Maturing In Christ – IV

November 14, 2014

Ephesians 4:11-15

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Let’s conclude our study of Maturing In Christ from Ephesians 4:11 through 15:

      …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 the
      ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of
      the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the mea-
      sure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; that we should no longer be child-
      ren, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the
      trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness, by which they lie in wait to deceive,
      but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the
      head — Christ….

In the last blog we looked at three of the gifts – or offices – given by our Lord to His Church: “…apostles…prophets…[and] evangelists….”  We covered the first three, and started on the last office mentioned:  “…pastors and teachers.”  Although some scholars identify five gifts, I believe there are only four – the fourth being the combination of the last two:  “…pastors and teachers….

According to I Peter 5:2 (KJV), a pastor/teacher is to, “Feed the flock of God….”  The New King James Version says, “Shepherd the flock of God….”  Even today a good shepherd in Israel will love, lead, feed, care for and bring healing to his flock.

Paul, in Titus 1:5 through 9 and 2:1, gives a succinct list of qualifications of an ‘elder’ (verse 5) or a ‘bishop’ (verse 7).  These words were applied to the position of pastor/teacher in the early church. Paul told Titus to…

      …appoint elders…if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having
      faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.  For a bishop
      must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered,
      not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover
      of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the
      faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine,
      both to exhort and to convict those who contradict….But…speak the things
      which are proper for sound doctrine….

So this pastor/teacher (elder, bishop) – called by God and given to His Church – will both set a good Christian example and properly teach his flock the Word of God.  This one will certainly help those under his authority to be Maturing In Christ!

Let’s briefly explore a controversial subject:  Many Christians, including respected scholars, say that two of the above-mentioned offices are not valid for today.  These are the first two mentioned – “…apostles…[and] prophets….”  They also negate the validity of most of the miraculous gifts put forth in I Corinthians 12:8 through 10:  “…the word of wisdom…the word of knowledge…faith…gifts of healings…the working of miracles…prophecy …discerning of spirits…different kinds of tongues…[and] the interpretation of tongues.

•      Apostle – means ‘one sent.’  We are told in Eerdmans The New Bible Dictionary:

      The apostle, it is assumed, will be someone who has been a disciple of Jesus
      from the time of John’s baptism (‘the beginning of the gospel’) to the ascen-
      sion. He will be someone acquainted with the whole course of the ministry
      and work of Jesus (Acts 1:21, 22).  And, of course, he must be specifically a
      witness of the resurrection.

If this is true, then obviously, apostleship would be limited to a select few first century Christians – ending with the death of John around 100 AD.  But there are 19 individuals in the New Testament who are directly called apostle or implied to be one.  Also in Hebrews 3:1 it is written, “…consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus….

•      Prophet – As said in the last blog, “A prophet is both a fore-teller and a forth-teller.  Chosen and endowed by God, a prophet in the Bible often predicted the future.  But more often he or she spoke forth – or powerfully proclaimed – the Word of God.

Evangelist and Bible teacher Oliver B. Greene wrote in his Ephesians commentary, “The apostles are all gone…. We have no prophets in the church today.” (page 150).  When the New Testament was completed – it is argued by those such as Mr. Greene – the miraculous gifts of I Corinthians 12 and the first two offices of Ephesians 4 ceased and are no longer available to today’s Christians.  The proof-text is I Corinthians 13:9 and 10 – “For we know in part and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect has come [the New Testamant], then that which is in part will be done away.”  Many Christians and churches follow this anti-charismatic theology.

I am a charismatic believer.  I believe all Spiritual gifts and offices are to be an active part of the Body of Christ today.  In throwing out miraculous gifts and half the offices given to the Church, we do ourselves – and our Lord Jesus Christ – a great disservice!  And we cut off so much of God’s power to accomplish His mission on earth in these last days!

Our next blog on Monday will be entitled, What Is The Perfect To Come?  I will show why I believe ‘The Perfectis not the New Testament as so many say it is.

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