06 Sep Do You Have Speaking Gifts? Part 1
1 Corinthians 12:28 – And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administering, and various kinds of tongues.
Ephesians 4:11 – And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers…
Romans 12:7 – …if service, in our serving; the one who teaches; in his teaching…
As we continue looking at different spiritual gifts, we’ll start looking at different types of speaking gifts over the next couple of days. Today, we’ll look more in depth at apostles, teaching, evangelism, and shepherding/care.
Place in Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11
Defined: There is much confusion regarding the spiritual gift of apostleship because there is sometimes a failure to distinguish between the office of Apostle (big A) and the gift of apostle (little a). The office of Apostle refers to the 12 chosen by Jesus (Matthew 10:1; 19:28; 20:17; Mark 3:13–19; 6:7; 9:35; 10:32; Luke 6:12–16; 8:1; 9:1; 22:19–30; John 6:70–71; Revelation 21:14). The requirements for the office of Apostle include being an eyewitness to the life and resurrection of Jesus (Acts 1:21–26). Another requirement is miraculous power (Acts 2:43; 5:12; 8:18; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:4). Therefore, apostles do not exist today (e.g., writing books of the Bible), although the function of their office does continue in a limited sense. For example, apostleship in a secondary sense applies to such people as Barnabas (Acts 14:3–4, 14), Apollos and Sosthenes (1 Corinthians 4:6–9), Andronicus and Junias (Romans 16:7), James (Galatians 1:19), and Silas and Timothy (1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2:6). They, like apostles today, were gifted individuals sent out to move from place to place in order to begin and establish local churches (Acts 13:3–4). This gift also includes the capacity to minister cross-culturally (Acts 10:34–35; Ephesians 3:7–8). Today, church planters and missionaries are operating out of their gift of apostleship as well as those Christian leaders God raises up to lead and influence multiple churches and pastors. The heart of apostolic leadership is spiritual parenting so that new generations of Christian ministry leaders are raised up in a way that is similar to Paul with Timothy, Titus, and Onesimus, who he called “sons”. Apostolic leaders today are movement leaders with convening power to gather Christian leaders and mobilize them for Gospel ministry.
General makeup: These people often have a number of gifts, such as evangelism, teaching, leadership, faith, and exhortation and are motivated by difficult new tasks.
Warning: There are two primary ways that the apostolic gift can be problematic. One, the person with the gift is elevated by God to a level of leadership where they are isolated and do not have sufficient care for their own well-being along with the care for their family. Apostolic leaders tend to have such broad ministry responsibilities, public platforms that come with opposition, and pour out so much energy that they can overextend themselves toward burnout and need godly spiritual oversight for care. Two, the other possible error for apostolic leadership is trying to place the care for the leader and their family in the hands of people who are not leading at the same level of responsibility and therefore stifle or hinder the apostolic work. Often, people in this position want to be helpful but are not as helpful as older, more mature people who have apostolic gifting and can best relate to and provide wise counsel for others with apostolic gifting. As an example, Paul did not submit to local leadership in churches, but wrote letters to them to correct and rebuke them, which is an act of authority over them. Paul, however, submitted to others with apostolic gifting, including Peter, who was an Apostle, and James, who had apostolic gifting but was not one of the 12. This explains why Paul traveled to meet with them and submit to them (Acts; Galatians 1:18-19, 2:7-9).
Seen in Jesus’ ministry: Hebrews 3:1 says, “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.” Jesus also builds the Church (Matthew 16:18; Hebrews 3:1–6). He is the chief cornerstone of the church, upon which the foundation of the prophets and apostles is laid (Ephesians 2:20), and over which He rules as Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4).
Illustrated biblically: Paul (Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus all open with Paul introducing himself as an apostle). Also, a reading of Acts shows how Paul ministered cross-culturally and planted churches. Peter also held the office of apostle (Galatians 2:8; 1 Peter 1:1). Paul warning and rebuking the local elders in Ephesus was apostolic leadership (Acts 20:17-35). Paul writing letters to rebuke local church elder teams and other leaders is also apostolic oversight, including the rebellious (1-2 Corinthians) and religious (Galatians).
Illustrated historically: Hudson Taylor did not have a theological degree. He was physically small, weak and frail. He was young, a mere 19, when he began his ministry. He gave up a well-paying and respected career as a physician in England to live in poverty, obscurity and controversy in China. He refused to let money get in the way of ministry, to the point of even refusing to take an offering at meetings and funding ministry out of his own pocket. He worked at a feverish pace, at one point preaching in 58 Chinese cities in 25 days, 51 of which had never been visited by a Protestant missionary. Despite his critics, he adopted the clothing and cultural styles of China. Today, every Christian in China can trace their spiritual roots back to the efforts of Hudson Taylor.
Common errors regarding apostles: Cult leaders and erroneous teachers say that they have authority that is, in effect, equal to Scripture because they are apostles, just like those who wrote the Bible. But such people are false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:13; Revelation 2:2) and delusional “super-apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:5, 13; 12:11).
Do you have this gift?
- Are you a leader of Christian leaders?
- Do pastors and ministry leaders seek you out for wise counsel, oversight, and help?
- Do you have a deep compassion and concern for ministry leaders and their families?
- Can you effectively minister cross-culturally?
- Are you called and qualified to plant a church or start a new ministry?
- Are you a spiritual entrepreneur who likes to start something new or grow something healthier and larger?
- Has God given you leadership and influence over multiple churches as a movement leader?
- Can you pioneer a ministry where others have failed?
- Do you have a longing to see Christians and various ministries and churches unified in love for the sake of the Gospel?
Place in Scripture: Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:28
Defined: The gift of teaching is the God-given ability to understand and communicate biblical truth in a clear and relevant manner so that there is understanding and application.
General makeup: Learning, researching, communicating, and illustrating truth are qualities that an individual will manifest when exercising the gift of teaching. These people enjoy studying and learning new information and find great joy in sharing it with others. The format of teaching varies from one-on-one discipleship to formal classes, informal Bible studies, large groups, and preaching, which is a form of teaching.
Warning: Because people with the gift of teaching are strong in the realm of ideas, they can become idealistic and legalistic. People with the gift of teaching also tend to have a higher intellectual capacity than relational capacity, which means that they can become impatient and even unloving with people who are slow to process information and learn lessons. This results in a spirit that is not very teachable and not open to contrary opinions, which can lead to an unhealthy dogmatic disposition.
Seen in Jesus’ ministry: Throughout the gospels, Jesus was commonly referred to as Rabbi, which means “teacher.” Matthew 4:23 says that “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching,” and Matthew 7:28–29 says that “the crowds were amazed at his [Jesus’] teaching because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.”
Illustrated biblically: Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:26), Paul (Acts 19:8–10; 20:20; Colossians 1:28; 1 Timothy 2:7), pastors and ministry leaders (1 Timothy 3:2; 5:17), Timothy (1 Timothy 4:11,13; 6:2), and godly women (Titus 2:2–4) all demonstrated the gift of teaching.
Illustrated historically: John Calvin (1509-1564) was one of the greatest and most significant teachers in all of history. Converted around age 23, he published his now famous “Institutes for the Christian Religion” at the age of 26. It was the first and most thorough and significant outline of what has come to be known as Calvinistic theology. At age 28, Calvin settled in Geneva and soon established schools with intense academic teaching throughout the city. He later founded a university for more academic instruction. Calvin’s passion for teaching has made him the father of modern education in numerous countries, including America. Wherever Calvinism spread, it brought with it schools and teaching. Calvin promoted education for everyone, which was a revolutionary concept that has now become a pattern throughout the world. By the turn of this century, his impact was clearly seen worldwide. In pagan nations, such as China and India, with little exposure to the Word of God, the literacy rate ranged from 0-20%. Roman Catholic countries ranged from 40-60%. In Protestant influenced countries, the literacy rate ranged from 94-99.9%. In America, the first 123 colleges and universities had Christian origins that were directly influenced by the teachings of John Calvin.
Do you have this gift?
- Do you enjoy studying and researching?
- Do you enjoy imparting biblical truth to others?
- Do others come to you for insight into Scripture?
- When you teach, do people “get it”?
- When you see someone confused in their understanding of the Bible, do you feel a responsibility to speak to them about it?
- Do you enjoy speaking to various sizes of groups about biblical issues you have strong convictions about?
- Do people seek you out for answers to their questions and help with biblical and theological issues?
- Does your study of subjects tend to go “deeper” than most people because you are unusually curious?
Place in Scripture: Ephesians 4:11
Defined: The gift of evangelism is the ability and desire to boldly and clearly communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ so that non-Christians can become Christians.
General makeup: Evangelists often care passionately about lost people and have a strong desire to see them meet Jesus. They feel compassion for the lost and seek to earnestly understand their questions and doubts so that they can provide a compelling answer. An evangelist often prefers being with people in the culture rather than hanging out with Christians in the church.
Warning: Sometimes evangelists care so much about people outside the church who are non-Christians that they are less loving than they should be for Christians who are in the church. This can include a judgmental spirit for people who are not as zealous to reach lost people.
Seen in Jesus’ ministry: Luke 19:10 says that “the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” People accused Jesus of being “a friend of tax collectors and ‘sinners’” because He had many evangelistic relationships with sinful people (Matthew 11:19). The entire point of Jesus coming from Heaven to earth was to be an evangelist and to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
Illustrated biblically: The Apostle Paul gave his life to evangelism and public ministry – he walked an average of 20 miles a day for nearly a decade, was single and without a wife, was poor, worked side jobs, was sent to prison and left for dead multiple times, and preached a message that led to both revivals and riots. Through it all, he would not stop preaching the Gospel because, as an evangelist, he was completely devoted to reaching people and planting churches. Philip (Acts 21:8), and Timothy (2 Timothy 4:5), also have this gift. The first, and perhaps greatest, evangelist in the New Testament was the sinful Samaritan women Jesus met with at a well in John 4 who went in to town to tell everyone about Jesus so that a great evangelistic revival broke out among some of the most lost pagan people in the ancient world.
Illustrated historically: George Whitefield (1714–1770) began preaching at the age of 24 and is arguably the greatest preacher America has ever produced. He preached 18,000 sermons to over 10,000,000 people during the Great Awakening. He planted 150 churches in New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. He preached in open air with crowds as large as 30,000 people at a time. Amazingly, he preached to such crowds without a microphone and would cough up blood from the strain on his throat. It is estimated that most Americans heard him preach at least once as he addressed perhaps 10,000,000 hearers in person before modern media. His farewell sermon at Boston Common drew more people than Boston’s entire population and was the largest crowd ever gathered in America up to that time. Whitefield once said, “God forbid that I should travel with anybody a quarter of an hour without speaking of Christ to them.”
Do you have this gift?
- Do you enjoy being with non-Christians and sharing the Gospel?
- Are you able to effectively communicate to non-Christians in a way they can understand?
- Does a person’s conversion bring you profound joy?
- Do you feel frustrated when you haven’t shared your faith for a while?
- Do you enjoy teaching other Christians how to share their faith?
- Do you find it easy to direct a conversation toward the topic of Jesus Christ?
- Do you find it rather easy to have conversations about God with non-Christians that most Christians would find a bit awkward or uncomfortable?
- When you think of lost people you know, is your heart a bit like Jesus, who wept over the lost people in His city of Jerusalem?
Place in Scripture: Ephesians 4:11
Defined: In one sense, pastoring is the office reserved for those who meet the Biblical criteria (1 Timothy 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9). In another sense, there is a pastoral gift also commonly known as shepherding or Christian counseling that God gives to people in the church beyond those who hold an official leadership position in the church. These people protect, guide, counsel, and disciple other people.
General makeup: The person with a pastoral gifting has a love for people that compels them to meet with people to care for them and guide them with Biblical instruction. People with this gift find great joy in seeing people mature in their faith and overcome besetting sin and discouragement so that they are healthy and living out the fruit of the Spirit.
Warning: In ministry, there are three kinds of relationships. Personal relationships are people we draw close, trust as peers, and do life with. Professional relationships are those we have with people like doctors, lawyers, and accountants where we have to schedule an appointment and pay them for their services. Pastoral relationships are difficult because they are between the personal and professional. People with the gift of shepherding/care can treat everyone like a personal friend, lose healthy boundaries, and develop unhealthy and even co-dependent relationships if not wise and careful. Worse still, a soul tie can form, which is an unhealthy spiritual relationship that is the equivalent of an unhealthy physical or emotional relationship where a ministry leader and their followers become so spiritually intertwined that the relationship is ungodly in the name of Christian love.
Seen in Jesus’ ministry: Jesus is called the “good Shepherd” (John 10:11–14; 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25) and the “Chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4). Also, the Bible gives us snapshots of Jesus sitting with people to pastor them, such as His interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4.
Illustrated biblically: At the end of his letter to the Romans, Paul provides a long list of men and women who were doing good shepherding work caring for the people in the church (Romans 16:3-16). Paul does this same thing at the end of other New Testament letters as well. Since he is not present, he names the people who are present to help shepherd the flock (1 Corinthians 16; Colossians 4; 2 Timothy 4). Throughout the New Testament, a married couple named Priscilla and Aquila are repeatedly seen doing pastoral care for people in their home (Acts 18:2, 18:18: Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19), including raising up Apollos, who became a powerful preacher (Acts 18:24-28).
Illustrated historically: Puritan Richard Baxter lived from 1615 to 1691. He entered vocational ministry at the age of 23 without any formal education. He pastored in a small English town of 2000 people. He took these “ignorant, rude and reveling people” and turned them into a worshipping church of 1000 people. He viewed teaching as his primary task and focused on the basics of the Christian faith. Each year he would personally visit the homes of each member of his congregation and did a great amount of counseling. He held a weekly pastor’s forum for discussion and prayer in which he encouraged and trained numerous pastors. His gifted training of other pastors culminating in his classic book, “The Reformed Pastor”, one of his 200 writings.
Do you have this gift?
- Do you have a deep love for people that compels you to care for them?
- Do you enjoy meeting with people to listen to their life story and provide them biblical counsel?
- When you hear that someone is hurting, is your first instinct to try and meet with them to be of help?
- Are you able to point out sin and folly in someone’s life in a loving way that they receive as helpful?
- Do you enjoy meeting with Christians to help them mature in their faith?
- Do people pursue you for wise counsel and instruction?
- Do you find yourself meeting with people regularly to help them take the next steps on their faith walk?
- Do you find great joy in seeing people heal up, grow, mature, and move forward in life and having a front row seat to witness that work of the Holy Spirit?
Do you have the gifts of being an apostle, teaching, evangelism, or shepherding/care?
To find the 100+ page study guide and sermon series that accompanies this devotional series, or to find a free mountain of Bible teaching, visit realfaith.com or download the Real Faith app.