Are we beginning to praise ourselves again? Are we like others, who need to bring you letters of recommendation, or who ask you to write such letters on their behalf? Surely not! The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. 2 Corinthians 1-3 (NLT)
There are those that teach that the reason God granted the miraculous signs and wonders to the apostles that we read about in the book of Acts, was so that they would serve as a “letter of recommendation” to their apostolic ministry. If this were true, then it would make sense that the miracles and signs and wonders would cease with the apostles passing – because there would no longer be a need for their ministry. However, Paul clearly says it is miraculously changed lives that serve as his letter of recommendation – not any miraculous signs and wonders. This is significant.
Anybody can receive a certificate of ordination to be a pastor. Yet, it is the fruit of that person’s ministry that is the true credential – not a piece of paper.
If one thing is clear about Jesus’ teaching and constant rebuke of the religious establishment, it is that just because you call yourself a Christian, it’s the fruit of your ministry that is the true test.
Matthew 7:15-20 says this:
“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”
Which, inevitably leads to the following passage. I think many who think they are Christians will be surprised on judgement day:
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in yoply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” Matt 7:21-23 (NLT)
So – we are His ministers. Our credentials are not on paper, but in the changed lives of those we come in contact with today. We need to be caught doing the will of the Father when He returns.
Let’s do it!