More ponderings from the Ponderosa. Today, we will ruminate (meditate) on the equipping ministry of the Holy Spirit. It’s going to take more than one session to adequately cover this matter. Remember that God provided those who built His original temple with gifted artisans. There were engineers, carpenters, brick masons, and other specialists (Exodus 35:10; 36:1). They were all specialized to make all that the Lord commanded. This may come as a surprise, but God has likewise equipped a group of gifted artisans to build His temple now. God is the great genius! Remember, His temple now is the living body of Christ. The contrast is clear. Just as God selected and equipped gifted craftsmen to build the old physical temple, Jesus Christ has selected and equipped gifted craftsmen to build His new spiritual temple, the church (Ephesians 4:11).
When Christ ascended back into heaven, He began this selection. “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, He says: ‘When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.’ (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might ﬁll all things. And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:7–11). It is not Paul’s intent to name all of the gifts here. Others are mentioned in Romans 12:3-6 and 1 Corinthians 12:7-11.
Apostles and New Testament prophets were the first communicators of the gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to the world. An apostle was one sent with a message. During His short time on this earth, Christ poured His life into His disciples. A disciple is a learner. After Christ’s resurrection, these learners became Christ’s apostles – sent with the message of the gospel. God’s living church began to be built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20).
During the early years of the church (just as today), Satan has his deceivers positioned among the church claiming to be apostles and prophets of God. They were and are used by Satan to distort the message of God and to deceive the nations (2 Corinthians 4:3-4; 2 Corinthians 11:13; 2 Peter 2:1). They claim to be believers and look very much like them. These wolves in sheep’s clothing were not easily spotted. The imposters looked and sounded pretty much like the genuine teachers. How were God’s sheep to know the difference?
God gave His apostles and prophets special miracle-working power as ID cards to verify their identity and the importance of their message (Hebrews 2:3–4). The signs of true apostles were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs, wonders, and miracles (2 Corinthians 12:12). Signs were miracles that no doubt shocked and amazed those who witnessed them. The identity of the real apostles was verified by these miracles. The miraculous signs were meant to say, “Hey, listen! I am who I claim to be and what I am about to say is indeed the very Word of God. Pay close attention!”
The Bible was then completed and contains all the necessary info to determine the good guys from the bad. These early miracle workers slowly passed from the scene when the need for them no longer existed. They had done their part of the construction. As the living, spiritual organism of the church began to grow, a new group of workers came on the scene (1 Corinthians 3:9–15; Ephesians 4:7–16). These workers could be compared to carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and brick masons in a construction business. Until the day of His return to establish His promised kingdom, Jesus Christ will continue to build His church through gifted people, proclaiming the power of His word. These gifted craftsmen are continuing to this very day to build on the prepared foundation. Stay safe and stay tuned!