XXI. MAKING US COMPETENT TO BEAR
THE MINISTRY OF THE NEW COVENANT
When the Father dispenses Himself as grace into us the believers and enables us to announce the all-inclusive Christ and make known to people what is the economy of the mystery hidden in God, He makes us competent to bear the ministry of the new covenant.
In 2 Corinthians 3:5 Paul says, "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God." The Greek word for sufficient means "competent, qualified, fit, worthy." This shows us that the sufficiency, competency, and qualification for the ministry comes from the living God Himself. This ministry is for God’s New Testament economy, which is to dispense Christ into God’s chosen people for the building up of Christ’s Body. This is not something that man is competent of in himself. We ourselves are of no account, and what we can do is likewise of no account. The Triune God as the all-inclusive Spirit has to become our inner constituent. Only then can we be competent to carry out the ministry of the new covenant.
In 3:6 Paul went on to say, "Who has also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant, ministers not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." Unlike the Mosaic ministry for the Old Testament, the apostolic ministry for the New Testament is not of dead letters but of the living Spirit, who gives life. This Spirit, the ultimate expression of the processed Triune God, who became a life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45), imparts the divine life, even God Himself, into the believers and the apostles, making them ministers of a new covenant, the covenant of life. Hence, the ministers of the new covenant are those who are constituted with the Triune God of life by His life-giving Spirit. Therefore, they are competent to bear the ministry of the new covenant.
XXII. LEADING US
IN THE TRIUMPHAL PROCESSION
OF CHRIST AND MANIFESTING THROUGH US
THE FRAGRANCE OF CHRIST
While we are carrying out the New Testament ministry, God the Father leads us in the triumphal procession of Christ and manifests through us the fragrance of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 Paul said, "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in the Christ and manifests the savor of the knowledge of Him through us in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God in those who are being saved and in those who are perishing." Here Paul uses the metaphor of a triumphal procession to illustrate how Christ is the victorious General, how Paul and all the believers are His captives, and how God leads the captives of Christ in a triumphal procession to celebrate Christ’s victory. In those days, after a victory the general of the Roman army would always lead the captives in a procession through the capital to celebrate his victory. Among them, some incense-bearers were scattering incense as the procession moved on. Some of the conquered enemies were put to death when the procession reached the Capitol. To them the smell of the incense was an odor of death unto death; to the rest who were spared, an odor of life unto life.
When Christ ascended to the heavens, there was a train of conquered and captured foes celebrating His triumphant ministry. At the same time, however, they were incense-bearers, scattering the savor of the knowledge of Christ in His triumphant ministry. They, being permeated with Christ, became a fragrance of Christ. They were not merely a sweet savor produced by Christ, but Christ Himself was the savor being exhaled in their life and work to God. In those who were being saved, it was a savor out of life unto life, and in those who were perishing, a savor out of death unto death. This is a matter of life and death. Only the captives of God in Christ, who are saturated with Christ by the Spirit, are sufficient and qualified for this.
Paul and his co-workers’ move in their ministry for Christ in the Gentile world was like a triumphal procession going from one place to another under God’s leading, scattering the fragrance of Christ. This is the issue of God the Father’s dispensing in love. When we continually enjoy the Father’s dispensing in the love of God, eventually we will be saturated with Christ and become the fragrance of Christ, and we will scatter such fragrance in our life and work in Christ’s triumphal procession for God’s satisfaction.
(Truth Lessons, Level 2, Vol. 3, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)