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EFAC Australia

Essentials

Finding the central ministry purpose of a book of the Bible
Part Two – 2 Corinthians

In Part One, I tried to show the general principles and practice of finding the central ministry purpose of a book of the Bible. In Part Two, I will show how this applies to a difficult example, that of 2 Corinthians.

There are two preliminary questions that need to be answered when tackling 2 Corinthians.

a. Are 1 and 2 Corinthians one unit of meaning, and so mutually explanatory?
Traditionally these two letters have been regarded as one unit, in that it has been assumed that they both tackle the same issues, that they refer to each other, and that 2 Corinthians flows on naturally from 1 Corinthians.

Stephen Hale's Kimberley Travel Diary - Easter 2008

Have you always wanted to visit North West Australia? How about planning a holiday there and combining it with a bit of ministry to encourage Gospel ministry in that diocese? Here's how the Hale family did it this past Easter. David Mulready is waiting to hear from you!

Thursday 20th March

Straight off the plane into 35ºC tropical heat and humidity. To Broome Primary School for their Easter Play. The whole school was present for a clear gospel presentation. All three primary schools in Broome are fully covered for religious education using material from ACCESS Ministries.

Finding the central ministry purpose of a book of the Bible - Part One


by Peter Adam

 

We should always try to find the central ministry purpose of a book of the Bible. The central ministry purpose of the book is its ministry aim, its pastoral intention. It is the answer to the question that we could ask of the author of the book 'In one sentence, why did you write this book?' Or the answer to the question we could ask of God 'Why did you cause this book to be written?' It should include what the readers should do, and why they should do it. It regards the book as an extended speech-act, and seeks to clarify what the author wants to happen as the result of people reading the book. The central ministry purpose is more than the central theme, because it includes what the author wants the readers to do as a result of that central theme. It does not focus on topics, but on actions. It is not the language of analysis, but of action.

Here are some examples of 'central ministry purpose':

The EFAC Commitment
July 2008
EFAC International Conference, Trinity College Bristol

The Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion (EFAC) is a fellowship of evangelical Christians in Anglican Churches around the world, who are passionate for biblical faith and for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and who support one another's concerns and ministries. EFAC is active in different regions of the world, and currently holds an international conference every five years, before each Lambeth Conference, and at the halfway point between.

We are thankful to God for the Gospel, which is eternally unchanging and yet ever new, and for all those with whom we share the work of proclaiming Christ. We are encouraged by the work of mission and evangelism wherever it is taking place around the world, particularly for developments in missional theological education, for extensive church planting, and for great openness to the Gospel. We give thanks for our brothers and sisters in the Churches of the Global South, for their leadership, sacrifice and example in the work of the Gospel, and for their work on the Anglican Covenant. We are especially grateful for growing relationships among all Anglicans of orthodox persuasion.

By Justin Denholm

Many people today think of ethics as a potential 'common ground' for dialogue between people with divergent worldviews. After all, if "we all agree murder is wrong", some would say, "maybe we can work out our differences?" In this kind of approach, often universal humanitarian ideals are appealed to in the hope that we can use them to realise that deep down, we're all the same.

Sometimes I find it tempting to take this approach; certainly it is 'nice' and often popular. For Christians, though, ethical action cannot be divorced from the gospel, and without a clear understanding of the relationship between the two, Christians cannot appreciate what ethics is and how it should be done.

To understand why ethics should be considered so closely linked to evangelism, we need to reconsider why we should act ethically at all. Why does it matter how we live?

There is no doubt that technological development and increasingly rapid rates of change in so many areas have made making ethical decisions more difficult than it used to be. Now that is not to say that getting agreement about the rights and wrongs has ever been easy. Moralists have disagreed through all of history. And Jesus had a hard time getting some of his core values across, even to those who were most devoted to him.

But these days self-doubt has set in among Christians, and it has set in on a large scale. Loss of clarity about a distinctly Christian ethic has become widespread. There are various reasons for this, but let me offer you just a limited list. First, there is so much that Christians have done in the past that embarrasses and shames us. Second, there are the clever things that scholars have done to give parts of the Bible a totally different sense from how they have traditionally been understood. And third, Christians have largely lost sight of the importance of the Old Testament for their faith and life.

For us who are Christians radical values for a confused society must come from our Lord. And what I have in mind to appeal to here is Jesus' teaching in the Sermon on the Mount.

Integrity: Leading without God watching. Jonathan Lamb IVP, 2007

This book is a tonic for the Christian leader's soul. Like some tonics, it may be regarded as medicine, best taken with food and inevitably swallowed reluctantly but dutifully, knowing that it is good for you. Very good for you.

So many books on Christian leadership pay lip service to the Scriptures and hurry on to pragmatic issue Save s of "how to do X or Y", hanging whole chapters on convenient pegs of scripture along the way. But not this book. Integrity is effectively a discourse on leadership based on Lamb's study of 2 Corinthians and themes arising from that epistle. It is material that has been shaped by various speaking engagements in his role as Director of Langham Preaching (a part of Langham Partnership International) including a Ridley Melbourne ministry conference in 2005. I have to confess that I attended that conference and found his presentation solid, but almost too solid and full-on for my poor first-year-out curate's brain!

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