Jesus Gives Gifts to His Body
For those who've been with us since the beginning of the Ephesians study, you know that a common theme has been prevalent: God is creating an eternal family. We covered on multiple occasions the concepts of adoption:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself...
Also, we spoke about the concept of being begotten of God through the sprinkling of blood and the resurrection of Jesus (1 Peter 1:2,3). It was pointed out that the terminology "begotten" specifically means to be given birth to.
So God has been, through the annals of human history, adopting and giving birth to a people for Himself.
But these are just two New Testament passages. And God has been active in forming this family since creation and after the fall through redemption.
Further clarity was given when Paul explained that God's plan contained both Jew and Gentile; whereas, in times past the Gentiles (those people who were not of Jewish origin) were without the covenants and promises of Messiah, now the two (both Jew and Gentile) were made one "In Christ."
Now, the only separation that exists is simply those who believe and are in covenant with God (church) and those who don't believe and are outside of covenant with God (world).
There is a common unity that exists between believers, and the common unity that connects us is our association and identification (Luke 9:23) with Jesus in His, death, burial and resurrection from the dead. For you see, the plan of God provides, in Christ, that the "old man" dies with Jesus at the cross, is buried with Him in the tomb, and a "new man" is resurrected to newness of life. And in this resurrection, the "new man" becomes a part in the body of Christ.
Furthermore, we learned from two different sources (1 Peter 2:4-6; Ephesians 2:19-22) that we are individual stones made alive by the lively stone, and we are being built upon a foundation upon which He is the cornerstone, a foundation completed by the disciples, and a continued building project is taking place where the lively stones are constructed into a habitable place for the presence of God to dwell. As we've pointed out on numerous occasions the word church is translated from ekklesia, which is ek= out and klesia= called; therefore, the church is constructed of individual stones that have the presence of God dwelling in them who were once of the world, but have been called out in Christ and are now His body—His church.
Then we moved to chapter four where the instruction transitioned from doctrine to practice. Furthermore, we came across the spot where we spent the last three weeks, discussing Jesus' descent into the underworld. When we started teaching that process, I made the point that these couple passages represented an accomplishment of many eras:
(1) He proclaimed His victory to the disobedient angels who sinned during Noah’s time
(2) He led captivity captive; in other words, every soul that had been saved on credit looking forward to the blood of the eternal lamb was released once His perfect blood was shed
(3) now, as He is seated at the right hand of God, He gives gifts unto men (church age i.e. many eras), so let's look at the gifts given by Jesus to His church.
To start with, it should be noted that there is a difference between the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12) and the gifts spoken of in this passage of scripture. The first set of gifts are worded in the Greek as charisma gifts, and this is where the thought of charismatic Christianity originated, because people of the charismatic persuasion allowed the operation of the Holy Spirit to manifest His gifts in their midst. These gifts are manifested to the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit, and He distributes these gifts through the members of the body. In other words, it's not only the preacher who will be used as a vessel through which these gifts will flow, but also the individual members of the body of Christ will operate in these gifts.
Now, there is one more distinction that should be noted. In these gifts, the gifts are the gifts themselves not the person who operates in them. In other words, the gift is: tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, wisdom, discerning of spirits.... While it is true that certain people tend to operate in certain gifts more than others, the gift is not the person, rather, it's the gift itself; furthermore, the gifts are not the person’s they belong to the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
There is a slight difference regarding the gifts we are speaking of out of Ephesians. These gifts are didomai, describing a bestowing, which is given by Jesus directly to His church; furthermore, in some way the gift is connected to the person, because the specific person is the vessel that this particular gift flows through. These people that are called by Jesus are given as gifts to the body of Christ for the purpose of edification, meaning (building up, perfection, in the sense of completion), so there are the offices of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor- teacher, these gifts are also sometimes referred to the five- fold ministry.
For further clarity, it should be noted that just because a person operates in the gift of prophecy that doesn't automatically mean that they have been given as a gift by Jesus to the body of Christ to operate in the office of a prophet. This is just a general term to introduce this thought. I will try to clarify as we move forward. But before we do, I will say that the purpose of these gifts are to serve Jesus by building up His people. In other words, it's not the gift, nor the man or woman that operates in the office that is to be built up; instead, it is God's people that are to be edified or built up.
Starting with the apostle, we have a "touchy" subject in the modern church. We have one side of the camp that label themselves as, "I am the apostle, prophet, evangelist... without hesitation. Then we have the other side that is almost scared to use the terminology of apostle, because they believe it's so reverential that it is a title only to be used of the original twelve, which were commissioned by Jesus in person and included the apostle Paul, because if you will remember his story, he was called and instructed by Jesus Himself to be an apostle.
But the reality is that there were others that the New Testament referred to as apostles, and a couple of these men are somewhat obscure within the pages of scripture:
James [the Lord's brother, who was not of the original 12] (1 Corinthians 15:7).
Barnabus (Acts 14:4,14; 1 Corinthians 9:1-6).
Adronicus and Junius (Romans 16:7).
So what does the word apostle literally mean?
Literally the word means a "sent one" with authority, an ambassador of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It seems to me as though a common denominator of the apostle is that he often fulfills the role of many, if not all, of the other offices. In other words, in the life of Paul and Peter, we can easily see the offices of: prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher.
More specifically, apostles are called to establish and are sent by God as overseers of His works. There is no doubt that there are probably times when an apostle may be sent by God; yet, the established order of the men in place don't recognize that God's authority has sent him; therefore, his apostolic purposes are rejected in that sense. Actually, this happened to the apostle Paul on more than one occasion.
Nowadays, there are many people who are quick to label themselves with anyone of these titles. However, it should be clearly understood, as already stated, that there is a vast difference between the office of a prophet and the gift of prophecy. The latter is a word gift given by the Holy Spirit and distributed through a believer in order to bring a word from God to His people; whereas, the former is a gift by Jesus to His church and He functions as a prophet of God.
While a person may prophesy and foretell future events, just because person prophecies, it doesn't mean that he is a prophet. The office of the prophet for Israel had a specific purpose: he was to bring correction to God's people when they were in error. This role of the prophet could be labeled forth telling. In other words, the prophet speaks forth the oracles of God. He functions as a mouth piece to let God's people know where they are in error, and what they need to do in order to make things right with God.
The foretelling part of this ministry is often connected to warn of the effects that will follow a path of disobedience. In other words, what will happen if the correction is rejected.
I can't help but think of John the Baptist. While he was obviously evangelistic, he was very prophetic. He walked in the anointing of the great prophet Elijah. Elijah's anointing required that the people of God be turned from a wrong way of worship:
1 Kings 18:21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
In a similar fashion, John the Baptist was called to bring the people back to a straight path. The religion of the Pharisees had muddied the water; they had obscured the path, making it difficult for God's people to see their way in the right direction. And as a prophet of God, John the Baptist prepared the way for the way. He was a voice crying out in the wilderness for the hodos (Greek for way, which was Jesus): way-- an easily discernible path. And he brought a scathing rebuke upon the corrupt religion of the day just as Elijah rebuked Jezebel's prophets. Just in case you don't believe me, here is what John the Baptist told the Pharisees:
Matthew 3:4-8 And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
And the Lord has been showing me for the last couple years and has recently confirmed it in prophecy through some of my World Evangelism Bible College student friends: God is going to raise up John the Baptist prophets in these last days who will operate with the same spirit that was upon Elijah, a fire and fervor to clean the house of God and herald a return to right worship of God. "How long will you halt between two opinions? If God is God then serve Him. And if the world is the world then serve it, but quit pretending that you're serving Him when you're really serving it."
Just as John the Baptist prepared a way for the first coming of Jesus, God is causing a stirring in the spirits of some to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ and Him crucified to a lost and dying world. They will prepare the way for His return. He's coming back church. And He's looking for a church without spot or wrinkle, and their ain't no way you can look like that unless you understand what it means to be in Him because He alone is without spot or wrinkle.
Paul was an evangelist can you see him and Silas in the prison. Right after Lydia the seller of purple, the first European convert gets saved, they're in the streets preaching the gospel. And Paul casts the devil out of that young girl who was filled with the spirit of Python, a spirit of divination or fortune telling. And because of that they get thrown into jail because with the devil gone, she could no longer tell people their business, so her masters who made money off of her lost their finances., and they had influence with the officials.
But even in the jail they said, "We've come to lift Jesus up. We've come to praise His name. We're going to sing unto Him, and the chains break and the earth quakes and more people get saved. In the trial, when you’re burdened down, if you will go to Him and submit to Him, something beautiful will happen.
What about Phillip in Acts 8:26-38. He was led by the Holy Spirit to go down from Jerusalem into Gaza where he found the eunuch reading Isaiah, the spot where it foretold 600 years before our Jesus was born that He was a lamb led to slaughter, and He didn't open his mouth.
Candace's eunuch had to know; in other words, his heart was yearning for an answer, "Who does this speak of? Tell me does the prophet speak about himself or someone else?" And from that point forward Philip preached Jesus to him.
"What prevents me from being baptized in water?" The eunuch inquires.
"Nothing, you just have to believe with all your heart."
The modern church has all but kicked the evangelist out. They have said, "We don't want the people stirred. We want to work our programs the way we have them set up, and don't you say that we're asleep preacher because we're doing stuff. We're moving and shaking."
But the people perish in the pew. Because you kicked out the evangelist the gospel is being preached without evangelical zeal and the people in the pew have no evangelical zeal to see the lost saved.
The word pastor is closely connected to our English word pasture, and the thought is literally a shepherd. We won't take the time to separately discuss the concept of a teacher. Most Greek scholars explain that these two words are connected to one another according to a certain Greek language rule. We also won't concern ourselves with those details, but we should point out that certainly there can be teachers who aren't pastors; however, it's unlikely to be God's will for a person who isn't a teacher to be a pastor.
By nature a pastor's job is to provide food for the sheep. The food the sheep need in a Christian sense is a good diet of Jesus, a good diet of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, which is the covenant God has provided where man can have relationship with Him.
As long as I'm teaching you Jesus and how to hear His voice, you're in the right place, a safe place where like the Psalmist said the Lord can be your shepherd. He will lead you to a place where there is green pasture. If you really want to know Him, He will send you to a place where you can be fed right.
He will also lead you beside still waters. There is chaos abounding in this world. But if the under- shepherd can feed you Jesus, if He can teach you to hear Jesus, then there can be peace in your environment even though chaos abounds.
There are also some good concepts regarding shepherds for us to learn in John 10.
1st scenario: (John 10:1-8)
The shepherd is Jesus. The sheep are His people, the others are imposters of false doctrine, and the scenario is that the porter is in charge of allowing entree' of the shepherd, giving access to the sheep inside.
In ancient times, there were fenced areas in pastures where multiple flocks could be kept for safe keeping. The sheep were trained to know their shepherd's voice; therefore, when the shepherd would come for His sheep, He would follow the proper protocol, going through the gate with permission from the porter, and calling His sheep by name, which would in turn follow Him because they were used to His voice.
The para- side ballo- throw (a parabolic teaching throws two things alongside each other for the purposes of comparison and contrast) being done here is that the shepherd (Jesus) and any under- shepherd that follows His lead through grace is operating according to the Father's will. There is no hidden agenda; whereas, the thief and the robber are going another way, a way of deception.
2nd scenario: (John 10:8, 9)
Once the shepherd's flock were gathered, they were then brought to a safe place where a smaller enclosure was provided for their safety. In this enclosure, the shepherd allows access in and out of the gate, for he becomes the gate. And the sheep can come in and out safely as needed. Walvoord says that the concept is that it's only through Jesus that the sheep are able to enter into the true provision and safety of God; for He (Jesus) alone is the gate for the sheep—there is no other access point.
3rd scenario (John 10:9-10)
In this scenario there is still the thought of thievery, but also added is death and destruction. It should be noted that there is no doubt there is reference to our enemy Satan here; however, the reader should also be made aware that the immediate context is that Jesus is directly addressing the blinded and deceived Pharisees (John 9:39-41).
So a more specific interpretation would be that Jesus as the only real door to the sheep, which allows entrance into life is being contrasted with the false doctrines of those that have come before Him, whose purpose was to bring destruction to the sheep of God.
Lastly, as part of the contrast between Jesus' ministry and the Pharisees, which also applies to ministers today, Jesus, the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep; a hireling, on the other hand, is only concerned about a paycheck, and he won't do what's best for the sheep if it interferes what he thinks is best for him.
One obvious thing that strikes me in this regard is people's unwillingness to call out false doctrine or ministries that are presenting the Gospel in such a way that it will harm the sheep. Instead, "Sh-sh-sh, mum's the word. We don't want to rock the boat."