So, having seen that Christ's Ascension lies behind His Headship His Church, let's go on to have a look at an important expression of that Headship. Ephesians 4:11 mentions 5 gifts given by Christ to His Church: 'And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.' In Apostolic theology these 5 gifts used to be referred to as the Headship Ministries, because they are ways in which the Headship of Christ is expressed in His Body, the Church. Christ is explicitly called Apostle, Prophet, Teacher and Pastor (Shepherd) in Scripture, and the verb-form of evangelist is also used of Him. So the ultimate expression of each of these five ministries is Christ Himself. That means that any man who is an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher is expressing something of the Head's ministry to His Body. Christ gives men as apostles to express something of His apostleship, etc.
Today we usually refer to these 5 gifts as Ascension Ministries, for the context in Ephesians 4 makes clear that they are given by Christ as a result of His Ascension (see Eph 4:8-11). That means that the fact that we have apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in the Church today is a benefit of Christ's Ascension. So the next time you're helped by your pastor, edified by a teacher, or sit under the ministry of the prophet, remember that all of this is the result of the Ascension.
Christ's Headship rests on the Ascension and so does the expression of His Headship in the Body.
Thus the Church exists within the context of the gifts of Christ's Ascension.
- Christ pours out the Holy Spirit upon the Church to empower her for Christ's service.
- The Father gave Christ as Head to the Church.
- Christ gave gifts of men to the Church to express that Headship.
Behind all of this lies the Ascension of Christ, an event of great theological importance.