Until…The Future of the Five Fold Ministry
Brothers and Sisters, I have something to say to you. It is a present truth and a revelation for this very hour. I pray this word will penetrate the inner most parts of your being and birth within you a resolution to render to God the fruits of the increase of His Church in due season. As it is written:
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 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:” (KJV)
From these passages of scripture, we know that the offices of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher were given TILL… The word “till” in the King James Version means “until” and is a scriptural time key relevant to the five-fold ministry. The question for all of us to ask is, UNTIL what?
The underlying premise of this writing is that the five-fold ministry occupies a particular and limited time in church history. The gift offices, therefore, are transitory. They are but a phase in the maturing of the body of Christ. So, the answer to our question is that the five-fold ministry was given UNTIL the body of Christ matures.
For a time, ancient Israel was placed under the Law of Moses. The types and shadows that they kept were to be a schoolmaster to point them to Christ. So, too, the Church has been placed for a time under the tutelage of the five-fold ministry that it might be raised up into Christ. Those aspects of the law that prefigured Christ passed away when He fulfilled them. Likewise, those aspects of the five-fold ministry that are meant to complete the church will pass away once the church is perfected.
As five-fold ministers, we are the friend of the Bridegroom. Our joy and purpose are to see that the bride is made ready. Once this occurs, the purpose of the friend of the Bridegroom is fulfilled. While we do have a position of great importance and authority relative to our duties, once our course is run, we will fade into the background. This is the destiny of the five-fold ministry.
John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord by calling the Children of Israel to repentance. He announced to the nation the coming of One greater than himself. The five-fold ministers are also preparing God’s people to receive One greater than they. Compared to the glory that shall be revealed in the manifested Sons of God, we will be unworthy to unlatch their shoes.
As God anointed Bezaleel and Aholiab to build the tabernacle in the wilderness, God is anointing those of the five-fold ministry to build His spiritual house in this present age. He is filling us with His spirit, wisdom, understanding, knowledge, so that we can build His spiritual tabernacle. Through the apostles and prophets, God is continuing to reveal the divine blueprint for His glorious house. Through God’s plan, every facet of this living temple that we are constructing shows forth Christ. Yet, know this, beloved, there shall come a day when the House of God is complete and we will have finished our task.
For some of us, the completion of this task will be very traumatic, namely because our very identity is wrapped up in who we are in the ministry. God does not blame us. Many of us have suffered unspeakable hardships. We have toiled long and have given up much to answer the call of God on our lives. However, God is saying to you this day, the Spirit of ministry that is upon you is transitory, but His relationship with you is not. At some point in the future, the Spirit that empowers you shall decrease as it begins to increase upon the perfected body of Christ.
For years, John the Baptist, clothed in camel’s hair, lived alone with God in the wilderness. Perhaps the reason John was a voice crying in the wilderness was that no synagogue would let him in their doors. Yet, for one brief, shining moment, John rose above it all as the Spirit of Elijah came upon him. He said, “prepare ye the way of the Lord” as he baptized unto repentance in the River Jordan. The ministry that he had been preparing for from his mother’s womb was being fulfilled and his life’s purpose was being realized. Yet with all of his apparent success John, by revelation, said to his disciples:
He must increase, but I must decrease.
Like John, we of the five-fold ministry will have our day. God’s Spirit will come upon us, and we, too, will prepare the way of the Lord in His people. We shall shine and we shall do mighty exploits. Yet, when the body of Christ reaches the fullness of His stature, we must decrease.
There shall come a time, my friends, when the body of Christ will arise to perform the work of the ministry that we have carried upon our shoulders for so long. At that time, they must increase and we must decrease. This is because God does not want the focus to be on us any longer. Some of us, like John, may even be removed. God did not want the eyes of His people to be upon John, but upon Jesus. This is why he was allowed to be put in prison and martyred. Are we willing to let go and have God place the emphasis, anointing, and unction upon the body of Christ rather than upon us? Are we willing to step aside and watch as the manifested sons perform the ministry that we have labored so long in? Have we, as God’s husbandmen, been so long in God’s vineyard that we have begun to covet His land? Or, will we be faithful servants who will open wide the gates to God and say, “Look, Master, I’ve kept your vineyard, here it is, take it. My joy is that you have the increase.”
The word is UNTIL, that is, UNTIL Christ comes to possess that which He has entrusted to us. The power of the Spirit, and all that goes with the five-fold ministry, are only for a time and a season. They are just anointed offices given to men and women by the Holy Spirit and are not part of our own inherent abilities. We must realize that we are men and women that, without the Holy Spirit’s anointing, will become like anyone else.
As it is written:
Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? (KJV)
What had happened? Didn’t John baptize Jesus in the River Jordan and didn’t he know He was the Christ then? Didn’t the heavens open up, and the Spirit of God descend as a dove and say, “This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Yet, in prison, John doubted if Jesus truly was the Christ. The reason for John’s confusion was that his knowledge of who Jesus was did not come from his intellect, but from the Spirit that was upon him. When the Spirit of God lifted, so did the revelation he once had. Another example of this type of heavenly knowledge is when Peter answered Jesus and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus answered him saying, “Flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee.” Peter’s knowledge of who Christ was did not stem from what his eyes saw, but from what his spirit knew. John, in the same way, knew by revelation that Jesus was the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world. Therefore, as the Spirit decreased, so did the revelation that had been upon him, and he became only John.
There is coming a day, and I prophesy it by the word of the Lord, that the revelation, office, and power that are upon us shall lift and be transferred to the greater Christ that will be revealed in His perfected body. This body, when connected to the head, will be God manifest in the flesh. Emanuel will again walk the Earth and greater works shall we do. God will then ask those of the five-fold to make the sacrifice of John and decrease that He might increase.
A short work
It is commonly taught in fundamental circles that we are on the verge of the end of the Church Age and the return of Christ. If this be the case, then it follows that the perfection of the church is also at hand. Furthermore, if the scriptures state that our ministries are given UNTIL the saints are perfected, then the duration of the five-fold ministry must necessarily be short. Therefore, how long do you suppose it will be, UNTIL we are out of a job? How many of us are prepared for this eventuality? Would we suffer a major identity crisis if we were stripped of our ministry as John was? I dare say, there is hardly one of us that would not find these circumstances a severe test of our faith. Subtly, our identity and worth have become wrapped up in our ministry and in what we do for God. In reality, our true worth to God is in our personal love relationship with Him apart from our ministries. This confusion of who we are before God is a very real and present danger in the five-fold ministry.
As it is written:
For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife: for he had married her. For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife. (KJV)
If John would have thought about this particular hard saying, it might have occurred to him that such a course of action was not in the best interest of his ministry. As it was, he simply yielded to God as he had always done, and let the consequences unfold as they always did. God knew what the result of John’s action would be. Yet John’s apparent ministerial suicide was part of God’s greater plan, and justifies Christ calling him the greatest born among women.
Some of us find that we moderate or even refuse to speak the word that God gives us for fear of damaging our ministry. Many of us live and die by our precious reputations and protect them even at the cost of disobedience to our heavenly Father. If we neglect to take the course of action that God has clearly set before us, fearing that it will harm our ministry, we have become idolaters. We have compromised our calling and have made our ministry an Isaac before God. Pehaps you will you may be asked to sacrfice the thing you love so dearly and it is not a foregone conclusion that God will provide a ram. Wisdom dictates that we avoid the Mount Moriah journey altogether and simply resolve to fear God rather than man in every aspect of our ministry.
The UNTIL that God speaks of is coming sooner than we think. John the Baptist was removed at the very height of his ministry. Think about it. God is telling us these things in advance because He loves us. He does not want any of us to stumble when it is our time for the UNTIL to take effect. As ministers of the five-fold, our joy is to present a holy and spotless bride to Jesus. We must then step back and let Christ unite with His body so that, together, they can perform the work of the ministry.
…There hath not risen a greater…
Though John the Baptist died alone in a prison, Jesus said:
Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (KJV)
Besides Jesus, John was the greatest prophet ever born. We read of the mighty prophets of old such as Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel, yet Jesus said, John was greater than all of these. Why? John the Baptist was a friend of the Bridegroom. Once he performed the duties of his office, He willingly stepped aside and let God go on and manifest Himself in another. That is the essence of true greatness in the kingdom of God.
The apostolic office has not yet been restored to the Church. The prophetic office is just beginning to be restored. However, when the five-fold ministry is fully restored and starts to function as God intended, it will be a quick work. At the very height of the functioning of these offices, Christ will manifest through the saints, and we will have reached our UNTIL.
I am asking every one of you to come before the altar of God. Take the mantle that God has given you and lay it upon the altar, purposing in your heart to keep it there. Confess to Jesus that you know you have been given the ministry only for a time and a season. Ask Him to help you keep your office in proper perspective and your personal relationship with Him strong. Let our hearts be set upon Paul’s hope. As it is written:
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness that is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (KJV)