“And He (Jesus) gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers.” ~ Ephesians 4:11
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JESUS established and mentored five distinct ministry styles in His work on this earth. Jesus; the sent one …Jesus the proclaimer of truth …Jesus, the preacher of the “good news” …Jesus, the shepherd …and Jesus the teacher. He showed us five distinct areas of authority and the purpose of that authority. Then He ascended to His next place of ministry and authority,
“God has raised this Jesus to life and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God…” ~ Acts 2:32-33
“It was he(Jesus), who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,” ~ Ephesians 4:11-12 (NIV)
Why did He give these gifts?
“…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. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching 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,” ~ Ephesians 4:12-15
Even though these five ministry gifts are not all accepted today, they are all in operation until Ephesians 4:11-15 (above) and these next scriptures are fulfilled.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless,” ~ Ephesians 5:25-27
The church isn’t a bride without stain to this day; therefore all five of these gifts are needed to complete the job. Unfortunately, some of the people holding these ministry gifts of service, abused and perverted the authority entrusted to them, and turned their positions upside-down. They have manipulated the sheep, (the body of Christ), to serve them, (the shepherds). Let me show you a basic doctrine or principal throughout Scripture that today has largely become only lip-service starting with Galatians 5:13; to lead, is to serve! Jesus gave us the ultimate example of this “serving leader,” principle in the following scripture.
“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, 4got up from supper, and *laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.
Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet
5Then He *poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6So He *came to Simon Peter. He *said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” 7Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” 8Peter *said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” 9Simon Peter *said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” 10Jesus *said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean.” 12So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13“You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14“If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15“For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. 16“Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. ” ~ John 13:3-17
LEADERSHIP FROM THE FOUNDATION UP
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” ~ Ephesians 2:19-22
Let’s start the building with the cornerstone. Jesus, being the head of the church (Ephesians 5:26) leads/serves from the bottom up. He served the Father by giving His life, thus creating the foundational cornerstone. Everything else is measured and leveled from the cornerstone. Everything in the church must use Jesus as our “plumb line.” If it doesn’t measure up to Jesus, it can’t be used in the church. The cornerstone is also the first stone in the dirt and on the bottom so the rest of the structure may be built upon it. Let’s look at the other foundational stones in the dirt.
Many denominations say that the church is built on the teaching of the apostles and prophets and once the Bible was written there was no need for these gifts anymore. Facilitating question: Is the foundation of God’s household built on the teaching of the apostles and prophets, or on the very human gift that they are to the church? What is the answer, are they living stones or not? Was Jesus given the position of the cornerstone for his teaching or was Jesus the cornerstone because of the sacrifice he made? We would have to say His sacrifice made him strong enough to be THE living stone.
As Living Stones
4And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 5you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For this is contained in Scripture: “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” 7This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,” 8and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.” ~ 1 Peter 2:3-8
It is quite obvious that there are only twelve apostles of the lamb and twelve Father’s of the twelve tribes of Israel, which make up the gates and foundation.
“On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel…the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” ~ Revelations 21:12
But the New Testament list some nineteen other apostles by name, so clearly there were more, and are more, than the original twelve. The church is still being built upon the apostles and prophets. They are not dead; they have not “passed-away”.
FIVE GOVERNMENTAL GIFTS
“Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. 28And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second…” ~ 1 Corinthians. 12: 27-28
Now that the cornerstone and the foundational stones are in place, let’s take a look at all five governmental gifts together. We are still working with the picture of leading from the ground up and all of the house “living stones.” The apostle is first mentioned in the list and the name itself translates as; an admiral in the navy, an ambassador of the Gospel, a commissioner of Christ, a sent one. Next is the prophet; a foreteller, a proclaimer of truth, a caller to purity and repentance. After these two, comes the evangelist; a preacher of the gospel, of the good news of the kingdom. Fourth, the pastor is listed; a leader, a feeder, a protector, a shepherd of sheep. Which brings us to the teacher; an instructor, a doctor, a master and a keeper of doctrinal purity?
For years these Jesus gifts or authority gifts in Ephesians 4:11 have been confused with the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. A good example is the Jesus/authority gift of Prophet (the person) and the gift of the Spirit of prophecy which can work through any follower of Christ to speak supernatural wisdom or knowledge to edify some or all in the room. Again the Prophet is a person and a supernatural authority leadership office called by Jesus to do the things in Ephesians 4:11-16 and prophecy is a supernatural word spoken through any member of the Body of Christ. Father gifts, Son gifts and gifts of the Holy Spirit is a study in itself.
ELDERS AND DEACONS
Remember the church is the people and the Kingdom of God is the rule of God. Even though I present the government with pretty ridged guidelines, the key word is flexible! This is a body…the Body of Christ. Sometimes you don’t have to use certain parts. For example, your body doesn’t need to feel pain unless your hand is getting close to a fire. When your hand IS getting too close to a fire, you need nerve endings that proclaim to your brain that the hand is in immediate danger.
In the same way some parts of the body of Christ might have a resident apostle; other parts might only have a relationship with an apostle and prophet that oversees from a distance. Likewise some parts of the body might have active elders and deacons, and other parts none. At any rate, elders and deacons do have character qualifications that must be met before serving in these offices, (I Tim. 3). Governmental gifts have different authority and responsibility, but no gift is more valuable than the other. The goal is to understand where everyone fits in the body then get there!
In the prototype I am about to present, the elders and deacons fulfill a major role in ministry and discipling the many new believers.
I know our “flesh” wants a hard structured pattern or law of what the church should look and feel like but sorry, you will not get that from this book. There is no one “look” for the church: we are a body of people, not dead rocks that never move, rather “living stones.”
“…you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house…” ~ 1 Peter 2:5
We should be ever changing as we are required to be new flexible wine skins carrying new exciting and explosive wine. We are not to try to patch-up the old garment with a new patch, we are to be the new garment!
“But no one puts a patch of unshrunk (new) cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results. 17 “Nor do men put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out, and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.” ~ Matthew 9:16-17
This very statement might seem to validate the denominational systems as each tries to look like “new” wineskins by being different from all the rest. I will reveal later that they only try to be better than, which leads to division. As far as “the look” of the church that Jesus said He would build, I will endeavor to show you several possibilities.
Jesus is the head of the church. Each individual member, family, groups of families and cities follow Him in certain foundational truths and ways. These are the basics of The Faith or elementary teachings like salvation in Jesus and the resurrection of the dead Hebrews 5:12, 6:1. We also are to follow Jesus in His commandments like “…love your neighbor as you love yourself…” Matthew 19:19, but we won’t all look alike or function alike.
I will show just one of many things that make the church look and function different in certain places and at different times.
GEOGRAPHICAL AREAS, TIMES, SEASONS
Pay close attention to this key of truth! The location of a group of believers and the day in which they live, will largely determine its look and function. Since the time of Peter saying the Born Again Gentiles must be circumcised to the day “missionaries” from Europe started traveling from land to land to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, they contaminated the very message by demanding that their culture be practiced also.
Even today this is pretty much the same pattern. Demanding people who accept Jesus in underdeveloped countries to build buildings so on a certain day they can “go to church”. Putting African children in pants or dresses and making the woman wear a hat on Sunday is nothing more than arrogance, pride and legalism. This practice of the religious denominations is much like Henry Ford and interchangeable parts. Try to make everyone look the same or worse yet, try to make everyone look like us. “Father God please forgive us.”
Not only should the body of Christ in Europe and the body of Christ in Africa look different but they should have different functions also. Let’s take the principle of loving your neighbors as yourself and put it in two different locations and times. In one country there may be a war going on that the believers in Christ have to respond to with love. They may volunteer and sacrifice all that they have to help the wounded and to lead many who are dieing to the Salvation of Jesus in their last hour. Truly this is loving your neighbor in this country.
In another country there may be peace to the point of people being so prideful they have forgotten about God and they have become dependent on themselves. The believers in Christ are called to respond in love in this country also but the look and function will be different. Because of the same love for your neighbor you might have to preach the following message.
“…the kindness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath…” ~ Romans 2:4-5
Thus, leading many to Salvation in Jesus. Truly this is loving your neighbor in this country.
GEOGRAPHICAL DEMONS AND STRONGHOLDS
Each geographical area also has different geographical demons or spiritual strongholds. For example In the Old Testament, Daniel made record of the demon over the country of Persia holding back a messenger angel from God who had an answer to Daniel’s prayer.
“…Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. 13 “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia (geographical demon) was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes (warring angel), came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.” ~ Daniel 10:12-13
The same idea is recorded in the New Testament when Paul tries to explain this invisible geographical war that we believers in Jesus are in.
“…stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” ~ Ephesians 6:11-12
In the United States of America the strongman or the demon enemy who is against the whole nation is the “spirit of liberality” yet each individual state combats with smaller geographic demons. For example in the “Bible Belt” (Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky) they are attacked with a family of demons called spirits of religion, legalism, complacency, self-righteousness and pride. In contrast the state of Washington is attacked with the spirit of liberalism (different from liberality) and California has been lulled to sleep by a geographical demon that I have not yet named. Break it down further and one will find demons over towns, neighborhoods, schools and businesses. But what is the point?
The point is that the church will look and function differently according to the demands they have on them geographically and culturally!
Before I present a prototype that I personally led for five years, let me offer a few simple guidelines to get your mind thinking outside a religious box. These guidelines are the result of our process of trying to make foundational decisions.
The overall picture is to try to see the smallest, unencumbered, “group” that can qualify as The Church according to God’s Word. Our hope was this; if we can functionally and foundationally be the church on this small intimate and organic level, then as numbers are added and geographic freedoms are discovered, then our growth should be natural and in order.
We were always taking inventory to see if we had picked up something religious or if we needed to be like an airplane and make a course correction. Our current inventory is as follows.
- Geographically in the United States of America, the Northwest state of Washington with the freedom to assemble.
- Identifying the minimums needed to “be” the church would be; a) two followers of Jesus assembling together and b) the presence and rule of Jesus the Head and foundation of His Church.
- Identifying the blessings that can be enjoyed at this foundational level; a) the written Word of God, b) relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus, through talking, listening, singing; songs, hymns and spiritual songs, c) all kinds of prayers and petitions with two or more on any one thing, d) every gift of the Holy Spirit available and e) privilege of celebrating the Lord’s Supper and water baptism.
- What do these two gathered people look like? Two brothers, roommates, students, sisters, professionals, dad and a child, mom and child, husband and wife, grandparent and child, the list goes on.
- Where do we have to meet and how often? In America we have the freedom to meet almost anywhere, anytime, all the time.
Now let’s focus this all the way down! If we can be the church on the minimums just described, we wouldn’t need electricity, buildings, calendars, computers, a Sunday bulletin, musical instruments or overhead projector. We really don’t even need a professional clergy. The power and freedom of this basic model can function anywhere on the planet earth.
But this is America! Thousands have given their lives for us to walk in great freedom. Yes, I have seen and experienced first-hand abuse in every system in this nation, but as of the writing of this book we still have freedom to assemble and freedom to worship ALOUD! So what’s the point? Making sure we understand our Lord’s original design for His Church. Walk in that simple design with great authority in our homes. Next we can add celebrating with larger numbers, music, preaching, dramas, city wide outreaches but we must measure each addition against Jesus the corner stone and to use wisdom not to mislead people by false definitions.
With this kind of freedom we can cause a stir in our cities when we come together in true unity and love, preaching Jesus and His Kingdom and not promoting our own little kingdoms, programs and agendas. We have the freedom to seek out true leadership gifts; Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers and submit ourselves to their equipping ministries. Smile, be blessed, we have great freedom in America, to the point that if we feel a threat to our freedom we have a voice to address that threat. As of the writing of this book we are still “One Nation Under God” and our forefathers who wrote those words understood that “God” is the one true God and that Jesus was his Son Who’s name is authority above all authorities!
What have we discovered in Chapter Eleven?
51. Jesus established and mentored all five ministry gifts; Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher.
52. All five gifts are needed until the church is the Bride without stain, spot or wrinkle.
53. Jesus taught how to lead by serving.
54. Cornerstone Jesus
55. Foundational gifts, Apostles and Prophets
56. Prototype – “Living stones”.
57. Preaching Jesus not culture.
58. Geographical Strongholds.
59. USA one Nation under God!
Personal Journal Insert: Wow, have twenty some families financially support two prayer warriors to infiltrate a city for six months, ask our Lord to reveal the “strongman” that has held this city captive and something is going to be stirred in the heavenlys! Then have those twenty families assemble together in the prayer apartment after fasting 28 meals and pray the prayer of Nehemiah asking God to forgive us for the sins of our forefathers. It was like spiritually breaking one leg off of a three legged table then watching the whole thing crash to the ground.
If you try to reproduce any of these models in a traditional, religious, building system, they will more-than-likely only become one of your many programs and will be destined to die. The vision of Jesus’ Church must be the center of what you “do” and all other activity and ministry must revolve around it. If the “ministry” becomes more important than the church you will have created an idol thus, bring the judgment of our Lord Jesus.
On the other hand if you have never seen any other example except the building system, I believe you will be encouraged, and possibly get off your sofa and get back to what God has called you to..
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