As the vehicle through which God carries out His purposes in the world today, the church must be missional. We cannot just simply enjoy the comforts of our sanctuary and cathedrals and bask in the fellowship we enjoy with one another. We must fulfill our purpose as ambassadors of Jesus Christ and bring the Gospel to all the world.
The Holy Spirit gives every believer spiritual gifts to be used for the edifying of the local church and for the advancement of God’s Kingdom. These gifts along with our individual talents and personality are to be used for Kingdom work. Along with the many other gifts, the Holy Spirit gives to certain believers the missional gifts. The missional gifts are to be used for the spread of the Gospel throughout the world. Those missional gifts include: the gift of apostleship and the gift of evangelism. These gifts are listed in Ephesians 4:11 where it mentions that God has given to the church apostles and evangelists.
Apostleship. Just as there is a difference between the spiritual gift of pastoring and the office of the pastor, there is also a difference between the office of an apostle and the gift of apostleship. It must be clearly understood that though there are those who have the gift of apostleship, there are no real apostles today. The office of an apostle ceased with the death of the apostles and with the completion of God’s written Word. There were basically three requirements for one to be an official apostle. Those requirements are as follows:
- To be called by God. Acts 1:2 says, “…until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen.” The Apostles were men called specifically by Jesus Christ and were given specific instructions to follow. Paul declares that he too was an apostle as stated in 1 Timothy 1:1, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
- To have personally seen the resurrected Christ. This is probably the biggest evidence that there are no true apostles today. The Apostles were those who saw with their physical eyes, Jesus after he was resurrected. Acts 4:33 says, “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.” The Apostles were eyewitnesses that Jesus rose again. Though the Apostle Paul was not one of the original Apostles, he did see Jesus after the resurrection when Jesus appeared to him on the Damascus road and called him be an Apostle.
- The office of Apostle was foundational. It was an office of the early church. Therefore, one must have been living at the time of the early church to be an Apostle. Ephesians 2:20 says, “…having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.” The church was built upon the foundation that the Apostles and Prophets laid.
Another interesting note concerning the Apostles is the fact that the scriptures themselves were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by the Prophets and Apostles. The Old Testament was written by the Prophets whereas the New Testament was written by the Apostles. Therefore, there is no need for the office of Apostles today because we have the complete Word of God.
Though the office of Apostle is no longer a legitimate office today, there is a spiritual gift of apostleship given to believers. The gift of apostleship is a missional gift given to those that God calls to establish new works in places that may not have access to the Gospel. The mission for those with the gift of apostleship is to plant new churches and ministries and to go to places that are in need of the Gospel. They overcome culture barriers and serve in challenging environments. Those with the gift of apostleship may also have many other gifts such leadership and pastoring/shepherding. Those with this gift are influencers. They are leaders of leaders. Those who have the gift are often seen leading multiple ministries and churches. They are most likely to be church planters, missionaries, institutional leaders, etc. They are pioneers with a vision to establish and develop new ministries for the purpose of bringing the Gospel to the world.
Evangelism. It must be understood that all born-again believers are called to evangelize. We are all called to tell others of the good news of Jesus. Matthew 28:18-20 says, “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” It is the responsibility of every true born-again believer to preach the Gospel and make disciples. There are many ways in which this can be done, and it is God’s purpose for us to use our spiritual gifts in obedience to the great commission. Essentially, we are to continually share our faith with others as we go about our daily lives. We are to live a life that points others to Jesus and we are to verbally tell others about Him.
Even though all believers are called to fulfil the great commission, there is a specific spiritual gift of evangelism. Those with this gift have a unique ability to effectively share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others. Those with this gift usually have an outgoing personality and have no problem with talking to strangers. The gift of evangelisms allows one to communicate the Gospel with all types of people and are able to develop relationships with the unsaved. Those with the gift of evangelism also have an overwhelming burden to reach the lost for Christ and are very passionate about the need to preach the Gospel. Those with this gift will often get frustrated with other believers who do not witness as much as they do or share the Gospel the way they do it. However, those with this gift must understand that not everyone has the unique gift of evangelism, and the other gifts are just as important and valuable as the gift of evangelism.
The church is in desperate need of those who have the missional gifts. Many in the church has these gifts but are not using the gifts as they should. We need to pray that God would send laborers into the harvest. Pray that the Holy Spirit would lead those whom He has given these gifts to be a part of the mission of the local church in bringing the Gospel to the world. As a church, we should encourage one another in sharing our faith whether or not we have the gift of evangelism. We should provide resources and training and opportunities for everyone to be involved in the mission of bringing the Gospel to the world. We should also work to become a mission sending church where God calls some out from among us to take the Gospel to various parts of the world. The missional gifts are vital to fulfilling God’s purpose for the church and we should pray for these gifts and provide opportunities for these gifts to be utilized in the life and ministry of the church.