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Sunday, November 12, 2017

11-11-2017 Five Fold Ministry

today's church

The first time I heard of the five-fold ministry was about five or six years ago.  I had been at my current church for a year or a little more at that time and our pastor brought it up at one of the bible studies. 

Now, I had read the New Testament a number of times by then and the Paul’s letters a few more times but never connected to the list in Ephesians chapter four with anything other than a list of gifts.  But at this bible study it clicked.  Father said “I want you to learn about this for it is important.”  And he gave me the tasks to learn about some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers (Eph. 4:11).  Having been saved in a mainstream church I was very familiar with the pastor, teacher and evangelist.  I mean all churches had a pastor and some even one or two associate pastors as well.  Sunday School?  The pastor didn’t teach it all.  And it seems that always once a year we had an evangelist come in and preach a revival.  I also knew that Jesus named the twelve ‘apostles’ and later Paul declared himself an apostle (1 Corinth. 9:1-2). 

After leaving the mainstream churches and travelling through several Pentecostal/full gospel denominations I also became familiar with the prophet.  They were the guys (or gals) who could come in to visit, say they saw sickness or problems in certain lives then asking those individuals involved to come up for prayer and to be healed.  But, I never heard anyone speak of an apostle nor saw one (that I know of).  So after the pastor’s exposure and what Father subsequently showed me, a few years ago, was an eye opener.

Over the past several years, I’ve encountered a number of people professing each of these offices and not a few claiming apostleship.  Now, I don’t get around a whole lot so this is in a reasonably contained area, just a few surrounding states, travelling less than two hundred miles in any direction. 
We know that there is one body, one Spirit and we are called in one hope.  There is one Father who is above all, connects all and in all and every one of us  has a measure of faith to operate in the gift given by Christ… when He was ascended He gave gifts to men… that He might fill all things (Eph. 4:4-10).    

These five gifts are all ministries so it’s important to follow up verse eleven with the next five verses.  For the perfecting of the saints, the working of the ministry and the edifying of the body of Christ, until all have come into the unity of faith (same page), the knowledge of the Son of God, to become a perfect man who measures up to the standards of the fullness of Christ.  That we are no longer children, tossed to and fro by with every wind of doctrine which men present us with trickery, cunning or craftiness, with which they try to trick us.  But we, speaking in truth in love, may grow into all things through Christ Jesus who is our head.  So the whole body will be properly placed together as one unit which each of us supplying a  part, according to the measure given each of us so the body can grow and be edified within itself, in love (Eph. 4:12-16).

In short, each office in this list is designed to help bring the body of Christ to where we live in God’s love, not influenced by the world, so each member can help the whole body grow to its fullest in Christ Jesus by applying God’s love through the gifts.

The early church was quickly swayed by both inside and outside influences.  Paul persuades timothy not to listen to people (in the church) who don’t know what they are talking about and who encourage people to follow them.  Paul reminds Timothy that the law is to reveal the sin of sinners and so he should ignore the stories and genealogies he was hearing (1 Tim. 1-11).  Then Paul encourages Timothy to hold fast to the doctrines he learned from Paul, not being swayed by what he was hearing from other sources (2 Tim. 1-14).     

So, we need to know the original gospel of Jesus Christ so we can identify vain janglings and falsehoods that may come our way.  John encourages us to try the spirits to see if they are of God.  If a spirit confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, it is of God.  If it doesn’t confess Jesus, it is not of God but of the anti-Christ.  The world doesn’t hear God but we are of God so we do (or should) so we can know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error (1 John 4:1-6). 

I mention all this because I’ve read much on the church’s pros and cons on the five-fold ministry, why some of the offices are readily accepted and some aren’t.  Sooooo.  I would like to share some of what Father has shared with me.

First and foremost, each of these ministries is a “service” ministry (.  They serve the body, not the other way around.  They aren’t just a quick, easy way to make ‘easy’ money to make a name for oneself.  Each position is called of God and must meet Father’s ministerial requirements: have a good reputation, wisdom, and full of the Holy Ghost (Acts 6:1-6),  and be blameless, vigilant, sober, good conduct, hospitable, apt to teach, not given to wine, not quarrelsome, not desiring illicit gain, patient, not a brawler, not covetous,  with one wife and rules his house well and serious (about his faith) and speaks what he means 1 Tim. 3:1-12).

It is a “calling”.  We don’t just wake up one morning and decide we want to be an apostle, or a pastor or a teacher.  If we do and we study, we go out in our own strength, that’s exactly what we do, serve in our own strength, which leads to heartache and problems.  WE need to hear and follow the leading of the Holy Ghost (John 16:13).  God called Samuel and later Samuel went out in God’s strength as a judge of Israel (1 Sam. 3:1-10, 20).  He was called and sent.  And don’t forget John the Baptist who would be great in the sight of the Lord … and filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb to be the greatest prophet (Matt. 1:15, Luke 7:28).   Both examples of those called and sent from on High.

There a few other qualities that are common to these positions I’d like to mention.  The people in these position need to have a solid foundation in Jesus Christ (Matt. 7:24-27), the fruit of the Spirit should be evident in their lives (Gal. 5:22-23), they should be led by the spirit (Ga. 5:13-16, 18), how can they teach scripture if they don’t know it (Acts 18:25-26) and they need to renew their minds (Rom. 12:1-2).  They should also be an example of their own teaching (John 13:13-15, Matt. 5:19) and 1 Corinth. 2:13).  They should teach in faith and in truth (1 Tim. 2:7) and they should respect everyone (1 Tim. 6:12) giving preference to no one (Rom. 2:11).  Also, for ALL who believe, there shall be signs following, casting out devils, speaking in tongues, healing the sick and not being hurt by things that may attack us (Mark 16:16-18, Acts 28:1-5 ).

I’m going to visit the list of these positions in reverse order as given in Ephesians eleven, adding a few more qualities or characteristics.

The teacher

A teacher should desire to impart knowledge to others so they can understand what the bible says (1 Corinth. 14:19, Acts 8:26-39) and eventually learn for themselves (Acts 17:10-12).

The pastor

The pastor is the shepherd (Isa. 40:11) of his flock (church).  From the pulpit, he has to address the full congregation so he brings a deeper understanding of the word, helping his flock to apply it into their own lives (Ezek. 34:22-23).  He also can provide individual counsel to meet specific needs (Gen. 18:13-16). 

The pastor should also not be a novice (1 Corinth. 3:1-4) and have outgrown the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21).

As he desires to lead the people he should first be a servant (Matt. 20:26-28), protect the church (1 Sam. 17:36), edify, exhort and comfort (1 Corinth. 14:3) and admonish it (Heb. 12:6).           

He also serves as the CEO (Acts 6:1-7) of the church.  He organizes by setting up help (Exod. 18:17-24) and keeping the house of God in order (1 Corinth. 14:33).  He doesn’t necessarily control but monitors the church finances (Matt. 25:14-30).  A good CEO knows what’s going on in his realm of influence.  He also performs ceremonial duties for the church like weddings, funerals, baptism, etc. as generally practiced in today’s churches.


The evangelist brings the “good news” of Jesus Christ, that is the words that bring souls into the kingdom of God, salvation (Isa. 52:7).

A good evangelist must be a truly humble man (James 4:10) for who will listen to a proud man?  He must speak the gospel in boldness not fearing the results (Acts 6:8, 7:1-60 Stephen).  He must understand his audience (Acts 13:14-31).

He brings the gospel because God loves us.  We as believers then receive salvation (John 3:16) and Power (Acts 1:8) which leads to our resurrection (John 11:25).  In preaching the word, he needs to protect the true doctrine (Titus 2:1-15) as he carries the word to the people (Matt. 28:18-20).  Remembering he needs to admonish, exhort and comfort (1 Corinth. 14:23, Heb. 12:6).


The prophet speaks under divine inspiration.  He brings words of encouragement to help souls, individually or collectively, stay in God’s grace or press forward or he revels that which is necessary to draw souls back into God’s fold.

 He speaks what God gives him (Jer. 1:9, Mark 13:11).   He is called by God (2 Tim. 1:6-11) and operates in wisdom and knowledge (1 Corinth. 12:7-8).  He edifies and doesn’t grieve the Holy Ghost (Eph. 4:29-30).  He mentors and trains others to follow (1 Sam. 2:11, Prov. 22:6, Matt. 4:18-20). 

He is tentative to God’s word and knows God’s voice and desires to encourage others to stay the right path and/to reach their fullest potential (Matt. 7:13-14).
The prophet also knows his audience (Act 17:16-31) for he is the ‘mouthpiece’, spokesman, for God (I Sam. 9:9, 9:15-20).  He is a watchman (Ezek. 3:16-22) who also exhorts, edifies and comforts (1 Corinth. 14:3) and prays for others (Col. 8-11).

The Apostle

Apostle means “one sent”, by God to initiate or reform the church.  The apostle brings a clear understanding of salvation, how souls should live for Christ and he establishes a church so that it functions in God’s love.

The apostle also speaks with boldness (Acts 6:8, 7:1-60) and operates in wisdom and knowledge (1 Corinth. 12:7-8).  He needs to be able to recognize God’s gift in others (1 Corinth. 2:9-16).  He, especially, needs to be called of God (Mark 3:13-19 the 12, Acts 9:1-18 Paul) for the responsibility of the task.

He needs to understand who God is, what our relationship is with Him, how to live in Him and to relate that with others. 

He does everything that everyone else does and has to be able to train (as necessary) and help others to do the same.  He must be prepared to travel for God (Acts 13:1-4 Paul & Barnabas).  He has the authority to appoint church leadership (Acts 14:19-23), at least he (the apostle) is the only one, other than Jesus who seems to do so.  Not forgetting that Peter had those in Antioch appoint their leaders to help (Acts 6:1-6). 

The apostle lays the foundation for personal lives and the lives of the church (1 Corinth. 3:9-15, Col. 2:6-7) for the twelve apostles are the foundation in the New Jerusalem in heaven (Rev. 21:9-14).

Now, some arguments

First, I’m not aware of anyone who argues the final three positions mentioned in Ephesians Four: evangelist, pastor and teacher except I do hear here is “pastor and teachers’ are combined into one position ‘pastors/teachers’ because a comma is used after each apostle, prophet and evangelist and the word ‘and’ separates pastor and teacher implying a dual ‘responsibility’.  The argument is that this is a combined office, the same person cannot teach all the Sunday School classes at one time!  So, we need more than one teacher to cover all the bases so it would stand to reason teacher stands separate because we need more than one.   Even though the pastor must be inclined to teach as well.

Now, I’m familiar with two basic arguments which seem to argue the validity of two offices, in particular,  of the five-fold ministries , the apostle and the prophet. 

1) Jesus named twelve as apostles (Luke 6:13-16) Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon Zelotes, James, the brother of John and Judas Iscariot.  The argument I’ve heard is that because Jesus named only these twelve as apostles, these men are the only true apostles.  Now remember that Matthias replaced Judas Iscariot (Act 1:16-26) to be among the original twelve. 

Now, if these are the only apostles, the first conflict is Paul (Saul) who calls himself an apostle (Rom. 1:1).  Paul declares himself equal to the chiefest apostles (most likely the twelve) for he worked signs and wonders in the Corinthians presence (2 Corinth. 12:11-12) OR, this statement could be an allusion to other apostles other than the ‘original’ twelve.  Paul tells the Romans to salute Andronicus and Junia … who are of note among the apostles … (Rom 16:7).  Were these noted by Peter and the other apostles or were they apostles themselves or did mighty things to the twelve’s witness?  The biggest argument for apostles, other than the twelve, is Ephesians 4:11 itself.  The implication here is that these offices, all five, are given for the church’s continued growth – through the ages.    We read where Peter and the apostles were commanded to go into all the world with the gospel (Mat. 28:19-20, Acts 1:8).  If these apostles were the only ones who could establish the church, why would they need Paul?  The twelve apostles were for Israel as Paul was specified for the Gentiles.  Jesus Himself anointed Paul (Acts 9:15), thus allowing him into the list of apostles.  

Understand, Judas Iscariot died about the same time of the crucifixion, Paul between 64-67 AD (depending on who you read) and all the rest of the apostles had been martyred by about 74 AD, save John who was believed to have died a natural death about 95 AD.  Obviously, they had not gone into all the world (they  travelled by foot, or at best donkey) at this time to preach the gospel, so if there were no more apostles, who would establish new churches in other areas?  That’s what an apostle does.  Establish churches!  Surely, if apostles ended with the original twelve and Paul why would he imply (in his letters) that these five gifts would continue on?  I personally feel that if any of these offices were to end with the original apostles, they all would have.  But all five are needed for the church to function properly.  Yes, we have missionaries who start new churches is other countries, but aren’t they, in effect being apostles in performing this task?  Yes, we encourage each other, yet the prophet encourages individuals and the church.  I speak for myself, there are times I need to hear from God.  I hear from prophets today and I hear from God myself.   Rejecting apostles and prophets, we readily accept the other three.  But, are any of these offices truly not needed?

2) When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away with (1 Corinth.13:8-12).  The question here is “What is the perfect?”  I’ve heard that it’s the creeds, the bible and spiritual maturity or maybe, could it be just maybe, our true maturity comes when Jesus calls us home?  For surely, at that time there will be no more discussion about who is right or who “knows” what God really meant.  Jesus, Himself, will clear up all the issues.  

The creed originated with the old Roman Creed, dating from sometime in the second century, the Apostle’s Creed, attributed to the apostles but not referenced until the late forth century is generally accepted but, the church gives preference to the Niocene Creed, also dating from the late fourth century (325 and 381), the Chalcedonian Creed dates from the mid fifth century or the Athanasian Creed dating from the mid sixth century.  The church generally consideres what is called the Niocene Creed which was considered ‘finalized’ in Chalcedon in 451 AD.  Too many creeds, some more complete than others but still man’s rendition of what we believe.  Which one do we really abide by?  
Which one of these perfect?
The bible?  Which version.  The first complete bible the church first used was the Latin Vulgate, finalized by Jerome in 405 AD.  It was based on the Greek Septuagint (the Hebrew bible written in Greek for Pharaoh Ptolemy’s library in Alexandria, Egypt) and the Greek New Testament writings available in Jerome’s time.  John Wycliffe produced an English translation of the Latin Vulgate about 1382 AD, which led to more attempts at an English translation, even before King James (1611 & 1639).  The 1611 edition included the arguable “apocrypha”, the 1639 edition did not. Which would be the perfect edition?  From King James through today how many translations/versions of the English bible do we have today?  Which is truly the perfect translaltion?  They all have some variances.  If the bible were ‘perfect’ why hasn’t Christianity settled on only one version as ‘absolutely the perfect bible’?

The five gifts are given for the perfecting of the saints, work of the ministry, edifying of the body until we become unified in faith in the knowledge of Jesus to a perfect man … (Eph. 4:12-13).  If these gifts are given to help us become ‘the perfect’, that perfectness cannot be handed down from generation to generation unless there is someone to continue to promote it.  There must be someone to guide each generation into understanding.  If any of the gifts are no longer needed, that implies that we are already living in a perfect world in Christ Jesus.  Yeah!  Right!  When do we really become perfect?  I know that I won’t be until I’m with Jesus in person.  My flesh keeps getting in the way here in this life (Rom. 8:21-25).  By the grace of God, my life may be improving each passing year but until I’m with Jesus???  Not there yet!

So, I contend that all these gifts are still necessary for the church to function properly.  None of them have passed away or ceased to operate or to be acknowledged or at least shouldn’t have. 
How many churches do you see where all these gifts are in full operation?  How many churches can we find which have no problems.  Why did Paul write his letters?  As he wrote to each church “I praise you for this, but ….”  The churches still had problems.  Read the letters.  And until we are without problems, are we perfect?

Think about it.  Father has given us tools to bring the church into unity.  Not a mega church, but many members working together, in unity, to accomplish HIS will in this world.  We can only affect the realm God gives us, but indeed we should to the best of our ability by seeking how God wants us to serve Him and do just that – affect the world around us to the best of our God-given ability..


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