The Gifts God has Given to His Church, Part 10 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #234)
A series of homilies on Ephesians.
A homily is “a short talk on a religious or moral topic; a usually short sermon; a lecture or discourse on or of a biblical theme.”
I am sharing a verse-by-verse series of short messages on Ephesians (as well as other passages of Scripture) specifically targeted at reviving families and encouraging and exhorting husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children to do what God has commanded them to do, for if the church is to be revived and the country is to be awakened, the family must be revived first.
TEXT: Ephesians 4:11-12:
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Matthew Henry said, “Some people do not like to hear much of repentance; but I think it is so necessary that if I should die in the pulpit, I would desire to die preaching repentance, and if out of the pulpit, I would desire to die practicing it.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “I think one of the serious breakdowns in modern evangelism is this: it has offered too much for too little. What we do mostly is offer forgiveness. We need cleansing! There is no true conversion until a man takes up his cross.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “When William J. Seymour met with Lucy Farrow, the woman who had spoken in tongues, he learned she had recently worked as a governess in Topeka, Kansas. Her employer had been a man named Charles Fox Parham, a white preacher who ran a Holiness Bible school, Bethel College, in the same city. Parham had introduced her to the experience he called ‘the baptism of the Holy Ghost,’ which led to speaking in tongues. Before long, Seymour headed to Topeka to seek out Parham. When he found him, he begged to be admitted into the school. In making his request, however, Seymour was once again brought face-to-face with the realities of life in America at the turn of the century.”
Over the past few messages, we have looked at the spiritual gifts of four key offices in the church — the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. In the next verse, Paul explains the overarching purpose behind why God gave these gifted individuals to the church. It is “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Titles, offices, and authoritative positions in the local church are not for show. They are not status symbols, nor are they to be taken lightly. They come with great responsibility.
The first responsibility of the spiritually gifted leader is “the perfecting of the saints.” The saints are, of course, the church. The word “perfecting” means “to equip or to complete furnishing.” This verse is the only time this word is used in Scripture.
When we think of equipping somebody, it puts us in the mind of getting them ready for some endeavor. That is the job of church leadership — to continuously be in the business of getting God’s people ready for whatever He would have them to do. Getting them ready, in a spiritual sense, means praying for them, explaining the Bible to them, and helping them obey God in all things. It is the pastor who sets the tone for the local church.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe said, “The saints do not call a pastor and pay him to do the work. They call him and follow his leadership as he, through the Word, equips them to do the work. The members of the church grow by feeding on the Word and ministering to each other.” And evangelizing the world
The local church is a place where prayer to God, the Word of God, and service for God are paramount. Nothing should ever be allowed to eclipse those three things. John MacArthur said, “The surest road to a church’s spiritual stagnation, to the pastor’s burnout, or to both is for the pastor to become so engulfed in activities and programs that he has too little time for prayer and the Word. It is a lack of knowledge of God’s Word and obedience to it, not lack of programs and methods, that destroy His people. When they fail, it is not because of weak programs, but because of weak preaching and teaching.”
The pastor helps every believer find their place in the body of Christ. He guides his local flock, ensuring that each one is praying, obeying, and serving at his or her maximum level for the benefit of the body of Christ and for the salvation of lost souls.
Joseph Henry Thayer wrote:
By God’s design, there lies in wait for you
Important work that no one else can do.
Just as the planets find their paths through space,
You too must grow to fill your proper place.