An Architect Sees the Blueprint
It’s similar to what we’ve been talking about. Everyone who has Jesus inside and has gifts—which is everyone who is a Christian—has something to offer the Body of Christ, right? Man uses this word “ministry” but it is actually not in the Greek text. It’s a bad English translation.
Well, what is the word that should be used?
Service. Act of service would be a better translation of the word. A servant, that’s all it is. The Greek word means servant; it does not mean minister.
That’s the slang and would mean a bond-servant or slave.
What’s the Greek word for ministry?
Yes, exactly. That’s translated deacon…
Which is stewardship.
Yeah…it would be to take what you have and use it. Everybody who is being faithful would want to take what they have and use it. Paul said he was the chief of sinners and the least of saints. He also said that he was going to work harder than all the rest with the gift of God that was within Him (1Cor. 15:10). He was going to work as hard as he could with whatever he had. And that changed the world, of course. But there were other apostles that you never hear from again after Acts 2. They were in the upper room and then they disappear.
But they said Paul was an apostle. Are you one?
In this world I’m not as comfortable thinking about that as I would be in another world. : ) Do you know why? Because in this world, people are so ambitious. They use names and titles and positions to try to get something for themselves.
They use those things as leverage.
Paul described them as the so-called “super apostles” to the Corinthians (2Cor. 11). He said, “I may not be an apostle to anyone else, but surely I am to you” (1Cor. 9:2). What he described as apostle was a relational gift. He said, “Look at what’s happened inside of you, and you tell me if I’m an apostle. Then I won’t have to decide. I may not be one to anyone else, but surely I am to you.” He said, “See if I pass the test. Do you see the fruit? Examine yourself. See if you’re in the faith. See if I pass the test. You’ve had ten thousand teachers or tutors, but not many fathers. Now that you are fathered, you answer that question” (2Cor. 13:5-6; 1Cor. 4:15).
So he established his position with them based on the fruit among them as opposed to a title. In Paul’s world, the word apostle meant emissary or sent one. In our world, it means somebody that wants to be powerful, rich, important and controlling. In our religious world it means something different than it did in Paul’s world.
In England if there is a “ministry” it refers to something such as the Ministry of Agriculture or the Ministry of Finance, right? In America, a greedy, religious man who wants to control people has a “ministry.”
Yes. The word doesn’t mean the same in America as it does in England. In England it describes an area of expertise where people are dedicated to a particular purpose such as agriculture.
There is no such word in the American government system. Instead, a person might be called a cabinet member or work in the Office of Agriculture.
A secretary, yes, but there is no such thing as a Ministry of Agriculture in America. “Ministry” in the United States is only a religious word and a “minister” is only about a person who wants to own a position and have everything revolve around them. “This is my ministry…mine…mine…mine.” Everyone else serves their vision. “This is my ministry. You do what I say and you serve my vision. This is my ministry.”
Similar to the word minister in America is the word apostle because it implies someone that wants to be important. To Paul, what it meant instead was “emissary” and someone with a particular kind of gift like architect. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3, “I’m a master builder.” Architekton is the Greek word. What he was saying was, “I’m an architect so I can see the blueprint. I don’t pound all the nails, and I don’t install the plumbing or run the electrical wires. I’m not the person who tells everybody what to do, but I can see the blueprint well enough to know that the framers better get there before the plumbers.”
It’s the gift of leadership. Sternsmanship is the Greek word there. He helps to guide. Maybe he doesn’t provide all the power. Maybe he doesn’t provide all the wind but he cooperates with the wind and helps decide the direction along with everyone else that’s in the boat. It’s a true gift and an essential gift, but at the same time, “Call no man leader.” That came out of the Lord’s own mouth. “Don’t call any man your leader. Don’t call any man your teacher. I am your teacher” (Matt.23:8-10).
So how do you reconcile, “Call no man leader” with the gift of leadership? I submit it’s the way I’m describing and it’s as a hundred mothers, brothers and sisters. It’s holding hands together where I can hold a child’s hand and help them see the blueprint and help them know their part. I’m not telling everybody what to do. I’m not the official “giver of all sermons,” but I’m helping them fulfill their gift, seamlessly and quietly. Perhaps even often invisibly I’m kicking a brother in the shin when we both know that he ought to be saying what’s on his heart. I look across a sea of faces in a room and into a brother’s eyes and say, “You have something to say, don’t you?” And the brother says, “Well…yes…I do.” “Then do it!” It’s just like when you know what the look means in your children’s eyes.
That’s the gift of apostleship because I’m helping him fulfill his life and do what he’s meant to do. Maybe he’s tentative about it or a little fearful or uneasy or he doesn’t trust himself. That’s ok. Humility is a good quality, but fear isn’t. So how do you help someone stay humble while not being fearful? Well, that’s part of the gift of apostleship.
In the Greek again…we’ve had a good time with the Greek words today. You brought up the verse in Ephesians 4 and I’m glad you did. “God ascended on High and gave gifts.” That is unmerited favor. It isn’t something somebody deserves because they’re so good, or they’re important or they deserve it. It’s unmerited favor. God gave some gifts to be for the equipping of the church. The gifts He gave to the Church were the giving of part of Himself. One part of Himself was architekton or architect. He also gave a prophetic gift. He gave the Good News teller. (“Evangelist” is a bad translation). And there’s the gift of shepherd. (“Pastor” is a terrible translation and that verse in Ephesians 4 is the only time in the English that anyone even dared to translate that word that way. It’s the same word normally translated shepherd.) And there is teacher.
He ascended on high and gave parts of Himself as a gift to the Church. “I’ll give you a beautiful gift. I’ll give you this part of Myself, this form of leadership, this form of prophetic insight, and this form of line-upon-line, precept-upon-precept teaching. I’ll give you those who give proclamation of the Good News. I’ll give these gifts, but not all are apostles and not all are prophets. I give first the apostle, second prophet and then teacher” (1Cor. 12:28). So we even have some sense of priority in God’s mind about what’s most important in the matter of building. It’s not that one person is more important than another because the Blood is the same for all. You’ll never get better than that and you’ll never get worse than that. The Blood of Jesus is the same for all. So those gifts don’t make some people better than other people. The gifts just play a fundamental, foundational role in helping to build the house.
I would submit that if an architect can see the blueprint, then most of what he does beyond that is to help the tradesmen fulfill their parts and use their gifts. An architect may not be able to pound a nail very well. He just continually hurts himself when he tries to do someone else’s gift. : ) At the same time, what is the good of a framer or carpenter without an architect? It would be total chaos. What they would build would be total nonsense. And what could an architect have without the framer? Nothing. He’d just have a dream, a vision and something to talk about, but it wouldn’t take shape. It only takes form as he helps everyone else find their place and do their part. That’s the gift of apostle in the true sense. It’s the gift of master builder or master architekton, as Paul described it.