Summary: The laity’s response is to build up the body with the lasting result that it will be united and mature.
In relationships such as the corporate world or the married life, it is important to be clear on our expectations. God made it very clear what He expects from us. Let us read Ephesians 4:11-13. “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Last time I spoke on the LEADER’S RESPONSIBILITY, that is, to BRING OUT THE BEST in you. That it is the leadership’s job to prepare you, God’s people, for works of service. That is what God expects from us.
The Greek for "to prepare" or "to equip" has various shades of meaning. In surgery, for setting a broken limb or for putting a joint back into its place. In art, for putting together the pieces of a puzzle or a mosaic.In fishing, for mending nets. Based on these word pictures, what do we mean when we say “equipping?” “Equipping” carries the idea of RESTORATION, that is, to mend what has been broken or to repair. It also carries the idea of PREPARATION, to fit out, to put in order, arrange or adjust. Lastly it also carries the idea of COMPLETION (or perfection), to make one what he ought to be. So, when we prepare the believers for works of service, we restore them back to usefulness, deal with their sins that would hinder their service, then prepare them or train them so that they would be fruitful as God wanted them to be fruitful. That’s what it means when we prepare God’s people for service.
Now, we already saw that the offices of the apostles and the prophets have already ceased to a certain extent. Ephesians 3:20 tell us that the church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” We lay the foundation at the beginning of the construction of a building. So, being foundational, the apostles and the prophets were needed at the early stage of the church in its history.
Let us look at the evangelist. We usually think of Billy Graham or his son Franklin Graham when we hear the word “evangelist.” We think of people like them doing the work of evangelism. But looking at Ephesians 4:11-12 again, we see that the work of an evangelist is also “to prepare God’s people for works of service”. That means an evangelist also trains others to evangelize or share the Gospel. Note a very important principle in spiritual gifts. Even if He did not give all of us the gift of giving, for example, all of us are responsible to give. So, even if God did not give us the gift of evangelism that is not an excuse for us not to share the Good News with others. We are all responsible to bring people to Christ.
We must not also limit evangelists to large-scale evangelistic festivals. Look at Philip in the Bible. Acts 21:8 calls him “Philip the evangelist”. In Acts 8, we see him not only preaching to the multitudes in Samaria but also sharing the Gospel one on one. We read in verses 26-40 that the Spirit led him to meet an important government official from Ethiopia on a desert road. “This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’ Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ Philip asked. ‘How can I,’ he said, ‘unless someone explains it to me?’ So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” It turned out he was reading from the book of Isaiah a prophecy about the Lord Jesus Christ. “The eunuch asked Philip, ‘Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?’ Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.” Philip then led that government official to make a commitment for Christ.