Jesus ascended back to heaven after His Resurrection to bring All to full consummation, to apply what He had secured by His finished work, and to accomplish what only Kingdom of God on earth could accomplish.
As He ascended to finish what His finished work enabled Him to finish, He bestowed some apostles, prophets, teachers, evangels, and shepherds as gifts to the saints. They prepare and position the saints to do the serving work that constructs Christ’s Ecclesia (Paul uses the metaphor of a body here), produces agreement in faith and knowing Jesus Christ in the fullness of the measure of His stature. This should also stop weakness and wandering, people wavering about because they lack a set foundation of teaching and behavior that keeps them from being blown around by breezes of other teachings inconsistent with the apostolic didache (a body of apostolic teaching that represents what Jesus taught as a “this we believe” for agreement.)
In this way, the leaders and the saints can speak the truth in love, progressing with momentum of maturity and growth in every way and all things, an increase that integrates the Head into the whole body, each member, though each connection.
Diminished by Doctrinalization
This fundamental Scripture has suffered from distressingly delusional and diminishing doctrinal distractions. First, many simply removed all the leadership that Jesus bestowed except the shepherd, with no Biblical reason at all. Second, the term “equipping” suffered from comic efforts to make it fit scenarios of “church members” that strain the imagination. Third, “body life” schematics arose with the concerted effort of fitting the depleted verses into a “this is how we do church” model Paul the apostle would have considered about as appropriate as whip cream on an onion. By the time church-anity finished with Paul’s revelation of kingdom leadership dynamics, Ecclesia construction, “the serving work,” and Christ’s full stature, the original concept that Jesus is bringing All to ultimate fulfillment became an afterthought.
Ask yourself, how many times have you heard anyone connect “ascended to bring All things to their ultimate fulfillment” with the fivefold ministry, the equipped Church, and the full operation of the Body?
So, people get this mushy, surface slush of serene serendipity syrup all over their psyches when they envision “Church” instead of grasping hold of what Jesus is doing and what Paul is describing. The sun is shining through a stained-glass window on a little American family of two children sitting enraptured for twenty-two minutes of choreographed religious litany…anyway. Our Saturday Evening Post cover adaptations of the kingdom weren’t Paul’s morning reading material when he was writing to the Ephesians.
Jesus has set up a spiritual, kingdom leadership process to prepare and positioned every believer as a fully functional part of a kingdom assembly, and when that assembled Ecclesia functions with spiritual, kingdom dynamics, it produces the outcomes Paul describes!
Prepared and Positioned
Each member is prepared and positioned to do serving work within the seven systems of the spiritual Body. This is a metaphor, so we need to address the meaning of this statement as Paul does, with metaphoric understanding. The term Paul uses here, katartismon, comes for two words that mean “adjust” and “according to,” when applied in this metaphor, with kingdom leadership dynamics and the end results Paul describes, we see the meaning as “proper adjusted to how that part will fit and operate where it is positioned.” Hence, a translation of “prepare and position.” The kingdom leaders prepare and position the holy ones to do the serving work.
A prepared and positioned woman, with gifts of healing, leadership, administration, and mercy to function in the ministry of Jesus, finished the course of preparation after being positioned to function in her calling and gifts. The pastor assigned her to be a hallway security monitor for Sunday School. Nothing else. Just that. Not as a test of character or faithfulness, mind you. A permanent, “we’ve found your place” in the ministry assignment.
“Thank you, ma’am, for preparing for three years to operate in your spiritual gifts, build your character, represent Jesus to hundreds of people, travel into nations, and do the ministry of Jesus. Now, please come every Sunday and stand here in the hallway for 45 minutes so none of these children run out into the street. That will be all.” Guidelines for her equipping included “don’t pray for anyone!” She finally became the admin assistant to the President of an international missions organization, thank God.
I have no problem with the hallway monitor assignment, but the idea that equipping the saints has something to do with standing in a hallway for 45 minutes once a week is preposterous and down right insulting to God! If it doesn’t make your blood boil that this woman’s experience represents the “equipping vision” of the modern American church, you lack the passion of the Father for His people and His purposes!
Prepared and positioned has to do each member of the Body operating in a way that produces the results Paul discusses so Jesus, through His Body can finished His finished work. His finished work provides what is needed to finish His work, and the finishing work must be done by the saints, by the Body, by the kingdom of God functioning in the earth. If Jesus were going to do it Himself, it would already be done! If we were waiting on Jesus to get it all together, He would already be here!
The finishing work of His finished work must be applied to people! We are His finishing work, finished by His finished work at the Cross and Resurrection!
His Design and Diligence
Paul says that Jesus bestowed kingdom leaders to prepare and position, and that the success, effectiveness, and establishing of that process would produce oneness with the Head.
Consider how many people assume that being in the Body means they don’t need any leader telling them how to act let alone leaders who prepare and position them to function in that Body. Consider that being in the Body doesn’t mean you automatically “increase with respect to the Head.” The point Paul makes here is that Jesus designed kingdom leadership dynamics bestowed upon the Body as apostle, prophet, teacher, evangel, and shepherd that increase each individual and the whole of the Body in its maturity and capacity to increase with respect to the Head.
The process produces a Body that measures up to the Head in stature, and until it measures up to the Head in the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, it remains far too weak to have “increased with respect to the Head.” The Head isn’t going to do this preparation and positioning work. According to the Bible, Jesus bestowed upon the Ecclesia dynamics of kingdom leadership to prepare and position believers so the Body could mature in agreement and understanding, speak truth in love as a communication system, and increase with respect to the Head so that the Head, Jesus Christ, has a Body that can implement what the Head is thinking.