By LOU TISCIONE
The Church of Jesus Christ is both an organism and an organization. The Bible defines the church as the body of Christ. (Colossians 1:18)
God’s organization of His church is given in Ephesians 4:11. The Apostle Paul wrote that Jesus gave gifts to men as the conquering commanders of the ancient world divided the plunder. Paul wrote that Jesus organized the church in this way: “He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers.”
These four offices established by Christ were demonstrations of the diversity of God’s grace as well as His design for the visible body of Christ.
The church stands upon the teaching of the apostles, those whom God appointed to be His messengers declaring the infallible word of God. These men received the gospel by direct revelation from God. They were witnesses of the risen Lord Jesus. They were empowered by God to do miracles. Paul described himself as one who was “untimely born.” He meant that His eye witness testimony was not like the other apostles. He saw and heard the risen Lord Jesus on his journey to Damascus.
A prophet was one who spoke for God. The Old Testament records God’s words through the prophets. The Apostle Paul described New Testament prophets. (1 Corinthians 14) New Testament prophets were subordinate to apostolic teaching. Since the close of the canon of Scripture, prophecy in the church is not to give new revelations from God, but to proclaim the truth of His word written.
Evangelists are those who carry the gospel where it has not been heard. They are those who “bring glad tidings.” Evangelists declare that Jesus Christ has come. He came to die for the sins of His people. He was buried and He rose on the third day, all in accordance with the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)