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Saturday, October 23, 2021

10-23-2021        ESSENCE OF LOVE Pt 2

Last time, we discovered how the essence of love can work in our own life and how we can share it with others, but how can we experience the essence of love in the church?  Paul tells us that whatever we do in the church should edify the church and building our brothers and sisters up in His love, right?  God gives the church what is referred to as the ‘Five-Fold Ministry to help us do just that (Eph. 4:11-13).

What IS the five-fold ministry (2) - Role of the Evangelist, Apostle, Teacher, Pastor and Prophet (Eph. 4:11)

The early church struggled as Peter, James, John and the rest of the apostles and disciples and later, including Paul did all they could to help those early believers understand just what love was/is all about.

The bible doesn’t call these gifts, the “five-fold” ministry, but it does say that Jesus gave ‘some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists and some pastors and teachers to the church for perfecting the saints, the work of the ministry and to edify the body of Christ.  Even though these five abilities are not ‘listed’ as gifts, to perform in these ministries is definitely a gift from God!

The Greek word for “perfecting is katartismos (G2677) which is to perfect (verb, not a noun).  Its root word is katartizo (G2675) which is to complete, mend, prepare, restore or make perfect by joining together.  And the root word for katartizio is artios (G739) which is to complete or perfect.

  Perfecting the saints is helping each one of us to be all that we can be, helping us to do the work to which Father has called us, then do our part in building up the body of Christ.  The role of evangelist, apostle, prophet, pastor and teacher is to be responsible for these areas so the body of Christ can function as God intended.  The five ministries are listed separate.  I am persuaded that Father did not intend for just one person to perform all five ministries by himself, but rather spread each ministry out so no one person would be over burdened with the tasks.  Thus having greater strength in a specific area.

The five positions are God-given “gifts” to serve their particular purpose in the church. 

God also gives other gifts through which these five positions can be ministered:  prophecy, serving, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership and mercy (Rom. 12:6-8); word of knowledge, word of wisdom, faith, healings, miracles, discerning of spirits, tongues and interpretation of tongues (1 Corinth. 12:8-10); and Paul also adds to this list administrations (1 Corinth. 12:28).  Not going into depth on this list at this time, but understand all Christians can operate in any of these gifts as Father deems.  Yet these gifts are also avenues through which the five-fold positions (Ephesians 4:11) can operate.

The church IS (should be) the five-fold ministry

The gifts from God are given without repentance (Rom. 11:29), that is, one does not have to give his life to Jesus (“be saved”) to have the ‘gift’.  God knows us before we are conceived and has a gift intended for each one of us even before we are born.  He has sanctified us, that is set us aside to operate in that gift, so we can fully and effectively serve Him.  Then, through our obedience He ordains us into that ministry (Jer. 1:5).  God gives us this gift before birth, but we have a choice, as we grow in our “natural life”, to accept His ordination or do our ‘own thing’ (reject).  The thing(s) we enjoy really doing is most likely the gift God has given us.  Still, it is our choice to follow that gift or even whether to use it for God’s glory or not.  Irregardless of our decision, God has given each of us an ability.

John the Baptist is a good example of God knowing us, giving us a gift then even having the desire to go out and do it.  (Luke 1:1-25).  An angel of the Lord spoke with Zacharias, then Elisabeth conceived and bore John.  Take note that Father also had already declared John’s mission on this earth, before his conception, before his birth, then, when John was older, he went out and did it.  God ordained him to perform that task in the level he served.

Do we dare to forget Jesus, as the angel Gabriel went to Mary?  Again, before she had even conceived, before Jesus was born, even before having an intimate relationship with Joseph, Gabriel told her that she would give birth to Jesus and what His ministry would be.  You say, they were unique and Jesus is the Son of God.  OK, but what about Jeremiah, our lead passage in this section.  Jeremiah was a ‘mere’ man.  God told Jeremiah “I knew you before you were conceived.  I sanctified you (set you apart) before you were born (for a task).  God tells Jeremiah that he was born to be a prophet to Israel – and so he was.

So the gifts are given to help the church to grow and be strong in Christ Jesus.  So let’s take a quick look at these five gifts/positions to see how that works:

What does an evangelist do?  Euaggelistes (G2099) evangelist (of course) preaches the gospel or brings the “good news” of Jesus Christ.  In other words, he shares with others how to receive Jesus into their heart so that they might attain eternal life (fellowship) with Father.  We see an example with Philip in Samaria with the Eunuch (Acts 8:5-39).  Do you know what you’re reading? … Here’s water.  Can I be baptized?  The eunuch gives his life to Jesus!

                        The evangelist brings the good news, the gospel, of Jesus Christ, so people can learn about God’s love and how to attain eternal fellowship with the Father through Jesus and abide forever in that love.

The apostle?    Apostolos (G552) a delegate or messenger who is sent (by God).  We are fellow citizens in the household of God and built upon the foundation of the apostles, the prophets and Jesus, Himself (as the cornerstone).  The city, New Jerusalem has twelve foundations, each which contains the name of an apostle of the Lamb (Rev. 21:14).

                        The apostle is a messenger, sent by God, to build a foundation, both in the church and in personal lives.  And, of course, that foundation is God’s love!

The teacher?   Didaskalos(G1320) teacher, doctor, master.  The disciples recognized Jesus as the ultimate teacher (John 13:13) and a teacher instructs others that they may know.

                        In the church, a teacher helps others to know and understand what the Word of God says and means.  That teaching should increase our knowledge of God’s love.

The pastor?     Poimen (G4166) pastor, shepherd.  A shepherd guides, protects and leads his ‘flock’ (Psalm 23). 

                        The pastor does this by helping those, for whom he is responsible, to learn how to apply God’s Word and love into their lives.

The prophet?   Prophetes (G4396) prophet, poet, foreteller, inspired (by God) speaker.  The prophet brings the Word of God to those whom God has sent him.  We see in scripture, prophets bring word of encouragement and direction to God’s people.  Remember, Father chastises those whom He loves (Heb. 12:6) so His word doesn’t always come buried in a flower garden, but it is always done in love and to edify His people (1 Corinth. 14:12, 26).  No matter how harsh it may seem sometimes.  The prophet reassures us that God does love us.

Drawing souls into the kingdom of God, building a foundation in their lives, teaching brothers and sisters about God and how to apply what we learn into our own lives, helping them to walk the right path and giving encouragement are all expressions of the love God gives us to share.

The whole bible reflects the five-fold ministry

What can we say here?

When God created man, He let all creation testify to the man for Him.  All man had to do was look around.  See the sun, sky, trees, flowers, etc.  There was nothing when God started creating so He laid the foundation for all that would be (Gen. 1:1-31).  There was a void and God started speaking and His Word was taken out by His Spirit (the Holy Ghost) to create what Father imagined and then bring it into being! 

We don’t have specifics on what directions, the Creator of all, passed down to His creation but we do know they had a sense of right and wrong.  Cain discovered that it was wrong to kill his brother Abel and he feared someone else might kill him.  Father punished Cain for his wrongdoing but also pronounced that anyone who killed Cain would suffer even a worse punishment (Gen. 4:1-15). 

Through the Law (Exod. 20:1-17) and all the ‘practices’ God gave Moses for man to observe, God laid a deeper foundation, or shall we say a more detailed account of how man should love.  And being that, man still had problems getting the idea.  Father emphasized His love towards us through Jesus Christ.  Through the foundation in Christ Jesus we discover that it’s not just what we do but what we consider doing (in our heart) is also wrong (Prov. 23:7, Mat. 5:27-28).  Love encompasses not just what we do, but who we are. 

Father laid the foundation and when man strayed, in an evangelical outreach, gave us the Law, then fulfillment of that law in Jesus.  And that law is love.  The bible speaks of both an evangelistic and apostolic foundation to be laid before anything else.  We need Jesus, then to understand His love.

Father shows us how the shepherd takes care of his ‘flock’ as with David (before he became king and in Psalm 23 – “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures beside the still waters.  He restores my soul and leads me in the paths of righteousness.”  A shepherd?  The pastor?  Love!

Every time God speaks with man and man passes that along to others, He is teaching us.  He teaches us to hear His voice as with the young prophet Samuel (1 Sam 3:1-10).  How to listen and gain victory as with Joshua and the walls of Jericho (Josh. 6:1-20).  And how to make the right decisions as with Solomon and the two mothers (1 Kings 3:16-28).  The bible does teach us things.  A lot!  A lot about how God loves and how we should also love.

Do we cite examples from each of the prophets of God?  They brought glad tidings to Israel, they brought direction to Israel and they brought chastisement to Israel as they conveyed what Father had given them to speak.  The bible speaks in love through His prophets.

Jesus IS the five-fold ministry

Jesus explains to His disciples the importance of having a good foundation, solid doctrine and to not be flighty, or entertain whimsical ideologies (Matt. 7:24-27).  Jesus warns us that not everyone who tries to feed into our lives has our best interest at heart.  They may look good, but inside, they are out to destroy us.  We will eventually be able to see their true heart as their lifestyles will be revealed.  Jesus tells us not all who say “Lord, Lord” shall enter into the kingdom of God (Matt. 7:15-21). Jesus tells us to love with all that we are (Luke 10:27-28). This is part of the foundation Jesus laid in people’s heart.  Jesus is an apostle.

In Jerusalem, the people identified Jesus as a prophet (Matt.21:10-11).  The Samaritan woman at the well perceived Jesus as a prophet (John 4:5-29).  Jesus raised a young man from the dead and the people declared a prophet had come (Luke 7:12-16).  Jesus told His disciples what was to come, the end times (Matt. 24:1-31) and receipt of the Holy Ghost (Acts 1:7-8).  Jesus revealed things, performed ‘works’ and foretold the future.  Jesus is a prophet.

Just as Moses lifted up the serpent before the people so they might be healed  (John 3:24) God sent His only Son into the world that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  The Son has not come to condemn the world, but to save it (John 3:14-17).  Jesus IS the good news of salvation.  Everything Jesus told the people was directied into eternal life.  Jesus is the evangelist.

Jesus says that He is the door for the sheep to use.  All who come through My door shall be saved and be able to go in and out to pasture.  The thief comes to kill and destroy but I bring life and that you may have it and have it more abundantly.  I am the Good Shepherd and I give My life for My sheep (John 10:7-11).  The God of peace raised our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd, through the blood of the everlasting covenant (Heb. 13:20).  He leaves us the Holy Ghost to guide us is into all truth (John 16:13).  Jesus is a shepherd/pastor.

He opened His mouth and taught people (what we call the beatitudes – Matt. 5:1-12).  At the  seaside, Jesus taught them many things by using parables (Mark 4:1-2).  Jesus is a teacher.

More importantly, Jesus is the Son of God (Matt. 3 16-17).  Also, He is the son of man (Luke 2:1-7).  In the flesh He is the supposed son of Joseph (Luke 3:23) who is the son of … David … Booz … Judah … Jacob (Israel) … Abraham … Mathusala … Enoch … Shem … Noah … Seth … Adam who was the son of God (Luke 3:23-38).

And God?  God is love! And don’t forget Jesus is called Emmanuel, God is with us (Matt. 1:23).  Therefore Jesus is love!

How could He not represent Father in all aspects? 

We are a part of the five-fold ministry

We are exponents of the 5-fold ministry so just what is our role?  Paul tells us that whatever we do, do for the edification of the church so that the church can operate in unity not being swayed by the wiles of the enemy (1 Corinth. 14:12, Eph. 4:11-16).

All the churches accept the position of evangelist, pastor and teacher and all too often one individual tries to fulfill all three “offices”.  But consider, every time a new soul comes into the kingdom of God, every time a new church is started in a new community, a foundation needs to be laid – for an individual and/or for the fledgling congregation.  And, again, all too often one individual tries to add all these, or should I say “stuff” these duties to his pastoral hat.

And what about encouraging the people?  We all need an encouraging word from Father but we also need direction and when we stray – even reprimand.  God can use any of us to encourage another.  But Father does call some people into a deeper realm of encouragement.

Should one individual wear all these hats?  I don’t think so.  Jethro told Moses to divide responsibility up between trusted and Godly men so he wouldn’t have to wear himself out, sun up to sun down, ministering to individuals (Exod. 18:19-27).  The Greeks complained to Peter about their widows being neglected so Peter had them choose seven godly men to minister to their needs while he attended to prayer and ministering the gospel (Acts 6:1-7).  So why should one person be expected (or even try) to perform all the duties of the “five-fold’ ministry, alone?

Is the church perfect?  What makes us perfect?  What makes us mature?  A simple answer – living totally and absolutely in the love of Jesus Christ!  How many of us meet this qualification in our own lives.  Is there strife in the churches?  Are we really mature in Christ Jesus?  The closest we come is as we confess, repent and renounce (decide not to do it again) our sin.  Do we never sin again?  All too often I find myself, on my knees, before my Father because of some stupid thing I did (and at times even the ‘same’ stupid thing).  If we say we don’t have not sinned, we make Jesus a liar… but if we do sin Jesus intercedes for us (1John1:7-1 John 2:2).    Ask yourself, “Who is perfect?”  Totally and absolutely?  I’ll give you a hint.  They called Him Emmanel.  We call Him Savior, Lord, Messiah, Jesus! 

Love never fails.  Yet, prophecies, tongues and knowledge shall vanish.  For we do things in part now.  When that which is perfect is come, then that which is part shall be done away with.  When I was immature I acted like a kid but now that I’m grown, I’ve put away those immature things (ways of the world).  Today, my vision is clouded, but then (when I am with the Lord) I shall know Him as He knows me.  That’s when I will truly realize that faith and hope aren’t forever, they aren’t needed forever, but God is love and that never goes away (1 Corinth. 13:8-12) for God is love (1 John 4:8).  Paul said “These things will pass away”.  Why?  When we are in the literal presence of Jesus (eternity), these wonderful gifts won’t be necessary!  Are we truly perfect today?  That is never sin?  Do we know all things?  Has the Perfect come?  Has Jesus returned for us – yet?  Paul speaks of things yet to happen in his life, even the fact that Jesus is coming back for us (1 Thess. 4:14-18).  I can argue that we are not perfect, yet Jesus is.  He is God come in the flesh (Matt. 1:23, John 14:9), He can’t help but be perfect.  Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-8) and he is looking forward to seeing Jesus again.  Has that happened?  Paul’s salvation and his entire ministry happened after Jesus’ ascension.  If Paul looked forward to a future event, has Jesus snuck in between then and now?  If so, we’ve all missed the boat. 

God is love so He has given us things in this world to connect with Him.  But, listen up, when we are with Him in eternity, we won’t need the tools He’s given in this world.  So why do we hope for what we will then see with our own eyes (Rom. 8:24-25)?  But God is love so how can love ever go away?

Again, in the meantime, Father has given us gifts to help the church (us) to become what it (we) should be – a reflection of His love!

There’s a lot more than can be said in respect to what is referred to as the “Five-Fold” ministry, but hopefully, for those who are not familiar, this will be an impetus for you to check further and discover how it is an expression of God’s love towards us.

End Part 2

Next, let’s bring it all together!

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