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Prophets, Evangelists, Teachers
Our study today is the third in a series of studies in which we are dealing with the five main ministries which Jesus Christ has set in the Church for the upbuilding of His body. These five ministries are set forth by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians chapter 4 verse 11, and I’m sure that many of you who have been in the previous studies can say them by heart now. Let’s see if we can go through them just once together: apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, teachers. Thank you. That was good.
Now in the first study we dealt with the great basic principles and purposes for these ministries, and the climax to which the Lord is directing us in the upbuilding of His Body through these ministries.
Yesterday we dealt with the Universal Church. The nature of the Universal Church, how it is formed, what the word Church means, an assembly of people called out who meet certain requirements, and we considered those requirements. The requirements are a direct personal revelation of Jesus Christ granted to the individual by the Father through the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Father, through the Spirit reveals the Son. And on the basis of this revelation received, acknowledged and confessed, Jesus says, “Upon this rock I will build My Church.”
In John chapter 10 the same basic conditions are stated. Jesus said, “The entrance into the sheepfold is by the door only.”
I am the door. If any man comes by the door to him the door keeper will open.”
So in that parable the father is the Lord, the doorkeeper is the Holy Spirit, Jesus the Son crucified is the door, risen from the dead is the shepherd. Everybody that wants to come into the sheepfold by God’s appointed way must come through the door, the Lord Jesus Christ crucified. Entering in through that door they become members of the sheepfold. They have its blessings and its protection and they have the risen Christ as their Shepherd. So that we see the entrance into the assembly of God’s people on earth is of such tremendous importance and significance that it is jealously guarded by each of the three persons of the Godhead: Father, Son and Spirit. You cannot bypass any person of the Godhead and enter into the Church of Jesus Christ.
Now in this Universal Church, the total Body of Christ, God has set certain ministries which I call universal ministries or mobile ministries. The two amount to the same. They’re universal in the sense that they function to the whole body of Christ. They’re mobile in the sense that they are not tied down by residence in one particular locality. So they are both mobile and universal.
The other category of ministries which we will deal with tomorrow are the resident and local ministries. But first of all we are going through the mobile universal ministries. And we suggested that these are four: apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers. The resident local ministry is the shepherd ministry.
Yesterday we dealt with the first of these four great mobile universal ministries: the ministry of the apostle. We said that literally an apostle means one who is sent forth. And that all through the New Testament those who became apostles, became apostles by being sent forth. During the earthy ministry of Jesus He called to Him twelve men who were disciples, commissioned them, and sent them forth. And when they were sent forth then they were no longer merely disciples, they had become apostles. But it says in Ephesians chapter 4 verse 8, “After He had ascended, then He gave these ministry gifts.” So there are apostles also given from Pentecost onwards. The pattern for these apostolic ministries is found in Acts 13 where a group of leaders waited upon the Lord in fellowship and fasting and prayer, the Holy Spirit said, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for a special task which I have for them.” And when they had been separated, sanctified, commissioned and sent forth, they had become apostles.
It’s interesting to notice and I will deal with this again later, that the New Testament gives no endorsement to the principle of the necessity of apostolic succession. In other words, an apostle does not have to be appointed by an apostle. Because, when the apostles Paul and Barnabas were sent forth from Antioch there is no questions that there were apostles appointed by Jesus during His earthly ministry in Jerusalem which is only a short journey from Antioch. If Jesus had insisted on the principle that apostles had must be appointed by apostles, that’s the principle of apostolic succession, then He could have easily arrange that some apostles whom He had already ordained Himself during His earthly ministry could have come down from Jerusalem to Antioch and ordained Paul and Barnabas. But in actual fact the Lord deliberately set aside that principle.
Paul and Barnabas were sent forth as apostles produced from within the fellowship of the local church in Antioch. And all the other apostles in the New Testament were produced in the same way. It’s a bringing forth by generation from within the womb of the local church in any area.
We saw that the nature of the apostolic ministry in its essence is that of the master builder. He’s the one who know how to set up and maintain church order. He understands the principles of building from the foundation to the roof. He has a seal which is the completed edifice. His ministry is attested by signs. The first sign is the character sign endurance. The second sign is the miracles. There are also false apostles and apostles have to be tried and tested by the church to which they claim to be ministering as apostles.
Now we will go on this morning to the next ministry, the ministry of the prophet. I have already defined the prophet literally as one who speaks forth. This is the literal meaning of the word prophet: pro = forth, phet (in Greek), to speak.One who speaks forth. He speaks forth on behalf of God a message received directly from God. What sets the prophet aside is his message. He is a man with a special message for a special time and place received direct from God. You see this sets him aside from an ordinary preacher.
Let’s consider the example of Jonah. Jonah could have walked into the city of Nineveh as a preacher and told those people, “If you go on living this wicked way God will send judgment.” That is a general truth of God’s word. But Jonah was a prophet. He had a time element in his message. He said, “It’s coming within forty days if you don’t repent.” That set him apart as a prophet.
Likewise John the Baptist came with a message of repentance which, as a matter of fact, every preacher should preach. He said, “If you carry on like this God is going to require it of you. Repent.” But he was a prophet. He said, “There’s one following after the lachet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose.” He had a special time factor revelation. This is what sets a person aside as a prophet. He has a specific message for a specific time and place which goes beyond the great general principles of the word of God which every preacher and every minister should unfold.
Essentially I believe the Scriptural account of a prophet is one who stands in the counsel of the Lord. In Amos chapter 3 and verse 7 you have this very remarkable statement. Amos 3:7.
Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
The word secretis also translated elsewhere in the Old Testament counsel.“…he reveals his inner counsel to his servants the prophets.” This is the nature of the apostolic ministry. It’s a person who understand the inner counsel of God.
Charles was telling us last night, and this is extremely appropriate to what I’m saying this morning, that for every age there is a specific purpose of God. And to be in the line of God’s blessing you must be moving in His purpose for that time. Essentially it’s the ministry of the prophet to unfold the specific purpose and counsel of God for that particular, time, situation, generation or group. So God does nothing—this is a tremendous statement—all through history God does nothing without revealing His secret counsel and purpose to His servants the prophets.
Again if you turn to First Kings chapter 17 and verse 1, you’ll find Elijah’s account of himself as a prophet. First Kings chapter 17 and verse 1.
And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab [the king of Israel at that time] As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
That’s the position of the prophet—the Lord before whom I stand. I stand in the presence of God, I receive His counsel and His message, and then I give it forth as I’m directed. Elijah was directed to go direct to the king and give his message to the king of Israel. “There’s not going to be any rain or dew for the next three and a half years.” That was his message. Having delivered his message he withdrew.
In Jeremiah chapter 23 you’ll find God’s differentiation between the true and the false prophets. This is the subject which is one of the main themes of this chapter of Jeremiah 23. We will not go into it in detail but I want you to notice the phrase that God uses there to describe what it means to be a true prophet. In verse 16 of Jeremiah 23, the Lord speaks about the false prophets and He says,
Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord.
They have something that just comes from themselves. It is not received from the Lord’s mouth. Now in verse 18 he says of these same people.
For who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord, and hath perceived and heard His word?
That’s the true prophet. The man who stands in the counsel of the Lord perceives and hears and then delivers his word so received. And then the Lord says of these false prophets in verse 21,
I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.
A terrible thing to do to speak when God hasn’t spoken to you if you’re speaking as a prophet. Now listen,
But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way,
So the thing that God asks of the prophet is that he will stand before the Lord, stand in the counsel of the Lord, hear the message of the Lord and then take it and deliver it as he is directed when and where and to whom the Lord directs. This is the essential nature of the prophetic ministry.
Now it is necessary to make a difference also between two things that are commonly confused: the ministry of a prophet and the gift of prophesying. The ministry of a prophet is listed in Ephesians chapter 4, the gift of prophesying is listed in First Corinthians chapter 12. Now you’ll find a very interesting thing if you study this, and we’re not going to go into it in detail, essentially the ministry gifts are according to the measure of the gift of Christ. It is Christ, the Son of God, continuing His ministry through the person who have those particular ministries. Christ the prophet in a man gives the man that prophetic ministry. Christ the evangelist gives the man that ministry as an evangelist.
Now when we come to the gifts of the Holy Spirit in First Corinthians chapter 12, it’s the Holy Spirit that manifests Himself in the gift out of the believer. In other words, the ministries are essentially manifestation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The spiritual gifts are essentially manifestations of the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit. You see a man may have a valid ministry under the category of the ministry gifts without being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Many men have a definite God-given evangelistic ministry as evangelists who are not baptized in the Holy Spirit. I am not saying that they should not be baptized in the Holy Spirit, but I’m saying that their ministry does not depend on the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It is not a manifestation of the Holy Spirit, but it’s a projection of the ministry of Jesus Christ.
I had great problems about this for a time until I saw the difference between the ministry gifts, which are the continuation of the person and ministry of Christ, and the spiritual gifts which are manifestations and they are supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit from within the believer.
Now this applies particularly to this relationship between the ministry of a prophet and the gift of prophesying. And I think I can show you sound Scriptural evidence that they’re distinct. If you’ll look in Ephesians 4:11, this key verse that we have looked at so many times, Ephesians 4:11, you’ll find it says there,
He [Christ] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets;…
I think the text makes it clear that He did not give all prophets. Not all are going to have the ministry of a prophet. Not all are going to have the ministry of an apostle, and so on. I think that is perfectly clear. But now turn over to First Corinthians chapter 14, First Corinthians chapter 14 and look at what Paul says about the gift of prophesying; the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. 1stCorinthians 14:31, Paul says,
Ye may all prophesy, one by one…
All may exercise the gift of prophesying, but not all necessarily will have the ministry of a prophet. The ministry is the continuation and extension of Jesus Christ, the spiritual gift is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Now I’m not setting these one against the other, nor am I making any division within the Godhead. But there is nevertheless a clear Scriptural distinction between the person of Jesus Christ and the person of the Holy Spirit. Essentially the ministry gifts are related primarily to the person of Jesus Christ, the spiritual gifts are manifestations of the person of the Holy Spirit. “All may prophesy,” it’s within the revealed will of God for all Spirit baptized believers to prophesy. But that does not mean that all Spirit baptized believers will have the ministry of a prophet. “He gave some prophets, but ye may all prophesy.”
Now what we are talking about today is not the gift of prophesying, but the ministry of a prophet. Now stay in First Corinthians 14 and let’s look at the next great principle that’s established. First Corinthians 14:29 says,
Let the prophets [plural] speak two or three, and let the others [and the Greek is plural and by implication it’s the other prophets] judge.
You will notice that Paul assumes that prophets minister in teams. They are not on their own as individuals. We’ve already seen this principle is true of the apostle. The apostle in the New Testament never ministered as an apostle on his own as an individual. Apostles were sent forth in teams. They ministered in teams. There was a certain sense of collective responsibility. Exactly the same is true of the prophets. “Let the prophets [plural] speak two or three, and let the other prophets judge.” In other words, no one man as a prophet is to be a dictator and say “thus saith the Lord and you’ve got to believe me whether you like it or not.” Because when one prophet says “thus saith the Lord,” the other prophets have the right to say, “Well now I acknowledge that as a genuine manifestation of God’s Spirit, or I do not accept that.” All prophesying and the ministry of all prophets in the New Testament Church is subject to judgment. Any person in the New Testament Church who set himself up as a dictator who is not subject to judgment is out of line with Scripture. Actually this is one of the greatest causes of problems in the Charismatic movement is prophecy and a prophetic ministry which are not submitted to judgment. And in most cases you’ll find that this type of person operates as an individual.
Well the Lord has shown me and I’m telling you that that is not a Scriptural attitude. In every case except one, and the exception is not important in principle, wherever prophets are mentioned in the New Testament they’re mentioned in a group.
Let’s have a look at this. Let’s go through these. There are approximately ten persons mentioned in the New Testament as having the ministry of prophets. We look at all the cases very quickly. The first is in Acts chapter 11. Acts the eleventh chapter verses 27—30.
And in these days came prophets [plural] from Jerusalem unto Antioch.
And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the spirit [he gave forth some revelation by the Holy Spirit] that there should be a great dearth [or famine] throughout all the [civilized] world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.
Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea: [who would need special help in the time of famine.]
Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
Notice a group of men, and it could not have been less than three and probably in my opinion was more, but at least there were Agabus and two others. A group of men came down from Jerusalem, functioning together as prophets. One of them, Agabus, stood up, gave forth his revelation—it is clear from the teaching of the New Testament that the other prophets must have endorsed that revelation. If they had not endorsed it the Church would not have acted on it. Here’s the great safeguard which actually runs through the whole of the New Testament—it’s the safeguard of plurality. There are not dictators in the true Church of Jesus Christ. Neither an apostle nor a prophet is a dictator. Each one must function within certain limitations, function as part of a team, and be subject to the total discipline of the Body of Jesus Christ. This is such a tremendously important principle. The neglect of it is causing havoc and disaster in many areas of the United States at this time.
Moving on to Acts 13 we have this passage there, “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers…” They were both prophets and teachers. The two ministries go very closely together. And there are named five men. They names are Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen and Saul. Now we’ve had three before at least, then five, that makes eight. That’s the minimum. Acts 15:32, we have two more. It says,
And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.
So Judas and Silas also were acknowledged as prophets. And notice that part of the prophetic ministry is exhortation. It’s included in the prophetic ministry. Being prophets they exhorted the brethren. So we have at least ten persons and probably more, actually designated as prophets.
Now turn on to Acts 21. We have a very interesting case. Acts 21:8-11.
And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Cesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist,
Would you notice that because when we come to deal with the evangelist we don’t need to turn back to that text. Philip is the evangelist. He’s the only man specified by name in the whole New Testament as an evangelist. Isn’t that remarkable? Twenty-eight persons are called apostles. At least ten are called prophets, only one is called an evangelist. And yet the Church today dubs people evangelists right and left and never dares to apply the title apostle or prophet. Isn’t that remarkable?
…we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven [deacons]; and abode with him.
And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.
They exercised the gift of prophesying. They were not necessarily prophetesses.
And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judea a certain prophet, [notice the difference] named Agabus.
And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.
Notice how gracious the Holy Spirit is. You see the Holy Spirit is never a dictator. He’s the Spirit of grace. Notice the operation. Agabus came down, went over to Paul, took Paul’s girdle from off his clothing, he did not bind Paul’s hands and feet, he bound his own. Then he said into effect, “Paul if you will accept it, this is what lies ahead of you in Jerusalem. That’s the grace of the Holy Spirit. Most people would have come along and tied Paul and said, “Paul, that’s what’s going to happen to you.” But Agabus tied himself up and said, “Paul you have the choice. But if you go to Jerusalem this is what lies ahead.”
Now Agabus here was operating on his own. You may say well that breaks your principle. But it doesn’t really because if you look back you’ll find that what Agabus told Paul was only the final confirmation of what Paul had already been shown in many different places along the line of his journey. Turn back to Acts chapter 20 and read with me verses 22 and 23. Acts 20—Paul is here speaking to the elders of the church of Ephesus and he tells them what God has been showing him all the way of his journey.
And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit
He was already bound in the spirit before Agabus gave him that revelation. This was just the final confirmation. He wasn’t bound by man, he was bound by the Spirit of God. He could have gone elsewhere. He could have made his own decision. He could have taken a different course. He could have avoided Jerusalem. The bondage was not external. It was his bondage to the will of God in the Holy Spirit.
And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:
Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.
Every place that Paul came to there came forth in some way or another, a revelation that he was headed for bonds and afflictions in the city of Jerusalem. So when Agabus gave that revelation was not something on its own which Paul had to believe without confirmation. It was just the final confirmation of what Paul had already been shown. This is what I want you to understand. Never let anybody dictate to you with their own revelation. If somebody comes up to you and says, “Sister, God has shown me you’re to go to Nigeria.” Say, “Praise the Lord, I’ll wait until God shows me. I’ll wait until I have confirmation.” Never let anybody dictate to you by revelation. You’re headed for disaster the moment you do it. I have seen lives, families, and churches wrecked by directive revelations and prophecies that were not adequately tested and confirmed by the people who acted on it. Never do it. It isn’t Scriptural. And any personal that has that desire to dictate and direct the lives or others, I’ll tell you frankly, is not motivated by the Holy Spirit. Because that is not the motivation of the Holy Spirit.
I’ll tell you what most persons are in most cases. They’re witches. You might not like the statement but it’s true. There are a lot of witches in prayer groups exercising dominion over people, prophesying on them, giving them revelation, confusing them and bringing them into bondage. “Where the Spirit of Lord is, there is liberty [not bondage].”
I spoke to a young couple last night. They had been to prayer group in this area where they’ve got nothing but confusion. Eventually they gave up. Different people had prophesied different things over them at different times until they thought, “Well we don’t know what to believe.” This whole thing is out of line with Scripture.
All right let’s looks now at a beautiful picture of the prophetic ministry in relationship to the Church that’s given in the Old Testament. In the prophet Zechariah, the fourth chapter. Zechariah you know comes near the end if you’re looking for him. You go backwards from the end and you’re not far away. That’s of the Old Testament of course. Zechariah chapter 4, we’ll read verses 1—6, and then verses 11—14. We’ll miss out the middle bit. This is a vision that Zechariah had.
And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened of his sleep,
And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a chandlestick all of gold with a bowl upon the top of it, and has seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof:
And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.
So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord?
Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.
Then there’s a sort of something that’s not directly related to that and we go to verse 11.
Then, answered I, and said unto him [the angel], What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof?
And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?
And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, [literally in Hebrew sons of oil] that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
Notice the phrase there stand by the Lord of the whole earth. That’s the prophetic position and ministry.
Now keep your finger in Zechariah if you can, and just turn to Revelation the eleventh chapter for a moment and we have a Scriptural interpretation of these olive trees—these two anointed ones. Revelations chapter 11 verse 4, speaking about two prophets who are to come forth at the close of the age. The Revelator says,
These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the whole earth.
In other words it’s a direct reference to the prophecy of Zechariah, verse 10 of Revelation 11,
And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
In other words, the olive trees are pictures of the prophetic ministry.
So we have the candlestick in the center, the olive tree—one on the right hand, one on the left—and out of the branches of the olive tree a gold pipe directed into the bowl on top of the candlestick discharging pure fresh olive oil out of the olive trees into the bowl. Now I have a little picture of that here which I trust will help you to see it vividly. I think it’s rather a nice picture.
Now here is the candlestick. It’s always a seven branched candlestick as you know, and everywhere in Scripture I would venture to say, the candlestick is always a type of the church. This is interpreted in the first chapter of Revelation. You don’t need to turn there. So here is the church typified throughout all ages by the candlestick. On either side the prophetic ministry discharging fresh olive oil into the central bowl. You see by the laws of gravity if these are hallow, whatever is here will flow down here until the level is the same in all the seven bowls.
So in order to burn brightly the candlestick must be filled with what? Olive oil. What is olive oil a type of? Always in Scripture, invariably the Holy Spirit. So out of these prophetic ministries the Church is continually replenished by the oil of fresh revelation which causes the light of the church to continue burning brightly. If ever the oil supply is cut off the light of the church must go out. Here is the relationship therefore of the prophetic ministry to the church as a whole. It is to bring continually fresh revelation. It’s to stand in the counsel of the Lord and to interpret to the church the present immediate purposes of God that apply specifically to that time, that group, that situation. You see Proverbs 29:18 says this,
Where there is no vision the people perish.
Or get out of hand, or lose control, or are made naked. There are many different translations of that word. People cannot live in spiritual blessing and victory without direct vision. Now I’m sure you understand. I’m not talking about something that supercedes or contradicts Scripture. I’m talking in exactly the same terms as Charles spoke—the revelation out of Scripture that’s relevant to that particular age and situation.
It says in the Book of Samuel in the days of Eli when the little prophet Samuel was emerging, in those days there was no open vision. They had all the apparatus of religion. They had the tabernacle, they had the ark, they had the priesthood, they had the sacrifices, they had the Law of Moses, but they were a dead, cold, backslidden people because religion doesn’t keep people alive. It’s only fresh oil that causes the church to burn continually with a bright flame. That fresh oil comes from the prophetic revelation appropriate to that situation and generation. We cannot live on past revelation. What Wesley said was relevant to Wesley’s time. What Luther said was relevant to Luther’s time. But we cannot live today on Luther, Wesley, Finney or any other person of the past. We must have out own direct up to date fresh oil being discharged continually into the church. This is the function of the prophetic ministry.
Now I am dealing with these things only in outline so I’m now going to move on to the next of the main mobile ministries which is the ministry of the evangelist. Now the evangelist literally is one who tells the good news. Evangelin Greek means good news.And let me say once again, if you ever hear anything that isn’t good news, it isn’t the gospel.
I’m always reminded of a lady whom I knew, in fact she’s a friend of our today, whose husband at that time was a deacon in the Moody Bible Church in Chicago. This lady became incurably sick with a kidney complaint. So she went to the Moody Book Store in Chicago to get a book on healing. And after searching diligently she came forth with fourteen books on how to suffer but not one on how to be healed. Well I don’t call that good news. You see I don’t call that the gospel, because the gospel is good news. Eventually this lady went to an Episcopal Priest in Wheaton, not in Wheaton but an Episcopal Priest—let me correct that—who was baptized in the Holy Spirit, received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, was anointed with oil by the Episcopal Priest and miraculously healed. So that’s good news. That’s the gospel.
So just remember the evangelist is the one who tells the good news. If people don’t tell you good news, don’t let them deceive you into believing that they’re telling you the gospel. The gospel is God’s good news. He love you, He wants to forgive you, He wants to bless you, He wants to prosper you, He wants to heal you, He wants you to have abundance, He wants you to live in victory, peace and joy. Now if that isn’t good news I don’t know what is good news. But a lot of things that are passed off upon church-going people as the gospel have little or no relation to what the New Testament calls the gospel.
Now the business of the evangelist is to tell everyone the good news. That’s his one consuming passion is to get the good news out to everybody. An evangelist normally speaking is a man on the move. He cannot rest, he cannot stay still till everyone has heard. The pattern evangelist, as I mentioned earlier and as is stated in Acts 21:8, is Philip the evangelist. He’s the only pattern evangelist except the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. So we’ve either got to take him as the pattern or be left without a pattern. Well I’m content to take Philip as the pattern of the New Testament evangelist. Turn to Acts chapter 8 and glance very briefly at the description there given of his ministry, which extends from Acts chapter 8 verse 4 through verse 40. Acts the eighth chapter beginning at verse 4.
Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
The word is evangelizingthe word. Carrying the good news of the word. You see, as you will see in your outline, the word evangelist is only used three times: once in Acts, once in Ephesians, and once in Second Timothy. But the verb evangelizeis used about fifty times. Mainly, interesting enough, in the writings of Luke, in the gospel of Luke and in the book of Acts of which Luke was also the author. Now the references are given in your outline and I’m not going to take the time to go into them today, but you’ll find a series of references out of many more possible references where the word used is evangelize. The word used usually in the King James is to preach the gospel, but it is to carry the good news.
All right, so when the church was driven out of Jerusalem by he persecution that resulted from the death of Stephen they that were scattered abroad went everywhere telling the good news. Verse 5.
Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria…
That’s where the Lord directed him to tell the good news. Now let me point out that Philip, as an evangelist, operated on his own. The evangelist scripturally may operate on his own. I don’t mean to say that he’s independent of the Body of Christ, but he is not necessarily a member of a team. Philip went down just on his own. To me this is fascinating. No welcoming committee, no advanced publicity, the mayor wasn’t there, the fire chief wasn’t there. Nobody knew but Philip just went down to an alien city that hated the Jewish people, Philip was a Jew, and he just started to preach Christ.
Now let’s look at certain things about this. First of all his message. The message of the evangelist is simplicity itself. Acts 8:5—what did Philip preach? He preached Christ. One word. When he met the eunuch a little later on the Road to Gaza in Acts 8:35 it says,
Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
That’s simplicity isn’t it? His message was Jesus Christ. That’s all he wanted to talk about. That’s the nature of the true God-given evangelist. Now why did people listen to him? Was it because of long advanced notice had been given in the newspapers and the radio that the great preacher Philip was coming? No. He didn’t know and they didn’t know. I’ll guarantee a week before Philip got to Samaria he didn’t know he was going to be in Samaria. But when he came there everybody listened. Why? Because of divine attestation. The attestation of the New Testament evangelist is miracles in one simple word. That’s the only authority and attestation that God has provided and it works.
A young African evangelist in Kenya said to me once, he said, “Brother Prince, there’s no problem about evangelizing African villages.” This young man, incidentally, had been down at Mombasa in 1958 when Brother T. L. Osborn conducted an evangelistic crusade there, had seen the crowds gather, had witnessed the miracles of healing and deliverance, and in his simplicity he said to himself, “If Brother Osborn can do it, I can do it.” And you know what? He was perfectly right. He could. And he came up to the area of Kenya where we were working as missionaries and he did it. He turned out teacher training college upside down in about two weeks. He was a boy with very little education. Never gone beyond fifth grade, but he just preached Jesus Christ. He brought the good news and people went around that college for weeks afterwards singing day and night. They had prayer meetings in the dormitories that lasted all night. The good news had come. But this young man said to me, “Brother Prince, there’s no problem about preaching the gospel and evangelizing Kenya. I just walk into a village and I say, ‘Is there anybody sick here?’ And he said you’ll never come into an African village without finding some sick people. So they bring out the sick people, I pray for them, God heals them and I have my congregation.” Well that is the New Testament pattern. It’s that simple. And do you know what? It always works. God has never devised a scheme that didn’t work.
So why did they listen to Philip? You read this and see why they listened. Verses 6 and 7 or Acts chapter 8
And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
Now miracles do not convert people. Miracles don’t produce faith. But what they do do is cause people to listen to the word of God, and faith comes by hearing the word of God. Miracles arrest people’s attention and cause them to listen. Then faith comes by hearing the word of God. But if people won’t listen it’s no good preaching to them. The first thing you’ve go to do is arrest their attention. That was done by the miraculous. I like verse 7 which says:
For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them; and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.
That sounds like a deliverance service to me, doesn’t it? I don’t whether you’ve been in a deliverance service, but many unclean spirits crying with loud voice came out of many. I have to testify to the glory of God that in the last eight years I have seen this happen hundreds and hundreds of times. And in recent years I’ve seen many that were lame, healed. God showed me—as a matter of fact—He said if you go on casting out the demons there’ll come a time when you’ll be healing the lame too. There’s a certain divine order in Scripture.
There were many pressures directed against me at one time to stop casting out demons in public. They said, “It’s all right Brother Prince but do it in private.” Well I said if Jesus and Philip and the other people did it in public, why should we do it in private? So I went on doing it in public and praise God I have seen literally thousands of people delivered.
A lady came to me last night in this place. She pressed a twenty dollar bill in my hand. Praise the Lord, sister. Thank you for it. I told her I haven’t got time but when she came up with a twenty dollar bill I said I’ve just got time for that. You see. Don’t think I’m greedy for money but I’m just stating the way it happened. And she said, “Brother Prince, you were here last year, prayed for me, I was delivered of the demon of nicotine and for the first time in thirty-two years I haven’t smoked.” She was so full of joy. I think she’s here this morning. You see that’s deliverance. It’s part of the gospel and it’s one of the things that God does to arrest people’s attention and cause them to hear the good news. People need to know that the news is good and true. When they see people delivered, when they see the lame walk, when the see the deaf hear, then they know this is for real. Now I’ll listen, I’ll believe, I’ll give heed.
All right. What were the results of Philip’s ministry? This is most important. Philip did not merely bring the people to conversion. He brought them into conversion and one more thing. What was that? Water baptism. That’s right. He never left his converts without seeing them baptized in water. And no New Testament evangelist has any authority to do so, because Jesus said.
Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, [evangelize every creature], he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.
And He said at the end of Matthew,
Go and make disciples of all nations [how] baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
There is no authority in the New Testament to preach salvation without following it up with baptism in water. So Acts chapter 8, verse 12,
But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
He did not leave them unbaptized. He left them without receiving the Holy Spirit. Peter and John came down and prayed that they might receive the Holy Spirit. But he did not leave until they were baptized. And when He dealt with the eunuch, the same truth is found there. In Acts 8 verses 36—38.
And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
What did Philip preach to him? He preached Jesus. But included in the preaching of Jesus was the information that if you accept Jesus you get baptized. There’s no other way to do it. Philip didn’t say get baptized. The eunuch said, “Look, here’s water. Why don’t I get baptized right now.”
And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he [Philip] baptized him [the eunuch].
As soon as that was done the Holy Spirit caught Philip away. His job was complete. He didn’t even have to walk, nor travel in the chariot. He had divine transportation. I call the evangelist God’s paratrooper because he drops on people out of heaven suddenly, does his job, and gets carried off again. Now this doesn’t always happen nowadays, though sometimes, believe me, it still happens. There are cases in the last two or three decades of people who have been supernaturally transported just like Philip was.
Let’s look at my little summary here in the diagram before we move on to the last of the great mobile ministries. But let’s look here. This is my little summary. Really I’ve said it all. The evangelist is God’s paratrooper. He’s always on the move. He’s lightly equipped. He’s at God’s disposal night and day. He isn’t tied down by a lot of earthy commitments. His ministry is simple. It’s to introduce the sinner to the Savior. When he’s made the introduction his ministry is finished. His message is simple. It’s Jesus Christ. His attestation is supernatural, it’s miracles. And the results of his ministry is salvation plus baptism. Don’t leave that out. There is no New Testament pattern for brining people to conversion without seeing them baptized. And I am confident within this decade the true church of Jesus Christ will be operating precisely on that principle once again.
Now let us turn in the last few moments to the fourth great ministry of the mobile ministries, the ministry of the teacher. And I have interpreted the teacher as one who interprets Scripture. I think that’s the best level that I can come up with.
Now there are two levels of teaching in the body of Christ. There’s the great mobile universal teaching ministry stated in Ephesians 4:11, “He gave some teachers…” And then there’s the local teaching ministry of the local elder or shepherd. Now we’ve already looked at Ephesians 4:11 so many times that I take it for granted you don’t need to look there again. “He gave some apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers.” Let us look at the Scripture that speaks about the local resident teaching ministry. In First Timothy 5 verse 17—what I want to do is to show you the distinction between the mobile universal teaching ministry and the local resident teaching ministry. First Timothy 5:17 says this,
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, [and that means also financial honor] especially they who labour in the word and teaching [don’t put doctrine—teaching—it’s not the finished product it’s the process.]
So elders are required primarily to do two things. First of all to rule, to administer, to direct, to lead. Secondly to teach the word. And the more time they spend in teaching the word the more they need the support and remuneration of the congregation. If a man gives his life fulltime to the teaching of the word, he must receive fulltime remuneration. This is the purpose of what Paul is telling Timothy, you see this is the principle because the next verse says,
For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.
This is the principle. If a man gives fulltime he must receive fulltime remuneration. A local elder who devotes his whole time to leading the flock and teaching the word must receive fulltime remuneration. You cannot expect a muzzled ox to give you much in the way of teaching, can you? “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn…”
All right. But the nature of the local teacher’s ministry is somewhat different, and I think the difference is set forth in Titus chapter 1 and verse 9. But to get the background look first of all in Titus 1 verse 5.
For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city,…
Then Paul goes on to describe the sort of person that an elder should be, and he calls him also a bishop. The two words are used interchangeably. Verse 7,
For a bishop [or an overseer] must be blameless,
Then he describes the characteristics that must be found in the bishop, overseer or elder, and in verse 9 one of the requirements is this.
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
So the elder must first of all have been taught, must then be qualified and capable to transmit the teaching which he has received to the rest of the flock. Essentially he is taught and then he teaches. Now this is further unfolded in Second Timothy chapter 2 and verse 2. That’s such an easy reference to remember. 2 Timothy 2:2. Paul is writing to Timothy who is responsible for the general order of a local congregation and he says this,
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
Paul taught Timothy, Timothy was to teach the local elders, and the local elders were in turn to train other elders. In other words you have four spiritual generations in that verse. First generation Paul, second generation Timothy, third generation the elders whom Timothy taught, and fourth generation the elders taught by the elders taught by Timothy. You see this is how the word of God should continue through the life of the church from one set of men who had been taught to the next. And notice that the elders are in the plural. It’s faithful men, not a faithful man. A group of men are brought into being who are in turn qualified to transmit that teaching to further generations of similar men. As long as the church remains faithful the doctrine and practice of the church will be kept pure.
Now the teacher who is not merely on the local level to the local flock, but the expositor to the whole body, as an example of him I have chosen Apollos. To me he seems to be perhaps the clearest single example in the New Testament of a man who is a teacher per se. Turn with me to Acts chapter 18 and read a few verses there. Acts chapter 18 and verse 24 and following.
And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
Apollos was what we would call a “pulpit personality.” And a man who’s a minister to the whole body has to have something of that personality and ability. The local teacher doesn’t need to be a great pulpit personality. He’s going to be teaching small groups and he’s going to do much of his teaching in personal counseling. He does not need to be a professional preacher or a pulpit personality. But the teacher to the body as a whole must have something of this. Apollos was an eloquent man, mighty in the scriptures. But as Charles pointed out in his message last night, Apollos was not totally with it at this time. He came to Ephesus but he only knew the baptism of John the Baptist. However, a godly couple there, Priscilla and Aquila, took him into their home and taught him about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the fullness of the gospel. And then he used his great ability in scripture and his eloquence and his ability to express things clearly to teach the complete truth. So we read this and I’ll go on reading.
This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. [The full gospel, the baptism in the Holy Spirit and so on.]
And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia [Achaia is the province of which Corinth was the main city] the brethren [in Ephesus] wrote, exhorting the disciples [in Corinth] to receive him: [you see he had to be recommended by one group to be received by the next group.] who, when he was come helped them much which had believed through grace:
For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.
Now there’s a strange phrase there he helped them who had believed through grace.What does that mean? I believe that many of those people were ignorant, illiterate, they had no background in Scripture, they were Gentiles, they’d led lives of shame and poverty and degradation, they were saved by supernatural revelation of Jesus Christ as people are being saved all over the world today. They had a direct supernatural encounter with Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit that caused them to become disciples. But they had no background knowledge of Scripture, they were floundering, they were struggling, they needed someone to come and teach them out of the Scripture the great basic principles of the gospel. Apollos was the man who could do that. So he helped them mightily. They had believed through grace. Now he showed them out of the Scriptures the real intellectual basis and foundation for their faith.
You see it is not enough just to feed your heart. The time comes when you must feed your mind. Your mind must be instructed and illuminated out of Scripture by systematic public exposition. This is the nature of the ministry of Apollos. Now Paul contrasts his ministry with that of Apollos in First Corinthians chapter 3. It’s rather interesting to read this. First Corinthians chapter 3. They were beginning in the church of Corinth to become followers of men; Paul, Peter, Apollos and so on. Paul rebuked them for this and said you’ve got no business becoming followers of Peter or Paul or Apollos. You’re followers of Jesus Christ and Him only. Paul says then First Corinthians 3:5,
Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
So let me give you this little picture now on the chart of the teaching ministry. We have two distinct types of teacher. The mobile teacher who is for the whole body whose ministry is systematic public exposition—a kind of pulpit personality. Secondly we have the teaching elder who is for the local group only, who first receives and then transmits that which he has received.
Now the relationship between the evangelist and the mobile teacher is this. The evangelist plants, the teacher follows up and waters. But it is God who gives the increase. Now let me point out in closing, and I’ve got about thirty seconds left I believe, that the ministry of the teacher is often united with another of the main mobile ministries. And I’ve given you a series of texts in your outline if you wish to look. Second Timothy chapter 1 verse 11, Paul said he was an apostle and a teacher. Acts 13:1
There were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers.
And in Luke 20 verse 1 it says that Jesus in the temple was teaching and evangelizing. That’s the literal meaning of the word. So that the ministry of teaching very often goes together with the ministry of the apostle, the prophet or the evangelist. Nevertheless it can be identified as a separate ministry on its own.
Let’s close with just a word of prayer.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy word and we pray that the truth that we have studied this day together shall abide in our hearts. We thank you that the word of God effectually worketh in them who believe. May each one of us so believe and obey that Your word will work effectually in our hearts and lives to cause us to do Your will and glorify Your name. This we ask in the name of Jesus, and all the people said Amen.