A message summary of March 20, 2016 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:
Ephesians 4:8, 11-12
For it says: When He ascended on high, He took prisoners to captivity; He gave gifts to people.
And he personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ.
We, as a church, based upon the command of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20), need to advance the gospel. If we fail to do so, we will decline in the body of Christ. We are called to advance the gospel. It is our main focus…to reach lost people, locally and globally.
In Ephesians 4:8, 10-11, we see what amounts to be the five pillars of the gospel.
Christ needed to ascend in order for His people to receive gifts. Without His ascension, the church’s call to advance the gospel would have been incomplete. Jesus told Mary Magdalene not to cling to Him was because He had not ascended yet. His work was not totally complete. While His work on the cross was finished through His crucifixion, His ascension gave the church the tools that it needed to be effective in proclaiming the gospel.
When Christ defeated all of the enemies of God, He received the rewards that were passed on to the church. He conquered those who conquered us, including Satan, sin and death. He had all authority to defeat His enemies and dispense His gifts to the people.
These five pillars of the gospels (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) are the highest gifts to be desired because these are the people that keep the gospel message going forward. All five of these gifts are distinct in their functionality, and they are synonymous with each other in that they are present to achieve the same goal.
Apostle: One who is sent for.
Jesus chose these individuals to be messengers of the gospel. Paul was later chosen as an apostle (Acts 2 and Acts 13). These individuals were chosen by Jesus to spread the gospel. Their primary responsibilities involved being an ambassador for Jesus Christ. Each of these apostles experienced the presence of Jesus Christ.
We know that the apostle Paul went on at least three missionary journeys (Rome, Corinth and Philippi) and started churches. He spread the good news. He was a church planter. He also allowed other leaders to take hold as pastors of these churches (Timothy at Ephesus, Titus at Corinth, etc.). If we are ambassadors here at our church, we are to continue this same process of planting churches and leaders.
By the way, there are no apostles today. You must have been trained by Jesus and even witnessed His resurrection. Even though there are no apostles, the work of these ambassadors for Christ is still present in today’s church. What we have today was built on the foundation of what the apostles accomplished.
Prophets are different from apostles. They are gifted to tell people what is to come. John the Baptist was the last prophet that emerged from the Old Testament, but the emergence of the church brought forth many more of them.
While you may not be a prophet, there is wisdom in looking to God’s Word for guidance as to what is coming in the future.
The church sends evangelists. It is totally different from that of the pastor and teachers. An evangelist does not necessarily have to tend to the flock of the church. Evangelists today are missionaries. As you contribute to the Great Commission Fund, you are contributing to the church evangelistic process.
It is our hope that we can, one day at our church, have a full-time evangelist on our staff. Are we evangelizing in the same way that Paul speaks of here?
If you did not have a pastor or a teacher here in the church, who would perform the duty?
A pastor needs to know how to teach. He is also the shepherd of the flock. He is to care for the members of the congregation.
Being a pastor can be rather frustrating, and heavy, at times.
Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth so You should tell me, ‘Carry them at your breast, as a nursing woman carries a baby,’ to the land that You swore to give their fathers? Where can I get meat to give all these people? For they are crying to me: ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I can’t carry all these people by myself. They are too much for me.
While the burden may be heavy at times, it is still what God calls them to do; furthermore, it is not the pastor’s burden alone.
Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus–the great Shepherd of the sheep–with the blood of the everlasting covenant.
1 Peter 2:25
For you were like sheep going astray, but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
Pastors should always make the effort to live more like Christ and less like themselves.
The teacher gives sound doctrine to the flock. They present sound wisdom that declares what is right or wrong according to God’s Word.
… until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.
Do you know what your gifts are?
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person. A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial:
to one is given a message of wisdom
through the Spirit,
to another, a message of knowledge
by the same Spirit,
to another, faith by the same Spirit,
to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit,
to another, the performing of miracles,
to another, prophecy,
to another, distinguishing between spirits,
to another, different kinds of languages,
to another, interpretation of languages.
But one and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as He wills.
The Holy Spirit gives these gifts to people for the purpose of the members of the body to be empowered to proclaim the gospel. While we are not all teachers, pastors or prophets, each one of us has a gift to proclaim the gospel message and build up the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:27-31
Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it. And God has placed these in the church:
first apostles, second prophets,
third teachers, next miracles,
then gifts of healing, helping,
managing, various kinds of languages.
Are all apostles? Are all prophets?
Are all teachers? Do all do miracles?
Do all have gifts of healing?
Do all speak in other languages?
Do all interpret?
But desire the greater gifts. And I will show you an even better way.
The purpose of knowing your gift is to fulfill your purpose in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we apply what Paul said about people being ambassadors for Christ, can we say that we are prepared to do these things?
We are looking forward to the future to build up the church to the place where we will bring forth ambassadors, evangelists and those who are compelled by God to move in the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ.