1. Ministry gifts
Purpose for the ministry gifts:
Ephesians 4:11-13: “Andhe gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:”
Equip saints for work of ministry. It is not God’s will that the ministry in the church is only performed by one or two special people. We are all called into the ministry. Ephesians 4:16: “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every jointsupplies.” We also read in 1 Corinthians 14.26: “How is it then, brethren? When you come together, every one of you has a psalm, has a doctrine, hath a tongue, has a revelation, and has an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.” These gifts are not only to serve the church but also to prepare each member to fulfill their ministry and calling.
To edify body of Christ. The main emphasis of these ministries should be to edify and encourage the church. We read about the ministry of Paul in the book of Acts, of how he continually strengthened and encouraged the believers. We read in 2 Corinthians 10.8:“For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction.” Although rebuke is sometimes necessary, the highest priority should be to encourage and edify the church. Titus 2.15: “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority.”
They are to lead by exampleand not control and dominate the church. 1 Peter 5.3: “Neither as being Lords over the church but examples to the flock.”
Not all are called to these ministry gifts: It is important to note that although not all are called to these gifts, it is good to desire them. We read in 1 Timothy 3.1: “If a man desires a position of a bishop (pastor), he desires a good work.” If we have a desire for the ministry gifts, then we are probably called to them. However, God may still have to take some of us through a period of training before we are ready to function in these gifts. It is important to note that it is the anointing of the Holy Spirit that qualifies us for these gifts and not just our diplomas or our degrees. We read about what Nebuchadnezzar said to Daniel in Daniel 4.18: “You are able, for the Spirit of the Holy God is in you.”
How do we know that someone is called to these gifts? By their fruit! If we are teachers, we should have students. If we are apostles, we should plant churches! If we are evangelists we should regularly lead people to Jesus. If we are pastors, then we should have flocks.
What about titles?There is no mention of any titles in the New Testament. Paul referred to an office of an apostle. Peter referred to his office as a teacher and elder. The church is a family. When Paul writes to the church, he calls himself Paul. However, for the sake of respect we can call someone by the title “pastor” or “bishop.” But this in turn should not put a gap between us and our leaders.
How should we treat these ministry gifts? With respect! We honor the Lord by honoring their position. 1 Timothy 5.17: “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine.”
A brief description of these gifts:
Apostles: The word apostle was first referred to by the Romans. It was the ship that led a fleet of ships to establish a Roman government in a country that they had conquered. Therefore, the ministry of an apostle is not only to plant churches, but establish “church government” in a new area. This is what Paul did when he visited the churches that He had planted. He appointed pastors and elders.
The word apostle comes from the Greek word “apostalos” which means “someone that is sent.” Therefore, an apostle can be someone who plants churches in a new area, or a pioneer missionary. However, not everyone who starts a church is an apostle! It is usually someone who starts a movement of new churches. In Mark 3:14we read, “He appointed the twelve that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach.”
There are more than 12 apostles mentioned in the Bible. Timothy, Paul, Silas and Apollos were also apostles. In fact there are about 20 apostles mentioned in New Testament. It is also possible for women to also be apostles. For example, Priscilla (Romans 16:3) and Junias (Romans 16:7) were also apostles. We have modern day examples such as Heidi Baker who has planted many churches in Africa and Aimee McPherson who planted more than 500 churches and started a movement that has 4 000 churches in the USA.
An apostle is also a ‘father’ ministry that leads other ministries. These are often mature leaders that train and lead other leaders under them. (1 Corinthians 4:15) Furthermore, an apostle usually has a strong anointing to perform signs, wonder and miracles. 2 Corinthians 12.12:“Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you … in signs, wonders and mighty deeds.”
The gift of an apostle is the highest of the ministry gifts. It is possible for someone to grow into this gift. He can start off as a pastor and later become an apostle. We have the example of Paul. In Acts 13:2he was first a teacher and a prophet. Afterwards he became an apostle when he was sent out by the church. Therefore, an apostle can usually operate in all the other ministry gifts.
Prophets: A prophet is someone who gives prophetic direction to the church. One of the definitions of a prophet is found in Numbers 12.6:“If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord will make Myself known to him in a vision, I will speak to him in a dream.” It is a person that often has dreams and visions from the Lord.
The ministry of a prophet is a recognized leadership gift and is more than someone who give prophecies. In Ephesians 2:20it says we are built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets. The prophet often helps the apostle with prophetic direction and confirmation. We have the example of Agabus in Acts 22:10.
A prophet is recognized by the validation of his prophesies. What He prophesies, must come to pass! Jeremiah 28.9: “When the word of the prophet comes to pass, then the prophet shall be known as one whom the Lord has truly sent.”
Evangelists: There are not many evangelists mentioned in the Book of Acts. Philip was an evangelist (Acts 21:8) and Stephen who was martyred was probably also an evangelist. An evangelist has an unusual anointing to lead people to salvation in Christ. He or she usually has an anointing to perform miracles and healings.Mark 16.15-16: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel … these signs shall follow those who believe…”
However, although this is the scarcest of all ministry gifts, we are allcalled to do the work of an evangelist. (2 Tim 4:5). Evangelism adds the ‘spark’ to all the other ministry gifts. For example, a good pastor is one who leads people to Christ. Leading people to Christ should always be our highest priority. The evangelist should work in a team. For example Philip, he preached in Samaria but invited Peter and John to come and establish the church (Acts 8)
Pastors. This is the most common of the ministry gifts. The word pastor comes from the word ‘pasture’. Therefore, he or she is a shepherd to the sheep. Therefore, one of the ways to identify the anointing of the pastor is that people like to gather around them. They have a gift of hospitality and are people that love to be with people.
It is important that a pastor does not neglect his personal relationshipwith the Lord. Jeremiah 10:21“The shepherds have become dull hearted and have not sought the Lord, Therefore, they shall not prosper and their flocks shall be scattered.”
A good pastor should be able to feed the flock and have the ability to teach and preach. Jeremiah 3:15, “I will give you shepherds according to my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” 1Timothy 5.17: “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine.”
Acts 20.28:(This is Paul’s instructions to the pastors at Ephesus.) “Take heed to yourselves and the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Firstly, They must take heed to themselves. They must pay attention to their own spiritual lives as well as the flock. A pastor should have a strong personal relationship with the Lord. Secondly,The ministry of the pastor is given by the Holy Spirit, and is a high calling. Thirdly, The flock belongs to God. A pastor must realize that he does not own the sheep, but he has been given the responsibility to look after God’s sheep.
Proverbs 27:23-27. “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks. (Verse 26) The lambs will provide your clothing and the goats the price of a field (Verse 27) You shall have enough goats milk for you food, for the food of your household….” To be a pastor is a calling and not just a job. Therefore, he should not motivated by money. However, if the pastor cares for sheep well, they will take care of him.
1 Peter 5:2-4: “Shepherd the flock, serving as overseers, not by compulsion, but willingly. Not for dishonest gain, but eagerly; not being lords over those whom the Lord has entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of glory that does not fade away.” There are great rewards in eternity for those who have been faithful pastors on earth.
Teachers: We have example of Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13:1, and Apollos in Acts 18:26-28. For example, Appolos was “sharp in the word.” A teacher loves the word and people enjoy listening to him. He has the ability to make complicated truths simple. We read in Nehemiah 8.8:“So they (the teachers) read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.” A teacher has the ability to help people understand God’s word.
Finally: The ministry gifts described in Ephesians 4is a quote from Psalm 68:18where we read, “You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts among men, even from the rebellious, That the Lord God might dwell there.” The last phrase says, “that the Lord might dwell there.” Therefore the highest purpose of these gifts is to reveal and God to people and bring His presence to them. Amen