The five gifts in Eph 4:11 and those in 1 Cor 12:8-10 & 28 is the person of Christ. 1 Cor 12:4-5 authenticated it by saying, “But the same Spirit”–that is, “the same Lord”. Those who bear the gifts are not the gifts. In verse 7 of 1 Cor 12, the gifts are described as a manifestation of the Spirit (Christ’ life) that bless His body.
The names apostle, prophet, teacher, evangelist and shepherd are descriptive of how the grace of Christ is dense and shaped in the bearers. It’s like saying, “we have Christ but, we’re not Him”.
Rev 21:14 brings a depth of clarity on this meditation. Note what it says, “The foundations of the wall of the city had “names” of the twelve Apostles”. The people bearing the apostleship gift had their own names which were different from the word apostle (an operation of CHRIST IN them). In Rev 21:19-20, we’re given the names of the twelve people bearing the “apostleship of the Lamb” but surprisingly, the names differed from their names in the gospels. They were now called different precious stones. Why?
Well, among other reasons, the gifts are meant to refine and polish the bearers and others Rom 1:5-6—and, in revelation, He (the gift) accomplished the purpose in those that had the gifts.
The difference between the five equipping ministry and the rest of the spiritual gifts lies with their density, functioning and objective as opposed to the personality and influence of the persons bearing the gifts (not titles).
When we read in Acts that apostles, prophets and teachers were sent by the Church to minister—serve (more specifically equip) other saints assembling in different locations, it is simply saying that the grace of God recognized in those brothers will help in the other locations. Not that their personalities, influence, strategy, eloquence, skill etc. were needed. When the 21st century Church wakes up to this truth, we will stop seeing the bearers of the gifts as special or extraordinary. It is the gifts (Christ) that is extraordinarily flowing out from the vessels (gift bearers) like water flows out from a tap.
When we stop our misconceptions about the bearers of these gifts then, we will stop our wrong thinking that the gifts have ceased. These gifts is Christ operating through the Holy Spirit in weak mortals 2 Cor 4:7. By accepting these gifts, we accept for Christ to EQUIP His body as God has ordained. God will equip His body in no other way! It is the same Spirit of Christ that manifested as apostolic, prophetic, teaching, shepherd, evangelist and the other gifts in the lives of believers in the early Church that is still in the Church today. Christ (the gifts) has not ceased!
The philosophy of educated folks with huge influence that sneaked into the gathering of God’s people in the past centuries created misunderstanding of the gifts. Those folks were bent on exerting their influence on the churches to determine how the gathering of saints should operate. They assumed they understood man’s problem and evolving cultural needs better than Christ. They viewed Christ’s commands as archaic. Hence, propound that the churches should move and adapt to the decaying world rather than keep in step with the Holy Spirit.
The promotion that we should gyrate in the spirit but ignore to walk in and with the Holy Spirit is preposterous.
The world system which the churches has practised for a long time as wrongly proposed to her during the course of her history has become the norm in our 21st century church life. Now, God is sweeping away the refuge of lies that has held the churches in spiritual slavery. But, the grand children of those who propounded those evil theologies are throwing their carnal weight (called influence) to intimidate the vessels God is flowing through to ground Babylon (iniquitous religious strong empire). None dare to fight against her with carnal weapons Mark 3:27, Luke 11:22, 2 Cor 10:4.
It is no surprise! Jesus and His disciples suffered the same fate in the hands of the godless spiritual leaders of their day.
If you believe you’re gifted with any of the equipping ministries, then ask yourself this question: Have I genuinely recognized that the gift is Christ’s operation in me, therefore, I am not the gift? If your answer is yes, then ask yourself why you still insist on wearing His operation in you as your designation, title e.g., Pastor—, Evangelist—, Prophet— teacher.
Other stylish names exist e.g., Founder, primate, presiding bishop, general overseer, Reverend, His holiness, Executive/Senior/Junior Pastor (Pastor-Teacher or Preaching Pastor) and more subtle ones like lead elder (first among equals), mentor, life coach etc.
Mainly, the reason Christ is being resisted from operating in His dimensions of apostle, prophet, teacher, evangelist and shepherd among His people is the way the persons He wants to work through have claimed entitlement to His operations (gifts). It’s their vision—they are the visionaries! These people as part of His body are not letting His body to see Christ. All that is being seen is, “Teacher— Apostle— Prophet— Evangelist — Pastor so and so, with all of their personalities or influence (created through crafty religious politicking).
Their influence is not giving the Holy Spirit a chance to reveal Christ to and lead God’s people. This accounts for the shallowness and immaturity of majority of us Christians. After many years and decades of being born again, we remain babies who must wear Christian badges, titles, belong to “a happening” denomination and use the bible for fencing to convince the world we’re of Christ. Selah!
Maybe, it’s the bible language that is confusing those with these gifts (which calls to question if they truly have it). For example, in 1 Cor 9:1-2, Paul said, “Am I not an apostle”. Some hold to that and say, “You see Paul called himself an apostle”. Yes! But, he was referring to the fact the gift of apostleship operated in his life. Again, he said, “If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you,” but please note, he finishes that sentence by saying, “the mark of my apostleship is seen in you”. The end of the sentence clarified what Paul was actually saying to them. He was saying the fact that Christ operated in him as an apostle was established by the foundation Christ has built in them through flowing out from him (Paul).
Let’s keep reminding ourselves that every Christian has the Spirit of Christ. That means, all, do have all of the gifts in Him. But, Christ chooses in the dimension He wants to serve through us. We all do not serve from the standpoint of all of the gifts 1 Cor 12:29-30.
It is important to mention that, both the equipping gifts and the other gifts can’t be trained for—that is why they are gifts. While, by laying on of hands, one believer can pass on the spiritual gift(s) to another believer, the equipping gifts of Eph 4:11 can’t. Today, we have many Christians with Eph 4:11 gifts but, the misconceptions about these gifts in the churches is hindering their recognition and benefit to us all.
Sober Reflection for those who believe they have Eph 4:11 gifts:
Those who were mentioned in the scriptures as having equipping gifts had a growing lifestyle (In holiness, righteousness, patience, prayers, mercy, endurance, boldness, humility, suffering, power, wisdom, love, knowledge of Christ and grace—etc) even in the face of fiercest battles or troubles. It’s the mark of Christ! When they were pressed beyond their measure, they did not crumble—rather, they grew stronger! Saleh! They knew the demarcation between the Spirit and themselves. They knew how to rely increasingly on the grace (power) of the Holy Spirit for the renewing of their inner self (soul) while their “flesh” (the outer man) was wasting away daily 2 Cor 4:16, Rom 12:1-2.
Those truly with the equipping gifts (known as the fivefold ministry), win Satan and his cohorts through the nature of God worked in them. Their much study of the scriptures, fasting and prayers is to this end—that Christ might increase in them and also, be formed in those they serve! 1 Tim 4:16.