Jesus — Builder of the Ekklesia

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Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

Matthew 16:18

Imagine that a friend of yours buys a house in your neighborhood. He lives just down the street from you and you visit his house frequently. The house looks great to you. But then something happens one day that takes you back. Construction crews start showing up and launch an entire home remodel. This is surprising because your friend’s  house was absolutely fine just the way it was, or so you thought.

You watch fine cabinets be replaced with different ones, doors pulled out, and windows re-cut. You observe walls being shifted and floor paneling peeled back and put down differently.

Why? Because, even though all that existing material was good, it wasn’t according to their ultimate vision of your friend’s idea for a house. So it really wasn’t useful. As the owner of the house, your friend didn’t care how good or decent something was—he was only interested in building according to his vision. And rightly so, because the house belongs to him.

This  story applies to the Christian life. If we read Scripture carefully,  we discover that God has been working on a building project since before the foundation of the universe. And He is totally committed to completing it according to His heavenly vision or eternal purpose.

As we discover more about God in Christ as a wise masterbuilder, we find this truth everywhere. Consider that the first and most important result of Christ’s ascension is the birth of the ekklesia.

Mark tells us that after His ascension, Jesus “worked with” the apostles and “confirmed” the Word with signs (Mark 16:20).

For what reason? To build His ekklesia on earth.

Hebrews tells us that not only is Jesus Christ our high priest, but He’s also our apostle—the builder of His house:

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. (3:1–4 NIV)

The Lord Jesus builds His ekklesia by two means: (1) by calling some of His servants to plant His church and equip the saints, and (2) by endowing His people with spiritual giftings.

In that connection, I’m often asked, “Do you believe in the fivefold ministry? And do you believe that God is restoring it today?” I’ll begin this chapter by answering those questions, because they have everything to do with how Jesus builds His ekklesia today. Please consider my remarks in the context of the story I told at the beginning, and the larger truths I’ve been presenting in this book.

Our God isn’t so interested in remote and ideological doctrines that are more true than useful. He’s committed to a heavenly building plan, and He is working accordingly. Your Lord interested in functionality more than form.

First off, my answer largely hinges on what one means by the “fivefold ministry.” In other words, what “fivefold ministry” are we talking about? Are we talking about the two-hundred-year-old doctrine of the restoration of the “fivefold ministry”? Or are we talking about the ascension gifts that Paul had in mind when he penned Ephesians 4:9–16?

From Jesus Now by Frank Viola author

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