The Letters of Faith
Letter 15: The Support Gifts
“And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some,
pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of ministry, for
the edifying of the body of Messiah; until we all attain to the unity of the faith,
and of the knowledge of the Son of Elohim, unto mature sons and daughters,
unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah”
(Ephesians 4:11-13 ENB).
Yes, the sign gifts are truly amazing! It is often said that the teacher learns more in the preparation, than any student does in the hearing of the lesson, and I was stunned – and grieved – in the realization of what we have been given, and what we have been missing. In all honesty, the questionnaire that I use with The Letters were actually constructed after my initial study on the gifts was complete, because everything else I have ever seen regarding the gifts concentrated on puny gifts, while what we have actually been given are marvelously powerful gifts. The questionnaire was designed in light of the marvel I felt following my studies.
And you also need to know that you have excited and motivated me even more with your zeal for your new-found talents. Your encouragement bolsters me, and I truly appreciate your sincerity. I hope you find the support gifts, which will be outlined in this letter, and the service gifts, which are to follow in our next note, to be equally exciting. Like the sign gifts, they too have been diluted over the years. Prayerfully though, the fullness of Elohim in His Ekklesia shall be known once again to His children in these last days, and in that knowledge of Him, may the fullness of the gifts that He has given us be part of that revelation.
The support gifts, once again, are: apostles, evangelists, pastors, prophets and
teachers. Seeing as we discussed the gift of prophecy in our last letter, we will not be discussing it here. As I have already said though, whether the prophet is visionary or expository, their message will always be a sign to the believers, which is why I included prophecy with the sign gifts. Don’t forget though, Disciple, to leave room for The Holy Spirit in all of the gifts, because He gives as He wills. And do not judge – or limit – but wait humbly on Elohim.
Apostleship is one of the gifts declared “dead” by the religious institutions, but in the Ekklesia, the gift remains amazingly alive. Perhaps we feel unworthy to wear the title of apostle, or perhaps we have in fact been unworthy to fulfill the assigned role. Nevertheless, for whatever reason, a large aspect of the gift of Apostleship has been diluted and renamed. We must discover the truth of this matter again though, because functioning apostles, working in the fullness of the gift, are going to be essential in the last days.
If the Ekklesia is going to perform our assigned task, we are going to need apostles on the front line, because their work is vital to the harvest. And so you know, the Greek word used throughout the New Covenant for apostle, APOSTOLOS, means: One sent; an ambassador; a testifier.
It is currently taught in many of the institutions, that to be an apostle, one had to personally see Yehoshua. This teaching, however, is only partly true, which makes this deception such an easy sell. Certainly there were the original twelve apostles, who in fact did walk with the Master. And when one of the original twelve fell (Judas), the other eleven, “LED” by The Holy Spirit, drew lots to determine his replacement. They presented The Holy Spirit with two of those who had walked with them, from the baptism of Messiah to His resurrection, “And the lot fell to Matthias” (Acts 1:15-26 ENB).
Further compounding the false teachings about apostleship, is the fact that there are detractors who would have you believe that the selection of Matthias was an error, and that Paul was Elohim’s true choice. Anyone teaching this fallacy, however, is not looking at the fullness of Scripture, because in Acts 1, Peter clearly delineates the requirements necessary to fulfill the position of “witness” along with the eleven; requirements that Paul was unable to meet. Matthias became a “witnessing apostle”, which spiritually, for whatever reason, was limited to twelve. While we may not understand the spiritual reasoning for this, it is important that we acknowledge not only the apostleship of Matthias, but recognize that others were, and still are, being sent out as ambassadors and testifiers, today.
Additionally, the twelve “witnessing” apostles were devoted, “to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4 ENB). Paul, however, was called to minister to the gentiles (Ephesians 3). While their purpose and manner of ministry was totally different, Paul was as much an apostle as the twelve “witnesses”. And so were others, as you will see.
In Romans 16:7, Junias and Andronicus are named as apostles, and in Philippians 2:25, Epaphroditus is called one as well. These were not Jews, nor were they eyewitnesses of the walk, death or resurrection of Yehoshua. Nevertheless, they are rightly and fittingly called Apostles.
In Acts 13:1-3, Barnabas is included amongst a group acknowledged to be prophets and teachers, but after he and Paul had been set apart and sent out by The Holy Spirit, his “title” changed, and he was called an apostle (Acts 14:14).
Please begin to notice how the gifts are distributed within each of these individuals, because this is fundamental to comprehending the gifts, and how The Holy Spirit works within the lives of Yehoshua’s Disciples. Barnabas, for example, was gifted as a prophet and teacher, and then as an apostle. He had other gifts as well. And consider Paul, because as you learn about him, you will see incredible diversity and authority with regard to his gifts. We have allowed the false teachers to bottle our abilities for so long, that we no longer believe Elohim will do these things through us, but Elohim has not changed – we have! We must repent of our faithlessness, however, and allow The Holy Spirit to move in our midst once again.
The designation of all these Disciples as Apostles (and this gift is not restrictive by gender) should cause us to reconsider the gift, and ask, “Who and what is an apostle today?” If the gift extended beyond the original twelve “witnessing” apostles, and if the gift extended beyond the lines of Judaism, including Gentile Disciples as well, then what is the true definition and function of an apostle today, and why haven’t we seen any lately?
For the most part, apostles today are what the institutions want to refer to as “missionaries”. Sadly though, the manner in which a missionary functions in our era is entirely unrelated to the authoritative apostles sent out by The Holy Spirit throughout the first century.
Don’t misunderstand, beloved, the calling and the gift of Elohim has not changed – we have. Elohim is not puny – we are. Just like any other gift, it is either exercised to the fullest or it is diluted. Apostleship is not taught properly, therefore it is not understood properly, and therefore it is not exercised properly. If we send the brethren out into the world believing them to be missionaries, then that is what they will be. On the other hand, if we fully understand the call, mission and responsibility of the ones we are sending out, and we fully acknowledge the gift of Elohim, then we send out Apostles to glorify and magnify the name of Yehoshua.
May Elohim shed light!
Have you ever heard how they train elephants to remain tethered to a small stake pounded into the ground, stopping them from walking away? Considering the size and strength of an elephant, haven’t you ever wondered why they don’t just pull out the stake and go wherever they want? I did, so I investigated. This is what I learned:
When an elephant is young, the trainers clamp a large steel bracelet around one of its hind legs and, connected by a very large steel chain, secure the baby elephant to a steel stake driven deeply into the ground. Try as it might, the baby elephant cannot break loose from this bondage. For days it will pull and pull, but with decreasing frequency. Eventually, the baby elephant will surrender in defeat. The baby elephant KNOWS that it cannot break free, so it stops trying. From that point onward, a simple leather strap replaces the steel bracelet. Whenever the elephants are to be tethered, the leather strap, connected by a small rope, is secured to a wooden peg driven a foot or so into the soil. The elephant will not pull the peg out of the ground though, because as soon as it feels the slightest tug on its rear leg, it surrenders. Although it is capable of pulling down the circus tent if it desired, it will not pull a puny wooden peg out of the ground. It has been conditioned.
Thus have we been conditioned regarding spiritual matters, and especially in regard to the gifts of The Holy Spirit!
United in Yehoshua, we are capable of pulling down the Babylonian circus tent, but we have been told for so long that the gifts are dead, we actually believe it. Satan has deceived the Ekklesia to believe we cannot be workers for Elohim any longer, and in this belief we have surrendered our capacity to be used by Elohim to glorify His Son. Satan has deceived the Ekklesia into believing we are mere spectators of events in the world, instead of our being the active participants for whom the whole creation anxiously awaits revealing (Romans 8:22). I grieve over the deceit that has been fostered over us, and I seriously wonder just what else I / we are missing, that is stopping us from being all that we are meant to be.
Satan’s power is like the little wooden peg tapped into the ground. We have been conditioned, however, into believing that Elohim’s gifts and power, as dispensed by The Holy Spirit, either no longer exist, or are no longer capable of defeating the prince of this world. Where Scripture says that faith the size of a mustard seed will set us free from all bondage (Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:6), the evil one has deceived us into believing that we are helpless… Pray for faith, beloved. Pray for faith!
I do not want to give the impression through this discourse that all missionaries always fall short of the mark, because that is not true. The point I hope to make, however, is that we are all falling short in the exercise and utilization of our gifts. We simply must stop denying the gifts of Elohim though, and proclaim His Son, in power, to the world.
A thorough inspection of the New Covenant provides the signs which should accompany an apostle (Luke 9:1-5, 10:1-24; 2 Corinthians 12:12 for example), and this is where we are failing in our comprehension of the gift today. The need to preach; the need to make Disciples; the need to encourage and appoint true elders (as anointed by The Holy Spirit, not by mankind), in order to bring about the obedience of faith; has never left us. These matters simply are not taught today, because they are no longer believed. And in our disbelief, they do not happen. That is why we fall short!
Bluntly, the religious institutions do not want to see Apostles functioning with authority – especially in our homeland. If authority is being rejected around the world, and probably nowhere more than in the industrialized nations, what makes us think this rejection will not overflow into the ranks of a faithless church? How can we be so naive to believe the Ekklesia would not be attacked, while the rest of the world (especially Babylon) is rotting and decaying? Satan went right into the Garden of Eden before the fall, when the world was in perfect order, and deceived Eve. What makes us think he will not come into the Ekklesia of the fallen creation and attempt to deceive us today? Elohim told us he would!
An Apostle, therefore, is one who is set apart and sent out by The Holy Spirit, to preach the Gospel, make Disciples, encourage the brethren and appoint elders (Acts 13:1-3, 14:21-23). And the purpose of these activities is in order to bring about, “The obedience to the faith among all the nations, for His name” (ENB) (Romans 1:1-7; Galatians 2:8). Apostles are evangelists, and/or prophets, and/or teachers, and/or anything else Elohim wants them to be, who are also set apart and sent out as ambassadors. And today’s Apostles are miracle workers – even today – because the message today is the same as it was two thousand years ago, and our Elohim does not change. People are just as lost today as they were when Yehoshua walked among us, so why do we suppose He would favor the Ekklesia of that era with powerful and dynamic gifts, in order to convince and convict the lost of that age, and not show the same mercy to the lost of our age? Elohim cannot change, beloved, but we can. And our change has come in the loss of faith!
We are rapidly approaching the end of the Ekklesiastic age, and a primary event that is prophesied to occur immediately before the return of our Messiah, is the greatest harvest of souls ever. The crop is ripening before our eyes today. Knowing that this is so, why do we think that Elohim will treat the greatest harvest of all time with less significance than the original harvest following the resurrection of Yehoshua? Elohim HAS NOT CHANGED! HIS DESIRE IS FOR ALL TO BE SAVED! Satan has deceived the Ekklesia , however, and through that deception we appear weak to the world. Praise be though, because in Him; in The Holy Spirit, WE ARE NOT WEAK!
Fortunately, the function of an apostle is clearly taught to us through Paul and Barnabas, and by their witness we know that apostleship is an itinerant lifestyle. Search Elohim’s Word, and see if this is not so. Although Peter and James, and many other apostles, abided in Jerusalem, they performed fieldwork as well (Acts 10; Galatians 2:11). Today, however, missionaries move to an area and never leave. Missionaries today move to an area, convert some souls and preach on Sunday mornings just like their hireling counterparts in the institutions. And, compounding this mistake is the fact that many missionaries deny the gifts of Elohim as well, and refuse to make true Disciples.
Sadly, in the process of their labors, these ‘missionaries’ actually destroy the spiritual life they seemingly appear to work so hard to save. This is wrong, and this must stop! And this is also why souls are not being touched for Yehoshua the way Paul, Barnabas and the other apostles were able to touch. If you do not use the full gift, you are not using the gift at all. If you deny the working of The Holy Spirit, how can you expect your work to produce Holy Spirit filled results? I suggest that if an individual is called to work and remain in a foreign area, the individual is a pastor, prophet or teacher, or any combination of those gifts, which are called to serve in a foreign area. They, however, are not apostles. And, and surprisingly enough, there is no such thing as a “missionary” in the Word of Elohim!
My heart is with those who sincerely desire to go out and preach the Gospel of Yehoshua – and many do. My heart is with those who humbly walk in the power and authority of Elohim – and some do. My heart and prayers are with those who understand their calling, imitate the apostles of the first century, and truly make Disciples – and allow those Disciples to assemble and worship as they are meant. Thank Elohim, a few do. But there are also false apostles, and we are to be aware of their presence as well (2 Corinthians 11:13; Revelation 2:2).
An apostle, like Paul, Barnabas, John, Peter, Andronicus, Junias and Epaphroditus, is someone willing to surrender everything in their quest to administer the mysteries of Elohim; willing to go wherever and whenever the Master directs them, and willing to leave again when their work is complete. An apostle desires to utilize every tool and every gift at their disposal, in order to promote the Gospel of Yehoshua. The gift of an Apostle has never died, and it will be witnessed around the world once again by faithful servants and Disciples of Yehoshua our Messiah and Master.
We need to pray that the children of Elohim, who have been deceived, will repent and humble themselves before their King. We need to pray that Elohim will anoint His children with power again, so they will fulfill their life purpose, and bring home the abundant harvest of Elohim. And we need to pray that the children born to the family of Elohim through the work of His apostles, will themselves also be anointed, discipled, empowered and permitted to worship and work properly as well.
This gift is not dead, Disciple. Praise Elohim!
In the sequential placement of the Books within the New Covenant, we find the first person referred to as an evangelist in Acts 21:8, where Paul and Luke spent time with, “Philip the evangelist, who was one of the Seven” (ENB). I am especially thankful to our Father for His inclusion of this verse, because Philip is a perfect example of an evangelist, and from Philips life we are going to learn a great deal. Sadly, we are also going to learn just how diluted this gift has become over the centuries.
In the Greek, the word used in Acts 21:8 for evangelist is, EUAGGELIZO, and it means: An announcer of glad tidings; a proclaimer of good news. The plural form of the word is in Ephesians 4:11 where Paul tells us that Elohim gave some “as evangelists”, and it means the same thing. So then, by definition, evangelists are: “Announcers of glad tidings; proclaimers of good news.” Let’s take a look at Philip, therefore, and understand what the potential for an announcer of glad tidings could really like.
We first find Philip mentioned in Acts 6 as, “One of the Seven”, and here’s the set-up: The apostles were being distracted from prayer and the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:2, 4), because the Greek speaking Jewish widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food (Acts 6:1). The Twelve summoned the congregation, and issued a charge that they select from among themselves, seven brethren, “men of good report, full of The Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint over this task” (Acts 6:2-3 ENB). Stephen, who became the first martyr, and Philip, who is recognized by Paul as an evangelist, are among the seven chosen. [Philip the evangelist was also an administrator and a server – a deacon]. He certainly was a Disciple (Acts 6:1). Do you see how the gifts are assorted and varied?
After Stephen’s martyrdom, we again pick-up Philip in Acts 8, where we are told, “Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Messiah to them” (v 8:5 ENB). An interesting twist is added to this evangelism stuff in the following verses though, (v 8:6-7), because there we are told, “The multitudes with one accord were giving heed to what was said by Philip; hearing and seeing the signs which he did. For unclean spirits were coming out of them with a loud voice; and many who had been taken with palsies, and who were lame, were healed” (ENB). Remember the battle cry, power and proclamation? Here it is again! Philip the evangelist, the administrator-server, is also anointed with “effecting of miracles”. WOW!
Acts 8:14-16 are interesting verses also, because even though Philip was proclaiming the Word, and people were believing and being baptized, the apostles Peter and John had to come to Samaria in order to pray, “that they might receive The Holy Spirit” (ENB). A good lesson here is that the entire body must function properly, each member doing their individual part, in order for the anointing of The Holy Spirit to be complete. This passage offers evidence to this fact.
I have often wondered though, why Philip, obviously “full of The Holy Spirit”, did not lay hands upon these newborn converts so that they might receive The Holy Spirit. My only conclusion is that because this was happening in Samaria, the land of the dreaded outcasts, and home to the ones whom the Jews would not even speak, that Peter and Yehochanan (John) had to go to Samaria in order to be convinced that the Samaritans were to be included in the plan for salvation. If you recall, Peter had to go to Cornelius (Acts 10) in order for Elohim to show that the “Gentile nations” were to be among Elohim’s children, and this is just another example used by Elohim to show that the door of deliverance was opened very wide, and included all of humanity. I do not think Philip was unable to impart The Holy Spirit; I think he was restricted, for Peter and John’s sake, as well as for the sake of the Ekklesia as a whole.
Nevertheless, we pick up with Philip again in Acts 8:26-40, where, “An angel of the Master spoke to Philip saying, ‘Rise up and go south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza,’ which is a desert road. And he rose up and went” (ENB). As Philip went along the road, he came upon an Ethiopian eunuch reading from the Book of Isaiyah the Prophet, and after a short discourse, Philip convinced the Ethiopian that Yehoshua was the Messiah, of whom Isaiyeh had prophesied. The Ethiopian was converted and Philip baptized him.
In the accounting of Philip in Acts 8, Elohim has given us a snapshot of an evangelist, and what an accounting it is. Whether proclaiming Yehoshua to cities or to individuals, the evangelist wins souls. It did not matter how large or how small the crowd was, the evangelist followed the guidance given him, and in the proper use and application of this gift, he sought after lost souls. Similarly, regardless of ‘audience size’, the evangelist followed the law of power and proclamation, and used every gift The Holy Spirit had given him to convince and convict an otherwise dying world.
Philip was an evangelist, but he used his other gifts to enhance his primary calling. Acknowledged as one being “full of The Holy Spirit and wisdom”, Philip wisely learned and wisely applied. The Ekklesia needs to follow his example in the proper utilization of ALL of the gifts provided by The Holy Spirit – today.
The gift of the evangelist though, while exceptionally burdened for the unsaved, is actually a gift of communication to the children of Elohim. The evangelist will proclaim and announce the good news, the Gospel of Yehoshua, in such a way that the listeners will be convicted of their sin and their spiritual need for Elohim. (The children will hear!) The evangelist will preach Yehoshua in such a way that all of the doubt, confusion and deceit that has been cast regarding the Messiah, will be removed. Through the words of an evangelist, many people will see Yehoshua in His glory.
Interestingly, evangelists are more itinerant than apostles, because an apostle will remain long enough to train and Disciple, whereas the evangelist proclaims and departs – leaving the Discipleship process to other brethren who are gifted for such things. Peter and John came alongside Philip to aid in the training and development of the newly reborn souls, and others so gifted will work with an evangelist in the discipleship process today.
While they don’t know it, myriad souls are panting for Elohim throughout the world (Psalms 42), and there is a famine for hearing the Full and True Word of YEHOWAH (Amos 8:11). The faithful envoys of Yehoshua will bring restoration and healing to these souls though (Proverbs 13:17), but just like the prophets who do not proclaim the message given to them, the evangelist who does not proclaim the message of the Gospel will be burdened in sorrow (Psalms 39), and they will be accountable for the blood of the lost (Ezekiel 3:17-21).
While many evangelists around the world have done some tremendous work, there remains the fact that the gift has been severely diluted. The huge rallies taking place today are touching lives, to be certain, but the example given to us by Yehoshua, through the apostles and the evangelists of the first century, present a panorama of both large and small gatherings, where the power of Elohim accompanies the proclamation of His Word. If you consider Yehoshua, (Mark 2:15-17 for instance), you can recognize His evangelistic efforts in intimate settings, while The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), and the two occasions where he fed the masses (Matthew 14:13-21, 15:32-39), are wonderful pictures and examples of His larger endeavors.
The large evangelistic associations that have propagated throughout the world today have distracted the Ekklesia from the smaller gatherings, and from the independent evangelist standing on the street corner proclaiming the message of deliverance through Yehoshua ha Mashiach. We tend to think in the hundreds of thousands, where, “there is joy in the presence of the angels of Elohim over one sinner that repents” (Luke 15:10 ENB). Because so much attention, and money, is focused on the large organizations though, many of the individual evangelists are impoverished. We must get past the “bigger is better” mentality though, and concentrate on the individual again.
The truth to this is where Yehoshua directed the Disciples to “Gather up the leftover fragments that nothing may be lost” (John 6:12 ENB). I believe Yehoshua was speaking literally and spiritually here – speaking of stewardship, but also speaking of the importance of each soul. As we approach the last days we must seek for every fragment; each and every lost soul. And to accomplish our task, I believe The Holy Spirit is about to awaken every evangelist in the Ekklesia, as well as every other worker, in order to bring about the harvest that is at hand. Be prepared, dear disciple, because those called to teach, heal, pastor, disciple, serve, work miracles – and every other gift – are to awaken soon, and will be given opportunity to serve, as the world is touched by the grace of Elohim, through His evangelists.
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace; who announce good tidings of good, who announce deliverance;
who say unto Zion, ‘Your Elohim reigns'” (Isaiyeh 52:7 ENB).
I offer this passage for consideration at this point, because just as Philip was an evangelist who possessed other gifts, there will be many within the Ekklesia who are anointed with other primary gifts, but who will also be blessed with the gift of an evangelist – in support of their primary gift. So, while this passage speaks to the evangelist, it also speaks to each and every child of Elohim, who in their own way proclaim Yehoshua as Master and Messiah to a dying world. Elohim determines who hears (Acts 16:13-14), our responsibility is to, “always be ready to make a defense to anyone who asks you the reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15-16 ENB). We do not peddle the Word of Elohim. We proclaim Yehoshua in love, peace, gentleness and mercy.
The verse from Isaiyeh 52 declares loveliness in Elohim’s sight toward every child who proclaims Him, and the passage from 1 Peter 3 tells us that we are all to be prepared to give an account. The primary difference between an Evangelist and those not blessed with this gift as their primary anointing, is most often measured by the speed in which an evangelist can convict a sinner, the determination with which an evangelist will proclaim their message, and the length to which an evangelist will travel – as moved by The Holy Spirit, to announce the glad tidings. Where those who do not possess this gift as their primary anointing may take a lifetime of testimony to touch another soul, an Evangelist can sit with a person for a very short time, and by the grace of Elohim, know exactly what that person needs to hear – in order to convict and convince. Those not so gifted will labor throughout their lifetime without wavering, as they provide their testimony.
What a wonder and joy it will be to see the children of Elohim working in accordance with the law of power and proclamation. If you are gifted as an evangelist, let your Ekklesia know. Their support of your gift is of monumental importance, because every gift will have to be utilized to tend the wounds of society, and every talent of the surgical team must be in place before the fat is cut away. Otherwise the patient, mankind, will die.
It never occurred to me, when I was telling you what the Master had shown me about Jacob – the deceiving church, and Israel – the Ekklesia, that the fullness and truth of the matter was going to come together under the gift of the pastor. I realize that much has been said about the errors within the ‘church’ today, and how the children of Elohim must “come out” of the religious institutions; come out from Babylon. I did not know though, how Elohim was going to lead me in pulling these teachings together. As I have given thought to the gift of a pastor though, and as I have been taught the fullness of this gift, it all began to make tremendous sense. Without a shepherd, the flock scatters (Matthew 26:31) and becomes distressed and downcast (Matthew 9:36). The prophesies of Isaiyeh, Jeremiyeh and Ezekiel, regarding faithless Israel and deceiving Jacob, all come together here under the gift of the pastor, because it is the pastor who is entrusted with leading the flock. It is the pastor who is entrusted with determining the stripes of deception and faithlessness, or the purity and faithfulness of the flock (Genesis 30:25-43). And this truth has been ignored for too long!
The Greek word used by Paul in Ephesians 4:11, where the gift of pastor is introduced, is POIMEN, and POIMEN speaks of: a shepherd; one who generally cares for the flock. Some other Greek words of interest are: POIMAINO, which means, to shepherd or tend; and POIMNE and POIMNION which refer to a flock, and the flock.
There is an interesting note about POIMNE and POIMNION in the New Covenant though, because the word FLOCK is only used in the singular. In the Old Covenant, there were flocks everywhere (Check out Abraham and Lot in Genesis 13, for example, because they both had ‘flocks’), but the New Covenant speaks only about “a flock”, or “the flock”, and the reference is typically directed toward Yehoshua’s flock; directed toward the Ekklesia. Regardless of how many shepherds there are though, there is only one flock, and that flock belongs to Yehoshua. This is fundamental to understanding the role of a faithful pastor, because the pastor so gifted by The Holy Spirit will always be faithful unto Yehoshua (John 10:1-3), and will always direct the sheep back to the Great Shepherd, Himself. Faithful pastors know that they are actually “under shepherds”.
Let me explain how I see the John 10:1-3 passage applying to pastors:
Yehoshua said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, those that enter not by the door into the sheepfold, but climb up some other way, they are thieves and a robbers. But He who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To Him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear His voice, and He calls His own sheep by name, and leads them out” (ENB). Then, in John 10:7, Yehoshua said, “I am the door.”
First He said, “He who does not enter by the door…Is a thief and a robber” (John 10:1). Then He added, “I am the door” (John 10:7).
Paraphrased: “He who does not come, in Me, is a thief and a robber.”
He said, “He who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep” (John 10:2). Then He added, “I am the door” (John 10:7).
Paraphrased: “He who enters, in Me, (if they know Me, love Me, follow the example I gave as the Great Shepherd; if they pass the test, because we are always testing the spirits, then they are sent by Me, and are “under shepherds” of MY sheep.”
Let’s look further: In Luke 2:8-20 we find a photograph of what a true shepherd really is, because here we are told that shepherds constantly keep watch over their flock (v 2:8), they seek and follow the Master (v 2:15-16), they proclaim the good news (v 2:17-18), they glorify and praise Elohim (v 2:20) and if they see or hear any revelation of and from the Master, they teach it and proclaim it (v 2:20). The true under shepherd, anointed by The Holy Spirit with this gift, has immense responsibilities, and the accompanying gifts that support this primary calling are magnificent. The under shepherd’s responsibility to the flock includes: feeding (Exodus 3:1), leading (Numbers 27:17; 1 Chronicles 11:2) and guarding (1 Peter 2:25), which necessitate that a pastor be gifted, at least to some degree, as a teacher, administrator, leader, and discerner of spirits.
An under shepherd, called by Elohim, must be able to teach about Elohim (Mark 6:34; 2 Timothy 4:1-4), but Elohim never said that every pastor would be a great expositor. What Elohim did say though, is that an under shepherd in the Ekklesia must be able to teach Yehoshua to the lost sheep, because lost sheep are the wayward children of Elohim. The lost sheep are wandering souls who are lost in sin and error, and the true under shepherd seeks for the lost, in order to bring them back to Elohim’s fold. Therefore, a pastor must have the ability to reach the prodigal children of Elohim, and must also have a desire to teach the fullness of Yehoshua to these children. Where hirelings seek to make converts, under shepherds makes Disciples. Where a hireling seeks the tithe of the convert, an under shepherd seeks gain to the Lamb’s account.
A faithful pastor is able to lead the flock under the Headship of Yehoshua, but there is not very much true leading happening today. When we look at the service gifts, you will understand true spiritual leadership and authority. For now though, permit me to simply say that the hirelings overseeing the religious institutions are more interested in lording their position over the flock, than in truly leading and feeding the flock. A true leader makes certain that each lamb is fed and protected, and this is not happening within Babylon today.
Applied spiritually, feeding and protecting the flock means that a true leader will impart knowledge, in order to prepare the flock for spiritual battle. A true leader does not perform every function, but delegates authority to those so gifted. A true leader teaches those under him in such a way that they grow and excel. A hireling, on the other hand, is more interested in programs and preaching. A hireling wants the dirty work to be done by servers, so he is free to do “more important tasks”. While the under shepherd goes down into the pits to find a lost sheep, the hireling neglects the feeding and leading of the sheep already in his charge, and seeks only for the monetary or status gains to be realized through growth…
The man called to tend the flock guards over his flock, and is even prepared to die for those entrusted to him. A hireling will run away at the first signs of danger (John 10:11-13). Spiritually, this guarding of the flock is an amazing role, too. In Matthew 25:32, Yehoshua said the shepherd separates the sheep (PROBOTON), from the goats. PROBOTON is the Greek word from which we get, probation, and probation means, “to be under the care of”. The flock is supposed to be under the care of the under shepherd. On the other hand, a goat represents the wicked.
What Yehoshua was telling us in Matthew 25, was that His under shepherds must be able to distinguish between the spirits in order to separate the chosen ones from the wicked. A hireling in today’s institutions will promote mass mailings and telemarketing schemes in order to grow his congregation (part of manipulation – which I will discuss momentarily), without regard to sheep or goats. The true under shepherd, however, will carefully watch over the flock, to make certain that no evil, no wicked, get in; he will watchfully and swiftly remove the goats from the flock.
Additionally, the hireling will count, register and dominate, while the true under shepherd will have no claim of ownership, and will display genuine concern for those entrusted to his care. Where the under shepherd of Elohim knows his sheep, and his sheep know him (John 10:14), the hireling knows those who tithe, recognize those who surrender their time unto him, and acknowledges everybody else on Sunday mornings with a perfunctory handshake.
Where the hireling does not encourage use of the gifts, because their full use would distract from “his show”, the true under shepherd knows his sheep personally, cares about them and for them, and knows which gifts are possessed by each member of the flock. A responsible under shepherd treasures and cares for those under his watch, knowing and appreciating their value, and in that knowledge wisely directs those in need, to those so blessed.
The under shepherds of Elohim’s flock will, “feed the flock of Elohim among you, taking oversight not under compulsion, but willfully; and not for sordid gain, but willingly; and not as lording it over His inheritance, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2-3 ENB). The hireling does the opposite.
Jacob, representative of the deceiving church, was a hireling, and the entire accounting of Jacob in Genesis 29-31, is one of a hireling, albeit sanctioned and supported by Elohim. Jacob worked a total of fourteen years for possession of his wives, and another six years for the possession of his flocks (Genesis 31:41). The last six years are the focus of our attention at this time:
In Genesis 30:25-43, we are given an accounting of how Jacob manipulated the flocks for his own advantage. While some say this proved Jacob to be a shrewd administrator, I propose we view the entire passage spiritually, and recognize it instead for the self-serving device it was. The New Covenant teaching regarding the lord and slave, or employer and employee relationship, all dictate honesty, integrity and sincerity – even when the slaves are treated harshly (Colossians 3:22-4:1). Jacob did not work, “as unto YEHOWAH” in his dealings with Laban, and whether Laban changed the wages ten times or a hundred times, Jacob worked, “as unto self”. Jude 12-16 speaks to the hireling as well, and pointedly implies that the rebellious ones are, “walking after their own lusts; whose mouths speak insolently; admiring people for the sake of gaining an advantage” (ENB).
While Isaiyeh 48 and 58 speak directly to Jacob, Ezekiel 34 is a prophecy against the deceiving shepherds of Israel; the false shepherds who have crept in to destroy. Listen to the Word of Elohim:
“Woe, shepherds of Israel that feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock” (Ezekiel 34:2 ENB)? “The diseased you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for that which was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them” (Ezekiel 34:4 ENB). “‘As I live,’ says Master YEHOWAH, ‘Surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became meat to all the beasts of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not My flock; therefore, O you shepherds, hear the word of YEHOWAH, thus says Master YEHOWAH, “Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require My flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock. Neither shall the shepherds feed themselves anymore; for I will deliver My flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them”‘” (Ezekiel 34:8-10 ENB).
The prophecies of Ezekiel speak to the Nicolaitans of Revelation 2, who suppress, neglect and dominate the flock of Yehoshua. And the prophecies address those hirelings who are more concerned with their personal well-being, gain and satisfaction, than with the well-being of the flock of Yehoshua. The prophecies of Isaiyeh, Jeremiyeh and Ezekiel speak directly to “treacherous Yehudah”, “faithless Israel” (Jeremiyeh 3) and “deceptive, lying and manipulative Jacob” (Genesis 27,28 and 30). We must heed the messages and warnings of Elohim!
In Acts 20:17-35, the role of an under shepherd is tied directly to the office of an overseer, and in Titus 1:5-9 we learn that an overseer must be an elder. The word elder, PRESBUTEROS, as presented throughout the New Covenant, and acknowledged in both Jewish and ‘Christian’ tradition, is a title of dignity and respect. PRESBUTEROS itself means, an old man, a senior. It is important that you remember though, that spiritually, an elder is one who is mature in faith, and has nothing to do with age (Timothy is a perfect example).
The overseer, EPISKOPOS, therefore, is an officer in the local assembly with authority and duties. The presbyter, elder, denotes dignity; the EPISKOPOS, overseer, denotes the authority, duties and responsibilities of the office. The words speak about the same person – one referring to the title, the other speaking of performance.
The duties of an overseer, then, as we have already seen, include administrations, leading, authority, evangelism, discernment and teaching, to varying degrees, and in light of what we have been told about overseers, the position is restricted to men (1 Timothy 2:12-15, 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). If the under shepherd / pastor gift is tied directly to the office of an overseer, which it is, and an overseer must be a man, then this teaching about an overseer adds to the already proven fact that pastors must be men.
The series of letters on reconciliation covered much ground in the area of gender. My sisters in the Ekklesia and women in general, however, must recognize that many restrictions are in place because we chose to submit to Satan’s kingdom. We chose to sin. The duties of the helpmate are monumental, but pastor, teacher and overseer, with authority over adult men, are not among those duties (1 Timothy 2:12). In Acts 20:29 the Ekklesia is warned about the wolves that will, “come in among you,” and the false teachings in the religious institutions today, which include ordination of female pastors, are a direct link to those wolves, and to the warnings of Elohim. Spiritual laws exist, and we must faithfully bow to the authority of Elohim as we follow His Law.
And the key word to a submissive, understanding and faithful walk with Yehoshua is humility…
I wholeheartedly pray that The Letters on reconciliation will shed light upon the magnificent call given to women in the Ekklesia. I also pray though, that the whole Flock will comprehend Elohim’s Word, and abide in that comprehension – for His glory, honor and praise.
The Ekklesia needs under shepherds who will be faithful to the commands of Elohim, and the flock must provide for their undershepherd (1 Corinthians 9:7). I personally know of pastors of large congregations, who earn salaries that are many, many times greater than the average salaries of their flock. I do not believe that this is proper! The worker is worthy of his wage, but fleecing the flock for personal gain is oppressive and self-serving. In our letter about the Assembly of the Ekklesia I spoke of multimillion dollar pastoral staff budgets. The under shepherd of Elohim’s flock will earn a fair and reasonable wage, but the excesses evidenced within Babylon today cannot be tolerated within the Ekklesia. We are responsible for the care of the shepherd, as well as the care of the apostles, evangelists, and any others, whom we determine, in The Holy Spirit, are to be set apart and sent out.
The pastor of the flock who is dedicated unto Yehoshua, however, will prepare, promote and protect the lambs of Elohim. He will teach the fullness of the good news in Yehoshua, and make certain every lamb is spiritually prepared for the battle that is raging about us. He will teach every lamb in the proper use of their spiritual gifts, so the entire flock; the entire body, is growing and fruitful. He will make certain the wicked stay outside, bringing only the faithful into the fold; protecting each lamb from being attacked – even at the expense of his own life. The pastor of the flock who comes “In Yehoshua” will represent The Master, as Yehoshua represented the Father. He will disciple, and send them out two by two. Elohim bless the faithful under shepherds!
“Be not many teachers, knowing that as such we will receive the greater condemnation” (James 3:1 ENB). While the truth of Psalm 39 speaks to the sorrow of misuse and non-use of every gift, no other gift carries a warning like the one issued to teachers in James 3. The prophet, evangelist and apostle will certainly have increased sorrow if they do not speak, and the false prophet certainly is doomed, indeed, but James 3:1 speaks specifically to the teachers – both good and evil. For this reason, I advise anyone who believes they are gifted as a teacher, to solemnly pray and fast over their calling. I also suggest that they confirm this gift with their pastor and other teachers, and then, if they are convinced that Elohim has anointed their calling, I advise them to TEACH!
In the Greek, the word for teach is DIDASKO, and a DIDASKALOS, a teacher, is a mind bender; a mind shaper.
Imagine being so gifted that one can shape the mind of another! Imagine the responsibility! Imagine the opportunity for abuse! This is an exciting gift, but this gift, above all the spirits, should be tested most by Disciples. While failings in some of the other gifts are obvious, especially after a short period of exposure, the teacher is different. A mind shaper can become a mind manipulator in subtle, insidious, shifts. One word or phrase can change the entire meaning of a teaching, and the Disciple must be alert, testing every spirit.
I recently had occasion to write yet another letter to a pastor regarding his teaching on, of all things, “The Lord’s Supper”.
Some time ago, we were attending a Thanksgiving Eve worship service, where “The Lord’s Supper” was to be served. Everything moved along smoothly until the pastor began to pray over the bread, the symbolic body of Yehoshua. As he prayed, this man quoted Isaiyeh 53:5, which says, “By His stripes we are healed”, and then he said, “As you partake of this bread, claim whatever physical healing is needed for your bodies today, because, ‘By His stripes we are healed,’ and this is for us to claim today.” I was livid!
For the first time in my walk with the Master I was unable to partake of the Body and the Blood of Yehoshua our Messiah, because a false teaching had been introduced. This is like eating meat sacrificed to idols. The logic of this man’s teaching is permeating the institutions, and the promise of Isaiyeh 53:12 that, “He will divide the spoil with the strong” falls right in line with these false concepts. Elohim is denouncing these false teachings, however, and the teachers shall indeed incur a stricter judgment.
The partaking of the Body and the Blood of Yehoshua our Messiah is just that – a remembrance partaking of the symbols of His Body and His Blood; a remembrance of His sacrifice on our behalf! In partaking of the Body and Blood of Yehoshua our Messiah, we are to be offering the highest act of thanks for the greatest gift received. This is food for our souls, beloved, and to imply that physical healing and prosperity are to be appropriated by the “believing partaker” is to distract from the true meaning of the act itself. Instead of joyful, repentant thankfulness, the partaker is left petitioning for a healing – questioning their faith when no healing happens. What garbage!
The man involved was “astonished by such an astute theological presentation”, but he never recanted his teaching. What is astonishing to me though, is that hundreds of thousands of professing ‘christians’ are listening to teachings like this, and sucking-up the hype without batting an eye, or cracking open a Bible.
The teacher anointed by Elohim, will follow the instructions and leading of Elohim with regard to what they teach (1 Timothy 6:1-2, 17-19; Titus 2:1-15). Everything taught will be based upon Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17), making it verifiable by the brethren. My first letter to you stressed the verification process, and I have repeatedly pointed you back to that teaching. And, I sincerely pray you are abiding by our agreement. When I have offered you a speculative thought, I have given you the passages which support the thought. I have not only insisted that you check me out, but have provided everything I could to show you how I arrived at my conclusions – so you can check me out. The false teachers will manipulate the Word of Elohim to their advantage, however, such as was done in using the Isaiyeh 53:5 verse, and will deny those passages which refute their conclusions. Whether in reproving or exhortation, therefore, the teacher will truthfully speak forth the Word of Elohim with boldness (Acts 4:31).
The teacher gifted by Elohim is to be appreciated, esteemed (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13), and upheld financially by the Ekklesia. The financial support of a teacher usually occurs when the gift is such that a full-time ministry is developed or developing. The Ekklesia can do whatever it is led to do, however, within the boundaries of good stewardship, and we should not restrict the moving of The Holy Spirit. Elders and overseers can often be blessed with this gift, but this is not meant to restrict other brethren from teaching as well.
The teacher is an exhorter and reprover (Titus 2:9-13), who is to attend to and pay close attention to others within the flock (1 Timothy 4:13-16). And a teacher will maintain his principles without bias (1 Timothy 5:21). These passages affirm the potential duplicity of the pastor/teacher gifts, without distracting from the duties of either. Teachers will fully use the gifts bestowed upon them, while maintaining a constant focus on the Mastership of Yehoshua. The teachings offered by the DIDASKALOS though, will always be centered in the Word of Elohim, and will always seek the glory of the One who sent them (John 7:17-18).
While women are permitted to teach other women, young girls and young boys, they are not permitted to teach adult men (1 Timothy 2:12-15). The responsibility of older women to teach younger women is vital within the Ekklesia though (Titus 2:3-5), and we must never lose sight of the importance of this task.
Furthermore, direction for children can come from teens and young adults, while teens are taught by those in their twenties, and by newlyweds. The progression proceeds upward throughout the body, because the gifts of The Holy Spirit are not restricted by age. We must permit every member of the body to exercise their gifts, but this truth not withstanding – Elohim’s spiritual law prohibits women from teaching spiritual matters to adult men. We must abide within the confines of His Law.
The breakup of the family in society, and the transitory nature of people today, has caused a monumental tear in the fabric of education. Senior members of families are no longer available to teach the children, and tremendous wisdom is being lost. The Ekklesia must insure that this wisdom and knowledge is imparted, and the teachers, both men and women, will mostly be charged with this task.
Inasmuch as Elohim is The Teacher, a formal degree should never be a qualification to teach the Word of Elohim. Peter and John were unschooled, ordinary men, (Acts 4:13), yet their knowledge, wisdom, understanding and insight transcended worldly training. Elohim works the same today as He did two thousand years ago, and we must acknowledge that His ability to enable His children to teach remains constant.
There is a famine today in the world for the Word of Elohim, and that famine will worsen until the EKKLESIA begins to function as a complete unit. The harvest is coming though, and so is the glorious return of Yehoshua. In preparation of these things, therefore, it is imperative that we begin to work in the fullness of His power once again. Yehoshua deserves much, much more from His Disciples than He has been receiving, and this word of repentance must be proclaimed.
Regardless of the gift, or the proportion of our faith, Yehoshua desires the obedient application of our effort on His behalf. Our Creator, Messiah and Master loves us, and His thoughts of us are more numerous than the sand of the sea. Works have been prepared beforehand for each and every one of us though, and it is of monumental importance that those works be completed. But, the use of our gifts, and the works themselves, must never replace or confuse our relationship with Yehoshua. Search your heart, my friend, and recognize The indwelling Holy Spirit. Upon discovery of His presence, realize that He has gifted you with talents and abilities which are intended to glorify our Master, Messiah and King. While our focus must never be on the gifts themselves, because our focus must remain on the person of Yehoshua, we have been given these gifts in order to glorify Him.
The Holy Spirit, in bestowing gifts, comes as a gift and messenger Himself. He comes as our Comforter from Elohim, and He does not seek any attention for Himself. He seeks only for the glory of our heavenly Father, through Yehoshua – period! If a miracle or sign occurs without a proclamation of Yehoshua as Master and Messiah, beware! Beware of the message and the messenger. Beware of those who proclaim that only their selection of gifts remain, and beware of those who would abuse the name of Yehoshua. The gifts of The Holy Spirit are to be used for the glory of Elohim; the indwelling Holy Spirit will command that recognition from the child of Elohim. Satan has no such requirement.
Rejoice in the knowledge that Yehoshua loves you. Rejoice in the knowledge that Yehoshua actually wants your involvement in His plan of salvation. As Paul, Peter, John, Philip, Barnabas, Stephen and the rest of the first century saints were used by Elohim to take His Word to the world, in power, Elohim desires to use us in this day and age for the same purpose, and in the same way. Rejoice in the company of witnesses that go before us, who now prayerfully support our work for the glory of the same Master and Elohim, and rejoice in your tribulation on behalf of The One who loves you. Our day of rest shall come, but until that day, we must do the work prepared for us. Rejoice in your labor, and toil in faith, dear Disciple, because therein lies untold joy and peace.
I remain faithfully and humbly your servant in Yehoshua our Messiah and Master,
Letter 15 Topical concordance:
New Covenant: Luke 9:1-5, 10:1-24, 11:45-52; Acts 1:15-25, 10(all), 13:1-3, 14:14,21-23, 15:1-29; Romans 1:1-7, 16:7; 1 Corinthians 9:1-2, 12:28-31, 15:9; 2 Corinthians 8:16-24, 11:13, 12:12; Galatians 2:8, 2:11; Ephesians 2:20, 4:11-16; Philippians 2:25, 4:18; 1 Thessalonians 2:5-7; 1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11; Hebrews 3:1; Revelation 2:2.
Old Covenant: Exodus 3:4; Psalms 39(all), 42 (all), 43 (all), 67 (all), 107 (all); Proverbs 13:17; Isaiyeh 52:7; Ezekiel 3:17-21; Amos 8:11.
New Covenant: Matthew 5-7(all), 12:30, 13:3-9, 13:18-23, 14:13-21, 15:32-39, 18:12-14, 28:18-20; Mark 2:15-17; Luke 10:2; John 4:34-38, 6:1-14, 9:4-5, 21:10; Acts 4:31, 6:1-4, 8(all), 13:2-3, 16:13-14, 17:17, 18:24-26, 21:8, 24:12; Romans 1:5, 10:14-15; Colossians 1:28-29, 2:28-29, 4:5-6; 1 Thessalonians 2:3-8; 2 Timothy 1:8-11, 4:5; Hebrews 12:15; 1 Peter 3:15-16; 1 John 4:4-6; Revelation 7:1-8, 11(all), 14:6-8.
Old Covenant: Genesis 4:2, 30:31-36; Exodus 3:1; Numbers 27:17; 2 Samuel 5:2; 1 Chronicles 11:2; Isaiyeh (all), 17:4-6, 48(all), 58(all); Jeremiyeh (all) 3:6-19; Ezekiel (all) 34(all); Micyeh 7:14.
New Covenant: Matthew 9:36, 24:24-51, 25:32, 26:31; Mark 6:34; Luke 2:8-20, 12:32; John 10:2-16, 21:15-17; Acts 14:23, 20:17-35; 1 Corinthians 9:7; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Timothy 2:12-15, 3:1-7, 4:14, 5:17-20; 2 Timothy 4:1-4; Titus 1:5-9; Hebrews 13:20; James 5:14-16; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Jude 1:12-16; Revelation 2:27, 7:17, 12:5, 19:15.
Old Covenant: Psalms 39; Amos 8:11.
New Covenant: Matthew 24:45-51; John 7:17-18; Acts 4:13,31, 8:30-31, 18:24-26; Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; 1 Timothy 2:12-15, 4:13-16, 5:17,21, 6:1-2,17-19; 2 Timothy 2:2, 3:16-17; Titus 2:1-15, 3:8; James 3:1.
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Lawrence T. Vosen
All Scripture quotations are taken from The Exalted Name Bible™
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Lawrence T. Vosen, PhD. Used with permission.