by Mike Ratliff
11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 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 fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; (Ephesians 4:11-14 NASB)
There is little doubt that there are some in leadership positions in the visible church that are there because of their natural abilities rather than the fact that God has gifted them spiritually to lead His people. If the latter were the case, they would not be leading their followers into apostasy as the passage I placed at the top of this post clearly states. Those gifted by God to be true leaders in His Church have the role and responsibility to do what? They are to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of Got, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Why?
It is so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, et cetera. Meditate on that my brethren then compare it with the apostate teaching such as Spiritual Formation, which is just another term for transcendental meditation, which is not Christian, but Eastern Mysticism. Along with that, there are all forms of universalism and Christian liberalism being taught right now being called Christianity and it is from these very things that the true called and gifted Christian leader is to equip those under his care to learn to turn from and not be deceived by their lies.
The Apostle Paul wrote about Spiritual Gifts in three of his Epistles. One I placed at the top of this post. The others are Romans and 1 Corinthians.
6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly:if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:6-8 NASB)
7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:7-10 NASB)
28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:28 NASB)
In the passage I placed at the top of this post, Ephesians 4:11-14, we see that God gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers. We also see why He gave them. Compare this with these three passages. Of course, the context is different in each passage because Paul was explaining something unique, but if we look at all four of these passages together we get a clear picture that it is God who gifts His people to be His leaders. He gives the leaders the gifts they need to obey Him whatever role He assigns them. These gifts differ according to the grace given to each recipient which is actually the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. God has appointed in the Church what is needed. If we see shipwreck all over the visible church then what must we deduce from this? Are people misusing their gifts? Are God’s gifts not enough?
No, God’s Church is quite healthy. The visible church is not. This is the combination of the counterfeit church and the real Church. The reason apostasy appears to be so rampant is that the counterfeit part has grown so much larger and more visible. There are still God’s people who have not bowed the knee to Baal nor sacrificed their children to Molech.
Those of us truly in Christ must continually turn from evil as we continually turn to our Lord and serve Him in all we do. In this God will use us and our gift(s) as He sees fit. I was in a discussion the other day with some friends and we became amused because it became apparent that we were all pretty much a bunch of what the visible church would classify as nobodies. However, we were the ones whom it appears God is using to shine His light of truth into the darkness because those well-known Christian leaders who should be leading the way are not doing it. Even if God does us me and my friends this way, I know that I am still a nobody in the Kingdom of God and my Saviour is Lord of All and all the glory goes to Him for now and always.
Soli Deo Gloria!