Apostles are ones with a distinct call and ministry gift within the body. The specific function of apostolic ministry is to implement the prophetic order and mandate given by God to the Church.
Besides other constituent that characterizes an apostolic Church, there must be the walking in the apostolic doctrine and in true unity of fellowship, as these are basic foundational philosophies and principles of an apostolic Church. An apostolic Church must reflect Acts 2:41-47.
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
Jesus is the model apostle sent (apostolos) by God. He is a prototype. He is both a perfect example and a sending agent of all apostles.
Any apostolic ministry that does not reflect the true ministry, nature and work of Jesus Christ is counterfeit. Fabricated ministries that are not sent cannot impact and achieve the purposes of God because they are fallacious and fictitious. We must relegate and avoid every deceptive ministry. We are not to extend the right hand of fellowship to any works of unrighteousness but expose these through an authentic ministry of Jesus Christ.
An apostle lays foundation in the Church. They are foundational ministries along with the prophets. They lay foundational principles of faith in accordance with the doctrine of Christ (apostles’ doctrine). They are not the foundation, Jesus Christ is the foundation that is being laid.
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22).
An apostle brings order to the Church and corrects problems. An apostle does not leave things as they are, but sets things in order and ordains leadership. The absence of real order in the Church today is traceable to the lack of apostolic presence and apostolic authority. One of the reasons why we need apostles is because the Church is out of order, and the apostolic ministry is mandated to set things in order.
“For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:” (Titus 1:5).
Some of the present structures of authority and appointments in the Church are illegitimate because they are derived from positions or democratic votes rather than through relationship.
There is lack of legitimate fathers who are apostles. There is much rebellion and disorder in the Body of Christ today because leaders are appointed by the vote of the congregation. The system has become a democratic thing. However, the Kingdom of God does not operate a democratic system of government; it is a theocratic government, which is never based on the principles and opinions of the people, but on the ultimate decision of God.
Church is not about our needs and us. It is about God. We must return to true apostolic pattern and order of God in setting leadership in place. God’s Kingdom and Church does not operate a democratic system of government where the vote of the people is the final decision of our response to God’s leadership. The vote of the people is not the vote of God! God by His own sovereignty sets in place His choice of a man. He does not need our approval or vote to do this. He chooses whomsoever He wills, even the outcast and rejects, and He makes them trophies of His grace. Most of our denomination systems and religious patterns must transition to an apostolic system and divine order. Our voting rights must be relinquished, because the moment we ‘vote in’, we can as well ‘vote out’. Though the apostolic pattern of setting in of leaders does not give one the privilege of making him what he wants to be.
Leaders are design to be set in and ordained by apostles and prophets. When they are appointed by apostolic order, the same apostolic team can come and bring correction and set things in order just as Paul did in Corinth and in Galatia. His correction was not based on position, but as a father to a family.
An apostle imparts gifts and strengthens the churches. Apostolic fathers strengthen churches just as the natural father strengthens families. These spiritual fathers establish and impart to the Church by the laying on of hands. Apostolic ministry benefits individual believers and the Church.
“And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.” (Acts 15:41)
In the Greek, the word “confirming” is translated “episterizo”, which means to strengthen or re-establish. Each of the five-fold ministry imparts a particular dimension of the grace of God to the Church. Through receipt of this impartation, believers in the Body are strengthened, re-established and built up in the authority of Christ to function as fully activated saints in the Kingdom. The apostolic ministry must be beneficial to the individual believers in the Church, lest we lose the whole purpose of the restoration process of these ministry gifts.
“For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;” (Romans 1:11).
“As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:9).
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:” (Galatians 1:6).
An apostle has a passionate love and care for the Church. The present state of the Church compels the true apostles to seek God’s will and intent for the Church. A heart of love and a desire for the Church to mature accomplishes this selflessly, without merchandising the gift.
“Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:28).
The mark of a true apostle includes patience, signs and the working of miracles. Paul describes the signs of a true apostle: “The things that mark an apostle–signs, wonders and miracles–were done among you with great perseverance (Patience).” (2 Corinthians 12:12 – NIV brackets mine).
Patience is one of the hallmarks of a true apostle. This character is an inward quality that is tested in the furnace of trials and persecution. It is important to note that as an apostle one is bound to face much persecution and suffering. Great perseverance determines an apostle’s authenticity.
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted (to face tribulation) and put to death (be killed), and you will be hated by all nations on account of His name.” (Matthew 24:9 brackets mine).
“For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.” (1 Corinthians 4:9-13).
“We are persecuted, but God does not leave us. We are hurt sometimes, but we are not destroyed. We carry the death of Jesus in our own bodies so that the life of Jesus can also be seen in our bodies. We are alive, but for Jesus we are always in danger of death so that the life of Jesus can be seen in our bodies that die.” (2 Corinthians 4:9-11 New Century Version).
“For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort. For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead;” (2 Corinthians 1:5-9).
All ministry gifts have the ability to hear from God and receive revelations from God, but there are levels and limitations due to their particular call and function, but this does not make any of them greater than the other. The apostles and prophets have a unique grace and access to “certain revelations” that others cannot have because of their function as this makes them foundational ministries. Their call and function enables access to specific revelations and mysteries that help characterize and define them in regards to what the Lord has called them to do.
As one of the key apostles, Peter had a primary calling to the Jews and became a foundational builder in the early church as he preached circumcision. Paul was called to minister to the gentiles and had a revelation of circumcision being unnecessary. These apostles of the Lord Jesus had different functions and different revelation.
It is important to note that every apostle must have a specific assignment to where they are sent as this greatly determines their release of revelation and authority. This also authenticates the mark of true apostleship. Revelation and authority for a specific assignment mark true apostleship. Apostles might travel to other places to teach, train, and release new workers and ordain new leadership with an apostolic commission. They will not be confined to one place, one location, one denomination or group. Emerging apostolic leaders and the five-fold ministry must be identified, trained and released in each Church.
An apostle alone cannot build and mature the Church of Jesus Christ; neither does the other five-fold ministry gifts do this individually. It takes all five-ministry gifts to equally impart their grace to its completeness for the Church to grow and walk in the fullness of God.
An apostle has the heart of a father. God bestows grace upon the apostle to raise sons. Apostles, like a father, will guide, correct and protect God’s people as his sons and will minister with patience, power and love.
Note that women can become apostles. God is not gender bias, or a respecter of persons, but of faith. This applies to all gifts and functions in the Body of Christ. Men and women are co-heirs and are equal in the inheritance of God. The apostolic ministry was never released to be gender-biased.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28).
The ultimate ministry of the apostle is to represent Christ until He is formed in the Church.
“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,” (Galatians 4:19).
“….for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 4:15b)
The present apostolic reformation is not optional, but it is an essential and indispensable move and restoration that is needed and required in the Church today. Apostles are a unique and distinctive ministry that is very requisite and central in this present season to raise up the true Church along with the other ministry gifts, so that we will begin to walk in the GLORY!
Copyright © 2017 by Israel Onoriobe
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