For The Perfecting of the Saints
“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.” —Ephesians 4:11-12
IN ONE OF OUR recent share-a-thons, I was handed a note by one of our phone operators; it was from a young lady who had just called in for the purpose of accepting the Lord. In the note, the young lady told the operator her story.
This young lady had been housesitting for her sister. She was not saved and, at some point during that night, had planned to get high on heroin. Her sister had DVRed one of my sermons, and she began to watch it. She watched the entire message and when it was over, she called the ministry and gave her heart to the Lord.
When I read that note, I became lost in thought. I don’t know if I can properly convey the thoughts that were racing through my mind. I was humbled to know that the Lord had used my preaching to reach a poor lost soul, and He had used that operator to lead this young lady in the sinner’s prayer.
There is no greater honor in the world than to be called into the ministry and service of our Lord. To preach the gospel is a privilege and a responsibility that must not be taken lightly.
To be a minister is a calling and not a vocation. It is the Lord and only the Lord who calls men and women into the ministry. Man cannot call or appoint another individual to a place or position of ministry. It is all a work of God. The calling into ministry is a work of grace intended to be a benefit to the body of Christ.
It was to Paul that the Lord gave the explanation of the five-fold ministry giftings, so let’s look at each office, according to the Word of God.
And He Gave
This phrase, “And He gave” tells us that it is the Lord and the Lord alone who does the calling. This calling is decided in heaven but carried out on earth and, as I have stated, this is the highest calling in the world. These various ministry callings are gifts to the body.
The phrase, “some apostles,” has reference to the fact that not all who are called to be ministers will be called to be apostles. Apostles are listed first and portray to us the highest and most powerful of all the callings. It is primarily through apostles that the Holy Spirit guides the church regarding doctrine, direction, and the moving and operation of the Holy Spirit.
When one carefully studies the book of Acts and the Epistles, one will notice that it was to the apostles that the Holy Spirit gave direction. This doesn’t mean that apostles have the full sway or authority in the church. The Word of God is to have the final word in every situation. The question, “Is it scriptural?” must be applied to everything said by anyone in ministry.
The phrase, “and some prophets” presents the same calling as in Old Testament times, with one exception: in the Old Testament, it was the office of the prophet that gave direction to the people, whereas in the New Testament, apostles fill that role.
The prophet functions in the capacity of “foretelling” and “forthtelling.” Foretelling has to do with prediction concerning present or future events, while forthtelling speaks of the proclamation of righteousness, which is to be the primary role of the prophet.
The phrase, “and some evangelists” refers to those whom the Lord has given a special ministry to win souls. Most, if not all apostles function at times as evangelists. Paul is the perfect example.
The phrase, “and some pastors” in the Greek is poimen and means “a shepherd.” It is the pastor who shepherds God’s flocks, feeding the saints with the bread of life.
The phrase, “and teachers” refers to those who are called of God with a special ministry to teach the Word to the body of Christ, either in a local church or by other means. The word teacher in the Greek is didaskalos and means “an instructor, who helps others to learn.”
For The Perfecting Of The Saints
Now we have given the reason the Lord placed these five ministry callings in the church.
The phrase, “for the perfecting of the saints,” refers to helping saints understand the Word of God.
The word perfecting in the Greek is katarizo and means “to equip for service.” It also means “the restoring of anything to its proper place.” It is to properly put things in order to make complete.
Without proper explanation of Bible doctrine, there can be no spiritual growth.
It is the business of all preachers “to perfect the saints.” Every minister should never dismiss this all-important responsibility.
The phrase “for the work of the ministry” is tied directly to the “perfecting of the saints.”
If the saints are not perfected, which means to be rooted and grounded in the Word, there will be little “work of the ministry.”
What is the work of the ministry? Its primary purpose is to proclaim the gospel throughout the entirety of the world.
World evangelism is the responsibility of every believer. As we have received the knowledge of salvation, we are debtors to all the world.
The phrase, “for the edifying of the body of Christ” refers to the building up of the church, to a mature and properly functioning child of God.
I pray this short explanation of the fivefold ministry callings has given you a better understanding of how each office is to function.
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