History shows us that man has misunderstood the gifts of the fivefold ministry since they were written 2000 years ago. Some men and women continue to wear these gifted offices as monikers of hierarchy commanding respect and notoriety, instead of taking on the role of servant as Jesus did when He walked on this earth. Those who lean toward insisting on being recognized and severed, instead of being the one to edify and serve others, is in essence saying they are better than Jesus.
Ephesians 4: 12 – 14, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.
In Ephesians 4:11 we studied out that Jesus gave the church the fivefold ministry as gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. Verse 12 tells us why this was done and confirms the fact that the fivefold ministry is not for “rulership” over the church, but rather for building up, edifying. In 1 Corinthians 12:28 when Paul is teaching about the spiritual gifts, he mentions “first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, etc. In 1 Corinthians 12:29 - 30 he indicates that not everyone is called to one of these offices, and some people use 1 Corinthians 12:28 to establish their take on a hierarchal church leadership. Ask yourself this, how does a church begin unless, “first”, someone hears from God to go into an area and start it, “an apostle”? How does that church grow unless someone that knows and lives the word of God, speaks into it, “a prophet”? The one starting the church could also be the one that prophesies into the church. How do the new church members grow up unless someone with the knowledge of the word of God starts teaching? What we have in 1 Corinthians 12:28 is the order Jesus has set forth for the building up of His church. Could someone go into an empty building and just start speaking in tongues and all of a sudden a congregation appears? If someone has a gift of administrations and there is only a couple of people attending the service of a newly started church, what church business are they going to administrate? 1 Corinthians 12:28 is giving us the order of how to grow churches and get His word out to the world. This verse is not the order of hierarchy of the leadership in the church, but the order of building the foundation of a solid church. Paul tells us to desire the best gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:31, knowing that through this desire Jesus will lift up people from the church to fulfill these offices as the church grows and church expansion calls for a new planting of another church. “and yet I show you a more excellent way”, In the last half of verse 31 Paul is preparing us for the true reason for the gifts given to the church which is found in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, “the love chapter”. We are called to love our brothers as we love ourselves, regardless of what race they were born into, or religion they came from, or what position in life a person holds, be it wealthy and powerful, or a slave, we are called to love one another. Loving one another is the “only” way the world can distinguish Christianity from any other religion. Every religion has a god, and every religion has their way to heaven that they think is the right way, whether it is here on earth or in some celestial place, but followers of Jesus Christ, whom the world named the early Christians as a derogatory remark, are called to love one another over anything else on earth. This can only be possible through, “Ephesians 4:12-13, “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”.
We will never come to the point of being a perfect man while here on earth, nor fully understand the measure of stature of the fullness of Christ. As we grow in our knowledge of the Son of God we will come into an understanding of what unity of faith truly is. That is the purpose of the gifts of the fivefold ministry. As long as we stay ignorant of the grace of God through the sacrifice of Jesus, we stay stuck in our carnal thinking and we will never understand our purpose here on earth. Unity of faith is not where a congregation purposes to think and act like the pastor does, all living and working for the overall good of their church. That way of thinking borders cultism. Unity of faith is understanding that if Jesus laid down his life for “everyone” in this world both born before Him and those of us born after His resurrection, then that is the kind of love we should reach for in our own walk as followers of Christ toward everyone, not just those in our church.
As we grow in faith and understand of the Word of God, then we will no longer be childish in our spiritual understanding. By increasing in the knowledge of the true Word of God, we can no longer be swayed by the next phase of religious mumbo jumbo that comes our way. How sad it must be for Jesus to watch the children of God, His church, whose sins were paid for by His blood, sitting in various churches dying on the vine being fed man’s doctrine instead of the true word of God. Romans 3:4 “let God be true and every man a liar”. This may seem hard to hear, but if anyone teaches that Jesus was just a man and denies that He was in fact God that came down to earth “as a man”, that His life and even more His death was to pay for our sins, and that He has been resurrected from the dead, seated at the right hand of God making intercession for us, then those people teaching against these truths are “antichrist” (1 John 2:18, 2:22, 4:13, 2 John 1:7). In Galatians 1:6 Paul confronts the Galatians for turning away from the true gospel and back into legalism and man’s wisdom. They were children being tossed to and fro by every wind and doctrine. This is sad for the Christian to turn away from the true gospel, but it is a curse on those teaching false doctrine as declared by Paul in Galatians 1:8 & 9, “8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed”. Paul is so strong in his stand against false doctrine that he is even adding his name to the list as cursed if he were ever to start preaching anything other than what he first preached to the Galatians, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul’s word in Galatians 1:8 & 9 lines up with John 1:1-2 which is an important point to recognize. Satan is a liar and the father of all lies, John 8:44. When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness after He had gone forty days without food or water, he used scriptures from the word of God that were taken out of context. If Jesus had not known the truth of God’s word He could have fallen for the lies. We have to understand that even a partial truth is the same as a lie. We must remember that when we read the last half of Ephesians 4:14, “by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting”, that it may not be the actual person consciously trying to trick or deceive God’s people, but rather the devil working through their misunderstanding of the word. Jesus warned His disciples in Matthew 16:6 to be aware of the leaven of the Pharisees. Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:6 and Galatians 5:9 tell us that even a little leaven, “or lie”, leavens the whole lump. (or lie, emphasis mine). Deuteronomy 19:15, Matthew 18:16 and John8:17 give us a rule of thumb for establishing the truth of God’s word, “By the witness of two or more a matter shall be established”. By understanding this concept we can better protect ourselves when we hear a preached word that does not set well with our spirit or we do not understand. We are not supposed to just sit and accept everything we hear from the pulpit as though it is flawless truth, but are called to search the word for ourselves; one to confirm that the preached word lines up with the Spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and two by doing so we also make the true preached word our own. There is no place in the kingdom of God to ride in on another believers coattails. We will all stand before the Lord Jesus someday and He will not accept the story, “but my pastor taught me so” as we are being personally held accountable for our walk here on earth. Jesus wants us to have a personal relationship with Him so that when we do reach heaven and face Him face to face He can tell us “well done” My good and faithful servant.
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