March 18 I Monday
“So Christ Himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers...” —Ephesians 4:11
In Buenos Aires, a pastor named Juan Carlos Ortiz made a challenging and intriguing observation about his church. He started with a congregation of about 300 people and in the course of about 18 months, the church had grown to over a thousand. But one day, while contemplating the growth of the church, Juan realized they were not actually growing at all but were simply getting fat. That leads us to wonder what makes for a healthy church and how does it come about?
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he tells us what the church is and addresses five stages in the functioning of a church for it to become effective and fruitful. The first stage Paul writes about is Christ giving some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, some pastors and some teachers. The word “apostle” means “to be sent,” and they had two particular functions. The first is that they established Christian teaching, not of their own initiative, but on the basis of what they had been given by the Lord. The second was establishing the Christian church. The church is “...built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20). We must not think of the church as a series of individual generations or iterations. It is one church, wide and vast, encompassing all those who know Christ, with a deep history that goes back 2,000 years.
Prophets are the spokespeople of God. Peter writes, “You must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21). Along with the apostles, prophets who spoke the Word of God in this original authoritative sense have given us what are now the Scriptures, which is the authoritative doctrine within the church of Jesus Christ.
Evangelists are those who have the gift of presenting the Gospel in such a way that people are brought to faith in Christ. To be gifted as an evangelist does not necessarily mean being a preacher, but a soul-winner. Pastors are soul-carers. The word “pastor” is the literal word for “shepherd,” and shepherds, like the Lord Jesus, care for their sheep. Then there are teachers, who instruct on the truths of Scriptures and are soul-builders. Apostles and prophets are foundational to the Church of Jesus Christ, while evangelists, pastors and teachers are contemporary and will go on being contemporary.
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, thank You for the apostles and prophets who have given us a solid foundation on which to build Your church. I pray for a deep work of the Holy Spirit in all church leaders to teach the truth with clarity and love. Thank You, Lord.