Ephesians 4:11(NKJV) 11And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
In Ephesians chapter 4 the Lord reveals to us that he has given gifts to all men. Five of these gifts are listed in verse 11. Their particular function in the Body of Christ is to bring the rest of the gifts, or members, to maturity so they can take their place in the body. This will result in the whole body becoming mature and capable of occupying the earth in the spirit until Jesus comes.
These gifts represent five categories of people who are called to fulltime ministry in the church. However, there are other people in the church who are not called in the same sense as the “fivefold” ministry. These people serve in the local church as time allows. They may teach Sunday school, work in a food pantry or clean the church building but they serve in some capacity. The five gifts mentioned above also represent five categories of ministry into which the members of the congregation will fall. They may not be a prophet, but the nature of their ministry to the church will be prophetic. It will flow from that perspective and have a similar affect as that of the prophet. This is true for all five.
It is important to understand these five gifts so that those who are called to be these things can find that out. It is also important so that the rest of the congregation can understand how they fit and why they see things and react to things the way they do. The more we understand one another the easier it is for us to function together as one body.
We have studied these gifts from two perspectives. Today I want to look at what they love. I find this perspective to be the most revealing.
We will start with the pastor. I prefer the word shepherd because we have come to use the word pastor to refer to whoever is leading the local church. The Greek word in Ephesians 4 carries with it the idea of a shepherd. The shepherd is the one who directly cares for the sheep. The shepherd loves the sheep. He loves people, but not just any people. He loves the flock he cares for. He will protect them, feed them and nurture them. He is focused on their wellbeing and sensitive to every need.
Jesus said the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. As the chief shepherd, Jesus laid down his life by dying on the cross. The fivefold shepherd would physically die for his flock if that were what was necessary, however, he does die in a very different way. He lays down his life, his cares and his trials, to take up those of the flock. He sacrifices his time and energy to see to it that his sheep are cared for to the best of his ability. He will fight any “wolf” that tries to take one of his sheep. He knows he must give account before God for each of the sheep in his care.
The teacher is very different. Where the shepherd loves the people of his flock above all else, the teacher loves the Word of God above all else. He would rather spend time in study than in fellowship. All of these gifts must love the people of God, but they all manifest that love in a different way. The teacher manifests it by committing himself to being sure that what he brings to the people is present revelation from the Word. His greatest joy is to see a believer walk in the truth that God is using him to convey.
The next gift is that of the evangelist. It is not hard to guess who or what the evangelist loves. He loves the lost. I would also add that he loves the Gospel. Paul said the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. The evangelist is consumed with the thought that every person must hear the gospel so they can receive eternal life. He cannot bear to see one soul slip into an eternity without God. He loves those who do not know Jesus as their savior. He weeps for their lost condition. This can make it seem that he does not care for the church, but his love for the church is
The prophet loves God above all else. Every believer should love God, but the prophet’s love for God is in another dimension. The whole purpose for the prophet’s existence in the church is to give correction and direction. The nature of the prophetic gift is to communicate the specific will of God for a specific people at a specific time. For the prophet to do this, he must know what that is. He must spend time with God. He must be focused on God’s voice and his will above all else.
To the prophet, people are often a distraction to hearing what God has to say. He does not want to be hear people’s opinions or even hear about their needs. If he is going to minister to a person’s need he must do so because the Lord has revealed that need to him. If that is not the case, he feels out of place. He feels compromised. He does not know if he is simply responding to you or to the direction of the Lord. There is nothing wrong with seeing a person has a need and responding to it. For the Prophet, however, this goes against his mandate and his nature. He loves God and what he does must be in response to God’s direction above all else.
The last of the five is the apostle. This gift is often misunderstood. I remember when the first prophetic confirmation came to my life that this was the primary calling. The next thing I was told was that I would be out in the jungles of Africa in a 4-wheel drive truck planting churches. I have been to Africa many times, but I have planted only three churches and all of them in the US. To most people an apostle is someone who plants churches. However, an apostle plants churches as a result of what he is. He is not an apostle because he plants churches.
What does the apostle really love? It is a little more difficult to discern what he loves because he easily touches the other four. There are times when the focus of his love may be on any one of the above. The apostle loves foundation. He wants to make sure things are established according to the right biblical order. He loves other ministry gifts. The word translated “apostle” comes from a word that means general. He cares for those who care for others. He wants to teach those who are called to the fivefold ministry how to function with character and integrity.
He also loves the fundamental principles of the Word of God. He works to make sure that both the leaders and the people are following them. He knows that to follow these basic principles will lead to success. To violate them will invite sin and death. He is ready to discipline those who do violate them.
What one thing does he love above all else? The apostle loves the church. He loves the people, but more than that, he loves the institution of the church. He sees the church for what it can be and should be, the living, vibrant body of Christ that is the only hope for the world. He is consumed by a desire to see the church develop into “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
Each one of these gifts has strengths and weaknesses. We must make sure that we do not allow the weaknesses to dominate us. We must learn to bring them into balance. Although I have used male pronouns for convenience, these gifts can be either male or female. Most important I believe that you fall into one of these categories.
Read over this week’s blog entries. Get the audio message at www.livingwordgreene.com/media. The title is “The Purpose of the Body of Christ”. (It will be posted soon if it is not already.) The audio recordings are free. This message will help you understand where you fit and why you see things the way you do. We need every joint to supply. Find out what kind of joint you are and start supplying that to your local church this week.