Jesus has ascended above all the heavens that He might fill all things. As the body of Christ, we are a growing part of the fullness of Christ as His glory increases in the earth. We are not just living lives with the hope of going to heaven some day. We should embrace the eternal purpose of Christ in filling the earth with the knowledge of the glory of God. It is for this reason that God has given some to be gifts to the body of Christ.
Ephesians 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers…
What is the purpose of these five-fold expressions of Christ in the church? I believe the greater value is not the gifts themselves, but the attributes that these gifts serve to release in the church. God wants His church to be apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, pastoral, with a teaching grace for mentoring and understanding of truth. The five expressions of equipping are meant to release the unique expressions of the body of Christ. They will activate, facilitate, and release the members of the body to be themselves with the anointing of Christ in unique ways that contribute to the collective purpose. Members of the body will be edified and will edify one another. There will be an increasing unity of faith, knowledge of the Son of God, perfection, and continued maturation among the members of the body.
Here is a list of the things the equipping gifts do, and even more so inspire to happen, among the members of the body of Christ:
- Equip the saints for the work of ministry
- Edify the body of Christ
- Cause the body members to come to the unity of the faith
- Cause the body members to come to the knowledge of the Son of God
- Cause the body to become a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ
- Prevent the body members from remaining little children, growing up into maturity
- Protect the body from being tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine
- Protect the body from the trickery of men who come in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive
- Teach the body members to learn to speak the truth in love
- Produce a functioning body that grows up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ
- Cause the whole body to be properly joined
- Cause the body members to be knit together
- Cause every joint (body member) to supply life to one another
- Cause everyone to find their place of effective working
- Cause every part to do their share
- Cause growth of the body
- Cause the body to edify itself in love
The equipping gifts of leadership serve to activate, facilitate, and release the characteristics of the apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, pastoral, and teaching testimonies in the saints. I believe that the body of Christ is filled with diverse members that exhibit the actions and testimonies of these attributes found in Christ. God has given equipping gifts in Christ that are sent to release and facilitate a culture where the maturation of these attributes can come about in the body. As those characteristics and attributes are made manifest the members of the body will be edified and will edify one another. There will be an increasing unity of faith, knowledge of the Son of God, increasing perfection, and continued development in maturation among the members of the body.
As leaders we must set an example in the things we seek to activate in the hearts of those we lead. The work of ministry is to love God and to love people. We are ministers of reconciliation so our aim as leaders must be to reconcile people to God. We must stir up the Holy Spirit within our hearts so that we can be edified and therefore edify others. We must depend upon God’s voice in our hearts so we can excel in the unity of the faith. Intimacy with God as our Father and intimacy with Jesus the Son should be priorities in our lives. Dependency upon God that leads to perfection and the stature of Christ needs to be an attribute of strength in our lives. As we grow in maturity we can lead others into maturity. Seeking God and seeking to understand His heavenly ways must be the strength of our stability that we might lead others to be stable in their courses of life. Love and relationship must be the foundation stones of our lives in order to lead for the sake a relational body of life. As leaders we must live for the sake of giving life to others and we must inspire body members to do the same. Giving greater value to others is the testimony of the great value of ourselves. Our place of effective working is to live for the sake of giving life others; this is the place of God’s favor for every member. When everyone does their share the body grows in life, liberty, and a testimony of the greatness of Christ. This is the edification of the body with the life of Christ.
We are here to set examples in putting on Christ and putting off our old ways that were before Christ. It is not a matter of escaping our past lives. It is a matter of fully embracing our new lives in Christ. We should be the most imaginative, expectant, and hopeful people on planet earth.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson