Editorial: John Calvin: Reflecting Upon One Of God’s Gifts To The Church -- By: Stephen J. Wellum

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 13:4 (Winter 2009)
Article: Editorial: John Calvin: Reflecting Upon One Of God’s Gifts To The Church
Author: Stephen J. Wellum

Editorial: John Calvin:
Reflecting Upon One Of God’s Gifts To The Church

Stephen J. Wellum

Stephen J. Wellum is Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Wellum received his Ph.D. degree in theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and has also taught -theology at the Associated Canadian Theological Schools and Northwest Baptist Theological College and Seminary in Canada. He has contributed to several publications and a collection of essays on theology and worldview issues.

In Eph 4:1-16, the apostle Paul, after exhorting the church to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, and after reminding her of the oneness of Christ’s body brought about by the sovereign Triune work of God in salvation, beautifully goes on to describe that part of the Lord’s victorious work was to pour out gifted leaders to the church for her growth and edification. As our Lord accomplished our redemption in his glorious cross-work, resurrection, and ascension, he not only poured out the Holy Spirit for us at Pentecost, he also gave to the church various leaders in order “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 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, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (vv. 12-14, ESV). This text, along with many more throughout the New Testament, establishes the importance of Christian leaders for the church—leaders who are nothing less than gifts of the risen, exalted Christ—for the good and benefit of the people of God. Here we have the beautiful balance between the entire people of God as those who know the Lord, who have direct access to him through Christ, and who are all gifted by the Spirit for works of service due to the inauguration of the new covenant, and the important role that God-ordained and called leaders play within the church. Even within the church where the entire covenant community is regenerate, gifted, and empowered by the Spirit, there is still a unique role for pastors, teachers, and leaders. In fact, without them, the church would be impoverished and unable to grow to full maturity in Jesus Christ our Lord.

When we think of such gifts, certainly we ought

to think of our present leaders—pastors, teachers, and so on—in our local churches. But it is also important that we do not limit our thoughts on...

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