Five callings given to "the church"
To fully digest this topic, one needs to be biblically and textually convinced that there are in fact five Christ given callings which should all be functioning in the body of Christ.
We find the central truth when we read that our Lord Jesus Christ gave "gifts unto men" which are defined in, (Ephesians 4:8, 11). Wherefore he says, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Note that when one reads this in context, that this giving is a ministry appointed people given by Christ. This does not relate to "gifts of the Spirit," given by the Holy Spirit as we find in (1 Corinthians 12:4-12)
The unholy doctrinal myth, that these five callings were given for a limited time, is dissolved when one studies and reads about the additional apostles our Lord Jesus Christ appointed beyond the giving of the initial twelve apostles. ----- Our Lord gave the original twelve apostles and continued to constantly give more as the churches grew and expanded. Paul, Barnabas, Timothy, Silvanus and James are some of those who were added. (Acts 14:4, 14, 12:2, 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2:6, 1 Cor. 15:7) Note that these added identified apostles functioned at the same as the original twelve, and the young apostles Timothy, Titus and others well beyond elderly Peter and John. Paul and Barnabas spent some time with the Jerusalem church apostles and elders to clarify doctrinal issues in Acts fifteen. Paul fellowshipped with Philip the evangelist. (Acts 21:8)
Most churches sinfully deny what is set out in 1 Corinthians 12:28, And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
Every church should relate to and have an apostle oversight and ministry impartation relationship. They are the Christ stated first place of authority and responsibility. When we do not discern and esteem the apostle, by disregarding an apostle led church, we deny Christ His authority and place. He that receives you receives me, and he that receives me receives him that sent me. 41 He that receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; (Mathew 10:40)
Our Lord of the church said, "I gave" to men, or mankind. This is my authority placement order. Often this is not possible when some (spiritual? Ministries) disregard these directions, due to not wanting a place of submission (while preaching submission). These callings are given for specific reasons and all differ in their Holy Spirit wiring. They address the functioning and needs as stated in the following. They are given for, and until; Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (Ephesians 4:13) For churches to deny these scriptures and giving is criminal. For churches to teach that some of these callings are existent and others are no longer available, with their determining which ones are and which ones are now eliminated is a sinful choice and a gross ignorance.
Discerning the five differing callings:
The first important understanding one needs to have is that the ministry of all five of the callings, or five offices, (Romans 11:13) can be performed by any or all of the callings. This is a much needed understanding since this also explains why the differing callings are not clearly distinguished in most churches.
All five callings can teach, as all elders are to be capable of teaching even if they are not of the fivefold callings. All can evangelize and win souls to Christ. All can oversee and pastor a group of people. All can start and establish a church. All can enter under the anointing, and godly ministries can usher in the presence of the Lord when deeply seeking.
However, the differing Christ given ministries will be the most productive when they mature to walk in their Christ appointed callings. We see scriptural examples of this progression of growth and maturing in the lives of Paul, Barnabas and Timothy. Paul and Barnabas taught in Antioch and were named teachers prior to being commissioned to their Christ appointed apostle calling. (Acts 11:25, 13:1)
Timothy was directed to function in the ministry of evangelism by the apostle Paul, prior to entering his real calling of apostle. (2 Timothy 4:5, 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2:6) They did not carry the calling of more than one "called to be" Christ given calling, but functioned in the differing offices. Paul clearly knew what his calling was, Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Romans 1:1) For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: (Romans 11:13) Personally, I have functioned in the office of evangelist in crusades, teaching doctrine to many people and pastoring over the years, while being a genuine apostle calling.
Burden and vision discernment:
The keys to discerning callings are primarily discerned by knowing the burden of heart the mature ministry has. This burden will be an overriding burden that progressively grows regardless of functioning in a current ministry responsibility. Ministry vision will focus and grow to achieve the holy calling placed within by the Holy Spirit, as the ministry is faithfully pursuing Holy direction under God. While functioning as a pastor to a number of people locally, the apostle will always grow to have the burden of heart for other churches, places and ministries elsewhere.
Key scriptures which explain this growth and God dealing, are:
1. (Philippians 2:12) Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
The Holy Spirit works within the believer and ministry, as they follow after and seek the Lord. He progressively wires the ministry, by revealing need and burden within them, to desire (will) and to do what He wants of them to.
2. (Acts 20:28) Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. The elders were made, or created into being so by the workings of the Holy Spirit within their person. He draws us by our seeing needs and desiring to function in answering these needs of ministry. Habakkuk experienced this. Why dost thou show me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention. (Habakkuk 1:3)
There we have the root cause for the differences of heart burdens and focus. Differing callings will have a differing seeing of "need" and will be burdened to meet that need. All will exemplify differing ministry strengths and gifting. In part, this will also be demonstrated in differing gifts of the Spirit. I have yet to meet a mature apostle who does not function in a healing and miracle ministry, or a prophet who does not flow in revelation gifts.
Evangelist: It is the Holy Spirit who draws an evangelist into a heart to win souls wherever they can. This strength and burden will be evidenced by their preaching and fruit. They can "pastor," but the sermons and focus will be "win souls." This is the cause for some churches growing rapidly, but lacking depth of genuine shepherding or teaching and doctrinal focus. May they see the entire banquet table of ministries Christ intended the churches to have.
Pastor: The genuine Christ called pastor will always have a burden for his local people. He will want to know them personally and be aware of their hearts desires, needs and difficulties. Yes, they may have a limited burden for the unsaved peoples overseas and elsewhere. The deep heartfelt burden to personally go is not there, but they will give some financial aid to others, due to seeing the vision of Christ that all may be saved, and the church be built. However, they have no personal passion to go out to minister and establish believers and churches in these unknown territories.
Teacher: The teacher always has a continuing burden and heart cry of "if the people only knew." Their burden is to grow up the saved believers in knowledge. Their burden will be for the saved, to mature them. This does not mean that they will not want to see people saved, but that will not be their primary burden. Their focus will differ from the pastoral burden, in that they will not be as strong in binding up wounds of the broken. They are in their joy and element of comfort, when released to minister in teaching, imparting depths of knowledge.
Prophets and prophetesses: The prophet will always want people to enter into God's Holy Spirit presence. They want people to enter and stand on holy ground. They always focus people to grow and be listening for God's voice. Mature prophets will always focus people to holiness as God is holy. They will teach about the workings of the Holy Spirit and prophecy. They will glory in holy spiritual worship, basking in the presence of God, and will minister to people desiring to bring all into this Holy Spirit realm. May all churches and ministries desire them and the fruit of their ministry. May the prophets be of a makeup and holy maturity that they will build up the churches and be easy to be received. The prophet has a foundation ministry calling. (Ephesians 2:20) They will also have a burden for other ministries to go and grow, but particularly in the prophetic. Because of their gifting and strengths of anointing, few in humility work with the Christ given apostle.
Apostle: The apostle, when mature, will be the most capable of all ministries to function in all offices, yet they excel in doctrine and establishing the government of the church. They will always discern and have a heart for the growing young ministry potentials. They have a general's eye for the needs of the church. They always see the need of conquering new unreached territories. They see the need (as no other calling), for the entire five callings to flow and function. Paul was constantly raising up, directing and travelling with other ministries. May this calling be discerned and received, because our Lord said that they are to be first in the church government. The reason for this is their needed Holy Spirit wiring and fruit. When the genuinely called apostles are given their place, great growth and safety of the believers will result. Churches will grow and the nations will be conquered by the gospel. May the Christ appointed apostles be of a nature that they will be easy to be received. They always have a father's heart for the churches and ministries. (1 Corinthians 4:15)
May all grow to discern and seek out the functioning of all five ministries and not just seek their own ministry, in submission to Christ.
When the differing ministries see what the Lord intended to provide to the church building mission, the need of all five callings flowing together, we will have much less loss to the harvest. When the five callings see the value and need of the other callings to mature the saints and stop carnage by "every wind of doctrine," they then see as Christ sees and what He intended.
At the moment a limited people see this. This will change when we receive an inner revelation that our Lord said we need all five to bring the churches to maturity, and die to our self sufficiency. May all allow Him to be and make Him:
LORD OF THE CHURCH!!