For this reason, God warns His people against false teachers. There are three kind s of false teachers that we need to know about:
- Those who teach false doctrine (2Tim 4:3, 4; 2Pet 2:1). False doctrine is any teaching that does not agree with the whole counsel of God. Most false teaching has enough truth in it to attract even some very sincere Christians. A doctrine can be false for several reasons:
a. It may oppose the truth (2Pet 2:1).
b. It may add to the truth (Rev 22:18).
c. It may take away from the truth (Rev 22:19).
False teachers know how to twist scriptures for their own purposes. They usually appeal to some selfish or soulish desire, which is hidden in people’s hearts. Some people are attracted to anything that sounds new and different.
- Those who teach the traditions of men as the Word of God (Mark 7:7). We often accept without question whatever we have been brought up to believe. Sometimes men have added their own opinions and practices – thoughts and ways -to the gospel. Such “traditions” are said to be of God, but really have been made by man.
True doctrine will always agree with God’s Word. We are told to test all teaching by the truth of Holy Scriptures (Acts 17:11).
- Those who teach with wrong motives (l Cor 4:15). Sadly, there are some who teach only for profit, power or position. They are interested only in what they can gain for themselves from the ministry (Titus 1:10, 11; 2Pet 2:3).
Usually such teachers are not responsible to godly leaders in the Church. They are not willing to submit their ministry to the approval of others. They may not even belong to a local church. Of such be aware!
The greatest defense against false teachers comes from the true teaching ministries, which God has given to His Church. Both their lives and their ministries are balanced and fruitful. Their words bring life, peace and direction to the Bod y of Christ (Isa 30:20, 21).
THE RELATIONSHIP OF THE FIVE-FOLD MINISTRIES TO THE ELDERS
Each of the five-fold ministries was given to the Church for a specific purpose and function.
We can sum them up in this way:
- The APOSTLE is needed to GOVERN.
- The PROPHET is needed to GUIDE.
- The EVANGELIST is needed to GATHER.
- The PASTOR is needed to GUARD.
- The TEACHER is needed to GROUND.
The apostle and evangelist minister mainly away from their home church base. The prophet and teacher may also travel in their ministry, but have an important function in their local church.
The pastor, of course, ministers mainly in the local church. He may, in time, move forth in more of an apostolic calling.
[Note: Some Bible scholars feel that the language of Ephesians 4:11 links the pastor and teacher together as one ministry with two functions. It would appear that every pastor should be a teacher to fulfill his function as a shepherd .It does seem, however, that Scripture also places teaching in a class as a separate ministry (James 3:1).]
The Authority Of The Local Elders
The New Testament does not directly deal with the relationship between the five-fold ministry and the local elders. There are several facts, however, that can help us to see how they are linked together.
- The New Testament never uses the term “five-fold ministry”. The term “five-fold ministry” is one that has been applied to the ministries given in Ephesians 4:11. This is the only place in Scripture where these five ministries are listed together. Some of them are also listed in other places -and with other ministries (1 Corinthians12).
By their nature, however, they were plainly listed by Paul as “oversight” gifts to the Body of Christ. Each has its place in the leadership level of the Church. It is important to note, however, that they are gift “ministries” not “offices”.
- As stated above, many Bible scholars believe there are only two offices in the New Testament church (Phil 1:1). These two offices, you will recall, are those of elder and deacon. These off ices are the only two which are given in detail along with their specific standards. Together they meet the basic needs for order and structure in t he House of God (1 Tim 3:1-15).
- Scriptures call for only elders to be “ordained” in the local church (Acts 14:23;Titus 1:5).
There is no record in the New Testament of anyone ever “ordaining” an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher to their ministry.
God has called many people to different ministries, but they were not ordained to an “office” in the formal sense of the word. They were “set in place” or “sent forth” by prayer, fasting and the laying on of hands. Many believe, however, that this is not the same thing as being “ordained “to an office in the church.
- Elders hold a position of responsibility and authority in the local church. In 1 Timothy 5:17, Paul discusses those elders “who rule well,” denoting a position of responsible authority in leading a local assembly. In many cases, no one has greater authority and responsibility in a local church than the elders. We see several examples of this in Scripture:
a. When Paul wanted to instruct the church at Ephesus, he called for the local elders (Acts 20:17). This is because they were more than likely the ruling body in that fellowship.
b. When the Apostle Paul brought a report to the lenders of the Jerusalem Church, “all the elders were present” (Acts 21:18, 19).
c. When finances were sent to Jerusalem delivered by the hands of Barnabas and Saul (Paul), they were given to the elders (Acts 11:30).