In Part 1 we looked carefully at the office of the prophet and the reasons this ministry gift was given to the church by God. Now let’s move on to the ministry gift of the apostle.
Robert L. Brandt’s book, “Spiritual Gifts”, was developed in cooperation with the International Correspondence Institute of the Assemblies of God’s International Office Staff and is used to train pastors throughout the world for ministry.
Brandt writes: “The gift of ministry called ‘apostles’ was to be a gift through the whole period of building the church, or body. The apostles are given by Christ to His body to do a special work. Men do not decide to be apostles any more than a chunk of clay decides to be a piece of pottery...What they do makes others able to recognize them as apostles. Those who call themselves apostles, or who are appointed to be apostles by men, may not be apostles at all. ‘You have tested those who say they are apostles but are not, and have found out that they are liars’ (Revelation 2:2).” (Pg. 50). (See also 2 Corinthians 11:13)
“Apostles are not ready-made. They are first believers...When God chooses a person to be an apostle, He gives time for the person to grow and get ready for the task. Paul did not fill the office of an apostle when he was first saved...(Acts 22:14-15)...The way in which he [Paul] was prepared to be an apostle is much the same as the way a believer is prepared today.
“There are several steps in this preparation:
“1. Suffering: Some believers are not able to become apostles. They are not willing to suffer, as may be necessary in an apostle’s preparation... ‘And I myself will show him all that he must suffer for my sake’ (Acts 9:16). Suffering prepares people in a special way to be leaders in Christ’s body. Those who have not suffered cannot minister to others as those who have suffered. Those who are unwilling to suffer are not prepared to go with the gospel into places where they may have to suffer much. Suffering prepares people for more suffering.
“2. Increasing: Even Jesus while He was being prepared for His ministry increased. ‘And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man’ (Luke 2:51)...Thus Jesus grew in wisdom and stature. He added to His wisdom and stature. If this was necessary for Him, how much more is it necessary to the apostle’s preparation?
“3. Learning: It is more important to apostles because they are Leaders in Christ’s body. Again, let’s think about Paul. Before he became an apostle, he had to spend a period of time in the desert learning (Galatians 1:16-18).” (Pgs. 51-52).
Continuing from Eberle’s “The Complete Wineskin”: “The word apostle means in Greek ‘one sent forth’. A true apostle is a minister sent by God to accomplish a specific work. Note that an apostle is not sent by an organization, a church, or a group of people.
“The twelve men who walked with Jesus were called apostles from the day Jesus sent them out to the cities to preach about the Kingdom of God; before that time, they were called disciples. In Acts 13 we see that Paul and Barnabas become apostles at the time that the Holy Spirit separates them to go out and preach. Paul begins his letter to the Galatians with his personal qualifications: ‘Paul, an apostle (not sent from men, nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead…’ (Galatians 1:1).
“Apostles may have a denomination, a church, or a certain group behind them, but they always have a higher call from God. The first identifying mark of apostles is that they are indeed ‘sent ones’.
“The second identifying mark of apostles is their spiritual authority. Paul defends his own position as an apostle by writing, ‘The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles’ (2 Cor. 12:12). We see Paul demonstrating great authority when God uses him to perform miracles and when he delivers a sinful man over to Satan (1 Cor. 5:1-5). An apostle can also release blessings through his words, prayers, and the laying on of hands.
“The word missionary has the same root as apostle: both mean ‘one sent forth’. However, today’s missionaries are true apostles only if they have been sent specifically by God and if apostolic authority is operating in their ministries. Some missionaries have been sent out overseas, and indeed they have functioned as apostles to certain countries or regions. However, not all missionaries are apostles, and not all apostles are sent to strange lands.
“The apostolic gift includes the ability to do whatever is necessary to accomplish what God has sent the apostle to do. Apostles have grace to minister in the other four ministry gifts: prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. Just as pastors have supernatural drawing power for their flocks, apostles also attract leaders with the gifts of pastor, teacher, evangelist and prophet. Each apostle normally raises up several pastors, evangelists, teachers and other leaders to help fulfill the calling that God has given to the apostle.
“The calling of an apostle is specific to a region or people. Paul writes that he is an apostle to the Gentiles and that Peter is an apostle to the Jews (Gal. 2:8). To be sent by God implies that one is sent to a place or to a group of people. We have leaders who have been used as apostles to Africa or China or certain cities. Some apostles may minister to smaller groups of people…Others may be sent by God to build a foundation for a specific ministry within the Body of Christ
“Apostles are different from prophets, though they all have specific tasks. Prophets have limited messages or purposes, and the power of the prophets is in their words. Apostles are sent forth to establish and build up groups of believers in all areas of the believers’ lives. Apostles become fathers to their ministries, and they may remain as heads of those ministries, each apostle overseeing several leaders, or they may move on, as Paul did, handing over the established work to someone else. The ministries of apostles are inclusive and broader than those of prophets. Furthermore, the foundations that endure are not their words but their works.
“The hearts of apostles are tied into every area of what they are called to do. They see the overall ministry. They are burdened for the churches, the leaders, and all the people under their care. Paul wrote that he was constantly under a pressure of concern for all the churches (2 Cor. 11:28).
“Apostles supernaturally know when a part of their work needs help or when a minister under their care is suffering. The hearts of apostles are big. Out of their big hearts flow a spiritual blessing and an anointing for those under them. Pastors, teachers, evangelists, and the entire ministries under apostles are supernaturally empowered and protected by the Holy Spirit. This is the reason Paul could release a sinful man to Satan by withdrawing God’s protective hand (2 Cor. 5:5). When an apostle is present, unity and peace flow into the organization. Those who function under an apostle receive through that apostle the Holy Spirit’s energy, zeal, and anointing. This is the way that the Holy Spirit flows from the apostle’s innermost being…
“In order to better understand the prophetic and apostolic positions, let’s look at some examples of well-known Christian leaders who have functioned in these anointings. By mentioning these, I am not implying that I agree with everything they teach or for which they stand, so please do not let your feelings about any of them keep you from seeing their ministries as examples. “One of the most well-known prophets was Martin Luther. We could consider his life and see that he moved into the prophetic office when he brought forth a bold message emphasizing salvation through faith and the priesthood of all believers. He encountered incredible persecution and yet firmly held to the word of the Lord, which he was sent to proclaim. As his message became established and accepted, thousands of Christians followed him. Then he moved into a more apostolic ministry. He became the father of the Lutheran denomination, with many ministers under him helping to fulfill the vision God had given him.
“John Wesley also could be considered a prophet. He boldly preached the Holy Spirit’s work of witnessing salvation in men’s hearts and then making them holy to God. Very few leaders accepted Wesley at first, yet his words shook the Christian world. In order to sustain his work, God later placed an apostolic anointing upon him, which enabled him to organize and lead a movement that became known as the Methodist denomination.
“David Wilkerson is an excellent example of a man whom God has used in several ministry gifts. While pastoring a small church, he received a vision from God to reach the street youth in the big cities of America. With this apostolic calling, he left his church and went to the cities. Out of that ministry a network of outreaches known as Teen Challenge sprang up. Since then, God has moved Wilkerson back into a prophetic office with a word to the Church to repent and to get holy before God. Wilkerson continues to function in both the apostolic and the prophetic ministries.
“Many parachurch organizations have been directed by people with apostolic anointings. Each of these people have been given a specific work that has never been done before. Bill Bright is the head of Campus Crusade for Christ. Loren Cunningham is the apostle to thousands involved in Youth With A Mission. Demos Shakarian had a call from God to start the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship… Keith Green was used as a prophet to correct much compromising that was going on in the church. Smith Wigglesworth…spoke as a prophet with messages of faith…Hudson Taylor was an apostle to China, as John G. Lake was to South Africa.” (Pgs. 26-32).
As I have mentioned earlier, an apostle is not locked into one gift. A leader may be used as an apostle when speaking to certain people, and as a pastor when ministering to others. The Holy Spirit can flow through a speaker in a prophetic anointing one time and in a teaching anointing at a later time. The leader’s anointing is determined to a great extent by the needs and the hunger of the people to whom he is ministering. The more eager they are to receive God’s wisdom, direction, and power, the more they pull from the minister, releasing the Holy Spirit to move.
The Holy Spirit, who knows the needs of the people, ministers as He sees fit and as He is allowed to flow. The willingness of the receiving person’s heart is pivotal in the release of God’s Spirit flowing through a person. Another factor that affects the Holy Spirit’s flow is the spiritual condition of the minister. Many people who have received a call from God to function in certain anointings have rejected their callings. Just as Jonah refused for a season to answer God’s call, so many Christians today have not yielded to the ministries that God has offered them.
If you and I want to move with the Holy Spirit, with the whirlwind; if we want rivers of living water flowing out of our bellies; if we want to see the reality of Jesus Christ in total operation through the church today, we must be willing to change. We must allow our old wineskin to rip. We must allow new wine to be poured in. If we want the corporate church to change, we must start with the Word of God that says that the foundation is built upon the apostles and the prophets. If change is to be made, they are to do it. If leadership is to be led, spiritually they are to lead.
We have seen ministries or churches, first led by Charles Finney, Martin Luther, and John Wesley, grow into powerful denominations for the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, today they are dead because when the apostle or prophet died or retired, the church or denomination was led either by administrators or pastors, rather than by one anointed to serve as an apostle.
Ladies and gentlemen, no where in the Bible can we find a pastor leading a congregation. Let me repeat: no where in the Bible will you find a pastor leading a congregation! A typical North American Christian who wants to visit a church today tries immediately to find out who the pastor is. But this is completely foreign to the New Testament structure. I repeat: the accepted pattern of organization for the local church in our society is to have a pastor at the head with the congregation under him, a tradition that is not biblical.
“The Complete Wineskin” reads: “In fact the word pastor is used as a noun only once in the entire New Testament, and that is in Ephesians 4:11, where the five ministry gifts are listed. In that passage we are shown that the pastor is part of a team for the equipping of the saints; the pastor is not the head of that team, but is placed fourth in the listing. Where, then, did most of us get our understanding of what a pastor is? From the Bible? I challenge that idea because there is not a single person called a pastor in the New Testament. In contrast, there are twenty-two apostles and many prophets.
“Our preconceived ideas too easily cloud our understanding of the Bible. Since most Christians think of a pastor as a person who runs the local church, they have a difficult time recognizing any other organizational structure in the New Testament. For example, in Acts 15 we see many elders gathering at Jerusalem to discuss certain doctrines. At that meeting, James seems to be presiding, and he voices the final judgment (Acts 15:13-19). Some Christians have looked at this passage and jumped to the conclusion that James, therefore, must have been the pastor over the church at Jerusalem. In reality, James was an apostle, for Paul wrote in Galatians 1:19, ‘But I did not see any of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother.’ We see here that an apostle headed up the church at Jerusalem--not a pastor…Another example of how our modern conception of the church limits our understanding of the New Testament wineskin is the way we look at Timothy. Many Bible teachers today refer to 1 and 2 Timothy (along with Titus) as the pastoral epistles, and they interpret the writings as if Paul was writing to the pastor Timothy. Consequently, all the instructions given by Paul to Timothy are thought to be directives to pastors.
“Such an understanding is false and reveals how easily our interpretations of Scripture can be influenced by our own experiences in our traditional church structure of today. The truth is that Timothy was an apostle, not a pastor. We know this because the first letter to the Thessalonians begins with, ‘Paul and Silvanus and Timothy to the church…’ (1 Thess. 1:1).
“Throughout this letter, the words we and us are used to refer to these three men, who were working together. Then in 2:6 we read: ‘…nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority.’ If the Word of God tells us that Timothy was anointed as an apostle, then we should not think of him as a pastor. Confirmation of this calling can be found in I Timothy 1:18, where we see that Timothy was ‘sent out’ through prophecy, just as Paul was earlier (Acts 13:2-3). Seeing this, we must recognize that 1 and 2 Timothy are instructions for apostles, not for pastors. This will change much of our understanding of church structure.
“It is important to see this distinction in the roles of the apostles and pastors because we must not let our evaluations of the New Testament church be clouded by expectations based on present-day organizational structures. If we had never in our lives experienced the modern-day church, and all we had in our hands was a Bible to decide how things should function, we immediately would recognize the roles of the apostles and prophets at the forefront— not pastors—and we would see God’s design in a totally new light. We must take that fresh, new perspective as we look in the Bible.” (Pgs. 43-46).
If you want a fresh anointing; if you want to move in the Holy Spirit, God demands constant change. You must allow your old wineskin to split, and you must grow in truth through the Word and the Spirit. The Bible tells us that the most prominent people in the New Testament church were apostles and prophets, not pastors. The apostles and prophets were in fellowship and submission one to another, as when the apostle Paul rebuked the apostle Peter (Galatians 2:2, 9). They were not totally independent, but they relied upon each other.
The New Testament church recognized anointings.
In Eddie L. Hyatt’s book, “2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity”, he states: “The church of the first century was a charismatic church. Luke, who recorded its history in the book of Acts, faithfully included the abundance of supernatural phenomena that characterized its life and ministry. Speaking in tongues and prophecy, healings and miracles, and all the other charismata were common--even anticipated as the norm - (Acts 1:8; 10:19; 13:2). It was this dynamic activity of the Holy Spirit in the personal, individual lives of the believers and in the corporate life of the Church, rather than organizational structure, that provided the basis for its life, community, and mission.” (Pg. 7).
Rudolph Bultmann states: “The chief persons of authority are those endowed with spiritual gifts.” (Rudolph Bultmann, New Testament Theology, 2 vols., New York: Charles Scribner, 1965, 2:97).
Hyatt continues: “Origen was the first early church father to indicate that supernatural ministry was becoming less common. He points to the abundance of supernatural signs in the ministries of Christ and the apostolic Church. Then he remarks, ‘But since that time these signs have diminished.’ He cites the lack of holiness and purity among the Christians of his day as the reason....Spiritual gifts, including speaking in tongues, continued to be common in the church from the Day of Pentecost up to the beginning of the fourth century. Episcopal scholar, Morton Kelsey, is correct in saying, ‘These men were well aware of Paul’s list of the gifts of the Spirit and what it included. In no place do they suggest that any of them had dropped away’. ...Spiritual gifts continued to be manifest after the first century. As institutionalism increasingly dominated the life and ministry of the Church, however, their prevalence and influence gradually diminished. Institutionalism is an emphasis on organization at the expense of other factors...The move toward institutionalism in the early Church arose as a means of defense against persecution from the state and imposition of error from heretical sects such as Gnosticism and Marcionism. Reacting to these threats, the Church formalized worship and centralized power in the bishop. Unfortunately, this move toward organizational structure brought about a change in the very meaning of the word bishop...History demonstrates that the institutional trend advocated by Ignatius continued, culminating in the ecclesiasticism of the medieval Roman Catholic Church and in its monarchical bishop. This meant that outward ecclesiastical forms of both office and ritual came to be valued over personal, spiritual experiences. It also meant that spontaneous manifestations of the Holy Spirit became less and less desirable, especially by those in authority. It is for this reason that Ash, in answer to the popular notion that the charismatic gifts were replaced by the New Testament Canon, declares, ‘The bishops, not the Canon, expelled prophecy’. ...For those who embraced this emphasis on organizational structure, spiritual authority was no longer seen as residing in the person with the spiritual gift. That authority now resided, instead, in the one occupying the ecclesiastical office.” (Pgs. 16-25).
Brethren, the body of Christ--called the Church--is in shambles because it is being led by power-hungry men elevated to their positions by dying denominations (or the whore of Revelation). These are men who rape the people of God in order to stay in power and to control them, just as the Scribes and Pharisees did in the days when Jesus walked the earth. Most men today who lead the church are not truly called by God. They are not anointed by God, and they do not operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit!
To Be Continued!
WMI is now focusing on the following 42 nations: The United States, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Philippines, India, Jamaica, Honduras, Kenya, Madagascar, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, Burundi, The Congo, Iran, Sweden, Norway, England, Russia, Germany, Finland, Austria, Poland, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Yugoslavia, Romania, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, and Turkey. In these countries we are trying to saturate the nation with the prophetic warning through articles, newspapers, radio, television, etc. We encourage you to study the prophecies on many of these nations on our web site at www.worldministries.org. They will help you know how to pray for each nation. We need intercessors in and for these countries.
© 2002 World Ministries International