And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelist; and some pastors and teachers; Eph. 4:11.
For a long time now there has not been a prominent presence of the ministry gifts of the apostle and prophet among the body of Christ. However we have seen a strong presence of the ministries of the evangelist, pastor and teacher. I believe that due to lack of knowledge among many along the way throughout the years these two extremely important ministries have been overlooked even to the point that they almost seem to cease to exist. I would like to share a little about both of these ministry gifts beginning first with the apostle.
What is an apostle? Take a look at the definition. The word apostle is derived from the Greek word apostello a verb that refers to the act of sending. The Greek word apostolos is a noun that refers to the one that is sent. So in other words the word apostle means one that is sent. Jesus the Lord as a title first used the word apostolos for his disciples. Luke 6:13 it is obvious that the ministry of the apostle played a great role in the establishing of the body of Christ during the first century church. But there has arisen a question among many bible scholars and teachers, does the ministry/office of the apostle still exist today or was it to be done away with the first century church? To answer that question we have to evaluate the scriptures that deals with this subject, Eph. 4:11-14.
It says clearly in verse 11 that the Lord after his resurrection, right before his indefinite ascension established the five fold ministry which consist of five tremendously important ministries or as some say offices. They are the ministries of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. It is even of divine will that they are ordered as such. I Cor. 12-28 say, "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers after that miracles, the gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. The reason that the apostle is first mentioned is due to the nature of what the apostle's purpose is which is to establish churches. It doesn't necessarily make the position greater than the other four as far as rank is concerned but from a point of view it is definitely a position of greater authority than the others.
One must understand that it's never about whose the greatest, yet as Christ said if one desires to be first or greatest he must become the greatest servant of all! We will talk about this in detail a little later. Next in line is the prophet. The ministry of the prophet is somewhat similar to the apostle in that its purpose is to also assist in establishing churches. The next ministry mentioned is the ministry of the teacher, which covers also the positions of the evangelist and pastor. Next miracles, gifts of healings, helps or aids (non-ordained positions) in the church, then governments or administrations and finally diversities of tongues.
As I afore mentioned that the question whether or not the apostle still has a place in today's church is actually answered in verse 13 of Eph. 4 "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: I don't know about you but that sounds like a pretty tall order! It is obvious that we as a body have not come too this place yet. So therefore it is quite clear that the ministry of the apostle is still needed today! So contrary to the popular belief, apostles still play the role of founding churches. It is important to understand that the ministry of founding churches is relevant only to the apostle and prophet.
As with all of the ministry gifts/offices God himself must call one in order to occupy function in that ministry/office. The ministry of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher should not be viewed as offices from the point of view as electoral offices where that men are voted, appointed or ordained by men to hold a position. There are offices within the church government where that this type of situation exist such as the offices of the deacon, elder and bishop. Unlike the five-fold ministry gifts, men can be appointed by men to one of these. But when it comes down to the five-fold ministry man cannot ordain man into any of these positions. It is incorrect to say that a man is ordaining another man into the ministry of a pastor. It's not possible, however on the other hand a man can confirm or affirm a person into such a position with the understanding that he or she has been called by the Holy Spirit to hold it. It's going to be a hot mess if a man allows another man to ordain him into a ministry that God has not called him to! Don't do it!
As I mentioned just a little before that the planting aspect of churches according to word of God is a job that originally rested upon apostles and prophets. However it is not uncommon to find that a lot of churches today are founded by persons who say that they are pastors (not to say that they are not) for I am certain that though there are more than a few that went out on their own not having a true call to the ministry, which is the cause of many errors in the church arena today, I must say. But as it concerns those few that are genuine and start churches as just pastors alone, although it can be done, still there's eventually going to be problems that the pastor is going to face that are above his head so to speak that on the other hand are the specialty of the apostle and prophet. It's called covering.
Pastors need coverings. Eph. 3:5 says "Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men as it is now revealed unto his holy apostle and prophets by the Spirit; now watch closely, it says that some things are only revealed to apostles and prophets. The reason for this being is to ensure that the order of God remains the way He wants it to be. So in other words without the apostle and prophet a church ministry is incomplete. Hard pill to swallow, I know but its the truth. Case and point if the word is true which we know that it is then its equivocally clear that evangelist, pastors and teachers, all need the covering of an apostle and how about this even prophets! It is evidently clear that apostles hold even a higher authority than prophets.
What makes the ministry of the apostle a position of greater authority is based on a few things that are true about the call. Apostles are ambassadors of Christ commissioned for the up building of the church. They are not officials of the church subject to the control of governing bodies within the church. As a result this gives apostles great authority directly delegated to them by Jesus Christ the Lord personally. Special favorable regard as leaders who meet the essential requirements to hold such position (which is a true calling by the Holy Spirit upon the individual to actual apostleship) precedes every apostle. The Lord himself is behind what the true apostles say and do. The Lord himself is also the subject of the true apostle message always. Apostle’s authorization is subsidiary to that of Jesus but at the same time the Holy Spirit sustains apostles in their office. Apostles are authorized to use the power of Jesus which special anointing is inherent to the call, which is the evidence of the authenticity of the true apostle. Apostles being the one that is sent are as the one who sent them meaning that their authorization is linked directly to Jesus Himself. They have full power to speak and act as Jesus does.
Having said all this no doubt the conclusion is that apostles bear a tremendous calling and responsibility unto God and Christ the Lord of whom they must directly give account. This does not make apostles lords over God's heritage in no way shape or form there is only one Lord that is Jesus himself. True apostles are of great humility. They do not walk in pride or vanity. Their authority is given to them for the purpose of edification of God's saints only! Jesus authority today is extended through the apostle 2Cor. 13:10 Apostolic authority does have limits being that their authority extends only over those whom they have birth and formed into churches, unless a request is made by a pastor for a covering to be provided for their church by the apostle.
Apostles are extremely intimate with the Lord and are directed by the Holy Spirit. Mature apostles wield tremendous miraculous power which is the signature of their authenticity not so much of the individual but the message of the gospel that the apostle preaches.
The ministry offices were established by God to prevent men from ruling over each other and to also prevent men from impeding the Holy Spirit's agenda. Apostles use to with the fear of God as anchor to the soul, guide the affairs of the church. They gave themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word so that they would be able to establish Christian doctrine. A new era had just begun the transition from Judaism to Christianity. The apostles and prophets were given the task by the Lord to oversee the transition that the chief Apostle (Jesus Christ) had already begun. The Chief Apostle blazed about a new path altogether and returned back to heaven to prepare a place for the souls that he knew were about to press into the kingdom of God through the ministry of the apostle and prophets still on earth. The 12 apostles role was to lay the foundation, which is exactly what they began to do. A little later Paul a former archenemy of Christ joined them!
After Paul's encounter with the risen Lord he was commissioned to the apostleship of the gentiles. He was not numbered with the original twelve neither was he taught by them but was taught the revelation of Jesus Christ by the Spirit. Paul did not work against the 12 apostles but along side with them and began to found churches based upon the doctrine of the 12. Paul was the first of what is called founding apostle's which still exist today. The 12 apostles are the unique class who were tasked with laying the actual foundation. Being that there is no other foundation that needs to be laid other than that which has been already. The 12 apostles remain in a highly distinguished class of their own, with great honor before God. Even Jesus said that each of the 12 would rule a tribe in Israel, their names are also written in the very walls of the city. It is no doubt that there will be no more foundation-laying apostles. But founding apostles (establishers of churches) as Paul and Barnabas were will always exist until the perfection of the body of Christ is actually achieved.
The Holy Spirit is now restoring order! Which means that we are about to see the move of God like never before. It's not only going to be by his holy evangelist, pastors, and teachers but also his apostles and prophets. No man can do it alone! It's a body ministry!
There is going to be a great deliverance on this fashion the Lords pastors are going to be restored to authority. They will minister the truth of the gospel without fear of controlling clergy, that in some cases in control what the pastor preach. This does not necessarily applies to all pastors especially those that are independent but to those who are under this type of situation and realizes that its wrong there will be deliverance through the ministry of the holy apostles and prophets as they begin to take their rightful position in the church, Praise the Lord
I was in prayer unto God one day when the word of the Lord came to me saying, "Covetousness is the sin that plagues the people of Arizona. The pastors (not all) are in competition against each other. They stand in the way of souls being saved they shall be removed. All that will be left are those that preach the gospel truth! Judgement shall begin to come upon those who speak vanity. The gospel has been traded for a doctrine of vanity. With great power and authority the vanity doctrine shall come down (see I Sam. 5: 1-4) So will I destroy the false doctrine as Dagon was destroyed, the messengers shall be cut off who speak vanity"!
No doubt after hearing these words I was floored in reverent all for God! It's absolutely true what the Holy Spirit is saying and doing in the midst of today's church through his apostles and prophets. I'm excited!