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    Requirements for Ministry

    Requirements for Ministry


    The First of Three Witnesses

    Leviticus 19:23-25 - ‘When you come into the land, and have planted all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as uncircumcised. Three years it shall be as uncircumcised to you. It shall not be eaten. But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, a praise to the LORD. And in the fifth year you may eat its fruit, that it may yield to you its increase: I am the LORD your God.
    These little known verses have a significant meaning today but not in a way that may be generally known. In the area of the call to the ministry, we all know that the bible warns against allowing a novice to minister lest they become puffed up. But how much time to allow for their release is also a point of contention. Too soon and the same concern of becoming puffed up arises.
    1 Timothy 3:6 (NKJV)
    not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.
    There are many parallels in the bible along with types and shadows that lend themselves very well to revealing to us the secrets of the kingdom of God. These verses can be representative of a type and shadow that can determine the amount of time that needs to pass before a person can be released in ministry. These verses are not a comprehensive set of guidelines but more of a rough overview. As with all things biblical, from the mouth of two or three witnesses, the whole matter can be heard of which we shall see later.

    Starting from these verses in Leviticus 19, we can see that when a TREE is planted for its food, then there is a required waiting time before anyone would be allowed to eat of its fruit. The bible likens those who are of faith in God to a tree that is planted near the rivers of waters.
    Psalms 1 (NKJV)
    1 Blessed is the man
    Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
    Nor stands in the path of sinners,
    Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
    2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    And in His law he meditates day and night.
    3 He shall be like a tree
    Planted by the rivers of water,
    That brings forth its fruit in its season,
    Whose leaf also shall not wither;
    And whatever he does shall prosper.
    4 The ungodly are not so,
    But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
    5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
    Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
    6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
    But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
    The person being depicted in these verses is a righteous man of which we become through faith in Jesus Christ. Once we are born again, we put on the righteousness of Jesus much as we would put on His garments over our own. Since our unrighteousness has been covered, when the Father looks upon us in judgment, we are passed over in the same manner as the children of Israel were passed over in Egypt when the angel of death saw the blood of the sacrificial lamb on their door posts. This did not mean that all those that were in that house with the blood were of righteous hearts for many Egyptians departed Egypt with the children of Israel having chosen the God of the Hebrews above the gods of Egypt. The proof of the unrighteousness of many of those who escaped the judgment of God because of the blood of the lamb, was seen in their constant bickering, complaining and outright rebellion against Moses and God. The time of their ultimate judgment came when they refused to enter the land promised to them by God and in their rebellion, God turned them back to the desert where they all died off in their 40 years of wanderings until that new generation came of age. Everyone twenty years of age and older perished in the wilderness but those that remained, entered into the promised land.

    Just as the trees planted for food in this promised land was not to be eaten of for the first three years because the fruit would be considered unclean or uncircumcised, so it must be for those who come to faith in Christ and wish to be released to ministry. There is a transition of sorts that God requires because these trees simply are not mature enough to produce the kind of fruitfulness that He requires for His children. An interesting thought now arises. Most fruit trees do not bear fruit until after a certain number of years. For instance, the olive trees do not begin to bear fruit for 16 years while an apple tree takes only about 7-8 years before it begins its fruit bearing years.

    These verses regulating the eligibility of the fruit to be eaten by the children of Israel is based on that tree's fruit bearing years and not necessarily the age of the tree itself. In the case of an apple tree, as it begins to bear fruit in its fifth year, the next three years, that fruit is considered uncircumcised, unclean to eat. Once it reaches its fourth year of fruit bearing, its fruit is considered holy and still the children of Israel cannot eat of it. Once it reaches its fifth year of fruitfulness can the fruit be free to eat by all. So by this time, the tree itself will be 12-13 years old.

    As far as the olive tree, the fruit cannot be eaten until its fifth year of fruitfulness, which means the tree will be at least 21 years old. The difference in the life of when the fruit begins to be borne between the apple and olive trees is significant in that the life of fruit bearing of the apple tree ranges from 75-80 years while the olive tree will continue to bear fruit for hundreds of years. It seems that the longer the wait, the greater the fruitfulness of that tree. This is a good thing to keep in mind when we are waiting for God to release us into ministry. There is no sense hurrying ourselves along when by waiting for God's timing, the fruit bearing years increases through time along with the quality of our fruit.

    The Second of Three Witnesses

    What happens during those first three years? There is fruit being produced by the tree and by the believer which speaks of that work of the Holy Spirit in their lives as they are transitioning from unrighteousness towards righteousness in Christ. These first years of fruitfulness are critical for the long term fruitfulness and quality of fruit. There are several examples from the New Testament that can be used to describe this period of time. One of which I will share now that will help set the stage for understanding what is to transpire over the next several years.
    John 15:1-8 (NKJV)
    1 “ I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
    5 “ I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
    Once again, those who are of faith in Jesus are likened to a plant, in this case, we are being depicted as branches and He as the vine. What is important to note in these verses is our dependence upon Him and that all those who are of Him will be pruned. In the case of the aforementioned fruit trees, the fruit for the first 3 years are considered uncircumcised. Since these are considered ineligible for eating, the husbandman will remove all such fruit to be discarded. It is during this process that further pruning is also performed in order that the tree may reach its best years of fruit bearing with the largest and sweetest fruits once that fifth year arrives.

    Just as I mentioned earlier of how we received the righteousness of God in Christ that covers our unrighteousness, there is a period of time in which this unrighteousness in us must be discarded in favor of adopting the righteousness of Christ. This process is where the scripture says we are to put on Christ daily. Our minds must be renewed after the manner of that which was in Christ so that we may see, understand and walk as He walked. This is done over a period of time and cannot be rushed through. The best depiction of this process of exchanging our unrighteousness for His righteousness can be found in the story of Lazarus' resurrection from the dead. For this, let us go over to John chapter 11.
    John 11:38-44 (NKJV)
    Lazarus Raised from the Dead
    38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “ Take away the stone.”
    Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”
    40 Jesus said to her, “ Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “ Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “ Lazarus, come forth!” 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “ Loose him, and let him go.”
    In these verses, we can see the pattern of what must take place as we transition from unrighteousness towards righteousness. The process shown here is what must take place during those three years of uncircumcised fruit that is not yet ready to eat until we've reached the year of holiness and by that fifth year, our fruit can be eaten by all.

    Before we came to The Lord, we were dead in our sins and that barrier between death and life must be removed. Once that stone is removed, even over the objections of those who are alive because of the stench that our deadness brings with it, Jesus then lets everyone know what His purpose is, to bring life from death. So with a loud voice, He calls us by name and we respond by leaving that place of death and enter into that place of life. That thing that killed us, sin, is removed and we are now alive. Although alive, we are yet bound by those same grave clothes that bound us in death. These grave clothes still bear the smell of death as Lazarus' body had already begun to decay. His arms and legs were clearly bound with a cloth wrapped around his head. He was now alive but he was not free. Then Jesus said to them, those who were alive and nearest him, to loose him and let him go.

    The reason Jesus instructed them was because as long as Lazarus remained in the condition he came out of the grave, he would eventually perish because that which bound him in death, continued to bind him in life. He could not move about freely being severely restricted and he could not see because a cloth remained covering his head. Jesus clearly gave this job to those nearest Lazarus.

    How does this example parallel our lives today? Those grave clothes represent those things that will severely restrict our movements in the new life we have come into and our ability to see Jesus and His kingdom. These are our unrighteousness that has been covered by His righteousness but needs to be exchanged for the clothing of the living. We cannot continue in this new life as long as we continue to have these garments of death, unrighteousness, restricting our movements and preventing us from seeing clearly this new kingdom we have been born again into.

    For the next few years, those four years as depicted in Leviticus 19 will be our most critical years as these grave clothes are removed and replaced with the clothing of the living, His righteousness. Our minds need renewal as they have been trained all our lives in this worldly system to learn self reliance and dependency upon no one but ourselves. This will not be an easy transition and God does not expect this to happen all at once. He even tells the children of Israel that they will not take their land of promise in a year's time but will take it little by little as they grow and increase.
    Exodus 23:30 (NKJV)
    Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land.

    Deuteronomy 7:22-26 (NKJV)
    And the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you little by little; you will be unable to destroy them at once, lest the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. 23 But the Lord your God will deliver them over to you, and will inflict defeat upon them until they are destroyed. 24 And He will deliver their kings into your hand, and you will destroy their name from under heaven; no one shall be able to stand against you until you have destroyed them. 25 You shall burn the carved images of their gods with fire; you shall not covet the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, lest you be snared by it; for it is an abomination to the Lord your God. 26 Nor shall you bring an abomination into your house, lest you be doomed to destruction like it. You shall utterly detest it and utterly abhor it, for it is an accursed thing.
    The example being described by these verses indicate that the land of promise is currently occupied by nations that are greater and mightier than the children of Israel but also that God will fight for them to destroy those nations. In the process, no compromise is allowed or the curse upon those nations will fall on those who compromised. The New Testament says we were once children of darkness and our father was the evil one himself, Satan. We bore the characteristics of Satan and much of our choices in life before Christ, were dictated by our worldly satanic father. Folks, speaking simply, this means there are demons in the land of our lives along with their walled cities, strongholds, and their altars and gods that must be destroyed.

    All of these demonic entities have had tremendous influence as well as actual possession of our lives before Christ. These are those grave clothes that MUST be removed. These represent the mindsets, strongholds and demonic influences that must be defeated and removed from our lives as we put on The Lord Jesus Christ and His righteousness. We have been delivered from the penalty of death for our rebellion and rebellious nature for the blood of the Lamb of God covers us and protects us from God's certain judgment. However, just like the children of Israel who escaped the judgment of God in the land of Egypt but were found to not be changed in their hearts and were eventually cast out of the promise God had made to their fathers, so can we too be disqualified unless these strongholds, these grave clothes be removed and we put on the clothing of the living instead.

    For proof of this, we need only read Romans chapter 11 where it shows that we have been engrafted into the vine where the original branches were cut off because of their unbelief, we were grafted in through faith. If we do not continue in faith, then we too will be cut off as they were.
    Romans 11:17-23 (NKJV)
    And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
    19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God:on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
    In verse 22, He states it very clearly. We can continue in the goodness of God or we can remove ourselves from His goodness through unbelief and if we do fall away because of unbelief or disobedience, we face the very real prospect of being cut off from the vine as well. Seeing as how this is the case, the importance of removing all the strongholds of the demonic and their influences in our lives becomes critical. There is a principle then that we must understand first.
    Romans 6:16 (NKJV)
    Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
    Simply said, if we obey not the truth but continue as before Christ came into our lives, then we return to the death we lived and do not walk in obedience to Christ. It becomes vital then to remove ALL the grave clothes that hinder our ability to walk and live in this new life. Those who are nearest us are commanded by Jesus to help remove those grave clothes. These are those who are not wearing grave clothes but have already exchanged them for the clothing of the living. They have already experienced this transition. So what exactly ARE those grave clothes we are to remove. One hint can clearly be seen in what these grave clothes do. They severely restrict your movement according to the Spirit of God which raised you from death to life. They also have the stench of death in them as they absorbed the fluids of death into their cloth. These then, are those areas of unforgiveness, judgments, vows, mindsets and attitudes that have formed the basis of our lives in how we defined ourselves. These have been set since the earliest days of our lives with some having been set while in our mother's womb.

    Today, there is much that has come to light in these areas that are most critical to the removal of our grave clothes. John and Paula Sanford were leaders in this new field of ministry that is called "Inner Healing". Many others have taken up the baton of this ministry and have expanded its understanding and its implementation within the body of Christ. Not all believe but for those who do, and have been set free, will testify to its effectiveness in freeing those who are captives and have been bound for many years because their own grave clothes had not been removed. I urge you all strongly to search the internet for all you can learn of inner healing. We all carry the wounds of our past which have greatly affected our perspectives on life and other people in our lives. All these wrong perspectives MUST be changed so that we can begin to see ALL others, even those who have harmed us, as Jesus sees them, through eyes of perfect love. This cannot happen until we learn how to forgive and to discard those mindsets and judgments and vows that have distorted our views of life and as a result, brought only death.

    Until these grave clothes are removed and we are cleansed in the waters of His word and put on His righteousness by putting on the clothing of the living word, our fruit will remain unclean. Once this cleansing is completed and the fruit is no longer unclean, then the fruit is holy unto The Lord. It still cannot be eaten until it reaches its fifth year, after it is approved by God. This leads us into the third of the three testimonies.

    The Third of the Three Testimonies

    2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV)
    Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

    2 Corinthians 10:18 (NKJV)
    For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.

    1 Thessalonians 2:4 (NKJV)
    But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.

    Galatians 4:1-2 (NKJV)
    1 Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, 2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.
    In this collection of verses, we see some very important key words:
    APPROVED TO GOD
    COMMENDED BY THE LORD
    APPROVED BY GOD
    THE TIME APPOINTED BY THE FATHER

    All these indicate that we must go through a certain period of time until the Father approves us. The best illustration of this truth can be seen in the type and shadow of another New Testament example which represents the third testimony of this trilogy.

    The wedding at Cana of Galilee sets the stage to understanding this all important third stage. Let us take a look at what happened there that is of such significance towards our receiving of the Father's approval.
    John 2:1-10 (NKJV)
    1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”
    4 Jesus said to her, “ Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”
    5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
    6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. 7 Jesus said to them, “ Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, “ Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. 9 When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. 10 And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!”
    The first thing I would like to point out that the first verse indicates this time frame depicted here is the THIRD day. The significance of this is astounding when you view this as the third year or the last year of uncircumcision or uncleanness of the fruit. This is the year of transition from uncleanness to holiness or approval. It is not until the fruit has reached its fourth year does it become holy unto The Lord. Only after the fourth year, in the fifth year is anyone allowed to eat of this fruit. So let's see what happens on this last day of uncleanness.

    The wedding has run out of wine and Mary, the mother of Jesus, enlists Jesus to do something about this issue. She then instructs the servants to do whatever it is that Jesus commands them to do. In verse 6, we see 6 waterpots of stone or earthen vessels used by the Jews for their ritual cleansing. Jesus instructs them to fill all these stone waterpots with water. Once completed with this task, He then tells them to draw some of this water and bring it to the master of the feast for his approval. It was while on the way to the master of the feast that the water was changed to wine without the knowledge of the servant carrying the water. It wasn't until the master of the feast poured out this liquid did the servant see that the water had changed into wine and now, this wine was met with an enthusiastic approval by the master of the feast.

    Six is the number of man and these waterpots were earthen vessels and as such, represents man as well. They are to be filled completely with the water which represents the Word of God which is later described by Jesus as living waters. The waterpots are used for the ritual cleansing for service that all Jews are required to wash with in preparation for service in the temple of God. This indicates the washing of the water of God's word for our own service to God in His temple as we are called to be the temple of the living God. Just as 2 Timothy 2:15 states, we are to be filled with God's word through the diligent study of His word so that we can rightly understand and teach others His word according to His knowledge and understanding and in the doing of this, seek approval from the Father. All too often, men have not waited till they were completely filled with God's word before they launched into service as a minister of God and to be poured out as that new wine. In launching into service prematurely, prior to the approval of the Father, their water had not turned into wine but remained water.

    Even after Jesus instructed the servant to draw from these full vessels and be presented to the master of the feast, the servant remained unaware that the water had turned to wine. Once we too have been filled to the rim with God's word and we are then instructed by the Spirit of The Lord to present ourselves to the Father, we too will be unaware of any difference in ourselves as we obey His word. Only when the Father pours out of us into His own cup will we see that what has been deposited in us for so long has changed from just water or His word to an anointing, new wine. In Galatians, we learned that the law was our tutor or schoolmaster until faith is revealed in us. In this light, we are shown as being no different than a slave although we are heirs in Christ until that time when we receive our approval from the Father at His appointed time.

    Jesus who, as God's own Son, did not enter into His ministry until after He received the approval of His Father. We can see this when Jesus came to John the Baptist and was water baptized by John in the river Jordan. As He came up out of the water, a voice from heaven was heard by John saying, "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." Understand this, that Jesus had not yet preached His first sermon nor had He healed, delivered, raised from the dead any person till that point. His approval was based solely on the Father being pleased with Jesus being a Son. Jesus spent 30 years of His life being prepared for what was to be a 3 1/2 year ministry to demonstrate the heart of the Father to His people and to die in our place for the punishment of sin. Thirty years of preparation even as the Son of God in whom all the fullness of the Holy Spirit dwelled. God was not going to rush through this and send His only Son ahead of the schedule He set Himself. Growth and maturity through obedience was essential to Jesus and is vitally essential for us if we desire to be used of God in service.

    Immediately after Jesus' approval, He was driven into the wilderness for one final test before He would be released to minister God's word to His people. Once our water has turned to wine and we receive God's approval, we too must be tested in the fiery trials of the wilderness. For Jesus, this was a period of 40 days and nights without food or water. In this test of the wilderness, God had established since the Old Testament what He sought to accomplish. We can see these things in the children of Israel as they too were put to the test in the wilderness.
    Deuteronomy 8:2-3 (NKJV)
    And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.
    Two things need to occur in our own wilderness experience prior to our own release into the ministry God has called us into. These are the same two things the children of Israel faced as well as God's own Son.

    1-To humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

    2-He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of The Lord.

    It is only after we have been tested in this way, after we have received His approval, will we be allowed to enter into the ministry that God is calling us. For then we will have been approved by Him and we will have been tested in such a way to prove to ourselves and to God that we can be trusted with so great a message as the gospel of Jesus Christ. The 4th year of our fruit is the receiving of God's approval and at the end of that 4th year, our fruit is tested to see what manner of heart we will walk in so that we will know, beyond all doubt, the purpose of which we were called and minister. Then, after the end of our 4th year, that year of holiness to The Lord, will we be allowed to be eaten of all men even as Jesus gave Himself to be eaten of all men who desire the truth.

    Brethren, I cannot stress how important it is we follow all the requirements of The Lord if we desire to be used of Him as ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He has hidden His requirements in the types and shadows of scripture to be seen only by those who are overcomers. In Revelations 2:17, it is the hidden manna that is given to those who overcome. This is the hidden manna that only kings are given the privilege to search out according to Proverbs 25:2.
    Revelation 2:17 (NKJV)
    “ He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” ’

    Proverbs 25:2 (NKJV)
    It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
    But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
    As one who has gone through this long and arduous process, let me say that the wait is well worth it. Today, I have a view of His kingdom that most believers today may never attain. The rewards of this can not be overstated. The longer the wait for approval, the better the fruit, the sweeter the fruit and the more plentiful the fruit.
    John 15:8 (AMP)
    When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine.

    Jerry Sundberg

    Soon after I received the Lord in 1976, I started receiving prophetic visions and warnings about the future of the church and the United States. I share my visions on my Hidden Manna websites and offer free of charge my two ebooks entitled “Hidden Manna” and “Hidden Manna 2”.

    Website: Hidden Manna

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    3 comments :

    1. Cracking good study Jerry. Good read. Great stuff!

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    2. You know Keith, sometimes it takes me a long time to go back to a message the Holy Spirit gave me and only now do I read your comment. I know I approved it for it to show but to be honest, I forgot that and today, I am blessed by your comment. Thanks my friend. I so look forward to eventually meeting you in person, whether here in this world or in the next, Either way, I am blessed to have you as my brother in Christ!

      ReplyDelete
    3. […] For a further explanation of the process of ministry preparation, read my blog entitled “Requirements for Ministry“. […]

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