Friday, January 29, 2016

Given to Build–Getters and Shapers (John 4:11)

“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,” (Ephesians 4:11, NASB95)

Having first looked at the apostles and prophets who were given to lay the foundation for the church, next we look at those that Christ has given to do the ongoing task of working to build up the church—the evangelist and the pastor-teacher. One is given to presenting people with the good news of salvation and the other with the shepherding and instruction in how to live as saved members of the body of Christ—His church. Again, what follows is the summary overview of these two offices from the course on Spiritual Gifts prepared for Calvary Crossroads Church where I privileged to serve.

EVANGELIST. A messenger of God, called and supernaturally spiritually gifted, to influence the unsaved to trust in the good news of Jesus Christ’s redemptive story (Romans 6:23). Jesus modeled this gift of evangelism with Nicodemus (John 3:16). The good news is, in the words of Paul; “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10:9,10). Philip was known as an evangelist (Acts 8:4-13; 21:8), as was Timothy (2 Tim. 4:5). Surely, there were many more. And there have been many more throughout the history of the church. We even have evangelists today. The New Testament evangelist proclaims the good news.

In the first century, the early church Fathers knew there was no apostolic succession. A study of the first-century church provides helpful information in understanding the New Testament. The things that they believed are indicative of what the New Testament writers meant because there was such a short time span between them. It might be important to note here that the apostles endorsed a new form of church leadership for which guidelines were set forth, and that was the position of elder or overseer.

PASTOR-TEACHER. The supernatural spiritual gift and calling to shepherd the flock of God (guarding, guiding, encouraging, warning, etc.), feed them with the Word of God, and equip them to find their gifts so that they, too, can do the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11,12). Peter (John 21:15-17; 1 Peter 5:1-15).

The pastor-teacher is given to the church to remain in a local congregation and minister to its practical needs by applying doctrine. He is doing what the prophet did in a revelatory sense but using God’s Word. He is shepherding the church: guarding, defending, warning, challenging, instructing, building walls around it for its protection, and motivating it on a long-term basis.

Verse 11 began with, “And He gave….” In my time of searching out where God has next called me to serve I have been asked and had to answer the question about my certainty of this calling of God on my life. There is a lot to this answer which includes both desire and opportunity. The church belongs to Christ. We are called to seek after Him and follow Him in obedience. We are also read that He gives us the desires of our hearts. As we seek after Him and submit to His will and His way, He somehow does the incredible work knowing that this is what He wants as He also brings us to where He wants us. Both of these come together to form a conviction that says, “God, I’m yours.” Regardless of whether God has given you to serve as an evangelist or a pastor-teacher or He has given you the gifting and opportunity to serve in any other area of His church we are still His.

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:4–7, NASB95)

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