The most important job (responsibility) given to any minister is that they “faithfully speak” God’s truth (word) to others. This can be in counsel, preaching, or simply general conversation with others. The words of those who are ordained are often given higher regard by others and often tend to “carry more weight” in the eyes of others. Therefore, a higher standard and responsibility is upon every minister, because if their words are not in unity with God, it can lead to confusion, division, bad attitudes, and rebellion in others. Such influence should never be taken lightly, but in the history of the Church that influence has been taken lightly, not even grasped, and has far too often been used to wrongly sway others to their “own” thinking that is not in harmony with the Church and God.
So there are many ways a minister is to faithfully speak God’s word toward others and this is not simply limited to the few who are most visibly seen and recognized by the sermons that are given Sabbath to Sabbath. Again, this “faithful speaking” can be done through various ways spiritually, including what is written, even lived through example to others, and in any number of scenarios that involve conversation with others.
Yet God desires that all who are called into the Church and those called into the ministry will serve Him faithfully. However, it is also by design and purpose that all have free will and free choice. God does not “make” (force) members of the Body of Christ to be faithful, but He will “make” (create and transform) them to become faithful if that is their desire to yield to such a process working in their life. The same is true concerning the ministry. God does not force them to be faithful. So when all is said and done, every individual is personally responsible to judge what they hear and what they see (examples) from all others as to what is in unity with God and what is not in unity and harmony with God. No one can blame another, not even a minister who has gone astray and has begun to speak divisive things, if they follow wrong words or the wrong actions of others.
So as in all of God’s creation, “free will” by its very nature also provides a way of learning and teaching that can be accomplished through no other means. The angelic realm experienced the result of this as nearly a third of those spirit-composed beings chose to quit yielding themselves to the “way” of their Creator. Two thirds of the angelic realm were made stronger and more fully convicted of God’s ways through this experience.
By our very nature as human beings, whether a member of the Body of Christ or one who has also been given a responsibility added to their life by being ordained, some will choose a “way” that is not of God and will then become a vessel to dishonor.
God designed this process of “free will” to work in both the angelic realm and the Church in order to try, test, cleanse, and refine His creation so that it can come into great unity and oneness with Him. This has even more to do with what Paul was saying concerning the structure of the ministry in the Church, as this aspect of free choice and free will exists in the process that Paul was describing about the structure of the ministry and its purpose in Ephesians.
Paul went on to say that this structure was for “the edifying of the Body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12). Others can take these things that Paul is describing as though the ministry is close to being perfected or highly perfected, since its purpose is for the “perfecting” (maturing) of the saints, along with the work of God’s service (ministry) to His Church, and the edifying of the Body of Christ. Certainly, the goal of “all” who are in God’s Church should be to seek to faithfully serve God’s Church (one another) in such a way. The reality is that all in the Body have human nature and some turn away from God by free choice – even in the ministry. But such examples of becoming vessels to dishonor also serve to perfect (mature) and ultimately edify God’s Church – for those who become more fully sobered to reality and the capabilities of their own human nature, as well as becoming more fully humbled, guarded, and strengthened in wisdom.
This word “edify” in English means “to instruct, to improve morally, and to profit spiritually.” Vessels to honor and vessels to dishonor can produce this edification if one is yielding themselves to God’s spirit to work in their life. The real life experience of this process of edification working in ones life is two-fold. It will produce a positive, inspiring, and enjoyable result that can be received from those who are faithfully serving God, but it can also produce a positive result spiritually from growth in wisdom, spiritual strength, and conviction that can be received through learning from a bad example of a vessel to dishonor that has been unfaithful to God.
It is also interesting to note that the use of this word in Greek that is translated into English as “edifying.” It is composed of two words that mean “to build” and “a dwelling,” which is by implication us as a family, a household, or a temple. This same word is translated as “building” in Ephesians 2: “In whom all the ‘building’ is fitly framed together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for an habitation of God through the spirit” (Eph. 2:21-22).
The purpose for the structure of a physical human ministry is for the maturing of the members of the Church as a means of God “building” (edifying) the Body of Christ. This process is to work in us “until we all come into the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a matured person in the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (into Elohim)” (Eph. 4:13). As we learned all too well after the Apostasy and ever since, this does not occur easily in our life, but it involves numerous battles, testing, fire, heartache, and struggles in life. Conquering human nature in order to bring it into complete subjection to God, as well as fighting against and resisting an evil spirit realm, is not easy. It requires a constant vigilance, never giving in or giving up, and a determined conviction to run the race to the finish. All this requires a growing unity and reliance (in faith) upon God to constantly strengthen and deliver us.
So yes, we are to learn from the bad examples as well. We are to learn from and become wiser from our own mistakes (sins) and those of others, including ministers. The structure of a ministry in the Church has worked to magnify this process – both in that which is faithful and that which is manifested as unfaithful. In the context of these things that have just been covered in Ephesians, it would be good to read some of the verses on your own that follow what has been quoted to this point.
In the nearly 2,000 years of God’s Church, the more recent history of the ministry in the Worldwide Church of God and that of this present time, reveals much about how God has molded and fashioned (actively created) His people through the structure of His ministry. This is true and has been more easily seen and understood by the right examples and work of those who have been faithful in serving God. When I consider such people, I think first and foremost of Herbert and Loma Armstrong. There are others who also come to mind, but they fall largely into a unique category.
This unique category of ministers of which I speak, especially of some who were evangelists and leading pastors, are examples of some who faithfully served in the ministry for two or more decades. The lessons to be learned from what happened in their lives teach much about God’s power to lead, guide, mold, teach, and to “correct” His Church. This is largely a matter of learning to exercise faith in the belief that God is in full control of His Church and of what He allows it to experience as part of His process to create Elohim.
Until the Apostasy, God was in control of His Church. That does not mean that God made (forced) His Church to obey Him. After the Apostasy, God was still in control of His Church, through those whom He was awakening spiritually to continue as His remnant. God allowed a spirit of pride and lukewarmness to develop in His Church (through individual free will). Then, when the sermon was given that created the Apostasy, God spewed the Church from His presence. He no longer dwelt in it nor gave it His sustaining holy spirit. At the same time, God began to draw a small remnant to repentance through whom He would begin to rebuild and restore His Church.
Although these evangelists and other leading ordained men that I mentioned as being in a unique category had been faithful ministers through so much of their lives, they succumbed to spiritual pride and a lukewarm spirit as was described about Laodicea. For most of these men, their faith stood firm while serving under the apostleship of Herbert W. Armstrong. After his death, these men drifted off to sleep spiritually, but in God’s time, He will awaken them as He did to those He called to be a remnant in this end-time.
One of the great lessons that all should learn from this is that we are to remain spiritually alert and on watch (guarded) to the end of our physical lives. The conquering of self is a battle until the end! It should also be obvious from this experience that vessels to honor can become vessels of dishonor if anyone lets down spiritually and begins to trust in self rather than God. God told these men and the entire Church that they had become so increased in goods (rich in self-esteem and pride), by relying on self rather than God, that they had actually become naked, poor, and blind.
In His time, God will awaken most who were scattered by the Apostasy. The experience of being separated from God (spewed out) and what they are experiencing to this day, as a result of being cast out on their own, will not be lost or in vain. In time, once God awakens all such people, they will experience a strengthened spiritual maturity (growth) and “edification” that could not have been achieved to such an incredible level without this experience in life. God’s power to create Elohim is complex (even hard to be grasped by the human mind that has God’s spirit working in it), highly varied (depending on what place in the temple God is fashioning someone to become), and so awesomely inspiring once it begins to be “seen” for what it is.
This highly painful experience of the Apostasy will produce incredible fruit, in God’s time, in most who were scattered (whether in the Millennium or the Great White Throne). However, it has already produced much fruit, great growth, and the ability to receive many more truths from God in those whom God has already awakened and also added to the Body since. Not only that, but this entire experience of those who lived in and through Laodicea will be an often used teaching tool in the Millennium and Great White Throne as part of the perfecting and building of God’s continuing construction of His temple.
We have now come full circle back to the present about how God has used ordinations to try, test, refine, and cleanse His Church. It has been covered how this process was magnified once God began adding larger numbers to His ministry beginning in 2008. But there is one area that has proven to magnify this matter of ordinations, and their fulfilling such a purpose in God’s Church, far more mightily.
This first began with the revelation that God is beginning to remove the curse of bondage that has been upon women in family and society since the days of Adam and Eve. God revealed that the very structure of the family and even His ministry would begin to be “seen” on a clearer spiritual plane as He intended it to be from the beginning.
The revelation about the removal of this curse was followed by God further revealing that women were to be ordained into His ministry. This change in the administration of God’s government has done more to “purify” the Church through this final end-time than any truth revealed since the Feast of 2005, which is when God more fully revealed that He alone has “eternally” existed and Christ’s life began with his human birth, with no pre-existing life before that. In addition to more fully purifying His Church through this new truth that women were to be brought into His ministry, the ordinations that resulted have proven to be one of the most powerful tools ever to indeed try, test, refine, and cleanse the Church.
God has been preparing the Church for the coming of His Kingdom to this earth and the changes that will help to more fully deliver families out of spiritual bondage. God has also been preparing His ministry and Church for even greater changes that are to come, as the primary building blocks of the apostles and prophets will have become firmly established by the time of the coming of Jesus Christ.
Earlier, the scripture was quoted concerning the “building” that is fitly framed together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord. Now, the previous verse needs to be quoted which speaks of those whom God has called, “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone” (Eph. 2:20).
Those apostles and prophets will be “in” that new government of those 144,000 who reign with Christ. There will be no need of such a continuing ministerial structure that is primarily led by an apostle and that has been occasionally enhanced by the addition of prophets. God’s Kingdom will be here on earth and there will be those of the 144,000 who will help serve in roles of government as kings. But there will be big changes that come to this earth as God’s spirit composed priesthood will be here and they will far more powerfully lead, guide, and teach God’s Church in awesome power, word, and absolute faithfulness that is void of human weakness or error.
That Kingdom is fast approaching and we are to hold fast to Christ’s coming as we continue to “move forward.”
(This concludes this series on ordinations.)