A Biblical Philosophy of Ministry Part 4: Sharing God’s Concern for the World -- By: Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr.

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 138:552 (Oct 1981)
Article: A Biblical Philosophy of Ministry Part 4: Sharing God’s Concern for the World
Author: Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr.

A Biblical Philosophy of Ministry
Part 4:
Sharing God’s Concern for the World

Raymond C. Ortlund

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

[Editor’s Note: This is the fourth 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.]

Believers in a local church must be constantly called back to three commitments for their individual and corporate life. First, they must be committed to Jesus Christ. Because He is the Head of the church at large, He is also the one to set the agenda for the life of a local body of believers. He in turn established the second commitment when He commanded believers to “love one another”—to be committed to one another. As Christians establish this second priority for their lives, Christ binds them together in greater fellowship. Third, believers are to develop a strong commitment to other human beings. The world is to be the third priority.

These three priorities are reiterated throughout the Bible. In John 15 Jesus began His Upper Room Discourse by mentioning all three. Verses 1–11 develop the first priority: “Abide in Me.” Then verses 12–17 set forth the second priority to “love each other.” And verses 18–27 state the third priority: “Relate to the world.”

Christ’s own personal relationships corresponded to these three priorities. During His final prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, He communed first with His Father (John 17:1–5). He then interceded for His own (17:6–19), and finally He prayed for the world (17:20–26).

These three commitments help give balance and direction to the local church. They can help the church simplify its purposes, eliminate cluttering activities, and concentrate on what is eternally important.

The first priority (worship) seems to be the weakest spot in many churches today. The second priority has been emphasized in some churches almost to the exclusion of priorities one and three. Other local congregations have stressed the third priority (evangelism and missions) while neglecting priority two.

Priority one must become priority one! Concern for others that is not strongly anchored in the person of Christ will be thin and weak. And w...

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