(These notes are based on lesson notes by Pastor Tommy Jones, Connection Pastor at Hoffmantown Church)Review:
So far we have covered the first 6 Pillars.
The Role of Church Leadership Is Not To Do All the Work of Service, But to Equip the Body.
This Pillar is talking specifically about the pastoral staff. To avoid getting off into discussions about elders and deacons and teachers etc, I will restate Pillar 7 as:
The Role of Pastors Is Not To Do All the Work of Service, But to Equip the Body for it.
To determine what the Bible says about this question, let’s go to Ephesians 4. In this letter, Paul starts by defining the doctrine of the Church in Chapters 1 through 3. Then in Chapter 4, he starts to explain to them how this plays out in the local church, how God structured it to perform its mission. That is where we find that Christ has given pastors to the Church for the equipping of the saints. We not only find what they are to do, but for whom they are doing it. Jesus wants His Church to be fully equipped for ministry.
We are going to look at four characteristics of an equipping church that come out of this passage in Ephesians 4.
In Ephesians 4:11-12, Paul states
And He gave some … as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ... --Ephesians 4:11-12If you were here for our extended study of Ephesians, you will remember that this verse could be talking about two positions, pastors and separately about teachers; or it could be talking about one position, a teaching pastor. Either way, the points we are making today, clearly apply to pastors. They are for the purpose of equipping.
The literal meaning of the word translated as equipping, in the original Greek language, katartismos [kat·ar·tis·mos] is:
Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending their nets. --Mark 1:19It is used in Galatians in reference to the restoration of a brother who is caught up in sin.
Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. --Galatians 6:1The same Greek word, katartismos [kat·ar·tis·mos] is also used in other contexts:
Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. --2 Corinthians 13:11
Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. --Hebrews 13:20-21
Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. --1 Corinthians 1:10
The equipping of the saints is necessary for the preservation of that wholeness. So, we can say an equipped church is one that is continually being supplied with what it needs to carry out its mission and that all the necessary parts are being made available and utilized.
With this basic understanding, let’s look at the first characteristic of an equipped church:
1. The Picture of an Equipped Church:
...being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. --Ephesians 4:3-7Paul describes what a church looks like that is equipped, one that maintains the unity of the Spirit.
Unity is not uniformity. Uniformity refers to all of us looking alike and acting alike, a consistency in conduct and opinion. It means conformity to a rule or mode of behavior.
Unity is not unanimity. Unanimity means we have the agreement and consent of everyone. Some believe that just because we disagree over certain matters or have conflicting differences of opinion in the church that we lack unity. In such cases, we may not have unanimity or uniformity, but we may still have unity.
Preserving unity of the Spirit does not come from conforming to outside standards, but comes from the inside as we yield ourselves to God and His will for us. We cannot create or produce unity. We may only preserve it by obedience to Jesus, which is reflected in our attitudes and actions toward other believers. The Holy Spirit creates unity. He cannot be broken or split in two. The Body of Christ may experience disagreement, but it will not be disjointed. It is His peace that acts like a cord to bind us together.
It is essential that pastors equip the Body with the Word so that this unity may be preserved — one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God.
When believers are being equipped with the Word, they are able to mature, ultimately to the point that Paul urges in Ephesians 4:1:
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called... --Ephesians 4:1Walk worthy of the calling ...that is, exhibiting the life of Jesus in us which preserves the unity of the Holy Spirit in the Church. These verses paint a picture of what the church looks like when it is being equipped for the work of ministry, and that work is being accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit working in them in unity.
Utilize our spiritual gifts: Notice the first word in verse 7: “but”. Paul seems to be making a contrast here from what he just said in the previous verse. In verse 6, he uses the word “all”. He changes emphasis in verse 7 and speaks of “each one”, not “all”. By using “all”, it helps us understand the whole thing, its unity. By using “each one of us”, he now moves to the diversity found in our unity. So we move from the big picture as a whole to the individuality of each believer, a change in perspective.
Paul now highlights the importance of each member of the body. We can’t realize the full operation of the whole, unless there is individual commitment. If we can remember our math lessons in school, we may remember the phrase: “the whole is equal to the sum of its parts”. God does not overlook the individual. In fact, Paul says, “to each one grace was given…” It is God’s nature to give and that giving comes out of grace. Grace, we remember is God’s love and provision for us that is undeserved, unmerited and unearned.
In what way has God’s grace been given?
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ... --Ephesians 1:3When we think of “grace”, we normally think of saving grace, but the context here does not refer to saving grace, but rather His operating or living grace. It is a grace of power and enablement. Look at verse 7: “grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift”. This speaks of His power enabling Christians in the Body to exercise the spiritual gift given to them.
We know from several passages that each believer received a gift from the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation, when they were placed in the Body of Christ, the Church, by the Holy Spirit. At such a time, a gift was given to them so that it might be used for the edification or building-up of the Body. That gift is a wonderful thing. It has been given freely by God’s own Sovereign choice. Yet, we need His power to use it the way He desires.
We may all have different gifts, but there is one power source required to make it function: the power of The Holy Spirit. Paul said
But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. --Ephesians 4:7What Paul alludes to in the verse is that this grace power has been freely measured out to each of us so that our gifts can be exercised. For every gift used, we need a measure of God’s power to activate it. Some gifts need more grace than others, some people need more grace power than others. Whenever our gifts are used, God knows just the right amount of grace that is needed for each individual, and he freely supplies it. The wonderful thing here is that God makes full provision for each believer that enables them to function in the Body by the use of their spiritual gifts.
These gifts are not based on affinity, talents, abilities or desires. They come out of God’s purpose for us as He sees fit
But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. --1 Corinthians 12:7Last week we studied the fact that each of us have different gifts, and those gifts manifest themselves in different ways, but the desired whole is the sum of all those different gifts being exercised in different ways. This adds up to the picture of an equipped church, not only preserving the unity of the Spirit as a whole, but individually exercising our gifts as well. Not only did He supply the Body with gifts to be used in service, but He gave the church gifted men to equip them so that they may use their gift to the fullest. We’ll look at this more in verse eleven.
But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. --1 Corinthians 12:11
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith... --Romans 12:6
2. The Provision made for an equipped church:
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers --Ephesians 4:11Not only did The Holy Spirit give individual believers spiritual gifts, but He gave His church gifted men. In other words, those gifts given to men in verse eight are those classes of ministers we see here in verse eleven.
Wayne went into detail in these offices, so we won’t repeat that. But the crux here is that Jesus provided gifted men to equip The Church.
3. The Progress of an equipped church:
...for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ... --Ephesians 4:12Let’s follow the flow of thought. In verse eleven he gave gifts of men to the church. The beginning of verse twelve speaks of purpose: “for”.
For what? “For the equipping of the saints”.
Who are the saints? The Greek word hagios [hag·ee·os] refers to that which has been purified and consecrated for God’s purpose, in this case, believers. As mentioned earlier, equipping has to do with preparing or completing something. Let’s look at the verse this way: “for the preparing Christians”. The functional duty of the pastor is to equip, prepare and train the believer.
Does this mean that they aren’t to be active in the work of service? Of course not. But it does mean they are to be focusing more on equipping others to execute ministry than doing it themselves.
With what are they to equip the saints? The Word of God! Note the following verses:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. --2 Timothy 3:16-17Another way pastors are to equip the saints is with prayer.
We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. --Colossians 1:28
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. --2 Timothy 4:2
Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis. --Colossians 4:12-13Why would pastors equip the saints? “For the work of service”
...for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ. --Ephesians 4:12The word for “service” is diakonia [dee·ak·on·ee·ah], from which we get our word “deacon”. The root idea is of serving. The saints serve God by serving one another in the use of their gift and godly conduct. Also notice, the serving is a working serving. It is not passive service. The responsibility for work done in the body in serving is carried out by the believers.
Pastors cannot meet every need, nor should they be focused away from equipping. If all they do is plan, meet, run ministries, focus on programs and activities, etc. and do not spend time in the Word, they will not fulfill their God ordained function. As a result, the laity suffer because they are not being equipped. Therefore, the church body suffers as a whole. Proper equipping assures that the work gets done.
The workers are not merely observing, listening or absorbing without resulting in good works. The Spirit of God in them should spur them on to be an active part of the body. As believers are equipped, leaders are developed. Elders, deacons, team leaders, teachers, etc. begin to emerge and mature. Do you see a pattern here?
Note the progression:
...for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ. --Ephesians 4:12The phrase “building up” is oikodume [oy·kod·um·ay] . It refers to the construction of a house, from the foundation up.
What kind of building up?
It is rather an internal building up, a spiritual building process. As believers grow by the teaching of the Word and obedience to Jesus, they may properly serve. Acts 20:32 says,
“And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up … --Acts 20:32Pastors serve the body by teaching the Word and prayer and godly leading. Believers are equipped to serve by utilizing their gifts more effectively and in a scriptural manner. We see this echoed in Eph. 4:16:
… according to the proper working of each individual part, … --Ephesians 4:16There are the gifts and working and service in action!
4. So what is The Purpose of an equipped church?
...until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. --Ephesians 4:13The church is progressing. It is being built up spiritually by the equipping of the saints; but, to what end? “Until we all attain to the unity of the faith”...
But there’s more … “and of the knowledge of the Son of God.”
The word for “knowledge” is epignosis [ep·ig·no·sis]. It refers to full and accurate knowledge. In Philippians 3:10, Paul expresses a heart desire to “know” Christ.
...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. --Philippians 3:10It’s the same word. It’s not just knowing about Christ … it’s knowing Him deeply and intimately in a growing relationship. As the church is equipped, believers are moved to experience Christ more fully, more intimately and with a richer understanding. This pilgrimage of each believer takes a lifetime.
“to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”In short, Jesus is our standard or measure of maturity. We reflect the measure of Christ within us by our equipping, working, serving. As He grows in us, a spiritual building takes place and the process of spiritual maturity moves onward. When the world sees our church body function, they ought to see a reflection of the fullness of Christ.
So the Role of Leadership is to teach and train, which equips believers so that the body can carry out True Ministry.
This completes the teaching on the Seven Pillars of True Ministry.
Next Week: A Special Guest
Simpson Rebbavarapu of India, a personal friend and co-worker of Dave Westley, is in town briefly, finalizing some native language audio Scriptures at Hosanna, and will be with us next Sunday to share a fascinating PowerPoint presentation on his work in India: Beulah Ministries Orphanage and School. Learn how God is equipping the saints of India through the audio Scriptures in their own languages.
After class, Simpson will be joining us for lunch at the restaurant we end up choosing.
"Give a man a fish and he has one meal. Teach a man to fish and he has food for a lifetime."