Each Christian has a specific calling from God. God has a plan for each Christian, as to what He wants this Christian to accomplish for Him. It is our duty to search the Scripture to discover exactly what this plan is, and then fulfill it.
In Ephesians 4:11, Paul labels certain of these positions who are specifically given by God.
Ephesians 4:11 “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;”
It says that God gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. I believe what Paul is saying here is God called certain people among us to do these things for Him. These people have a higher level of responsibility to us and to God. They serve a special purpose in the body of Christ, which is explained in verse 12 (which I’ll cover later).
Whether you are a new Christian, or have been one for many years, it is important that see do some soul-searching to determine if we should fall into any of these positions. We must examine the individual talents which God has bestowed on each of us in this process. Let’s look at each of these positions more closely. This is very important, because when God calls you for something you need to answer that calling.
Apostles: this literally means a delegate, or one who represents someone else. In a sense, we are all apostles for Jesus Christ. While we may not travel the world to preach, we do have a responsibility to preach within our own town. People today are skeptical of what a Christian is, because by and large people are confused by what the television portrays a Christian as, and also by the worldly lifestyle which Christians sometimes live by. We need to let our walk match our talk; by our walk we should show people what a Christian is. I believe this is the essence of what an Apostle is.
Prophets: these are people who the Holy Ghost gives special clarity as to things which are yet to happen. We have several examples of prophets in the Old Testament. Daniel, Haggai and others were all prophets. John the Baptist was a prophet — he foretold the coming of Jesus Christ. How does one know if they are a prophet? First, you’ll never know unless you study the Word of God. The Holy Spirit can’t communicate prophecy to you if you aren’t inside the Will of God. A prophet is a very wise person, and their wisdom comes from the Word of God. They have studied the Bible and have a firm knowledge of what is biblical and what is not. They can discern the spirits as being of God and not being of God.
I John 4:1-3 “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”
This verse applies to all of us, not just to prophets. Prophets by the virtue of their occupation will need to discern the spirits all the time. When prophets interpret the words of the Holy Ghost into prophecy, any such prophecy will be correct. Any prophecy that is not correct is not from God. If you feel the Holy Spirit telling you of something yet to happen, try the spirit to according to 1 John 4:1-3; pray earnestly for wisdom; read God’s Word and follow His guidance.
Evangelists: these are preachers, but different than pastors. Evangelists do not have a congregation of their own as a pastor does. You could say that Paul was an evangelist. He traveled and preached to many different churches.
Pastors: this is a preacher who is the “shepherd” of a specific assembly of Christians. He is like an evangelist except he has a “home church” where he preaches God’s Word. They have a special talent of overseeing a large group of Christians, much like David oversaw his flock on the mountainside. Likewise, he has to be equipped to handle any number of personalities and events. He has to have the special ability to see the assembly where God has placed him from a high level, but also be humble and lowly so as to meet with people individually, and help them with their personal issues. It is for this cause that a pastor is one that is particularly burdensome, lonely and he must rely upon God to sustain him through the low points in his life.
Teachers: these are people who God has given special communicative skills to. They have a special ability to disseminate God’s Word so that others can easily understand. Some people naturally will grasp teaching faster than others. For this reason a teacher has to have patience. They have to do more than read God’s Word; they must dissect it, digest it and study it so they know what they teach of. In short, they have to be very knowledgeable in the Word of God.
God has given the church these people for a reason. This is in verse 12.
Ephesians 4:12 “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”
God intended for these people, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, to (a) perfect the saints, (b) the work of the ministry and (c) edify the body of Christ.
What does it mean to “perfect the saints”? The original Greek for perfecting is katartismos, which means to furnish and equip. This reminds me of putting on the whole armor of God, as the Bible calls it. It is as if these people who God has given teaches saints how to wear their spiritual armor.
These people also are for the business of the ministry. Many of these people will have no other occupation, but to work within the ministry for their entire life.
Finally, they are for “edifying the body of Christ”. This can be stated as building up the church, which the Bible calls the body of Christ.
It is important for us to look at ourselves closely, and study God’s Word to determine what God’s calling for us is. God does have a calling for every Christian. God will reveal this clearly if we seek His face.