Ministering Unto God Only
By Fred Pruitt
How good to hear from you! I always enjoy hearing from people who are new to me, especially those who are catching on to their own identity in Christ!
I have read yours over and over several times now, wanting to understand what you are asking or pointing out. Rather than risk misinterpreting what you wrote, I’ll just answer your questions as simply as I can.
In the midst of the Eternal Throne sits a “Lamb as it had been slain.” It pleased the Lord to bruise Him. It pleased the Lord that He was despised and rejected of men. It pleased the Lord that the Lamb took the stripes and the blows, and it pleased the Lord that He was lifted up for all men to see. (Isaiah 53).
Paul says (as also John, James, Peter, Luke, etc.) that the same Life that operated in Jesus through death and resurrection, also operates in us, in the form of our “always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you.” (2 Cor 4:10-12).
That is what union with God means as far as this life is concerned. It means we are He, and since we are He, we are about what He is about. And what He is about is raising others up into Him by means of all of us. Paul called that, “until Christ is formed in you.” (Gal 4:19). It also means we will get “beat up” (figuratively or literally) here and there.
I see a great deal of resistance to that truth in many who are calling themselves Christians. Never mind that, “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Tim 3:12). It is definitely an awful thing that Christian believers are murdered in certain areas of the world for their Christian profession. But hardly anyone rejoices for them, because they “they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.” (Acts 5:41). Not that we seek “martyrdom,” but those who are privileged to suffer death that way are noted and honored in Heaven! Even though everyone in the book of Acts “suffered” certain things in the name of Christ, and Paul, Peter and especially Jesus, expressly say these things will continue for believers, a great number of current believers seem to want those passages out of the scripture. In the beginning of the Church after Pentecost in the Book of Acts, new believers were selling all their property and laying the money at the Apostle’s feet, for the furtherance of the work, and learning to live on God Alone. How does that compare with some modern believers who look to Jesus to “increase their portfolio?” Some believers gave away houses and lands in the Book of Acts. Some from today I think are wanting them back!
As far as the priests who ministered unto God Alone as opposed to those who ministered “only to the people,” (as in the “sons of Zadok” in Ezekiel 44), I am not able to see a separation there. We have to be careful with these Old Testament comparisons, so that we see these things with New Testament eyes. Let me elaborate a bit on that. Those that came into the deepest intimacy in God, those who were brought into the inner sanctuary where they ministered only “unto God,” in New Testament terms, are those who have become taken up in the purposes of God, the purpose of Sonship, so that what Jesus is about, we are about. What Jesus did to minister unto God only, was to be what the Father desired Him to be and Who the Father and the Spirit WERE in Him, which was Life that gives itself to death that more Life might come. He came to be the sacrificial Lamb in time and space, bearing witness to the Eternal “Lamb as it had been slain” in the midst of the Throne of God.
Those who find the true witness of Christ and the Spirit in themselves ARE taken up into the same purposes as He. His purposes become our purposes. We are no longer about ourselves. Instead, everything we have and are is expendable! It all goes into the pot, and let God do with it what He will. We are those who say, “Bind the sacrifice (us) with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.” (Ps 118:27). Paul’s confession becomes ours: “I will very gladly spend and be spent for you.” (2 Cor 12:15). One of my favorite quotes from Norman Grubb is this: “The reward of a life spent in God’s service is empty pockets and worn out bodies.” We are ALL IN!
Let us understand, there is no more separate priesthood like that! We each are priests unto each other and unto God for each other! If God is “Trinity” then we see that the “outflow” of God is the flow of Love, which is not sentimentality, but the driving force of everything, to procreate, to create, to expand, to proliferate.
I guess what I am saying is that I do not know a life in God apart from an ardent desire in me to in some way impart that gift in me to others, whether few or many. The reason I know no other Life is because there is no other Life than the Life of the Lamb. But also, there is no set pattern, set of words, deeds or projects, no road maps except the darkness of faith, and no time except now and the patience of now! And in all those things, I continually find the Life of the Lamb and the fellowship of the Lamb.
Now, if the Lord wants to pull someone out of the fray and give them a timeout, He will do it. But I cannot think of any interaction with God in scripture, which did not lead to faith and action on the part of men. I do not mean to belittle “coming apart” and being alone with God. No, of course not! As God calls, we do! But we do not engineer stuff like that. It just happens. Or as you said, He is the author of our lives.
Oh yes, another thing. It was this question you had: Do you want to live before Him for Himself alone?
_______, when we are one person with Him, that question has no meaning and therefore no direct answer. One cannot go there – “one person with Him” – who has not lost all things, including himself, and his own supposed “ability” to do the good and refrain from the evil.
That is what it means when it says we “died” with Him in His Cross. We “died” to everything, to any ability, to any righteousness, to any faithfulness, to any holiness, to any goodness. We are zero in that department.
There is only ONE life – HIS! But we really cannot experience that ONE life, as long as we have a supposed holiness of our own, thinking that is what is expected of us. But when we see we died in Him, symbolized in baptism, we begin to see the fuller implications of that seemingly simple act, and the mighty power of God through the Cross. Once we see that we died to everything, including any ability to keep ourselves (letting Him be our Keeper – Isaiah 42:1; Jude 1:24), the way is then cleared for a fuller union understanding of life.
Then, in union, not just in concept but in living faith, we finally find and experience the “rest” of God, as Hebrews 4 speaks of: “There remaineth therefore a rest for the people of God.” (Heb 4:9).
Now, that is where the joining of “rest” and “serving” occurs. When we find the inner rest of God by the Spirit, we realize we are always there, no matter what the variable feelings of the moment dictate. Whatever the storm on the outside, we are inwardly at rest, and I have found, after having this ship barraged more than twice, that the rest is always there. In the beginning of my journey more than four decades ago, the Spirit said, “Lo, I am with you always, I will never leave you nor forsake you.” I have found He is true to His Word!
Well, I could rattle on some more, but I’ll leave it here, and hope to hear back from you.
Thanks for your reply. I do understand what you mean, regarding how people from certain backgrounds and experiences hear things differently, and react to words and phrases that are unintended by the speaker or writer. Since I am essentially a “word” guy, I have run into that and continue to run into that, all these thirty-plus years of writing and speaking on union.
And more than once people have suggested using different phrasing, etc., when talking to certain people.
I suppose that is one of the reasons why many of my writings people consider “long.” Part of the “long” issue has to do with explaining my terms, to as much as possible speak clear words and on a level people can understand and “get” my meaning.
But also, at the same time, I have learned to the uttermost that no matter how clear or clever my “words” are, no matter how good a presentation I make or how succinctly I state my case, it is the Lord the Spirit Who gives understanding. I do not and cannot impart understanding to others. Only God can do that.
So I don’t really think too much about “how” to say it with certain people or tailor what I say to what I think those others might be thinking or believing. Of course I am human and all of that stuff might be swirling around in my mind, but I have learned to ignore it and speak or write the words I am given.
I find it is hard to offend someone who recognizes what we have and also want it for themselves. They may be at first turned off by terminology, an inflection in someone’s voice, the cadence of a person’s delivery – whatever an offense might be. But truly hungry and desperate ones will push beyond those surface distractions, sensing Life behind them. It is almost a universal testimony of people who heard Norman Grubb speak for the first time – “I didn’t understand what he was talking about, but he was so excited about it I wanted whatever it was.”
And it wasn’t his “teaching,” per se, that drew me to him. He had a certain “quality” of Life that no one I had met before exhibited. It wasn’t anything complicated or requiring much explanation. It was just Christ coming through this aged hunched-over almost totally deaf Englishman, and nothing but Christ.
It isn’t the teaching or the phrasing – it is first and foremost, and completely and fully, The Person! The Person of Christ. The Person of the Spirit. The Person of the Father. God only. Christ only. The Spirit only. That is really what is meant by “ministering to God only,” not some special service we perform, but that this is the sight seen through our Spirit-vision! He is above all, through all, and in all. Christ All and in all. When we live this then every moment is praise and thanksgiving. It is always – eternally – going on in each of us! This is not a cliché, nor just some inspirational beautiful thought! No, this worship is eternally happening in our inward parts. Even while we walk in the world and do business in the world, using the world’s stuff, inwardly day and night praise and worship go up to the Living God and to His Christ, every moment of every day.
Now that is what I seek to communicate in all this, _______. Not just another “teaching” that we can write in our notebooks and be satisfied that we know it because we heard it thoroughly explained – or maybe we took the class twice. The only “way” to know is believe and to do. “If any man will do* his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (John 7:17). *(“Will do” here is speaking of a willingness to do, and not necessarily a perfect accomplishment. Primarily it means “a heart that is willing.”)
In my early days of “ministry,” the 70s, “follow-up” was drummed into my head. The thinking went, “People will come to Christ, but if we don’t make sure we follow-up and keep following-up, they might fall away.” So, not only did we have to witness and “win” people to Christ, we had to keep a good follow-up program going, or we might “lose” them. I’m sure grace was mentioned in there somewhere, but all I remember is that I took total responsibility for all that on “my own” shoulders, and never felt like I did anything adequately, not even close! If I had (so the thinking went), I would have been “bearing fruit,” and would have had scads of converts at various stages of spiritual development.
But of course we now know the faithfulness of the Spirit, to bring us along, to testify of Christ in us, and to seal us until the final day of redemption. So now we give the Word we are given, whatever it is, and trust the Spirit to do with it as He pleases, to open hearts or to offend, because to some we are the savor of Life, and to others we are the stench of death. It has nothing to do with our outer “presentation,” but solely on the desire and will of the hearer and the Spirit’s work in his life. We give in all seriousness, but we walk freely and in joy, and do not take upon our own shoulders things only the Spirit can accomplish.
Well, thanks for sharing with me, _______. I’m glad to know we have been of some help to you!