The Objects of the Christian Ministry
Acts 26:16-18
But rise, and stand on your feet: for I have appeared to you for this purpose…

I. The object of the Christian ministry is THE EXHIBITION OF THE CHARACTER OF GOD. That there is a God, "all Nature cries aloud through all her works" (Psalm 19:1-4; Romans 1:20). But "Nature is a speechless beauty, waiting in silence till man shall find leisure and inclination to he instructed by dumb signs." She discloses some traces of his wisdom, goodness, and power; but a sinner, under a sense of his guilt, might remain in her presence for ages, without discovering what is essential to his relief. It was reserved to the gospel to reveal the character of Him whose perfections are unceasingly adored in the world of light, whose will is law, to whose designs all beings and all events are subservient, whose hands supply the wants of every creature, whose heart compassionates the children of sorrow, whose frown is hell, whose smile is heaven. Even the Old Testament afforded but partial discoveries of Him. A veil still remained over Him; which veil the gospel has drawn aside. His holiness, His justice, and His mercy, shine in the clearest light; there, if genuine Christians, we effectually discern the doctrines which demand our faith, the privileges which claim our gratitude, the promises which encourage our hope, the principles which compose our character.

II. The Christian ministry is designed to promote THE DESTRUCTION OF THE KINGDOM OF SATAN AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THAT OF CHRIST. The dominion of Satan commenced at an early period. Its foundation was laid in falsehood. The supports of his throne are delusion and depravity, wrought into a thousand fantastic and ten thousand odious forms. But the usurper was not permitted to reign without control. His final defeat was predicted in the very scene which had been disgraced by his victory. Then was the assurance given, that "the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head." At length the Messiah came, for the glorious purpose of recovering this colony of rebels to the duty they had renounced, and the felicity they had forfeited. His triumphs began in the wilderness, where He foiled the tempter, and compelled him to retire; they were extended, when "the seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject to us through Thy name." But it was after His resurrection and ascension that this mighty Conqueror shone forth in the splendour of His. sublimest achievements. The commission with which He invested the apostles was accompanied with power from on high; and He "bare them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost." A thousand delusions were scattered by the beams of truth; the slumbers of insensibility were shaken off; the rock of impenitence was melted; faith opened to the moral wanderer a heavenly prospect; peace cheered the bosom that had throbbed with anguish; and the sceptre of righteousness was swayed over the faculties, passions, and appetites, that had been perverted and enslaved by the tyranny of hell.

III. The Christian ministry is established for the purpose of LEADING THOSE AMONG WHOM IT IS EXERCISED TO THE PRACTISE OF "PURE AND UNDEFILED RELIGION," and thus effecting the most important change that can be introduced into the condition of mankind (ver. 18). Accordingly, we find the same apostle afterwards stating (Titus 2:11, 12). Such is the influence of the gospel on the character of everyone by whom it is cordially received. It not only reveals a Saviour, but is the instrument of conveying salvation. Through the medium of the gospel the Holy Spirit enlightens the understanding, subdues vicious propensities, restores the Divine image, and prepares the frail tenant of earth for the inheritance reserved in heaven.

IV. THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY WILL RESULT IN THE BRIGHTEST MANIFESTATION OF THE SAVIOUR'S GLORY. To Him it owes its origin, its support, its conductors, and its efficacy. He is the Subject of it. Apart from His dignity and condescension; His virtues and sufferings; His doctrines, commandments, and promises; the miracles which He wrought, the atonement which He made, His triumph over His death, His constant intercession, and the grace which flows from His inexhaustible fulness — the Christian ministry were a mere name, and those who engage in it only beat the air. But when a man, saved from eternal ruin ascends before a congregation inspired with grateful astonishment, and anxious. to see every hearer a participant of his own felicity, how can he forget his Divine benefactor, or allude to Him in obscure language, and with faint regard! Behold Him, and all who, being honoured with the same office, press forward in the same spirit, continually insisting on the all-important theme. They are the servants of Jesus Christ, and they urge His authority; they live upon His smile, and they want words to express the magnitude of the privilege; they are the almoners of His bounty, and they beseech, as on the bended knee, their fellow mortals to receive it. Great is the reward which awaits them all.

(O. A. Jeary.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;

WEB: But arise, and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose: to appoint you a servant and a witness both of the things which you have seen, and of the things which I will reveal to you;

Minister and Messenger
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