As the church of Jesus Christ continues the upward climb from the abyss of the "Dark Ages" to its place of predetermined glory, of ruling among the nations, we are experiencing a tremendous unfolding of scriptures, as the Holy Spirit releases revelation after revelation. One such scripture of major importance is Ephesians: 4: 11-13
While we have come to accept the ministry gifts of Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers, it has not been quite so, with that of the Prophet and Apostle. To this end God is raising up prophets as well as end-time apostles to bring His people into the "fullness" of their inheritance in Christ. Many apostles and prophets have been called to begin "networks and schools" for the purpose of raising up many great prophetic and apostolic ministers. The primary goal of these networks and schools is to lead those who are called to the five-fold ministry into the "fullness" of their calling in Christ, so that they may, in turn, lead all those that God has called them to minister to, into the fullness of their inheritance in Christ - thus producing a mighty people who can establish the kingdom of God in the earth.
We believe that God requires accuracy in all that He calls us to do, and therefore we must not proceed with any preconceived notions concerning that which God will do in this last hour. We believe that the revelation God is giving to us, through His holy apostles and prophets in this final hour are extremely vital to all those whose hearts are wholly given and whose desire is to accomplish the will of God for their lives. When each of us begins to walk with the Lord, He begins the process of "renewing our minds" in order that we might "begin" to think as He thinks and see as He sees. We perceive that at this very time God is causing a great transition to take place in the hearts of His people; and He is revealing to them a "leadership" that is trustworthy in the handling of His Word and in the building up of His church in the earth. There have been many in the past that have abused their position of authority in the church and because of this many, many children of God have become disillusioned by those in authority.
We need to fully understand that when anybody who has been called to be an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher, declares a "revelation truth", it is simply the outpouring of God's Spirit of wisdom and revelation. Please understand, that the word or the action is not first and foremost a by-product of the vessel (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher) being used but, rather the vessel (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher) is simply the container or conduit for the teaching of the Holy Spirit and the necessary administration of God's truth. For too long we, as the children of God, have (to varying degrees) kept our eyes on "flesh and blood" instead of Jesus. Because of this, at times we have elevated certain of the leaders (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors or teachers) that God raised up, thereby allowing ourselves to be held captive by a "spirit of idolatry". This undoubtedly prevents one from receiving the fullness of God's blessing regardless of the office of the vessel God has sent. However, in this season God is raising up men and women who are driven (at any personal cost) by this one burning desire: to lead all those who cross their path into the fullness of their inheritance in Christ and enable them to enter into the fullness of the ministry that God has called them to! Rather than being an entity unto itself, the Five-Fold ministry are simply "forerunners" or "pioneers" in the carrying out of God's "Kingdom-Purpose" in the earth.
We declare to you, that those of us who are called to the five-fold ministry for the precious work that the Lord is doing in these last days will only survive as we abide in perfect obedience - both individually and corporately. There must be a return to "Purity and Holiness". It is only in this way that the Church can be strong both foundationally and structurally. This is also the only way to ensure that Satan and his "Pharisee spirits" are both exposed and "driven out" from the midst of God's people throughout the earth! There has been a change in the spiritual climate and now God has ordained the full release of His holy apostles and prophets into the church and the earth. God has surely begun a most glorious work and we must position ourselves so that there can be a coming together of the apostles and prophets. As we do this, we will be assisting in establishment of the five-fold ministry to operate at it's fullest level. Please understand that when this happens "all hell will break loose," as this is the thing the devil fears most. For he knows that once the five-fold ministry is fully functional and the saints are equipped to do the work of the ministry, his kingdom will be destroyed. Hence the reason there is such opposition for the full restoration of apostles and prophets.
There has never been a move of God that has taken place without problems, but most of the problems are of an internal nature surrounding those in leadership. But we declare to you by the Spirit of the living God, that we will see such a coming together of His body in this hour, such as we have not seen before. The word that Jesus spoke "I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" is still in effect up to this very day. We say to you that His glory shall literally fill the earth as the waters of the sea. In order to accomplish this, as we said before, Christ has distributed ministry gifts which enable the Church to function as His Body. But the five ministry gifts of Ephesians 4: 11 have a specific purpose:
Verse 11 - The Ministries - these five ministry gifts are not merely "titles" as many people are fighting for, but ministry functions. There is nothing elevated or exalted about these gifts (1 Corinthians 4: 9-13). They simply have a special purpose, which is clearly defined in the following verse.
Verse 12 - The Purpose "...to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up." These five leadership gifts were not simply given to do the work of the ministry, but to enable God's people to do the work of the ministry. This is extremely important as we draw closer to the return of Jesus for His Bride the Church!
Verse 13 - Gives us the operational time-frame "...until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." The five-fold ministry did not pass away at the death of the early apostles and prophets at the close of the first century, but was given until the maturing of the Body in unity, knowledge and expression of Christ's fullness.
The five-fold ministry gifts are examples of how "grace has been given as Christ apportioned it" (Ephesians 4: 7). All ministry is simply the ministry of Christ expressed through the believer by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Regarding the "Five-fold" ministry gifts; it is as if the Lord Jesus Christ when He was about to leave planet earth did similar to what Elijah did to Elisha and released his mantle to him. The only major difference with Jesus is that He tore His Mantle into five pieces and released them back into the earth - Namely Apostolic, Prophetic, Evangelistic, Pastoral and Teaching! Please understand that:
- Christ is our Apostle (Hebrews 3: 1)
- Christ is our Prophet (Luke 24: 19)
- Christ is our Evangelist (Matthew 9: 35)
- Christ is our Pastor/Shepherd (1 Peter 5: 2-4)
- Christ is our Teacher (John 3: 2)
Every ministry ( including that of the five-fold) is an extension of the ministry of Christ Himself, who is the chief cornerstone of the Foundations "...God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone" Ephesians 2: 19-20. The foundation of the Church is the apostle and the prophet (note Ephesians 3: 4-5). Ephesians 4: 12-13 indicates that these two ministries still continue in that foundational role, so it is vital for us to understand how each of these ministries work.
An apostle is "one chosen and sent with a special commission." The word apostle comes from the Greek word apostolos which is translated "sent one" and carries the understanding that the one being sent has the full power and authority of the one sending him. They are referred to as "wise master builders" or "spiritual architects" (1 Corinthians 3: 10). The 12 apostles chosen by Jesus were witnesses of the resurrection (Acts 1: 15; 4: 33); but there were many other true apostles (Acts 14: 3-4; Romans 16: 7; 1 Corinthians 15: 5-7; Galatians 1: 1,19), as well as false ones (2 Corinthians 11:13-5; Revelation 2: 2).
The ministry of an apostle includes:
- pioneering new churches (1 Corinthians 9: 2; 1Corinthians 3: 6)
- grounds the Church in truth (Colossians 1: 25)
- preserves unity in the Body (1 Corinthians 3: 3-5)
- lays foundations in the Church (1 Corinthians 3:10)
- sets things in order (Titus 1: 5)
- imparts spiritual gifts (Romans 1: 11)
- fathers new ministries (2 Timothy 1: 6; 1 Corinthians 4: 15)
- a breakthrough-type ministry of miracles, signs and wonders (2 Corinthians 12: 12; Acts 2: 43; Acts 5: 12)
- a ministry of warfare (2 Corinthians 10: 4-5)
- prayer and the ministry of the Word (Acts 6: 4)
The ministry of the prophet is vast and quite extensive and involves being "moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1: 21) in prophetic utterance, which can be: Predictive (Acts 21: 10-11; 11: 27-28), Directive (Acts 13: 1-3), or Corrective (Acts 15: 22-23,27,32). However, we need to understand that the Office of the Prophet is certainly not limited to just giving a "word of prophecy" as some may believe. Personal prophesying is but a "small and limited" scope of what that office entails. There is also such a thing, as a false prophet (1 John 4: 1); therefore, God sets clear guidelines: Prophecies should be time-tested (Acts 11: 28). The words of a prophet are judged by church leadership (1Corinthians14: 29) Any prophecy should be confirmed independently (2 Corinthians 13: 1). Any prophecy should line up with Scripture, "the sure word of prophecy" (2 Peter 1: 19-21). The prophet operates best in teamwork with the apostle (e.g. Paul and Silas). There are at least five dimensions of the Prophetic:
1: The Office of the Prophet:
- Ephesians 2: 30; 4: 11; 1 Corinthians 12: 28; Acts 13: 1
2: Prophetic Preaching:
- 1 Peter 4: 11
3: Prophetic Presbytery:
- 1 Timothy 4: 14; Hebrews 6: 1-2; Acts 13: 1-3 is used in: -
(a) Prophetic revelation and confirmation of those called into leadership ministry in the Church
(b) Ordination to the five-fold ministry
(c) Confirmation and activation of membership ministries in the Body of Christ
(d) Progress in Christian Maturity
4: The Spirit of Prophecy
- This is an anointing arising from Christ within the believer, which takes place on occasions of special anointing: Revelation 19: 10
5: The Gift of Prophecy
- 1 Corinthians 12: 10; 14:1, 3, 4, 6, 22, 24, 31, 39; 1 Thessalonians 5: 20; Romans 12: 6; Joel 2: 28
Evangelists extend the frontiers of God's Kingdom (see the ministry of Philip in Acts 6: 3-7; 8: 5-40; 21: 8). They are co-workers with and extensions of apostolic ministry (2 Timothy 4: 5; 1 Thessalonians 3: 2). They also equip the body of Christ with the Evangelistic spirit of outreach.
The Greek word for pastor is poimen which means "one who tends sheep or cares for flocks" (read 1 Peter 5: 1-4; John 21: 15 -17). But this word is used only in Ephesians 4: 11. Elsewhere in the New Testament, other words are used: "shepherd", "elder" and "overseer". This is significant, to indicate that a comparison of these ministries should be made. A pastor is not simply a leader presiding over a local church, but has a Body-wide expression of ministry. As one of the five-fold ministry, a pastor is, in present terminology, more accurately a "pastor of pastors" or a "pastor of elders" beyond the local body. A pastor's emphasis in ministry is in relationship networking.
The Ministry of an Elder An elder is not a particular type of ministry, but rather is a leader in the Body (1 Peter 5: 1; 2 John 1; 3 John 1). "To the elders among you...Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers..." 1 Peter 5: 2 (also Acts 20: 17, 28-31). The word "elder" - presbuteros - refers to any leadership ministry. An elder may be one of the five or an "overseer" - episkopos - over a local church. But whether a person is a pastor (one of the five-fold ministry) or an overseeing elder (in charge of a local body), both are called to be shepherds. Following the example of the Chief Shepherd (John 10: 1-16), a shepherd's ministry is to feed (verse 9); protect (verse 12), guide (verses 3-4) and love (verse 15) the sheep.
A teacher is not just someone who teaches (we are all encouraged to teach - Colossians 3: 16), but one who brings instruction to the Body at large (note the "watering" ministry of Apollos in Acts 18: 24-28; 1 Corinthians 3: 2-10). Only when the ministries of Ephesians 4: 11 begin functioning as God intended - both as individual ministries and as apostolic teams - will the purpose of their joint ministry be fulfilled: "...until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" Ephesians 4: 13.