THE MINISTRIES AND GIFTS OF THE BODY OF CHRIST
from: Christ In You
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Since it is time for the Body of Christ to come to maturity, and since the Body of Christ can come to maturity only by that which every member contributes, it is apparent that the various leaders and believers of the local churches must begin to assist the members of the assembly in finding and operating their various gifts and callings.
One of the important issues of today has to do with the traditional pastor-congregation pattern of church organization. No doubt this customary pattern must be maintained for a season if our assemblings are to make sense to the federal, state, and county governments under which we operate.
But since it is time for the Body of Christ to come to maturity, and since the Body of Christ can come to maturity only by that which every member contributes, it is apparent that the various leaders and believers of the local church must begin to recognize that no office is holier or more important than another. It is true also that the believers cannot give their spiritual proxy to their leaders. Each member is as important as each other member.
This understanding should have a marked influence on the importance we attach to attending the various church services. If we see our attendance as a duty we perform as a Christian, then we may lose interest as time goes by and begin to attend sporadically, if at all.
But if we envision the Church as the Body of Christ, and each disciple a member of that one body, and perceive that our purpose for assembling is to make our contribution to the building of the one body, as well as to receive strength ourselves, then church attendance ought to take on a very different significance.
The gathering of the members of the Body of Christ for the purpose of building up each believer to the fullness of maturity, as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ, necessitates a rethinking of the traditional pastor-congregation—if not in the eyes of the various governments, or unsaved people who wander into the service, at least in the understanding of the faithful saints who are the backbone of the assembling.
God has provided a variety of ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit by which the Word of God can be brought to the mind and heart of the disciple, by which the believers can be brought to the full stature of Christ.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11,12)
If we are to have the milk and solid food of the Word of God we must have the full set of ministries God has provided. It is necessary that there be apostles and prophets as well as evangelists and pastor—teachers ministering to us in these days so that Christ can be formed and brought to full development in each disciple.
Christians must pray without ceasing that God will restore all the ministries to the Church of Christ and that every saint will be brought to the fullness of the image of Christ and to the complete knowledge of Christ and union with Christ.
The Christian churches of our day are pouring almost all of their resources into gaining new converts. This is not a balanced emphasis. While some resources should be pointed toward preaching the Gospel toward those who never have heard, the major effort should be to bring to maturity those who already believe.
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: (Ephesians 4:13)
Because of the imbalance in the distribution of effort the world is full of baby Christians. They present little or no threat to Satan’s empire. Many of them do not continue to make a profession of Christianity after a few years, falling back into sin. Those who do continue in the churches soon become filled with the various sins and failures that plague church people. We may have enough evangelists but we have a sore need for apostles, prophets, pastors, and teachers. How else are we to come to the measure of maturity as measured by the fullness of the stature of Christ?
Mature Christians are not always in evidence in the Christian churches, as numerous pastors understand only too well!
The plan of God is as follows: as the several different types of ministry in a variety of ways bring the Word of God to our heart and mind, two aspects of our personality are affected: (1) we grow in the ability to minister to the Body of Christ and to mankind in general; and (2) Christ is formed in our personality. As these two aspects operate and develop in each member, the Body of Christ is brought to unity and maturity in Christ.
The Substance and Life of Christ (His body and blood) are added to us when the Holy Spirit reveals Christ through the members of the Body of Christ. Our mind is renewed as the Word of God creates in us the mind of Christ. Understanding of the purposes and methods of the Lord grows in us. Also, we gain wisdom and knowledge that enable us to better meet the practical daily needs that arise while we Christians are making our journey through the wilderness of this life.
Christ is formed in us by the gifts and ministries given us by the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:11). Each Christian has his or her own ministry by which he can build up himself and also make his individual contribution to the perfecting of the whole Body of Christ.
There is no instance in which a member of the Body of Christ has nothing to give. If we are not aware of our own role in the building of the Body of Christ we should present our body a living sacrifice that we may “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” for our life (Romans 12:1,2).
Chapters 12 and 14 of I Corinthians discuss the subject of the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit and the exercise of the gifts and ministries in the assembly of the saints. The purpose of the gifts and ministries is to build the Body of Christ—that Christ may be brought to full stature in the Church (I Corinthians 12:12, Ephesians 4:13-16).
Christ is the Cornerstone of the living, eternal Temple of God. The Temple of God is being constructed as each member of the Body of Christ exercises the ministries and gifts given to him or her by the Spirit of God.
The Spirit of God has given to every Christian a spiritual enablement so that he may be adding to the building of the Body of Christ.
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:16)
The Holy Spirit has distributed a wide assortment of gifts and ministries to the members of the Body of Christ that the Body may be brought to full stature.
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. (I Corinthians 12:4)
These gifts are given to us by the Lord with the understanding that we are to learn from the Holy Spirit how and when they are to be used. The members of the churches, for the most part, do not know what their gifts are. Many who do possess functioning gifts do not understand how or when to use them.
Because the gifts and ministries are not operating properly the Body of Christ remains to this day a valley of dry bones. The gifts and ministries must be functioning if the Body of Christ is to be brought to maturity and unity.
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. (I Corinthians 12:7)
The ministries and gifts that the Lord gives us are the money, the talents of the Kingdom of God. It is Christ’s understanding that we shall spend His money in the marketplace and show a profit. If we do not use the Lord’s money in a profitable manner (in the building of the Body of Christ) He will, at His coming, take away the responsibility that He has given us and will entrust it to another Christian who has been wiser and more diligent (Matthew 25:26-28).
The Spirit of God apportions the ministries and gifts as He has determined in His own sovereign counsel, although it is wise on our part to covet ministries and gifts and to pray for them (I Corinthians 12:31,14:13,39, Luke 11:5-13).
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (I Corinthians 12:11)
Each of us has a unique set of spiritual abilities and a ministry in the Body of Christ that we are to perform. No one else has been assigned the task that is ours to do. The Body of Christ depends for its unifying and maturing on our performing the job, on adding the part, that has been delegated to us by the sovereign purposes of the Holy Spirit. God wastes nothing and He makes no mistakes.
The only way in which we can find what our ministry is and start to perform it is to present our body a “whole burnt offering” on the altar of God (Romans 12:1,2).
At first the presentation of our body as an offering to God may seem like an unreasonable demand by the Lord in that we are prevented because of it from pursuing our own life as we consider to be desirable.
When we remember that God in His love has set us aside (and this is true of every member of the Body of Christ) as a priest and deliverer so we may represent Him to His creation, the offering of ourselves to His will is viewed by us as no more than reasonable and appropriate.
We Christians must grasp the importance of the assignments of the King and hasten to give ourselves to the offices to which He directs us.
In the event that we as an individual do not build the Body of Christ with our gifts and ministries, God will follow another route in order to provide the part for which we were responsible; for the Body of Christ shall become an enlargement and counterpart of the Son of God. God already has spoken that fact into existence.
We ourselves will be stripped of our assigned office, now or at the coming of the Lord, and it will be given to another.
Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:28-30)
God is not a person with whom to trifle. The day in which we live is not a time to float about in indecision. The end-time spiritual battle is ready to be joined. Eternal destinies are being decided. Each of us must choose whether or not to give himself over to God’s highest calling for his life.
God promised Abraham a Seed who would overcome the enemies of the Seed and who would be the source of blessing for all the nations of the earth. Galatians, Chapter Three states that the Seed is Christ and that there is no other seed. The Seed of Abraham is Christ, the Anointed Deliverer toward whom the prophets point.
Most students of the Scriptures in all probability have been aware of these facts. What has not been realized as commonly, although the Scriptures are clear enough, is that Christ consists not only of the Head, Jesus, who is the Lord of Glory, but also of His Body.
“If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). Being Abraham’s Seed means we shall overcome our enemies (the enemies of Christ—Luke 10:19) and shall be the source of blessing for all the nations of the earth.
The Anointed Deliverer who is to come, the eternal resting place of the Lord God of Heaven, is made up of the sovereign Head—the Lord Jesus Christ, and also of His Body, which is His Bride—the Church.
The Body of Christ is being created at this time on His broken body and shed blood just as Eve was created on the rib of Adam. The gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit are one of the principal means by which the Body of Christ is being fashioned. Also, suffering plays an important role.
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (I Corinthians 12:12)
God Almighty has designed the Body of Christ according to His own wisdom and love.
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. (I Corinthians 12:18)
God has provided every element necessary for the creation of the Body of His Son. The gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit are given to the Bride of the Lamb to help with her preparation.
The ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit are not to be identified with a particular denomination or local assembly of saints. The ministries of the Spirit are given to the Church, the Body of Christ. Each disciple is to use his gifts and ministries faithfully wherever God places him and in the manner in which God directs. When ministering in the local assembly he is to be subject to the elders of the assembly.
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. (I Corinthians 12:28)
The gifts and ministries are given for the building up of the members of the Body of Christ. Each member of the Body must be brought to maturity so that the Body will be prepared to be joined to the Head.
There cannot be so much as one member who has not been made ready, who still is opposed to the Holy Spirit concerning the loving of righteousness and obedience and the hating of sin and disobedience. One imperfect member would be an imperfection in the Body of Christ—and that is not acceptable. The Bride will be presented to Christ by His Father without any blemish (Ephesians 5:27).
How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. (I Corinthians 14:26)
The Body of Christ has not been brought to maturity as yet because many of the members of the Christian Church are not functioning in the several gifts and ministries on which the maturing of the Church depends. Also, we must have more of the solid food of the Word of God added to our heart in the form of the body and blood of Christ, and to our mind in the form of knowledge and understanding.
We need, in addition, a mighty outpouring of power from on high—an additional and more powerful baptism with the Holy Spirit and with the fire of Divine judgment. “Holiness to the Lord” is the cry of the Spirit of God in the present hour. Many glorious areas of Christ’s Kingdom await us as we press forward in God.
The final act of God needed to separate the tares from the wheat, and to bring the Body of Christ to the unity and maturity necessary for Her union with the Head, is the great tribulation period. The great tribulation will serve as the burning “sun” that will mature the Lord’s “wheat.” Apart from that time of unprecedented trouble the Church would remain as it is today—an intolerable mixture of the flesh and Christ.
Christ, Head and Body, part of whom is in Heaven at this time and part on the earth, will be brought to perfection as the various members of the Body, the anointed ministries and gifts, work together effectively. As we are able, let us present ourselves to the Lord so that He may reveal Himself to us and through us.
It is the demonstrating, the revealing of Christ through the Holy Spirit that brings the broken body and shed blood of Christ to the inner man of the Christian. It is the “pure milk” of the Word made alive in the Spirit that causes us to grow until we are able to partake of the “solid food” of the Word (I Corinthians 3:2). We are built up “according to the effectual working in the measure of every part” of the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:16).
It is not the will of God that His Seed lie dormant in us. The Divine Seed, Christ, has been planted in us for the purpose of growing into a son of God, a brother of Christ. Christ is to be formed in us.
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, (Galatians 4:19)
The farmer waits patiently for the fruit of the earth. God is waiting patiently until Christ comes to maturity in the believers.
The development of Christ in us is the rising of the Day Star mentioned in II Peter 1:19:
We have also a more sure word of prophecy [the Scriptures]; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
There must be a full and continuing revelation of Christ through the Holy Spirit in every assembly of the saints. Each disciple must take up his cross and pursue a consecrated life saturated with prayer, Scripture reading, personal holiness, faith, hope, love, perseverance, courage, and unswerving obedience to God.
(“The Ministries and Gifts of the Body of Christ”, 3414-1)