x188......Victory and the Gifts--a quick overview
The Lord needs every single Christian to have victory in every part of their lives. Whether it is physically or emotionally or financially or spiritually. He wants and needs every Christian to have this victory--because He loves us--but also so that the Body of Christ might be totally healed--so that we can all find our place and function within the body. So that we might all find and use our gift to further His Kingdom in the earth.
Every on of us has been given gifts to serve God. The Bible clearly states this in a number of places. Psalm 68:18 says that "He that ascended (Jesus) gave gifts unto men" that word "men" is "Adam" in the Hebrew--it means all of mankind--everyone who is descended from Adam. It can't be much clearer that these gifts are given to all people--this verse goes on to say that "even the rebellious" have been given these gifts. The gifts were given to all mankind.
They are meant to serve God. We know this because ephesians 4:7-12 refers back to Psalm 68:18. It states again that "He who ascended (Jesus) gave gifts unto men--and then it goes on to name the gifts of ministry--apostles--prophets--evangelists--pastors--teachers. These are gifts from God--not grand and glorious titles for "some" people to possess. The word "some" that is used before each of the gifts ("some apostles, some prophets--etc.) is in the Greek text the word "men"--which is translated as surely, certainly,indeed, it is the root word of "amen"--and is poorly translated in this instance and for our current use of the English language as "some".
The gifts of ministry are gifts and they are given to everyone in order to serve God. The word ministry means "service"--it is not a title-it is not a noun it is an adjective--an action word. The types of ministry listed are categories of service to God--not tiles for people to hold. They are not "offices" for people to operate under. The word "office" is not used in the New Testament in relation to these gifts. If we were to look at the handful of places where the Bible uses the phrase "office of an apostle" or "office of a prophet" we will see that the Greek word that has been translated as "office" is in fact "diakonos"--the word that is in every other instance translated as "ministry". The Greek text is perfectly consistent with the gifts being "ministry" (service)--they are never referred to as "offices". The Greek word hierarchy is translated as "office"---but only in reference to the "office of the high priest" of Israel. The old covenant had an hierarchy--had an office of ministry--gained by birthright, In the new covenant there simply is no hierarchal office--ministry is always service---and specifically NOT authority over others!
We know that under our new covenant Jesus is our high priest. There is no place or function for the office of high priest in the new covenant, since it is Jesus who has offered Himself as the sacrifice and become the high priest in authority over the priesthood of every Christian ("Christ the Head of every man"). the Levitical priesthood is specifically a suredly done away with in the new covenant (see Hebrews chapter 7)
God's original intent for Israel was for all the people of Israel to be priests--and thus convert all the people of the earth. Because of rebellion, God had to limit the priests activity to only the group of the Levites. If we continue along we see in the history of Israel that the Levites also rebelled, and God sent judges to rule them. When the judges rebelled, He sent Kings to Israel. When the kings fell and were corrupt, God sent prophets, who told of the coming King--Jesus. Who, through his own sacrifice, accomplished what Israel had failed to accomplish--that is to bring to God all the people of the earth--and "set at liberty" (that is to make apostles) all the people He met--Jew and Gentile alike--to serve God in their own priesthood.
But Christ said He needed a body to operate and continue His plan within the earth. And He gave gifts to this body to function together to carry out His commission. At Pentecost, all the believers functioned together in "one accord" and they worked together without earthly leadership, but completely under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We follow their move in a book called "Acts of Apostles"--not the story of one man--one great leader--but rather the move of God through many people--affecting the entire world--God's highest calling for beleivers.
However, after the time of the end of the Bible account, things changed drastically. In the times of ancient Rome and throughout the dark ages of Europe, Christianity was used and abused by worldly leadership, and as a political weapon. During this time the tradition of having titles (offices) of rulership was introduced and enforced. The ministry gifts became firmly entrenched in the minds and hearts of Christians as titles of rulership, rather than as gifts from God. They were strictly taught as being only for certain people to "own" and to use these titles for rulership--rather than as gifts that all could function with. It was during this time that "pastors" became known as leaders of churches, a practice that is impossible to find in the Bible. This brought about the concept that Christians were "sheep" under a "shepherd", thus continuing the tradition and limitations enforced on the majority of believers.
The simple reason this happened was because the full word of God was hidden from the common people. but as time went on, we see that the Bible was printed and it is only within the last few centuries that all Christians have had access to the full word of God. This has lead to a great revival of the church--the Gospel in this time has been spread all across the earth--most churches clearly understand that all Christians should share the Gospel, and some churches understand the gifts of the Holy Spirit for their members. However, to this day, most groups of believers still cling to the leadership titles of the Middle Ages. This continues to limit the gifts of ministry to "some". Ministry is held by a certain number of leaders, when in fact, ministry is a gift to all in order to serve God and further His kingdom.
Ministry gifts used in unity are a limitless system for building the kingdom of God. Certain ministries are for the world--out to the lost-- (apostles, evangelists) to bring in the lost, while other gifts are meant instruct and guide those within the church (pastors and teachers). It is a simple system that is in fact better understood by modern business than by the church! The Bible describes these gifts as (a system to operate the business of the church--Ephesians 4:12). The question is, do we operate our church by this system? Do we encourage and teach the Biblical fact that all of us have been given these gifts and that we should diligently seek after these gifts (1Cor14:1)? Do our church leaders understand the fact that they have an army sitting in the pews. An army that needs to be given its marching orders, that needs to be released, and given it's proper place as the operational plan for the church.
Put simply, it is the highest will of God that each and every Christian discover his or her gift of ministry and be able to function within this gift fully. God wants to see a church full on ministers of the word--not a church full of sheep. A church full of ministers, working together to bring in the lost, and quickly discover their gifts so that they may bring all the world into the kingdom of God.
Leadership has had the sole purpose throughout history for the organization of a body of people to perform a certain task and to do a certain job. The leadership of Christ needs to come back to the church. We need to stop just "going" to church--and start "being" the church!