PRIMARY FUNCTION OF THE FIVE FOLD MINISTRY (This article is taken from his book “ The Fullness of Ministry”)
Mr. Christopher Patrick Johnson
In the previous chapter we discovered the true purpose for the ascension of Christ, namely, that He might fill all things with Himself. He has planned to fill the Church with His presence and glory in these latter days in a greater way than ever before. God has decreed in the earth that in the days of the greatest shaking of mankind there also would be the greatest, most widespread filling of His house that the earth has ever witnessed. Haggai 2:6-9 reads: “For thus saith the Lord of Hosts: Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake ALL nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I WILL FILL this house with glory, saith the Lord of Hosts. The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, saith the Lord of Hosts. The glory of this latter house SHALL BE GREATER than of the former, and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of Hosts.” It is clear from other passages in the New Testament (I Peter 2; Ephesians 2:19-22) that WE ARE the LATTER HOUSE, upon whom the end of the ages has come. Praise be to God, for we have much to look forward to. There is no need to live in the past, but only to press on in the preparation of this house which God is now pervading and will continue to pervade with the glory of His presence.
Once, while ministering to the leadership of a local assembly concerning the “plurality of ministry,” one brother said, “We are not quite ready for that in our church. Besides, the Lord is blessing us and we are seeing results the way things are.” The following evening I was to minister out of the book of Haggai concerning the restoration of the Church. Before I left where I was staying, I was thinking about this brother’s statement in relation to the transcending glory of the latter house in comparison to the former. Suddenly the Lord unfolded a wonderful principle to my heart. He said, “People love to hear that my glory is going to be magnified in the last days of the Church, even greater than in the early days. But tell them that they WILL NOT TRANSCEND [go beyond] the GLORY of the early Church, until they first REASSIMILATE all that the early Church had.” In other words, God was saying that we must return to what our early brothers and sisters had before we can go beyond what they had. We must return to New Testament order and reality.
Part of the vitality of the early Church was the anointed and empowered ministry of the WORD. We have already seen that the ministries are designed by God to illustrate to the Church the many-faceted ministry of the Christ. Jesus Christ is the WORD of God. (The purpose and primary function of the fivefold ministry is to MINISTER THE WORD TO THE BODY. This is not a play on words, but truth. The ministries are to receive from the LIVING Word which is the Christ. They receive from Him through the agency of the written Word or scriptures (Romans 16:25-27) and then impart that Word which speaks of Christ in a SPOKEN word which produces life and light in men. A TRUE word from any of the ministries will testify of the Christ. The Word of God is creative (able to create life where there is none) in its character, because the Word of God is NOT A THING, BUT A PERSON. He, the Christ of God, is the Creator of heaven and earth. When a man truly has a word from God, it will testify of the Christ, and it will always be creative and life producing in its very nature. It is the nature of He who is the Life to produce life when He speaks. This is the understanding of Revelation 19:10, “ . . . the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” That true, life-giving word which flows into the Body of Christ must declare and testify of the Christ. The only word which is creative is the Word which testifies of the “WORD OF LIFE,” Jesus Christ.
God has designed each ministry not only to manifest a particular aspect of the ministry of Christ, but also that each particular ministry would impart into the Body a specific type or kind of word. Each word which God sends forth is to accomplish a very definite and specific task (Isaiah 55:10-13). In coupling these two thoughts together, we find that God has implanted in the men who are the ministers a type of word (dependent upon their differing offices) which is to accomplish a very specific task in the Body of Christ. Each ministry imparts a different type or kind of word. These different expressions occur on account of the fact that different types or kinds of grace are given to the ministries “in particular” (I Corinthians 12:27-28), in order to express a particular aspect of Christ and accomplish a specific task in the Body. The task of feeding, mending, equipping and maturing the Body of Christ has been given to the ministries of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.
Have you ever wondered why there seems to be a different anointing upon the different ministries? Have you ever wondered why teachers are different from pastors, or prophets from teachers, or evangelists from pastors, etc.? Is it simply because of different personalities in the men? Or is there a scriptural perspective that can be taken to explain why there are differences? I think the latter is the proper explanation. There is a viewpoint from the scriptures which is truly beautiful when seen clearly.
Paul understood and set forth the reason for the different expressions in the ministries. His understanding was based upon “the grace given.” Let us examine a few passages. In Romans 15:15 Paul ministers in a particular manner to them “because of the grace that is given to me of God.” In I Corinthians 3:10 Paul states that the setting in place of the foundation of Corinth was “according to the grace of God which is given unto me.” Further, in Galatians 2:8-10 Paul states that the basis upon which the Jerusalem apostles (Peter, James and John) gave the right hands of fellowship in apostolic ministry to him and Barnabas was because they “perceived the grace that was given unto me.” In these passages Paul’s ability to speak in a certain way, his ability to perform a certain task or function, and his being acknowledged by brethren of the same calling - all three are based upon the “measure of grace which has been given.” This is very interesting! What is being said here is that there is a very –“particular” type and measure of grace given for each ministry. Paul’s apostolic ability was according to the grace given. This opens up another passage of scripture very clearly. In Ephesians 4:7-16 Paul speaks of the proper functioning of the Body of Christ. In 4:7 he states, “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” It is true that this passage has a general application to all saints. However, Paul’s primary idea is directed toward the brethren called to fivefold ministry. The passage interpretively may be rendered, “ . . . unto every one of us [appointed to fivefold ministry] is given grace [supernatural ability] according to [in agreement with and in direct proportion to] the measure [portion, quantity] of the gift of Christ [who has been imparted to each one of. us].” This Passage explains very distinctly the reason for the different expressions, different types of words, anointing, abilities in the Spirit, etc. The reason is that a different type and quantity of grace is given in agreement with the differing quality of the Christ who has been imparted to each ministry. The differences don’t occur because personalities are involved (although the OUTWORKING of each gift and ministry may differ in expression because God works through our personalities and not around them). Rather, these differences occur because of the grace of God.
The purpose for dealing with this subject is twofold. First: in order to point out that the ministries are to equip the Body through feeding the members the One who is the Word. When He is being ministered to the Body, He will be assimilated in the Body and He will come forth out of the Body, which is His fulness. The second purpose is to cause us to be SECURE in our own ministries. We are under an anointing because of the quantity and quality of Christ’s ministry in and through us. The same applies to other brothers in different ministries. Their ministries however great or small are on account of the grace of God given. We can rest in the Christ in us and in them. There is no competition among the ministries. God does not recognize competition. The GREATEST cause for ministers of the gospel not receiving and recognizing one another in their respective offices in the Body is INSECURITY in their own offices. Pastors are fearful of other pastors taking their sheep. Teachers won’t receive revelation from apostles because of INSECURITY. It is sad that this hindrance is often not seen for what it is and then overcome.
If you are secure in what God has called and appointed you TO BE in the Body of Christ you will not have any trouble accepting what God has been pleased to cause another brother to be. Security in God coupled with the understanding that God has given you the grace to be sufficient
in your ministry will liberate your spirit to be able to freely acknowledge and flow with what God is doing in and through another brother. If we are not secure IN CHRIST we will hinder the Body of Christ from receiving the other ministries (besides our own) which God has given for the maturing of the saints. May God give us the grace to hear this word.