Every follower of Jesus is given one or more gifts to enable and focus his or her service and work. My list is twenty gifts. The first four are:
1. Apostle (apostolos). The Greek word means "one sent forth" (on an official errand), i.e., an ambassador. In addition to the twelve original disciples who became apostles, Paul was added to the list of those commissioned by God to lay the foundations of the Christian church and impart a full body of truth which would guide Christian faith and conduct. There were also other apostles, for example, Barnabas, Acts 14:4,14; Andronicus and Junia, Romans 16:7, 2 Corinthians 8:23; Philippians 2:25. The need for apostles diminished as the church became established. If there are any apostles today they might be found among pioneer missionaries who establish churches in foreign lands where the gospel has not yet been proclaimed. Christians today are under apostolic authority, however there is no Biblical reason to believe in the so-called apostolic succession of authority in the church. Ray Stedman likens the apostles in the Body of Christ to the skeleton and musculature of the human body.
2. Prophet, prophecy. (prophetes), lit: "to speak forth," to proclaim the mind and counsel of God, i.e., the gift of preaching. Differs from pastor-teacher in scope. Ray Stedman compares the role of the NT prophet to the nervous system of the body. NT prophets do not make predictions about the future as the OT prophets did, but gather their message from the Scriptures. Nor is God giving the church new revelation through such individuals today. The gift of prophecy is likewise not for giving secret messages from God to individuals in the church. Prophets vigorously stimulate and challenge the Body of Christ, pastor-teachers patiently feed the sheep and care for their needs. Prophets are to edify, exhort and console, (see 1 Corinthians 14:3).
3. Evangelist, evangelism. (evangelistes) from eu = well, plus aggelos = messenger. The gift of bringing the good news of God to unbelievers individually and in groups. The content of the message is outlined in 1 Corinthians 15. Ray Stedman compares this gift to the digestive apparatus of the human body which has the ability to take material which is not a part of the body and transform it into parts of the body. Evangelists are also to teach other believers how to lead people to the Lord Jesus. Timothy evidently did not have this gift but Paul nevertheless urged him to "do the work of an evangelist".
4. Pastor-teacher (poimenes kai didaskalos), shepherd and teacher. Ray Stedman describes this gift as analogous to the circulatory system of the human body which "cleanses and feeds" the members of the body. Ray Stedman once said he believed this was a this is a common gift, given to perhaps a third of Christians.
The Canon of Scripture is closed. Therefore no new predictions of the future are now being made. Those with the New Testament gift of prophet are not called to predict the future. They are Bible expositors who explain and amplify the existing Old and New Testaments.
Few churches today recognize any spiritual gift except a pastor. This deficit leads to a passive audience ruled over by a paid professional clergy. This old heresy is called out in the last book of the Bible, the Book of the Revelation: "Yet this is to your credit: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate." (Revelation 2:6) and "So you also have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent then. If not, I will come to you soon and make war against them with the sword of my mouth." (Revelation 2:15,16)
Guidelines on Gifts by Ray Stedman
Body Life by Ray Stedman
The Church Papers
The church Jesus is building has a different calling and is differently gifted compared to the calling of Israel. The books of the Bible were assembled over many years yielding our modern Bibles. The subject of the Canon of Scripture and how we got there is both fascinating and complex! Which version is also worth investigating.
Israel Carried Captive to Assyria
Then the king of Assyria invaded all the land and came to Samaria; for three years he besieged it. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria; he carried the Israelites away to Assyria. He placed them in Halah, on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
This occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They had worshipped other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had introduced. The people of Israel secretly did things that were not right against the Lord their God. They built for themselves high places at all their towns, from watch-tower to fortified city; they set up for themselves pillars and sacred poles on every high hill and under every green tree;there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the Lord carried away before them. They did wicked things, provoking the Lord to anger; they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, ‘You shall not do this.’ Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, ‘Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the law that I commanded your ancestors and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.’ They would not listen but were stubborn, as their ancestors had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God. They despised his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their ancestors, and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false; they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them that they should not do as they did. They rejected all the commandments of the Lord their God and made for themselves cast images of two calves; they made a sacred pole,worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. They made their sons and their daughters pass through fire; they used divination and augury; and they sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight; none was left but the tribe of Judah alone.
Judah also did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God but walked in the customs that Israel had introduced. The Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel; he punished them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until he had banished them from his presence.
When he had torn Israel from the house of David, they made Jeroboam son of Nebat king. Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord and made them commit great sin. The people of Israel continued in all the sins that Jeroboam committed; they did not depart from them until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight, as he had foretold through all his servants the prophets. So Israel was exiled from their own land to Assyria until this day.
Assyria Resettles Samaria
The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria in place of the people of Israel; they took possession of Samaria, and settled in its cities. When they first settled there, they did not worship the Lord; therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of them. So the king of Assyria was told, ‘The nations that you have carried away and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the law of the god of the land; therefore he has sent lions among them; they are killing them, because they do not know the law of the god of the land.’ Then the king of Assyria commanded, ‘Send there one of the priests whom you carried away from there; let him go and live there, and teach them the law of the god of the land.’ So one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and lived in Bethel; he taught them how they should worship the Lord.
But every nation still made gods of its own and put them in the shrines of the high places that the people of Samaria had made, every nation in the cities in which they lived; the people of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, the people of Cuth made Nergal, the people of Hamath made Ashima; the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak; the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. They also worshipped the Lord and appointed from among themselves all sorts of people as priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places. So they worshipped the Lord, but they also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away. To this day they continue to practice their former customs.
They do not worship the Lord and they do not follow the statutes or the ordinances or the law or the commandment that the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel. The Lord had made a covenant with them and commanded them, ‘You shall not worship other gods or bow yourselves to them or serve them or sacrifice to them, but you shall worship the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm; you shall bow yourselves to him, and to him you shall sacrifice. The statutes and the ordinances and the law and the commandment that he wrote for you, you shall always be careful to observe. You shall not worship other gods; you shall not forget the covenant that I have made with you. You shall not worship other gods, but you shall worship the Lord your God; he will deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.’ They would not listen, however, but they continued to practice their former custom.
So these nations worshipped the Lord, but also served their carved images; to this day their children and their children’s children continue to do as their ancestors did. (2 Kings 17)
Amos the Prophet
Isaiah and Micah
The Temple Cleansings by Jesus
Isaiah as a Young Man
Connecting the Dots: A Handbook of Bible Prophecy
The Temple Mount in Jerusalem Web Site
God's Long Term Purpose for Israel
Israel is the Key to World Peace
The Ruthlessness of God
Israel My Glory (Aliyah)
Entering God's Sabbath Rest
Jesus, the Avenger of Blood
The Terror of the Lord
Tyre and Sidon
Jesus our Jubilee
The Day of the Lord
Jesus, Greater than Moses
The Wife of Jehovah, The Bride of Christ
The Last Church Before the Rapture
The Gog/Magog Invasion
God's Land -- God's People
Strike the Shepherd