A Serving Church Equips Her People
Many of us can echo the statements we heard growing up about why we go to church. “We are supposed to keep the Sabbath day holy,” “It’s the Lord’s day and we need to go to His house and worship Him,” “It’s what you’re supposed to do on Sunday…” and the list goes on and on.
I want to challenge these types of thoughts. Let me begin by saying, “Yes, I do agree and exclaim that it is the Lord’s day and is to be kept holy, and yes, we are to come together and worship Him.” But is that it? Is Sunday worship the only purpose served by us coming together?
Paul teaches us the answer to that question is NO! Ephesians 4:11-13 reads, “It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 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.”
Based on this and other passages about the church, it is evident that God has set up a system to train us in how to serve Him. This training may be done through the mouths of men but empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Apostles, Apostolos, a delegate, messenger, one sent forth. God will send people with a fresh view that often challenges tradition for traditions sake. Helping us to see biblical adjustments that are needed to be more effective servants.
Prophets, prophetes, one who speaks forth by the inspiration of God. The prophet relates deeper meaning into the word of God and how it relates to mankind in life. God gives the prophet special insight to help guide the church and those seeking to follow God.
Evangelists, euaggelistes, a proclaimer of the Gospel. This person is not only a proclaimer of the Gospel but God has also given him a passion to teach others how to proclaim salvation for mankind. Every biblical evangelist I have ever met (not the necessarily the guy who preached your revival) has had a passion to not only proclaim, but also, to train other believers to do likewise.
Pastors, poimen, literally a shepherd. One who cares for the flock. This is one who, as a leader in the church, oversees those apostles and prophets and evangelists and teachers. He protects the flock and also leads the flock into green pastures and clean water. He brings them back when they stray. His flock is so familiar that they hear his voice and he is walking so close with the Lord that it is the chief shepherds voice that is heard.
Teachers, didaskalos, those who in religious assemblies of Christians undertake the work of teaching. A qualified teacher imparts knowledge to spiritually younger Christians to help them better understand the word and working of God.
Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers (spiritual leadership) are often referred to as the five-fold ministry of the church. These are not the only ministries of the church, but, these particular roles are called out specifically for the purpose “to prepare God’s people for works of service.”
So what are these works of service? Earlier in Ephesians Paul expresses, “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Jesus commands us to live holy lives and the results of obedience to these commands are recognized as good works. Loving your neighbor, is this evidenced by holding them dear in your heart or by helping them in time of need? Going the extra mile, is this accomplished by having the attitude of doing more or by wearing out the shoes on your feet? Feeding the hungry, passing out a Thanksgiving meal once a year or creating a food pantry for anyone who asks for food? Are we doing good works or holding to the idea of doing good works?
Spiritual leadership has a great responsibility to correctly handle the Word of God and the Commands of Christ as we teach, equip and admonish the body. The body is to be personally seeking God, be in the Word and prayerfully adhering to their spiritual leaders teaching, equipping and admonishing into their lives and their service for the Kingdom. These faithful actions in the church should result in the churches growth in ministries to their community through the practice of doing good works.
Here is an intriguing aspect of these good works, they are not done for the sole purpose of meeting needs and reaching the lost. They are also done (and I believe mainly done) to build the body of Christ, the church; for the church to be unified in faith and knowledge of Christ, and for the church to become mature in Christ. I love the complimentary phrase that follows this, “attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” When we serve God together we grow in Christ together and the Holy Spirit works through our lives binding us with commonality making us more unified. We truly get to know one another deeper through fox-hole experiences, sweating together, praying together, hurting together, ministering together, doing good works together.
Moving on to verses 14 and 15 we understand that we also mature together. “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teachings and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”
God desires to equip us with His teaching and power to accomplish His work. Are you being obedient in performing the works God has placed in your life? Have you placed yourself in a position to receive the equipping God is providing? Have you surrendered your life to His Lordship?