Summary: God gave gifts for the building up of the Church. Apostles prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers. (#14 in the Unfathomable Love of Christ series)
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ”
Paul falls back on his analogy of the building in talking about the church, here in chapter 4, and I am going to have to be very careful, choosing a sermon title like “Construction Equipment”, because I have men in my congregation who build houses for a living, and if I’m not careful I could embarrass myself.
When I go on my morning walks, which is something pastors should do for several reasons; to have time to meditate, to stay healthy since they spend so much time glued to a chair, and to keep the weight down so they can continue to fit in that chair; but when I go on my walks I pass through a new subdivision next door to ours.
At present there are four houses being built simultaneously in that subdivision, and when I see the crews working on those new homes, and watch the various steps being taken through the process, I often reflect on what a sense of accomplishment must come when a man who builds something like that steps back and looks at the finished product, and knows that he’s built a home for someone.
Something else I’ve paid attention to as I see the daily progress of this work, is the number of different people who come at the proper time to add their expertise to the project.
First someone comes and surveys the property. And they lay in whatever underground plumbing and electrical that needs to be there prior to concrete being poured for a foundation. Sometimes they’re there in advance of all that, grating the land or filling it or removing vegetation.
Then after the foundation is laid, the framing begins. Once that’s done the electricians and plumbers are back to install outlets and water heaters and bathroom fixtures and so on, before the drywall starts going up.
Well I’m not going to recount the whole process, but eventually I see a truck from a local garage door installer. Then (not necessarily in this order), I see another company showing up to do the siding; sometimes in brick or stone. Then I see different people putting in windows, or starting on the basics for landscaping like stone barriers around what will be a garden area.
In short, the building of a nice home calls for numerous talents, and sometimes there are only a few men doing all of it because they have developed all those talents that go into making a house, or different ones who specialize in a particular field come one at a time as they are called, and complete their special part.
In building His church, Jesus, as we touched on at the end of the last sermon, gifted His saints with spiritual gifts, and equipped them for the work of the Kingdom.
I want you to notice today that these things He supplied are GIFTS, and that they are for the benefit, not of the few, but of all THE SAINTS, and that the result of the proper working of these tools He has provided is meant to be KNOWLEDGE AND MATURITY.
Now a series of sermons could be preached, focusing on each of these gifts to the church listed for us by Paul, here in verse 11. It has been done, many times I’m sure, and there is a proper place for doing that when the emphasis is along the lines of teaching, primarily, all the characteristics and manifestations of those gifts.
I do not want to spend a great deal of time on them, only because my focus today is elsewhere and, I think, will ultimately benefit you more.
But you do need to have some basic comprehension of what each of these gifts is, and the purpose they serve, so you might see that as they each fulfill their designed function the job of Kingdom building gets done.
The first thing we need to take a look at is this word ‘apostle’. In fact, it’s the only one I want to really spend any time on; I’ll mention the others briefly later just to refresh your minds as to their particular function.
There has been much confusion over the years about the use and misuse of this word, and I personally remember a teaching that flared up during the time I was in Bible college. I’m sure it wasn’t the first time around for this teaching, as false, or at the very least, inappropriate, teachings have a way of reincarnating themselves. But it was new to me at the time, and it made red lights go on, and alarms sound in my head.