However, He has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ . . .
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.
Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ.
This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. (Eph 4:7,11-13)
The all conquering king who has defeated the powers and authorities in the heavenlies and in this world has given out His gifts in His triumphal procession.
He has given each of us a special gift.
What gifts? – the gifts of the ministry:- apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.
To whom were the gifts given? - they were given to the church, the body of Christ.
Why? To equip God's people and to build up the church.
Is there a tenure on the gifts? A time limit? - till we all come to unity of faith and maturity in the Lord, according to the standard of Christ.
One NZ pastor, a friend of mine from Bible College days has written in response to what I have been saying. I like what he said and it seems appropriate to include it here.
"Paul the prisoner (captive) of Christ is explaining to fellow captives how to live out their shared captivity.
By supremely giving himself on the cross for us Christ is now giving himself to the world through graced people.
He is the gift. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are his captives graced with one of his attributes.
These are charged to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace and build the captive collective (the church) until ‘the whole measure of the fullness of Christ’ is reached.
Jesus, being fully manifest to the world through the church, is the goal. The people of the world, indeed the entire cosmos needs Jesus. Christ goes on giving himself via the church." Paul
Yes a namesake of the original one who started the thought process. Good comments. Paul of Wanganui has highlighted something that Paul of Tarsus doesn't want you to forget.
All of this gifting, gracing, blessing, enabling takes place within the church. God wants His church to be the vehicle and means to display his power and wisdom to the cosmos.
God's purpose in all this was to use the church to display His wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. (Eph 3:10)
There is a movement abroad in this present day and age that concerns me. All too many believers think that it is appropriate to leave the church for all sorts of valid reasons. Spiritual abuse, incompetent leadership, ineffective structures and programmes, incorrect beliefs and teaching and much more. It seems they have given up on the church and wish to start a new "order". Cell group, house "church" or some other non-aligned collection of disaffected souls (maybe that should be disinfected souls). Note what Paul of Wanganui said above.
Paul (the one from Tarsus) explaining to fellow captives . . . How to live out their shared captivity . . . apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are [all] his captives . . . charged to keep the unity and build the captive collective. Love it. Isn't that what it is all about? Whenever we give up on the challenge to walk in unity and split from our brothers and sisters for whatever reason we come short of the full and complete standard of Christ. In the last month I have been approached or heard of numbers of situations where the unity of the body of fellow captives has come unstuck or is being challenged in a serious way. Oh people, read again Jesus prayer to the Father about "their" oneness. "Their" is us and He is not just talking about the unity is one small "collective of captives" [nice term Paul) but the unity across the board among all captives – the Church. Capital "C". Oh far short of that we come while trying to protect our own self interest or inflated view of our opinions. Be prepared to yield ground people for the sake of unity.
Note too that the office bearers: apostles, prophets evangelists pastors and teachers are all fellow captives. We are all captives. Captives have no rights or authority or position to lord it over others whatsoever. Take your rightful place as a bond slave of Christ. I think I will have to divide this gem into two. I want to comment on something else the two Paul's brought up. The gift itself. But I will do that tomorrow.
Let just one more thing concerning the nature of our striving for unity. Let me take you back to the gems I wrote on a related topic.
They are #382 and #383 related to eating food sacrificed to idols.
#407 related to Seeking Your Neighbour's Welfare
#420 related to looking at Communion in new light and why the Corinthians were getting it so wrong.
Read all these Gemz again or for the first time. Read them from the view point of the lengths you might go to preserve unity in the Church. All of these past Gemz have something to say about the degree to which we are wiling to strive for unity. Even doing something as radical as Paul (of Tarsus) did when he argues for freedom of foods he might eat and then he is radically willing to reverse his position for the sake of the body. Wow. Imagine if all of us adopted that stand for unity. All our petty differences would disappear in a puff of bull dust. [Dont ask me what bull dust is]
That's how important unity is and why Paul thrashed the topic in the Corinthian letters. It is a matter dear to God's heart. I think I know what Jesus would say to all of those problem issues I have heard about in the last month when I read these passages and weigh them up in the light of the call to UNITY.
What length are you willing to go to preserve the unity of your church or the Church universal?
Thanks Paul and thanks Paul.
Illness begins with I. Wellness begins with WE. Rick Warren
"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate." Nikka - age 6
Forgive everyone everything - Regina Brett
Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude." Martin Luther King, Jr