09 September 2013

A Gift for You

October is recognized as Clergy Appreciation month by much of the Body of Christ. We have a few weeks to plan and look ahead at how we might wish to honor those we appreciate. It is my prayer that as you read the words below, you will discover a new appreciation for these precious gifts given to us.

And He (Jesus) 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 to 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 fullness of Christ: a holy habitation of God.

This is what we have come to know as the Five-Fold ministry. The gifts of Christ to His body, for the express purpose of becoming mature in Him, so that God can make His home in us.  Isn't it interesting that these gifts are not either/or, but rather each and more. We come to the full stature of Christ when all five gifts are present in our lives.

The foundation is laid with apostles and prophets. The walls, windows and roof are placed with the evangelists, pastors and teachers. A foundation is vital for the overall soundness of the structure. The walls, windows and roof bring purpose to the foundation that has been laid. Each are necessary to complete the structure.

The truth of scripture is that we need one another and all of the five-fold ministry:

The term 'apostle' was originally a secular term used by the Romans to define a Roman General sent out from his homeland to transform the culture of a previously conquered land. He took with him a group of people that spoke the language and were proficient in the customs of the kingdom from which they had come. The 'Apostle' was responsible to delegate authority to this company of people for the purpose of changing the current culture into Roman culture. (When in Rome...) It seems Jesus opted to use this term with His disciples in order to indicate what was expected of them. 

Prophets are those who foretell. 'Fore' indicating in front of, or above. They are 'inspired speakers'. Inspired by Holy Spirit to speak those things that are above this natural world. They speak directly from the heart of God, into the moment or situation. In the New Testament they have a very specific role, to edify (build up), to exhort (draw close to God) and to comfort. Old Testament prophets, gave direction and pronounced judgement. Jesus demonstrated this by telling us that He is the way and by allowing judgement to fall on Him, so that we are now judged righteous when we have received Him as our access to the Father.

Evangelists are those who announce or declare the good news, typically doing so in demonstration. Jesus told the disciples, "Go, preach (declare) the kingdom is at hand" then He told them what that declaration would look like, "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils". He finished by encouraging them, "Freely you have received, freely give".

God said He would give us pastors according to His heart, to feed us knowledge and understanding. The word pastor actually means 'shepherd'. A shepherd is one who tenderly cares for his sheep. He doesn't put them in a field and leave them to tend to themselves. He is always available to feed and water, to remove debris from their wool, to protect, to guide, to heal, to tend in all ways. Like a mother tends a child, the pastor makes it his life to see that the needs of the sheep are met. Regardless of how mature the sheep becomes, it never matures past the need for a shepherd's gentle touch and tender care. I believe this is why the church recognizes the pastor as the leader. He is the constant in the life of the believer. He never leaves the sheep to 'figure it out' on it's own. Jesus said to Peter, "Feed My lambs...Tend My sheep...Feed My sheep". Lambs are the young ones, they must be fed. Isn't it interesting that Jesus told Peter to tend the mature ones, as well as feed them? It is in the maturing that we get into situations that cause us to need tending.

Teachers are just exactly that, they are instructors. Any good teacher will provide both lecture and practical application. Teachers are about process. The teacher knows that what one student will pick up easily, another will need to be instructed repeatedly until a method is discovered that will "click". A quality teacher is one who will Talk to the student. They will sit the student in a desk and explain the what and how.  Next, they will demonstrate what is expected, and why. Then they will observe the student doing what has been demonstrated, correcting as needed. Next they will test by allowing the student to complete the task unassisted and without observation. Finally, evaluation of the test results determines if the teacher has successfully taught the concept and reveals any need for further teaching. (More explanation, more demonstration, then repeating the observation, testing and evaluation until the student is proficient with the concept.)

A lack of any one of these gifts leaves the Body unable to reach the maturity necessary to come to 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 fullness of Christ. It is vital in the current time, as we come to understand and respect the once forgotten gifts of Apostles and Prophets, that we continue to hold in high esteem the Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers. Giving honor to whom honor is due. We are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Cornerstone; This habitation is fitly framed and built up by the Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers, in Christ. In Whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto a holy temple in the Lord: In Whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.  We who are in Christ, will do well to receive all the gifts Jesus gave. For in so doing, we will have a solid foundation, sturdy structure, beautiful windows and quality roofing.

A habitation without foundation will soon crumble. A building without a roof will come to ruin. A dwelling without windows lacks true illumination. And a foundation without a structure has nothing to support.

~With His Heart,

No comments:

Post a Comment