God At Work In History

History etched on an old paper scroll with a vintage clock

On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. Galatians 2:7-8 (NIV)

The words that you have just read were written by the apostle Paul. They are part of a larger section in which Paul describes what took place during one of his trips to Jerusalem. The events which he describes involved him personally. This text, as brief as it is, tells us some very important things about ministry.

One truth that emerges from these verses is that God can call individuals to minister to different people groups. Paul said that he had been given the task of declaring the gospel to the Gentiles and that Peter had been given the task of presenting the gospel to the Jews. This does not mean that Paul did not minister to Jews, for it is clear that he did (Acts 9:20-22; 13:5; 14-43), nor does it mean that Peter did not minister to Gentiles; because Scripture affirms that he did (Acts 10:34-48).

What our text means is that Paul’s primary mission field was the Gentiles and Peter’s primary mission field was the Jews. Since the days of the New Testament God has been calling men and women to present the gospel to different countries and different people groups. You may known someone personally who feels that God has called them to a particular continent, country, or people group. Maybe you feel that way!

Another truth that we can see in this text is that other people can recognize the calling that an individual has received from the Lord. The leaders of the church in Jerusalem were convinced that God had called Paul to minister to the Gentiles. How did they come to believe this? Did they believe it because Paul told them, or was it because he was actively involved in the work at the time?

It is possible that one, or both, of these things played some part in bringing the leaders of the Jerusalem church to their conclusion. However, I think that there was something even more convincing involved. This brings us to the third truth that we can see in this passage.

The third truth, which I think was the thing that convinced the leaders of the Jerusalem church that Paul was called to minister to the Gentiles, was that God was at work in his ministry. Paul had a fruitful ministry, there was evidence of divine activity, people were coming to faith in Christ and healings and miracles were also taking place.

If you read the book of Acts you will see that these things are true. God often works through human beings, through men and women whom He has chosen. When He does this His working is evident because there is effective ministry. Isn’t that what we all want? We want God to be at work in our ministries as we step out to serve Him.

God has been at work in history. He has called people to serve Him and caused them to be effective. But our God is more than a God of history; He is a God of the present and He is currently at work in our world. He is calling people into ministry (even you) and empowering them to be effective. Yes, God is at work.

Let each of us join Him in His work, by responding to His call, whatever that is for each of us. He will make us “competent as ministers of a new covenant” (2 Cor. 3:6, NIV). If we respond to His call there will be fruit; the kingdom will be expanded and strengthened, and the Lord will be glorified.


John P. Lathrop - United States

John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Western Connecticut State University, Zion Bible Institute, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Center for Urban Ministerial Education (CUME). He is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies and has twenty years of pastoral experience.

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