11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
The Importance of Christ as Foundation. I don’t think anyone is going to argue against the fact that Christ is the centre of his church. He is the King, seated at the right hand of his Father, and has left his first disciples and us who follow to continue his legacy. In the above passage, we notice four things: 1. “He” Jesus gave some; 2. The List of Positions; 3. The Reason: To equip the saints; 4. The Purpose: For the work.
1. “He (Jesus) Gave Some As.” Today what we’re wanting to stress is the fact the “He” (that is Jesus) gave some to be in these roles in establishing the Kingdom on the earth. These roles will only exist during this phase of the earth, afterwards, we will be in heaven and all would have been evangelised and believers of the Most High. There won’t be a need for outreaching or evangelising anymore. Last week we referenced to the verse of 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, ‘that no foundation can be laid other than that which is laid in Christ Jesus.‘ Jesus is the foundation which all the roles build in reference to. Jesus is the reference always in every step of the church building process.
2. The List of Positions. We find in this passage a list of positions which have been given as “gifts to men” (Ephesians 4:8) by Jesus himself as he ascended into heaven. We have 1. The Apostles, 2. The Prophets, 3. The Evangelists, 4. The Shepherds, 5. The Teachers. All these roles play critical functions within establishing the Kingdom on earth. It’s when either one is not properly understood that we find an area of dysfunction emerges in the Body of Christ. The roles go both ways. From those called to those who will sit under their care. Hebrews 13:17 talks about how to have confidence in your leaders as they will give account for your souls. In other words, they will have to answer for their works, and we all know those in ministry will be judged harsher than those who aren’t (James 3:1). It is also important to understand they have not only received a function within the body of Christ but also a measure of Christ’s gift (Eph 4:7). Which means God has also designated them certain areas of strength as well as capacities for those things. They are also gaining daily an understanding of their callings, and so patience is needed when sitting under any leader, but your faithfulness is not to them, but to the Lord. He is your rewarder when you know how this all comes together. We see this occur in the life of Paul among others, but he, in particular, was in the desert for three years making sense of the ministry the Lord called him to. Peter is another example of how someone can still refine their message, even whilst in ministry.
3. The Reason: To Equip the Saints. This equipping of the saints is the central idea as to why the roles are placed in the community of Christians. They are there to equip, educate, bless and open up an understanding of the Word of God, which all reflects the actions of Christ. It is like personal trainers have been left to instruct the church into its future identity of Christ. Christ is the model and they are positioned to establish Christ in each person they lead and care for. Every student needs a teacher, every disciple needs a Rabbi, the same is true for the church. Some are beginners in the faith and some more seasoned, but all called to fit into this picture of establishing the Kingdom on the earth. For more on this, we can look to a passage like 1 Corinthians 12 where it describes how the body is to function with each other. Something of another topic in light of this, but definitely part of the big picture.
4. The Purpose: For the Work of Service. I’ve called this point “The Purpose” because it is the aim of establishing others enough in their faith to effectively work in the aspects of Christ and their callings and mission paths in the community. The body of Christ can function properly as a whole also when each part does its part. Ephesians 4:16 actually points out how when each part functions “properly it causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” This is when we know we’ve reached the healthy state of the Christian community. When it is able to keep rolling on with a momentum and the culture in that place is so strong it will remain. This service and momentum continue within the body, and also begins to impact the environment around it. It becomes part of the missional aware church of Christ’s Vision to all the earth.
Conclusion. The idea of church is to enjoy your leaders and to take care of them. They’ve been called to accomplish a task in your midst of training and equipping you for able workmanship in God’s Kingdom. Understand how each part comes together and you’ll find your church perspective shift to a powerhouse thinking which is all accredited to our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.