HE GAVE GIFTS UNTO MEN
by Kenneth E. Hagin
Qualifications for the Apostolic Ministry
What do the Scriptures say about the qualifications of those called to the apostolic office? First Timothy chapter 3 talks about the qualifications of a bishop or overseer, which I feel refers to the pastoral office.
We don't have any qualifications given to us specifically for the office of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, or teacher. But God would not require more of one ministry gift than He would of the others because He is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).
Therefore, we could safely say that the qualifications listed in First Timothy 3:1-13 are the qualifications for the ministry and apply to any ministry gift in the Body of Christ, including the apostolic office.
1 TIMOTHY 3:1-7
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a BISHOP [overseer or pastor], he desireth a good work.
A BISHOP then MUST BE BLAMELESS, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, APT TO TEACH;
Not given to wine, no striker, NOT GREEDY OF FILTHY LUCRE; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) NOT A NOVICE, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover HE MUST HAVE A GOOD REPORT of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
I've said that one who stands in the apostle's office must have the call of God upon him and the spiritual equipment enabling him to stand in that office. Both of these elements are God's responsibility.
However, one called to the apostolic office must also have the qualifications to stand in that office. That is the minister's responsibility. Only he can qualify himself to be able to stand in such an office of trust and responsibility.
I have seen men who were called of God, equipped with the supernatural ability to stand in a ministry office, but they failed in the ministry because they lacked the qualifications necessary to stand in such a ministry. They didn't prepare themselves to stand in the ministry God had called them to.
Character and Conduct
What are some of the qualifications of a minister called to the apostolic office or to any ministry for that matter? First Timothy 3:2 says he must be "blameless."
I'm going to quote from other translations of this same verse to help you see this qualification more clearly.
1 TMOTHY 3:2 (Twentieth Century)
... a man of blameless character....
1 TIMOTHY 3:2 (Weymouth)
... a man of irreproachable character....
1 TIMOTHY 3:2 (Amplified)
... must give no grounds for accusation but must be above reproach....
1 TIMOTHY 3:2 (Taylor)
... must be a good man whose life cannot be spoken against.
First Timothy 3:2 says, "... vigilant, sober, of good behaviour...."
The Twentieth Century New Testament says, "He should live a sober, discreet, and well-ordered life."
The Weymouth translation says, "A minister then must be a man of irreproachable character, true to his one wife, temperate, sober-minded, well-behaved...."
The Amplified Bible says he must be "circumspect and temperate and self-controlled; [he must be] sensible and well behaved and dignified and lead an orderly (disciplined) life...."
I didn't think up those qualifications for the ministry. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write that. You see, entering the ministry is a grave responsibility. That's why every minister, including an apostle, must be dignified and lead an orderly, disciplined life. That statement alone leaves out some ministers!
In other words, a minister's life must reflect the call of God, not only in spiritual equipment, but in conduct and character. His character must be worthy of his call.
An apostle or a minister must be irreproachable in his conduct and habits. If ministers don't measure up to the qualifications, they will never reach their full potential in ministry. Some ministers are going to have to make the necessary adjustments in order to fulfill the ministry the Lord has for them.
Some ministers may sense a call to an apostolic type of ministry. As they are faithful in serving God in their current position and take time waiting in God's Presence in prayer and in the Word, a time will come when there will be a quickening of His Spirit in their spirit. Then they will be able to walk in the ability of God to fulfill their call.
Their purpose won't be to attract people to follow them, but to call upon men and women to follow Jesus. A true apostle with the character of Christ humbles himself before the Lord and endeavors never to attract attention unto himself.
Jesus said, "... if I be lifted up from the earth, [I] will draw all men unto me" (John 12:32). One called to the apostolic office who has taken the time to develop his character would rather hide himself and lift up Jesus.
We all need to examine ourselves and get to work on developing our character and conduct to make sure it reflects the high calling of Christ. If believers need to examine themselves, how much more do those who are called of God to the apostolic office need to lay aside every weight that would try to hinder them from their high calling in Christ.
Apt To Teach Sound Doctrine
1 TIMOTHY 3: 2
A bishop then must be blameless . . . vigilant,
sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, APT
A true apostle will also qualify himself by being apt to teach sound biblical doctrine, not doctrinal tangents or extreme teachings. And he will make sure he bases his ministry solidly on the Word, rather than on spiritual gifts or signs and wonders.
SPECTACULAR WORKS BUT FALSE DOCTRINE
Folks miss it when they think they can follow the doctrine of some so-called apostle because they see miraculous signs and wonders operating in his ministry. No, every minister's doctrine must line up with the Bible, even if signs and wonders occur in his ministry.
P. C. Nelson was a leading Greek and Hebrew scholar and an outstanding Bible teacher. He said something along this line about John Alexander Dowie that has helped me immeasurably over the years.
Dowie was a great pioneer in the message of divine healing in America. Many wonderful miracles of healing took place under Dowie's ministry. However, Dowie got off doctrinally by announcing that he was the third Elijah that was to come. Dad Nelson, as we called him, said about Dowie: "You can follow Dowie's faith, but you can't follow his doctrine."
Friends, go back to the Old Testament and read the story of Samson. You can see in Samson's life that signs and wonders operated in his life, but that didn't necessarily mean he had godly character or sound doctrine.
For example, Samson had the working of miracles operating through him. Even when he was living with a woman in adultery and lying, the gift of working of miracles still operated in his life for a time (see Judges chapter 16). Now don't misunderstand me. The time came when God judged Samson's sin. Samson got up and shook himself and he ". . . wist not that the LORD was departed from him" (Judges 16:20).
Well, thank God for the miracles that operated in Samson's life, but his life wasn't a moral standard to follow after.
Innocent people are misled when they try to follow someone's doctrine because of supernatural signs and wonders occurring in his ministry. Paul said, "Be ye followers of me, EVEN AS I ALSO AM OF CHRIST" (1 Cor. 11:1).
You can follow a person in doctrine as he follows the Word. But don't pay any attention to any so-called apostle or any minister if what he says can't be backed up with the Word.
Just because a person stands in a ministry office doesn't mean you ought to listen to what he says if it's not scriptural — even if the miraculous power of God is demonstrated in his life for a time. The time is coming when God will have to judge doctrinal error.
You may be able to follow someone's faith, but not his doctrine. Sometimes people try to follow someone's doctrine because of his faith. But that's not scriptural.
A little doctrinal error left unchecked will eventutally become gross error. For example, if you flew from Tulsa to Los Angeles and you were a little bit off course, if the pilot didn't correct the course, you'd get so far off course, you'd never reach your destination.
The same thing is true spiritually. If you get off course spiritually just a little, you need to correct yourself immediately and get right back in line with the Word. Otherwise, the further you go, the greater the doctrinal error will be.
A true apostle will teach sound biblical doctrine, and he will back up what he says with the Word.
[HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG DID A MIGHTY BIG WORK WHEN IT WAS HIGH UP ON TOP OF THE HILL. DOZENS UPON DOZENS OF RADIO STATION AROUNG THE WORLD WITH HIS HALF HOUR “THE WORLD TOMORROW” BROADCAST; THEN TV; HIS “PLAIN TRUTH” MAGAZINE JUST ABOUT ON EVERY CORNER OF CITIES IN THE WESTERN WORLD. WHEN HE DIED HIS DEATH WAS ANNOUNCED ON ALL MAJOR TV NEWS PROGRAMS IN THE WEST. BUT IN HIS LATTER YEARS HE DEPARTED FROM SOUND DOCTRINE ON A NUMBER OF BIBLICAL TOPICS - Keith Hunt]
Not a Lover of Money
The Bible gives one of the qualifications for those in the ministry as a person ". . . not greedy of filthy lucre ..." (1 Tim. 3:3).
The Bible has much to say about ministers of the gospel and how they obtain money. In The Worrell New Testament, the footnote for First Timothy 3:2 says the minister of the gospel must not use "his office to extort money from people."
Over the years, I have sometimes seen people use their ministries and the anointing that is upon them to obtain money from people. For example, I once visited a certain minister's meetings, who had a marvelous healing ministry. In this particular meeting, five deaf and mute people were brought from the state institution to be healed. This man ministered to all five of these men, and they were all instantly healed and could both hear and speak.
[IF THIS WAS OF GOD IS QUESTIONABLE, THE ENEMY OF GOD, SATAN THE DEVIL CASN ALSO WORK MIRACLES - Keith Hunt]
Immediately, the minister stopped the meeting and began taking up an offering. He knew he would be able to get a large offering because of the mighty demonstration of God's power. People from all over the meeting ran to give him money because of these miraculous healings.
Some people would give large sums of money to be healed. But healing can't be bought; Jesus already paid for it on Calvary. This man used his ministry and, really, the healing power of God to obtain money in a wrong way. What happened to this minister? This character weakness, as well as other faults he didn't correct, eventually cost him not only his ministry, but his life…..
No minister should use his position for personal gain. The Amplified Bible makes the issue of ministers and money even more clear.
1 TIMOTHY 3:3,8 (Amplified)
... not a lover of money — insatiable for
wealth and ready to obtain it by
... not greedy for base gain — craving wealth and
RESORTING TO IGNOBLE and DISHONEST
METHODS of getting it.
That's one reason I tell folks, "Be careful about these people who prophesy money out of your pocket into their own. Leave them alone." Ministers can take up offerings, of course, and let people know about a need, but they should never make an issue of money. No minister should ever use his high calling in Christ for personal gain.
In my ministry, I've tried to say as little as possible about money. I don't believe we should emphasize money. I just believe if I feed the people, they will feed me, and God will provide. Actually, a minister of the gospel should be interested in building up the Kingdom of God, not in using money for his own personal gain.
Gordon Lindsay talks about ministers and money in his book, Apostles, Prophets and Governments:
Judas, one of the original Twelve who shared their ministry, disqualified himself and also destroyed his own soul by using his position for personal gain.... A true apostle must be above even the suspicion of a covetous spirit. He may, in the interest of the Kingdom, become responsible for the handling of large sums of money, as the apostles were when the multitude sold their possessions and laid them at the apostles' feet (Acts 4:34-37). But he will be a faithful steward and will not lavish on himself money given to the cause of Christ for the work of the Kingdom. The story of Judas, given such prominence in the Scriptures, is of deep significance. 1
Ministers of the gospel, including apostles, must be above reproach in every area, including how they handle money and how they obtain it.
[AGAIN I HAVE SEEN THIS MISUSE RIGHT UP FRONT. THE MONEY THAT HERBERT ARMSTRONG COULD OBTAIN FROM PEOPLE WAS A CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF SALESMANSHIP! HIS ORGANIZATION TAUGHT A “THIRD TITHE” EVERY 3 AND 6 YEARS OF A 7 YEAR CYCLE. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE FOR THE POOR AND NEEDY. EVENTUALLY IT WAS REPORTED BEING USED FOR OTHER THAN THAN….. HE HIMSELF AND HIS “TOP DOG” MINISTERS LINING THEIR OWN POCKETS, AND ALSO USING IT IN OTHER WAYS FROM WHAT IT WAS MEANT FOR - Keith Hunt]
Not a Novice
Another qualification for the apostolic office and for ministry in general is that a minister should not be a novice.
In First Timothy 3:6, Paul said not to put a novice in authority: "Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil" (1 Tim. 3:6).
A novice is a new Christian or one who is young and undeveloped in spiritual things. Many folks could have been saved for many years, but they would still be novices if they haven't developed spiritually.
Why shouldn't a novice be put in a position of authority such as the apostolic office? A minister and his ministry must be proved first, and only then can he be used fully by God.
Talking about the ministry of a deacon, Paul said, ". . . let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless" (1 Tim. 3:10).
A deacon is a helper. If a helper needs to be proved, it stands to reason that an apostle who stands in an office of greater responsibility would also need to be proved.
That's why I get amused at these young fellows who run around saying, "I'm an apostle" or "I'm a prophet"! They are no more apostles and prophets than I'm last year's bird nest! God is not going to violate His own Word and make Himself out to be a liar by putting novices in an office of spiritual authority and oversight.
I had an experience with a so-called apostle when I was preaching once down in Texas. I was only about thirty years old at the time, but I had been in the ministry for many years, preaching, teaching, and laying hands on the sick.
There was a twenty-year-old fellow who called himself an apostle because some so-called prophet had laid hands on him and supposedly made an apostle out of him. The prophet supposedly put him into the apostolic office!
This young fellow taught that because he was an apostle, he had authority over all the other ministry gifts in the Body of Christ.
So he came to me and said, "Since I'm an apostle, I have authority over you. I’ll tell you where to go to hold meetings and where to preach. I'll arrange your schedule for you."
That fellow wasn't even a preacher, much less an apostle! He couldn't even call hogs, much less preach!
I said to him "Oh? How many churches have you started?"
This so-called apostle answered, "I haven't started any churches."
He couldn't even build a chicken coop, much less start a church! Have you ever noticed that some of these so-called apostles want to come in and take over someone else's work, but they don't want to pay the price to pioneer a work of their own! They aren't apostles; they are false apostles — certainly not New Testament apostles!
"Why," I said to him, "you are no more an apostle than I'm an astronaut!"
Then he said to me, "You're in rebellion because you won't get under my authority! I'm going to cast that spirit of rebellion out of you."
I didn't need anything cast out of me. A man who says things like that needs something taken out of him — ignorance — and the teaching of the Word will do-that.
You see, when this so-called prophet had laid hands on this fellow and supposedly made an apostle out of him, the "apostle" got all elated and lifted up in spiritual pride. Because he was a novice, he didn't have the spiritual wisdom and maturity to discern sound doctrine, so he fell into the condemnation and snare of the devil.
Weymouth's translation says a minister ". . . ought not to be a new convert for fear he should be blinded with pride and come under the same condemnation as the devil."
Usually folks who go around declaring themselves to be apostles or prophets are lifted up in pride. They want to be an apostle because they think that gives them authority over the other ministry gifts.
That is the reason people ought to reach some age and accountability before they are ordained to the ministry. Any minister can go buy some ordination from one of those fly-by-night organizations. But they are not
A minister of the gospel ought to want to be associated with a ministerial organization that not only has dignity, but is honorable and scriptural in ordaining its ministers — one that requires some qualifications for ordination.
[MANY IN HERBERT ARMSTRONG’S ORGANIZATION WERE BEING “ORDAINED” TO THE MINISTRY IN THEIR MID-20s—— WAY TO YOUNG TO BE MINISTERS OVER A CONGREGATION. THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN ORDAINED AS “DEACONS” FIRST, THEN WHEN PROVED SOME YEARS LATER, ORDAINED AS SPIRITUAL CHURCH “ELDERS” - Keith Hunt]
A Good Report
1 TIMOTHY 3:7
Moreover he must have A GOOD REPORT
OF THEM WHICH ARE WITHOUT;
lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Standing in any ministry office is a serious matter. One must have a good report resulting from his blameless character and conduct.
I want you to notice something the Bible says in the Book of James: "My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation" (James 3:1).
The word "master" here can also be translated teacher.
The Amplified Bible makes this clear.
JAMES 3:1 (Amplified)
Not many [of you] should become teachers [self-constituted censors and reprovers of others], my brethren, for you know that we [teachers] will be JUDGED BY A HIGHER STANDARD AND WITH GREATER SEVERITY [than other people]. Thus we assume the greater accountability and the more condemnation.
I don't believe this only refers to teachers. It is true concerning every ministry gift, including the apostolic office.
Every ministry gift will be judged by a higher standard. And because we will be judged by a higher standard, we should set a higher standard in our character and conduct. Every minister should have a good report even by those who are not saved.
It is an awesome responsibility to be called to stand in the apostolic office, or any ministry office for that matter. We can only fulfill our ministries with the help of the Holy Spirit. The call and the spiritual equipment have to do with the inward man. But we can see that the qualifications to the ministry have to do with the outward man.
God has done something with the inward man. He has fulfilled His part by placing the call in man's spirit and by giving him the spiritual equipment to fulfill that call. But the minister must present his body — the outward man — as a living sacrifice in order to qualify himself to stand worthy of such a high calling in Christ Jesus.
JAMES 3:2 (Amplified)
For we all often stumble and fall and offend in many things. And if anyone does not offend in speech — never says the wrong things — he is a fully developed character and a perfect man, able to control his whole body and to curb his entire nature.
Moffatt's translation says, "In many things we all stumble." The footnote in the Moffatt translation says, "Imperfections characterize man."
None of us is perfected yet, but we should all be moving toward maturity in Christ.
If any minister has fallen behind in any of these areas, he needs to repent and ask God to forgive him. Then he needs to see to it that he perfects himself in these areas. Every ministry gift should be a guide and an example in Christian conduct and character.
Be Faithful To Prepare Yourself
If God calls you to be an apostle, He will supernaturally equip you. But you won't start out in that office anyway. God has His ways of doings things. You just need to prepare yourself so God can use you in any way He desires.
The Bible says, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).
Although you won't be able to enter immediately into the ministry God has for you, you can prepare yourself through studying the Word and preparing your heart. You can do your part. Preparation time is never wasted time.
If you are faithful in the time of preparation to study God's Word to show yourself approved, in God's time, step by step, He will move you into the ministry He eventually has for you. As you are faithful to prepare yourself, He will be faithful to open doors for ministry.
[GOD WORKED IN MY LIFE FOR DECADES, FROM AGE 7 WHEN I BELIEVED HE EXISTED, ALL THROUGH MY GROWING UP AND INTO MY ADULT LIFE; I EXPERIENCED SO MANY THINGS THAT COULD EQUIP ME FOR THE MINISTRY; IT WAS NOT TILL I WAS 40 YEARS OLD THAT SOME MINISTERS AND LAY PEOPLE RECOGNIZED I WAS CALLED TO JESUS’ MINISTRY, AND THEY AFFIRMED THAT CALLING BY LAYING HANDS ON ME, AND PRAYING GOD WOULD CONTINUE USING ME IN AND FOR HIS WORK - Keith Hunt]
You must also prepare yourself for your high calling in Christ by separation from the things of the world that hold you back from the things of God. Sometimes you need to lay aside those things that are not necessarily sin, but they take up valuable time. The Lord is looking for those who will dedicate and consecrate themselves wholly unto Him for His use.
[I WAS WILLING TO GIVE UP MY BOYHOOD DREAMS; I PUT IT ALL TO ONE SIDE; I SAID GOODBY TO IT ALL. I WAS BLESSED WITH SECULAR WORK I REALLY ENJOYED. I PUT MYSELF INTO DEEP DEDICATION TO THE STUDY OF THE WORD OF GOD AND SERVING HIS CHILDREN. I WAS FAITHFUL AND SERVED WITH ALL MY MIGHT THROUGH THE SPIRIT OF GOD. IN MY NOW LATTER YEARS THE ETERNAL GOD HAS GRANTED ME SOME OF MY BOYHOOD DESIRES, AND FOR THAT I AM SO GRATEFUL AND SO ADDITIONALLY BLESSED - Keith Hunt]
It is as we present our bodies as living sacrifices and renew our minds with the Word of God that God can use us fully. The Bible says, "... Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16). And ". . . he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" (Gal. 6:8).
If you are faithful to study God's Word and to serve Him right where you are, God will set you into the Body of Christ and promote you as He desires. But remember this: Don't get taken up with names and titles. If you have to tell folks you are an apostle or a prophet, then you probably aren't one. You don't have to go around telling everyone you are a man or a woman, do you? You are born that way and it's evident to everyone.
The same thing ought to be true over in the spiritual realm. If you are called to the ministry, it ought to be readily distinguishable what you are and what your call is. You shouldn't have to go around telling people what your calling is by giving yourself titles and labels. People will know what you are by your spiritual equipment and endowments. And if you don't know what God has called you to do, just be faithful to serve Him right where you are. Be faithful in your local church, study His Word, and leave the rest up to God.
Also, remember this:
God rewards faithfulness. He doesn't reward offices. An apostle or prophet won't receive any more reward than anyone else who is faithful to do what God has called him to do. Higher offices do not receive any more reward; there is just a greater responsibility that goes along with the office.
[TRUE BUT NOT QUITE CORRECT; ALL WILL BE REWARDED ACCORDING TO THEIR WORKS, SO IT IS WRITTEN. HENCE SOMEONE WHO WORKS HARDER WITH THE $100 BILL THE LORD GAVE HIM, WILL RECEIVE A GREATER REWARD THAT SOMEONE WHO DID NOT USE AND DID NOT WORK AS HARD WITH THEIR $100 BILL. BUT GOD IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN TAKE EVERYTHING INTO ACCOUNT FOR EACH PERSON GIVEN A $100 BILL - Keith Hunt]
That's why it's important for you to be faithful to fulfill the responsibilities God has given you because God rewards faithfulness!
1. Lindsay, pp. 18,19.