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Why The Church Still Needs All of The Five-Fold Ministry Gifts

Why The Church Still Needs All of The Five-Fold Ministry Gifts

Ephesians 4:11-16(NLT) - Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won't be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

After The Resurrection when Jesus returned to heaven, He left His Church in the hands of a team of expert builders: Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, Pastors and Evangelists. This team of people have been left with the following assignment;

1) Equip saints for ministry
2) Edify The Body
3) Facilitate unity
4) Bring an understanding of Jesus
5) Help people mature

This assignment is not complete until, "we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ." Are we there yet? If not, then the work of the five-fold ministry continues. Simply put, the five-fold ministry gifts are in place to equip, edify, unify, educate and help God's people mature. When Christian people are missing any of the above it's a sure sign that they're not properly connected to these ministry gifts and that's a problem.

1 Corinthians 12:28-30 (NLT) - Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages. Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not!

The Importance of the Pastor and Evangelist

Two of the most widely accepted roles within The Church are the pastor and evangelist. Few Christians deny their relevance in the Body of Christ and most would vigorously defend their viability. The word, pastor is mentioned in the Bible nine times and is used in the same capacity as the word, shepherd. Outside of Ephesians 4, all other references to pastor are in the Book of Jeremiah. Therefore, since the formation of The Church it was only mentioned once.

Jeremiah 3:15 - And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

So the job of the pastor is to feed the people of The Church with knowledge and understanding like a shepherd who takes care of a flock. Now the other ministry assignment that’s widely accepted is evangelist. This word is only mentioned three times in the Bible and all of these times are in the New Testament. This position is reserved for the preacher of the gospel. Therefore it only came into existence after Jesus Christ died to defeat sin on the cross and rose from the dead to defeat death.

2 Timothy 4:5 - But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

Romans 10:14 - How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

Since the word evangelist means preacher of the gospel any mention of the word preacher in the New Testament may be associated with evangelist. However, a distinction should exist because they come from two different Greek words. Nonetheless, to sweeten the statistics, the three times that the word preacher is mentioned in the New Testament will be combined with evangelist for a grand total of 6 times.

I would like you to pay close attention to the direction of this discussion because I am building a very strong argument. The pastoral assignment is mentioned nine times in the Bible with eight of those in one book of the Bible. The evangelistic assignment is mentioned six times and all in the New Testament. Nonetheless, please note that the entire Body of Christ should preach the gospel outside of The Church. However, the ministry assignment of the evangelist, as defined in Ephesians 4 is to preach the gospel to The Church or to others so that they can join The Church.

As mentioned earlier, their mission is to perfect the saints so that they can work the ministry and edify the Body of Christ. At this point let us have a short recap. It is clear that the pastor and the evangelist are listed among the main ministry gifts. However, they are not singled out on the wider list of spiritual gifts. They are called to minister to the Body of Christ and should always have that primary responsibility at the front of their minds.

The Importance of the Teacher

The word teacher comes from the Greek word, “didaskalos” and is described as an expert, master, doctor or instructor. It is mentioned thirteen times in the New Testament and twenty times in the entire Bible. There are very few masters among us. I thank God for the honor and privilege to sit under the ministry of one whenever I can.

James 3:1 - My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

Hebrews 5:12 - For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

These individuals have a special gift of wisdom and understanding of the Word of God. I respect them greatly and I am sure most of The Church agrees that they are rare gems whom we cherish. I like reading the books written by some of these teachers because of the understanding that I receive from them. Nonetheless, this is not an office you force yourself into. You have to be called by God, anointed and disciplined in your study of the Word of God to fill these big shoes.

The Importance of the Apostle

The word apostle comes from the Greek word, “apostolos” and is described as a delegate, an ambassador of the Gospel, an official commissioner of Christ, one with miraculous powers, a messenger and one who is sent by God. This office is very special and is mentioned eighty three times in the New Testament alone. It is a part of the five main ministry gifts assigned to leadership and must still be present in The Church if perfection is to be achieved according to Ephesians 4:11-13.

I know some apostles personally and I must acknowledge that these are some of the highest ranking ministers in the Body of Christ. I say that with confidence because Paul, in 1 Corinthians 12:28-30 put them first, before he mentioned the other two offices, prophets and teachers in the list of spiritual gifts. You don’t choose to be an apostle. You are chosen by God. The definition of the position includes one who is sent by God. Therefore, you don’t volunteer for that position. You can volunteer to watch cars in the parking lot! You can volunteer to be an usher! You can even volunteer to lead song service! However, God has to make you an apostle.

The Importance of the Prophet

The word prophesy in the New Testament comes from the Greek word, “propheteuo” and has the following meanings; to foretell events, speak under divine inspiration and exercise the prophetic office. The word prophet is mentioned one hundred and sixty three times in the New Testament and a total of four hundred and ninety times in the Bible. This is one of the most maligned words among conservative Christians but somehow seems to be given more emphasis in the Bible than pastor, evangelist and teacher combined.

Every main ministry gift listed in Ephesians 4:11-13 is important to The Church, so if one is missing The Church cannot be perfect. As a result, those who deny the relevance of prophecy rob themselves of an important aspect of God’s plan. In fact, just by the sheer magnitude of the emphasis placed on prophecy in the Bible, what conclusion should you draw? Do you see how many times the word prophet is used in the New Testament in stark contrast to any of the other ministry gifts and assignments?

I’ll make a simple analogy. The Church is the Body of Christ so all together we represent God on the earth. The leadership of The Church points it in the right direction. For the purpose of this discussion, let us refer to the leadership as the fingers on the Hand of God. Now let’s assume that the five main ministry gifts that constitute church leadership; apostle, prophet, teacher, pastor and evangelist are the five fingers of the Hand of God. What do you think happens when one of these assignments is removed?

You end up with a four fingered hand! Do you think a hand with four fingers can be as effective as one with five? I don’t think so. As a result, large sections of The Church have chosen to operate with four fingers and in fact, some operate with just three because they deny the role of The Apostle.

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