Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ephesians 4:11-14 Ministry Gifts

Ephesians 4:11-14 lists the ministry gifts bestowed by Christ Himself on the Church. They are as follows: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers.

The gift of the evangelist is rather forthright. The evangelist is a gifted soul-winner. The gift is an outreach ministry carrying a strong message of salvation towards unbelievers. The ministry gift of pastor is generally exalted above all gifts in today’s Church with the pastor at the top of an ecclesiastical hierarchy. This is Satan’s perversion of the gift and should not be so. The gift of pastor is a gift designed to minister to the spiritual needs of local congregations—to the care and nurturing of believers. The gift of teacher is likewise a discipleship ministry to believers. Although the application of these gifts have become somewhat corrupted in the hands of men, few have issues with the validity of the ministry gifts of evangelist, pastor or teacher. However, the gifts of apostles and prophets are extremely controversial and have either been dismissed as obsolete, or have been misunderstood, perverted, and abused.

The ministry gift of prophet is a gift generally directed towards God’s people and has not changed in function from Old Testament to New. Prophets have always spoken under the direct inspiration of God and often showed God’s people their transgression. God’s New Testament people transgress just as his Old Testament people did. God has not left us without the gift of the prophet to help us. The Word of God recorded in 2 Chronicles 20:20 has not changed. If we believe the Lord our God, we will be established. If we believe his prophets, we shall prosper.

Prophets are given much insight into people, situations and even the future, but many today, who present themselves as “prophets,” are in reality nothing but soothe-sayers passing Satan’s counterfeit gift of divination off as "prophecy." This an abominable perversion of the legitimate gift of prophecy and should be rejected by God's people. Knowing and obeying the Word of God in tandem with the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God helps us discern the real from the counterfeit.

The gift of apostle carries with it leadership authority and combines the gifts of prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. Apostles spread the gospel both locally and in faraway places where it has never been heard, and scripture records that they stay and nurture their new converts while they develop new leaders—pastors, teachers, etc., in each location.

Many who are designated as “missionaries” are in reality apostles, but prejudice against the ministry gifts of apostle and prophet along with prejudice against women in the ministry has caused the gifts of these dedicated workers [to the cause of Christ] to go unrecognized. This should not be so. The scriptures command us to recognize those who labor among us.

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 build up and complete the Body of Christ until we all come into the unity of the faith and are mature in every way. That will not happen until Jesus comes. Therefore, the ministry gifts are still needed and are still being bestowed.

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