If man could understand and correctly apply the scriptures on their own, then Jesus Christ would not have needed to spend three and a half years of extensive earthly ministry. If just having the written Word of God was enough, then God would not have had to send so many preachers and prophets to Israel throughout history. The plan of God has always been to send Godly men who would hear His voice to expound upon the scripture and lead the people of God closer to Him. A sign of Israel’s rebellion was that they refused to hear the messengers appointed by God to minister (Acts 7:51-53). In other words, a warning sign of someone going astray is when they feel that they no longer need a preacher or a minister in their life to help them draw closer to God.
God, Himself, has ordained the principle of ministry and preaching to help saints grow closer to Him. Notice the following scriptures:
1 Corinthians 1:21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. NIV
True believers are saved through the “foolishness of what was preached.” It does seem, to the natural mind, crazy to think of others patiently listening to someone else talk and exhort with fervency about a book, but that is the plan that God has chosen to bring salvation into this world!
Titus 1:2-3 In hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began 3 and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; ESV
The word “manifested” means “to make visible” or “to reveal.” God has chosen to use preaching and thus a preacher to reveal His word and illuminate the correct way to apply it to our lives.
Rom 10:14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? ESV
Rom 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. ESV
God uses preaching to bring faith in our lives so that we can receive everything that He has for us. Without a preacher, you would not grow very close to God because your faith would not be challenged to trust more and more in God. Everyone needs a man of God in their life to reveal and help apply the scriptures. Perhaps the story of Philip and the Eunuch best illustrates this truth:
Acts 8:30-31 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. ESV
When you read the entire story, Philip was having terrific revival in Samaria and God commanded him to leave the revival and go to a specific lonely spot in the desert. When Philip got to the place, he saw a chariot traveling into the desert with an Ethiopian man reading the book of Isaiah. When Philip ran to him and asked the man “do you understand what you are reading about?” The Ethiopian confessed that he did not and said “how can I, unless someone guides me?” He was reading a prophecy about how Jesus Christ would suffer and thought that the passage was talking about Isaiah himself. As Philip began to tell him the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the man believed what was being told. Before the day was over, the man had been baptized in the name of Jesus and received the Holy Ghost! Philip had performed the same ministry to the Ethiopian that Jesus had for the disciples after His resurrection, by explaining scripture correctly and bringing revelation and thus faith and salvation.
No doubt there has been a passage of scripture that you have read many times but really did not understand the importance or how to correctly apply it to your life until a minister or a wise saint began to explain it with other scriptures that correlated. That is because God calls and uses men to help apply the scriptures to our lives. You need a minister for that very purpose in your life!
The Five-Fold Ministry
There are five distinct offices to which God calls men when He calls them into the ministry. They are found in the following scripture:
Eph 4:11And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, ESV
The five-fold ministry in order is then:
There is quite a controversy over the term “apostle” today. We do not have the time to delve off into the many varied beliefs, but I would like to point out one refutation of a dangerous misconception. Many people teach that if a person is an Apostle, then they have the right to write scripture. While it is true that there were Apostles who were called to write scripture, that is not true for all of them (such as Barnabas, for example). We must remember that to write scripture, one had to be an “eye witness” of the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ and had to have Him appear to them (2 Peter 1:16). This is why the Apostle Paul called himself an “apostle born out of due time” because Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus (1 Corinthians 15:8-9). For Paul to have the authority to write scripture, he had to have such an experience. You and I today cannot add our own books to the Word of God because we were not eye witnesses of the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. The job of the ministry today is to teach the principles found in the perfect Word of God.
Also note that within scripture, we find not just men but women working and filling offices of ministry. Junia was an apostle (Romans 16:7) and Deborah was the judge and “spiritual direction giver” of all of Israel (Judges 4-5). Philip’s four daughters were prophetesses (Acts 21:8-9). There were many women who reached out to the lost in ministry as evangelists (see Romans 16 for many examples). Among teachers there are also examples within the church. For instance, Rufus’ mother became a mother figure in the Apostle Paul’s life (Romans 16:13) and Priscilla taught Apollos in the ways of the Lord along with her husband Aquilla (Acts 18:24-26).
The Purpose of the Five-Fold Ministry
The scripture in Ephesians goes on to tell us why God ordained such a system of ministry:
Eph 4:12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, ESV
There are three purposes given here:
Eph 4:13-15 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, ESV
The ministry is to keep working, exhorting, preaching, and reaching until all come into the unity of the faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ and become mature Christians that are no longer easily swayed by every “new belief” that men create but become Christians who are well grounded in the Word of God and able to produce fruit for the kingdom of God.
Your pastor is special because he is the one who God has called to be your spiritual shepherd and to protect you, guide you, feed you, correct you, nurture you, and help you mature. The Apostle Peter wrote about the duties of the pastor/shepherd:
1 Peter 5:1-4 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. ESV
The Pastor is commanded to perform several duties here and throughout the scripture:
Ezek 33:7-9 “So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 8 If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 9 But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. ESV
Heb 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. ESV
One day the pastor must give an account of you to Jesus Christ, the “chief shepherd!” We will all be judged according to whether or not we obeyed them and submitted ourselves to their leadership. Listen to your pastor, he prays and fasts for your souls!
There are other responsibilities of the local minister given in scripture. The pastors must also:
The Saints’ Responsibilities to the Pastor and Ministry
The saints have some scriptural duties and guidelines to make sure that the relationship between them and the ministry stays correct and Godly. Here are some of the responsibilities to the ministry:
God has placed the five-fold ministry and in particular pastors within our lives to help us to live Godly in Christ Jesus. Submit to them, honor them, and when the “Chief Shepherd” Jesus Christ comes, you will find yourself rewarded with eternal life. God not only wanted to deliver you from your sins but also to see you become fruitful in the kingdom of God. The ministry has been sent to help you become all that God wants you to be. God’s plan is perfect and we cannot help but see positive results when we submit to the leadership ordained by God.