He Gave Gifts to Men:
In this series of studies on the Glorious Church, we have determined that Jesus is the Head of the Church which is His body and looked at how He said that He would build it, based on Peter's revelation of who He was.
This page is devoted to a group of ministry gifts that is as valid now as the day Jesus gave them to us. These gifts are men. They are men (no gender implied) who occupy specific offices or positions within the church and are listed in Ephesians chapter four that says-
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
I would also draw your attention to something else Paul said about various gifts-
Now you are the body of Christ, and every one of you the separate parts of it.
There are many and various gifts or enablements that have been given to the church. I liken them to tools with which we can do the job. In Paul's letter to the church at Corinth, portion of which is listed above, he taught on the gifts that the Holy Spirit bestows on us. I deal with them in the page titled The Holy Spirit and His Gifts and recommend you visit that and associated pages. But now to what is known as the Five ascension gift ministries that Jesus gave to His Church.
The Divine call:
The Gospel accounts of Matthew 3:1-3 chapter three and Luke chapter three describe the appearance of John the Baptist who came to prepare the way for Jesus. John preached about the coming kingdom (that is God’s way of doing things).
John baptized Jesus upon whom the Holy Spirit descended and Jesus went into the wilderness for forty day and forty nights of fasting. During that time, the devil tempted him, appealing to the three main areas in which he tempts us all, namely the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. Hebrews 3:1-2.
The word used for Apostle here is apostolos. It comes form the word apostellō. It talks about someone who has been specifically chosen or set apart for a specific mission. This person is a delegate, ambassador or representative of the one who chose him. He or she is the person who has been sent on an assignment.
Jesus therefore was called or chosen by God and set apart for a specific assignment.
The Lord then started His ministry and then began choosing others to assist Him. Matthew 4:18-22 states that Jesus called Simon called Peter, Andrew, James and John, telling them to follow Him. Luke says in Luke 5:27 that Jesus called Levi, telling Him to follow also.
In Luke 6:1, we see reference to Jesus and His disciples. Some time later, He healed the man with the withered hand and prayed during the night. What happened next is interesting.
One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles. Here are their names: Simon (whom he named Peter), Andrew (Peter’s brother), James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (who was called the zealot), Judas (son of James), Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him). Luke 6:12-16.
We tend to think that Jesus only had 12 disciples, but this is not true. This account shows that He had a group of disciples and from this group He chose 12 for specific purposes.
Obviously therefore, Jesus had many more followers than the 12. Out of this group of people, Jesus picked a special group of people for specific roles.
What we can see here is a principle in that God calls certain people for certain tasks. He calls everyone of us of course, but in this context there is a specific “call” on “chosen people” who are set apart for His purpose. The ministry in the church today is not a vocation or a career as some have made it, but a Divine call.
Hebrews 13:8 states-
God’s word does not change. Se Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 5:18; Matthew 24:35; 1 Peter1:25.
We know where we stand with God at all times. He does not change. His principles remain consistent.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17
With such things in mind, the way Jesus does things in building His Church, including choice, selection, ordaining and equipping the saints for His tasks has not changed. The only thing that has changed is how we go about it. We have modern day technology now to help us, but the task or objective remains the same.
It has been said that such gifts were only “temporary” and thus given to help get the church started. It is also stated that once the original apostles died out, they had completed their tasks and got the church started. It is also said that we now have the bible and so do not need such things any longer.
The scriptures themselves tell us the truth.
Furthermore, he gave some people as emissaries, some as prophets, some as proclaimers of the Good News, and some as shepherds and teachers. Their task is to equip God’s people for the work of service that builds the body of the Messiah, until we all arrive at the unity implied by trusting and knowing the Son of God, at full manhood, at the standard of maturity set by the Messiah’s perfection.
These ministries long to see each and every individual member of the body fit into its place and function as designed to fulfil their functions. A classic example is the human body itself. An eye cannot do what the ear does and vice-versa. The leg may take us places, but everything has to rest on the foot or the body will perhaps fall over.
With such illustrations, you may see that the gift ministries have a definite purpose and are here for the duration. Nowhere in scripture is a statement that says that God took these offices out of the Church and that the Church no longer needs them. In the twenty-first century, we need them more than ever
Before we move onto the gifts themselves, let us see what is meant by perfecting the saints.
His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ's body (the church), [That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ's own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him.
When we receive Jesus as our Saviour, it is by a conscious decision. The preaching of the Cross is the vehicle. The Holy Spirit takes the preaching of the word of God and convicts the listener in some way that he or she must act on that preaching.
Salvation is a free gift.
Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)
After our conversion, God calls us saints. The Greek word is hagios and it refers to being made holy or righteous. No human being has this right or ability to declare us a saint—God does!
In simple terms before our conversion experience we lived in the world. Once we met Jesus, our lives are changed forever. Paul says that we go through a change process that I liken to the change that turns an ugly grub into a beautiful butterfly.
This born again experience (see John 3:3-8) means that we start afresh and, just like a newborn baby does, we need to be fed and nurtured as if at mother’s breast. Peter puts is this way-
What we need to understand is that we have started a new way of life and have to learn new things just as someone has to reprogram a computer. We were programmed in that old life and now have to adapt and God has provided the resources such as illustrated above with which we can do this.
It is understandable therefore that many believers will be at different stages of development in their lives with the Lord. Some have just been born again whilst others have been saved for a longer period of time. We are all therefore at differing stages of growth and development.
When it comes to the perfecting of the saints in our core text, the scriptures talk about spiritual maturity. The five ascension gift ministries have been given to us to help us grow more and more in Christ each day. In so doing the believer gains better understanding of the things of God and grows up into adulthood so that he or she can I turn be fruitful and able to reproduce and become a parent to new converts and so the cycle goes on.
Paul told a young pastor-
His advice is very relevant today. We are indeed living in troubled times in which all kinds of religion are being promoted or people are living as if God does not exist.
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times.
There are two words or phrases to consider in Paul’s advice. One is approved. The other is rightly dividing.
The word approved is Dokimos.
As it is today, people pay good money for gold and silver and expect to receive the full weight of that commodity.
Unscrupulous moneychangers shaved off those rough edges and kept the filings. After a while, they accumulated a considerable and valuable amount.
People were thus being cheated.
The situation grew so bad that laws were made to make this practice illegal. The coinage had to be full weight or approved and thus full value of the precious metal. The term used was dokimos.
Today, people are being cheated of the full value of precious truth by various man-made religion ideas and opinions. Part of the function of the five ascension gift ministries is to ensure “dokimos”.
The second thing to consider is the term rightly dividing. It is the Greek word Orthotomeō. Its basic meaning is to make a clean, straight and sharp cut or incision.
It is derived from two words, one of which is Orthos. It speaks about precise vertical or horizontal alignment and about being level, straight and true, or honesty. The second word is Tomos. This describes the act of being able to make precise, straight, sharp, cleanly divisions or incisions. Some references to Orthotomeō are made in medical science. Imagine having surgery when the doctor uses a blunt scalpel and has to repeatedly make hacking, chopping movements during surgery. I’d prefer one precise, clean incision that that if I needed surgery.
Paul thus stated that our studies of God’s word should be clearly defined, accurate, precise and have the results that God intended them to have.
This is one reason for our presentations. We desire for you, the reader, to know God and to experience everything He has for you, without having to guess, or be left useless and powerless in all areas of life.
Our studies are all based on scripture and designed to bring you to the state whereby you can meet the following criteria… approved to God, perfect in Christ and compete in Him.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17.