Foundational Truths - Ministry
In the sixth in our series examining our core beliefs, Simo Frestadius explores the ministries Jesus has given His church.
In Elim, we believe the ministry of Christ continues through the ministries he has given his church.
The word ‘ministry’ comes from the Greek word diakonia, which can be translated as ‘service’ or ‘ministry’.
This means that Christian ministry should be seen as service; in the same way that Jesus ‘came not to be served but to serve’ (Mark 10:45), his followers are called to serve others.
The ministry gifts we talk about in our statement of belief – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers – are from Ephesians 4:11. They refer to people who have a special calling to pioneer (apostles), speak on God’s behalf (prophets), share the good news with un-believers (evangelists), look after God’s people (pastors) and teach Christian truth (teachers).
Unlike Christ, no Christian leader truly possesses all five gifts.
It is important, therefore, that church leadership teams consist of diverse groups of people who collectively embody them.
Some people believe that apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are responsible for carrying out ministry in the church, rather than all believers. Others, that the best reading of Ephesians 4:11-12 is that Christ gave “the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,” (ESV).
That is, not to do ministry exclusively in the church, but to equip all believers for the work of ministry. Arguably, this second view is the better reading.
This is because the passage is sandwiched between Ephesians 4:7 and 4:16, which places the emphasis on all believers by referring to “each one of us” (Eph. 4:7) and “each part” (Eph. 4:16)in the body of Christ.
Moreover, the New Testament more broadly refers to the priesthood (1 Peter 2:9-12) and prophethood (Acts 2:17-18) of all believers, indicating that all believers are called to ministry, even if some have specific leadership roles in the church.
As well as emphasising Christ’s five ministry gifts, Elim also believes in the present operation of the manifold gifts of the Holy Spirit according to the New Testament. In the same way as Christ’s five ministry gifts apply for today’s church, the numerous gifts of the Spirit continue as a present reality.
Various gifts of the Spirit can be identified in the Bible, but the most famous lists are found in Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:8-10.
The first refers to prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, sharing, leading and showing mercy.
The second identifies nine spiritual gifts: words of knowledge, words of wisdom, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, spiritual discernment, tongues and interpretation of tongues.
These are not exclusive, but illustrate the Spirit’s many gifts given to believers.
They are to be gratefully received and used for the purpose for which they were given – for the ‘common good’ (1 Corinthians 12:7).
In Elim, we believe the ministry of Christ continues through all believers, and the gifts of Christ and the Spirit are there to equip God’s people to fulfil this ministry.
Ministry - what Elim believes
We believe in the ministries that Christ has set in his church, namely, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, and in the present operation of the manifold gifts of the Holy Spirit according to the New Testament.
Why ministry matters
• The ministry of Christ continues through the ministries he has given his church
• They equip believers to live for Christ and share their faith
• They build up the church
Simo Frestadius is Dean of Research and Executive Director of the Institute for Pentecostal Theology at Regents Theological College, where he also teaches on the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.
First published in the March 2022 issue of Direction, Elim’s monthly magazine. Subscribe now to get Direction delivered to your home.
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