As we have covered before, a basic statement of what we're called to as the Body of Christ is found in 1 Corinthians 1:4-7: "I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift..."
First, "in everything" we are being enriched in Him in "all speech and all knowledge." The normal Christian life is one of continual enrichment of speech and knowledge. This begins with speech because we are to be representatives of the Word of God. The knowledge we are being enriched in is the knowledge of God. This is a continually increasing knowledge of His ways, but also a continually increasing perspective that comes from His perspective. This is basic to the maturing Christian life, but there is more.
The Goal of the Local Body
The testimony of Christ is confirmed in us when "you are not lacking in any gift." This is when all the gifts of the Spirit that Jesus walked in, which have now been given to His Body, are manifested in our local Body of Believers. Then Jesus is free to move there just as He did when He walked the earth.
The goal of every local Body, every local church, should be the full manifestation of Jesus in their midst. This is, as we are told in Ephesians 4:13, the purpose of the equipping ministries, so that we grow up "until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ."
This is why we exist as a local Body of Believers, and so it must continually be our vision. It will not happen overnight, but we should be making continual progress by "speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the Head, even Christ, from whom the whole Body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the Body for the building up of itself in love"(Ephesians 4:15-17).
Therefore, our basic purpose as a local Body of Believers is to grow up into Christ, to be filled with His Spirit, and to manifest Him in every way. This must always remain the foundation of our vision.
From the inception of Morning Star over thirty years ago, we have sought to fulfill the Ephesians 4 mandate. We have had some success. Through our prophetic ministries, we have helped tens of thousands to know their ministries and gifts and many come to see their purpose. Through our schools, churches, and conferences, we have been able to teach, train, and equip many who are now having an impact for the Kingdom. However, in the equipping of the saints to do the work of the ministry, we still have far to go to be as effective as we are called to be.
Jesus' Disciples and His Church
The most basic way that the Lord gave for His people to be raised up and equipped is discipleship. Because of a discipleship movement that went awry in some areas in the 1970s, it has now been decades since the Church as a whole has been willing to embrace this again. However, we must because it is the main thing we are called to, if we are to fulfill The Great Commission which is to make disciples not just converts.
For this reason, we can expect discipleship to become an emphasis again. Hopefully the lessons from the 1970s will have been learned so that we do not have to learn them again. I personally think the most important lesson is that we are called to make people into Jesus' disciples, not our disciples. We must also guard against the control spirit that will almost always seek to supplant the Holy Spirit as our Guide.
Presently, I am only aware of a few places where this is a purpose of the local church (to equip all of their members). Even in the most effective at this time, only a small percentage of their members are truly being equipped and released into their purpose.
However, as we approach the time of the greatest ingathering in history, we can be sure that this will be ramping up and become a major emphasis of the Body of Christ. When this begins to happen, we will see the Church quickly become many times more effective than it is now.
This will ultimately be a movement that changes the Church more than anything since the beginning of the Reformation when faith, salvation, and our relationship to Christ became personal again. It was crucial for these to be restored to the Church, but what is coming will be the power of the presence of the Lord being restored to His Church. He is going to come in His people before He comes for them. To be used in the ministries and gifts of the Spirit is to have Christ manifesting in His people.
Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries and Heritage International Ministries and is the Senior Pastor of MorningStar Fellowship Church. He is the author of more than forty books, including The Final Quest, A Prophetic History, and Church History. He is also the president of The OAK Initiative, an interdenominational movement that is mobilizing thousands of Christians to be engaged in the great issues of our times, being the salt and light that they are called to be. Rick and his wife, Julie, have five children: Anna, Aaryn, Amber, Ben, and Sam.
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