The body of Christ has many members. I once tried to see whether 1 Corinthians 12's description of body parts could have been compared to the five gifts of leadership (five fold ministry) found in Ephesians 4. I'm still unsure. The only body part that I'm certain of who fills that role is that of the head. Yes, that's right: Jesus is the head of the Church. Perhaps the apostles could have been likened to the feet seeing they travelled two by two, are foundational and determine the stance of the Church through doctrine taught. Jesus interestingly washed all their feet on the night He was being given into the hands of men. Today though, one body part stands out and it's because of two words which are resonating strongly within me. That body part is ears, and those words are: take heed.
I am going to go out on a literal limb at this moment and at the risk of being wrong theologically, liken bishops (also called elders or presbyters in the Bible) to the ears of the body, specifically for this exhortation.
"This know also, that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, GIVING HEED!! to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils." Paul wrote these words to Timothy right after he reminded Timothy of the qualities that Timothy should be looking for in selecting men at Ephesus to be elders of the Church there (1 Tim 1:3). Paul was no doubt concerned with Ephesus, and their ability to stand in the end. He spoke at length on his very last visit there, to the bishops of the Ephesian Church (Acts 20:17):
27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
28 TAKE HEED!! therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
Despite over 3 years of tear-filled day and night preaching and teaching by one of the greatest New Covenant teachers; despite a careful, prayerful scrutiny of selection of elders by Paul's protege Timothy; and despite a letter of divine insight into Godly living written directly to them, the church of Ephesus was unable to walk much less stand in the vocation wherewith she was called (Ephesians 4:1). Instead the Ephesian Church was blown away from their original position by a very deceitful and crafty wind of doctrine spoken by spurious men.
When John, the last living apostle was writing the last book of the Bible, the very first Church that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself instructed him to write to was the Ephesian Church (Rev. 2:1). The commendation to this Church was that they knew HOW to identify apostles. Not surprising since after all, the consummate apostle was intimate with them. They also opposed Nicolaitian doctrine which the very name suggests that it was a teaching which sought to conquer and rule over people. Additionally, they knew how to labour in Jesus name. This church seems great as I read.
But as I read closer on and see God's lament over them, what comes to my mind is a Church that has walked ahead of Christ. The Lord said they left their first love. His solution to them is to go back. He told them to repent. Repentance normally is done from turning backwards to moving forward. But here the Lord is telling them to turn back in order to go to their first love. His admonition to them is to revert to their first works. The fact is that they were hard labourers for God, but somewhere along the lines, they started to do additional second works, thinking contrary. We must be very very careful of the doctrines that we incorporate which we know cannot be directly found in Scripture, even if it seems logical and spiritual. Chances are it may look divine but in reality is as devilish as the devil who transforms himself into an angel of light.
And this is where I shudder. About 2000 years have passed since this writing. Deceitful men have multiplied. Devilish doctrines have grown up. Entire assemblies have been led astray. Much preaching and teaching have been constructed using books and opinions of men. Some have even taken a liking to watching videos and imitating not only the content of internet preachers but also their mannerisms. But here comes the Word of God: are you giving heed or taking heed?
Those that take heed are those who have a readiness of mind to search the Scriptures. They will not run with every message that is exciting. The primary source of hearing from the Lord are in the Word of God and in praying in the Spirit. They will respect and hear their leaders, but will evaluate their leaders by the Word and not evaluate the word by their leaders. Those that take heed are not amused by names of ministers, by assemblies or new revelations. They do not assess a person's relationship with the Lord by public displays. Those that take heed actively search diligently, understanding the value of the process of drawing near to God.
Those that give heed are overly concerned with people, organizations and events. The first thing those who give heed to will ask about an event is who will be there. Like in the days of Ezekiel, they want to hear a man who will be unto them as a song. Those that give heed use charisma to evaluate anointing. Simply put, those that give heed are passive in hearing the Word of God. They await it either as a king awaits his platter, haughtily; or as a beggar awaits alms, weakly.
Acts 3:4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. 5 And he GAVE HEED unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
This lame man that was healed was so helpless that he depended on the kindness of passing people to give him strength. Many in the church are like this, forgetting God's word that the Word is near us, even in our heart to the point where we dont have to wonder who, but we just have to focus on how it will come. There's nothing wrong in having faith in people, but for the fact that we fail each other many times, it's better to trust in God wholeheartedly. Suppose he gave heed to the wrong people?
Those that give heed will soon find either they are receiving poison and tares for the Word of God, or are so lackadaisical that when they do receive the Word of God it is either choked out by cares of life, or devoured by spiritual vultures. But those that take heed will treasure time spent in the stillness, either through Godly fellowship or individual times of devotion.
What are our ears turned to? The next convention/onvocation, the next scandal, fables of men, the next prophecy or tv preacher? What are our ears turned away from? The law, the truth, the Word of God, Godly leaders and teachers? The Lord gave the reason why He doesn't answer some prayers in proverbs 28: because our ears are turned from hearing the law, our prayers have become something he hates. It has become high time for bible studies both personal and corporate to become high priority.