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Gift-based ministry and the issue of the Calling

Ministry GIFTS OF THE CHURCH

Eph 4:11 “It 'was he who gave some to be apostles," some to-be
prophets, some to be evangelists, "and some to be pastors and
teachers.”

THE GIVER. Eph 4:11 lists the ministry gifts (i.e., gifted spiritual leaders) that‘Ch1ist gave to
the church. Paul states that Christ gave these ministry gifts:

1. For preparing God’s people for works of service (4:12)


2. For the spiritual growth -and development of the body of Christ-as God
intended. (4:13—16)

The APOSTLES.
The title “apostle” applies to certain leaders in the NT. The verb apostelliõ means to send
someone on a special mission as a messenger and personal representative of the one
who sends The title is used ‘of Christ (Heb 3:1), the twelve disciples (Mt 10:2), and Paul.

a. The term “apostle” was used in the NT in a general sense‘ for a commissioned
representative of a church, such as the first Christian missionaries. Therefore, in the NT
“apostle” referred to any messenger appointed and sent as a missionary or for some
other special responsibility“ (see Ac 14:4,14; R0 16:7; 2C0 8:23; Php 2:25). They were
men who manifested extraordinary spiritual leadership, were anointed with the power
to confront directly the powers of darkness-‘and to confirm the gospel with miracles,
and were“dedicated to establishing churches according to apostolic truth~and purity.

These itinerant servants risked their lives for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the
advancement of “the gospel (Ac 11:21-26; 13:50; 14:19-22,‘ 15:25-26). They were
Spirit-filledimen of faith and prayer (see Ac 11:23-25; 13:2-
5,46-52; 14:1—7,14,’21-23), ‘ - ’- _ ‘ a » - . » - e
(2) Apostles in this ’general'sense remain 'essential'=to' God’s pmpose in the. If
churches cease to sendout Spirit-filled’-persons, then the spread of the gospe1,.a;ta:="-
an. the
world will be hindered. Onithe other hand, as long as-‘the church produces anfdgsends
such people, it will fulfill its missionary. task and remain faithful to the Lord’s' Great
“Commission (Mt 28:18-20). - ' ' ' _ 1 - ~
(3) The term “apostle” is also used in a special sense, referring to those who saw Jesus
after his resurrection and were personally .commissione'd:by‘ the resurrected Lord to
preach the gospel and establishthe church =(e.g., the twelve disciples and Paul). They
possessed a unique authority within the church that related to divinerevelation and the
original gospel message
that can no longer exist in anyone today (see Eph 2:2_0,"note). Thus, the office of
apostle in
this specialized sense is unique and unrepeatable. The original apostles cauhave no
succesi
sors (see 1C0 15:8, note). _
_ Y (4) A primary task of- the NT apostles was to establish churches andto ensure that
they
were founded on, or restored to, sincere devotion to Christ and the NT faith‘ (cf. 1]n
21:15-17;
1C0 12:28; 2C0 11:2—3;“Eph 4:11-12; Php 1:17).iThis task involved two main burdens: (a)
an
urgent God-given desire to maintain the church’s purity and its separation from sin -and
the
world (1Co 5:1-5; 2C0 6:14-18; Jas 2:14-26;"1Pe 2:11; 4:1—5;‘ 1]n 2:1,15-17; 3:3.-10)and (b)
a continuing burden to proclaim/the NT gospel and to defend it against heresy, new
theological
trends and false teachers (R0 16:17; 1C0 11:2; 2C0 11:3-4,14, notes; Gal 1:9, note; 2Pe
2:1—3;
1]n 14:1-6; 2]n 7-11; Jude 3—4,12—13; see article on~0VERSEERS AND THEIR DUTIES, p.
274). , 1 . » ~
(5) Although the first apostles who laid the church’s foundation have no successors, the
church today is still dependent on their words, message and faith. The -church
mustobey and
remain faithful totheir or-iginal‘writings.. To reject the inspired revelafion=of' the apostles
is
III cease being a church according to the Biblical pattem and to reject the Lord himself
(In
16:13-15; 1C0 14:36-38; Gal 1:-9-11). On» the other-hand," to believe the apostolic
message,
obey it and guard it against all distortion is to remain true to the Holy Spirit (Ac 20:28; 2Ti
1:14) and to‘ guarantee God’s continued life, blessing and presence within the church
(see Eph
2:20, note).

PROPHETS. Prophets were believers who spoke under the directiimpulse ofthe Holy Spirit
in
the name of God and"whoS&=m&iLl;¢§9I.1s;em,wa&the;spiritual,1ife»a.nd@pu:rity
ofithe-=ch1fi‘ch. Under
the new covenant they were raised up and empowered by the Holy Spirit to bring a
message
from God to his people (Ac 2:17; 4:8; 21:4). p 1 ~ _ 5 2 _
(1) OT prophets are foundational for understanding the prophetic ministry "in the early
church. Their primary task was to speak a word of God bythe Spirit in order to
encourage
God's people to remain faithful to their covenant relationship. They also, at times,
..p1fedicted
the future as the Spirit revealed it to them. Christ and the apostles serve as examples of
the
OT ideal (Ac 3:22-23; 13:1-2). _~ i ~ . » . ._ 4
. (2_)_Prophets functioned within the NT church in the following -ways: (a). They were
Spirit-
filled proclaimers and interpreters of the Word of God, called by God to warn, exhort,
comfort
and; (Ac 2:14-36; 3:12-26; lCo -*1_2_-';1_0; 14:3). (b) Theywere to. exercise the giftpf
prophecy (see article ‘on SPIRITUAL GIFTS FOR BELIEVERS, p. 350). (c) They were at times
seers (cf.t1Ch 29:29) who foretold the future (Ac 1’1Z2:8; 21:10-11). (d) Like the OT
prophets,
the NT prophets were called, to expose sin, proc1airn.righteousness, warn of judgment
to come,
and combat worldliness__and lukewarmness among1God’s people (Lk 1:14-17).
Because of their
message of righ_t_eousness,- prophets jand their ministry can expectrejectionby
manyiin the
churches during times of lukewarmness and apostasy,-' » _. _ _ 2 '5 ~ ;
(3) The p_rophet’s character, burden, desire and ability include; (a) a zeal for church
purity
(]n,17:1:5_-1-7; 1C0;-»6:9-11; .G_al 5:22-25); (b) a deep sensitivity toievil and the
capacityto
identify, define and hate unrighteousness (R__o 12:9;_Heb 1:9); (c) a keen
understanding ofthe
dangerpgfp__-false,.;te§.cl1inE$. (Mt 7:1-5; 24:11,24; Gal 1:9; -2C0, 11:12-2-.15); (d) an
inherent de-
pendenceéfln God's Word to validate the ~prophet’s message (Lk 4:17-1.9;,1iCo 15:3-4,;
2l',lTiQ3:16;
1Pe..4:11); ~(e)._.»a’co_ncern for the spiritual success of.Godfs~ kingdom and a_
sharing in the
feeli1i_gs~_of G0d_@j(Mt21:-1,1—1»3; 23:37; -Lk 13:34,; ]n,2:l,4—17; Ac 20:27-31). “ : -
. (4) The prophets’ messages are not to be regarded as infallible. Their messages-are
subject
to .the evaluation of the church, other prophets and God’s Word. Thecongregation is
required
to discem and test whether theirwitness is from»God (1Co 14:29-33; l]n 4:1). p - » 1
I (5) Prophets continue to be- essential to God’s..pmpose for the church. A church that
rejects
God?s.prophets will be a declining-church, drifting toward worldliness andthe
compromise.-of
Biblical truthA.(1.Co ,14:3;‘cf. Mti23,:31-3:8; Lk 11:49; Ac 71:51,-52). If prophets,are;not1-
allowed
to bring words of rebuke and warning,_ words prompted by the Spirit, words exposing:
sin and
unrighteousness (;'(n<~.1-6:8-11),» then the-;church~1.will_.beco1n_e a; place where,
the voice of the
Spirit can;_no:longer be heard. Ecclesiastical politics and_.worldly powerwill replace the
Spirit
(2Ti 3:1-9; 4:3-5.;:2Pe'2:1-3,12-22). On the other hand, if the church, with its leaders,‘hears
the voice ofthe prophets, itwill be moved to renewed. life and fellowsliip
with.Christ,sin.will
be forsaken, and"-the‘ Spirit's presen'ce'will:be evident among -.the faithful_,~(1Co 14:3;
1_Th'
5:19-21; Rev 3:20-22).. . ’ ~ - . .: . .. » . 1;
:EVANGELISTS.. In the NT, zevangelists weremen of .G'od -who were gifted and
commissioned
by God to. pro:claimj.the ;gospel:.(i.e., good news)=of salvation to the .-umage¢, ,Q,,
¢§§§,h1i$h§A¢new»work~inaa~=cityaWhen proclaimed it always. carries.with,it'the'
offer and power
of"salvatio'n,¢ - _ 4- ~- A . - ¢ .;;>. ’ - . _
” ('1) ¢.:Th‘e -ministry of Philip “the evangelist”, (Ac 21:8) gives a clear picture of.»the
work of
an evangelist;according.to the NT pattem. (a) Philip preachedthe gospel, of Christ (Ac
8:4-
5.35). (b) Many were saved and baptized with-water (Ac 8:6,12). Signs, miracles,
healings and
deliverance from evil spirits accompanied his-preaching‘(Ac 8:6-7,13). (d) He was
concemed
~that new converts be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ac 8:12-17; cf. 2:38; 19:1—6).
(2)1'HI8'*'18<V&Hg61iS1?"*iS‘1%SS8nfi3;I2itD‘iiG0d3S*P11iEp0S6f:=f0F~@lih¢z£I1ul‘£h. The
church that -fails to
‘encourage-.-and.support~the ministry of the evangelist. will cease to gain converts as
God
desires; It will become a static church, devoidof growth and missionary outreach. The
church
that values the spiritual gift of the evangelist and maintains an earnest. love and care
‘for the .1
lost will proclaim the. message of salvation with convicting and saving power (Ac 2:14-
41)’,
PASTORS. Pastors are those hwhotoversee and-care for the‘ spiritualneeds of a local
congre-
gation. They are also called “elders” (Ac 20:17; Tit 1:5) and “overseers” (1Ti 3:1;, Tit 1:7),
-'ve§<:/43'¢¢u- vim vt‘¢'*)l1/-“’“'
ea-'H°"

1‘

Thetas‘k of pastors is to;'..proclaim sound doctrine; refute heresy (Tit 1:9—11)', teach
G,‘ofd’s‘Word and exercise le_a_d§_r__s_l_1_1'_p_ the local church (1Th 5:12;
A_>1Tif7.?;>:1_—5~];}‘pe an example
of purity and sound doctrine (Tit .;:7+8); a.nd"see'_to"it_tl;1at,_all be1ie‘ire1‘;sv.remain
indivine grace
(Heb 12:15; 13:-17;l1Pe ;5;2). Theirtaslr is described-»i_n Ac 20:28:»-31 apostolic
truth and Godfsdflock,by1watching»,out -for false.adoct1'ine,sand rnseeyteaeners
thegchurch
(seearticlep-o1_1, QVERSEERS ANDHTHEIR DUTIES,*.p. 274).fl°astors'lfu'1,1;ction "as
shepherds‘,“o'f
whichjesus as the» good Shepherd is a model (]i1“10:l:1,-,16j1 1‘P_e='2:2§;f\5:2—4).L. A Y
'_
(2) The. NT pattem shows a plurality of pastors directing, the spiritual hfe ofa \
(Ac 20:28; Php 1:-1») .L Pastors were chosen, not through politics or power plays; but
through the
Spirit's wisdom given to the body as it examined the candidate’sis'piritual qualifications
(see .
article on -MORAL QUALIFICATIONS FOR QYERSEERS, p_. 4358]-._ s ,. ,. Q, ' .
‘ (3) Pastors{are essentialfto purpose tor his church,» The: churchflthat failsto select,
g'odly“a.nd_‘-faithful’pastors*wi1%l 'aseYto be governed according to the;n1i;id;_of
the>Sp_i1'it<_(see
1Ti 3:1i—7).i It wi]l*be a'-church leftopeii to the destructive forces of Satan and the world
(see
Ac 20:28‘-81). The_pr‘ea"ching-of, the Word willbe distorted and the standards of the
gospel lost ’
(2Ti"'1":l3—14). Meinbers=and fainilieszhofh the. church not be car,ed_for according *9-
.§God’s
purpose (1Ti 4:6,1Z416; 6:29-521). Many will turn away from the truth and tum aside-to’
myths
_[_2Ti_ 4’:4).s0vn the other hand, if godly pastors are appointed, believersgwillbe
nourished on the
words of faith and sound doctrineand disciplined for theapurpose of godliness (1Ti
4:6+7).,'1The
church will be taught to persevere in‘the teaching of Christ and~the- apostles and thus
-ensure
salvation for itselfand those who .hear (1Ti _4:l6; ZTi 2:2], ' ~ " w. ' h n 5 T.
AI ,
/ TEACHERS. Teachers are those who have __a special, .~God-given gift to expound
and
proclaim God’s Wordin order to build up the body o'f:-Christ g(-Eph 4:12). ~ l 1 ' ; ' I
,;_ (1) Theispecialtaslg-go_f_ teachersis to guard,' by the help" of. thePHo1y“-Spirit, the
gospel
entrusted to themh(2Ti p1:11‘—1h4,).__They;are faithiully to. point -the church to Biblical
revelation
and to1the’origina1‘me‘ssage of Christ__and the -apostles, and to persevere in this~'-
task: 7
~ -(2)1 The principal purpjose-ofi‘ Biblical teaching is'ito~prese1'?ve truth andto
producejholiness
by~lead.ing_Christ’s body into "an uncompromising comniiirnent to" the godly lifestyle
set?‘ forth
in God’s_ W;o_rd.,Scripture states thatthe goalof Christian instructionis “love, ‘comes
from a_-.,p'\ir‘e heart?-and'“a_ good conscience and a siiicereffaith-" (1Ti 1:5);
Christian ‘learning is not just in what one knows, but how one lives -¢i.e._; the
manifestation of
love, purity, faith»-andgodlinessi. 1 . V Q -. .; p ‘ ' * _' ' ' _ “ _ * g
__ V (3) Teachers are essential to God's purpose ihfor his‘ 'cl_1}jrch.“Tl_ie'\jch11rch_that
rejects -or
refuses ;to hear those _teache_rs anditheologians who remain to Scriptural revelation
will
stop being concemed'*about the genuineness of the Biblical messageeand the correct
inter-
pretationa ofthe original teaching-* of Christ and theeapostles; The church in which
such teach-
efs andtheologians reniainlsilent will not continue steadfast in the truth.*’New winds at
doctrine" will bejfuncritically acceptedi and 'religieus*expe_rience and human »ide8-S;-
rather than
revealed truth, be the ultimate guide to the'churcli"sTdoctrinfe,‘ standards
andpractices.
0nfthei'other_ 1_;an<1;it11e Tchurch thatlistenstto godly teachers and theologians
willfhave its,
teachingsand -practicesmeasured bythe original-and fimdamental testimony;/of the
_gosp;el_, its
false ideas exposed and the ipurity of Chrifstfs original‘me'ssage-ha.nded:do.wn to its;
children.-
God’s inspired-Wordwill become the-test of-all teaching; and thechurch be
everreminded
thatthe Spirit's inspired Word"-iswfultiilnate truth and authofity, and ‘as such, stands“over
the
clmrchesand theirizistitutions. Q I , V ll l ,- .