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The Fivefold Ministry


Ephesians 4:11-13 KJV
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:
Till we all come in 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 fulness of Christ:

To this simple layman, this scripture is very clear as to the purpose of all ministry gifts. It is also an excellent scripture to compare all ministries to if you wish to evaluate their effectiveness.

I realize that what I am about to offer may seem controversial, but here goes anyway. The purpose stated by this scripture is NOT to fulfill the great commission! It is not to evangelize the world! It is not to save souls! 

It is to build up the body of Christ (the Church) until we all have come to a level of maturity equal to that of our Lord Jesus. That shakes some of our theology but that is exactly what this scripture says!

So, if that is the purpose of ministry, how do you think we are doing so far? When was the last time you met someone in church attaining to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ? If this were not an attainable goal, why would the Holy Spirit inspire Paul to pen these words? If we then agree that this goal is achievable, why do you suppose that after 2,000 years we seem to be so far from attaining this level of growth?

The following scripture could very well answer this question:

Ephesians 4:14-16 KJV

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Ephesians 4: 14-16 Living Bible
Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different, or has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth.
Instead, we will lovingly follow the truth at all times--speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly --and so become more and more in every way like Christ who is the Head of his body, the Church. Under his direction the whole body is fitted together perfectly, and each part in its own special way helps the other parts, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
Ephesians 4: 14-16 Simple English
Then we will not be little children anymore. The waves will not throw us back and forth. We won't be blown away by the winds of teaching which clever men invent to trick people into following error.
When we speak the truth with love, we will grow up into Christ in every way. He is the Head.
He is the Source. The whole body is joined and held together with each joint that helps it. It grows with love and builds itself up. Each part does its job.

Regardless of the translation, the conclusion is the same; we are not growing up because we are running here and there and following after wrong (false) teaching. This may rattle some teachers and even pastors, but scripture is clear and is meant for our instruction among other things. I am not suggesting that all wrong teaching is done out of malice as much as it is done out of ignorance. I would suggest that a great number of people who occupy pulpits are neither teacher or are they pastor. Yet, the flock is giving their teaching the full weight that is due a genuine teacher. "Shame on us". Not shame on the false teacher, but shame on us for allowing it to continue year after year after year.
You will notice in verse 12 that it is the equipped saints who are to build up the body of Christ and not the  ‘fivefold ministry’. The fivefold ministry is to equip the saints so that they build up the body. You will also notice that it is the un-equipped saints who are subject to being tossed to and fro with the changing winds of doctrine. It would also seem that these changing winds of doctrine are coming from unscrupulous men who are posing as members of the fivefold ministry. The Amplified Bible translation throws some more light on the matter: -

Ephesians 4:11-14 Amplified
And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us,] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, travelling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers.
His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church),
[That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the full and accurate knowledge of the Son of God; that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood – the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection – the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ, and the completeness found in Him.
So then, we may no longer be children, tossed [like ships] to and fro between chance gusts of teaching, and wavering with every changing wind of doctrine, [the prey of] the cunning and cleverness of unscrupulous men, (gamblers engaged) in every shifting form of trickery in inventing errors to mislead.
As stated earlier, from this scripture it is apparent that the work of ministry is not fulfilling the great commission. This of course does not sit with anointed evangelists, as their calling is exactly that, to preach the gospel and see souls saved. However, the fivefold ministry has a much broader commission and evangelism is only one of the components. Once lost souls have heard the good news they are to be equipped to grow up into the fullness of Christ.
I realize this is an astonishing promise and based on our present experience, it must seem totally impossible. However, if it could not be reached then the Holy Spirit would not have written it almost 2,000 years ago!
If you feel the answer is that we can not attain to the fullness of Christ until after His return you must accept that we will always be subject to being tossed to and fro by changing winds of doctrine. That does not seem to be what this scripture is actually saying when you study it out.


 

How have we missed it?


Perhaps we have come so far from what the Lord had intended that it is nearly impossible to see how this great promise could be fulfilled in the church. There is nowhere in scripture that I find supports the form of church services that we presently follow. Indeed there is only ONE Teacher in the church and He is the Holy Spirit.
It may come as a shock to realize that it is not the man or woman with a degree from some seminary who is to be our teacher! I would submit that there are a great number of ‘professional clergy’ who are not ordained of God at all. They simply chose ministry for a variety of reasons that would apply to any career choice. A one-day workweek must certainly sound appealing to many people. There is also a level of respectability that attaches to the clergy as well. There may also be what is felt to be a call from God, which is not necessarily a call to the ‘full-time’ ministry.
The expression ‘full-time’ ministry usually translates to mean "I am going to quit my job at the factory and get paid to do God’s work". I would suggest that we all are called to full-time ministry, meaning that we are always engaged in our Father’s work. I would further suggest that we are not all called to be supported by the rest of the flock to accomplish this end.
The Apostle Paul did receive help from other churches, he did however, also support himself. How many Pastors or Teachers would take a year or two off from ‘full-time’ ministry and support themselves and still declare the Gospel? Not too many?
Perhaps the Lord had intended for the Holy Spirit to flow through all of us from time to time for the benefit of all. Rather than to pay someone to replace the Holy Spirit in our lives! Which is exactly what we are doing when we expect the ‘professional clergy’ to be our ‘pipeline’ to God.
I do not believe I have ever heard any man or woman in church or on television, preach entirely by revelation. Nor have I ever seen or heard of anyone who I  believe to be above error. Indeed, I would be very suspicious of anyone who claimed to be above error. However, we seem to approach our ‘Pastor’ with that kind of assumption all the time. When was the last time there was open discussion about this week’s sermon? When was the last time there was genuine revelation in any of our assemblies? Consider: -
1 John 2:26,27 KJV
These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.
But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

1John 2: 26,27Amplified
I write this to you with reference to those who would deceive you – seduce and lead you astray;
But as for you, (the sacred appointment, the unction) the anointing which you received from Him, abides (permanently) in you; [so] then you have no need that anyone should instruct you. But just as His anointing teaches you concerning everything, and is true, and is no falsehood, so you must abide – live, never to depart [rooted in Him, knit to Him] just as [your anointing] has taught you [to do].

Perhaps considerable preaching falls into the category of ‘information’ rather than revelation. After all, your poor Pastor has to ‘deliver’ every week or he/she will be looking for another job. We have put them in an impossible position where God had never intended for them to be. Possibly even those Pastors who have been genuinely called of God have not learned how to ‘let go’ and just allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in their congregation. They could very well be just delivering what the congregation is expecting of them, with the end result being very little if any real growth at all.
Conceivably this is able to happen when we do not remain rooted and knit to the Lord through the Holy Spirit and have become spiritually lazy. To the point where we are asking our Pastor to do things for us that were never intended from the beginning. The above scriptures tell us that we have no need for anyone to teach us when we remain connected to and listening to the anointing that is within us.
I heard a man of many years’ experience on television one day explaining how well he thought he was doing his job as Pastor by the reaction he got from his congregation. Since he seemed to be exciting and motivating them to the point of shouted ‘amen’ etc. he felt he was doing his job well. However one morning he heard the Lord tell him "you are killing my sheep with your sermons".
I wonder if that is not happening over and over again from coast to coast in North America and we don’t even realize what we are doing. If we are not having a genuine encounter with the Holy Spirit but are just getting worked up in our flesh, we are deceiving ourselves.
If the true ‘end’ of all ministry is stated in Eph.4:13 how well are we really doing? Let’s look at it again;

Till we all come in 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 fulness of Christ:
Possibly the reason we are in the present state is because we are looking to the Pastor to build the church, when in fact it is only going to happen through the ‘equipped’ saints! If that is the case we are going to have to take a far more active role in our church experience than we presently are. Don’t you think? How much building are we doing when we come to church in our best clothing, take our place in our pew, sing a song or two, put our offering into the plate, listen to some announcements and finally a sermon from our Pastor. Then it’s exchanged pleasantries and off we go until next week, same time, same place, same result!
Look at the following message to the Corinthians:
1 Cor. 14:26 KJV
How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

1Cor. 14:26 Living Bible
Well, my brothers, let's add up what I am saying. When you meet together some will sing, another will teach, or tell some special information God has given him, or speak in an unknown language, or tell what someone else is saying who is speaking in the unknown language, but everything that is done must be useful to all, and build them up in the Lord.

Do these instructions sound like we are all to sit quietly in awe of our Pastor, hanging on his/her every word as if it were directly from the throne room? I would suggest that it sounds as if everyone were to participate from time to time with the end result of building ourselves up in the Holy Spirit.
I hope this little writing will perhaps stir you up to  truly evaluate the state of your current church home. Using the benchmark held out in Ephesians 4:13 to guage our current progress.
May our Lord grant His Word as recorded in Jer. 3:15

And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

Amen