4 Question 1

I really appreciate this follow-up question to remarks made in our first broadcast.  In the portion that we referred to in Ephesians, chapter four, there are actually five gifts mentioned. While there are other gifts, or manifestations of the Spirit given in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12, let’s look at Ephesians 4:10-16 – “He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)  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 fulness of Christ:   That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”  I like to read all of these verses together because they are all part of one sentence.  We get a better understanding of the meaning if we read it as a whole.

So we see mentioned here apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers…these five.  Of these, we no longer have the gifts of New Testament apostles and prophets.  To understand why I say that, let’s read Ephesians 2:19-22 – “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

The apostles and New Testament prophets laid the foundation for the church, of which we are built upon, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.  With the foundation laid, there is no need to lay another foundation on top of it, so there is no need for apostles and prophets today (as gifts to the church).  We may still prophecy today in the sense of 1 Corinthians 14:29-31, which says, “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.” This, however, is without the Apostolic authority of these that laid the foundation.  This prophesying is not a foretelling of future events, but rather a telling forth the mind of God as revealed in His Word as we read in 1 Corinthians 14:3 – “But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.”

The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:10-11 – “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”  He tells us here that, as a wise masterbuilder, he has laid the foundation and that now we build upon that foundation.  With that said, let’s look at the other three gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4.

The word “evangelist” means preacher of the Gospel.  We know that the Gospel is the good news that God sent His only-begotten son, the Lord Jesus Christ, here to die for sinful men and women like me and you.  So an evangelist may spend much time sharing the Gospel with others.  Does this mean the evangelist always speaks from a pulpit?  Absolutely not!  With a true heart for the salvation of lost souls, the evangelist finds himself sharing the Gospel with people everywhere he goes: passing out tracts in the streets or markets; going door to door to speak to people about their need of salvation; always ready to share the Word with those he meets.  The true evangelist will not wait until he can gather a crowd of people together to speak; he will go to the people where he is able to speak to them.

Next is the pastor.  In every other instance in the Bible, the Greek word for pastor is translated ‘shepherd.’  From doing missionary work in Mexico, I have noticed that the Spanish version of the Bible uses the word shepherd here in Ephesians 4.  What does a shepherd do?  Reading Psalm 23 will give us a very good outline of the work of a shepherd.  He is the one that gathers the sheep to a place of safety, nourishment, and rest.  Today, the pastor, or shepherd, is one who seeks to lead the Lord’s sheep into the very presence of the Lord, Himself, so that they may feed upon Christ.  The pastor is one who has a heart for the Lord’s people and seeks to help draw them close to the Lord.

The teacher is one who has the gift of being able to instruct or teach God’s Word in a very effective and understandable way.  He also has a deep concern that the people of God know and follow the truth of God’s Word.  We might say that the shepherd’s desire is to gather the Lord’s people around Christ while the teacher’s desire is to gather the Lord’s people to the truth of God’s Word.  With the difference in these two gifts, we can easily see that both are needed so that we might “henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.”

We see from Ephesians 4:7-8, that each member of the body of Christ has a gift or even gifts.  This says, “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.”  For the body of Christ to truly function as the Lord intends, each member should realize that they have a part to play in the body.  Which part of your natural body do you not need?  Which part of your body can you do away with and not be affected?  Even so with the body of Christ all are needed, all are gifted, and all have a function to perform to serve and honor the Lord.  1 Corinthians 12:22-23 assures us that, “Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.”

It is not scriptural to think that one person in a local church is the one who is to use his gift while everyone else benefits from that gift.  We are all to use our gifts as the Lord leads so that we might edify, or strengthen, each other.  Who do we look to so that we know when and how to use our gifts?  We look to the one in charge.  Let’s look at Colossians 1:12-18, which says, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:  In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”  As we look to the Lord, He will guide us in the use of our gifts so that we might help each other and glorify His name in His church.  (4.1)