1. IS “MUTUAL MINISTRY” SCRIPTURAL?
The King James translators render the words of Paul in Romans 1:12, “For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established, that is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.” The RSV has it, “That we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” This is important because it shows that the word “mutual” denotes a reciprocal action. It is not “one toward others,” but it is “each toward the other.” The same word that is translated “mutual” in this place is 76 times rendered “one another.” The lexicons define the original with the terms, “one another, reciprocally, mutually.”
In 1 Peter 4:10 we read, “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” This passage regulates the use of gifts which may be employed for the welfare of the community. The instruction is to every man. It embraces the proper utilization of every gift. God bestows no useless gifts. His grace is many-sided. It is reflected in diverse ways and means. But those who are recipients and possessors of gifts are stewards, and as such must render an account to the Master. To be good stewards, those entrusted with a gift, must minister the same one to another, that is, mutually. Here is “mutual ministry” and it is authorized by the God of heaven.
Those who oppose this clear instruction and are exponents and defenders of The System, which purports to be the church of God, seek by devious forms of argument to offset the teaching of the Spirit. Many who glibly quote the succeeding verse, which is but an exposition of this one, deny the applicability of the passage under consideration, to our present state. They wave it lightly aside by making it appear that it belonged only to the miraculous age, and the gifts to be ministered mutually are no longer obtainable, so the regulation for employment of the gifts of the holy ones has been abrogated.
This shallow reasoning is the refuge of those who have “an axe to grind,” and who are more interested in keeping what they have, than in restoring what God has authorized. The word charisma simply means “a favor which one receives without any merit of his own.” It may be either a natural or supernatural gift. In either case it is from God, for “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights.” The word is applied to the natural gift of continence, which enabled Paul to be free from the compulsion of sexual desire, and thus to remain unmarried (1 Cor. 7:7). He calls it a gift from God.
Supernatural gifts belong to the supernatural age of the community of the Christ, natural gifts belong to a natural age of administration. But the regulation for employment of the gifts of God does not change, and all such are to be ministered mutually, according to the ability bestowed by God. To attempt to deprive many gifted ones in the community from exercise of their abilities, and set up a system which would make such exercise impossible, and to do so on the basis that God removed the right to use gifts he now bestows, when he changed the method of bestowal, is to tamper with divine prerogatives in a manner which should make those shudder who are guilty of doing so. Certainly, if when men were directly endowed by the Spirit, all were to minister, it would be presumptuous to assert that since none are directly endowed, one may assume to do it all.
2. SCOPE OF MUTUAL MINISTRY W.Carl Ketcherside, Reprinted with Permission