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Faith Bible Church, NY
September 29, 1996
And God Gave Gifts to His Church, Pt. 2
Evangelists & Pastor-Teachers
Turn with me to Ephesians 4 where will we be continuing in our study where we left off last week. Recall that we have already covered verses 1-10 and were in the middle of verse 11.
Verses 1-6 deal with the unity that exists within the body of Christ. This is a ramification of the truths that Paul had dealt within the earlier chapters. God’s sovereign choosing of those that would be saved and that would be His children has brought those people into a unified family. There is no basis for pride or prejudice among those who are true Christians. As Paul pointed out in chapters 2 & 3, the wall of separation between God and man and between man and man has been broken down. We are no longer strangers and aliens to one another, but are now fellow citizens and of God’s household.
Our unity is based on both doctrine and practice. We are all in one body, the body of Christ, the church through one spirit. We have one hope of our calling in Christ. We have one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father. Where doctrine is the same, there can be unity. We were made a part of the body of Christ through God’s choosing of us in eternity past, Christ’s purchase of us on the cross and the Holy Spirit’s moving upon us in temporal reality to regenerate our hearts and baptize us into God’s family. There is unity with those all who believe these fundamentals of Christianity regardless of other physical and/or cultural differences. There cannot be unity with those whose God is not the creator God of the Bible, whose Jesus is something other than God in human flesh as the Bible proclaims, whose salvation is based on something other than simple faith in the grace extended to us through Jesus’ substitutionary atonement for our sins on the cross of calvary even if that person has the same parents as you.
From the practical standpoint, unity exists within the true church because each member of it is to be walking in the Spirit, and when you walk in the Spirit you exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. Paul marks lists some of those characteristics here in verse 2 and 3 as what demonstrates walking worthy of our calling with humility, gentleness, patience, forbearing in love and being diligent to preserve this unity in the bonds of peace.
Starting in verse 7 Paul begins to also bring in the fact that within this unity there is also great diversity, placed there by God’s design. Literally: “you have received the grace according to the gift of Christ.” You did not choose to be saved, God did. You did not choose what spiritual gift you would have, God did. You did not choose how that gift would be used or the how powerfully that gift would affect others, God did. No room for pride or boasting. You are what you are by God’s grace and you can do what you can do by His grace too. (Though I should mention that while there are certainly many that do try to boast about themselves and what an assent they are to God, from what I have seen, most people do not do all that they could do simply because they are relying on themselves and not on God’s power to do it through them. The fact that our salvation and spiritual gifts comes from God not only removes arrogance and boasting, but it also empowers the more passive and subservient among us to be more active and powerful in serving the Lord).
As I pointed out last week, verses 8-10 simply point out the reason that Jesus has the right to distribute these gifts. The analogy here is taken from Psalm 18:18 where the description of a conquering king is taken. He ascends up to Jerusalem in his parade of triumph. In that parade are “captives taken captive,” those who were part of his kingdom that had been taken captive by the enemy, but are now back under his dominion. At the end of this parade the king distributes the spoils of war to his followers.
Jesus Christ has won the victory over sin and death. He who has eternal existence before time in the splendors of heaven consented to leave that high and loft place and descend to Earth and become a man, a man who would then willingly die in the place of sinful man. He would then conquer death and return to the glories of heaven. As the victor, Jesus now can distribute gifts to His followers.
In this passage Paul brings out four gifts that Jesus gives to the church. These are not qualities and abilities given to individuals, but rather individuals who have been given qualities and abilities to serve in foundational and leadership capacities in the church. We will review the first three rather quickly, since we covered them last week.
The apostles mentioned here are those who were witnesses of the resurrected Christ and were specifically called by Him and sent with His authority to establish the church. They accomplished this task by receiving and declaring the revelation of God’s Word (Eph. 3:5; 2 Pet. 3:2; Jude 1:17), and by confirming it by signs, wonders and miracles (2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:3,4). This includes both the basic gospel message (God’s love extended to sinners in that they can be forgiven through Jesus’ atonement) and the doctrine of the church. They laid the foundation of what the church was to believe and teach (Acts 2:42 Eph. 2:20). After the New Testament was completed, their function ceased and so there are no more apostles like them today. There is no apostolic succession. The only apostle ever replaced was Judas after he became apostate and committed suicide. Note that James was not replaced after his martyrdom (Acts 12:1).
The prophets are similar to the Apostles in that they too laid the foundation of scripture (Eph. 2:20). There are no differences between the Old Testament and New Testament prophets. Both had ministries of foretelling and forth telling the Word of God by telling what God would do as well as boldly declaring what God had done. The difference between apostles and prophets is that the prophets tended to have a more local ministry and were not necessarily eye witnesses of the resurrected Christ. Their office also ended with the completion of the New Testament. For those around today that claim to be a prophet, they would do well to go to the Scriptures and read Deut. 18:20-22, because anything less than 100% accuracy in their predictions proves them to be a false prophet and subject to death. The difference between a pompous fool and a true prophet is 100% accuracy. Less than perfect predictions come from the devil, not from God.
The third gift to the church is the evangelist. This particular term is only used three times in the New Testament. Here, were it describes an office in the church; in Acts 21:8 where Philip is called an “evangelist;” and 2 Tim. 4:5 where Paul tells Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist.” While the references may be few, the ministry of such a God equipped person is far reaching.
To evangelize is simply to declare to someone the good news of Jesus Christ. Every Christian is responsible to do this. It is part of the great commission because you cannot make a disciple of Jesus Christ without first telling them who He is and what He has done for them. It is the command of Mark 16:15 to “go into all the world and preach the gospel…”. We are to do this locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.
How then is the evangelist different from anyone else in the church? To use Philip in Acts 8 as the example, he was especially equipped by God to reach the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ. He had a special burden for the souls of people, he was good at turning a conversation to Christ and then used by the Holy Spirit to bring conviction, and he was willing to go where ever the Lord wanted. The difference is that the evangelist has a special calling and equipping by God to that work where as the rest of us are simply under the general command to do so. The evangelist is characterized by the work of evangelism as Philip was and so noted in Acts 21 – Philip, the evangelist.
Now we come to the fourth gift, that of pastor-teacher. This is the one with which I am most familiar because that is what I am. This gift is described with two words. The grammar in the sentence singles out the first three as separate and then joins these two together. Why? Because the office is a two fold ministry. “Pastor” describes the personal involvement with people it while “teacher” describes the means by which his ministry to people is carried out. This does not mean that every man called to this office is equipped to be 50% pastor and 50% teacher, for some men are certainly more one way than the other, but it does mean that both aspects need to be there.
What is a pastor? There are many, many ideas about the answer to this question. Many of those ideas are unbibilcal and false. What then is a pastor? The Greek simply means, “shepherd,” as does our the English word here which the Old English and the Anglo-French, “pastour,” which means, “shepherd.” A pastor is a shepherd.
The shepherd analogy of God caring for his people is used throughout the Old and New Testament. Jesus often referred to Himself as a shepherd as in John 10 where He calls Himself the “good shepherd” who knew His sheep and would lay down His life for them. The shepherd analogy speaks of care, commitment, leadership and personal involvement.
The noun form of this word is only used here in Eph. 4:11, but the verb form is used extensively to describe the duties of those who were to lead God’s people. This usage gives us a clear understanding of exactly who the pastor is supposed to be and what he is supposed to do. In John 21 Jesus re-commissions Peter to ministry and it is important to note what Jesus says here.
15 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, [son] of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, [son] of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, [son] of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You. “Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
Peter was told by Jesus to “tend” (Βόσκε – feed) and shepherd (Ποίμαινε) Jesus’ sheep. The primary duty of the pastor is to feed and tend the sheep. That requires several different skills, but the primary one is feeding them – which Jesus repeats twice here. The shepherd’s main duty is to make sure the sheep are well nourished and from there extend all the other duties including protection from predators, binding up wounds and rounding up strays. That is why the office is that of “pastor-teacher.” Teaching is the main function of a pastor. The flock must be fed a good diet of the Word of God.
Let me extend this analogy a little further. Some people seem to think and act like the pastor is supposed to spoon feed these sheep. That is not true. How does a shepherd feed his sheep? In several different ways. First and foremost, he leads his flock to a good pasture and lets the sheep lose. The sheep are eating for themselves from the area the shepherd has led them too. To be honest, that is about all any sermon can do. The format does not allow the interaction and time that would be needed to really digest any text we deal with, all that I can do is bring you to a basic understanding of the text and suggest some ways for you to apply the truths learned in your own life, but you have to go from there. You need to meditate on what the scriptures say for yourself. The preaching gets you started, it says – “there is a good field to eat from” – but you have to get out in that field and start eating. You have to think through what was preached and apply God’s word in your own life, in your own situation. If the only spiritual input you have is on Sunday mornings and Sunday evenings, you are on a starvation diet!
Another way the pastor feeds the sheep is that he can give them special diet that he prepares. If a shepherd if fattening up a ram, he will give it extra food. A pastor tries to do the same with those that are showing healthy growth. There are additional times of teaching and discipleship. There is personal interaction to make sure the lessons are being learned and applied.
The shepherd will do a similar thing for the weak and sick. He will prepare easy to digest food for them so that they can get well and regain their strength. That is what pastoral counseling is about. Trying to nurse the sick back to spiritual health and putting some muscle on the weak.
A third aspect of feeding sheep is keeping them away from noxious weeds. There is a lot of poisonous stuff out there and the shepherd has to be on guard against it. He will lead the flock away from an infested field, will eliminate it from the field he is in, and he will try to teach the sheep to stay away from poisonous plants. That is precisely the reason we are careful about who is allowed to teach here, why we will practice church discipline on anyone that becomes apostate in belief or practice, and why I give so many warnings, often naming names, about the dangers around us. A couple of years ago I responded to a letter I received from TBN and told them that the cause of Christ would be much better served if the few good teachers on it would move to other stations and they went off the air. A lot of their teachers are poisonous.
I was reading a couple of weeks ago that this has been a good year for wild mushrooms, but that if you do not know what you are doing it can be quite dangerous. Some are great tasting and great for you. Others are noxious and can make you sick, but there are others that are toxic and can kill you with just a bite. If you cannot tell the difference between what is good, what is bad and what is lethal, then stay out of the mushroom patch. If you cannot discern a good teacher from the aberrant and the heretic, then ask your pastor or keep the TV and radio off.
A pastor is a shepherd and must feed his flock. We gain additional insights into the role and qualifications of this man when we look to see what men are commanded to shepherd the flock of God.
Peter repeats this command in 1 Peter 5. 1 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as [your] fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, 2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to [the will of] God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
The word here is the same as earlier, but notice who Peter is talking to – “elders” and calls himself a “fellow elder.” Elders are commanded to “shepherd,” “feed,” “pastor” the flock of God. The job of the Biblical Elder is to pastor. The word “elder” here is also translate d as “presbyter” and we get our term “Presbyterian” from it. The term and the idea arise from Judaism. The elders, as the name suggests, were the older men who were the leaders of the nation. These were men that had over the course of their lives proven to have the wisdom needed to lead the people. They were first instituted as leaders of Israel in Exodus 18 when Moses’ father-in-law Jethro counseled him that he would “surely wear out” at his current rate, so he should “select out of all the people amble men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place them over them as leaders…”.
The man that would be a New Testament elder must also meet qualifications of character. In Titus Paul wrote, “ For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might set in order what remains, and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6 [namely,] if any man be above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.” Character may not count much in politics anymore, but it still does before God!
Now Paul goes in Titus and adds this in verse 7, For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.
The term overseer here, is also translated as “bishop,” and is the root for our word “Episcopalian.” Paul uses the same word in Acts 20:28 when he commands the Ephesian Elders (see vs. 17), “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Notice that the overseers are charged to “shepherd” (same word we saw before) the flock of God.
The same man can be called any of these terms. The pastor-teacher is an elder, presbyter, overseer, bishop. All these terms refer to the same person. They describe his character, his office and his work.
I already read his character qualifications in from Titus 1, but did you notice also his responsibilities, especially those mentioned in verse 9 – holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. The importance of the teaching role of a pastor is seen again.
Paul also gives the qualifications for this man in 1 Tim. 3:1-7 and again almost all of them are character qualities. However two are not. In verse 2 he must be “apt to teach,” and in verse 4,5 he must be a good manager of his home because he is a manager of the church, and if he can not do it at home, he certainly will fail in the church.
Another responsibility of the pastor-teacher is noted in Acts 20:28-31, a passage I have already mentioned this morning. The shepherding job of the Elder includes guarding the flock against wolves. It is not just noxious weeds the shepherd has to look out for, but predators that will steal unsuspecting sheep away. This is part of the oversight responsibility. Watching over the flock and intercepting wolves as they come in among the sheep. This requires the ability to exhort the sheep in true doctrine while refuting the wolf. The passage also warns that these wolves may even come from among the other elders. The only sure defense against such is a thorough knowledge of the scriptures and a close walk with the Spirit.
Note that the job of a pastor-teacher belongs to a plurality of men. Just like there were many apostles, prophets, and evangelists, so there are to be many elders. The Biblical record reveals that the oversight of the church, the shepherding responsibilities were done by a plurality of elders in the churches of Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, Antioch (Acts 14:23), Ephesus (Acts 20:17; 1 Tim. 3:17; 5:17-25), Philippi (Phil. 1:1), the churches on Crete (Titus 1:5) as well as in the churches in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia (1 Peter 1:1; 5:1) – all of asia minor!
The ramification of this is two fold. It means that a healthy church has more than one person gifted in the role of pastor-teacher and it means that all who would want to be in that office must meet the Biblical qualifications. While I am usually called “the pastor,” the other elders are also “pastors.” You would be biblically correct to call any of us by any of these terms. One of the efforts we are making is to ensure that our elders meet the Biblical qualification and sense God’s call to that position. The only difference between myself and the other Elders is what 1 Tim. 5:17 describes. I have greater responsibilities in the administration, preaching and teaching ministries of the church so I am remunerated for my services since so much of my time is devoted to them. In other words you could say that I am paid to be good, and they are good for nothing.
Each of the elders here have the same basic calling and gifts, they just vary in what 1 Cor. 12 calls “ministry” and “power”, or the particular ministry the gifts are used in and how may people they effect.
Some other responsibilities of those in the role of pastor-teacher include answering the call of sick saints to come to them and pray (James 5:14), settling matters of doctrine (Acts 15:2f; Titus 1:8-11), determining matters of church policy (Acts 15:22f); setting a godly example for all to follow (1 Peter 5:2,3); approving and ordaining others to ministry (1 Tim. 4:14); receiving and giving oversight to the financial contributions to the church (Acts 11:30) as well as “watching over the souls” of those under their charge (Heb. 13:7). All these various roles are important and vital to the health of the church, but their primary role is listed in verse 12 of Ephesians 4.
Paul’s statements here are clear. God has given pastor-teachers to the church for the purpose of “equipping the saints of the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” God did not give the church elders so that they could go out and do all the ministries of the church. I am not paid to do the church’s ministries. I am here, and the leaders are here primarily to equip you so that you can go out and do the ministry of the church. When I and the other leaders of this church become bogged down in trying to do the work of the church ourselves, then the work God has called us to will be neglected. That may work in the short term, but the long term consequences of such ministry will be that the church will be sidelined to insignificance. We will not have any serious impact for Christ on our community.
Jethro told Moses that he would “surely wear out” if he continued trying to do it himself. Nothing has changed since then. No man or small group of men can do everything. We cannot do all the evangelism, or all the teaching, or all the counseling, or all the visitation, or all the encouragement, or all the comfort, or all the anything else. We do our part, but our greatest responsibility is training you in the pew to go out and do. And even if we could somehow physically do everything, what then would the rest of the body do? God, in His wisdom, has directed pastor-teachers to be busy in the work of training everyone else to go out and do the ministry. What God does through this church is a direct reflection, not of myself and the other elders, but of you. It reflects us only secondarily in how well we have trained you.
My commitment, and I believe can speak for the rest of the leaders on this too, is to see this local manifestation of the body of Christ built up into what Jesus wants it to be, and since it is according to Jesus’ desires, then it will not be according to popular opinion, man made traditions, or the latest trend in the church growth movement. We are committed to doing it His way through the more time intensive method of training you up to do His work.
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