God’s Gift of Specialists

Up to this point, we have explored the foundations of our new life in Christ and the process of transformation into His image. But, as we’ve seen, the specifics of God’s design involve other members of the team, the church. As Paul turns from the gift of grace apportioned to each believer to the various roles we play in each other’s lives, He gives us a picture of how the design team functions as a whole—individual parts under the guidance and control of Jesus the overseer.

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Eph. 4:11–13)

God has given His people a team of leaders, each with specific gifts and functions. Why? So the body of Christ may be built up in unity in the faith and in knowledge of Jesus, coming into the measure of His fullness. That’s a big vision, and it can’t be fulfilled without supernatural help. So leadership in the body of Christ is supernaturally empowered to develop and apply their gifts for the good of the body. The goal is to equip all Christians to use our gifts so that every member grows to maturity.

Jesus is the blueprint for that maturity. The gifted leaders who equip the saints for the work of ministry are working toward a vivid, Christlike result. When we reach our full potential spiritually, we think like Jesus, act like Jesus, love like Jesus, respond to our enemies like Jesus, and walk in the wisdom, character, power, and love of Jesus. He does a supernatural work in our lives through the equipping ministry of the body as a whole.

If you read this passage carefully, you may notice an unconventional template for leadership. The world’s way of leadership is to put leaders at the top of a hierarchy to manage everyone beneath them. Historically, the church has fallen in line with that arrangement, and many Christians think the purpose of leadership is to do the work of ministry. The picture Paul gives us here puts leaders in a servant role of equipping everyone else so that every believer can do the work of ministry. It’s an inverted pyramid, with the five ministry gifts listed in these verses supporting the entire body.

So how does the process actually work? You know the victory Christ has won, the death and resurrection you have in Him, the new identity He has given you, the Word of truth He has provided, the faith in His Word that puts steps to your beliefs, the gift and responsibility of His grace, and the organism called the church through which you give and receive His grace. But in terms of actually putting your renovation into practice, what’s next? How do you get transformed from the inside out under the craftsmanship of God’s Spirit and His team of specialists?

The practical blueprint begins to open up in this section of Ephesians. Paul provides specific instructions that will help transform you into the likeness of Christ. They explain how God meant for His church to function so that every single Christian can tap into the grace that God is working in and through His people. At the heart of the life-change God has promised is the way you fulfill your role in the body of Christ. So let’s go back and look at this passage a little closer.

Ingram, Chip. 2021. Yes! You Really Can Change: What to Do When You’re Spiritually Stuck. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

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