What The Church Needs
The Body of Christ, the Church, is a divinely ordained organism rather than a man-made organization. It is a living, functioning, growing spiritual Body.
Because this is true, the Church need s divinely-given abilities, imparted to divinely-appointed servant-leaders.
We can try to fulfill the needs of the Church using human strength and wisdom – but we will fail! We can try to replace Holy Spirit anointing with our own knowledge, skills or cleverness. But these things will never be enough to establish God’s will and effectively minister His life to His people.
Our Lord is not opposed to education or schooling (Prov 4:7); He just knows that academic achievement by itself is insufficient (Zech 4:6; 1Cor 8:1).
The pattern seen in the New Testament is that God can powerfully use any man or woman, whether they are educated (i.e., Paul, Apollos, Luke, Matthew) or not (i.e., Peter, James, John). If their hearts and lives are fully surrendered to Him and to the power of His Spirit, He will use them!
The Church in the first century and the Church today need the same thing. They both need supernaturally chosen, divinely equipped, servant-hearted leaders!
A. Jesus Embodies The Ministry Gifts
Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, has provided all that the Church needs. This servant-leader gifting that Christ has given to His Church is based upon the five ministry gifts. They are listed in Ephesians 4:11: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists and some pastors and teachers.”
These five ministry gifts are supernaturally given by the Lord to certain persons. These gifts reflect the person and ministry of Christ Himself.
- Jesus is the APOSTLE
“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus” (Heb 3:1).
- Jesus is the PROPHET
“Concerning Jesus of Nazareth …a Prophet mighty in deed and word” (Luke 24:19).
- Jesus is the EVANGELIST
“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth [crucified], will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32).
- Jesus is the PASTOR
“I am the good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
- Jesus is the TEACHER
“Rabbi, I’ve know that you are a Teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with Him” (John 3:2).
Jesus is the fullness and embodiment of all these ministry gifts.
B. Five Ministry Gifts Given To The Church (Eph 4:7-11)
“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: ‘When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men’. (Now this, ‘He ascended’ –what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One Who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, arid some pastors and teachers.”
This passage makes it clear that after His ascension into heaven (Acts 1:9) to be enthroned at the right hand of the Father (Eph 1:20- 23), Jesus then distributed these five ministry gifts to His Church.
Each of these ministry gifts is by itself only a partial expression of Christ’s own complete ministry. No single person could contain the entire ministry of Jesus.
These five ministry gifts are like the fingers on the human hand. When any of them is missing or they won’t work together, our abilities are weakened.
Three important truths emerge from this passage of Scripture:
- The Five Ministry Gifts – Are Given By Christ Alone
They cannot be given by human appointment or ability. They cannot be given or taken by any person who simply wants to have that particular gift. These five ministry gifts are bestowed by Christ alone. It is He Who gives and empowers these gifts.
- The Five Ministry Gifts – Function By Grace
These gifts will function properly only under the guidance, control, and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit of God that applies God’s grace to our lives and ministries. The Greek root-word for “gift” is the same as grace -“charis“. The gifts of God cannot operate fully or properly without the Spirit of God leading and guiding us as we seek to serve the Church.
- The Five Ministry Gifts – Require A Servant’s Heart
These five gifts – apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher are not titles. They were never used as titles in the New Testament. They were actually used as job descriptions to portray a functional service role in the Church.
Remember Christ’s own words when He described His ministry: “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many“ (Matt 20:28).
Let us not be anxious to grab for titles or lofty positions. Instead, let us be of the same mind and heart that is in Christ (Phil 2: 1-8), and desire to serve others.
The Purpose Of The Five Ministry Gifts
We know that all members of the Body of Christ have their part to play in edifying the Church and glorifying Christ.
However, the ascended Christ has given the five ministry gifts for a specific purpose described for us in Ephesians 4:12: ”For tile equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ.”
The word “equipping” in this verse is translated from the Greek word katartismos, which means “to make complete”. It comes from the root-word katartizo, meaning “to repair or adjust; to make fit, mend; to perfect, prepare, restore”.
In other words, one could describe the purpose of the five ministry Gifts this way: “To prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up“.
Christ gives ministry gifts to certain believers NOT to enable them to do the work of the ministry by themselves – but to enable them to prepare other believers to do the work of the ministry also.
Even the Apostle Paul did not try to do the work of ministry by himself ; in fact, he devoted three whole epistles to preparing Timothy and Titus to a) do the work of the ministry and b) prepare still others to carry on the work of the ministry (see 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus).·
Certain believers have the specific ministry gifts of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, Teacher; other believers do not. But ALL believers have a ministry to perform in building up the Church and edifying the people of God.
All believers should minister in all three of these areas: upward, inward, and outward.
1) Upward: Ministry to the Lord –Worship (Psalm 150:6; Eph 5:19).
2) Inward: Ministry to the Body Nurture (Eph 4:16;.Acts 2:42-46).
3) Outward: Ministry to the World –Witness (Matt 5:13-16; Phil 2:15).
May each of us dedicate ourselves to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, living daily to fulfill all of the ministry appointed for us.