The first group of spiritual gifts called the gifts of ministry are given for the leadership of the body to perfect (develop) the saints...for the work of the ministry and for the edifying of the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:7-8, 11-16).
Christ Himself, “gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.” (Ephesians 4:11). Not all men are given these positions in the body of Jesus Christ. He knows those He can use. He knows who will be faithful in the area of stewardship to properly and effectively carry out the responsibilities to perfect the saints for the work of the ministry and the edification of the body. When man puts into position people that are not called by Christ into the gifts of ministry, the church is not effectively served.
The effectiveness of people
who are chosen by Jesus to
serve the body through the gifts
of ministry is continually based
on their personal heart attitude
and on-going, determined
relationship with God.
As they continue to be faithful stewards of God’s gifts, He continues to increase their ministry and give additional gifts. Some churches remain small because the pastors themselves are not willing to pay the price of self-denial in different areas of their lives. Consequently, their ministry cannot grow. God cannot add numbers to their churches because they are not qualified in their spiritual development to feed the flock. The Holy Spirit cannot add any more of the gifts of the Spirit than they already possess because they are not seeking first (coveting) the kingdom of God and His righteousness (His ways/will). As a result, they could even loose the effectiveness and gifts they might already possess.
A clay pot
does not have an
but people do.
God looks at the heart (attitude) of the vessel before choosing them for the gifts of ministry for leading the church. A clay pot does not have an attitude, but people do. God takes a person’s attitude into account before He calls that person into ministry. Like John the Baptist whom the Lord called into ministry while he was still in his mother’s womb, He calls a person today. God knew, because He could see the end of John the Baptist’s life even before it had begun, that his life (heart, attitude and will) would be conducive to God’s molding. He would not be constantly resisting God’s will for his development, so God chose him.
Yes, a person does have
something to do with being
chosen of God and called by
Jesus Christ for the gifts of
For example, “some apostles and some prophets”, Christ gave gifts of ministry to lead the church. They are called because God sees their inward qualities (1 Samuel 16:1-13; Acts 22:14), and they are prepared (with their cooperation) and given to the body to lead His church for the perfecting of the saints.
To become an apostle or prophet is not an easy task nor is the job and responsibilities that come with the ministry. One is first called, then prepared of God for His service. The person being prepared of God might not even realize what position in the gifts of ministry for which God is preparing him. I believe the gifts are overlapping, and God wants us humbly to submit ourselves one to another for the perfecting of the minister so that he is better qualified holistically to minister to the body.
Apostles and prophets are not ready-made; “...many are called; few are chosen.” (Matt. 22:14) Many are not willing to suffer as may be necessary in preparation for their calling. Those who are willing to suffer persecution for righteousness sake and truly in reality pick up their cross are the ones from which the Lord is able to choose. For in these two positions of ministry they will be misjudged, gossiped about, slandered and falsely accused by not only the unbeliever, but also by the church and the other ministers of the gifts (pastors, teacher and evangelists), more than any other position in the body of Christ. Jesus knows these two positions will have to be willing to submit to a life of self-denial, sacrifice, and suffering, as He Himself had to bear in leadership. Thus, He has few from which to choose.
These two positions are not only leading and molding (correcting) the church, but along with the other gifts of ministry, exhorting them continually to higher levels of serving the Lord and allowing the Lord to change their lives into His very image. Thus, they are in a constant battle between the devil and the carnal will of man. Let us be very honest with ourselves. We sing the words, “I’ll do what you want me to do, dear Lord, I’ll be what you want me to be, I’ll go where you want me to go...”, but in reality few of us are really willing to be faithful to the words of the song. The apostle and prophet will be forced by God to come closer than any other position, if they are to be chosen by God for their ministry.
Today’s apostle is somewhat different, in some respects, than the early apostle. The twelve apostles had a function which no other member in the body of Christ will ever have. They were in the group during the whole time that the Lord was in public ministry on earth. They had a part in the founding of His church in the world, and several of them wrote books which are included in our New Testament.
The gift of ministry called “apostle” was to be a gift through the whole period of building the church, or body. The apostles are given by Christ to His body to do a special work. Men do not decide to be apostles any more than a chunk of clay decides to be a piece of pottery. God (Christ) calls and develops them according to the vessel’s inward qualities (heart/attitude), since the Lord looks into the future and can see what this person will allow the Lord to do in his life before the Lord chooses him. An apostle is one who is sent forth by the Lord to carry, lead, direct, and protect the gospel into new places. His work involves laying the foundation for the body. He is also building up and overseeing the body.
The prophet has two main functions. First,...Foretelling...to tell about an event before it happens (predict). Second,...Forthtelling...to tell forth, to speak out. A prophet is one who speaks by inspiration. That is, he speaks out as he is breathed upon by the Holy Spirit. He is one who also expounds...he gives the meaning of God’s message as it is given by the Holy Spirit. The prophet today, as in the New Testament, often brings challenges and encouragement based on truths already known (the Bible). The prophet’s most important function is to prepare all God’s people for the work of Christian service in order to build up the body (Ephesians 4:12).
Besides God’s direct ways of developing the apostle and prophet through suffering (Acts 9:16), it can be called the wilderness experience (lives of Joseph, Daniel, Moses, David, Elijah, Jesus, Paul and many others). All were exposed to much suffering, trials and persecution that through their experiences they would be forced to draw nigh unto God, the author and finisher of their strength. Thus, they would increase in wisdom, stature, grace, knowledge, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Other means by which they would continue to grow and draw nigh unto God were daily prayer, study of and meditation upon the Word of God, fasting at times as a part of one’s diet, and being a faithful steward of the gifts that God has given him. Usually, the apostle and prophet have an overlap into the other gifts of ministry and can be used in any of the five ministries. At times God will call them to concentrate on their strongest gift because of the need of the body, which may include the other gifts of ministry at the same time. Personally, I have served the Lord in all five of the ministry gifts, as He led me into them because of a particular need in the body, but now I feel strongly that I am to focus my attention on my most highly developed gift...that of a prophet.
There is a sense in which each believer is to be an evangelist...that is, to be a witness (share his faith) and to develop in the gifts of the Spirit so they can do the work of the ministry. However, the evangelist who has a gift of ministry is different in some ways. Again, God knows which members of the body He can best develop to minister in that gift because He can see the person’s whole life and He knows whose heart (attitude) is most able to be developed to the point of an evangelist. Their ministries may not begin as evangelists.
Again, God develops...they are not born developed by predestination. God sees into the future, discerning whose heart is trainable/teachable. Then, He chooses those vessels and starts developing them for His service. The first two evangelists we can identify in the Book of Acts, besides the apostles themselves, were Philip and Stephen. Both of them began as handlers of money. “It is not right for us to neglect the preaching of God’s Word in order to handle finances. So then, brothers, choose seven men among you who are known to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, and we will put them in charge of this matter...so they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip” (Acts 6:2-3,5). Others were also chosen for that work, but of the whole group, only Stephen and Philip became evangelists. Stephen was killed, possibly after his first evangelistic message. But, Philip is later called an evangelist in Acts 21:8; “we stayed at the house of Philip, the evangelist.” Philip became an evangelist in about 33 AD. He was still an evangelist in 60 AD. This indicates that evangelism was his life’s work.
God is no respecter of persons. He will use any vessel that allows themselves to be used, and if that vessel’s heart (attitude) is pliable enough, He then can call that person into the gifts of ministry because then He can develop them enough to minister in that role. The same principle is true about receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit. One has to be serious enough with God for the Holy Spirit to give the gifts of the Spirit to that person.
Those chosen by Christ to be evangelists are chosen for several reasons. These include...besides the above pliable life...faithfulness, being full of the Holy Spirit, full of wisdom, full of faith, and full of power. These are the same prerequisites as the apostle and prophet. Like them, they must continue to pray, fast, study the Word of God and meditate on it to grow in the Lord, and develop and add other gifts of the Spirit to be able to minister to the body effectively.
Again, some evangelists are more effective because they are more pliable, thus trainable. They are more seriously pursuing their relationship with and development in the Lord. While the evangelist’s chief function is to tell the simple gospel to the unbeliever, it is often accompanied by other gifts of the Spirit. Many times the evangelist can operate with the gift of faith allowing him to manifest, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the gift of healing and others.
As we are faithful in our relationship with God and in the use of His gifts, we develop more and more in the gifts of ministry and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Again, this is a position selected by Christ. He truly needs the same prerequisites as the evangelist to be most effective. In addition to these qualities, they need the quality of loving and caring for people. This is where the term “shepherd” comes in, as Jesus Himself is the chief shepherd. Jesus not only was and is a pastor, but He also was a teacher, evangelist, prophet, and apostle; thus, showing us that the gifts of ministry do overlap. I believe that we are to develop into all of them. Again, that depends on our pliability. Many theologians believe that the gifts of ministry worded in Ephesians 4:11-22, “others to be pastors and teachers...to prepare all God’s people for the work of Christian service, in order to build up the body of Christ” is one gift. The words mean pastor with a teaching ministry. Several books of the New Testament are written especially for pastors. They are the pastoral epistles. The list includes I and II Timothy and Titus. They were written directly to pastors about their function in the body, encompassing teaching on the responsibilities of the pastor. I believe the gifts of ministry are to overlap as one develops (perfection). I also believe that the pastor has to be able to teach (counsel, correct, instruct) according to the knowledge of the Word in order to be effective in ministering to the saints. It would seem logical for a pastor to be able to be a teacher. Around the world today in many countries most American A/G missionaries have become pure teachers. The reason is that in their personal devotions and seeking God to minister to the saints, the gifts of deliverance, healing, et cetera, are not being developed because they are not needed just to teach theory in the classroom. Consequently, they are not developing in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I believe a pastor that is properly preparing himself for effective pastoral ministry will also be an anointed teacher.
Love is the basis for the
fruitful function of
all spiritual gifts.
“Simon...lovest thou me...?Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-16, KJV). Here again is the pastor role of lovingly teaching. Requirements for developing the pastor/teacher are nearly the same as the requirements for developing the evangelism gift, which again shows an overlap of the gifts of ministry. There is also the same goal of reproduction. Jesus wants His sheep to produce more sheep. Remember the words of the Chief Shepherd, “There are other sheep which belong to me that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them, too...” (John 10:16). This is why Paul wrote Timothy, “Do the work of an evangelist.” (2 Timothy 4:5, KJV).
When the pastor/teacher functions as an evangelist, two things happen. First, he brings new members into the body of Christ. Second, he, by his example, also teaches his flock how to bring new members into the flock.
(Excerpts taken from “Spiritual Gifts” by Robert L. Brandt)
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TO BE CONTINUED
World Ministries International (WMI) is The Church Without Walls
Read Jeremiah 14:11-16, Ezekiel 13:1-10, Ezekiel 14:13-20,
Ezekiel 22:1-31, Nahum 3:19, Jeremiah 30:12-15
Some people like to quote Daniel, suggesting that he stood in the gap, which is true. So did Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, John the Baptist, Noah and many others, but the judgments fell anyway. The population was destroyed in Noah’s time, but Noah and his family were saved by obeying God. The nation of Israel was taken into slavery. Daniel himself went into slavery, being taken to Babylon. Even though they all stood in the gap, unless the people themselves repented as the people of Nineveh did, the nation fell. God honored Daniel, and he became a leader in Babylon, but Israel was in slavery. Standing in the gap means more than praying. These men did more than just pray. They sounded the alarm! They warned the people in the nation that they must repent or suffer the consequences of their continued disobedience. They prayed, fasted, preached and the Holy Spirit convicted, but if the people of the nation did not themselves repent, judgment fell anyway. Moses stood in the gap, but the people died in the wilderness, never receiving the promises of God because of their continued sins.
People, we must continue to stand in the gap, pray, fast, and warn people to repent. If they ignore us, judgment will fall, but God will honor the believers who are righteous. God be with you. God wants the Church in America to understand His holiness and righteousness so deep that when judgment falls on the Whore and America’s de-christianized nation, they will rejoice, for this is an act of mercy and grace for repentance to come. America’s economy will crash overnight and eventually will be led by the Whore and the Beast of Revelation. The Church will rejoice when Jesus judges them both and returns! (Rev. 19:19-20)
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