A Biblical Philosophy of Ministry Part 2: The First Business of God’s People -- By: Raymond C. Ortlund

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 138:550 (Apr 1981)
Article: A Biblical Philosophy of Ministry Part 2: The First Business of God’s People
Author: Raymond C. Ortlund

A Biblical Philosophy of Ministry
Part 2:
The First Business of God’s People

Raymond C. Ortlund

[Raymond C. Ortlund, Pastor, Mariners Church, Newport Beach, California]

[Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of four articles delivered by the author as the W. H. Griffith Thomas Memorial Lectures at Dallas Theological Seminary, November 4–7. 1980.]

A mission organization recently ran an interesting advertisement in several Christian magazines. It contained a picture of four people with hands clasped, bowed in prayer. The caption read, “Before we can reach the world, we have to be committed to reaching God.” Below the picture was an amplifying sentence: “Worship is where our mission begins.” The first priority of the Christian and of the local body of believers is to reach up to God. Only then can they effectively attempt to reach out to the world. Unless Christians maintain a close relationship to God Himself (priority one), they will not be able to provide much spiritual help to other believers (priority two) or to the world (priority three).

Yet all three priorities must be continually operative in both the individual believer’s life and in the corporate life of the church. The local church must not allow itself to become solely worship-centered, or fellowship-centered, or evangelism-centered, A healthy balance between these three commitments is important for developing biblically sound believers. Stott, in his exposition of the Lausanne Covenant, says, “We cannot talk about Mission Evangelism without first talking about God. For mission and evangelism are not novel ideas of modern man, but part of the eternal purpose of God.”1

The Biblical Call to God-Centeredness

The Bible begins with God. It offers no introduction to Him and does not try to prove His existence. it assumes that the

readers accept the reality of God, and then it reveals that He is the Creator and Source of all things. Moses assumed God’s existence and authority when he wrote, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Ps 90:1–2). The Apostle Paul also focused on God’s supremacy. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen” (Rom 11:36). The Son of God commanded believers, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (

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