Confirmation and Recommendations for Ministry

2 Corinthians 3

Bible by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-SphereI have contemplated furthering my formal education of theology, but have not found one that I can agree with 100%. I studied formally for two years with Independent Baptist and informally with them for 15 years. Hearing most of their 'greatest' preachers and meeting many of them as well. I have studied many writings of various religious forefathers and many spiritual leaders of today. As I was contemplating these things and hearing the Lord out on the matter, He reminded me of what Paul said to the church at Corinth.

Did he need to keep commending themselves? Should he have continually boasted and forced his theology on the people? Should he have gotten them to write letters of recommendation for them?

1Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you?

But Paul reminded them that THEY were their letters of recommendation. He said this because, what the Apostles taught the people, produced love within them toward God and toward one another. Everyone was a witness of what they could 'see' in their lives after the Apostles had came through their towns teaching the Gospel.

2You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. 3And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Their confidence was through Christ toward God. They weren't boasting of themselves as many other religious leaders did, thinking they were something special because of letters from other Pharisees. Their sufficiency was in Christ. Many of the Jewish leaders were not going to write letters of recommendation for these Apostles of Christ. Christ himself made them competent to teach the new covenant, the covenant that gives life..not of the letter.

4Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

He goes on to explain that the letter from Moses was a ministry of death, to show us our need for Christ. It was not meant to bring us close to God, but to point to Christ who would bring us into reconciliation to the Father. The ministry of the Spirit has far more glory than the ministry of Moses.

7Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory?

The letter of Moses was to condemn to death. But the ministry of Christ brings LIFE and this new ministry surpasses that of Moses' letter of death.

9For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

The law was temporary, but the Spirit is permanent. The ministry of Moses keeps people blind and their hearts hard.

12Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts.

The ministry of the Spirit removes the veil. It removes the hardness. Spirit brings life! And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is soul liberty!

16But when oned turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17Now the Lorde is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Therefore I am not a minister of death by the studying and commendation of mankind through the studies of Moses. I do not want a certificate from mankind that tells that I am 'qualified' to minister life to people. Only Christ can qualify someone to bring life and freedom to people. Mankind's institutions cannot 'confirm' you. Only Christ can confirm you by His Spirit. What He tells you will be confirmed by the living epistles, which are those who walk in life and love. When a person's heart is prompted by His Spirit to confirm that a person has brought you life and freedom, say so. It doesn't take a certificate printed on an inkjet printer by a 501c3 religious institution. It comes by way of His Spirit bearing record among the brethren.

But do not do so lightly, this is a matter of the Spirit. This is not a commendation that should be said flippantly, but after discernment that their hearts are filled with love and their ministry is one that brings life.

I shared this on my Facebook page and I want to include some of the additional comments my friends contributed to this:

Paul S: I don't think a PhD in theology is necessary to make a contribution to the discusssion. Some formal education or it's equlivalent is necessary to learn proper exegetical and expository technique and process, but it doesn't need to be extensive for proclamation of the gospel and teaching.

That said the Apostle Paul had a formal education. He was a rabbi, that tells us he went to school from age 6-10 or 12 to learn Torah. He would then have moved on to the next phase to learn Tanahk. At 17 or 18 he was selected by Gamaliel to be his disciple. Gameliel was the grandson of the great rabbi Hillel. Paul was well educated prior to his conversion and his well developed theology demonstrates that.

David W: I do not think that a formal education at this point in time is going to help anyone who truly wishes to follow Jesus. Even the most conservative seminaries are full of the pride that leads people astray, into fruitless lives striving to build up a human institution, and missing the mark, in the process. I know several very promising people who were seriously misled by believing that their seminary professors knew what they were talking about. We are followers of Jesus, built up by His Spirit, chosen and sent out by Him. The last time I checked that does not require any extra credentials. We do not need the world to train "professionals" for us.

Philip H: Those in Bible colleges and seminaries Learn mans word! Here is God's people!

1st cor.1,26-31 26For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27But God hath chos...en the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Sisterlisa: Lets not forget that many of the disciples were simple fishermen. They probably had the basics of the Law down from their childhood years, but they did not attend Pharisee training like Paul did. And it took Priscilla (a woman) and her husband Aquilla, to 'teach they way of Christ more perfectly' to Apollos. A woman in their time...that's impressive. And Lydia led her household of maidens in worship..another woman..not so sure either of these two women had formal training from the Pharisees.

None of us are ever going to have 'doctrine' or 'theology' 100% correct all the time. We are all on a journey and each of us have pieces to the grand puzzle. We need each other to put the pieces in place. God will guide us and we can learn and grow together in 'Community' and HIs Spirit guides us into all truth.

{John 16:13} When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

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