I’m preaching through a series on spiritual gifts in Sunday morning services. I discovered that many Christians are not aware of what their gift or gifts are or if they even have one. That troubled me greatly. I’m going to hit the highlights here for folks that might have questions about gifts. It would be helpful if you took the time to listen to the foundational messages and you can do so here. You may not agree with what you read, but we need to personally examine the Scriptures to see what God says. We have to lay aside what we’ve always been taught, what we think the Bibles says, and what we’ve heard to understand what the Scriptures really say.
It took me six messages to establish the foundation for biblical teaching on spiritual gifts. I’ll do it here in a few sentences. The process of our spiritual growth leads to maturity in Christ. This is true for the individual and the church. When individuals grow in Christ, the church follows behind because the church is made of of individuals. When we exercise our spiritual gifts in the manner that Christ designed for us, the body of Christ grows and doesn’t get tossed around by bad doctrine, isn’t led astray by religious fads, and will not remain spiritual children.
The first verse we looked at in this series was found in 1 Corinthians 12:1: “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware.” All Christians have at least one spiritual gift that was given at the moment of salvation. The gift or gifts were given by God as a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good of the church. Paul provided a list of 19 spiritual gifts that Peter has divided into two groups.
We’re going to look at each of the gifts in detail. We’ll see what the Bible says about each spiritual gift and determine if the gift is still active in the church today.You can evaluate your spiritual walk and see if you have a particular gift.
The first gift I’d like to discuss is the gift of apostleship. Someone with this gift is called an apostle. So far so good. In the passages that mention apostles, it is always a reference to a person that has the spiritual gift. Apostle comes from the Greek word apostolos. It is formed by two Greek words:apo meaning from and stello meaning to send. Apostolos can mean one sent on a mission or can mean a messenger or an ambassador. An apostle is someone sent with a message and the one that sends is the one with the authority. So when we speak biblically of apostles, it is one sent by God with the Gospel message.
Let’s look at some Bible facts regarding apostles. Jesus is called the, “Apostle and High Priest of our confession” in Hebrews 3:1. In Ephesians 2:19-22, the apostles were a special group of people sent out by Jesus Himself from whom came the foundation of the church. In Matthew 10, Judas Iscariot is included in the apostles. In Acts 1, Jesus had chosen the 11 to be His apostles and given them orders through the Holy Spirit. These men were baptized with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost beginning the permanent indwelling of the Spirit. Matthias was later added to the group after the 11 prayed. This drew criticism, but that’s another story. The apostles performed many signs and wonders in order to testify that it was God that sent them. According to Acts 1:22, one requirement for this group was that they had seen the resurrected Christ. So we have to ask ourselves, “Is this gift still in use today.” Or are the “12” the only ones? Who else is called an apostle? Let’s look to the Bible to answer that.
Paul is called and calls himself an apostle in many New Testament passages. James, the brother of Christ was called an apostle in Galatians 1:19. Barnabas is called an apostle in Acts 14. Silvanus and Timothy are spoken of as messengers in 1 Thessalonians, literally “apostles.” Speaking of Titus, Paul said, “He is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brethren, they are messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ. (2 Corinthians 8:23)
Does the definition of apostle fit with anyone in the church today? 1 Corinthians 12:28 says that, “God has appointed in the church, first apostles.” Ephesians 4:11-13 says that apostles are to equip the saints until there is maturity or completion in the body. Has the church reached maturity or completion? Not hardly – so there must be people in the body of Christ with the gift of apostleship.
So what is a modern day apostle? If we remember that the word apostle means one who is sent with a message, it’s a little easier to figure this gift out. Remember that the Apostle Paul traveled from place to place with the Gospel message. In his travels, his intention was to work himself out of a job. His goal was to establish an effective ministry for the Lord, appoint leaders in that place and move on. He was really a church planter. This goal is always at the forefront of a missionary’s mind – establishing a church in an area that does not know who Christ is. Paul brings all of this together in Romans 15:20 when he says, “And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation.”
An apostle is one whom is sent with the message of Christ to establish a body of believers that would continue the work of ministry in that area. I believe the apostolic gift is still in use today. All the world does not know who Christ is and what he has done.
We need apostles of Christ to go and deliver the Gospel message. Do you have the gift? Full blown evangelism includes conversion, baptism, growth, and organized fellowship – its called church planting.