We have been looking at the five gifts that Jesus gave to His Church when He ascended into heaven. They are: apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd, teacher. These were the five ministries that Jesus fulfilled during His three years of touching lives before dying on the cross. To have the full ministry of Jesus in any local assembly this fivefold ministry must be present. Otherwise, the fullness of His ministry will not be experienced.
However, we need to remember that the Bible warns us about false apostles and prophets, false teachers and false christs. So, we are warned to be careful in recognizing these gifs. Each of these five gifts has a satanic counterfeit, so don’t accept someone lightly into the fivefold ministry. People are not always who they say they are and often are self-appointed and not God-selected. Don’t accept someone just on their own claims. If someone comes claiming to be an apostle or a prophet, don’t be quick to believe them. Wait until you see fruit.
Sometimes people come to me and introduce themselves as “apostle so-and-so” and expect to be released to minister at a public service in the church. Unless I know the person – or they come highly recommended by someone I respect – they are not given permission to minister. The Bible instructs us to “know those who minister among you” (1 Thessalonians 5:12). And, remember, those who have the real gift and calling will not be promoting themselves, or seeking recognition. They will be quietly serving and producing fruit. The gift and calling will make room for them to minister.
Does everyone have one of the fivefold callings or roles within the Church? The answer is, “no.” Each person who is born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit has one or more of the nine supernatural ministering gifts as found in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. However, those are gifts of the Holy Spirit available to everyone. The fivefold ministry gifts are callings placed upon certain lives by Jesus to bless His Church and His people.
The Bible compares the members of the Body of Christ to the organs of the human body. The human body has many organs, each with its own function, and every organ is important. But certain organs, like the brain and heart, are vital organs. The other organs cannot live without these.
In the same way God has placed many gifts in the Body of Christ. All the gifts are important, but the fivefold gifts are like vital organs. Their purpose is the create an environment where the other gifts are able to thrive. Where fivefold ministry is established, the whole body is built up, and all the members are equipped to fulfill their role and destiny.
And, remember, these are trans-local gifts to the Church. So, you will seldom see a local church with all five ministries resident within its membership. These gifts come in from outside the local church to minister and bring order within the life of the local assembly. And, they are relationally connected to the family called the Church where they minister. They come in as part of the family and serve the leaders and people when they are present.