As in the natural, so in the spiritual…….consider the following parallels: In construction, all buildings begin with the foundation. In the spiritual, Jesus is the Rock of our foundation. Digging foundations can be a very messy procedure, but once firmly established, the building can proceed. Next come the bricks, or the stones, as the walls go up. 1 Peter 2:5 likens us to the stones: “You also, as lively stones are built up a spiritual house”. Scaffolding is erected during construction of the building. On completion of the building, the scaffolding is removed. It is no longer needed as a support system. The building is ready to function for purpose, whether it be a home, an office, public facility, or whatever its function is to be.
In Ephesians 4 the five fold ministry gifts are recorded. This is the order of God for discipling after salvation, a very necessary scaffolding for growth and maturity: “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 fullness of Christ. That henceforth we no longer be 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, who is the Head, even Christ”. Ephesians 4: 11-15.
Every member of the body of Christ has needed the gifts of the five fold ministry for growth. These are gifts operating in men in function, but are not titles to be taken and gloried in. A mature Christian recognises the Source of his gift, the Lord Jesus Christ. The gifts of the five fold ministry are to edify the body of Christ, bringing a continual growth towards maturity as we all apply the truths of the Bible, the teaching of Jesus Christ and learn to seek dependence on the Holy Spirit for every area of our lives. It is the birthright of every believer to learn to hear the voice of God for themselves. Jesus said: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me”, John 10:27. In order to hear, we begin with acknowledging our need to hear the Lord’s voice and refuse to operate in the natural, our sense knowledge. This is surrendered as we seek to hear the Holy Spirit’s direction or correction..
We are all in the School of Christ, the School of the Spirit, but if all we do is acquire knowledge and revelation and never apply it to our lives, we will never grow and mature towards the fulness of Christ, our ultimate destiny.
The church, the body of Christ is a living organism, producing new life, new cell growth, constantly renewing as in the physical body. As Christians mature along their earthly journey towards fullness, having received much from the structure of the five fold ministry, learning to be fully dependent on the Holy Spirit, we, too, should then be producing new cell growth from the Life of Christ within us. Someone once said, “Preach the gospel at all times and, if necessary, use words!” Our lives should be a continual demonstration of the Living Christ within us, living His Life through us.
In the physical body, rogue cells produce cancer. In the body of Christ, the church, sadly we see rogue cells of rebellion producing schisms, a cancer in the Lord’s body. Some have interpreted the until in Ephesians 4: 13 as license to sign their own indenture papers from their perception of apprenticeship under the five fold ministry, rebelled and left the church in arrogance. Eventually they find themselves shipwrecked, seeking to find a return from their wilderness.
Sadly, there are some churches, (but not all), where the five fold ministry operates, that do not encourage correctly the spiritual growth of the body to discover, develop and function in their gifting in Christ. Stunted growth through another’s control is a tradgedy. The church was never meant to be just Sunday pew warmers. Beyond Sunday, indeed every day, bristles with opportunity to live in the “IS ” of God. Almighty God, our heavenly Father is the great I AM, and is ever present in every situation. The school of life is where we apply the truths we have learnt in the school of the Spirit. If it does not work here, then I am at fault and in need of change of believing and application.
Ephesians 4:15-16 is a picture of the body of Christ functioning in the order of God: “….Speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, who is the head, even Christ. From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, making increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love”. This is a powerful, challenging statement, but also a beautiful picture of a healthy body, every part operating in the measure of it’s function, working together to edify each other in love, rightly related to our head, the Lord Jesus Christ. If we attempt to reject other members we produce dysfunction or disease. The remainder of chapter 4 of Ephesians verses 17-32 serve to instruct and challenge.
We are all on a journey, all at different stages but none of us have yet arrived at fullness. As we walk in the light that the Holy Spirit has revealed to us, we will continue to grow and function in our giftings. If we refuse, sadly we will stagnate. Every day is a choice, to listen to the whispers of Jesus, or just continue doing “my own thing”, dismembered! Dear Lord, help me to make right choices, to choose Your will and surrender mine, becoming dependent on Your Holy Spirit’s guidance. Herein lies the joy of every believer, that Jesus might become the essence of our days, a life lived to the glory of God.
Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash