Did you know that all of us have been invited into a specific ministry?
The obvious difference between the Old and New Testaments is the “outside” God has become the “inside” God. God, who dwelled on mountains and in temples in the Old Testament, is now the God who has made a sanctuary in our hearts (see 1 Cor. 3:16). The new covenant is not Jesus dying on a cross; His death and resurrection mediated a better covenant, an excellent ministry (see Heb. 8:6). That excellent ministry is what Paul described as “servants (ministers) of a new covenant” (2 Cor. 3:6), and all New Testament believers are part of this ministry because we’ve been made adequate through the ministry of the Spirit who is working within us. What do ministers of the new covenant look like? You might read 2 Corinthians chapters three and four to discover your own observations, but I’ve taken the liberty to outline five characteristics.
First, we are the Word made flesh. Paul said that we are the letter of Christ “known and read by all men; written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor. 3:2-3). We don’t look to stone tablets to discover the Word of God anymore; we have the Word, God’s law, etched on our hearts by the Holy Spirit. I don’t need a plaque on the wall telling me what I should or should not do; I have God’s Word on my heart that compels me to walk in righteousness. People in our communities should read His Word in our lives because we are the Word made flesh.
Second, we carry a greater glory than Moses and it never fades; rather, it only intensifies. When Moses walked down from the mountain with the stone tablets in his hands his face was so brilliant that the sons of Israel could not look at his face. The glory of God made his face radiate to the point that a veil had to be placed over him. Yet, as good as that was, it was a fading glory. Paul actually described the engraved stones as “the ministry of death,” because only the Spirit gives life; the letter apart from the Spirit kills (see 2 Cor. 3:6-7). The glory of God that we carry should increase. Paul said that we are being transformed from glory to glory and it’s being accomplished with an unveiled face (see 2 Cor. 3:18). Our ministry of a new covenant makes it possible to increase in the brilliancy of God’s glory. Little wonder, then, that nations and kings should be attracted to God’s people (see Isa. 60:3). Are people attracted to you because they can see His glory?
Third, we manifest the truth. Because of the work of the Spirit every one of us should personify the truth of God’s Word (see 2 Cor. 4:2). His Spirit makes it possible to renounce all sin and walk in holiness in the sight of God. The fact is I don’t need someone to tell me right from wrong. His truth has been so imprinted on my heart by the Holy Spirit that I know if I’m about to sin long before I act or speak. The Spirit of truth lives within me and the Word has been written on my heart, so it’s possible to choose holiness over sinfulness. John wrote, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9).
Fourth, we will always persevere. New covenant ministers are empowered by the Spirit to endure whatever may come upon us. Paul said, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:8-9). In fact, because of the empowering strength of the Spirit, Paul called affliction, perplexity, persecution, and being struck down as “momentary, light affliction” (2 Cor. 4:17). When we live and walk in the Spirit, our perspective changes. We look “at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18). Ministers of the new covenant keep their “eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:2). What are you looking at these days? If you are functioning in the new covenant, then whatever you may endure will be viewed as momentary and light afflictions because the Spirit within you is greater than the challenges around you. Truly you look beyond what is happening to you toward the One who is functioning within you.
Fifth, we are being renewed day by day. This is why we don’t lose heart and become discouraged. Every day is better than the day before because even “though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16). Each day the Spirit renovates us on the inside; He fills us with new strength and vitality day after day. Think about that! Whatever you are today in the Spirit will be made fresh and new tomorrow, and this never stops this side of eternity. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).
Ministry in the new covenant is amazing. We have been given the Spirit without measure (see John 3:34). Step into this ministry and let God do incredible things through you.
God, I thank you for the abiding presence of your Holy Spirit. Enable me to function as a minister of a new covenant. Fill me and renew me with a fresh touch of your Spirit in Jesus’ name, amen.