This blog post should give some food for thought, I hope. Q: How can we discern true from false ministry? A: If we look closer at it, we should ask ourselves whether the ministry concerned is focused on a person or a group ministering to (mainly passive) believers or is the minister busy trying to change the audience, the human beings, instead of pointing to the Holy Spirit who alone can change us. Both ministries would represent a horizontal gospel of sorts while vertical gospel preaching usually looks first to God and then to man! If we have a true ministry, then we bring Christ to the believer, hoping and praying that everybody who hears us will discover the most intimate relationship possible – with God, our Father, and with Jesus Christ.
“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that [y]our joy may be full.” (1 Jn 1:3-4 KJV)
Only then is our fellowship with one another a true, spiritual fellowship if we are all focused on God in Jesus Christ. We cannot have real fellowship with one another without being related to and led by God through Jesus Christ.
“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor 3:17-18 KJV)
Any effort to create fellowship with other believers on a horizontal level will sooner or later lead to disappointment or even to struggle and strife as nobody can get closer to God without being drawn by Him. Or even worse, we get drawn back into the world as we focus on other, more worldly things while meeting with others. Jesus promised us,
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Mt 18:20 KJV)
We must be cautious to not get unequally yoked with unbelievers who are disguised as believers, i.e., as Christians. We need to only look at their fruits since what is on their heart will come out of their mouths pretty soon also. If they are interested in anything else but God, we can be ‘unkind’ and leave them. God even urges us to do so! The apostle Paul reminds us,
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Cor 6:14-18 KJV)
Below I offer you a short excerpt from one of TAS articles on this issue (emphasis added).
There is one other aspect of this matter to which we will point before we close. It is in relation to ministry and fellowship. What should be the predominant motive and aim of ministry, whether to us or through us? It most certainly should be with God’s one end in view, and everything should be sacrificed for, or brought into line with that. God’s one end is likeness to His Son. In ministry everything must be subjected to the test as to how far it is calculated to reach that end. With God Himself the value of anything and everything is determined by this. Methods, materials, manner, personal presence, and everything are to come under this test. Only the Holy Spirit can bring to Christ and conform to Christ. Hence ministry is of value according as it is in the Holy Spirit. Not only does this apply to our ministry, but it must influence us in the matter of what we accept and where we go.
Are we being built up in Christ? Does what we receive really tend to inwardly increase Him? Is it Christ being ministered to us in the Holy Spirit? If not, then no matter how interesting, brilliant, informing, or attractive, we are wasting our time, the eternal thing is not being done, and God’s end is being missed. This principle must also apply to the fellowship of believers. It is so easy to fall into the trap of talking on all sorts of commonplaces, matters of interest, and often into a spiritually dissipating jocularity and frivolity, and then when the time is gone to realise that the heart cries out in hunger for that which alone is its Bread – even Christ. Fellowship should be unto mutual upbuilding and definitely to impart Christ to one another.”