“And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors 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.” Ephesians 4:11-14
With knowledge comes responsibility. It was just the other day that I was in conversation with someone about this very thing. Knowledge, in and of itself, is a gift, and one that many in this world unfortunately go without. It is a gift, but it is also a responsibility. To know and to do nothing with that knowledge is to waste the gift of it. Spiritual gifts are just that – they are gifts, freely given to each and every follower of Jesus Christ. These gifts, however, were not given to collect dust. With these gifts come responsibility. We are to use the gifts given to us for God’s glory and for His church.
Aside from Ephesians 4, there are three other passages in the New Testament that contain lists of spiritual gifts: Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, and 1 Peter 4:10-11. While none of these lists are exhaustive in themselves, they compliment one another and reveal to us God’s design regarding the gifts of the Spirit. Take a moment and read each of these passages.
Today, we’re going to look at the four spiritual gifts that we’re given in Ephesians 4, starting with the spiritual gift of apostleship. The term “apostle” in Scripture means “sent one” and was particularly reserved for the twelve disciples plus Paul, all of whom had seen the risen Christ in the flesh, or in Paul’s case during his conversion on the road to Damascus. Another qualifying factor for apostleship was that they were directly chosen by Christ Himself. They didn’t seek this title for themselves; it was given to them. Their primary responsibilities were to lay the foundation of the early church, to receive, declare, and write God’s Word, and to perform signs and wonders that would confirm the Word.
The second gift listed in our Ephesians passage is the gift of prophecy. While this gift in the Old Testament manifested itself most in the foretelling of future events, its expression in the New Testament is more focused on determining what God’s will was in certain situations. Prophecy within the early church of the New Testament existed primarily for work within local congregations. Often times, the office of prophet was used to expound upon or to provide practical application for revelation already given.
The third gift we’ll look at today from Ephesians 4 is the gift of evangelism. An evangelist is one who proclaims the good news of Jesus Christ and His salvation to unbelievers. While apostles were responsible for receiving the Word and writing it down, evangelists were responsible for speaking it to any and all who did not yet believe. This is a gift that comes with boldness to proclaim the mystery of the Gospel.
Finally, there are pastors and teachers, two different words here that are used to describe a singular term, an office of leadership within the church. This gift refers to the teaching shepherd, one who oversees the flock.
Don’t miss this. These gifts are given for the building up and equipping of the saints. The early believers were at constant risk of being persuaded by false teaching and false prophecy. Those given these gifts were to use them to help prevent this from happening. It comes down to knowing God’s Word and doing God’s Word. When the body of Christ uses the gifts we have been given, the church is a healthy place to be. When we sit on our gifts, afraid to use them or simply not sure what our gifts are, our light in this dark world is stifled. God gave us gifts. Use them for His glory. Use them for His people.