Monday morning In His Name Outreach was a success… things started a little slow but picked up near the end. As we gave out free Starbucks coffee and cold water, the Lord opened the door to invite several people to church. Thanks to my helpers, Zac and Emma. They did an awesome job!
This is the second of a three-part series on Spiritual Wrestling and the Armor of God. Yesterday, we discussed the importance of not being ignorant of the devil’s devices. Today, we will look at spiritual wrestling.
For we do not wrestle with flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Paul could have used any of a number of terms here instead of wrestling. He had perfect command of the Greek language and could have picked a word such as fight or contend or oppose. Why did Paul choose wrestle? Quite simply, it denotes actual contact combat. One can, fight without contact; one can contend or oppose without contact, but have you ever seen anyone try to wrestle without contact? It is impossible! Our conflict with Satan and demons is on a contact basis. They are always coming against us in a tangible way, buffeting us in the flesh.
2 Corinthians 12:7
And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.
Revealed in Ephesians 6:12 are four levels of demon power:
- Principalities: Lower level demons that we most commonly deal with on a personal, daily level.
- Powers: Also lower level demons in Satan’s chain of command. (The term “lower level” does not denote insignificance, only rank).
- Rulers of Darkness: Demons that rule over territories, and have lower level demons under their command.
- Wicked Spirits in Heavenly Places: This of course being the second heaven, the atmosphere above (see Ephesians 2:2). This is where Satan’s government is carried out. In this place are the highest rank of demons, including Satan himself and his fallen arch-angels. They rule over entire nations, such as the Prince of Persia in Daniel’s day. Their job is to master-mind and to see that evil prevails against the church (a losing cause, by the way) and covers the earth.
Listen to the words of Gabriel, the Arch Angel, when addressing Daniel regarding his prayer and the spiritual battle that played out in the spirit realm:
12 Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. 14 Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.”
Satan did not want this revelation concerning the end times to get to Daniel and opposed the messenger of God, Gabriel. Assistance had to be obtained from Michael, the warring Arch Angel, to break through. It is important to remember that there will be no significant breakthrough from God in your life that will not be contended by the enemy. But let it be clear that God heard Daniel on the first day and sent the answer. It is upon us to stand and not to give place to the devil with double-mindedness and unbelief.
This wrestling match which Paul spoke of was an effective allegory because the people understood what a Greek wrestling match was composed of. A winner was declared when one of the wrestlers successfully pinned the neck area of his opponent. The loser was made to endure a terrible and painful blinding by the gauging out of the eves. All that lose this spiritual wrestling match also endure a blinding, a loss of spiritual discernment.
As Christians however, we have one thing in our favor in this wrestling match: God wrote the rule book (the Bible), and is the referee. As long as a Christian keeps getting back up and refuses to quit, the devil will not be the victor. In baseball it’s three strikes and you’re out, but with God, as long as you’re swinging, He will keep you in the batter’s box until you get a hit!
In the last lesson, we will examine the armor of God.
This is the second of a two-part series on the five-fold ministry.
Yesterday we discussed Apostles and Prophets; today we cover the remaining five-fold ministries: the evangelist, pastor and teacher.
Evangelists: Gather in the lost. Theirs is an emphasis of preaching the gospel to sinners. There will be a certain “fire” to an evangelist’s preaching. It could be termed as “revival-type preaching.” The word “gospel” means “Good News!” Therefore, an evangelist will carry a message that is narrower in scope than the other five-fold ministries. An evangelist is not called to expound doctrine and theology. Many have been side-tracked by getting out of their anointing.
Evangelists are an equipping ministry, like all of the five-fold gifts. They are given to train believers how to win souls. Too much responsibility is given to the evangelist to win the world by themselves. Their job is to train us all to fulfill the great commission (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-20).
Philip is the only one so-named an evangelist in the entire New Testament (Acts 21:8). Philip began as a deacon and God promoted him. He went to Samaria and held public meetings in which multitudes were saved. God worked miracles through Philip that got the people’s attention:
The multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
A true evangelist will have the operation of miracles in his ministry. Signs still point men to Jesus!
In the middle of this revival, Philip obeyed the Lord and went to the desert to win one man to the Lord (Acts 8:26-39). True evangelists have a passion to win souls, both publicly and one at a time.
This ministry is instrumental to the growth of local churches. An evangelist should work in coordination with the local churches in any designated field. Christ’s command is not only to convert sinners, but to disciple them. An evangelist should also have a home local church that he is submitted to and from which he works.
Pastors: Literally “shepherds.” Pastors tend the flock of God, taking direct oversight. I Peter 5:2-3 exhorts pastors: “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by constraint but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock ”
Pastoring is a ministry of feeding, leading and guarding the sheep. The authority to lead is predicated by the ability to feed. Having a good heart does not qualify one to be a pastor, nor does an educated mind. The ability to feed the sheep comes from the calling and anointing of God. While the other four gifts may itinerate, the pastor’s primary responsibility is the local church. Thus we have the heavy emphasis that is placed on this office in respect to the local church. Pastors are the primary care givers to ,the local congregation.
Though pastors are in the primary leadership position in the local church, they cannot do their job without the other four ministries. A congregation needs to be influenced by all five of the ministry gifts to be brought to maturity (see Ephesians. 4:11-13).
Teachers: Ground God’s people in the Word of God. These are not Sunday school teachers, but anointed ministers that bring clarity and understanding to the Word of God. They are avid students of the Word themselves, studying to show. themselves approved unto God (II Tim. 2:15). Someone who has no desire to study is definitely not called to be a teacher.
A teacher must guard against becoming just another “echo.” The teachers in Christ’s day were just echoes of the rabbis. God wants a teacher to be a voice not an echo! When Christ the Pattern Teacher taught, people were astonished at His anointing: ‘And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matt. 7:28-29).
Teachers desire to see others come up to their level of understanding and even surpass them. A teacher is not a lecturer that impresses everyone with his knowledge. If no one is learning then no one is teaching! To preach is to proclaim; to teach is to explain.
A teacher should be a sound theologian, well-rounded, not just teaching one subject or doctrine: A teacher should also be a sound hermeneutician, that is, be able to “rightly divide the Word of Truth” (II Tim 2:15b). Some who call themselves teachers have never developed these skills. The Body should not have to suffer in doctrine just to have the Spirit! Qualified teachers know how to expound the whole truth in a rightly divided manner in the power of the Spirit
These five offices serve the Body of Chris as equipping ministries. Ephesians 4:11 says that only “some” are called to these equipping ministries. It is also stated that only God can do the calling: “And He gave…” In the original Greek this is in the intensive form, literally saying, “He, Himself, and no other gave.”
It is possible for a person to be called to more than one office at a time, in I Timothy 2:7 Paul refers to himself as an apostle and a teacher. It is also possible to “graduate” to a higher office than previously used in. This is usually the case with the office of apostle. Paul was called a prophet and a teacher before his apostolic setting apart:
I Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost
Notice that Paul had been standing in the office of prophet and teacher. At this point Paul had been saved for approximately ten years. When the Holy Ghost spoke, He spoke in terms of separation to a calling that Barnabas and Paul (Saul) had not previously stood in. From that point forth it was “Paul the apostle.”
As previously stated, all of the five-fold offices are equipping ministries. Let us be reminded of the goals of the five-fold ministry, as listed in Ephesians 4:12-16:
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
The Body of Christ is to do the work of the ministry. The ministry of the believer and the priesthood of the believer is never minimized or diminished by the flye-fold; the five-fold serves to maximize the ministry and priesthood of every believer. If any of the five-fold ministries is neglected then the Body becomes less effective in essential areas listed in Ephesians 4:12-16, such as: a) the work of the ministry; b) edification; c) unity; d) knowledge; e) maturity; f) doctrine; g) truth; h) love; and i) the working of every part. These are key areas that the Church cannot afford to be slighted on.
Here’s the complete version of Sheep, Goats, Wolves and Sheepdogs in a syllabus format if you’d like to download or print.
This is the last in a 4-part series on Sheep, Goats, Wolves and Sheepdogs. Today, we conclude our discussion with Sheepdogs.
Sheepdogs are an aid to the shepherd in keeping the sheep in and keeping the wolves out. The shepherd cannot be everywhere at the same time. Wolves are looking for vulnerable areas, places of weakness. As mentioned, wolves are not looking for a fight, but easy prey. Sheepdogs keep the sheep from being easy prey. While the shepherd is leading the flock (the role of pastors), sheepdogs stay along the perimeters of the fold to keep the sheep in and the wolves out.
What are some of the functions of a sheepdog?
a. Sheepdogs warn and protect the sheep of danger by barking or even a nip on the leg. Sheepdogs must be able to lovingly correct the sheep.
b. Sheepdogs will square off against a wolf to preserve the well-being of the sheepfold. Confrontation is part of their function.
c. Sheepdogs will inform the shepherds of problems and potential problems. Shepherds cannot be everywhere at the same time. Sheepdogs are on more of a peer level with the sheep and consequently see problems in the root stage. Often, pastors don’t see the problem until it has come to fruition, which sometimes is too late to correct.
What are some of the qualities one needs to be a good sheepdog?
a. A consistent prayer life.
b. Spiritual discernment
c. A love for the sheep.
d. Loyalty to the pastors.
e. A disdain for the flesh/carnality.
In summary, sheepdogs are invaluable to the well-being of the flock. They provide the poimaino type of shepherding that is necessary for the fold to grow.
One caution: Sheepdogs are carnivorous, but they don’t eat sheep, they eat meat prepared from the shepherd’s hand. If for some reason a sheepdog gets a taste for the sheep, he must be removed. Church splits often occur through a sheepdog’s disloyalty. It is a shepherd’s responsibility to monitor the activities of the sheepdog. If a sheepdog regularly doesn’t show up to be fed by the shepherd (submission), there’s a good chance that it is dipping into the sheep. However, if properly trained and monitored, a sheepdog is the shepherd’s best friend.