The Work of Ministry

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Sermon Notes and Audio

Scripture Focus- Ephesians 4:11-16

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Every member of the family of God is a minister. God intends every member to have a function in the body, and not all are the same, to accomplish His work. The work of the church in the world is to be done by the saints- ordinary Christians, serving an extraordinary God. The idea of professionals (clergy) and laity (non-clergy) is a false delineation. There is a difference in gifting, but not in significance.

God gave His Son Jesus who shed His blood to provide eternal life to all who believe. The church is the Bride of Christ.  He has established the church- the body of the redeemed. Jesus  gave us the Gospel, and sent us into the world to make disciples.

What does “the work of ministry” mean? The word that is translated “ministry” here is also translated as “deacon” in a serving, general sense. It refers to a person who serves. Everyone in the body of Christ is to serve.

 #1 Every member is gifted for the work of ministry.

A spiritual gift is a supernatural ability given by the Holy Spirit when a person is saved, enabling each person to carry out their God given responsibilities as a member of the church.

There are several biblical lists of gifts-

Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4

I believe that what can be called a spiritual gift is limited to the designation of a spiritual gift in the Bible. Every Christian is the recipient of at least one spiritual gift, and the spiritual well-being of other believers in the church is dependent on the contribution of the gift to the life of the church.

Spiritual gifts are distributed by God as he sees fit, not according to our desires. We have no control whatsoever over which gifts we receive. Spiritual gifts are empowerment for service to, and through the body of Christ. Usually when you receive a gift, you are the beneficiary. The gifts that God gives are not for the individual who has been given the gift. Spiritual gifts are beneficial for everyone in the Body of Christ.

Mentioned specifically in Ephesians 4 are-

Apostles- one who is sent with a commission, a special office for the disciples and then for Paul; those who actually saw and walked with Jesus; eyewitness servants.

Prophets- those gifted in telling the truth through foretelling and forthtelling. Gifted in telling and explaining the truth of God, His Word.

Evangelists- those gifted in the office of the evangelist in equipping the church for evangelism and leading in it.

Pastors/Teachers- those who are over a particular flock- responsible for feeding the flock with spiritual food and protecting them from danger.

Spiritual gifts are not the same as natural talents. In some cases, they coincide with natural gifts, but they transcend them because they are supernatural in their expression. Spiritual gifts each have particular functions.

The human body is an amazing arrangement of many quite different functions. We are astounded at the smoothness with which the body articulates a great many functions. There are the major functions of seeing, hearing, speaking and so forth, all functioning as a unit in one body. The various organs all work together sharing in a marvelous harmony and yet each one does something different. In the human body every organ is distinct and has a different function than every other part of the body. You cannot substitute one organ for another. Every organ has to exercise its own function. This is the characteristic that is so evident in God’s intention for the body of Christ. Each gift is to be exercised to complement the others.

Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden had an interesting rule for his teams. Whenever a player scored, he was to acknowledge the person on the team who had assisted. When he was coaching high school, one of his players asked, “Coach, won’t that take up too much time?” Wooden replied, “I’m not asking you to run over there and give him a big hug. A nod will do.” To achieve victory on the basketball court, Wooden saw the importance of teaching his players that they were a team—not “just a bunch of independent operators.” Each person contributed to the success of everyone else. Coach Wooden of course won 10 National Championships in College Basketball in a span of 12 years.

This is how the Body of Christ should work. Let’s use our gifts within the body of Christ to build up, strengthen, and help to carry out God’s purposes. There are no unimportant people in the body of Christ. What is the best way to identify your spiritual gifting? The best way to identify your spiritual gifting is to study the Word of God and serve. Every member is gifted for the work of ministry.

#2 Every believer is to be equipped for the work of ministry.

Those with leadership gifts are responsible for equipping the saints for the work of ministry. The word equip indicates- “making someone adequate or sufficient for something or some purpose.” It is a word that was used of James and John mending their nets (Matthew 4:21). The original meaning of the word “equip” is connecting, mending, knitting together.

U.S. business organizations spent $164.2 billion on employee learning and development in 2012, according to the just-released findings of ASTD’s 2013 State of the Industry Report. The report’s findings demonstrate that despite a continuously changing economic environment, organizations remain committed to training and development. Senior executives understand that a highly skilled workforce is a strategic differentiator. They are investing in the development of their employees and using technology, instructor-led training, and blended solutions to effectively meet training challenges.

The Body of Christ is to be equipped so that it can function at maximum effectiveness for God in the world. Pastor-teachers are to equip the church so people can become prepared to serve in accordance with their gifts.

How are people to be equipped for the work of ministry?

People are equipped through prayer. Hebrews 13:20-21 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever Amen. The Holy Spirit is committed to preparing you for service.

People are equipped with the truth. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete equipped for every good work. People are equipped and expected to serve on ministry teams. The idea is to organize people into various ministries, and the team working together toward ministry goals. This gives everyone who is on the team a sense of ownership and significance to the process.

People are equipped through ministry specific training. We want to help you discover your abilities and gifts by being involved in ministry, and learning about how to do ministry. People are equipped to involve others in ministry, not just do ministry themselves. There should not be a spectator mentality, but one of active participation, where we are multiplying ourselves.

In business and education, collaboration to accomplish the goals of the organization are commonplace. By collaborating with different departments or even different offices, skills can be pooled to make projects more successful than it might otherwise be. Collaboration not only equals a happier workforce, it represents an educated one. A collaborative workplace naturally cultivates a sense of community within an organization, with employees feeling almost like they are a part of a family. This compels them to go beyond the expectations of their role, absorbing as much organizational knowledge as possible and driving the business forward with informed and sound decisions. (Inc.com)

Make a commitment to serve, get equipped, be faithful.

This results in the building up of the Body of Christ, the Unity of the Faith, and the Stature of the Fullness of Christ. 

Building up pictures a building under construction, but Paul uses it relating to the Body of Christ, to indicate growth. This includes building up in number through evangelism and building up spiritually as people grow in the Word of God.

Unity of the Faith exists because we have one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. But Paul is referring to unity of the faith as a goal to be attained to, or reached. There is a doctrinal unity that comes through the Gospel, and through the Word of God.

Stature speaks of maturity. The measure of spiritual maturity is nothing less than the fullness of Christ.

Amy Carmichael (Missionary to India for 55 years with no furlough) wrote this: Sometimes when we read the words of those who have been more than conquerors, we feel almost despondent. I feel that I shall never be like that. But they won through step by step by little bits of wills, little denials of self, little inward victories by faithfulness in very little things. They became what they are. No one sees these little hidden steps. They only see the accomplishment, but even so, those small steps were taken. There is no sudden triumph no spiritual maturity. That is the work of the moment. Quoted in Holy Sweat, Tim Hansel, 1987, Word Books Publisher, p. 130.