The Ministry Gifts of Christ (Part 1 of 8)

Gifts – Ephesians:4:11-13

Responsibility

Natural Manifestation

Apostle

(ἀπόστολος / apostolos)

Doctrine and Discipline

Enjoys building things, projects, businesses, etc.

Prophet

(προφήτης / prophētēs)

Discern and Proclaim God’s Word.

Has a keen (sometimes problematic) sense of Justice.

Evangelist

(εὐαγγελιστής / euaggelistēs

Present the Gospel of Christ to the lost.

Enjoys direct contact with people. Many are successful salesmen.

Pastor ποιμήν / poimēn

To care for the everyday needs of the Church family

Enjoys serving. Loves to have people come to their home.

Teacher  διδάσκαλος / didaskalos

Instruct the Church in the practical application of God’s Word.

Is able to explain complex issues in a way that even a child can understand.

Introduction: –

There is an old expression that goes like this: –

“If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and squawks like a duck, it most likely is a duck”

In respect of the Ministry Gifts of Christ this is most certainly true.

It is a fact that is undisputable that all Christians were known by God before they were born “Psalm 139:13-16”. In fact, we are all divinely destined to do something for God Ephesians 1:4, 5; Ephesians 2:10; Romans 8:28-32”.

I firmly believe that this generation that God has called us to serve in Him has a greater need for anointed and wise leaders than any other generation. These are Leaders both in the Local Church setup and even more so in the Church Worldwide. Indeed, this generation has more people than any other, and the masses that surround us are crying out for direction.

I believe for myself, and also for you as you aspire to your future ministries and dream of seeing God’s hand upon your lives that “You have come to the Kingdom for such a time as this”. I also believe that there is a triumphant leader in you just waiting to be developed.

The human body is an amazing arrangement of many quite different functions. One cannot help but be astonished at the smoothness with which the body articulates a great many functions. There are the major senses of seeing, hearing, speaking, etc., all functioning as a unit in one body. The various organs all work together sharing in a marvellous harmony and yet each one doing something different.

That is the characteristic that is so remarkably evident in God’s intention for the Body of Christ. In the human body every organ is a distinct and peculiar thing, having a function different than anything else in the body. You cannot substitute one organ for another. You never heard of a surgeon replacing a defective stomach with a pair of lungs. It cannot be done. Every organ must exercise its own function, that God gives him when he becomes a believer in Jesus Christ.

Your Ministry Gift is your privileged function within the body of Christ. No one else can do it just as you would. Others may have similar gifts but they cannot do what God has called you to do in the Body of Christ.

If a medical doctor, examined the physiology of the Body of Christ, the Ministry Gift of “apostles” might be compared to the skeletal/muscular system of the Body because they provide structure and strength – the Ministry Gift of “prophets” would be like the nervous system of the Body for they are a direct line of communication from the Head, revealing the mind of Christ, stimulating activity in line with God’s revealed will – the Ministry Gift of “evangelists” would correspond to the digestive system of the Body because they take food from outside the body and transform and incorporate it into being a living part of the Body – taking those outside of the Body and facilitates their entrance into the Body of Christ by the Gospel – the Ministry Gift of “Pastor” and “Teacher” correspond to the circulatory and immune systems of the Body because their role is to feed and nourish the cells, and to be on guard against infections, in order to help keep the Body functioning with full health, vitality and strength.

There are certain things we must remember about both spiritual gifts and also the fivefold ministers that are gifted to the Church. “Gifts or calling do not equate to maturity”. I remember that when I left Bible College knowing that my specific gifting was that of the Evangelist I was not significantly mature. This was especially the case as I was thrown immediately into a Pastoral Role.

We need to fully understand that when anybody who has been called to be an Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor or Teacher, they are in their lives declaring a “revelation truth” it is a revelation of God’s infinite wisdom and grace being revealed. The individual in truth is nothing but He is everything.

The substance that emerges from the Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor or Teacher, is first and foremost simply a by-product of the vessel being used. The vessel is simply the container or conduit for the teaching of the Holy Spirit and the necessary administration of God’s truth. In understanding this and allowing it to permeate our spirits we will avoid being inflated and falling into the trap of “stealing God’s glory”.

However, in this season God is raising up men and women who are driven (at any personal cost) by this one burning desire – “to lead all those who cross their path into the fullness of their inheritance in Christ and enable them to enter into the fullness of the ministry that God has called them to!” Rather than being an entity unto itself, the Five-Fold ministry is simply “forerunners” or “pioneers” in the carrying out of God’s “Kingdom-Purpose” on the earth.

God has been at work even before we were born making the niche in life into which we would be born; and then, as we have grown up, He has had His hand upon our lives.

Leaders have a particularly important responsibility in God’s purposes. If this is the case, and I firmly believe that it is, then the whole of our lives are God’s training time for us. We need, therefore, to learn from the lessons taught us by life.

My observations have led me to conclude that in a large amount of cases there appears to be a “common denominator” in the lives of leaders that we see God has used in the Bible. The “common denominator” is that they all had something unfortunate in their past that should otherwise have disqualified them from excelling and even entering God’s ministry. Indeed, another “common denominator” was that they all had various human weaknesses.

We may feel that we have little to offer, but God made us who we are for a purpose. It is also well to remember, that our God is a redeeming God and even when we make mistakes or mess up these can all be used by Him. We should never get discouraged about what we have to offer, but give everything we have and allow God to do what He wants with it.

God wants us to make available to Him all that we know, all that we have been trained in and all our skill and experience. He did not take us through what He has, or allow us to do what we have, without a reason.

It is amazing how much He can multiply even the smallest offering, just think back to the five loaves and two fish with which Jesus fed well over 5,000 people. God multiplies whatever is sincerely and wholeheartedly given to Him “Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” and2 Corinthians 9:5-11”.

As leaders either already serving the Lord or preparing to do so we have a vital necessity that must reside in our spirits and that is to have a “big enough” God. We need to believe that the experience we might have gone through or will do so in the future is a preparation for the future or a process that He is utilising in order that we might know of “good success” in Him. God wants us to trust in Him and not the flesh, organisational abilities or even natural talents and ability.

What God desires and is in the process of carrying out is: –

  • To realise what their Motivational Gifts are in order that they can understand why they react the way they do to each situation – also to be able to understand why others react the way they do.
  • To be aware that there are special Ministry Gifts for every believer in the Body of Christ.
  • It is vital that every believer understands and knows what spiritual gifts God desires them to exercise through life – Why?
  • It is essential if one is to know God’s will for his life.
  • Understanding of the Spiritual Gifts will enable one to discover his spiritual job description.
  • The believer can take his appropriate place in the Body of Christ
  • They will begin to see his life as a channel for God’s grace
  • They can avoid over-commitment and burnout
  • They will become more appreciative of what others are called to be and do
  • They will understand the need of unity of the Spirit
  • They will be a part of the maintaining the true purpose of the Church
  • They will be a part of the increasing total lay involvement.

God has ordained every believer with a ministry! Jesus said, “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you – I appointed you. I have planted you – that you might bear fruit and keep on bearing: that your fruit may be lasting (that it may remain, abide). So that whatever you ask the Father in My name [as presenting all that I AM] He may give it to you” “Amplified Bible”.

The Church is not an organisation or a religious club, but rather God intended it to be a functioning, living organism designed to penetrate society of all levels, and to declare and demonstrate in our world a new kind of power – a power otherwise totally unknown to men. It may not be easily recognised for what it is because it works very quietly. However, it is an exceedingly mighty power, the power of resurrection life, the power that is able to bring life out of death.

If there is anything our society is characterised by today it is that it is permeated with a kind of living death, a death that is part of our daily existence and manifests itself in a sense of despair, of depression, of emptiness, of the futility of living. It is in the humdrum of existence, in boredom and the frustration of lives that are longing for a sense of satisfaction and do not know where to turn in the restlessness of our age. But his is an exciting day in which to live because in our day and time, in this decade of the 21st century, the Spirit of God is healing a sluggish, ill, and faulty Church.

The Holy Spirit desires to breathe new life into old bones that have lain there so long they have begun to rattle. He wants to pour new wine into new wineskins. There is breaking out in the midst of old established forms of Church life new exciting manifestations of the Holy Spirit at work among men.

With these things in mind I want us to concentrate our minds on the portion of Scripture “Ephesians: 4: 8, 11-13” where it say: – “When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men…And He 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…”

In “Ephesians 4”, Paul lists what have been called the five “ascension” or “gift” ministries one could equally define them as “equipping ministries”. Paul tells us that Jesus has given these ministries to the Church to prepare God’s people for works of service and to build up the Body of Christ.

An Ephesians 4 team is a grouping of ministries, which agree together under God to plant, service and support local Churches who relate to them or who are planted and developed by them – See “Acts 1, 2, 6, 13, 20”.

  • The essential life force of the team is Relational not Organisational.
  • Their authority functions only where it is recognised! – By God and by local believers.
  • The sphere of that authority can be in region, a nation, or nations.
  • The team is often led by an Apostle who willingly harnesses his / her ministry with other five-fold gifts
  • “Ephesians 4:11 and 1Corinthians 12:28-29” ministries form a “construction team”.
  • It’s clear that women worked alongside men in ministry teams “Acts 18:1-4, 18-19, Romans 16:3-5”
  • It can also contain younger trainees:- Timothy, Titus, John Mark, etc.

He states that these ministries are here “until we all reach unity in faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”“Ephesians 4:13b”.

The functions mentioned have not yet been completed, and thus it is logical to conclude that we should still see all five ministries present and functioning in the Church

The Godhead is involved in building and bringing the Church to maturity. All the power and fullness of the Godhead is made available to the people of God to complete the task of coming into the fullness of the measure of Christ, and to prepare the bride for her returning bridegroom – “1 Corinthians 12:4-6”.

The fivefold Ministry Gifts were given to the Church Universal to equip the saints for service and will be active until that job is complete and the body of Christ comes to maturity.

These five distinct ministries: –

  1. Apostles.
  2. Prophets.
  3. Evangelists.
  4. Pastors.
  5. Teachers

are given to the body of Christ for a specific time and a specific purpose. They are divinely enabled to equip the saints to fulfil their ministry and purpose in the body of Christ.

Following this apostolic pattern, at any given time “the leader” of a faith community may be a Pastor, an Apostle, a Prophet, a Teacher, or an Evangelist. This would depend upon the particular character and calling of the community.

Elevating the authority of any single Gifting diminishes the effect of all the varied ministries that are to be at work in the Body.

  • The Apostle who builds leaders and plants new churches?
  • The Prophet who exhorts and challenges?
  • The Evangelist who matures the Christian believer to the point of reproduction?
  • The Pastor who Shepherds the Sheep?
  • The Teacher who grounds and expounds the Scripture?

Which is more important? All are as important as the various organs of the human body “1 Corinthians 12:14”the body is not one member, but many”.

When looking at the central functions of the Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, and Teacher, we notice that at times they can appear to be contrary to one another. As an, Pastors, who are principally known for their kind, gentle, patient, and supportive manner, can be contrasted with the Prophet who is generally bold and outspoken.

Both ministries represent the heart and character of Christ, yet they differ greatly in manner and function. In the Evangelist we see a person who is spiritually energised to reach the unsaved, superb in his ability to reason and adept at communicating the simple logic of the Gospel. His message is principally directed to the unsaved, which is in contrast to the Teacher, who primarily serves the community of the saved, communicating the truth of God’s Word, a message that many times the unsaved have trouble understanding “1 Corinthians 2:14”.

The record of Acts indicates that Evangelists, Prophets, and Apostles are the most effective ministries in Church planting, but all three achieve dramatic results through different means. The Evangelist goes to the new area, drawing in the crowd and winning people to Christ. The Prophet is capable of producing results with his ability to clearly hear from God, speaking specific prophetic words necessary for advancing the spiritual war against the Enemy. The Apostle is also effective at planting a new Church primarily because of his ability to network. As time goes on, these three ministries need to hand off much responsibility to the Pastor and Teacher

The fivefold ministries are in fact a continuation of the ministry of Christ performed through specific designated members of His Body, the Church. Jesus, Himself, functioned in all five of these ministries.

Jesus was the Greatest Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher that has ever existed. When considering anything in Scripture, our starting points as new covenant believers is how did Christ fulfil these roles.

The Body of Christ is now called to be all of Christ in all of the earth. Therefore, Christ’s desire is to continue to gift people in such ministry roles.

It is interesting to note and I am not going to make a doctrine out of it but in “Acts 3:20 – 22” it says…whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began”.

Here it is speaking of a period of restoration of all things. Through the Dark Ages (500-1500 AD) much of the life of the Church was lost. Often the gifts and ministries of the Christ and of the Holy Spirit were replaced with organisational structure which maintained a form of the real thing but had lost the power.

Slow restoration began with the Reformation (1517-1600) and built truth upon truth over the years.

Over the last few decades we have seen the restoration or reemphasis of each of the fivefold Ministry Gifts:

  • 1950’s – Evangelist accompanied by healings, deliverance and widespread evangelism.
  • 1960’s – Pastor seen develop through emphasis on “body life” and the Charismatic renewal.
  • 1970’s – Teacher growing with teaching conferences and the Faith teaching movement.
  • 1980’s – Prophet with a strong prophetic movement and many prophetic conferences.
  • 1990’s – Apostles with the Apostolic Reformation.

Every believer needs to be connected with the fivefold ministries. To come to maturity we each need to be touched by these five aspects of the ministry of Christ. A believer who thinks he or she can do it alone will never come into the fullness of the calling that God intended for them.

The words used in “Ephesians 4:11” for the Ministry Gifts are in the “genitive” case which speaks in the possessive tense – the person is the gift. It is built into the nature or essence of the person.

Not everyone in the body of Christ will be called to an “Ephesians 4” ministry calling. We need to be clear about this distinction so that we will not strive towards something God has never called us to be. If we confuse body gifting with ministry calling, we will cause ourselves and others great pain and disillusionment.

Jesus said that He would build His Church Matthew 16:18”. Paul explains that Jesus Christ has chosen to do this in part by giving “gifts of men” as leaders (i.e. apostles, prophets, evangelists, Pastors and Teachers) to the Church for the following reasons: –

” … to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12, 13”.

The Hallmarks of “Ephesians 4:11” Ministries

Leadership is a very important part of God’s order for mobilising His Church and enabling it to achieve His purposes on earth. The Church needs leaders with a variety of gifts in order to achieve this for God.

No one leader can do this on their own, even in a local Church setting. It is also true that no one person can minister in all the ways that Jesus did or represent all the attributes of Jesus. However, when a local Church has all five “Ephesians 4:11” ministries operating effectively within it, it can know an experience of the ‘fullness of Christ’.

All leadership / ministry is simply the ministry of Christ expressed through the believer by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  In respect of our topic the “Five-fold” Ministry Gifts; these are like that which Elijah did to Elisha and released when releasing his mantle to him. When Jesus Christ when He was about to leave planet earth He did a similar thing, the major difference however was that Jesus tore His Mantle into five pieces and released them back into the earth – Namely as Apostolic, Prophetic, Evangelistic, Pastoral and Teaching gifts. 

Every ministry (including that of the five-fold) is an extension of the ministry of Christ Himself. These ministries are actually an extension of Himself, His own ministry flowing into the many-membered body of Christ. The ministries gifts are His instruments for the perfecting of His Church in the earth. These gifts are incomplete by design, without each other they cannot fully express the nature of Christ.

These five gifts are gifts of Grace. They are an expression of God’s grace (His grace flows through these gifts) and they are an expression of Christ Himself (His character and nature are revealed through these gifts). There is a measure of grace that is given with each gift.

God gifts “Ephesians 4:11” ministries to the Church. They are not self-appointed or Church-appointed – they just need to be recognised and submitted to. These gifts of people enable the body of Christ to function in the way God intends it to function. “Ephesians 4:7-16” reveals to us that these individuals are “Gifted to the Church” by Jesus Christ in order to: –

  • Equip or prepare believers for effective, high quality service in the Kingdom of God. They try to get the best out of Church members
  • Bring God’s order to His Church
  • Discern those who are called to a particular work in the body of Christ, prepare and develop them, and then enable their release into that work
  • Equip or prepare believers for effective, high quality service in the Kingdom of God. They try to get the best out of Church members
  • Bring God’s order to His Church
  • Cause the Church to be built up and grow numerically
  • Give the Church vision and direction from God
  • Bring believers into maturity in God, both individually and corporately (i.e. bring them to that measure of development which is meant by the ‘fullness of Christ’)
  • Unite the Church in faith
  • Encourage commitment, sacrifice and right submission both to God and to His delegated leadership
  • Enable members of the body of Christ to be responsible, caring, loving and supportive of one another; be calm, consistent, committed and joyful; be continuing steadfastly in the Word of God; be whole and complete in Christ; and be growing up into Christ in every way, being joined and held together in harmony where each person knows their place and gift and does the work God has for them to do
  • Enable members of the body of Christ to be no longer childish, spoon-fed and self-willed; no longer stuck or stagnant in their spiritual life; no longer tossed back and forth by waves of mood or emotion, lacking assurance and stability; and no longer blown here and there by every wind of teaching that comes their way

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to us by the Holy Spirit in order to achieve something for God at the moment they are given. The gift comes to us to do God’s work and then it goes. It gives us authority on a temporary basis. These gifts are available to everyone in the body of Christ who has been baptised with the Holy Spirit.

In “Romans: 12” we have presented before us a whole number of Gifts of Service / Body Gifts and likewise in “1: Corinthians 12: 7-11”. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are (God’s Tool Kit”.

In a similar manner Service / Body Gifts are those gifting’s which God by the Holy Spirit develops within an individual child of God to serve the people of God.

It is important to recognise the difference between “Ephesians 4:11” ministries and the ministries mentioned in “Romans: 12:6-8” and in “1: Corinthians 12:27-30”. These two have distinct differences in function and authority, but and I want to stress this they are of equal importance in regard to their necessity and significance in God’s Church.

Ministry callings, the “Ephesians: 4” gifts however, go beyond this. The person who has / is one of the five ministry callings bears the authority of that calling within themselves all of the time. They may or may not be operating in the body gifts, but they always live and should always function in their ministry calling. In fact, they will have available to them all the body gifts necessary to enable their ministry calling whenever they need them.

Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers are gifts of God to the whole Church. I would suggest here however that they will of course be members of a local Church family, they may even be released to minister in that local Church setting giving input and encouragement, but they are also given to the wider Church to bring ministry and life primarily

The Service / Body Gifts ministries, plus Elders and Deacons, on the other hand, function and have authority only in one local Church context as a rule.

In the context of the Ministry Gifts there will always be a need to submit to God and to local Church leadership. They have authority only as they function in their God-ordained role and as they bring God’s will into the setting into which they are ministering.

We need to guard against submitting in the local Church to anyone claiming such a ministry unless they are recognised in these things. There have been many fellowships of God’s people who have found themselves in great difficulty, disunity and deception as a result. However, “Ephesians 4:11” ministries do not take orders from the local body of Christ (but submit to it), but convey God’s authority to it. This is because they do not receive their authority from men, but from God Himself.

“Ephesians 4:12-14” tells us why the Ministry Gifts have been bestowed and also how long we can expect them to be active in the Church.

They are bestowed in order to: –

  • To prepare and equip God’s people for works of service, or ministry, since the Greek word could be translated either way (Verse 12).
  • So that the body of Christ might be built up (Verse 12).
  • To help build up the Body of Christ until we all come into the unity of the faith and are mature in every way (Verse 13).

That successful conclusion however will not happen until Jesus comes. Therefore, the Ministry Gifts are still needed and are still being bestowed.

Jesus is the “Master” in all things that pertain unto life and ministry, and in the context of our thoughts together there is no exception to this rule as we are able to see Him as “Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher”.

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