We have been looking at the marks of a true apostle. This is always the starting point for the new wineskin as we see the man-made pastoral model of the Church being transformed into the apostolic model of the Church – the Church that Jesus is building.
As we look around the local church at any given time you will most likely not spot an apostle. Don’t let that discourage you. Most churches will not have a mature apostle within their midst. “Apostle” tends to be a mobile gift, and an apostle is usually in relationships with a number of churches. It’s important, however, that each church is in a relationship with an apostle and that the leaders of the local church allow that apostle to speak into the life and functioning of the church.
Within most decent sized churches you will, however, find young people who are called to be apostles within the Church. They will need to build relationally with the trans-local, mobile apostle that their local church relates to. Then they can be discipled, trained, equipped, and mentored into their calling and its related giftings.
Once we have the apostle ministering within and relating to the local church then the other fivefold ministries can begin to relate and function within the church as well. These are the prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers (Ephesians 4:11)
Let’s look first at the marks of a trans-local fivefold prophet…
In Ephesians 4, Paul lists “prophet” as the second of the fivefold gifts. And, in 1 Corinthians 12:28 he again lists the prophet as second after the ministry of the apostle.
Prophecy is simply to ability to communicate the mind and heart of God, the Father, in a specific situation or to a specific person. Any born again believer who has been baptized in the Holy Spirit can prophesy (see: 1 Corinthians 14:31, 39). However, remember, that just because you can prophesy does not make you a prophet. Some people get their first prophetic word and announce that they are a prophet. Not true. The ministry of the prophet is a calling on a person’s life that involves prophesying – but also includes a lot more than just receiving words for people or situations.
A New Testament prophet is someone who is gifted to establish the revelationry gifts on the local church so these gifts function as God intended. The prophet is there, not just to prophesy, but to set prophecy and the other revelatory gifts n order. Where there is a true New Testament prophet engaged in a local church on a regular basis, other people will learn to prophesy and speak forth a Word of Wisdom, a Word of Knowledge, and flow in the gift of the Discerning of Spirits.
The prophet sets a standard of excellence and a standard of accuracy. When the people are trained and released by a fivefold prophet (or apostle) then you will not have a lot of flaky prophetic words being given.
Regardless, when you first begin to release people to flown and minister through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, it will be messy. When immature people are learning to prophesy, it is always messy for a while. There will be a number of flaky prophetic words given. People will say, “Thus says the Lord…” but it is not the Lord at all. The temptation when this happens is to outlaw the prophetic because of the mess it can cause. And, I have been there and done that in my life as a leader of a local church. But, this is not God’s solution.
Paul addresses this very issue in 1 Thessalonians 5 … The church in Thessalonica was having a ‘prophetic mess.’ Paul’s instruction given in 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 was, “Don’t despise prophecy … but test everything.” Rather than rejecting prophecy, Paul wanted them to learn a new level of testing and discerning truth from error, God’s voice from the voice of the human mind and will. The present of a true prophet will help this process of testing what is from God and what is not. The role and ministry of a prophet establishes order.
Next time … we will continue looking at how to recognize a true fivefold prophet