resurrection for the all-inclusive Christ to be wrought into every fibre of our being.
John – From a Son of Thunder to a Person of Life
How did the Lord gain John to be, from a son of thunder ready to call fire from heaven on those who rejected the Lord, to one who is full of life, light, love, and fellowship? In the Gospels we see more about how Peter was dealt with by the Lord, but there are at least three distinct places where the Gospels speak about John.
If we see what John was in his flesh and what he became when the Lord transformed him, we will be full of hope and joy concerning our own situation and condition before the Lord – He can do it in us too!
- In Luke 9:51-56 there was a village of Samaritans that didn’t receive the Lord, so John and James asked, Lord, should we call fire from heaven and consume them? Jesus rebuked them and said, You don’t know what kind of spirit you are. John’s spirit was defiled by his impetuosity – he was acting quickly without thought or care, with a sudden and forceful energy or emotion. John was a “son of thunder”, booming forth with impetuosity. How can such a person mend anything? As soon as he would see a problem he would react and “call fire from heaven!”
- In Mark 9:38 John told the Lord, Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us. In His reply to John, the Lord Jesus mended him by dealing with his narrowness and divisiveness, and then said, “Everyone shall be salted with fire”. This may mean that the Lord salted John with fire to purge, kill, and eliminate this narrow and divisive element in his being. John later spent long decades being salted with fire so that his entire being would be mended, otherwise in his being he would have damaged more than mended…
- In Matt. 20:21-23 and Mark 10:37 we see that John and James desired to sit on the Lord’s right and left side when He came in His kingdom. The Lord told them, Yes, you will drink the cup and you will be baptised with my baptism, but it is not up to me to say who will get the reward (paraphrasing). They were ambitious for a position, desiring to be the first and foremost. After the Lord’s resurrection, James was martyred early, while John lived a long life of martyrdom, and his ministry was manifested when he was 90 years old or so.
This was John: ambitious for position, narrow and divisive, and impetuous. But when we read his gospels, epistles, and book of Revelation, we see that he is invisible and transparent, referring to himself as, “the disciple whom the Lord loved”. All we see is life and light, love and fellowship.
What has happened in the meantime? Instead of being narrow John now says, For God so loved the world (John 3:16). Instead of being ambitious he introduces himself as a slave of God and a companion to all the brothers (Rev. 1:1).
John was “salted with fire” and fully mended by the Lord, and when the situation in the church was in need, he came and wrote words of mending – through him the mending flows in life! Through his Gospel, Epistles, and the book of Revelation the church was equipped, attuned, harmonised, completed, and prepared so that it may be built up.
The Ministry of the Apostle John was a Ministry of Mending
The Apostle Paul had a completing ministry (Col. 1:25) but soon after his death there was a damage done to his ministry and many heresies and problems came in (see 2 Tim. 1:15). Satan has insidiously brought in heresies concerning the person of Christ and other false teaching to damage the church (see 1 John 2:18-19).
Because the damage has been done, there was the need for a mending ministry. John’s writings repaired the torn fabric of the church. John, who was mending the nets when he was called by the Lord (Matt. 4:21) came in to mend the holes in the church, in the Christian net.
His main emphasis was LIFE (1 John 1:1-2). This is why we also need to emphasize life, because life is all we need, and life can mend us. There are many holes in the church and in our Christian life today, and we desperately need the mending ministry of John.
For example, in John 21 we see that they caught a lot of fish at the Lord’s word, yet “the net was not broken”. When those who go out and bring in “schools of fish” by preaching the gospel – do we have “holes in our net” that let the new ones slip away? Take a look at Christianity today – there are so many heresies, schools of doctrine, and hole after hole.
The Lord needs some who would open to Him to be mended by Him so that they would cooperate with Him and mend the others. The apostle John was one who was mended by the Lord, and he could mend the church. He wrote his Gospel to testify to the fact that Jesus Christ is God (John 1:1; 20:28) and he wrote his first Epistle to confirm that Christ had truly come in the flesh (1 John 4:2-3).
When there’s a hole in our jacket, for instance, there needs to be a mending with a similar pattern in a stronger way. In the Lord’s recovery today the Lord is mending us, bringing us back to the original, in a strengthened way.
In this sense of being mended to be brought back to the original, John’s ministry is stronger than Paul’s ministry. Paul speaks about the church as the Body of Christ, the fullness of the One who fills all in all, the household of God, the house of God, the kingdom of God, the bride, and the warrior. But John speaks of the church as the lampstand, and he tells us that the church consummates in the New Jerusalem!
Paul completed the revelation of God in the Bible, but in 20-25 years after his death there were many holes in the church. Some denied that Christ came in the flesh, other denied that Christ is God, and then some people left – leaving holes in the church.
John came in with his writings to mend the church, and his Gospel is the conclusion / last word of the Gospels, his epistles are the conclusion / last word of the epistles, and his book of Revelation is the conclusion and last word of the entire Bible.
How much we need the mending ministry of John! How much we need to open to the Lord to show us what are the “holes” in our church life and Christian life. How much we need the divine life to mend us and bring us to the beginning, the original intention of God! The torn fabric of the church needs to be repaired and mended by the ministry of John.
Lord Jesus, thank You for becoming a man, redeeming us, regenerating us, transforming us, renewing us, sanctifying us, and eventually glorifying us. Thank You for being in Your heavenly ministry interceding for us and ministering God into us. Lord, we open our whole being to You. You see our real situation and condition. You see the holes in our Christian life and church life. We open to Your mending, caring, supplying, and completing. Carry out what is in Your heart in all the churches for the building up of Your Body!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my Christian experience, bro. Ron Kangas’ speaking in the message for this week, and portions from, The Mending Ministry of John (ch. 1, by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, The Mending Ministry of John, week 1 / msg 1, The Mending Ministry of Life (you can buy this morning revival book here).
- Further reading: msg. 1 in, The Life-Study of John.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Christ to me is so subjective, / Life imparting all the way; / As the Spirit He revives me / And refreshes day by day. [by A.B.Simpson]
# The divine Trinity spreads through our soul, / To saturate our whole being, life’s goal; / We become members, the Body of Christ, / Built up together by Christ’s saving life.
# Out of death and into life, / Done with all divisive strife! / Free indeed to love but Thee, / Growing to maturity!