FUNCTIONS – NOT TITLES
But to each of us, grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. That is why it says:
‘When He ascended on high, He led captives in His train and gave gifts to men.’
(What does “He ascended” mean except that He descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens in order to fill the whole universe). It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, 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 (Eph. 4: 7-13).
Here we have another one of Paul’s monstrous mouthfuls of revelation truth! From where did Paul get these loft ideas if not from the Holy Spirit?
According to Paul, first of all, every function a believer fulfils in the body of Christ is based on our unity in Him. There is not one person in the church who is superior in person or function to another. We all fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle or the tiles in a mosaic. If one is missing, the picture is incomplete. There is no such thing as priesthood and laity, for every believer is a priest since we are all to worship God by offering the appointed and appropriate sacrifices to God.
To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood and has made us to become a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father – to Him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen (Rev. 1: 5b-6).
The consistent message of Scripture is that Jesus Christ is head of His church, which is His body. It is impossible for the church to be the body of Christ and yet for some fallible mortal to be the head. He alone has the right to lead and direct His body according to His will. Those whom He has chosen to have human responsibilities in the church must, first of all, be absolutely one with Him, walking in intimate fellowship with Him and submitting to Him as Lord in all.
Secondly, Jesus has the right to appoint people to functions within His church and to gift them with the ability to carry out those functions for Him and through Him. Spiritual gifts do not belong to the people who exercise them. They belong to Jesus and they are to be used to build up the members if His body, not to lord it over them with assumed superiority and authority. Gifts are given for service, not for aggrandisement. Every person to whom He has given a responsibility in His body is accountable to Him for its use and influence.
Thirdly, within the body, we are all subject to and accountable to one another. Mutual submission in humility is the hallmark of unity. Even those whom Jesus has appointed to leadership positions and positions of authority are not above correction. The armour of God makes no provision to protect our backs. Just as the soldiers in the Roman army marched in rank, their shields protecting their chests from flying arrows and their fellow soldiers protecting their backs, so we, as we do life together, are to cover one another’s backs.
The tragedy within the church is that we act more like the world than the body of Christ. The church is neither a business nor an organisation. It is a living organism, functioning like a human body in absolute unity because we are to be a reflection of God, the Three-in-One. When a system or a cell malfunctions in a human body, it becomes sick and will die if the condition is not cured. There is no competition in the body for prestige or position, yet local expressions of Christ’s body are often a hotbed of conflict. Power struggles, not unity and harmony, tear the people apart. Selfish ambition, not love and humility, drives its leaders. Men masquerade as apostles and prophets, claiming and loving the titles rather than serving the body in the humility of their function.
Isn’t it any wonder that the church has become irrelevant in the world and the butt of jokes rather than the evidence of Christ’s invasion of earth to bring the kingdom of God into sin-infested humanity! Jesus gave His disciples two sure-fire signs of the truth of His coming and evidence of the change He brought to the human heart.
A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another (John 13: 34-35).
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me (John 17: 20-21).
Love and unity – these are impossible requirements for people whom the Holy Spirit has never changed from within. These qualities in a group of people reveal a power at work far greater than human effort. Our selfish and independent hearts will never submit to any other outside of the power of God’s Spirit.
True followers of Jesus are to imitate Him. He is humble and gentle in heart, a servant leader. He requires that we exercise the gifts He has given in the spirit and disposition of Jesus, otherwise, we are nothing but wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!
ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3, eBook 978-4828-0511-6
My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), a companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.
For more details, check my website: