the weblog of Alan Knox

Others – to equip the saints for the work of ministry

Posted by on Jan 15, 2013 in discipleship, edification, scripture, spiritual gifts | 15 comments

Others – to equip the saints for the work of ministry

As I mentioned in my post “To equip the saints for the work of ministry,” for the last several posts I’ve been considering the work of the gifted individuals listed by Paul in Ephesians 4:11 in equipping Jesus’ followers for doing the hard work of serving others. Remember, in Ephesians 4:12, Paul wrote that this is one of the reasons that Jesus gave these spiritual gifted people. I’ve already written about some ways that some of those spiritually gifted people can equip the saints for the work of ministry: apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers.

So, since I’ve covered apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers, what’s this post about? Well, this post is about everyone else. Now, some people think that all possible spiritual giftings are variations of the ones listed in Ephesians 4:11. And, that might be true. However, there are many, many followers of Jesus who – for various reasons – do not recognize themselves as apostles, prophets, evangelists, or shepherds and teachers.

What about these brothers and sisters in Christ? Can they also prepare their brothers and sisters in Christ to do the hard work of serving others?

Yes, I think so.

But, I don’t think it’s necessary to figure out what spiritual gift you have in order to begin preparing others. Don’t try to find your place. Simple live and serve where you are and in the circumstances you’re in.

What am I talking about?

Do you know of people who have physical needs? Then, as you give to help them, also prepare your brothers and sisters to be givers as well. Do you know people who need to be served? As you serve them, equip other followers of Jesus to serve as well. Do you know people who are discouraged? While you are encouraging them, prepare other saints to serve them as well.

The most obvious scriptural examples of this idea is found in the “one another” passages. It’s not only the teachers who are told to “teach others,” but it’s all believers who are told to “teach one another.” It’s not just the servants who are instructed to “serve others;” all followers of Jesus are exhorted to “serve one another.” The spiritually gifted exhorters are not the only ones who are told to encourage others. Instead, all believers are to “encourage one another.”

Has God given you opportunities to influence others for the kingdom of God? If so, use those opportunities to equip others also. This is possible if the opportunities include giving or prophesying or serving or evangelizing or encouraging or shepherding or helping or teaching… in fact, it’s possible to equip others in many, many different ways.

And, not only is it possible… it’s necessary and important. We need to provide opportunities for God to work through us by his Holy Spirit to equip our brothers and sisters in Christ (and to BE equipped by them) so that we can all build up one another toward unity and maturity and faith in Jesus Christ.

————————————-

Series: To Equip the Saints for the Work of Ministry

  1. Introduction
  2. Apostles
  3. Prophets
  4. Evangelists
  5. Shepherds and Teachers
  6. Others (Conclusion)

15 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 1-15-2013

    Alan Hirsch suggests that we all have these gifts in various combinations. He adds that those around us who have seen us in relationship in the body are usually best placed to identify which gifts we have. I think he’s right.

    One other point while I’m here. (You may already have mentioned it, Alan, perhaps I missed it.)

    Jesus himself is the best example of all of these gifts. He is, par excellence, an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a shepherd and a teacher. And if you think about it, during his ministry here on earth he was keen to get his disciples doing all these things. He’s keen that we should be doing them all too.

    You don’t need to be an apostle to go into a new place and start something. You don’t need to be a prophet to speak out truth. Nor do you need to be an evangelist to share the good news about Jesus. People who are not shepherds can care for a lost or hurt sheep. And you can teach something you know well, even if you are not a teacher.

    HalleluYah! Praise you, Jesus. You have built an amazing church.

    Thanks for the series, Alan.

  2. 1-15-2013

    Chris,

    Thanks for the comment. In this part, you perfectly summarize my thoughts on spiritual gifts and serving one another:

    “You don’t need to be an apostle to go into a new place and start something. You don’t need to be a prophet to speak out truth. Nor do you need to be an evangelist to share the good news about Jesus. People who are not shepherds can care for a lost or hurt sheep. And you can teach something you know well, even if you are not a teacher.”

    -Alan

  3. 1-16-2013

    Chris,
    I agree with Alan that your comment is a good summary.(Eat your heart out, Alan. He reduced 6 articles to one paragraph.)

    Alan,
    This action of equipping which you describe has got me thinking along wonderful new lines about body life.

    I can picture a hand reaching out to lift someone who has fallen. It takes several other members along (another hand, a couple of arms, eyes, ears, several muscles in the back and legs, etc.) to assist in the work.
    Then the person who has been helped will thank the person whose body has been so helpful. Scripture says, “men will see your good works and glorify your Father”

    “As you serve them, equip other followers of Jesus to serve as well.” This concept has affected me the most in this series. How this happens might make an interesting study.

    Thanks.
    Nelson

  4. 1-16-2013

    Nelson,

    The “how” is difficult to write about, because it changes from person to person and from situation to situation. About all someone could do is write about how it has happened before. The problem, though, is that those past experiences are often cemented as “the way it must happen.”

    -Alan

  5. 1-17-2013

    I agree that we don’t really know what our function is until it is being manifested, and that we can be perfected to function as all the gifts can. It’s not easy to “rationalize” and to mentally understand how this happens, but one thing is for sure: it is ORGANIC, that is, in the divine life. Just as we don’t fully understand humanly how many organs of our body work, so in the Body of Christ we may not really understand how the perfecting, feeding, and functioning works but we know one thing – as long as we are holding the Head (Christ) and we are connected to the immediate member of the Body of Christ in the way of life (receiving and giving “blood”, the life-supply in fellowship), we will grow into the Head in all things and we will function in our measure.

  6. 1-17-2013

    Stefan,

    Yes. I agree. Why do you think Paul and other authors of Scripture mentioned gifted individuals such as apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, teachers, encouragers, servants, helpers, miracle workers, etc?

    -Alan

  7. 1-18-2013

    Alan, what I think is that yes, there are some gifted ones given by Christ the Head – for the perfecting of the saints. They are not the center, and they are not “more special than others”; rather, if we read in Revelation 2 and 3 we see that the Spirit speaks to “the messengers in the churches”, and He is calling for “overcomers” (not “gifted ones”)…

    There are always two sides – “the duality of the truth” – on the one hand we need to grow in life (the aspect of life) by holding to the Head, and on the other hand we need to allow the gifts to perfect us, or to be perfected into function (the aspect of work).

    But what I strongly believe is that God wants to gain the proper function of each of the members of His Body through his / her normal growth in the divine life today. There is the need for perfecting, and those more mature in life can perfect those “in the process of growth” (see: the picture of the family life), but to over-emphasize the gifts or the gifted ones will lead us to what Christianity is – “clergy and laity”, some who speak and know and do, while others listen, say amen, and… :( don’t function.

  8. 1-18-2013

    Stefan,

    I agree completely! That’s why I concluded this series with a look at how we can all work together to equip one another for works of service.This gets the focus off of particular people and places it on the whole body of Christ (working from Jesus Christ, our head).

    -Alan

  9. 2-12-2013

    Alan, we have dialogues via email some, but I wanted to publicly say how much I enjoyed this series. It is something I have been studying lately as my church strives to do better at equipping people for service. I had not thought about the specific gifts and their role in equipping, but had only thought in broad generalities. Thanks for changing that.

    One question, in Ephesians 4, Paul is talking about church unity and brings up good doctrine. Do you think these two things are at the center of a person being equipped?

  10. 2-14-2013

    Chad,

    You said, “One question, in Ephesians 4, Paul is talking about church unity and brings up good doctrine.” Are you talking about Ephesians 4:14? Because that seems to be the opposite of “good doctrine.” In that passage, “every wind of doctrine/teaching” seems to indicate that someone is chasing after every different teaching that comes along. A mature person – who has been and is being built up by the whole church – does not chase after all of these new teachings – which Paul also describes as being “by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” It seems that wisdom regarding the intention of the “teacher” is part of growing in maturity.

    -Alan

  11. 2-19-2013

    Alan, I was referencing “knowledge of the Son of God” in verse 13.

    Let me rephrase my question: Based on verse 13, do you believe Paul is giving three distinct aspects of equipping Christians – unity, knowledge, and maturity?

  12. 2-19-2013

    Chad,

    Thanks for clarifying! Yes, I think that unity, knowing Jesus, and maturity are all part of edification, along with “love” (from Ephesians 4:16). There are probably other aspects of edification as well; I don’t think Paul intended this to be an exhaustive explanation.

    -Alan

  13. 2-20-2013

    Thanks Alan. Your answer is helpful. This series has been helpful!

  14. 2-20-2013

    Chad,

    I’m glad you found this series helpful!

    -Alan

  15. 9-16-2013

    To God be the Gory,

    Thank you so very much for this God given revelation. My eyes of understanding have been opened and you have equipped me to be a better teacher, and to better use the gifts Gos has given me. Your article has given me hope in a troubling situation. I am now encouraged, energized, and empowered by the Word of God, given to and through you. May God continue to bless, keep and use you. Peace, Love, and Joy