Let continue with our journey into an understanding on the Apostolic, it is needed to be said that this is my journey to date which is not complete as yet, as we join with other ministers with different understanding we will find a fuller meaning in for today rooted in the scriptures. These relationships will also adjust thinking and practice I am sure as well as add to understanding. Now for my continuing thoughts to date.
Apostles are part of eternity’s plan; they were commissioned before they were born, chosen by God. Apostle ship is not a learned skill it is an eternal choice, selected, appointed “… Before the foundation of the world…” when asked, Paul said of himself, he had been chosen from his mother’s womb (Galatians 1:15). To be an apostle is an issue of choice in eternity, to be sent forth by the Father with a mandate to preach the kingdom of God and lay the foundation of Jesus Christ into people’s lives. The apostolic burden is to establish a people and a community of believers, who are willing to be led by the Holy Spirit and demonstrate a life under the order of God (Acts 2:41-47).
Apostles work alongside elders, having a responsibility and appointed by the Holy Spirit to love and care for the people of God, carrying a charge before God for the body. Paul talked about his “… light afflictions…” (2 Cor 4:17) Considering his catalogue of beatings, whippings, left for dead and his sea experiences, I wonder what our understanding of light afflictions are (1 Cor 11) he then goes further to clearly establish what was his non-negotiable charge and weighty matters 1 Cor 11:28 ”…Besides everything else, all the light afflictions mentioned, he also faced the daily pressure of his concern for all the churches…” Paul carried a burden for the church, this is necessary for all apostles, unless you have a God-given “charge” the responsibility is too great. It is so much of a charge long with the matter of building a family it is not a light thing that the care or work towards a church responsibility for the churches can be given away easily, the churches do not become commodities to trade with or without much thought. The church of God is not like a football team that transfers their players at payment, the call and the church are not the “transferable”.
Today’s church, family is being passed around from so-called apostle to apostle, being tossed around as a commodity, surely the passage above indicates that some apostolic gifts carry a “fathering grace” and cannot trade on the church. I have heard the sentence “I don’t care for the churches under…” this surely does not display the fathering apostolic grace. How abusive it would be if a parent treated his children in that way, not caring for them. It would be questioned whether they were truly parents. Paul clearly looked at the church in Corinth as his children.
Those with the charge towards the people of God seek to continue the cause of God, and his Christ, seeking to be in the same heart and mind, and bring that oneness to the people of God, the church. The apostle carries the heart of God and their commission will be in line with Gods heart. The commission, an apostolic task, is outworked along side a people group. Paul is an example to us again as he outlines to King Agrippa in the book of Acts 26 in the years following his encounter with the Christ, Paul’s commission is seen in that he was not “disobedient to the heavenly call” this was his vision, his agenda, he worked with heavens work, he underlined that he was called to bring “light in darkness” and to a specific people called the Gentiles. Whereas James and Peter were called to a different group of people, Jewry.
Apostles must work and I would even go as far as to say they cannot work in isolation, they are not autocrats they are to enable all the ministries of Christ to flow together, they are catalyst ministries. They do not sit on the top of the pyramid structure, they are not CEO’s of an organisation structure and they seek to work within relationship. It is evident from the Scriptures, as we look at the various named examples that each apostle functioned through different mantles, gifts. For example Paul saw himself as a preacher, a prophet; James and Barnabas were clearly teachers and pastors etc. The apostle will function through another gift and will recognise and realise the need, and sometimes the inability to function, without other ministry compliments alongside them. They seek friendship, and counsel and are accountable to others personally they know that they must give themselves to each other as influencers in the community of God.
It is the aim of the Ascension ministries to bring the restoration of Christ to his body, so that his body might be Apostolic, Prophetic – interpretive of God’s action; Teaching – the mountain of the Lord shall be the highest mountain and all of the mountains shall come and say teach us your ways; Pastoral – caring for God’s creation and people; Evangel – proclaiming the good news. These gifts are Christ himself and therefore we must not only have the individual gifts in our world but these characteristics must be seen in the body, the corporate Christ, so that the mountain of the Lord shall be the highest mountain and all other mountains shall come and say teach us your ways;
It is necessary the apostolic gift be seen in terms of characteristics, to avoid qualifying as it’s about Gods choice. These characteristics are to be transferable in order that a people group – the ecclesia of God, that ultimate we must see the restoration of an apostolic people as well as having apostles as catalysts to bring a corporate maturity to pass. That the people of God mature to be an apostolic, prophetic, pastoring, teaching and evangel people while being a fathering and mothering community in our world
Listed below is a catalogue of characteristics I see are necessary of the apostolic ministry, characteristics which ultimately will be transferred into a people. When the maturing Church embodies these characteristics what an amazing group of people we will have.
To close, consider this, Paul as an apostle saw the necessity of the apostolic so sharply that he defended his apostolic commission in the churches to which he worked as a father. One either concedes that Paul was a very insecure man or is considering something else in his defense of the call. If one takes a wider view on Paul’s writings, his instructions, encouragements, retorts and appeals, one would conclude that he was not insecure at all. I would suggest to you that Paul clearly had maturity, growing up in Christ in mind, and in Paul’s defense I suggest that the view of the apostolic he had was more to do with the maturity of the coming generations. So he defended the apostolic with the full knowledge that if the apostolic gifting was removed today tomorrow’s generation would not achieve the full maturity of Christ spoken of.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE APOSTLE AND MINISTRY
1. A true apostle will have had a personal encounter with the resurrected Christ. (Acts 22:8)
2. They have been personally commissioned/charge to an apostolic task. (Acts 26:16-18)
3. They fulfil their apostleship through some other gifting, e.g. prophet, teacher, pastor. (Acts 13:1)
4. They will be an equipper of the saints, releasing and empowering. (Eph.4:11-12) – Apostolic task is the empowerment for others
5. They have a foundational grasp and a steward of the mysteries of God, of which they have a divine revelation.
6. An apostle will recognise and be recognised in their order of apostleship, i.e. they may lead, or they will certainly be a part of an apostolic “body of ministries” and they will prove to be the catalyst for the other ministries. They may be an apostle built into another apostle’s sphere as Barnabas was with Paul, and therefore although have a valid apostolic ministry did not necessarily have the same task of Paul in which he would have been required to be the catalyst for many others.
7. They will be a wise master builder (architect) of the house of God. An astute user of the plumb line of the mystery of Christ to what is being built with everything being measured against the end purpose for the house. (1 Cor. 3:10)
8. Their authority is given by Christ. (2 Cor .10:8)
9. They will demonstrate grace and wisdom in their relationships with people so that a sphere of apostolic ministry and influence emerges in the lives of the people. Their positive relationship with the people of God will provide the people with a deep sense of security. This will produce a committed, productive people who happily help in the task called to. It is inside this sphere of committed people actively pursuing God’s desire for His house that they have the authority of rule, not to be engaged in an authoritarian manner but following the example of Christ who came to serve rather than be served. (Matt. 20:25-28)
10. They pursue a vision in which is: Clear, and can be seen in their commission – they are committed to its completion, they are obedient to the will of God in its commands, they patiently persevere despite any and all setbacks to be obedient to the heavenly vision.
An apostolic commission is fulfilled in phases – it is a process. With the completion of each phase (Acts 14:26) the apostle will be sensitive to God to be ‘sent’ into the new phase. When all phases of an apostolic commission are complete they will be able to say with Paul an apostle, ‘I have finished my course’. They then can then with joy be received by the Lord for his reward. (2 Tim.4:7)
11 An apostolic ministry by nature of what they are to bring about are filled with persevering faith; regardless of enticements, setbacks, or opposition from mankind or demons. Their faith enables them to persevere. This faith will extend itself to lay hold of all that is necessary of the supply of God’s grace to fulfill their ministry, and lay hold of the people and money resource required for the task. Faith will demonstrate the supernatural power of God so that God is seen to be working with confirming signs and wonders following.
12 The apostle will be the living example of all they want the people to become, and do. Therefore, personal Christ-Likeness will be evident to all so that they are secure in following their example. They may unashamedly stand before the people and say, ‘you yourselves know how you ought to follow us’ (2 Thes.3:7-9). The apostle is humble, prayerful, long-suffering gentle with the weak, firm with those that require it, full of integrity and honesty in all business matters and dealings with people, all should speak well of them, so that when testing an apostle, by their fruit they shall be known, as indeed for all Christians.
13 Apostolic Continuity – Paul had a deep sense of Abrahamic continuity and that being part of an apostolic call to walk in the continuity of a line of faith. Paul had a theology developed from the eternal realm, drawing on Dream, Prophecy, and Visions.
14 Supernatural involvement, heavenly assistance to bring about a system of life to enable economy, love and care in creation