Ephesians 4:8-14 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;...
Over the last couple weeks, we have been discussing the idea of trials, tribulations, or storms in the lives of believers. In the first week, the point that was most pressing was the fact that when we the believer finds himself in the midst of a storm, he is instructed by God to ask for wisdom. Once again, wisdom is more than just knowledge about God; rather, wisdom is the ability to properly apply the word of God in the everyday circumstances of life.
Last week we started on this passage out of Ephesians, taking the position that the wisdom of a mariner would be the ability to properly plot the needed coordinates on a navigational chart in order to reach the intended destination. In a similar fashion, the believer must be able to properly apply the wisdom of God in daily life in order to reach the intended destination. Last week we spoke of the importance of doctrine for the body of Christ. If wisdom is the proper application of God's word in everyday life, then doctrine is the specific coordinates or instructions regarding God's word that allow a believer to properly understand what the word is saying to begin with. Without a proper understanding of justification, sanctification, atonement, righteousness..., which are some of the extremely important biblical doctrines, it is impossible for a Christian to understand where to properly place their faith; simply stated: these are the coordinates, from which Godly wisdom is plotted through the course of life. Sadly, people in the modern church have shunned doctrine and wisdom for what they call "experience," some "goose bump" entertainment show that focuses on signs and wonders (review what Jesus said about that generation-- Matt 12:39) instead of a proper understanding of God's word. An atmosphere like this moves people away from the centrality of the gospel towards emotions and experience; furthermore, when the people of God, over the years are conditioned to move from the importance of a proper understanding of the Gospel to seeking a supernatural experience, they became inept in the scriptures, which leaves them unprepared and vulnerable to the deception of false doctrine and the sleight of cunning men, resulting in a tossing to and fro upon every wind of doctrine.
In the midst of a raging sea, the believer is thrown off course because he has no Godly wisdom, because he has no understanding of doctrine. Where are the teachers? Where are the men and women of God that would properly dissect the scriptures and feed the sheep instead of preparing some sweet tasting truffle I mean trifle that destroys the soul. Here lies the transition point to finish this Ephesians passage, discussing the fivefold ministry that Jesus gave as gifts to His church, we will realize that God's plan involves using others to teach us the principles needed in order to navigate properly the journey of Christianity, and more specifically, needed to navigate properly in the midst of the storm, so we’re not blown off course and lose our way.
My brother- in- law used to have a marine navigation school business where they taught AB seaman to plot coordinates and various other aspects of the mariner's trade for the purpose of ultimately passing the test to become a licensed captain. In the part of the Ephesians passage, we will cover tonight; we could see the fivefold ministry as the instructors giving us the needed understanding (with the help of the Holy Spirit of course) in order to properly interpret the word of God for ourselves. Some would pull a passage out of first John saying, "I don't need a teacher. I have an unction." Ok, that's between you and Jesus, but I hope you're right because the Bible says He gave you gifts, which included teachers. While we're here I should point out that just because someone calls themselves a teacher or a minister doesn't mean that they are telling the truth, or even know the truth for that matter. In the last class, we covered the fact that it was false doctrine, taught through the sleight of cunning man that resulting in a wind of false doctrine blowing believers off course. I probably have skirted around this issue for too long, so let me say what I really feel. I believe that much of what we call "Christian" television is under the influence of a demonic anointing. If you can't wrap your mind around that, buy my book Occult Exposure it may help. (see link below to purchase)
If you're saying, "This guy is crazy. I don't want to hear this." Just quit reading, but don't say no one ever warned you that there was great deception in the church. Had we read and been taught the Bible properly, we would have known that the mystery religions (terminology for Satan's false religions and lies) had entered Judaism and the early church, which should have ultimately made us aware that it would have been still alive today. Anyway, the point is that if you're following after deceitful teachers, you're under the influence of false doctrine, and this could very well be the reason that the storm rages.
"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers..."
Let's take them one at a time:
There has been arguments back and forth on whether the office of the Apostle still
exists today. It should be made clear that the Bible speaks of the fact that the New
Jerusalem (when the new heavens and new earth descend from God-- O' happy day!) will have a wall made with stones. Contained within that wall will be the names of the twelve original apostles; obviously, these apostolic positions are taken. There are only twelve, and God won't be scratching out any of their names to put any of ours.
The word 'apostle' itself literally means "a sent one."
When a man is called by the living God, it’s quite clear that he's been called. If you remember Isaiah's calling, God touched the coal to his lips. The result of his ministry was that the word of God would go forth, and those that refused to receive God's word would have their hearts hardened, which would further result in their refusal to repent and be healed.
A sent one is an ambassador. He represents the God of glory, and he speaks forth the oracles of God not man. A sent one is not voted on by religious man. As a matter of fact, more than not, he will be shunned by religious man.
The Apostle, sent by God, speaks the words of God, and signs will follow his work. It's my contention that most of what we hear about today regarding signs and wonders are lying wonders with more to come. Let it be known that there is a time coming upon the earth where God's sent ones will speak forth the word of God with power like never before, and true signs and wonders will follow them.
It's important that people understand that there is a difference between the gift or "office" of the prophet, which is what we are speaking of here and the gift of prophecy.
In other words the Prophet is a gift given by Jesus to the church for a specific purpose; whereas, the gift of prophecy is a gift of the Spirit of God.
The gift of prophecy is a word given by a man or woman regarding the work of God, and many times it foretells some event that will take place in the future.
The Prophet of God many times operates in the gift of prophecy, but his main purpose is to bring a word of correction to the people of God. Just as Israel of old (Isaiah), and during the time just before Jesus' ministry (John the Baptist), God used the prophet to awaken His people from their slumber in sin.
This office is needed more now than ever before. We live in the midst of a time frame where the so-called church is fulfilling the prophetic word of the Apostle Paul:
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." 2 Timothy 4:3-4
...itching ears-- desirous to hear pleasant words.
Well, let me tell you something there are liars that are lulling Christians to sleep. The seeker sensitive movement is more concerned about "church growth" than the preaching of the gospel, and they pretend that the masses sitting on the pew are saved; yet, they have never heard a sermon on the severity of sin, the Christ of the cross, or the need for repentance of sin.
They sit in their happy place, hearing happy words, but God help us! Send us a prophet Lord that will tell us the truth about Your Word, and please give us a hungry heart to receive.
The word for evangelist is built upon the same word in the Greek as evangelize and in some places the word translated in English is preach.
Essentially, an evangelist is a herald of the gospel message. If you've ever seen a movie taking place in medieval times, you may have visualized a scene where the man unrolls the scroll and speaks forth the edict of the king. That man is a herald. An evangelist is a herald of the king proclaiming the salvation message of Jesus Christ.
Sadly, I have personally had conversations with multiple pastors who somehow found others in a chat room somewhere, convincing themselves that a true Evangelist has no place in the church. Instead, his place is only in the streets, or some other outside venue—meaning outside the four walls of his church.
Let me say this, "A true evangelist will preach the gospel everywhere his feet trod, but anyone who attempts to proclaim that the office of the Evangelist is not a gift given by Jesus to the church is refusing to submit to the scriptures."
The text is clear: Jesus is giving these gifts to the body for the purpose of equipping His saints, so they can do the work of the ministry. Sadly, we live in an era where Christians are so apathetic regarding the truth of the gospel, they believe the faith is a key to a safe deposit containing their blessings, like the religious of the parable, they cross to the other side of the road leaving the beaten and down trodden of life to be taken care of by the next passer by-- the good Samaritan.
No! The evangelist is an integral part of the gifts Jesus has for His body. The passionate message of the evangelist preached under the anointing of the Holy Spirit is a reminder to the people of God that we're here for a purpose-- to seek and save the lost.
Charles Spurgeon known as the "prince of preachers" said, "One of these days you will want a microscope to find a grain of evangelical doctrine in a dozen sermons."
Brother Spurgeon (1834-1892), you we're not only a soul winning, evangelistic preacher, but I believe that you were a prophet and operating in the gift of prophecy, for your words have come true.
I probably should take a moment to explain, once again, that these gifts given to the body are for the purpose of equipping, building up, and preparing the body of Christ to engage the work of the ministry.
While some ministry takes place in the walls of a church, true ministry occurs on a daily basis in the lives of people you encounter. God wants to use us in people's lives. He wants to use our testimony to give hope to the hopeless, but the modern day message has communicated the opposite spirit of the scriptures.
We sing songs like, "... I'm gonna get my blessing right now.." And we perceive our whole existence and whether we are doing the right thing for God based upon the numbers and the material blessings. Yet, in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and even Jesus' ministry, the people either turned a deaf ear or left and
went away when the truth was spoken.
Once again, we've been conditioned to believe that if we are blessed materially then we are blessed of God, but Jesus said, the birds have nests, the foxes have holes, but the Son of Man has not a place to lay His head.
Why can't we see that we've been overtaken by a false gospel that has literally changed our perception of the truth? Part of the reason the storm is raging is because we are so consumed with ourselves and our situations that we can't even see that there is a bigger issue at hand.
God hasn't called us to preach a message constantly catering to people's felt needs (their mess)! God has called us to preach and teach the truth of the Gospel, proclaiming with power the victory Jesus purchased on the cross to set us free from the bondage of sin, so that we could live above our stinking pity party and realize that there are people hurting and dying and going to Hell.
Don't tell me God doesn't want an evangelist preaching in the church! But in the midst of an atmosphere cultivated by the seeker- sensitive lies, the gospel has been changed to a feel good social club where the undiluted truth presented by an evangelist from God may release unwanted surprises, moving the congregation into a place of unrest, an uncomfortable challenge to live their lives out loud for the Jesus, who died to purchase them with His blood.
The literal word would probably be better translated as shepherds. The word pastor comes from pasture as in shepherding a flock.
Ultimately, the pastor is the overseer of a congregation. He will be held responsible for the spiritual well- being of the flock that he has been allowed to oversee. The truth that every pastor should keep on the forefront of his mind is that the sheep in his congregation aren't his sheep. Instead, they are the sheep of The Lord Jesus Christ who purchased them with His own blood.
The ancient shepherd wasn't like some aristocratic, gentile king wearing silken robes and lording over his people. Rather, the ancient shepherd walked with the sheep, talked with the sheep, and even slept with the sheep. That's why the sheep know the voice of their shepherd because they have been with him enough and heard him speak enough that they know his voice when they hear it.
It's said that the ancient shepherd would build a stone enclosure at night to encircle his flock, leaving an opening where his sleeping body provided the only entry or exit. In order for a wolf to harm the flock, it would have to go through him first.
This brings added meaning to the concept of a hireling who would flee in the face of danger. A hireling isn't responsible for the sheep; instead, he's simply paid a wage for a specific task; whereas, the shepherd has a vested interest in the sheep.
Sadly, the modern church is filled with "pastors" who are hirelings rather than true shepherds. Many of them recycle a message written by a friend or somebody else off the Internet. Not really studying the word for themselves, they regurgitate some diluted poison that causes Jesus' beautiful bride to wallow in a miry mess of mud, causing her garments to be stained with the lusts of the world while all the time saying, "God is love. His grace endures through the night."
Well, of course God is love! And of course His grace endures through the night! Jesus hung naked on a cross and paid the penalty for our sin; therefore, shouldn't we be sober- minded? Shouldn't we awaken from our sinful slumber and walk in the victory wherewith Christ has made us free?
A true shepherd will be willing to hook a sheep's hip with his staff, dislocate it so it can't walk, and tote it on his back while teaching him a lesson.
Lastly, we have the teacher. Many Greek scholars believe that a proper translation would have been "teaching pastors."
I don't know about that completely, but I do know that Pastors better be able to teach because the people will rarely be able to rise above the level that they are taught by their pastor.
Therefore, if the sheep are tended in an environment void of the teaching of God, they will be easy prey for the ravenous wolves sent by Satan with false doctrine to destroy the people of God. And with a hireling pastor unwilling to expose that which is contrary to sound doctrine, which he can't even recognize-- well-- you do the math!
Lastly, regarding the teacher, the word in the Greek is didaskolos, coming from the same root we spoke of in the last class didache, meaning instructions regarding God's word.
Essentially, the teacher is an instructor of the truths of God's word.
"For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;..."
Once again to remind you, the purpose if these gifts:
1). Jesus gives the gift to the church for the purpose of giving the church to the world.
2). The gifts are used to perfect, bring to a place of completion or maturity the body of Christ.
A. So that the church "body of Christ" would do the work of the ministry-- reach a lost and dying world with the gospel of Jesus.
B. Edification-- the idea of structure. A building is only as strong as its structure will hold. God desires that we be structurally sound, so He can bring us to a place of maturity.
C. Unity of the faith. God desires that His people would be able to walk in unity on what it means to be in the faith. If we don't know what that means, then I'm fearful we may not really be there at all.
3). To the measure of the stature of Christ. The idea is that we are growing to Christian maturity, speaking of adult height, specifically, our walk is looking more like Jesus and less like self.
4). Lastly, God's desire is that the five fold ministry would prepare His people, so that they no longer have to be tossed like a vessel that is lost in a sea ripped by the winds of false doctrine.
As this series about storms progresses, I am seeing God persistently warning the hearers about being driven off course. Like a vessel without rudders, a captain without skills to plot (wisdom of God) or coordinates (doctrines of God) that are askew, the believer deceived is tossed on a tumultuous sea, risking violent shipwreck any moment.
God has once again brought the following passage to my heart in reference to these thoughts.
Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.
The word "err" in the above passage is communicating the fact that Israel went astray from God in their hearts. They tempted or "put God to the test" through their persistent rebelliousness while wandering in the wilderness. The crazy thing is that people can't see their rebellion while they’re in it; rather, they think, like Israel, that the golden calf, constant murmurings, and desire for Egyptian finery were perfectly normal.
The passage is clear: Israel erred or went astray in their hearts because they did not know the ways of God. Now, this should be a sobering message for any New Testament believer. The very people that God had birthed for Himself through one man named Abraham out of a sea of heathen nations did not know His ways.
The very people of whom he said:
For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life:but teach them thy sons, and thy sons 'sons; Specially the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children. Deuteronomy 4:7-10
The very people who had been created by Him and been given the word (judgements and statutes) by Him and should have known His ways-- didn't!
Some people would say, "Yeah, but that's the Old Testament man-- now we have Jesus!"
Sadly, the same occurs today-- people don't understand the ways of God in the New Covenant. They don't understand how to properly access His grace through faith in the sacrifice of His Son. They think the cross is some moment in history to be moved beyond so they can move towards what they call the "moving and operation of the Spirit," which is beginning to look more and more like the moving and operation of a spirit, but it's not the Holy Spirit. People are so hungry for an "experience" that they laugh and roll and bark and crow, even shake and fake but never stop to review the text to ask if He ever did this before in His Word.
Instead, they say, "He's doing a new thing. There is a paradigm shift occurring, a new order of things, a new manifestation of the presence get on or get left behind," and the gullible and unlearned err in their hearts by the thousands, no, by the millions!
Can I speak to you for a second Christian? There is a paradigm shift taking place, but it's not the shifting of God. Instead, it's the shifting of the New Age influence and occult upon the church of Jesus Christ. God has already done a "new thing." It's called the New Covenant. He sent His Son to die on a cross, so that His presence could abide in believers as the temples of the living God. He poured out His Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and those that seek the gift of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, will be filled, will speak with other tongues, and will be endued with power from on high wherewith they will be witnesses to the salvation message of Jesus Christ.
The next new thing will be chaos and confusion unlike the earth has ever seen, men's hearts will fail them. Those times will be shortened for the elect's sake. I believe God will remove His church from this earth before His wrath is poured out undiluted upon unrepentant man. How I long to be in the presence of the one who loved me enough to give His life for my sin.
But let me warn the reader the plans of Satan are much more organized than what we have ever given him credit for. He has for thousands of years of human history been planning his birth of Horus, birth of the New Age, birth of the New World Order.
This is not the same as the wrath of God. Instead, this is Satan's last stand and grand finale' of deception to drag as many of the gullible and unlearned with Him.
Many who call themselves Christians are ripe for the deception already. All over Facebook they call themselves Christians while living a life of worldliness. They engage themselves in fellowship and intimacy with the world. They say things like, "Who are you to judge whether two men or two women have the right to love one another?"
You fool! Can't you see you have already been sold under the coming lie of deception, it’s even here now, knocking-- nay-- you have already let it in! You are fellowshipping with the lies of the spirit of antichrist. Have you read your Bible? Have you read your New Testament? Don’t worry there is more than this one and much more in the Old Testament but let’s start here.
And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Did you see that Christian, or you who label yourself such? He said that even those who take pleasure in them deserve death. Listen to me, “I didn’t say it God did!” And if you think that this is gay bashing you're wrong because God abhorred the pornography I was bound with in the past. He abhorred the alcohol and drugs I was bound with in the past. Wake up people don't be deceived. God is not mocked whatever a man sows he will reap (Galatians 6:7).
Please get back on course! Please learn the doctrines! Please cry out for the wisdom of God, so that the storm might be stopped!