APOSTOLIC CHURCHES - The Fruit Of Apostolic Ministry
Not everyone who says to me, "I'm an apostle! I'm an apostle!" is an apostle.
Losing sight of the fact that apostles are displayed last, as men condemned to death, and made a spectacle to the world ~ fools for Christ's sake, it seems that many would like to claim this role. Others, who may be legitimately called to apostleship, are eager to rush headlong, and ahead of God, into what requires years of patient preparation.
There is usually a significant time lag between the calling and the commissioning, which often include seasons of temporary appointments to specific spheres under the direction and oversight of a seasoned man.
Learning to walk yoked with Jesus at His pace is usually preceded by learning to walk with Jesus' representative authority in one's life.
Not only the American dollar is being devalued in our day The apostolic ministry is being devalued by those who are not apostles indeed, or those who are running ahead in the process. Satan tried to resist the emerging of apostles and apostolic companies who are threats to his waning authority Unsuccessful, he now is trying to dilute and subvert apostolic authority by tempting sincere Christians to go where God has not (yet) led.
The bottom-line-fruit of apostolic ministry in apostolic churches!
Everything reproduces after kind. Prophets raise up prophetic churches.
Worshipers raise up worshiping churches. Teachers raise up teaching churches. Evangelists raise up evangelistic churches. Intercessors raise up interceding churches.
Apostles raise up apostolic churches that are fivefold in gift mix, and mission focused.
Let's look at some characteristics:
CHARACTERISTICS OF FIVEFOLD MINISTRY
A. Apostles govern; task-focused. Gifted by God, and graced according to the measure of Christ's gift, apostles are master builders who lay the foundation of Christ, the anointed One, in the lives of people. Their objective is to see a church come forth in every city/region that is a many-membered functional body that is doing the work of Christ in that area, to the end that God's government and glory are established.
B. Prophets guide; word-focused. Standing alongside the apostles in the foundation of the church (Jesus Christ being the chief Cornerstone), prophets keep the church moving in a manner that is consistent with the revealed word of God. When properly linked with governing apostles, there is a powerful grace to guide the church toward her destiny.
C. Evangelists gather; soul-focused. Passionate for the conversion of people to Christ, evangelists (1) preach the gospel of the kingdom (often with signs and wonders confirming the word), (2) heal the sick, (3) cast out demons, and (4) equip the saints to do the work of the evangelist.
D. Pastors guard; people-focused. A more functionally understood word for this gift is "shepherds." Shepherds are not always able to hang onto the vision because of their burden for people and heart for their well-being and safety. Contemporary religious tradition has confused this biblical role with that of CEO's. But, today's reformation process will align true shepherds within the fivefold equipping ministry where they will be freed from trying to do what God gave others to do. Then, they will be able to focus upon the flock.
E. Teachers ground; detail-focused. Appointed third in order by God, teachers are intended to put the meat on the bones that are provided through the revelation ministries of apostles and prophets. They are not to build denominations around their pet doctrines. Rather, they are to function under authority on apostolic teams, grounding the body of Christ with the details of apostolic doctrine and guided by prophets.
The great hindrance to the work of the kingdom is independent "Lone Ranger" ministries who have not found their place of peace on the team!
CHARACTERISTICS OF APOSTOLIC MINISTRY (EXPANDED)
A. Fathers of the families. Paul referred to the Corinthians as my beloved children, and told the Thessalonians, you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children.
He identified Timothy and Titus as sons in the Lord. John wrote: My little children. Not all fathers are apostles. But, all apostles are fathers.
B. Leaders of the tribes. Paul was sent to the Gentiles, Peter to the Jews.
Paul refers to his sphere which God appointed us - a sphere which especially includes you. John wrote as Jesus dictated to the seven churches in Asia.
This tribal concept is expanded upon in the New Testament, where we see apostolic companies formed.
C. Generals of the army. We are still too fragmented to realize the potential that awaits us as God puts together the global communion of apostles. Regional spirits will be cast down by the church standing together in cities and regions. The full release of apostolic authority will also bring revelations of gifts that are hidden beneath the surface of these cities and regions by the influence of darkness. The light is coming!
D. Architects of the church. Wise master builders understand the blueprint and strategy for building the church under Christ's headship. We have not yet seen the glory of God on the church of His heart. We can cry to heaven for revival, and for that glory to be released. But, our cries will be in vain until God's order is established. He will not breathe on scattered bones!
CHARACTERISTICS OF APOSTOLIC CHURCHES
A. Fivefold in ministry. A person may call or title himself whatever, but the fruit of apostleship is churches that are enjoying the anointing and impartation of all five gift ministries in balance. This will not come from the sweat of the brow. It will be the natural flow of the apostolic gift in the mix, drawing the other gifts around him, and raising up and releasing ministry.
B. Built from a New Testament blueprint. Apostles appoint elders in every church (city/region). There will be a gathering and distribution of wealth.
There will be the enablement and function of the gift variety within the body as described in I Cor. 12-14.
C. Built upon a proper foundation. This is a study of its own. For additional insight into this proper foundation, read: I Cor. 3:11; II Cor.13:5; Gal. 4:19; Col. 1:27; I Jn 4:1-4.
D. Function with proper government. Revelation Chapters 1-3 outline proper governmental flow. Jesus speaks to the heart of John, who has apostolic responsibility for Asia. Jesus dictates specific instructions for the messenger (apostle?) of each church. It is obvious that the governmental division of the church is to be within geo-political spheres - cities and regions. This does not mean that local apostles and elders ~ or individuals ~ cannot hear from God for themselves. It does indicate that there is a higher purpose for the church that will only be accomplished on a corporate level and under proper apostolic government.
E. Produce kingdom fruit. This includes reproducing after kind both at home and abroad, people coming to Jesus and being discipled into maturity, believers operating in the gifts of the Spirit, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
SUMMARY: APOSTOLIC PROVISION
1. Vision - Ephesians 3:5, 10
2. Order - I Corinthians 14:33, 40; Titus 1:5
3. Fatherhood - I Corinthians 4:15; I Thessalonians 2:10-12
4. Cohesive Team Leadership - I Thessalonians 1:5-6, 2:1-12
5. Master Plan - Architect - Taskmaster - I Corinthians 3:10
6. Place of Appeal - I Corinthians 6:5
7. Oversight; Accountability - Hebrews 13:17
A final word. Some are resisting this kind of teaching because of past abuses and/or present "flesh." The Faithful One who called us is the One who must accomplish all of the above. The flesh cannot please God. This is not something that we can do for Him.
Only as we yield ourselves as individuals to the Holy Spirit, and He aligns us with others, will we see the emerging of the apostolic church that will honor and reveal Him to the nations. Only in such a way will He fill the earth with His government and glory through His sons.
Lifemessenger Inc. PO Box 777 Mount Eliza VIC 3930 Australia
"A word from David Orton -
Don Atkin is a seasoned apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ whose teachings I recommend. While our correspondence is recent, he has served the body of Christ since 1966 and is a father in the Lord to many. His perspectives on the apostolic and church government, including the church of the city, are insightful and useful. His web link is: www.DonAtkin.com "