Equipping the Body of Christ
There is so much in Ephesians 4:11-16, every word and sentence is powerful and necessary. Each part clearly identifies what an equipped Christian is called to do and called to look like. Let’s take a closer look together at some of these phrases.
- To equip God’s people for works of service.
Our works of service is not just referring to our roles in the church. The word ‘works’ comes from the Greek word ‘ergon’ and it means ‘toil, labour, occupation, business or employment’. The word ‘service’ is the word ‘ministry’ in the KJV. This is the same word that Paul used when he declared that every believer is called to the ministry of reconciliation with the unsaved!
The apostle, the prophet, the evangelist, the pastor, and the teacher are gifts given by Jesus to prepare God’s people to ‘return people to favour with God’ (literal meaning of the word ‘reconciliation’) wherever they serve, work or volunteer.
- To equip God’s people for unity in the faith.
God’s people should believe God’s Word. God is not confused, nor does He change His mind. Opinions have been replacing truth for many believers for far too long. It is time for the church to be ‘repaired’ in the area of what we believe. We are not called to be tossed back and forwards by every wave of teaching. We are called to know the truth. We are called to accurately discern the truth. We are called to live in the truth.
- To equip God’s people in the knowledge of the Son of God.
Our version of God is only valid if it is a true reflection of Him. The five ascension gifts have a holy call to preach the truth about who the Son of God is. It is from these declarations of truth that the Holy Spirit longs to bring revelation to God’s people. “And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1 NIV)
When Jesus prophesied about His death, He was also prophetically declaring the mandate of every believer, and specifically of the ascension gifts to the Church when He declared: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32 NIV)
When we lift Jesus up in our preaching, teaching, conversations, and life, He will draw people to Himself. Our part is the accurate demonstration of who He is, and God’s part is the supernatural revelation to people and transformation of their lives.
- To equip God’s people to be mature, that is, to attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
The goal of a believer is not to have the best job, the biggest house, the most fun or freedom from all pain. The goal of every believer is to become like Jesus! This is what the five ascension gifts are purposed to do: build maturity in God’s people.
What is spiritual maturity? Well it is not the length of time someone has been a Christian, nor is it measured by the frequency of someone’s attendance at church. True maturity is measured as the distance between your hearing what God says and your obedience to it. “You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:14 NIV) Added to this is the heart motivation and the attitude with which our obedience is done.
- To equip God’s people to grow and build themselves up in God’s love.
Believers are called to be dependent on Jesus, not on their leaders. Yes, we are to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2), but we are called to point people to Jesus so that they follow Him, not us. (John 1:36-37) Spiritually mature followers of Christ build themselves up in God’s love because they have been empowered to do so by the five ascension gifts.
At its core, the purpose of the prophet and the other ascension gifts can be summed up by these few words: “…we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15 NIV)