Updated: Apr 8, 2021
ONE BODY LIFE receives scores of comments, inquiries, questions, along with general fellowship in writing on our social media, response to our emails we send out, and from our web site. We try to answer most, but certainly we are not 100% able to answer all—but we try. Occasionally, we find some which provide a “teaching moment” – i.e., we try, for example, to make lemonade out of lemons. We are not perfect but we try to use the “sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” effectively and in pursuit of the “Scripture of Truth” – in fact, Henry Hon has written an entire text entitled ONE TRUTH, which sets forth on this very prospect.
Now, below is an initial comment made in reference to “ministers” and “ministries” – this is, or can be, a most contentious subject – in point of fact, much division has resulted over “ministry” to/in the Body of Christ . . . so here goes; first the person making the “comment/charge” and then Doug Krieger responding from One Body Life (several additional responses follow derived from the original response):
COMMENT/CHARGE BY RESPONDENT:
You will never achieve oneness among divided believers by borrowing terms and pieces of the one ministry of brother [Watchman] Nee and brother [Witness] Lee and trying to bring various current different “ministries” together. In the Bible, there was only one ministry to build up all the believers into the one Body of Christ. When you say “your” ministry, you are referring to all the different ministries, which are different from each other, and teach and emphasize different things. Paul clearly instructed Timothy to charge certain ones not to teach different things but to teach God’s economy, which is in faith (1 Tim. 1:3-4). Which of these “different” ministries is teaching God’s economy, or even knows what it is? There should be no different ministries. The one ministry is needed to build up the one Body. Different ministries divide the one Body. To keep different ministries and try to unite the “likeminded” different ministries is to preserve division in the Body. The Body will only be one when all the “your ministries” are set aside and the believers receive the one ministry for the building up of the one Body. Can you change your goal from bringing different ministries together to bringing all believers under one ministry to build up the one Body?
DOUG KRIEGER'S RESPONSES:
First of all--thank you for your input. The "administration" or "dispensation" (economy) and/or dispensing of God as manifested in the “unsearchable riches of Christ" through gifted members of His One Body ("He gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, etc.” Eph. 4:11-14 or 1 Cor. 12:18-29 - "God has appointed these in the Ekklesia: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, etc." ) . . . is divinely designed for the building up of His One Body "to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). AS:
". . . there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all" (1 Cor. 12:4-7).
Paul is clear:
"Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?" (1 Cor. 12:29).
Of course, the answer is unequivocally: No.
Those "called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor. 1:2) in Corinth still had schisms among them; therefore, Paul enjoined them to be "perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (1 Cor. 1:10). The aforementioned schisms were manifested in brethren dividing over the ministries of Paul, Apollos, Cephas, even of Christ (1 Cor. 12-13). Even so:
"Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase . . . and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor . . . for we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building . . . I (Paul) have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it" (1 Cor. 3:5-6, 8-10).
HAVING GIFTS DIFFERING
It seems abundantly clear that the Head of the Body has gifted certain brethren whose gifts enable them to equip God's people for the work of the ministry in order for them by this equipping to build up the Body of Christ, ultimately manifested in the unity of that very Body of Christ unto full maturity in the measurement of Christ’s stature.
Yes, all ministry should "speak the same thing" without schisms; tragically, these gifted ones become either by dent of their own doing, or the doing of others, uplifted--i.e., the minister's teachings or style become a point of division in the Body rather than building up the general Body of Christ thereby drawing brethren to the head of the Body juxtaposed to drawing God's people under any given minister. The minister can be appreciated, respected, and loved but "comparing ourselves with themselves we are not wise" - there should be no competition, no comparing, no categorizing among ministers or ministries within the general Body of Christ (2 Cor. 10:12).
MINISTERIAL ISSUES DIVIDING WORKERS IN PHILIPPI
Yes, different ministries can divide the Body of Christ as seen in Corinth or in Philippi. To the Philippians Paul encouraged them (specifically, several sisters "who labored with me in the gospel" [viz. Euodia and Syntyche] who were enjoined to be of the "same mind in the Lord" [Phil. 4:2-3]) to "strive together" (lit. "team up" as in a wrestling match - tag team) "for the faith of the gospel" thereby putting to flight in defeating "your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition [the adversary's destruction] but to you [who strive together] of salvation, and that from God" (Phil. 1:27-28).
It is clear that Paul most definitely had a ministry to the Nations and Peter to Judah, the Jews (of course, there was crossover). The ultimate aim of all ministry should be to the building up of His One Body. We do not believe that this can be achieved by a "one-man ministry" or Apostle or Prophet or Teacher. Even when it comes to functioning together in an “ekklesia environment” there is wide diversity (or should be). In His ekklesia: "each of you has" (e.g., "Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation"--1 Cor. 14:26) and "one by one" (e.g., "For you can all prophesy one by one" - 1 Cor. 14:31).
The determination of what does and does not constitute the economy of God (how God dispenses of His grace and goodness) is judged by the result of the person's ministry (viz., the "proof is in the pudding"). If that ministry results in "whose God is their belly" wherein that minister/ministry "talks a good game" but only draws the "sheep" to himself/herself without venturing in and/or "teaming up" with other ministers/ministries or refuses to permit those within their sphere of ministry to "meet and greet" God's people (Romans 16:1-16) - then they can only be those mentioned by Paul in Romans 16:17-18:
"Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly [Phil. 3:19--viz., "enemies of the cross of Christ"], and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple."
THE ROMAN CATHOLIC DOGMA AND OTHER "SUPERIOR MINISTRIES"
The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) has signaled to all who call upon the Name of the Lord that they alone are the singular determinant concerning the "economy of God" (although they may NOT express it in those terms) . . . that they alone know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, AND for that matter, there are others to which this person who commented alludes who replicate the same dogma. The RCC did not (and deep down inside, still do not) tolerate diversity in the Body of Christ as manifested by other ministers/ministries which are/were NOT in compliance with the RCC's Papal ministerium/jurisdiction.
No, there can be a distinction of ministries but our unity is inseparable—even Catholic dogma now recognizes the viability of other Christians outside their ministerium; however, they beckon all to return to the “Mother Church.” Beyond the RCC itself, which would be an even greater extreme, would be those who demand either through practice or teaching to "set aside all ministries" (viz., "your ministry") to be under their ministerial jurisdiction/administration.
Indeed, at least the RCC permits sundry "orders" (e.g., Jesuits, Dominicans, Sisters of Mercy, etc.) with their ministry as long as they comply with the overall goals and aspirations of the Papacy. The "one ministry" of the RCC has been tragically duplicated by scores of ministries which claim the mantle of "I am of Christ." These replicas of the RCC have in most cases become some of the most sectarian and divisive extensions within Christendom--in point of glaring fact, the "I am of Christ" schism is perhaps the most insidious of all because it presents itself as the pinnacle of unity while utterly isolating itself from other members of His One Body. None of these ministries can be accused of not bringing souls to Jesus Christ--they all in some form "preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill" (Phil. 1:15).
The above vociferously proclaim their "ground of unity" is the singular platform on which the Ekklesia must be built. "Setting aside all ministry" to "receive the one ministry for the building up of the one Body" may sound like a terrific unifier but it is laced with the poisonous seeds of "pontification, pride, arrogance, and isolation." Yes, all "ministry" should lead to the Unity of the Body of Christ but the establishment of another "ministry" which can by definition proclaim itself to be that one unifier not only denominates but asserts that it alone is "Of Christ." One Body Life Ministry simply desires to be an answer in alignment (not THE answer) to our Lord's Prayer as found in John 17. We are continuing to unite with other ministries whose style and content varies from our own but whose general thrust in ministry compliments our own--i.e., they too are for the unity of the Body of Christ.
The tragic examples set forth by well-meaning brethren in bringing about the exemplary unity of the Body of Christ in practice and compassion, by, in essence, proclaiming themselves de facto exclusive, primary, absolute "carriers of the creed" and that all those failing and/or coming short of being upon their "ground of unity" (i.e., under their ministry) do not see nor practice the mandatory, and we believe the scriptural, distinction between EKKLESIA and ministry. They have fused the two together so that the "general assemblies" and/or ekklesia who gather together in whatever location they may be found must adhere to their methodologies, instruction, and discipleship/discipline.
MINISTRY UNDER A "CONTROLLING CENTER" - FUSING EKKLESIA & MINISTRY TOGETHER
The sending forth of Barnabas and Saul from Antioch was wrought by "the Holy Spirit" Who said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them . . . then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away" (Acts 13:2-3). The apostolic establishment of sundry ekklesia in various locations and their return to their "base" in Antioch has been taken, unfortunately, by Watchman Nee in his "Further Talks on the Church Life" to mean that Antioch was "controlling" (the word used by Nee and Witness Lee, cir. 1973) to mean:
(1) the workers (viz., Barnabas and Paul);
(2) the churches/ekklesia they established (in Lystra, Derby, Iconium); and
(3) the elders of those churches/ekklesia . . . upon their return to these places outside of Antioch.
This "reconsideration" or "reorganization" of Nee's ministry brought all the "workers" under the administrative jurisdiction of Nee/Lee (as well as the churches and elders of those churches). "Disunity" in ministry was no longer allowed. That would have been "scripturally appropriate" if it had been a "ministry issue" only; however, Nee's ministry (later on, Witness Lee's ministry) not only included those who willingly united under Nee or Lee's ministry (as "workers"), but likewise included all the ekklesia/churches which were being established by their ministry, along with the elders in those localities--therein lies the "multiple rub." Denominations—most of whom operate as specific “ministries” may have strict guidelines concerning their ministry outreach—that is up to them before the Lord; however, when it comes to the practice of “ekklesia” there is a vast difference for all who call upon the Lord’s Name are “members one of another” – we ALL belong to the ekklesia He is building and we all gather together, or should, with great diversity and activities, but the “same Spirit.”
MULTIPLE MINISTRY ENGAGEMENT – “TEAMING UP”
Furthermore, and I (Doug Krieger) would go so far as to say that brethren can readily find themselves in "multiple ministries" just as they may be in fellowship wherever the ekklesia may be gathered. To say that brother so-and-so can only be involved in "xyz" ministry and none other, presents in the minds of some an intolerable confusion as in: How can brother so-and-so be supportive of "my ministry" while still supporting another or "his own" ministry? The tendency of "controlling" both Ekklesia and Workers has no bounds! The fidelity sought by some ministries can be nought but a ruse and/or foil to incarcerate the work of the Holy Spirit into one's "own belly" and appears to this brother to be a form of idolatry and/or a manifestation of the insecurity of that ministry. Just as we are to "equip" the saints for the "work of the ministry" and "not hold on to them" - we should likewise not restrict the "spirit of the prophets which are subject to the prophets" – by demanding such fidelity. Only Christ is the Head of the Ekklesia and of all ministry--"He gave some" and we should keep that perspective in view.
The "Contention" Between Barnabas and Paul
The contention between Barnabas and Paul over the profitability of John Mark appears to have more than one interpretation--i.e., not only were Paul and Barnabas still in ministry, they appear to have taken different "ministerial routes" in effectually building up the one Body of Christ. Paul did not lock into the notion that if John Mark "made off" with Barnabas he would never be profitable for him again. To the contrary, John Mark rebounded and found himself not only writing one of the synoptic gospels, but ministered, once again, with Paul (Col. 4:10).
The notion that when Paul and Barnabas split over the issue of John Mark (Acts 15:39) taking John Mark with him to Cyprus and Paul taking Silas to Syria and Cilicia (Acts 15:40-41) wherein some say we never heard about Barnabas ever again—demonstrating there is but ONE MINISTRY is simply not true. Paul eventually came to Corinth (Acts 18:1) whereupon “he continued there a year and six months” and “many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized” (Acts. 18:11, 8). From the “Spirit-Filled Life Version of the Bible” (NKJV) we read:
“Paul established the church at Corinth about A.D. 50-51, when he spent 18 months there on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1-11). He continued to correspond with the church and care for it after his departure (1 Cor. 5:9; 2 Cor. 12:14). During his three-year ministry in Ephesus, on his third missionary journey (Acts 19; 20:31), he had received disturbing reports concerning moral laxity among believers in Corinth. To remedy the situation, he sent the church a letter (1 Cor. 5:9-11), which has since been lost. Shortly afterward, a delegation sent by Chloe, a member of the church in Corinth, reported to Paul concerning the existence of divisive factions in the church. Before he could write a corrective letter; another delegation from Corinth arrived with a letter asking him certain questions (7:1; 16:17). Paul immediately sent Timothy to Corinth to help correct conditions there (4:17). He then wrote the letter that we know as 1 Corinthians, expecting it to reach Corinth before Timothy (16:10). Since Paul apparently wrote the letter near the end of his Ephesian ministry (16:8), it is dated about A.D. 56.” (P. 1642, Introduction to 1 Corinthians, The Spirit-Filled Life Bible, Jack Hayford, Sr. Editor, Thomas Nelson Pub., 2018)
The issue of John Mark and the contention found in Acts 15:36-41 took place cir. 48-50 A.D. (Wikipedia). Insofar as not hearing anything about Barnabas again we read in 1 Corinthians 9:6:
“Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?”
Paul made an issue of himself and Barnabas who were both working. But this notation concerning Barnabas was written by Paul in 1 Corinthians some 6 to 8 years after their “break-up” over John Mark. Why would Paul even mention the name of Barnabas, along with that of Cephas (Peter) and, obviously, “other apostles.” Why? Because he still considered them all as apostles having the right to a wife and to work while ministering (like Paul and Barnabas).
“No hard feelings, Barnabas; you and I still have the liberty in ministry to work supplying not only our own needs but the needs of our ministries!” (my quote)
Paul obviously heard about the ministry of Barnabas years after the “John Mark incident” – in other words, Paul knew nigh 8 years after the “split” how Barnabas was doing his immediate ministry . . . I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am . . . it was NOT a past history event when Paul and Barnabas were a team it was long after “the incident.”
OBL’s MINISTRY PARTNERS
One Body Life works very closely with Pilgrim House (Dr. Tobih) in Nigeria--are we asking Dr. Tobih to "give up" his ministry for the sake of our own (viz., One Body Life)? Absolutely not! Brother Dayo works with both One Body Life and Pilgrim House and has his own ministry known as the Ekklesia Project. We are working together for the faith of the gospel--and I, Doug Krieger, can do the same with my publication ministry (Tribnet Publications) or with the Commonwealth of Israel Foundation or with Urban Hope Alliance or with Word to Russia or with One Body Life . . . indeed: I do NOT desire to have a "small Christ" nor is the Kingdom of God restricted to one man's ministry! Excluding all other ministries but one's own is an exceedingly inferior manifestation of the unity of the Body of Christ--it should be rejected outright by those who earnestly seek to bring God's people together as the Tabernacle of David so that the rest of mankind might believe, even all the Nations who are called by His name (Acts 15:14-17).
Literally, Nee/Lee took the Roman Catholic model of ministry (no, obviously not all their dogma) and compounded their practice by not only suggesting but declaring only their ministry clearly saw and implemented God's economy, able to administer or dispense the unsearchable riches of Christ (Please see the last segment of this article on being a "part of the pie.").
The preservation of division in the Body of Christ is accomplished by those who claim to hail from the "Church of the Immaculate Perception" wherein their insights bear the pristine imprimatur of "ministerial superiority." Why? Because, frankly speaking, they either purposefully or inadvertently look down their "spiritual noses" upon all others. Indeed, as T. Austin Sparks once said: "Your Christ is too small!"
For any ministry to declare only they find themselves upon the "ground of unity" is stating ". . . you are only one, when you are one with us/me" - or put another way: ". . . only when you identify with our ministry can you truly be unified with the Body of Christ." Any other edifying or building, unless it is building up our ministry, is NOT producing the unity of the Body of Christ--NONSENSE! Alas! To claim only our ministry effectively brings about the Unity of the Body of Christ manifests a presumptuous attitude and practice that leads to the most divisive expression - i.e., "I am of Christ" (1 Cor. 1:12). Again, this is NOT to say that any particular ministry and/or those who "follow in their train" have not ministered Christ to others--just as other denominations/ministries who have done the same in ministering Christ to others.
Yes, it is inevitably tempting to claim "we see more" than anyone else when it comes to the Unity of the Body of Christ--that is and always should be both a warning and encouragement to "walk humbly with the LORD" lest that which we fear the most (disunity) come upon us and devolve into those who "serve . . . their own belly . . . by smooth words and flattering speech [deceiving] the hearts of the simple" (Rom. 16:18). Spiritual pride comes in many forms--just ask Peter who was "not living by the truth of the gospel" when he withdrew himself from Gentile believers to eat only with those believers of Jewish extraction, thereby, with Barnabas, playing the role of the hypocrite (Gal. 2).
Again, yes, different ministries can and do divide the Body of Christ - but in examining 1 Corinthians 11:19 we find that it is "necessary" (viz., "mandatory" and "expedient") "there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you." The "divisions among you" when "you come together" (1 Cor. 11:17) developed into divisiveness and factious expressions of "ministerial alliances" to this apostle and that apostle, etc. But the inevitability of such "factions" not only do NOT have to devolve to that level but provide ample opportunity for those who are "approved" to manifest in keeping the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace (Eph. 4:3). Interestingly enough, "eldership" is not mentioned in either 1 or 2 Corinthians or the book of Romans which provides a stereoscopic view of the Christian life. It is not a matter for "formal leadership" but of those who are mature in Christ--APPROVED of the Lord--to bring God's people back to Christ, our Deliverer, alone as our unity.
Those ministries who acclaim their oneness is expressed by absolute "uniformity" to the ministry--a ministry, they proclaim, as the true Economy of God--are walking not only on thin ice but have fallen through into the trap of "their own belly" vs. the entire Body of Christ. Tragically, many who earnestly desire to "disciple" God's people simply "hold them too closely" and in the name of "responsibility" and "care" refuse in one way or another to "let them pasture" in the green fields and vineyards of the Lord which are much larger than their tiny plot in the Kingdom of His Dear Son! Indeed, they refuse to equip them for the "work of the ministry" and maintain their infantile adherence to the rigidity of their own pulpit in the name of "building up with other brethren" by staying away from other ministries which are inferior to their own!
May God have mercy on us all as we seek the Lord's direction in the implementation of His Economy for the greater good wherein, as Paul said: "I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil" - then, and only then, will "The God of peace . . . crush Satan under your feet shortly" (Rom. 16:20). "Teaming up for the faith of the gospel" (Phil 1:27) is not a suggestion, it is a profound admonition to us all who find ourselves in ministry--"having gifts differing" means just that--we differ but we are still "one in Christ alone." Our attitude should NOT be: "Ask not what I can do for you, but ask what you can do for me!" Such distortion must cease: Let us earnestly "pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may build up another" for the "kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:16-17).
God speed the day "till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God" (Eph. 4:13). Selah
Doug Krieger, One Body Life
According to this “respondent” - the N.T. believers were all to come under the ministry of Paul and Peter who were ONE MINISTRY in two parts. Today we are all supposed to come under the ministry of the ONE MINISTRY which is for the building up of the Body of Christ--i.e., the ministry of the “The Brothers” (for lack of a more specific designation) . . . SHOCK! For only this ministry is a direct descendant of Paul and Peter's ministry--the ministry of “The Brothers” follows Paul and Peter who held to the ONE MINISTRY - no other ministry today on the face of the whole earth is for the One Body of Christ as is "this little ministry" - all other ministries (so-called) are NOT on the teaching of the "ground of unity" – all other ministries are on the ground of confusion.
Where does it say in the Bible that we should "team up for the faith of the gospel” this respondent asks? Paul never did this. By uniting or "teaming up" with other ministries we are compromising the message of the unity of the Body of Christ. These other "so-called ministries" are divisive - they are not for the unity of the Body of Christ, “The Brothers” are, today, the only ONE MINISTRY uniting the Body of Christ--live with it or be doomed!
We at OBL are just copycats of the ministry of the ministry of “The Brothers” - we are hypocrites of the worst order. We foster division by attempting to "team up" (which Paul never did) with other ministries--especially egregious are those ministries which are not on the "ground of unity." We are fostering disunity and division because we are NOT "cutting straight the Word of Truth" (sounds somewhat familiar--they always use the verse: "rightly dividing the Word of Truth" but “The Brothers” add this little twist of the ONE MINISTRY to their dogma.
Hearing this respondent parrot the phraseology of “The Brothers” reminds me of how "Of Christ" they sound and are. Notwithstanding, I took it as a teaching moment but he saw it as a manifestation of my arrogant pride--so be it! My, how is it that such beloved brethren are so bound, enslaved in ONE MINISTRY--he and they are confined, imprisoned in a ministry that is in opposition to the unity of the Body of Christ and they have no idea they are--much like “stringent denominationalism." Tragically, such “straightjacket ministries” have become far too numerous in these latter days. We can only hope and pray that we never find ourselves in such a "spiritual quagmire" - I really feel sorry for these brethren.
In sum, this brother asserts that the one ministry under which we should all come is the ONE MINISTRY which just happens to be the sole recipient of Paul and Peter's ONE MINISTRY. All believers in the NT were supposed to come under Paul/Peter's ONE MINISTRY. This ONE MINISTRY business appears nothing more than a repackaging of constriction—nothing more than additional dogma to deceive the simple with “smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:18) . . . they're always coming up with some weird expression to validate their isolation from the rest of the Body of Christ - everyone's in Babylon, Confusion, but “The Brothers” Ministry is “THE ONE MINISTRY.”
Bro. Femi (in response to your positive remarks—Femi works with OBL in West Africa) yes, the exclusivity of this so-called ONE MINISTRY is most subtle. In a real sense ALL ministry should lead to the building up of the Body of Christ. One could ask the question with this brother involved in THE ONE MINISTRY: Was the ministry of Apollos, which was obviously not the same as Paul's, nor was it "under Paul," still watering God’s field?
"Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase . . . So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to HIS OWN LABOR. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it" (1 Cor. 3:5-10).
EACH MINISTER LABORS AND RECEIVES THEIR OWN REWARD OR LOSS
Clearly, we have our OWN LABOR and we will be accorded individual reward if one builds with gold, silver, precious stone:
". . . each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test EACH ONE'S WORK, of what sort it is...If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire" (1 Cor. 3:13-15).
In this sense Paul and Apollos were involved in "ministry together" but EACH was/is accountable for their own "work." Neither he who plants (Paul) nor he who waters (Apollos) is anything. "Each . . . [is rewarded for his] OWN LABOR." We labor together (WONDERFUL) but we are rewarded individually. This demonstrates that Paul and Apollos had different ministries; yet, they labored together - the one planted, the other watered, but only God can give forth the increase!
Paul did NOT "control" the movements of Apollos as Apollos ministered - yet, they did work together--they "teamed up for the faith of the gospel."
"Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time; however, he will come when he has a convenient time" (1 Cor. 16:12).
Clearly, Apollos had his "own ministry" and, when "convenient" he merged it with that of Paul's efforts--"Apollos watered!" "Paul planted!"
It wasn't that the believers in Corinth should not have had separate ministers or ministries given to them but that the saints in Corinth on occasion lifted up individual ministries and "gathered themselves to them" - the worst "spirit" of which was “I AM OF CHRIST.” This ministry "stood apart" from the others - and, because it "sounded so sanctimonious" and spot on - it represented the most egregious of all the others! I believe this brother who commented concerning ONE MINISTRY and many others attempt to take the "high ground" by asserting that they represent "I AM OF CHRIST" and in so doing they are of the ONE MINISTRY (which is OF CHRIST)--meaning, the other ministries are divisive or inferior.
Paul's attitude was more than gracious and accommodating for other ministers or ministries. He realized that every minister of the gospel was accountable to the Head of the Body--he was NOT to interfere with their ministries but he found ways to work with them and he accorded them credibility, respect, and considered them CO-LABORERS in God's field (which was the whole Body of Christ). Yes, he considered that "he who plants and he who waters are ONE" - that's a wondrous admission of a "divine viewpoint" - as far as Paul was concerned "we are God's fellow workers" and God's people are the "field" (1 Cor. 3:9). The INCREASE is of God: "God who gives the increase" - God makes it grow - we contribute together in doing our different ministries in His field but GOD GIVES THE GROWTH, the INCREASE. This is a marvelous expression of HUMAN-DIVINE COOPERATION. We are NOT robots--God could do the whole thing by Himself--but He deigns to work with poor, puny man so that we (God and man) can rejoice over the harvest!
"Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively (planting and watering) transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up (e.g., I am of Paul, etc.) one against the other. For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (1 Cor. 4:6-7).
Yes, once you boast in so-and-so's ministry (differing one from another), it's as if "you had not received it" in the first place! May the Lord spare us from the ONE MINISTRY SYNDROME by comparing it with any others - for in so doing it is as though we had never received the ONE MINISTRY in the first place! As the Lord continues to grant us further revelation into the "Mystery of Christ" - yes, the PROFOUND MYSTERY is "Christ and His Ekklesia" (Eph. 5:32) - let us "not compare ourselves with ourselves and with some who commend themselves" (2 Cor. 5:12) for in so doing we are not only unwise, we are exceedingly full of pride, even divisive. And, I believe, if we persist in such a "superiority attitude" the Lord can readily send us a "messenger of Satan" as a thorn IN THE FLESH lest we be "exalted above measure." Yes, we may experience "My grace is sufficient for you" but God has a way of humbling us lest we be exalted above measure "in our own eyes."
Continue to "labor together" in Christ!
Which PART of ONE MINISTRY do you not get?
There are some who claim that their ministry parallels and/or is in alignment with the New Testament’s New Covenant which formally commenced the building of the Lord’s Ekklesia which He said He would build (Matt. 16). They likewise claim that they are but a “part” of this “unique ministry today.” The question abides: Which “part” are they talking about?
I can claim that Billy Graham was “a part” of the New Testament’s New Covenant plan and program for the ages and that he too was in alignment with “both the content and pattern of the N.T. ministry in the Scriptures.” When brethren claim such a participatory “part” of the ministry of the New Covenant—do they simply do this in generalities or do they actually mention specific ministries which parallel their own? Do they consider themselves the latest “part” of the past 2,000 years of Church History dating back to the early apostles and prophets - that they stand on all their shoulders - that they are the current and singular “part” of this march through history? There are many ways to look at “a part.”
“Part” by definition means part of a whole—and I would suggest it must be in present time—not comparing ourselves to past history but “what have you done for me lately?” Furthermore, if a ministry is “part” of a whole—that is, they’re not the only ones propagating the message of Christ as part and parcel of the New Covenant—then have they identified other compatriots? Moreover, have they actually worked with their contemporaries and complimentary ministries?
It is entirely one thing to be utterly committed to ONE MINISTRY but it is entirely another matter to cooperate and even to integrate with other ministries of the New Covenant. There should be no competition among ministries, nor should we “compare ourselves with ourselves” nor categorize the effectiveness of various ministries.
Our ministry can claim all day long that we are but a “part of the whole” – but what does that look like? How do you measure such a “part?” Is it possible that “a part” can be entirely doing “its own thing” without working with any other part? I don’t think that’s what Paul had in view when he wrote his letter to the brethren in Philippi. Nor does one get the impression that Paul’s ministry was the only “part” of any significance in the early days of the Ekklesia Jesus was building. He overtly stated to the Corinthian believers by emphatically stating: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (1 Cor. 3:6). Moreover, it seems obvious that “. . . as the Lord has assigned to each his task” (1 Cor. 3:5) connotes Paul had his ministry and Apollos had his ministry—they were distinct but worked in tandem with one another.
To suggest, as the respondent has to OBL, that “teaming-up” for the “faith of the gospel” is spreading confusion and division within the Body of Christ; well, frankly, that "insight" is patently false at best, and a distortion of the Word of God at its worst, for it demands uniformity, not unity, in the Body of Christ.
My late father-in-law used to say: “Don’t listen to what a person or minister says—listen to what they do!” There is much wisdom in that statement. Some brethren are so enthralled with their ministry that they neither receive nor integrate the ministry of others with their own. Yes, they take from the ministry of others that which will enhance their own ministry, but fail to give any credit whatsoever from their benefactors (especially, their contemporary benefactors). Worse, they are so caught up in what they are doing in their own ministry, they simply have no time to cooperate, even in a minimal way with, let’s say, an Apollos. Why? Because their ministry is totally “self-contained”—i.e., they can do it all: plant, water, cultivate, weed, nourish, disciple, and eventually harvest.
Do they provide a platform for other ministries as an expression of their “teaming-up”? Tragic would be the case if they are using other ministries to make themselves look good! Shouldn’t our attitude be to “prefer one another” – and to make other ministries look good, if you would?
“Be devoted to one another with [authentic] brotherly affection [as members of one family], give preference to one another in honor” (Rom. 12:10 – Amplified Version).
Some interpret this verse and/or practice this by showing those in their own orbit of fellowship or “church” such preference; however, they begrudgingly distribute any such preference to other ministries other than their own—at best they MAY mention other ministries “in passing” . . . almost as “also rans” but hardly to their standard.
Really, being “a part” is an awesome responsibility because it is a recognition that the “lord has assigned to each his task” and we should honor, respect and appreciate that assignment given by the Head of the Body by working together, striving together, teaming-up together. May our “part” be not in word only but in deed and in truth. Pastor Smith or Elder Jones have the responsibility to maintain their part of the vineyard of the Lord but are they able to cultivate their portion of the Lord’s vineyard by working with similar folks doing the same? Ah, yes, therein lies the rub, doesn’t it? Have you ever noticed—“All ministries are equal but some are more equal than others?” Could it be that’s why Paul said:
“So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow . . . The one who plants and the one who waters have ONE PURPOSE, and they will EACH be rewarded according to their own labor” (1 Cor. 3:8--NIV)?
What Does Ekklesia Look Like?
Although we did not touch upon "What does Ekklesia look like in contrast to Ministry?" - allow me to briefly state again: There is quite the difference. "God has placed in the Ekklesia Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, workers of miracles, then gifts of healing, etc." (1 Cor. 12:27-31) . . . so that if a prophet enters into an "Ekklesia environment" where there is the "flavor of the Spirit's one by one and each one has"--yes, a participatory and contributory atmosphere--does that mean the prophet should leave his gifting outside the gathering? Hardly so!
"Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said" (1 Cor. 14:29, NIV).
What we're witnessing here is this: No one is unilaterally "dominating" the assembly--to the contrary, where's the other prophet or two? Where's the discerning? In a given gathering of Ekklesia the entire "taste" of that meeting encourages generous participation; however, "ministering and/or equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry" is far more structured. One can be interrupted in an Ekklesia (1 Cor. 14:30) if a revelation comes to another member--we're not talking pandemonium here because everything can be done properly and in order in that "God is not a God of disorder but of peace" (1 Cor. 14:33 . . . and it should be that way "in all the Ekklesia of the Lord's people" [1 Cor. 14:33b]). But tell me, are ministers of the gospel training the brethren on how to be interrupted or how prophets, when sharing, ought to do so in twos and threes? Am I missing something here . . . where's the last time you heard from the pulpit or at a conference where "pew sitters" ought to bring something to share with others at a gathering of Christians about their own experiences of the Lord from His Word while on their job, at home, with friends, etc.?
Those gifted members of the Body should be equipping their members for Ekklesia-style gatherings. All gifted "equippers" and all who assemble together under His "Banner of Love" (i.e., all who call upon the name of the Lord) are members of His Ekklesia, His Temple/Building; but these equippers should train the general Body of Christ to come together as His Ekklesia where Paul declared:
"You can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged" (1 Cor. 14:31).
Now then, "all" means "all" - not just those two or three prophets. Careful now--don't do this business where "all saints are equal; some are more equal than others." "Prophesy in turn"--because of the confusion between ministry and Ekklesia-style gatherings--is usually phrased in this manner: "It's my turn again folks--but this time I'll make it real interesting!" That's not the atmosphere of an Ekklesia gathering. You may be thinking I hail from the French Revolution demanding EGALITARIANISM! No, I hail from the Body of Christ where "each one has" and "one by one" (1 Cor. 14:26, 31) and where we are all "members one of another" (Rom. 12:5) and where "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28).
Well, let's just cut to the chase here: Consider it a terrific gathering of 20 or so folks, all of whom are able to share their portion of their experience with the Lord. So if sister Sadie at 81 reads a little Scripture that blessed her heart this week--REJOICE, you've probably had a stunning example of Ekklesia! On the other hand, if you want a lot more profound teaching experience from a gifted teacher--then mosey on over to the gifted teacher's ministry center and enjoy--he just might be enlightened enough to tell you TO GO AND PRACTICE what he's taught you and show up with other brethren and celebrate the Ekklesia He is building! But if he does show up with Sadie, just remember, he's still got his gift of teaching but he's making lots of room for the Sadies, so that "you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged" (1 Cor. 14:31). "Teacher, just remember this: 'Little is much, when God is in it!'"
Notwithstanding this flavorful Ekklesia environment, this ONE MINISTRY attitude claims they match both the content and the pattern of the N.T. ministry (viz., genuinely working together for the faith of the gospel) with other likeminded ministries. Oh, really? Then could I ask why we hear they vociferously oppose those ministries who seek to "team-up with other ministries”?
I am not suggesting that brethren with a thriving ministry should devote inordinate time and energy on behalf of other ministries at the expense of their own . . . but it is far more blessed to give than to receive. Working together with other ministries should be the norm, not the exception. Or, does one’s overweening sense of one’s proprietary ministry trump all others? Claiming that one’s ministry and teaching, as well as practice, matches both the pattern and content of ministry witnessed in the New Testament, while at the same time “keeping to themselves” – not allowing other ministries to share ministerial platforms of their own ministry (either in speaking, writing, gospel preaching, giving, helping each other, etc.) belies the reality of their isolation from the rest of the Body of Christ and perpetuates a sense of their own ministerial superiority or insecurities.
The “Gospel of Salvation” and the “Gospel of Peace" is a shared experience. Once the world sees how “we love one another” (especially, the various factions [didn't say factious] among us) then they will believe. The “gospel of the kingdom” which shall be preached in all the world is a diverse but United Kingdom and that’s really good news considering the disquieting confusion, hatred, animosity, jealousy, deception, ethic/ideological wars, and egotistical behavior displayed within the kingdoms of this world at the end of the age (Matthew 24-25). Duly noted: Smack dab in the middle of 1 Corinthians 11-14 we have 1 Corinthians 13 known as the LOVE CHAPTER--that's what brings about Ekklesia, not just a happy marriage!
I hope and pray that this final portion on THE MINISTRIES IN THE BODY OF CHRIST and the ONE MINISTRY is divisive is understood in its larger context in today’s multiplicity of ministries now on the earth. Each ministry should examine their own goals and aspirations in light of the Word of God and see if their practice matches their confession of being a “part of the whole.” Truly “talk is cheap” but division is costly.
May the United Kingdom of David be manifested in these last days in light of “that they all may be one.”
P.S. – Please, get “upset if you will” at me, Doug Krieger, if you do not concur with my responses—I take the full “blame” for any comments made. My desire is the building up of the One Body of Christ but in blatant opposition to those “ministries whose god is their belly!”