We’re studying this series on spiritual gifts this morning and continuing in our look at the gifts themselves. We’re taking our time in laying some foundation for a full understanding of 1 Corinthians chapters 12 through 14. If you have your Bible there, I’d suggest that you flip it open at the twelfth chapter of 1 Corinthians, kind of hang in there a little bit. We’ll be jumping around somewhat, not really following an expository pattern this morning as we always do, but broadening a little bit to cover the subject at hand, which is related to the spiritual gifts. But just to back up a little bit – and I want to back up all the way to the beginning. And when I say all the way to the beginning, I don’t mean the beginning of our series, I don’t mean the beginning of the New Testament, I mean the beginning of the Bible. Backing up all the way to Genesis. Let me try to put the study that we’re making in its total context.
Act 1 of redemptive history was very long. It lasted from Eden to Bethlehem. It went from the birth of the world to the birth of the world’s Savior. That’s Act 1 of redemptive history. It included in that the whole history of the preparation, the coming of Messiah to Israel. Now the record of that Act 1 of redemptive history is the Old Testament. That’s the scenario, if you will, for Act 1. And really, it only teaches one primary truth. There are many other things that are there, but one primary truth is taught in the whole Old Testament. It is this: There is one God and no runners up. That’s it. The Lord our God is one Lord, is the primary thrust of the entire Old Testament. That is the one message that God wanted to lay out in society. Abraham was taught it, to begin with, in Ur of the Chaldees, and that’s why he was to move out. And it had to be relearned by his descendants again and again and again and again over 20 centuries. The Lord alone is God and there is no other. Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the God of Israel, was and is the only God.
The captive nation in Egypt learned at the exodus that Yahweh was the mighty God who alone could be trusted and who could defeat other gods, all other gods, and deliver Israel from Egypt. The mosaic law revealed the same thing: There was one God, He had one set of standards; that standard was to be obeyed, all of the social/ethical/religious daily life of man was to be led by love and loyalty to that one God who had brought Israel out of Egypt. This was God’s primary reechoed message in the Old Testament. And He had to do it again and again because Israel forgot it more than they remembered it. And continually they chased after idols. Elijah had to drag them back from the worship of the heathen fertility gods introduced by Jezebel. Hosea had to call them back to Yahweh, their first love, when they had gone and committed spiritual adultery with idols. Jeremiah, Isaiah, never tired of reminding the people that there was one God, one Savior, who could deliver His people, and all other hopes and all other gods were empty.
But the lesson never got through until finally a 70-year captivity in Babylon, after the northern kingdom had been destroyed. The southern kingdom was taken in captivity, and during that 70 years they established under adversity, when they hung their harps on the willows and wept by the rivers. They came to the point, through all of that adversity, that there was only one God, and God got His message through, but it had taken a long time and it was painful, but the message came through. And when they came back from that 70-year captivity and rebuilt the wall and the temple and reestablished the nation, from then until 1976 Orthodox Jewish theology has never departed from its belief in one God, has never drifted into idolatry. God finally got His message across, and it is the last thing in the Old Testament. They came back, they rebuilt the city, they reestablished the worship of the one God, and the Old Testament ends. God’s message is through. “The Lord, our God, is one Lord.”
In the intra-testamental period, the 400 years between the end of the Old and the beginning of the New, there was a tremendous attempt on the part of the Greeks, led by Antiochus, to get them to worship idols. There was desecration of the temple. There was an effort to overcome their religion, to shatter their belief, but it failed. And under the Maccabeans they led a revolution that held on to their commitment.
Then in the early years of the New Testament and just prior to its writing, the Romans occupied Palestine. And with their polytheism they inundated the land with all their gods. But Israel refused to fall into that worship, and even demanded that the standards be removed when they had the picture of Caesar on them. They demanded that Rome print special coins without the image of Caesar because that constituted idolatry, and they wanted no part of it. And it was Jewish belief in the one God, that so alienated them from their Roman counterparts, that finally led to the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. God’s message got through to Israel. It wasn’t easy, but they got it. And consequently, they laid it down for the rest of the world, the Lord is the only God. That’s all.
Then Act 2 began. And Act 2 in redemptive history was from Bethlehem to Pentecost. God, having established that He was and He was the only God, then invaded history and came into the world. In the Old Testament God is there. In the New Testament God is here. That’s the difference. God becomes visible in man’s world. Jesus brings God to human touch. And that’s why Paul says, “In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” There is one true God, and now He is not only before us as Creator, above us as Sovereign, but beside us as Savior.
But then came Act 3 and that was even more incredible. Because in Act 3, God is not there or here but in us. Even a greater dimension. God comes to dwell in us. Act 3 is from Pentecost to the rapture. And that’s the age in which we now live. You see, the revelation of the Trinity in those three. Don’t you? God the Father revealed as one God; God the Son revealing Himself in human history; God the Spirit, God in us in this age. God testified in the Old Testament through His Word. God testified in the New Testament through His Incarnation. And God now speaks to the world through His church. We are the body of Christ. We are God in the world. You might say: Act 1, God is one; Act 2, God is man; Act 3, God is in man. That is redemptive history. Act 4 will be the blazing return of Jesus Christ when He comes in His glory to reveal Himself and manifest God and take over the world.
But today, in Act 3 God lives in His church. The Holy Spirit lives in His body. He lives in you and I who are Christians. You say, why do you say all that, John? Because this: In Act 1 God wanted to manifest Himself. In Act 2 God wanted to manifest Himself. In Act 4 Jesus Christ will manifest Himself. What do you think God wants to do in Act 3? Manifest Himself. How? Through you and through me. And it is only when the church is visibly Christlike that Christ is seen in the world. You see? So how then can we manifest God in the world? Only by obeying what God has given us to do, and here it is: By the mutual interdependent network of spiritual ministries within the body. The body is built up – Ephesians 4:12 says – and Christ is made manifest. If we’re to manifest Christ in the world, we have to minister to each other to build each other up, to be like Christ. And to do that He’s given each of us – what? – spiritual gifts. Capacities, capabilities of ministry, avenues of ministry. Every believer is called and gifted for ministry, to equip, to energize, to build up, to serve, that the body may grow, that Christ may be made visible by the collective church. And we’ve been into that for the last four weeks.
How’s He going to do that? Well He’s given us gifts. We see them in three categories. He’s given us gifted men, permanent edifying gifts, and temporary sign gifts for the New Testament age. We’ll talk about the last two in the future. Today we’ll go back to our study of the gifted men. Now the Lord knows that if the church is to radiate Christ, somebody has to lead it, somebody has to take charge. And so there are five categories here that really constitute the gifted men or the key persons in the building of the church: Apostles, prophets, evangelists, teaching pastors, and teachers. These are not gifts, as such, spiritual gifts; they are gifted people, given as gifts to the church.
Now remember last time we talked about the apostles? I’m just going to add a couple of things to kind of round out your understanding. Who were the apostles? Mark 3:13, “And He goeth up into a mountain, calleth unto Him whom He would. The Lord called the ones He wanted, and “they came to Him. And he appointed twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach” – and the next phrase that’s in the King James does not appear in the better manuscript, so it would read like this – “that He might send them forth to preach and to cast out demons.” And then it goes on to name who they were.
Now there you have the Apostles, capital A, the official group of apostles. They were to preach and cast out demons, proclaiming the gospel and invading the kingdom of Satan. They had a very official title, they were called The Twelve – The Twelve. Later on, when Judas was gone they were called The Eleven to whom Matthias was added. So they were always an official group of twelve. Their basic task: Preach the gospel, and they bore an authoritative and original witness. They preached – listen to this – a message no one in history had ever preached before. They preached a new message, originally, authoritatively, and when it was laid down and it was done they vanished. There were only twelve. When they died it was over.
But I have to add, in addition to that, in addition to the eleven plus Matthias, there was one other who was called an apostle. And it says in 2 Corinthians 11:5 that he “was not in one whit behind the very chiefest apostles.” He was no less than Peter, James, and John. Who was it? Paul. So Paul somehow fits into that category, which gives us a total of thirteen – thirteen apostles. Their ministry was to give original, authoritative, miraculous, testimony to the gospel. But what is interesting about this is that there were others in the New Testament also called by that word apostle.
To help you understand what I mentioned last week, let me just take you to 2 Corinthians 8:23 – 2 Corinthians 8:23 because I want to show you the two different categories of apostles. Second Corinthians 8:23 says this, “Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker concerning you, or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers” – King James says. The Greek is – “They are the apostles of the churches.” Now listen, you have then two categories of apostles. The apostles of the Lord, and Paul always said, “An apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.” That’s one kind, the apostle of the Lord. And you have a second category, the apostles of the churches.
The apostles of the churches would be folks like he mentions here, these brethren: Andronicus and Junia; James, the brother of our Lord; Barnabus; perhaps Titus. They were not personally commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ. They were not necessarily personally visibly acquainted with the post-resurrected Christ. They had not seen Him, as the Twelve had to have and Paul. This is a different group. The word simply means messengers. These are the apostles – small A – of the churches. Theirs is an unofficial kind of area of ministry, distinct from the Apostles, capital A, of the Lord Jesus Christ. But they were called by God for a very special purpose, for a very unique mission in the infant church, to proclaim truth, to proclaim doctrine, to teach the Word, to lay the foundation.
Now there were counterfeits, false apostles. Second Corinthians 11:13 says there are false apostles. Now if there are false apostles, we know something important here. They aren’t necessarily counterfeiting the thirteen, because you couldn’t do that too well, since everybody knew there were only thirteen. You couldn’t come along and say, “I am apostle Ephraim.” They’d say, “I’m sorry, guy, we know who the thirteen are.” But you could counterfeit the second category. Couldn’t you? You could claim to be an apostle of Christ in the sense that you are an apostle of the churches. They could confuse that issue, and that’s where Satan sewed in the false apostles. There are two categories, and we have to see those official men as those to whom God gave divine revelation and those other ones, apostles of the churches, as the messengers of the churches who were sent around, who moved around preaching the gospel in those early years and who undoubtedly had miraculous capability, given them by the Holy Spirit, to confirm what they were doing. It talks about the gifts of an apostle, of the miraculous abilities of an apostle in 2 Corinthians 12:12, the signs of an apostle. And perhaps both categories had the ability to do miracles to attest to what they were saying.
But they are not a self-perpetuating group. In fact, when James was beheaded, nobody was chosen to take his place. The only reason somebody took Judas’ place was to fill up The Twelve. But when The Twelve true apostles died, no one took their place, because there was not continuing apostolate. There is no apostolic succession is what we’re saying. And consequently, there is no succession of apostolic gifts. We’ll get into that later on. They are not a perpetuated group; they have a non-transferable commission, given them directly by Jesus Christ; they can’t pass it on to anybody else. When they died it was over. They have no permanent element in the life of the church. They belong to the church’s infancy. But they were used to teach doctrine and basically form the patterns of the church. And they were mobile; they were moving around; they were sent ones; messengers – that’s apostolos, that’s what it means. They ceased when the New Testament was finished and the pattern of the church established.
Now they had some friends along with them called prophets. And the prophets, similarly, for the foundation years of the church, were ones who spoke for God. Now as we saw last week, a prophet didn’t move in an itinerate fashion as an apostle did, but rather they seemed to be localized. Each time we saw them in the New Testament they were with a local congregation. And rather than being sources of divine doctrinal revelation, they gave practical wisdom to the church. They would warn the church about coming problems. They would try to give God’s special message to a given local congregation, of what He wanted, by virtue of His will for them. The apostles were authoritative, the prophets had to be subject to the apostles’ teaching, according to 1 Corinthians 14:37.
Now let’s remind ourselves of the calling and the role of these people. The Lord Jesus Christ gives to the church apostles and prophets. The purpose is foundation: Ephesians 2:20, they are the foundation of the church. Revelation: Ephesians 3:5, to make known that which was hidden in past time. Then confirmation: To have the ability to do miracles to prove that they were in fact speaking for God. Their purpose: Establish the church with solid doctrine – establish the church with solid doctrine. All right.
Now they passed from the scene, and when they passed from the scene, their ministry was taken over by another group. We’ll see them as we look at our study for today: Evangelists, teaching pastors, and teachers. Notice Ephesians chapter 4 verse 11. Let’s look at evangelists. Let’s find out what an evangelist is. Ephesians 4:11, “And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists.” Now we think of an evangelist – it isn’t too hard to define him. If I were to ask you to give me a definition of an evangelist you would probably say, “An evangelist is somebody who goes around preaching the gospel.” You’re right. Some say the derivation of the word comes from soap sellers. There were guys who used to market soap when they first made it. And the way they would do it was go downtown, find a dirty guy, and haul him out on the street corner, and wash him. And they’d say, “That’s what the product can do.” And so people called people who preached the gospel soap seller because they were cleaning up the insides, standing on the corners, proclaiming the gospel. That basically is what an evangelist is, one who proclaims good news, a preacher of the gospel.
Now the term only occurs three times in the New Testament - only three. Once here in Ephesians 4:11, and it’s a collective group. There were a group of them given to the church. After the apostles and prophets, evangelists. I’m convinced that the evangelists have taken over the role of the apostles. They are the more itinerate ministers. It doesn’t mean that they’re always on the move. Paul could stay in one place for three years, couldn’t he, as an apostle? And Timothy, we’ll see, as an evangelist stayed in many places for lengths of time. But their ministry is a moving ministry. Their ministry is an itinerate ministry. They are on the move, moving around, preaching the gospel. Now that’s a group, we see, from 4:11, a collective group of people.
Now let’s look at 21:8 of Acts, because that’s the second place the term is used. Act 21 verse 8, this is what it says, ”And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed and came to Caesarea and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven.” Philip was originally a deacon, one of those chosen in Acts 6. And now we find that he is called Philip the evangelist. Now here we meet an evangelist. Now this is very helpful because if we want to know what an evangelist is, we ought to follow one around for a while. So let’s follow Philip a little bit. Go to Acts 8. Let’s find out just exactly what an evangelist was involved in. Acts chapter 8 verse 4, “Therefore they that were scattered abroad and went everywhere preaching the Word.” Now that’s an evangelist, preaching the Word. I think it’s important to remind many evangelists that it’s important to preach the Word, not just read the text, depart from the text, and tell 10 stories, and give an invitation. I think to preach the Word is what it says there.
Now, “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them.” That’s evangelism. Philip went to a city, preached Christ. There is an example of an evangelist at work. He is a preacher of Christ. He is endeavoring to win people. Verse 6, “And the people with one accord gave heed to the things which Philip spoke.” Stop there. Now there you have the basic identity of an evangelist. Now of course Philip had the ability also to do miracles because there was no written scripture in those days, and in order to confirm to the people that what he was saying was true, God gave those evangelists, in that day, miraculous ability. Now further, look at verse 35, ”Then Philip opened his mouth and began at the same scripture and preached unto Him Jesus.” Here you have a totally different situation for Philip. In the first part of Acts 8 he is preaching Jesus to a crowd. In the middle of Acts 8 he is preaching Jesus to one man. It needs to be stressed that an evangelist can be affective with groups, equally affective with individuals. Somebody who is given to the church for the purpose and energized to the accomplishment of winning people to Jesus Christ.
All right, now I want you to look at the third use. Verse 40, incidentally, it says, “Philip was found at Azotus, and passing through preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.” An itinerate preacher of the gospel can be an evangelist. All right, 2 Timothy 4:5, here’s the third and last use of this term in the New Testament – euaggelistēs. Second Timothy 4:5, now Paul says to Timothy – and you may not have seen Timothy in this light, so this might be helpful for you – 2 Timothy 4:5, “But watch thou in all things” – keep alert Timothy – “endure affliction, do the work of the an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” Paul says, “Timothy, in order to make full proof of your ministry, you need to do the work of an evangelist,” which leads me to believe that Timothy was in fact an evangelist. So you have a collective group of evangelists, Ephesians 4:11; you have Philip, an example of an evangelist; you have Timothy, another example of an evangelist. Surely there were many more, and there have been many more in the history of the church, and we have evangelists today. The New Testament evangelist is the one who proclaims the good news.
One of the most scholarly works that’s ever been written, translated from German, is called Kittle. We call it that. It’s the name of the original editor for a series of word studies on New Testament words. It’s very scholarly. It’s like 10 volumes at $30.00 a volume. This is what Kittle says regarding the word evangelist, “There can have been little difference between an apostle and an evangelist, all the apostles being evangelists. On the other hand, not all evangelists were apostles. For direct calling from the risen Lord was an essential aspect of the apostolate. In all three New Testament passages, the evangelist are subordinate to the apostle.” Now what is important about that is this: all the evangelists – all the evangelists were not apostles, but all apostles were evangelists. What’s important then is that the work of preaching the gospel, which the apostles did, is now the work of the evangelists. You don’t need apostles anymore because they laid the doctrine down and, Beloved, it’s down. Right? And evangelists continue their work. They are not equal to apostles. They do the same work as apostles but clearly are distinct.
For example, Philip, the evangelist, was definitely not an apostle. How do you know that? Because in Acts 8 it says he preached in Samaria, the people believed, and he baptized them, but none of them received the Holy Spirit. They had to wait till Peter and John came, because in the beginning days of the church, the Holy Spirit was imparted to new groups only through the ministering of the Apostles. And Philip couldn’t do that. He is seen as a subordinate to the apostle, yet he was one who preached the gospel. And so today we say people are not apostles who preach the gospel, proclaiming it. They are evangelists.
For example, further, Timothy, who is an evangelist, who proclaimed the gospel, was a pupil of an apostle, not an apostle. And in the list in Ephesians 4, apostles comes first, second, and then third comes evangelists. So evangelist is always seen in a subordinate context. And yet, it is clear that they continue the proclaiming ministry of the apostles. So they have taken over the work of an apostle.
I might add that in the first century, the early church fathers – this is very important for us to study, the first century church after the New Testament because the things that they believed, they were so close to the New Testament, are indicative of what the New Testament writers meant by what they said, because there wasn’t a lot of time in between. They were so close to it, they had a pretty clear understanding of what the New Testament was saying. And Eusebia says this, “The evangelists are the successors to the apostles who have died.” So they knew there was no apostolic succession. The first century church knew that, and they saw the evangelists as the continuum in proclamation.
So what is an evangelist to do? Primary task, preach the gospel. Now watch this. Philip is an example of preaching the gospel in areas that are new, brand new territory where Christ is not named, and starting a church. Timothy, the second illustration of an evangelist, is an illustration of a man who went to already established assemblies and mobilized those people to evangelize their city. See the difference? You can have an evangelist who’s traveling as a missionary, founding churches, planting churches, or you can have an evangelist who comes to a local assembly when it is small, has the ability to mobilize those people to reach out, to proclaim Christ, to capture that community, to win them to Jesus. That also is the work of an evangelist.
Now some of you have had the experience of being in a church where a man came and did that, but if he stayed too long, and never got past the stage of evangelizing, then you ran into trouble. And maybe in God’s plan it would have been wiser for him to go to a new territory, so that a pastor/teacher could come in and take up the work of continuing to mature the saints on a long-range basis, because that’s the distinction.
So this is the work of winning people to Christ and building them up. It isn’t just floating in for a week and floating out. Paul says, “Timothy, do the work of an evangelist.” You say, well what does an evangelist do? He just floats around and does this and that and moves real quick? No. An evangelist, number one, is a church planter. He wins people to Christ, plants the church. It may well be that Titus was also an evangelist. And Paul said to Titus, “Establish elders or ordain elders in each city.” He would have to go in, build the saints to the place of maturity, and even appoint the elders, which means he would have to have stayed until they were mature enough to rule themselves.
Paul says to Timothy, for example, 1 Timothy 4:13 – here’s Timothy, the evangelist, this is what he says to him, “Till I come, give attendance to reading, exhortation, doctrine.” You know what that means? “Timothy, until I get there, read the text, explain the text and apply it, be an expository preacher, a teacher. Give yourself wholly to them, take heed to doctrine,” verse 16. Verse 6, “Nourished up in the word of faith and good doctrine.” Second Timothy 2:2, “Teach faithful men who shall be able to” – what? – “teach others also.” Preach the word. What does an evangelist do? He teaches, he preaches, he teaches, he preaches. An evangelist is not somebody who can just preach sermons and get people to do something.
I heard a guy say the other day – he’s a well-known evangelist. He said, “I am nothing but a motivator. I don’t expect to teach anybody. I am only a motivator.” That doesn’t make any sense at all. Then what do you use to motivate them? Truth or falsehood? If you use truth, then you’re a teacher. If you use falsehood, then you’re a phony. I think he uses truth. I just think he ought to recognize it.
All right, evangelistic work then can be carried on in places where Christ is not named or it can be carried on in places where there is already established group of believers trying to win a city. But it’s the ministry of preaching the gospel and teaching the Word of God. No less teaching than anybody else does. Because the ministry – Ephesians 4:11 – apostles, prophets, evangelists, teaching pastors, is for the – what? – perfecting of the saints. And an evangelist is to mature the saints just as much as anybody else.
That brings us to category four, pastor teachers. Ephesians 4:11 say, “Apostles, prophets, evangelists, and teaching pastors.” That’s only one office: teaching pastor, not pastors and teachers. Should be seen together. The Greek there is clear on that. Now this is the office that fills up the prophets void. When the prophets all died off, the New Testament prophets, it was the teaching pastor who had the localized ministry to a believing body. Now what is a teaching pastor’s job? He is given to the church to remain in a local congregation, to minister to its practical needs by applying doctrine. He’s doing what the prophet did in a revelatory sense. He’s shepherding the church, guarding it, defending it, warning it, building walls around it for its protection, and challenging it, instructing it, motivating it, on a long term basis.
Now I don’t know about other men but, boy, that’s where I’m at. Every once in a while my dad kind of bugs me about preaching on the television program that he has, and I don’t mind doing that. I do that for my dad’s, sake because I care about him and I care about that ministry. But I do not like to go on there and preach a series of evangelistic messages. It’s all right, I don’t mind it, but that’s not me. And I always go away saying, “Boy, that was lousy.” And I say, “Dad, why don’t you do that? Why do I have to do it?” I just – it all seems like – you know. It never comes out right. But you just give me a pile of Christians and, man, I could go on all day. That’s my environment, man, I love it. I know, in my heart, that’s what God has called me to do.
I used to be on the road for a couple of years, traveling around doing that kind of, you know, fire it and give them the best you’ve got and try to win them to Christ and you’re gone. I tell you, it was so frustrating to me. I was just – I wanted so much, some place to land. For a long time I couldn’t find anywhere to land. Finally, you know, God opened the opportunity here. God had provided two wonderful pastors, both of whom had died of a heart attack, and they saw me and said, “He’s young, get him.” So I was grateful for whatever reason, you know. But I’ll tell you, that’s – I know what it is to have the heart of a teaching pastor. I know what it means, because my heart’s desire is for you. And people sometimes would say, “Well don’t you care about the world?” Yes, but I care about the world only as the world is reached through you because you’re the ones God’s giving me the immediate desire for. And I understand my heart in that area. Well what is the teaching pastor to do? Well first of all he’s called a teaching pastor, so he’s to do two things: pastor and teach. You say, well what does pastor mean? Protect the flock. What does teach mean? Feed the flock. That’s it, protect and feed. That’s the basis of it.
Paul gave all that in Acts 20. Read it through when you get time. We’ve been over it and over it and over it. Feed and warn. feed and warn. Teach and warn. Teach them with tremendous conviction and warn them with tears. That’s the teaching pastor. Sometimes in the New Testament he’s called an elder, sometimes he’s called an overseer, but it’s all the same thing. It’s a teaching shepard, and he has to stay in one place, and he is to mature those people in that one place. He’s protecting the flock. He builds safeguards for them. He warns them. People say, why do you, once in a while, say certain things about certain other groups? Because I want to warn you about them. Sometimes a person will come me on the phone and say, “You know, I just want to let you know that I’ve discovered such-and-such and such-and-such to be true. And I don’t think you all believe that.” And it’s my privilege to say, “I want to show you why that isn’t true and why we don’t believe that,” to try to build some safeguards into his own thinking.
You know, we teach, we lead, we warn, we rule, we shepherd, that’s the whole — that sounds like my week. One day I’ll be spending all day studying the Bible, next day I’ll have to go somewhere and teach all day. The next day I’ll have to make five phone calls to people who are fooling around with something they ought not to be with – false doctrine or left their wife or something – and I’m calling them up and doing all the things I can do to try to keep the flock in tow. That’s the shepherd. And there are other men given to the body of Christ whose only vision is the world of lost people. See? And that’s as God has designed it. And the teaching shepherd doesn’t sit back and criticize the evangelist, nor does the evangelist criticize the teaching shepherd. If both are operating on a biblical fashion then they complement according to God’s design. And God needs them in America, and God needs them in Canada and Mexico, and God needs them across the seas, because this is how He builds His church in any land. You say, well where do the missionaries fall? They fall into both categories. Some are teaching pastors, some are evangelists.
And so we see Christ gives to the church, apostles and prophets, for foundation, revelation, confirmation, to establish the church with solid doctrine. And then He gives, in our modern times, to the church, evangelists and pastor/teachers for evangelism, win people, edify, build people, exhortation, make sure they maintain their behavior, to equip the church with effective ministry, to build the body. These are the gifted people Christ has given to His church.
Now that’s God’s design. And what’s exciting about this, people, is that we, sitting here this morning, are in on this. Some of you sitting right out there are called to this ministry. I didn’t even realize. People say to me, “When were you called to the ministry?” And my mother, bless her heart, she’ll say, “Oh, when he was five he used to stand on a box in the backyard and preach. And I knew then he was called to the ministry.” You know? And my mom – I’m sure, you know, she may have known it. I mean, she may have had some desire in her heart. What else did I know? I was in church four days a week. I heard my dad preach all the time – at church, in the house, at his office, everywhere. All I ever knew was that. When did I feel that call in the ministry? It was later in my life when I sensed that tremendous call, after I had already been to college. Some of you out there may be at a different point in your life. But God may be reaching out, to touch your life, to give you to His church as an evangelist or a teaching pastor.
And there’s a third category we have to look at and that’s teachers. Now some take teachers, mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:28, and want to combine that with pastor/teacher and says it’s the same gift. Well maybe they’re right. I really couldn’t argue with that. According to Acts 13:1, the pastors in Antioch are called prophets and teachers, so there is that parallel. But I tend to think that’s a separate category because of the fact that it is a different term than pastor/teacher. Let’s assume that it is, just so we get the broadest possible interpretation and don’t exclude anything the Lord would want included. Who would these people be, teachers?
Listen, I think one on the riches of Grace Community Church is that God has given us teachers. I don’t mean just people with the gift of teaching. I mean gifted teachers, gifted people, with a unique ministry. Listen, I owe much of the ministry in my life to men who were neither, evangelists or pastor/teachers. They are teachers, seminary professors. Right? Men who spent their life in a little room, studying to write a book that changed my thinking. You go to the bookstore; you buy books from men, not evangelists, not teaching pastors, but writers, Bible teachers. You go to conferences in the summer. Don’t you? And you hear Bible teachers.
God has given to His church teachers to supplement and undergird and add to the ministries of evangelists and teaching pastors. And it all comes together to build the body. And, Beloved, that’s our commitment at Grace Community Church, believe me. The local church, essentially, is a training place to equip Christians, and it’s a training place that out of which should come evangelists, teaching pastors, and teachers, for the church of Jesus Christ around the world. Nothing thrills me more than to see somebody go off to seminary, somebody go take a pastorate, somebody go to the mission field. Somebody come to me and says, “John, I feel called by God to the pastorate. I feel called by God to win people to Christ and evangelism. I sense God speaking to me about studying the Bible, that I might be a teacher in a Bible college, in a Christian college, in a school,” or whatever, a seminary, or whatever.
Our 25 ministering staff here at Grace Church have all come from the congregation because it’s our commitment to build people out of this congregation who can rise to the place of being the gifted men given to the church. And more than just the ones who become part of our staff, are those that are being sent out all over the world. And God help us to keep doing this. This is our commitment. Instead of bringing in outside people to fill positions, the church should produce its own people, bring them to maturity, and send them out to touch areas that haven’t even been touched with what God wants to do there. Doesn’t do any good, you see, if the church just keeps playing musical churches. When the music stops everybody scrambles and grabs a new assignment. You know what? That’s just shuffling the same amount of people around. We’ve got to have new ones. We’ve got to feel the need. That’s only going to happen when we build leaders. I pray, God, that out of our congregation will come these gifted people, gifted evangelists, teaching pastors, and teachers, both men and women, in that third category, ministering to the body of Christ. You say, but John, how do you know if you fit the bill? How do you know if you’re called?
Let me take you to an illustration. Let’s look at Exodus chapter 3. This is helpful. Moses. Okay? How do you know God’s called you? How do you know you’re to be an evangelist, teaching pastor, etc? Exodus 3 verse 1, “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law” – some say it’s not good work for your father-in-law, but I guess that’s relative. “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law” – few sharpies in the group – “the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, to Horeb.” Now this is interesting. “And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush, and looked and behold the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, ‘I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.” I’ve got to look closer at this thing. “When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called him out of the midst of the bush, and said, ‘Moses, Moses.’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’”
Now listen, here’s the first principle about a call. God wanted Moses to do something. Is that right? Lead Israel out of Egypt. God wanted Moses to do a job, to be a leader. Now listen to me, God took the initiative. God lit a bush on fire, God said, “Moses, Moses,” and Moses said, “Yes.” Listen to me, God does not sit up in heaven like this, “Oh, I certainly hope MacArthur goes into the ministry, because that’s where I’d like him to be. I wish he’d find out about it.” If He wants you there you will hear somewhere, sometime, “Moses, Moses.” I heard it. You who know my testimony know I heard it. I hope you don’t have to hear it like I heard it, but I heard it. God takes the initiative, beloved. God takes the initiative. That’s the first thing to learn. God will call you. How? In different ways, with a tremendous, overwhelming sense of responsibility toward that ministry that you’ll feel in your heart. God will reveal His will, God will call you. Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go. I will guide you with My eye.” I will instruct you, I will teach you, I will guide you in the way you should go, God said. Psalm 48:14, “For this God is our God forever and ever. He will be our guide until death.” The psalmist knew God would guide.
Now God gives a call to Moses. Verse 7, He responds. “And the Lord said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters and I know their sorrows.’” Now listen, Moses, for years, has had a burden, a deep burden in his heart. His burden is for his people Israel. He even murdered an Egyptian, and that’s why he’s in the wilderness. He wanted his people out. And now God says to him, “Moses, I got the same burden you’ve got.” And here’s the second part of knowing you’re called: When you begin to sense that you carry a divine burden.
I can remember when I used to just literally, inside, think about nothing else in my ministry than, “God, can you ever use me to help teach Your church, so it can grow?” I used to be appalled at the ignorance of Christians. I used to speak on it everywhere I went. I used to carry this burden for the maturing of the saints. I had a call from God and I had a divine burden. And there’s a third thing, verse 8, God gives him a plan, a goal, ”I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, to bring them up out of that land to a large and good land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” Verse 9 and 10 follows on to say the same thing. I’m going to deliver them. I’m going to take them to Canaan.
Listen to me, that’s the third thing. The third thing is a part of that feeling and that call to go into the ministry is a knowledge of the results. Moses says, “I got a call from God. I got a divine burden, and now I’ve heard about the results. If I go do this we’re going to go to Canaanland.” Going into the ministry excited me because I said, “God, just think of what’ll happen if we can teach people Your Word. Think of how they’ll grow, and how they’ll get excited, and how they’ll be blessed.” When you have the call and feel the burden and see the goal, it’s time to move out. But, you know what? Moses felt inadequate. Look at verse 11. He felt really inadequate. ”Moses said to God, ‘Who am I?’” you got the right guy? I’m a nobody – “that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
Now what could God have said to him? Moses, now you listen to me, you are somebody. Moses, I’ve got some material on self-image that you’ve got to read. It’s just ridiculous for you to feel this way. Moses, you were the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. You were raised in the courts. You are something, hot stuff Moses. You think God said that to him? No, Moses said, “Who am I,” and God ignored his statement. You know why? Because it’s irrelevant. The most irrelevant thing in the world is who is he? I like verse 12. Here’s God’s answer, “Certainly I will be with you.” It isn’t who you are Moses, it’s who I am that matters. Boy, that’s exciting. God is not looking for those who feel sufficient. You know there are plenty of Charlie Tuna’s in the spiritual world offering themselves because of their adequacy. God is saying, “Sorry.”
The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:5, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; our sufficiency is” – what? – “of God.” God says it’s irrelevant who you are. It’s who I am that matters. And I’ll tell you something, there are four ingredients there in a call of the ministry: the call, the burden, the goal, and the inadequacy. I never have yet felt adequate. I’ve never yet felt sufficient. The ministry’s the scariest thing. Even though I’ve done it for years, it scares me every day I do it - the responsibility. If I ever lose that, it’s all over. God says, “I’m going to take care of you.” Bu-, bu-, bu-, what am I going to sa-, s-, s-, I have a – what am I going to say when I face him? And God says, “Say this, ‘I am that I am hath sent me.’” Oh, I like it. I am that I am hath sent me. That’s the thing you can – I can get up here and say to you, “God says.” See? What does it matter whether I’m sufficient? What does it matter whether I’m adequate? He is. You say, “Ah, that’s an isolated illustration.”
Oh? Turn to Judges 6 – Judges 6. God doesn’t want you to analyze how well you speak and how handsome you are and how clever you are and how smart you are. Listen to this – Gideon. The Lord had to deliver Israel to the hand of the Midianites, because they were sinning; and the Lord wanted to undeliver them, so he chose Gideon. And Gideon, in verse 15 says this, “Oh my Lord.” See? Oh, this is too much. “Wherewith shall I save Israel?” Stupid Gideon, who ever said you would in the first place? How am I going to do it? “My family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the Lord didn’t say, “Now, now, Gideon, you’ve had a fine family, wonderful upbringing.” He says – it’s irrelevant, Gideon – “Surely I will be with thee” – the very same statement.
God wanted another leader. Look at Jeremiah chapter 1, “The word of Lord,” verse 4, “came to me saying, ‘Before I formed thee in the womb I knew thee. Before you came out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet to the nations.’” Then he says, “Ah, Lord God” – see? All three, the same reaction: Oh, I can’t handle it. “I can’t speak, I am a child.” I’m not smart enough for the job. The Lord said, “Don’t say you’re a child. For you will go to all that I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. And don’t be afraid of their faces, for I” – what? – “am with thee.” You see, it’s the same thing. God calls you to a task; you have an overpowering sense of weakness, an overpowering sense of need, an overpowering sense of inadequacy. Then you have cause to rejoice. You’re in good company. Men of God down through the centuries have felt the same way. But those same men of God who believed themselves inadequate believed God adequate. Do you see that? That’s the challenge. Let’s pray.
Some of you ought to be praying specifically about this area of ministry. But let me warn you in one regard, in James chapter 3 verse 1, it says, “Stop being so many teachers, for theirs is the greater condemnation. For in many things we all stumble.” If you’re not called stay away – stay away. But if you are, God is adequate – God is adequate.
Thank you, Father, for our time this morning. Raise up out of this group those who will be Your evangelists, Your teaching pastors, Your teachers, to build the church for Your glory. That Act 3 of redemptive history might truly radiate Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
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