Friday, July 12, 2013

What is the five fold ministry? - something you should know

Have you wondered what a five-fold ministry is? It is found here:
He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ; (Ephesians 4:11-12, WEB)
From the verse we see that the five-fold ministry refers to apostles, prophets, evangelists, shephards (or Pastors) and teachers. Not everyone is called to hold such an office for God. For if all hold one of the 5 offices, then where are the sheep? :). All will be leaders with no followers. The five fold ministry refers to God's leaders of His flock.

1) How are people called to serve in these offices for God? 

It is a gift from Jesus. See the verses below:

7 But to each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ.8 Therefore he says, "When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men." (Ephesians 4:7-8, WEB)
Verse 8 refers to the giftings that bring men into the five-fold ministry by the grace of God. The word "gifts" in verse 8 is in plural, since there are more than one ministry. The word "gifts" in verse 8 is the Greek word "domata"  which has no special meaning other than being a gift. 

The word "gift" in verse 7 is a different word from "gifts" in verse 8. The word "gift" in verse 7 is a singular noun and it refers to receiving Jesus as a gift. Verse 7 tells us that how much grace you receive from God is how much Jesus you receive as a gift to you. In Greek, the word "gift" in verse 7 is the word "dorea" which means a gift given freely, not requiring any merit from the receiving party and focuses on the generosity of the giver. 

Thus, the sequence of receiving is first you receive Jesus as a free gift. Anyone can receive as it does not require merit from the receiver but focuses on the generosity of the giver. Then, after a person receives Jesus as a gift, by the extent that he receives is the extent that God's grace will be given to him. And from this grace will flow the gifts of God that put men into the five-fold ministry.

Amazing isn't it? Some men go after the supernatural. Some go for power of the holy spirit. But really, those who value the Son are the ones called by God. God's work will always have Jesus at the centre. 

2) What is the work of the five-fold ministry? 

There are 3 specific things mentioned in the bible
for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ; (Ephesians 4:12, WEB)
Reading the bible really answers a lot of questions. There was once I saw on TV a pastor scolding another pastor without the accused being present. I was confused when I see that. I am not sure if the angry pastor is doing the right thing. When I read this verse, I am comforted to know that putting down others is certainly not the work intended by God for a pastor to do. There are other more important things. The five-fold ministry is supposed to perfect (to bring through adjustment in order for it to achieve to a high level of fitness) God's holy ones, serve them, so that the body of Christ as a whole may be built up. The work of the five-fold ministry certainly has unity in mind. What a high calling these guys have! Praise God! They are really a blessing to us from God. 

3) What is the result of having the five-fold ministry? 

This is stated very clearly in the scriptures:

until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; (Ephesians 4:13, WEB) 
So we are meant to have the unity of faith if the five-fold ministry is functioning properly. The word "attain" means to come down, to arrive. It has the meaning of humility. We can only reach the unity of faith if we come down from a higher place to a lower place. The five-fold ministry can help us reach that place. 

The word "knowledge" is a first-hand knowledge obtained through contact. This means we know the Lord in an intimate and experiential way.  The word "full grown" means perfect, complete in every part, and does not  refer to physical growth.

What awesome promises we have as God's congregation! The work of five fold ministry will cause all of us to be humbled and be one in faith, have a personal experiential knowledge of our Lord and in the end, be complete and fully-grown in the things of Christ. Fantastic! 

Notice the emphasis on unity, as that is the first promise. For us to be united in faith must have been so important in the mind of our Father. If ever doctrines separate us, that would have gone against God's plans.

I hope this helps in our understanding of the importance of the five-fold ministry. They are instituted by God to serve God's people and to fulfil the purpose of God. It is to our immense benefit and we should support these servants of God in the best way we can, even as they seek to serve us as their holy duty.