A New Bible Series

“Understanding The Gospel Is As Simple as A,B,C”

“The Universe’s Most Important Institution: The Church”

Part Three

 

 

The Mystery and Church Leaders

As a believer of twenty-two years, a former pastor myself, and presently living in a community where people still see my wife and I as pastors, we have insurmountable respect for senior pastors everywhere.  Especially in today’s society, senior pastors can have some of the most demanding and challenging jobs in the world.

                                         Likewise, I believe, that senior pastors have one of the very most significant global professions. Yet, I think as pastors, we have only partially understood the scope of the calling that God has for us.  We have underestimated ourselves, and what God has called us to do.  More than ten years ago, God began to show me that the New Testament church is comprised not just of a senior pastor and his staff.

 

Acts 14:23  And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

Acts 15:4  And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.

Acts 15:22  Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:

Acts 20:17  And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church

 In the pages of our scriptures, we find church leaders described as elders, to be in fact a group of men that have co- equal roles in authority and ministry. The church elders that we see today are men in positions of substantially less activity, responsibility, and authority than that of senior pastors.

                                         At the same time it is impossible to have “two heads” of authority in any organization, even in churches. Time and time again, I have tried to work side by side with another co-equal church authority in leadership and vision.  There are have been constant clashes in the vision, how to carry out the vision, as well as differences in leadership styles.  It simply does not work to have two co-equal leaders in authority!

                                         How do we deal then with the numerous scriptures in Acts that tell us that the New Testament church was not comprised of one senior pastor and a number of men with a substantial inferior role in authority and ministry, but with co-equal leaders?        

I have asked the Lord for clarity on the issue of co equal leadership through a board of elders, and yet to maintain one senior pastor who is the final decision maker, the designated human shepherd of God’s sheep, and the one who bears the vision for the local body.  The Lord showed me five lights, all in a perfect row.  However, the middle light was slightly elevated in height above the other four. The light in the center of course is that of the senior pastor.

                                         It is my belief that in every local body, the governing board of elders should include a senior pastor with a minimum of at least one apostle, one prophet, and one evangelist. The reason why I purposely left out teachers is a very interesting one.  There is no doubt that there are ministers called exclusively to teach, as we see on several occasions in the book of Acts.  In Ephesians four and verse eleven however the text in the original Greek says the following.

Eph 4:10  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) {fill: or, fulfil}

11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

Greek: And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors/ teachers;

      Please notice that it does not say pastors and teachers, but pastors/ teachers.  We understand then from our original Greek that senior pastors have a double calling on their lives.  As shepherds of their congregation, God has gifted them with the ability to teach them as well. I think that this is a great encouragement! 

It is only when we have the ministry of the apostle, the prophet, the evangelist, and the pastor/teacher can verses twelve and thirteen of Ephesians chapter four fully comes to pass.  These are incredibly important verses that explain to us how the church fulfills its role in bringing the glory of the Lord into all of the earth.

12  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

 

13  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

·          Let us now proceed with verse thirteen.  Many times we all talk about Christian unity and the oneness of the body of Christ.  By spiritual position, we are one in Christ.

·          Practically speaking however, I do not think that Christian unity is something that we attain to by just simply wishing or singing about it.  In verse thirteen the Greek word “unity” is defined as unanimity.  For us to achieve practical unity as believers upon on earth, we must reach a point of spiritual unanimity.  This is an issue of the spirit.  We must become one in spirit.  I believe that unanimity of the faith can be only achieved through believers that have allowed the cross of Christ to touch and transform every part of their lives.  As the cross of Christ kills off what is of the old nature, the Lord Jesus is revealed and created in the believer.  Unanimity or unity comes about because there is the “One and Same Man Christ Jesus” created in all of us.  Unity among believers, is really unity into the revelation of the same Person Jesus Christ dwelling in each of us.  The cross is the only way to bring about s this revelation.  If we do not value or understand the cross, our soul life is left alive; unruly and corrupt as it is.  Unity can never take place like this. We have no point of real and practical unity amongst ourselves if Christ Jesus is not being revealed.

·          “and of the knowledge of the Son of God” .  Here we find the same word “epiginosko;” the complete, thorough and accurate knowledge. If we work backwards this verse, we see that indeed our unity can only come as we grow in the revelation of the Son of God.

·          “unto ( or into) a perfect man.” Who is this perfect man?  This man is no one else than Christ Jesus Himself.  The word perfect describes a fully-grown man.  Unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ is the description of what makes this man perfect. The measure of the height or stature of the perfections of Christ, is this perfect man.

13  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

15  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ

Another great concern that I have, is found in verse fifteen. Our personal growth as believers, or our corporate growth as local assemblies, must be into the person of Christ. Christ is the end, and the object, or goal of each and all believer, and every church.

This is also what it means to grow into Him in all things. A church that reveals the Person of Christ in its midst can grow into Him in all things. This assembly has Christ as its example and model.  As human beings we grow quickest when we have a role model that we can observe, learn from, exemplify, and follow.  The revealed person of Christ is our only role model.  As His is revealed, we grow into His revelation and reveal Him even more. 

·          The dangerous problem that I see today in our churches is that Christ is not being revealed.  We are producing churches that are not growing into the person of Christ, but into things.  Blessings, miracles, prosperity, religion, and so forth are the things that the present day church grows into.  How can any church grow right, if it is growing into things and not into the Person of Christ?

The Elders

Apostles and Prophets

 

Eph 3:4  Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

5Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

 

Ephesians 2:20  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

21  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:

·          The apostle Paul always categorizes apostles and prophets together. They are in the same class because their revelatory functions in many ways are similar.  Ephesians chapter three, verses four and five tells us that apostles and prophets have been specifically called to a ministry of revealing the mystery of God, which is the person of Christ into a local body.  Though every believer has been called to reveal the Person of Christ through their ministries, the revelatory anointing in apostolic and prophetic people is especially emphasized.  When the prophetic flow is curtailed or prohibited in our assemblies, we in fact cut our own necks off.  The revelation of the Person of Jesus Christ is crippled at best.

·           

Eph 3:8  Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

9  And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

·          Ephesians chapter three verses eight and nine guides us a bit deeper into the supremely significant importance of the apostolic and prophetic revelation of Christ our mystery.  As we have discussed before, the Person of Christ contains within Himself all of the treasures and riches of who God is, and of what He possesses.  These treasures, the Greek scriptures tell us, are undetectable, un- searchable, and unreachable through all of our fleshly efforts.  Only through a spirit of revelation into the mystery of the Person of Christ can these treasures be manifested out to the body through the preaching of the gospel. Verse nine tells just this. Part of Paul’s apostolic/ prophetic ministry as described in verse eight and nine, is to not only reveal theses undetectable riches.  In verse nine he goes on to tell us that the purpose of this revelation is to make every one else within the local body aware as to what is their part, participation, share, and calling into the riches of Christ is.

·           

Eph 5:25  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

26  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Rhema word

·          Quite recently, a brother in the Lord wrote to me an E Mail in which suggested that I was emphasizing the rhema or spoken word of God too much over the written or logos word.  He correctly stated that the there are a five to one occurrence of the logos word in our New Testament over that of the rhema word.  I appreciated his feedback and wrote back to Him.  I shared with him that our grasp and understanding of the written or logos word is the foundation, that teaches us how to walk in the Spirit and operate by the rhema word.  We must refer every action of ours back again to the written Word of God.

·          However, we cannot underestimate the grave importance of the rhema word, as it comes through the mouths of apostolic and prophetic people. The above scripture, Ephesians chapter five, verses twenty-five and twenty six tells us that the logos word alone is not enough to cleanse, and purify our churches.  We need specific words, given into specific circumstances, which will progressively work to aid with the change of affairs in our churches. We cannot afford to curtail or prohibit the use of spiritual gifts.

 

2 Peter 3:2  That ye may be mindful of the rhema words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:

Eph 3:4  Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

1 Corinthians 13:2  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

·          In the above scriptures we see another reason why apostles and prophets are of vital importance to a local congregation.  Both, as we have said, are called to reveal the Person of Christ.  In Second Peter three and two, the emphasis is on the rhema words of the prophets and the commandments of the apostles. This gives to understand; that the revelation of the Person of Christ, through the mouths of prophets, is more geared in realm of the progression of time.  In other words the prophet is especially gifted and called, to reveal Christ and His purposes in the local body from moment to moment as the circumstances and the affairs of the church warrant it, just as we previously said.

 

                                         1 Timothy 1:18  This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;

·          The prophet also supplies direction, vision, and guidance for a local body.

 

·          The apostolic ministers reveal the Person of Christ, but more so it seems, not in the progression of time, but in relationship to the foundation of the written word.

Acts 2:42  And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Titus 1:1  Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;

(Greek: ... and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the full knowledge of the truth..

·          In conclusion then, there must be an apostle and a prophet within the governing board of the elders of each and every local assembly. Both provide the church with the revelation of the Person of Christ.  The prophet reveals the Christ in the progression of time; the apostle does it foundationally in accordance with the Word of God. Both ministries are needed to provide the full revelation of His person, which allow the rest of the body to share, and participate in Him and His riches.

The Evangelist

Many of our churches excel in evangelistic program and note worthy efforts to reach the lost. Yet there is a vast difference between utilizing evangelist outreaches and raising up the evangelist.

Many of us who participate in evangelistic outreaches, do not have the call of the evangelist on our lives.  Though God has summoned each and every one of us to do “the work of the evangelist”, there is no substitute for recognizing, raising up, and releasing the evangelists within our local congregations.

 

Acts 21:8  And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.

Acts 8:5  Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.

Acts 8:6  And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

Acts 8:13  Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

·          In the above scriptures we can observe first hand the ministry of Phillip, the evangelist.  It is noteworthy to see, that Phillip as well, preached or revealed the Person of Christ to the world, through the ministry of signs and wonders.

·          Evangelists are gifted in miracles, signs, and wonders. It is this kind of revival type of ministry that will open up the sleeping eyes of the lost. True evangelists must be sought out, raised up, and if called by God, placed on the governing board of elders of the church.  Their ministry in part is essential in multiplying the growth of a local body.

 

The Senior Pastor

In conclusion, I believe that the senior pastor has probably the most important, if not the most challenging, exciting, and difficult occupation in a local assembly.  As the head of the governing board of elders, he is the final decision maker amongst them. The pastor is most probably also the individual to whom the Lord gave the initial vision for the particular local body.  The rest of the board of elders must recognize this, and give the senior pastor the respect and obedience, which is due to him because of his calling by the Lord.

                                         However, the senior pastor must be incredibly humble, obedient, and discerning before the Lord.  He must recognize the solemn importance of the apostolic and prophetic ministries, and allow them to fully operate in the church in accordance with the leading of the Holy Spirit.  These ministries are the foundation of the revelation of the person of Christ to the church.  Because it is a foundation, the revealed Person of Christ is the only groundwork on which a particular local assembly can build and grow. The pastor’s ministry is to shepherd, guide, and oversee.  It is essential that the pastor recognize the prophets and apostles in his midst.  Churches today are continuously building upon a foundation made up of things and not the Person of Christ. This is because the apostles and prophets have not been recognized, raised up and released.

                                         The senior pastor is the conductor of this great symphony orchestra called the church.  His role must not be only one of getting behind a pulpit to give a sermon.  Part of his grave responsibility is to recognize, rise up, mentor, and release the “five fold ministry”.  He is the pastors’ pastor. 

                                         Senior pastors have these profound and tremendous responsibilities!  I have always sensed that many of us pastors, have misunderstood, and have been partially deceived by the enemy into assuming a role greatly inferior to what the Lord has in mind for us.  Many senior pastors get caught up into spending countless hours counseling on the phone, making hospital visits, and ministering to an innumerable amount of people.  Am I knocking these things down? Absolutely not!  However, a senior pastor must make it his main priority to delegate his authority and responsibilities.  He must locate and raise up other people of God within his congregation that will assume much of these affairs.    The pastor must spend considerable time each day in prayer, and in the study of the Word.  Part of his cry before the Lord must be a continuous one for the revelation of his model and outline of “ the pattern shown in the mount”. Another part of his prayers must be directed towards the recognition by discernment, as to who his leaders must be and who are the apostles, prophets, and evangelists within his congregation.  We notice, that Jesus spend a considerable amount of his ministry with twelve men, whom he mentored, raised up and then released.  So it must be with the senior pastor. The main objective of the church is not a sermon or Sunday school, but the release of the glory of the Lord into the entire world. The pastor must free himself enough to fulfill these awesome responsibilities. 

God Bless You,

Jose Alvarez

 

The Complete Greek New Testament Library

http://christianindiantv.homestead.com/ministryonline.html

 

A Ministry We Support

WE WIN (World Evangelism With Indigenous Nations)

Christian Television for Native Americans and Indigenous People

http://www.wewin.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To subscribe send message with “subscribe” on subject line to jealvarez@worldnet.att.net

          To unsubscribe send message with “unsubscribe” on subject line to jealvarez@worldnet.att.net