Ministry Resources

Spiritual Gifts

Spiritual gifts are very important to the body of Christ. It is exciting to learn about these gifts which God has made available to His children. Without these gifts the church cannot exist or move ahead. As believers we must learn all we can about spiritual gifts. Series written by Robert L. Brandt.

Evangelists and Pastor-Teachers

In our last lesson we studied two of the gifts of ministry— apostles and prophets. We discovered there were two kinds of apostles. First, there was a special group called the twelve apostles. They worked with Jesus in planting the church. Some of them wrote books of the New Testament. Those in the second group are listed in Ephesians 4:11; they were to go forth into new territory planting and developing the body of Christ. However, none of them were to write Scripture, for that work was completed when the books in the New Testament were complete. We also learned that the prophet had a twofold task— forth telling and foretelling. Now we are ready to learn about the three remaining gifts in this group.

This lesson will acquaint us with the gifts of ministry known as evangelists, and pastor-teachers. We will study about pastors and teachers in a single section, since it is commonly accepted that both gifts apply to one ministry.

It is evident many people are used of the Lord in these gifts of ministry. Therefore, it is very possible you will sense the Lord’s hand leading you into one of them.

He Gave Some Evangelists

The Giver Identified

While studying our first lesson on the gifts of ministry, we learned that Christ is the giver of these gifts. We saw, too, that there is no conflict between Ephesians 4:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:28 regarding who gives these gifts. That is, we understood that Christ and God are the same because God is three persons in one—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Christ is the second person in the Godhead. Therefore, it is correct to say that Christ is God.

Now, we want to learn some more about the Giver. In Ephesians 4, He, Christ, is identified as the Head, “we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (verse 15). Everything which reaches the body comes through the Head. This includes both the gifts of ministry and the nourishment for the body. “Under Christ’s control the whole body is nourished and held together by its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God wants it to grow” (Colossians 2:19).

Our natural head serves three general functions: (1) it knows, (2) it sees to it that needs are met, and (3) it controls. These same functions apply to Christ in relation to the gifts of ministry.

The Head Knows the Needs of the Body

Our feet do not know the needs of the physical body. Neither do our arms, our legs, nor any other part of our body. Sometimes, in the body of Christ, members take it upon themselves to select certain members to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, or pastors and teachers. That is like the foot telling the hand what its function is to be. It is only Christ, the Head, who knows the needs of His body. He can decide what members of His body can minister to those needs. The members of His body may help one another, but they cannot give spiritual gifts. Only He, the Head, is the giver.

The Head Sees that the Body’s Needs Are Met

Sometimes our own head knows that our body needs more milk, because our bones break too easily. Then our head sees to it that milk is given to meet the need. In the same manner Christ, the Head, sees to it that the needs of His body are met.

The Head Controls the Body

Our head controls our own body. After it has seen to it that the needs of our body have been met, it gives direction to each part of the body. A healthy leg on our body does not decide what is good for the body. Instead it takes directions from our head to minister to the body’s need. Likewise, Christ, after He has given gifts to His body, gives direction for their use.

The Receiver Revealed

For every gift there has to be a receiver. Again, we are reminded that both the individual member and the whole body are involved in receiving. While individual members are gifted to be evangelists, the gifted ones are given to the body.

Our interest now is in who are selected to be evangelists. Who receives this gift of ministry? There is a sense in which each believer is to be an evangelist. “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). Someone may say, “Oh, that does not apply to me. That command was given to the eleven disciples, who were the special apostles.” We must see another Scripture which was also spoken to the eleven, “and teaching them (that is, you apostles teach the new believers) to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). It is true, the eleven received the command to “go throughout the whole world and preach.” But then they were commanded to teach the new believers obedience to every command. Thus, we conclude that all believers are to be evangelists.

However, the evangelist who has a gift of ministry is different in some ways.

God knows which members of the body He can best use as evangelists. Their ministries may not begin as evangelists. The first two evangelists we can identify in Acts, besides the apostles themselves, were Philip and Stephen. Both of them began as handlers of money. “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them. . . They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; [and] also Philip” (Acts 6:2-3, 5).

Others were also chosen for that work, but of the whole group, only Stephen and Philip became evangelists. Stephen was killed, possibly after his first evangelistic message. But Philip is later called an evangelist in Acts 21:8, “we stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist.” Philip became an evangelist in about 33 A.D. He was still an evangelist in 60 A.D. This indicates that evangelism was his life’s work.

Part of the reason that Stephen and Philip were chosen for this great responsibility could have been their faithfulness to the work of the Lord. Read Luke 19:11-19 to learn how God rewards those who are faithful to their responsibility.

There were other reasons why these two believers were chosen by the Head to be evangelists. They were full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. “Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power” (Acts 6:8).

Those chosen by the Head to be evangelists are chosen for several reasons. These include faithfulness, being full of the Holy Spirit, full of wisdom, full of faith, and full of power. Probably God looks for other qualities also. Let’s remember, too, that He knows who will have the right qualities, even before anyone else knows they have them. For example, He may call a young person to be an evangelist before that young person or anyone else knows he has the necessary qualities. He called Samuel to be a prophet in Israel when he was very young. (See 1 Samuel 3.)

The receiver, then, is a believer whom God knows is qualified, or whom God will qualify, for the task.

The Function Expounded

The evangelist’s chief function is understood from the meaning of the word evangelist. Evangelist means “one who announces good tidings.” There may be many kinds of good tidings in the world. The good tidings announced by the evangelist concerns the gospel. Paul gave a brief explanation of what the gospel is in 1 Corinthians 15:14. It includes three main points: (1) Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, (2) He was buried, and (3) He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.

While the evangelist’s chief function is to tell the gospel, he has also another function. The telling of the gospel is usually intended for unbelievers. Yet, Paul, when speaking of the gifts of ministry in Ephesians 4, placed upon evangelists responsibility for preparing “God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (verse 12). One of the best ways this can be done, is by example. For us, there are good examples in the Bible.

The evangelist’s function will be better understood if we examine the life and ministry of the one person called an evangelist in the Bible. That was Philip. Study this list of things about Philip carefully.

  1. He went to Samaria and preached Christ (Acts 8:5).
  2. He spoke to the people and performed miracles (Acts 8:6).
  3. He brought joy to the city (Acts 8:8).
  4. He baptized those who believed (Acts 8:12).
  5. He obeyed the Lord regarding where he should minister (Acts 8:26-27).
  6. He received definite directions from the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:29).
  7. He shared the gospel with a lone individual (Acts 8:30-35).
  8. He preached the gospel in many cities (Acts 8:40).
  9. He evangelized his own family (Acts 21:9).

We can also learn some things about the evangelist and his ministry by examining the life and ministry of Stephen. The Bible does not call him an evangelist by his ministry. Note the following items:

  1. He did great wonders and miracles among the people (Acts 6:8).
  2. He acted with great wisdom and in the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:10).
  3. He acted in a good way when he was persecuted (Acts 6:15).
  4. He preached the Word of God clearly and with power (Acts 7:2.53).
  5. He told the truth fearlessly, though it cost him his life (Acts 7:51-53).
  6. He forgave his murderers (Acts 7:60).
  7. He became the church’s first martyr.

Not all evangelists have to have the same experiences as Philip and Stephen. But we can learn much about the basic function of this gift from them.

Another Scripture reference which should be examined is “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5). Here is an indication that this gift is sometimes coupled with another gift. Timothy, who received the command, stated above, was a pastor. We will study the main function of a pastor in our next chapter. We should keep in mind that one who is a pastor may also be an evangelist. These two ministries have much in common.

The Development Explained

Every gift of ministry, though it is given by Christ, needs to be developed. A baby may be a perfectly shaped human being, but that does not mean it is fully developed. It takes years of development before it is full grown. The gift of evangelism is a good and perfect gift from the Head of the body. Yet, before it reaches its full usefulness, much development is necessary.

Consider four steps in developing the gift.

Much Prayer

The twelve apostles were also evangelists. Notice what the Bible says about their praying. We “will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:4). Read also Acts 3:2 and 10:9. Prayer enables the evangelist to be full of the Holy Spirit. When he is full of the Spirit his preaching brings results.

Much Study of God’s Word

The Bible is the sword of the Spirit. (See Ephesians 6:17.) The Spirit can only use what we place in His hand. We place the “sword” in His hand to the degree that we know the Word. Preaching of God’s Word is the very heart of evangelism. (Read 2 Timothy 2:15.)

Much Learning to Hear and Obey God’s Voice

The special leading of the Holy Spirit is very important to evangelism. (See Acts 8:29; 9:10-17; 16:6-11.) We learn by experience. Experience teaches us how to separate our own thoughts from what God may be saying to us.

Much Evangelizing

There is no better way to develop the ministry gift of evangelism than by evangelizing. This can be seen in the ministry of C.M. Ward, who was one of the most able evangelists of our time. But, he was not always so able an evangelist. When first beginning his ministry, during one service he completely forgot what he had planned to say. He left the service without preaching. That did not mean he was not an evangelist. It did mean he needed more experience at evangelizing. He applied himself to this task year after year. He used his gift at every opportunity and became known as a most able evangelist.

He Gave Some Pastor-Teachers

The Giver Identified

Thus far in our study we have noted three special things about the One who gives the gifts of ministry.

  1. We have learned that the Giver is Christ.
  2. We have learned that the Giver, Christ, is also God.
  3. We have learned that the Giver, Christ, is also Head of the body.

Now, we are ready to discover that the Giver, Christ, is also Savior of the body. “Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior” (Ephesians 5:23). Savior means “a deliverer.” How does the Giver relate to the body as a deliverer in the gifts of ministry? We will note three different ways.

He Delivers from Ignorance

Ignorance is the greatest hindrance to faith. Through His gift of teachers, the Head provides for this deliverance. The teacher imparts knowledge to take away the ignorance which hinders faith in the body.

He Delivers from Self-Centeredness

One of the greatest functions of the pastor-teacher gift is to deliver members of the body from self-centeredness. This is done by leading them into the Christ-centered life.

He Delivers Them from Trials

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). Trials are part of living. Even members of the body have trials. Through the pastor-teacher gift, the Giver delivers us from our trials. This does not mean that believers escape all trials at once. It does mean that through the pastor-teacher ministry they escape the defeat trials can bring. They learn to profit from their trials and to turn them into steps for more useful living.

The Receiver Revealed

Of the gifts of ministry, the pastor-teacher is most common. That is, there are more pastor-teachers than apostles, prophets, and evangelists. The reason is that there is a need for more of them in the body. The pastor-teacher is able to meet many needs of the body.

Who receives this gift? In our study of the other gifts of ministry, we have noted that the Head of the Church desires certain qualities in His ministers. These include such things as faithfulness, wisdom, faith, fullness of the Holy Spirit, and power. All of these are also important to the pastor-teacher gift. Yet, above all of these, one other quality is most necessary. This is the quality of loving and caring for people. That is why the term shepherd is so often used in reference to the pastor-teacher ministry. The shepherd loves and cares for his sheep.

The giver of this gift is Himself the Great Shepherd of the sheep. He is called the Chief Shepherd. Those who receive the pastor-teacher gift are to be under-shepherds. That is, they need the same loving and caring qualities as the Chief Shepherd, who is also the Savior of the body

The Function Expounded

The Bible has more to say about the pastor-teacher gift than about any other gift of ministry. We discuss these two gifts, pastors and teachers, together because many Bible students agree they are one gift. The words mean: pastor with a teaching ministry.

In beginning our study of the pastor-teacher function, we must return to Ephesians 4:11-12, “some to be pastors and teachers . . . to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”

We note that the function of the gifts of ministry is the preparation of God’s people for ministry.

Several whole books of the New Testament are especially for pastors. They are called the pastoral epistles. The list includes the two epistles to Timothy and the epistle to Titus. They were written directly to pastors about their functions. You should read each book several times.

To help us understand the pastor-teacher function, we will use, as an illustration, the shepherd of a flock of sheep.

The Shepherd Loves His Sheep and Is Willing to Lay Down His Life for Them

Read John 10:11-15. The Chief Shepherd is the best example for the under-shepherd. The pastor-teacher is able to do little for his flock until he first loves them. Love is the basis for the fruitful function of all spiritual gifts.

The Shepherd Feeds His Flock

“Simon Peter . . . do you truly love me . . .? Feed my lambs. Take care of my sheep” (John 21:15-16). When Peter wrote to the elders (pastors) in his first epistle, he instructed them to “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing” (1 Peter 5:2).

The feed for the flock must be the kind that both the lambs and the sheep can eat. For the lambs, that is the new believers, there is the milk of God’s Word. (See 1 Peter 2:2 and Hebrews 5:13.) For the mature sheep there must be solid food. (See 1 Corinthians 3:1-2, and Hebrews 5:14.)

Read Paul’s instruction to Timothy, who was a pastor teacher: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2). Several more times Paul instructed Timothy to teach. “Command and teach these things” (1 Timothy 4:11). “These are the things you are to teach and urge on them.” (1 Timothy 6:2). “he must be . . . able to teach, not resentful.” (2 Timothy 2:24).

The Shepherd Is a Leader for His Flock

Read John 10:11-12. “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.[ Be shepherds of the church of God . . . I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock” (Acts 20:28-29). This is a great responsibility of the pastor-teacher. The best protection he can give his flock is a solid understanding of God’s Word.

The Shepherd Aims at Reproduction

He wants his sheep to produce more sheep. Much of what he does is governed by that purpose. The pastor-teacher has a similar purpose in mind. Remember the words of the Chief Shepherd, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. . .” (John 10:16). This is why Paul wrote to Timothy, “Do the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5). When the pastor-teacher functions as an evangelist two things happen. First, he brings new members into the body of Christ. Second, he, by his example, also teaches his flock how to bring new members into the flock.

Oneness of Faith

What a great responsibility rests upon those with gifts of ministry. They are to labor at bringing the body of believers to unity of the faith. Unity means “oneness.” (See Psalm 133:1.) The condition in which this oneness of faith is most easily reached is oneness of the Spirit. (See Ephesians 4:3.) Oneness of the Spirit is the soil in which oneness of the faith is best produced. Without oneness of the Spirit, oneness of faith is cold and dead. Oneness of the Spirit is not easily kept. It has to be worked at. It requires right relations with both Christ and with the members of His body. It requires an attitude of love and forgiveness.

Oneness of faith means “believing the same things.” And this, in turn, means believing what the Bible teaches. Thus, part of the purpose for the gifts of ministry is to bring the body to oneness of faith.

Oneness of Knowledge

This is knowledge of a very special kind. It is “our knowledge of the Son of God” (Ephesians 4:13). It is not just knowledge about Christ. It means knowing Him. It means knowing Him in at least three ways. (See Philippians 3:10.)

  1. To experience the power of His resurrection.
  2. To share in His suffering.
  3. To become like Him in His death.

The gifts of ministry are given also to bring the whole body to oneness in this important knowledge.

A Mature People

The King James Version says “a perfect man.” Perfect means “complete.” The tool to be used by those who are gifts to the church is all scripture. The blueprint to guide them in their work is “measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). Blueprint means “the plan which guides a builder.” There is an important relationship between this high purpose—developing a mature people—and the highest purpose of God for the Church. That purpose is that He might have many sons bearing the image of His Son in Glory. (See Romans 8:28-30.)

When the gifts of ministry function as they should, and believers are matured, new members will be added to the body. A healthy, mature body reproduces itself.

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