GIFTED WITH GIFTS D
GIFTED TO GROW
But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” 9 (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.
CHURCH AS RETREAT
Scripture describes church in many different ways, but two prominent or at least important designations have to include church as an army, You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3) and as a hospital, or a place where the sick are attended to for spiritual, physical or emotional and social health, Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord (James 5:14). Both soldiers and hospital workers need a place where they can retreat into from battles and hard work, where they can be renewed and equipped. I believe God has intended for the church to be a place of positive, loving and accepting relationships, a place where righteousness reigns and where we both know and are known by others. We all need a place we call homes is the essence of fellowship.
I also think it is a grave mistake to expect the church to be error free or perfect. That is not reality. We need to make a decision in loving what Jesus loves and is committed to return for. It is also unrealistic to expect that church will be a squabble free zone, especially if it has a family atmosphere.
When we treat church as a place of restoration and retreat, it ceases to be a place of labor and it becomes a place of play. Back in the days of classic Vineyard, our concept of ministry was playing at the footstool of our Father. One of the main passages concerning this paradigm is 1 Peter 2:9, but you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. All believers, not just set apart professional ministers, are chosen people for service just like Israel was in the Old Testament period. We are restoring David’s Tabernacle. As priests, we reflect the holiness of our God and our High Priest and Apostle Jesus, But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood… By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Hebrews 7:24; 10:10). We are able to offer sacrifices of praise to God and to intercede for man before God and to represent man before God, which is a chief purpose of apostolic ministry.
This aspect of priesthood turned apostolic means at least three things for you as you interact with others. First, you have direct access to God, (Hebrews 4:16). You can speak to God and hear God. There is a danger in over emphasizing this truth however, as it can lead us to over emphasize excessive individualism and elevate certain people as special to the point of not needing the rest of the body.. @ Peter 2:9 says we are a priesthood (plural). When we gather together, we are supposed to play together, as our faith isn’t an individual sport. The local church is important, especially as they develop into apostolic hubs. This is where become committed, where we grow in church with others as one with them.
Second, all believers are priests one to another. Because we are a community of priests, we are supposed to minister too and serve each other. You find this truth sprinkled from start to finish of the New Testament. This is why real maturity in Christianity follows the pathway of becoming more concerned for others than yourself.
Third, all believers are priests to the world. In the Bible, the job of priests is to represent people to God and God to people. Bottom line, we are called to be bridge builders. The sad reality of most modern self-centered Christianity is that the people has intended to bridge the gulf between people and Himself have become barriers and obstacles. This is usually unintentional and happens when our focus is about making us feel good as individuals. When we become the focus, we tend to block out the world around us as we create an organization that is impenetrable because if we let them in, they will change us.
Why is this important? It’s important because it relates to what we are called to do together, overcome satan’s kingdom. As a people belonging to God, we no longer have individual rights, our lives are supposed to wholly belong to God, When we treat the church as a field and not a retreat, we develop a carnal attitude about ministry. Let me explain. Too often we expect pastors to emulate secular helping professionals. We go to the doctor to get treated., no to be trained to treat others. We expect lawyers to advise, not to show us how to solve our legal problems. When we approach church with this frame of mind, we expect the pastor to serve us and make us feel better and not to train us or challenge us to minister.
This is not the biblical model. In the Bible, leaders are more like player-coaches who encourage others to do the stuff of the kingdom instead of doing the ministry for the people. When we adopt thee other model, we create an atmosphere of position over relationship that can be vicious and selfish, as we block others from attaining the pinnacle, least they displace us from our position.
Let’s learn how to play. Realize you are acceptable in His sight and that He loves it when His people find freedom and entrance into His purposes for them.
In these last days, we have seen a restoration of a number of missing truths, beginning with the reformation. God is moving us toward His original idea of what it meant to be His people. Mike Bickel: God’s judgment is always aimed at whatever interferes with love. The Lord always targets the stuff that will destroy. Not punishment; actually decisions that out of love keeps us safe. He chooses what is best for us out of absolute love and celebration.
11 This verse is a commentary on the quote in verse 8, Christ’s giving gifts to Christians. The gifts to the church are gifted people. The subject He is emphatic in the Greek. It denotes that Christ Himself gives the gifted people. The differing kinds of gifted people are listed in the predicate accusative, so the NIV correctly translates it as , gave some to be. The first two, apostles and prophets, have already been mentioned in 2:20 and 3:5 as the foundation gifts to the church. The apostles include the Twelve, who had the office of apostleship by virtue of being with Christ (Acts 1:21-22) and having been appointed by Him (which would also include Paul; 1 Cor. 15:8-9; Gal. 1:1; 2:6-9). But “apostles” also included others who were recognized as apostles, such as a James (1 Cor. 15:7; Gal. 1:19), Barnabas (Acts 14:4, 14; 1 Cor. 9:6), Andronicus and Junias (Rom. 16:7), Silas and Timothy (1 Thes. 1:1; 2:7), and Apollos (1 Cor. 4:6, 9). Apostles, in the early days were those who carried the gospel message with God’s authority. “ Apostle” means “sent as an authoritative delegate.” “Apostles” were literally made to order messengers carrying out their sender’s mission, backed by the sender’s authority to the extent that they accurately represented that commission. In the New Testament, the term applies to commissioned agents of Christ authorized in a special way (gave some/more authoritatively set apart than others) to declare and propagate his will.
As in many ancient lists, some of these terms may overlap considerably as the Greek indicates an especially strong overlapping connection between “pastors” and “teachers.” There is shared, common focus and basis of authority as bearers of Christ’s presence and message. The authority is resident in their words and works and their spiritual gifting. As in the case of Jewish teachers of God’s message (as opposed to the chief priests), none represents institutional authority in the sense of a supralocal church hierarchy, which does not seem to appear until the early second century. In my opinion, this is the mistake of some of our generations voices who are advocating new apostolic networks (read denominations), as they are rebuilding the system that replaced the apostolic community. Together these ministers of God’s Word were to equip all God’s people for their ministry (4:12–16).
12 The term for “training” or “equipping” was used in the Greek culture to describe the work of philosophers and teachers.
Now here’s a novel concept, these Apostles and the people they led and influenced became an apostolic community under Kingdoms Chief Apostle, Jesus, Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus (Hebrews 3:1). Acts 8:1, 4 tells us that when the great scattering happened, it was the people, not the Apostles who left and spread the Gospel initially, At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles… Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.
Why do I point out the combination of people, Apostles and scattered company? They both operated under Holy Spirit, who by nature is Apostolic (sent from Jesus as a dora gift). Spirit’s nature and personality are apostolic, And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6)!” This is why we are to be people who are always seeking outpouring. When Spirit pours out, a true activation of apostolic ministry follows because He is apostolic. God the Spirit is invasive, life changing and supernatural. Wherever He comes, wherever He is welcomed, the end result will be miracles, invasions of His life and transformed lives through His ministry of reconciling people to Jesus Kingdom.
One of the biggest detriments to true, Apostolic ministry relates to the perverse system that developed under the apostolic fathers in the early centuries of the churches existence as Greco-roman influences lapped at the shores of God’s Kingdom. Apostles are not the top rung in a ladder, nor is it a bottom supported ministry expression. Isaiah 60:1-2 is a key passage in opening our hearts toward Gods truths as they apply to the administrative functions of the church today. Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. 2 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.
Leadership is not about living separately from the people. Platforms, titles, all that kind of stuff, positions – they’re irrelevant in many ways. When it all comes down to it, we’re all children of God learning how to walk with Him. I like getting involved in people’s lives. It’s thrilling. Everyone has a story and a journey. Good leadership is about stepping off a platform into someone’s story!” Graham Cooke
As wonderful as the first church movement was, God has always intended it to be replicated. Whether it was the Reformation, the Great Awakenings, the Jesus Movement, the Charismatic Movement, the Evangelical Movement, they have paled in comparison to the first move. It’s time to press in for all God had intended us to walk out and embrace the end time revival fires. The wave is mounting, as world missions estimates indicate that around 80,000 people are being won to Christ daily, with 20,000 of these conversions happening behind the Bamboo curtain.
When we think about these things, it raises questions like, what dynamics will be released in the next season of the Spirit? How will we be impacted and affected? In most movements, external influences outside of the local church are the primary shapers of movement, like speakers or denominations, or events. This is where impartation happens, and it is why we see people flocking to events to hear what is happening elsewhere, as we receive impartation from others. There is nothing wrong with that. Speakers challenge us, present truth in new ways and demonstrate new models or paradigms of activities.
Ministry: Break down the clergy-layman distinctions. I don’t believe in vertical
Last 4 centuries have seen tremendous restoration movements occur, at times with great force and momentum, at times slowly. We are currently in an Apostolic and Prophetic revolution. Think about this for a moment: the 20th century saw a restoration of healing and worship with a huge wave of prayer momentum.
This wave in the 20th century included a flood of evangelists in the 50’s, in the 60’s and 70’s a surge of pastor/teachers and teachers stormed the beaches. In the 80’s an openness to the prophetic office began to be embraced. Although there has been attempts to restore the apostolic, it has met resistance. In part this due to ignorance, in part it has to do with the governmental structure the Evangelical church has operated under.
Qualifications of an Apostle:
- Apostles have to have the spiritual gift of apostleship. The gift was provided by Jesus Christ after His ascension into Heaven, Eph. 4:8-11. This gift was first imparted by Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, 1 Cor. 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills; Acts 2.
- Apostles receive their gift and office by the sovereign decision of God the Father, 1 Cor. 1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother; 12:18; Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus Eph. 1:1; Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother Col. 1:1.
- Apostles had an eyewitness vision of the resurrected Lord, Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 1 Cor. 9:1.
Credentials of an Apostle:
- Apostles are endowed with miraculous powers for miracles, Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds 2 Cor. 12:12.
- Apostles should be successful in evangelism, Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2 If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord; 1 Cor. 9:2; But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter 8 (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), 9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised Gal. 2:7-9.
- Apostles have the capacity to minister supernaturally and patiently, Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds 2 Cor. 12:12.