We talked about the fivefold ministry gifts—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. The fivefold ministry gifts are given to the church until it reaches full maturity. I am talking about the whole body of Christ maturing, not just individuals within the church.
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till 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; that 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, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from 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” (Ephesians 4:11-16).
The church is supposed to be a bride making herself ready to meet the bridegroom (see Ephesians 5:25-27; Revelation 19:7). The bride’s readiness is contingent on the gifts of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher ministering to the church to help her become that spotless bride, “not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (see Ephesians 5:27).
We get wrinkles in our garments when we sit too long or become disengaged or inactive. How does the church get the wrinkles out of her garment? By rising up and engaging the culture and fulfilling the Great Commission. How do we get the spots out of our garments? “With the washing of water by the word” (see Ephesians 5:26). Who teaches the church the Word of God? The fivefold apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. The goal is for the church to come into perfection and fullness, living fruitful lives of service and servanthood to God.
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22).
There is nothing God is more concerned about than building up the church. He is concerned about our nation’s condition and how we live our individual lives too, but He is more concerned with the church. His top priority is Christ being formed in us corporately, us growing up into the full measure under Christ, and us becoming like Jesus. He is concerned about your problems, but He also understands, if He can change you, He can change your problems.
Some believe apostles and prophets have ceased to function in the church today. I want to make it emphatically clear that the Bible is the only source for doctrine and beliefs in the church, but how do we take the Bible’s universal truths and apply them to these times? What is God saying to this generation about how the church can build on the foundation of Christ and grow into Christ? The apostles and prophets are called to seek answers to these questions. They ask, “How does God’s Word show us what God is saying and doing in the earth today?”
Each person serving in the fivefold ministry must be chosen by God. It is not a vocation or career we can choose. For example, we can be prophetic but, without God’s calling, we are not a prophet. For the body of Christ to come to its full maturity and completion, we need a real restoration of the fear of the Lord. The true goal of the fivefold ministry is to help all believers mature in Christ, to see the full manifestation of the sons and daughters of God and to see the full manifestation of Christ’s glory through His body on earth. That is the priority of God’s heart—not making us wealthy and popular.
He desires for our cares to align with His and our thoughts to be like His, and to see His church come into the fullness of Christ as its top priority.
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).
God cares more about this than anything else.