11And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—16from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. Eph 4:11-16 NKJV
Halleluiah! We have been taught out of this scripture for a long time in the body. Let’s look at v.12: For the perfecting (edifying) of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, In this passage we are told that the gifts of these “functions” are to prefect, equip and edify the saints for the work of the ministry. I have heard many times the meaning of edify is to build up, to strengthen or supply strength through. I know that in the Christian life edify or perfect means to build up into or with what is needed to be like Christ. Equip means to give the tools to do the work. According to 13 we, the body of Christ, are to become the fullness of Christ in a unity of Faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, a perfect man. In John 20:21 the scripture says we are sent just like Jesus. Who is sent? A few people or are “all” sent like Jesus? As we honestly look at the body of Christ today in most churches we see about 7 out of every 100 people being used in a church service. During the week we may see another 5 or 10 being asked by the church to do something related to ministry.
“We” who are “called” to function and walk in the offices of ministry in verse 11 of Eph. 4 have taken it upon our selves to show the people how “anointed” we are. We tend to “do” the ministry and let others know who we are. We preach, we teach, we do, we go, we anoint. What does that have to do with edifying the body so they can do the work of the ministry? How does this “build up” the Body into the fullness of Christ. How does this serve the people in the body’s need to minister? How does this equip them to see Christ do things in their lives? My Bible says “all” (that includes the leaders) are to be disciple makers (Mt.28:18-20) My Bible says that ALL are to lay hands on the sick (Mark 16:15-18). We need to look at what the people are doing and see that this is what we have taught them. No matter what they are doing we need to realize that if they are sitting it is because we have taught them that this is acceptable Christianity.
There is a place to do the ministry in front of them to show them how but then we need to be like Jesus and help them do it and then let them do it and then leave them to do it. We need to model Jesus and serving others, then we need to assist others to be like Jesus, after that we need to watch them do ministry, then we need to leave them ministering. We are so busy preparing ourselves to minister we don’t remember they, the body of Jesus, all want a place to minister also. We are not building strength in them or purpose, we are letting them sit and want. All Christians want to see Jesus work through them. It is their right to be empowered to do this. WE, with the callings of Eph. 4:11, are responsible to see that THEY are doing the ministry “in the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” and walk like Him. If we are always doing everything how will they ever learn who they are? We need to look at what we are doing and in spite of what we “think” we are teaching, with all we say; we need to look at what they are doing and realize this is what we are actually teaching them to do. (When I talk about “doing ministry” I am not talking about the janitorial work or ushering or being catchers for the “anointed ones”. I am talking about preaching, teaching, praying for the sick, casting out demons, etc.)
I have been given the privilege to teach in other countries these last few years of my life and I find all over the world that Christians are just as hungry to do the works of Christ as I am. So, I have taught differently. Instead of always lecturing and preaching, I have started “empowering” them. I have done this in small ways all my life but I take it farther now. I teach by having them do. I do and give them examples of how to hear and then have them hear and then do. It is amazing to watch the ones who normally sit in services on Sunday lay hands on people and hear from the Spirit and see people healed and set free. They get so excited to see that not only does Neil have this right and power but that they do. I see lots of miracles, but more and more it is through the hands of those I am empowering. I am not teaching them any different doctrines but I am teaching differently, I have them share and do the works of Jesus. Everywhere I do this I see such release of the Spirit and power. They go and take communities and places for the Lord and the kingdom is expanded. Then I find when I come back that they are teaching others by having them do the same as I have done they are doing and it is contagious as everyone wants to be used by Jesus and needed. All I have done is go back and look at the way Jesus discipled and done this. Let’s look at some of the ways Jesus did His training.
Make disciples the way Jesus did, training them to obey His commands before all else, by showing them they are needed. First He was an example, He did what He wanted them to do. Luke 3:22 Everything He wanted them to do He did first. They didn’t know anything but the baptism of John and He has them doing it right away to others. (He started with obedience) John 4:1 From the beginning they are feeling needed and part of what He is doing. His longest teaching session recorded in scripture takes about 8 minutes to read. We know that people were with Him all day sometimes so we know that he taught more but it was with the miraculous as a part of it. Remember though, He was walking and going to new places as He taught them. He did not have them sit and listen to lectures. He asked them questions. Mark 9:33 He answered their questions. Mark 9:28; Luke 8:9 He did miracles with them. Matthew 14:13-21 He sent and empowered them. Luke 9:1 and Luke 10:1 Then he left them Luke 24:51 and empowered them. Acts 1:8 and 2:4 Follow Jesus through scripture as He calls his disciples and leads them.
How did Jesus disciple? — MODEL, ASSIST, WATCH, LEAVE.
Let’s look at Matthew 14:13-21 or Luke 9:11-17 a little closer. I have taught on this for years and so have many others but I want to show you something anyway. This is the feeding of the 5,000 (men, not including the rest of the family that was present). In verse 14 of this passage it says Jesus had compassion on the multitude and healed their sick. It ended up being an all day task. At the evening His disciples are worried about food for this bunch. Jesus tells them to feed them, “You give them something”. Like all of us we tend to look at what we have, not at who He is and who we are in His presence. They don’t see the possibilities. So in verse 19 He starts to teach His disciples how to do it. He takes what they have, looks up to Heaven, (we can do the same when we are listening to the Father before we do anything) and blesses it. He breaks it and gives the loaves to the disciples. Now, stop right here — does it say he gave each a basketful, does it say HE multiplied it? NO! He gave what they had given him back to them and at their hands it was multiplied — as they obeyed Jesus, they fed the multitudes. He helped them, but they got to see the miracle happen in their hands.
In Luke 9 and 10 we see the disciples doing what Jesus wants them to become. He sends them out and just watches in the Spirit (interestingly Paul also talks about knowing what is going on whether he is present or absent in some of his churches). First Jesus sends out the 12 in chapter 9 and then the 70 in chapter 10. The 12 had seen Him do miracles and had participated in them, now he lets them do these by themselves. When they come back He then empowers seventy new disciples to do what the twelve have done. He then teaches them through their experiences and answers the questions and statements they make. (In the Luke 9 feeding of the multitudes he is showing them that even when He is present He still wants them to be doing the miracles. He helps, but they must continue to do.)
At the end of 3 years with Him, the disciples are told that they were to wait for the power to come on them, then to go on and be witnesses. These men have seen and done what we as ministers all desire to see and do, but so does the rest of the church. Not just the select few, (the twelve) but all (the seventy) should be empowered and sent. (Some day we must come to the place that we realize we are not empowering the multitude of believers to do what Jesus wants them to do teaching and preaching the way we have.) We must do more than just release them, we need to empower them.
Look at the end of Jesus ministry on earth. Every one of the disciples desert Jesus. They all do major no-no’s. They desert the teacher, do Him wrong. They left Him to be beat up and destroyed. Man, we would never let these guys do anything again for us. They would be through. Can you imagine what we would do if our deacons and elders left us to be beat up by a few bullies? Much less, if someone prays wrong or doesn’t do a perfect job with the announcements. We don’t use them and certainly we would not let someone who was a liar and got caught do anything in ministry. No on your life, we would get them out of our lives and church. We might even label them to other ministers as being divisive or dangerous. Let’s look at what Jesus does. We probably would think because of what He does that He is really not to bright. He comes back from heaven and visits these losers and deserters and tells the worst one among them, Peter, to “feed my sheep”. He doesn’t start over or stop using them. He leaves everything in their hands and goes and sits down in His Father’s house. He does things we would never do, maybe we should learn from Him and loose instead of bind? Maybe we should empower instead of restrain? Maybe we should trust instead of mistrust? Maybe we should look at the heart and our Lord instead of what we see in the flesh. I have a couple of questions and I ask them a lot, Who are you personally discipling? Who are you acting like? You are modeling something and what you do is being imparted to your people, much more than what you are saying. If they are sitting, it is because you are teaching and showing them that is what you want them to do and what Jesus wants them to do.
If they are not motivated and challenged to do more then look in the mirror,who are their motivators and examples? The church leaders are.
Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-18, Luke 24:47-49 and John 20:21-23 show us some interesting commands. Not suggestions. Have we empowered the church to be built up to do this ministry? Are we building His kingdom or training others to be like us or HIM? Are we holding the rest of the church in bondage? Ephesians 4:11-16 is the leaders/”servants of all” commandment. We need to evaluate what we are producing and if we don’t see what Jesus wants to see then we need to stop doing what we are doing. The results will not change till we do. We can’t disciple the whole church but we can do 3-12 or so and then teach them to do the same. That is what Jesus did. Look at the results. It must be an everyday thing, deliberately empowering and sending. The church is hungry to obey Christ but we must get out of the way. We must stop standing between them and Jesus and get under them and loose them into His presence. We must empower and commission like Jesus. We are not to build our name but His church’s name. The world is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God, not the “ministers” of the church. (Romans 8)
The measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ —- All the body, doing the ministry of Jesus as sons empowered and filled with His fullness.
If we do not change because it is too hard, or we esteem the traditions we have been handed down more than His commands, how will we, as leaders be judged? Will the body be judged for “our” sins?