Sunday, August 24, 2008

Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist, Pastors and Teachers and Fresh Fire

There is a great deal of conversation and commotion in the Body of Christ today about the reality of having Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist, Pastors and Teachers as described in
Ephesians 4:11-13.
Some say that God never intended these Gift/offices to fade away or be done away with while others say these gifts do not all function today, others believe they are still functioning in the church today but under different names.

You’re Wineskin (church government and structure) along with the point in history and context of the birth of your fellowship or church group (revival or move of God or desire of man from which it sprang into life) will greatly determine how you understand the meaning and function of these gifts.

It is not my objective to argue this point today. Instead, I would like to look at the purpose or responsibility and character of these 'gifts to the church' and all who are called into the leadership of God's people. These verses when examined in a variety of translations and the Greek in which it was originally written help us to understand that 'the gifts' God has given have the responsibility to:
1. To Equip believers to do the work of the ministry (those things that Jesus began to do and teach and then were carried out by the Holy Spirit through those who made Jesus their Lord and Savior)
2. To build up one another (those who have also become believers and disciples of Jesus the Messiah)
3. To bring them into a place of full maturity.'

When we examine the words and their meaning in context we see that a part of this equipping is the mending or making whole of individual believer so that they can fulfill God's call on their life.

We also see that another part of being equipped, is to be properly fit (taking ones proper and unique place) into the body of Christ according to God's grace given each individual, as well as, the operation of His gifts in them, along with their skills, maturity and experience.

The death and resurrection of Jesus was designed to make us whole and make maturity in Him not only possible but our primary co-objective as we continue to do those things that Jesus began to do and teach through the power of His Holy Spirit.

A more complete look at the context of this passage will assist us in understanding the purpose of these three verses. The greater context will also help us to understand the expectations we should have of ourselves and those called into these positions which the Holy spirit in scripture calls Gifts to His Church.

Eph 4:1-16
4:1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:
"When he ascended on high, he led captives in his trainand gave gifts to men."
9 (What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. NIV

A powerful move of God, a revival, or releasing of His glory or presence which does not then become the catalyst or launching pad for the continuation of those things Jesus began to do and teach has failed to accomplish what God desired.

It is the responsibility of the Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist, Pastors and Teachers to make sure that those things Jesus began to do and teach are continued as a result of THE FRESH FIRE!

Artwork, The Road to the Cross by Graham Braddock

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