Many Christians say, It is the Apostles, the Prophets, the Evangelists, the Shepherds, and the Teachers spoken of in Eph. 4:11 that build up the Body of Christ. I am not qualified, and I don’t know how to do it – that’s why they are special gifts, and they build up the Body, and we just… listen to them, pray for them, and say Amen to their function!
Do you think that this is true? Is the Body of Christ built up ONLY by a SELECT class of people, some who are gifted and who function on behalf of other people, and the rest of the believers “are not needed for the building”?
To this we have to say a loud: NO! We need the Lord to unveil us and remove any religious concept from our mind that we may see the truth concerning the direct building up of the Body of Christ.
The gifts mentioned in Eph. 4:11 are perfecting the saints so that the saints may build up the Body of Christ directly.
They perfect us, the many members of the Body, that we may do whatever they do (but in a smaller scale) and we together as the many members and joints build up the Body of Christ by functioning in our measure!
Lord, open our eyes and cause us to see our function in building up of the Body! Lord, make us willing to be perfected to function in our measure for the building up of Your Body! Thank You Lord, we are vital members in the Body and our function is needed!
The Work of the Ministry is the Building up of the Body!
God gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as shepherds and teachers, FOR the perfecting of the saints unto the building up of the Body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-12).
God didn’t give some gifts to the Body of Christ that they may overfunction and replace the many believers as the many members of the Body.
Rather, the work of the ministry to build up the Body of Christ is NOT accomplished directly by the gifted ones in Eph. 4:11 but by the many saints who have been perfected by the gifted ones and function in their measure (Eph. 4:12, 16).
The “work of the ministry is both of the gifted saints and of those being perfected – we all do the work of the ministry! And this work of the ministry is not to build a large congregation or to bring everyone to believe in Jesus, but to build up the Body of Christ!
The building up of the Body of Christ is our responsibility, our privilege and our birthright in the divine life.
From the most gifted one to the seemingly-smallest member in the Body, we all work together in the work of the ministry for the building up of the Body of Christ!
Being Perfected to Build up the Body
How can we build up the Body of Christ? You and I may now know how, but praise the Lord for the gifted members in the Body who are perfecting us that we may grow in life and function for the building up of the Body!
In His sovereignty and wisdom God arranged that some gifted ones (who are NOT super-Christians or in any way higher or better than anyone else) would perfect the saints in the divine dispensing so that all the saints – all the believers in Christ – may be able to build up the Body of Christ.
In other words, the Lord wants both to perfect us to grow in life and function and to make us those who perfect others to grow in life and function for the building up of the Body of Christ!
On the other hand, we need to be perfected by the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the shepherds and teachers to do what they do for the direct building up of the Body of Christ!
The Gifted Persons are For Our Perfecting
The New Testament gives us some indications, if we read Acts and the Epistles, of how the gifted persons perfect others that they in turn may build up the Body of Christ.
Praise the Lord for the ministry of the age who opens up the way ordained by God to meet, serve, and live the Christian life! In, The Conclusion of the New Testament (msg. 340), brother Lee gives us some indications of what the gifted members do to perfect us.
- The apostles perfect the saints by visiting the churches (Acts 15:36, 40-41; 20:20, 31), by writing epistles to the churches (Col. 4:16; 1 Cor. 1:2), and by assigning their co-workers to stay in certain places to perfect the saints (1 Tim. 1:3-4; 3:15; Titus 1:5).
- The prophets perfect the saints by teaching them to speak the Lord into people, by speaking in the meetings to set up a model, and by helping the saints to live a prophesying life by being revived every morning and overcoming every day (Acts 13:1; 1 Cor. 14:31; Prov. 4:18).
- The evangelists perfect the saints by stirring them up to be burning in the gospel-preaching spirit, by teaching them with gospel truths, by training them to preach the gospel, by helping the saints to be equipped with the power of the economical Spirit, and by setting an example of loving the sinners and praying for them (2 Tim. 4:5).
- The shepherd-teachers perfect the saints by shepherding—feeding and nourishing the young saints and teaching the growing saints (Acts 11:25-26; 13:1)
The result of all the saints being perfected by the gifted ones is that we all arrive at the oneness of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, at a full grown man, and at the stature of the fullness of Christ (see Eph. 4:13 and John 17:23).
Growing in Life and Being Perfected to Function
We need to be open to the Lord today that we may grow in life and become skillful in our function. We need to be perfected by being completed, equipped, and furnished.
Mothers feed the children and then later teach them and perfect them for their growth in life and for becoming skillful in their function. So we today need to be perfected by some more mature saints to grow in life (by feeding on the Lord in His word) and being skillful in function.
Just as children are perfected by feeding and training, so we believers need to feed on the Lord as the tree of life and we need to be trained in our function. We need to open to the Lord and tell Him,
Lord, make me willing and ready to be perfected. Lord Jesus, grow in me. I want to feed on You and grow in You every day. Lord, make me open to be perfected by the more mature and gifted saints, that I may function for the building up of the Body of Christ. I want to receive the perfecting from the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the shepherds and teachers.
References and Further Reading
- Sharing inspired from, The Conclusion of the New Testament (by Witness Lee, msg. 340), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, The Unique Work in the Lord’s Recovery, week 8 (entitled, The Work of the Ministry).
- Futher reading on this subject: see chapter 2 in, The Building Up of the Body of Christ.
- Buy this morning revival book online via Living Stream Ministry.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Many gifts the Lord has given, / That His Body He may build, / That the saints may be perfected / And their ministry fulfilled.
# Perfected and nourished from house to house meeting, / We speak one by one that the church may be built.
# We believers have been renewed, / Must grow in life and be matured, / Perfected as overcomers / So that we as the builded church
- Pictures credit: edited and created by friends on Facebook.