“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his 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.” Ephesians 4:11-13
One of the biggest failures of the local churches would be not recognizing and properly utilizing the office bearers Christ gave to them. This results in spiritual malnutrition, absence of equipping work for Lord’s service, the body of Christ not building up in faith and knowledge of the Son of God, absence of maturity, and not attaining the measure of the fullness of Christ which is expected by the Lord.
You see, the local church must not be a social club where things are decided in a democratic fashion just to please people’s egos. God is not honored in this fashion. Christ gives the roles in the church by enabling with unique spiritual gifts. The passage clearly says not everyone is appointed with the same calling. The apostles and prophets were the foundation of the Christian temple, Christ being the chief cornerstone as explained in Ephesians 2:19-20.
Now evangelists are the missionaries who go and spread the gospel of Christ in unreached areas like Philip, Timothy, and Epaphras. Then there are pastors and teachers Christ gave to his church. Pastors are the overseers and shepherds who were entrusted with protection, nurture, and supervision ministers. Teachers are an official designation for those who can effectively take Bible passages and concepts and teach the flocks to make them grow in faith and knowledge of the Lord. Not everyone can be evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Not everyone can go to unreached areas simply because that is not God’s calling. However, God wants all of us to testify Jesus to people who come in touch with us. Although not all are officially called by the role of an evangelist, all believers in Christ are to testify the good news of Christ to others.
Not everyone can be pastors due to tender care and supervision gifts associated with the calling. Not everyone can teach because God did not give this gift to everybody. Churches that recognize and utilize whom the Lord sovereignly gave them achieve maturity, growth in faith, knowledge of the Son of God, attain the whole measure of spiritual growth.
The Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was incarnated into this earth for the remission of our sins not only died for our sake (John 19:30), but He also was buried in the tomb in Jerusalem (John 19:38-41) and ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9-11), after fulfilling his work of salvation. Verse 9 says the one who was descended into this earthly region from heaven by his incarnation was also ascended higher than all the heavens. As a result of his descension and ascension, Christ himself gave persons with special gifts in the local church. Again, who gave the ministers in Church? it says, “Christ Himself”. Our insight in this passage focuses not on the various grace-gifts but focus on the people who received those gifts. The various grace-gifts given are described in Romans 12:6-8 and 1st Corinthians 12. Here the focus the people who received various gifts for the Lord.
Now, when I was small in the local church I was growing we used to listen to an older brother every weekend –Saturday and Sunday. He was instrumental in equipping us for God’s work, building us up with clear teachings of the Christian doctrines. Christ appointed Him to equip us to do the work of service, we were rooted in faith and the knowledge of the Son of God and became mature in the faith because of his continuous labor of teaching the pure Word of God. Nowadays I am worried that Christ’s appointments in local churches are not clearly understood or utilized. In some Christian denominations, the local church became more like a social club where all want to be teachers although there is clearly a lack of proper training, and knowledge of the word of God is evident.
People who want to spend their time, money, and energy in studying the word of God are ignored and those who never spent their money, energy, and time are brought to the front. The consequent results are not just the ones I explained above but there are other dangerous results explained in verse 14 by Apostle Paul.
If we hear, listen and understand the pure, right and true explanation of the word of God, believers won’t remain as infants, they won’t be tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. I came across a believer recently who spent his money to buy the oil that was prayed over by someone. He told me that he thought such oil could heal from the diseases. Why such senseless happens? The reason is this –people do not know the truth and the whole counsel of the word of God.
Churches need Christ appointed pastors, evangelists, and teachers for its full development to attain the full measure of the fullness of Christ. To become a teacher of the Bible is a very coveted goal if Christ gives you the role. However, a Bible teacher must first be a student of the Bible for a period of time. He can learn from others who studied the Bible in-depth in a local church setting or he must be willing to spend time, energy, and some money God gave him to learn the Bible. If you set your mind to study the Scripture, it can cost you financially as well. When I finished my studies in one of the best seminaries available, (thank God humbly for the opportunity He gave me to study the Bible systematically), I finished my degree with a big sum of personal debt. Only a focused person can learn the Bible systematically.
Bible gives an admonition in 2nd Timothy 3:15 to such people who are called to be teachers. It says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” Handling accurately the word of God is a skill that must be learned and practiced with an ongoing mindset. This is how one can present himself approved to God in His calling of teaching ministry. You see Bible teaching is not saying something coming into your mind. It must be based on the whole counsel of the Word of God given in our hands. The Word of God must be cut right to fit all pieces together perfectly. Paul being a tentmaker knew the importance of cutting the pieces skillfully to build a tent for people. The word of God must be cut straight and correct according to the divine and whole counsel of the Bible.