Blog for December 12, 2017
Then word ‘apostle’ refers to a very specific calling from God. “Apostle” is not a title you give to someone to honour them. It is a job description for a specific call and role assigned to specific people called to that position. “Apostle” is not a title you give to honour or recognize them. It is a call given by Jesus on a person’s life. That person is a gift from Jesus to the Church universal (Ephesians 4:11).
However, the apostle does have a specific place or places that they are called to minister. And, they must be careful to remain within that geographical region. The calling of an apostle does carry a high level of authority.
In some areas of the Church they are called ambassadors. However, this is biblically incorrect as all born again believers are ambassadors for the Kingdom and for Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:20).
The word apostle simply means “the sent one.” And, when the apostle is functioning in an area and in a local church then the people become apostolic – they are sent out into their community and neighbourhoods to share Jesus with others. The Church then can obey “go into the all the world and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). This is known as the Great Commission or the marching orders and mandate on the Church.
Because we have the non-biblical role of ‘local pastor’ leading almost all churches then we have become ‘pastoral’ and not ‘apostolic’. We are minding the sheep and praying for each other and making sure everyone within the church is loved and cared for. God never designed a pastoral church led by a local pastor- He has always wanted an apostolic church lead by apostles with people being sent out (apostolic) to plant the seeds of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Apostles because of their call have the authority to say things like:
“This goes there”
“This is out of order”
“Here is your next step”
“You are going to be in a mess if you don’t deal with this”
“This person is not an elder – they are really a deacon”
“This person has no leadership call upon their life and so should not be on the team”
“There are some major cracks in your church’s spiritual foundation that need repair”
Incredibly, when churches pay attention to what an apostle says, they grow and prosper. Otherwise, they simply slowly die until they close and disappear without anyone even noticing. The apostle knows how to set things in order – God’s order for that local church and region. And, when things are placed in order they work as they were meant to work within the fellowship and assembly of the local church. When a church submits itself to an apostle’s gift (done relationally and not hierarchically – see below), it begins to prosper and grow in incredible ways.
But, some Christians don’t like the idea of apostolic authority. The mention of apostolic authority fills them with fear and mistrust. Some have been wounded by authority figures in the past and don’t want to submit to any authority. Others are simply rebellious. Some don’t have a biblical understanding of authority. Some desire to be ‘lone rangers.’
Some believers mistakenly picture apostolic authority as a hierarchy. But apostolic authority is not a hierarchy. When you talk about apostolic authority, some people demand an organizational chart in order to see where they are in the hierarchy so that they can pin down ‘who gets to control whom,’ and where they stand in the pecking order. But that is not God’s picture of apostolic authority.
How did we get such a negative view of spiritual authority? In the 4th century, Emperor Constantine restructured the church after the pattern of Imperial Rome. It was a system based on control. His church buildings were ornate basilicas, patterned after the imperial throne room.
Constantine gave church leaders thrones to sit on. There was a throne at the front of every basilica. Church offices became positions of political power and a hierarchy was established; the bigger your church the bigger your throne. Ambition was encouraged. Each step gained more power and influence until you made it to the top. When you got to the top, you were the Pope, the ruler of the religious empire – the Holy Roman Empire.
The Protestant Reformation really did not change much in this regard. A typical Protestant church still looks a lot like a throne room. The leaders often have chairs on the platform that look like thrones. And there’s a constant power struggle. Everyone still wants a bigger church, more authority and power, and thus they want to be “Pope”.
This is not how the church is suppose to operate. In Mark 10 Jesus said, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42b-45)
So, those who are called into the fivefold ministry – including the apostle – is there to serve the local and regional churches and not rule over them. They do this relationally and not through some organizational flow chart. The apostles were servants of the Church who laid down their lives for that Church.
In Acts 20:19-24 Paul described his apostleship as “serving the Lord with tears and trials … teaching publicly and from house to house … not considering my life important, that I may complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me!”
In 2 Timothy 4:6 he says, “My life is being poured out like drink offering!”
This is true spiritual authority. The authority of an apostle is not confirmed by their title or place on a flow chart, but by the fact that they serve and pour out their lives for God’s people.
For a good look at a related topic – “Spiritual Covering” – look for “SPIRITUAL COVERING” BIBLE DOCTRINE OR ROMAN/PAGAN DOGMA?” By Steve Hill.
We have it posted on our web site at www.ralphhoweministries.com/ xxxxxx