The Equipping of the Body

May 29, 2012

Acts 6:1-7
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
5This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
7So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

The Equipping of the Body

We have had a typical paradigm of the church that seems to be modeled in most denominations and services.  It is not that it is a bad thing, but I believe God is wanting to bring something fresh and new to energize His “ekklēsia”, what we have called the church.  Which is simply an assembly of “called out ones” to be the legislative and governmental body of Christ.  This assembly is currently most often administering two primary functions in its gatherings.  Acknowledging and worshipping God and the dispensation or oration of the Word of God through a pastor or clergy title.  Through this model the general assembly participates in worship and singing and then sits through the dispensation of the Word.  What seems to be lacking is the activation of the body at large.  If we are an assembly of the government of God then that government needs training and expression beyond the walls of a building.
I believe what God was showing me when He dropped Acts 6 in my heart today is another piece of what needs to be happening within and beyond the Ekklesia.  The catalyst for this new dimension in the early church was the complaining of how there was an inequality in how the food was being distributed to the widows.  The twelve apostles saw that their function and station wasn’t to handle all of the practical affairs of the ekklesia, because they were called to establish the church through giving themselves to the Word.  They did what Moses finally did.  They delegated responsibility to others.  They put it in the people’s hands to choose out from among them seven men full of the Spirit and wisdom.  This pleased the whole group.  One of the reason it might have pleased them is not just for the widow’s sake, but now spiritual responsibility was delegated to the body to express who they were in Christ.  The apostles approved these men through prayer and the laying on of hands and they were released into their commission and now someone besides just the apostles are released into ministry and expression of their purpose in the kingdom of God.
What was the result?
“So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”  Notice it doesn’t say believers increased rapidly, but disciples increased.  Disciples are those who don’t just hear and believe, but hear, believe and do the will of God.  When the body was activated initially through these seven men, it was an empowerment of the Ekklesia to carry out the government and dispensation of the kingdom of God.
Could it be that God is wanting to greater activate His whole body and what they need is men, in addition to the clergy, full of the Spirit and wisdom that can, in turn, help various aspects of the body develop and become the expression of who God has called them to be.
Yes, we need the word of God taught and shared, but to complete that we need the Ekklesia activated in the knowledge of the Word and revelation that they are receiving.  These are not waters to be stored in our own cisterns and holding tanks, it is a word to be shared through lives that are living it and dispensing that living water into the lives of others, making disciples of all men.  The body may truly be in need of men and women that are able to work more personally with the people to help them and develop them into what a true disciple looks and acts like.  The apostles, prophets, pastors, evangelist and teachers can’t do all of that, but they do need to be equipping those who can.
I believe the Lord is through with the days of “One men shows”.  He is wanting to equip and empower the entire Ekklesia to administrate His kingdom in the earth.  We need to get out of our old paradigms and begin to understand what that looks like for all of us in the body of Christ.  Perhaps it may be most difficult for the leadership that has been raised and steeped in these traditions.  We have to get a revelation that it is going to take that whole body to accomplish God’s kingdom in the earth, not just a select few.  It is more like God has anointed the select few for what Ephesians 4:11-13 says they are to do: “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until 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.” There function is not to try and do all of the works of service, but they are the equippers, the coaches, if you will, that help the rest of the body to come into who they are in the functionality and purpose of God’s kingdom.  There needs to be an equipping, commissioning and releasing of more of these leaders that are full of the Spirit and wisdom to further speak into and help equip the body in a more personal way than we have seen thus far.  Through a ladder of leadership at all levels we all help bring the ones, less mature than ourselves up to where we are, as those more mature than us, help us to progress to greater level and thus the body is growing into maturity through the functionality of the whole body.


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