“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherd/pastors and teachers.”
The purpose of these gifts are for the current equipping of God’s people for works of service, for the building up of God’s body (Church), for reaching towards unity in the faith, for attaining maturity through a knowledge (knowledge gained through first-hand relationship – properly, “contact-knowledge” – perception, discernment, recognition, intuition.), attaining the fullness of Christ, stability amidst a constant barrage of deceit and false teaching, and corporate growth. (Ephesians 4:12,13,4)
Notice, I used the word “current,” before proceeding with the purpose of these gifts. Also, these gifts are not traits, characteristics, talents, or abilities. They are people. Yes, these people ‘have’ certain giftings which set them apart functionally, not positionally, from one another in the body of Christ, and yes, they fulfill different needs, but because these are people, and not just the talents of people, these gifts are characteristically different from other lists of gifts mentioned in the New Testament. See: (Romans 12) (1 Corinthians 12) and (Ephesians 4) Also, there are gifts like celibacy ( 1 Cor. 7:7,8), hospitality (1 Pet. 4:9,10), martyrdom (1 Cor. 13:3), cultural aptitude ( Eph. 3:6-8), voluntary poverty ( 1 Cor. 13:3) etc., found in throughout the NT. To those, I would likely add others. You? Which?
The “current” outworking of these people gifts is a confusing conversation, and perhaps, even more confusing in the application of them. It is, however, a needed conversation. The outright dismissal of the apostle and prophet kills the conversation and places it in the past and not in the present and future. The string of shady logical propositions which deny some of these gifts for today are met with equally shady strings of logical propositions that ‘nail down’ exactly what these gifts are today. I’ve read A LOT of treatments of Ephesians 4:11. I’ve written A LOT of words regarding the above passages, and I’ve spoken A LOT about them, but here’s my crisis:
Where are the sound theological arguments? Where are the non-speculative biblical propositions that put meaning to each of the APEST gifts? Why do most of the self-proclaimed APEST gurus sound so much like the story of the six blind men and an elephant? Why are most APEST tests based on mysterious hypothetical theories rather than validated and confirmed biblical texts? Don’t misunderstand me, I believe there are some great thoughts emerging from a new wave of intellectually and spiritually honest queries, but likewise, there’s wild speculation and some twisted determinism. Deterministic in the sense that people have a desire to be fit into one of the APEST molds. Just look at the sheer amount of participation in Facebook personality tests, which color people are, what animal or movie character, or which office implement they are etc. Compound this yearning for identity with other groups who insist on corralling people into controllable chunks of ‘church’ to fit their self-driven agendas and you have a recipe for apathy.
Here’s my crisis:
I was recently asked to co-write an article on the different types of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds, and Teachers. Yes, I believe that the 5 people gifts can be expressed, or better yet, ‘manifested in,’ different ways. But, when searching the scriptures to support my thoughts, I was blindsided by the sheer absence of data. This caused me to reexamine the descriptions, definitions, and characteristics that have been used regarding the APEST gifts and see a huge amount of speculation or poorly strung together logical arguments based unrelated passages of scripture.
So, here are my questions:
A current apostle has these characteristics ______________, based on these passages of scripture_______________?
A current prophet has these characteristics _____________, based on these passages of scripture________________?
A current evangelist has these characteristics ______________, based on these passages of scripture______________?
A current shepherd has these characteristics ______________, based on these passages of scripture_______________?
A current teacher has these characteristics ______________, based on these passages of scripture________________?
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