We are looking at the big picture regarding apostolic ministry today. As we continue our look at “The Apostolic Mandate” let me remind you of what we covered under this topic last time…
The apostolic mandate includes: Kingdom expansion, being messengers of the Kingdom (not managers of the Church), and bringing peace to all situations. Next, let’s look at two more – unity and regional churches
THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT AND THE BOND OF PEACE
“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:20-21).
The grace and glory of God have been freely given to the apostle for the purpose of kingdom expansion.
“The glory which You have given Me I have given them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You have sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me” (John 17:22-23).
We live in a day when unity is a priority of the apostolic mandate. The apostle wants to see the church: “… continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer . . . day by day continuing with one mind (Acts 2:42,46). The fruit of this kind of church was harvest! “And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).
The role of the apostle – and the full fivefold ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12) is to bring the Church into unity. (Ephesians 4:13)
Apostles are to meet together, develop relationships, and agree upon doctrine and practice, so that they may lead the Church in unity by precept and example. Paul went to Jerusalem. ”It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain” (Galatians 2:2).
The council at Jerusalem was called in response to doctrinal questions. The apostles and elders came together to look into this matter (Acts 15). Only after much debate and discussion did they come into unity “… and it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to send a letter to the relating churches clarifying the matter.”
Today’s apostle is to be eager to meet with his peers, then the elders, then the whole church, for the purpose of continually clarifying apostolic doctrine. God gives peace of mind to the Church through leaders who are in unity. God is not the author of confusion.
THE CITY OR REGIONAL CHURCH
The kingdom of God is being expanded in cities and regions as apostles relate with and give vision and guidance to the elders of a city or a region. The apostle must come to the elders in lowliness, humility and servitude. His influence will increase as relationships are built, trust increased, and his anointing recognized and received.
“A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men” (Proverbs 16:18).
The apostle must know that he is sent by God to a city or region. He must remember that he is a messenger, not there to manage the church. If the message of the kingdom is received, God will add that city or region to his sphere. Or, the Holy Spirit may guide him to delegate apostolic oversight to a “Timothy” or “Titus,” directing him to set in order what remains and appoint elders (Titus 1:5). Perhaps this person is currently functioning as a local pastor whose true calling is apostolic and who has the apostolic mantle for that city or region.
In many places, the contemporary church has been established for a long time. Religious and sectarian spirits must be overthrown. Much intercession and prayer for wisdom must precede any outward action. The apostle in such a place must be sure to walk in patience, understanding that the present condition of the church is his beginning point. “By wisdom a house is built” (Proverbs 24:3).
In virgin territories, among unreached people groups, sometimes the apostle will first work evangelistically to begin the Church in the region and gather converts. The apostle is able to fulfill all five of the fivefold ministries and often does as he begin a new work in a virgin territory. At times, an evangelist will go first to an area to evangelize and then the apostle will come in along side him to help form a proper foundation (Ephesians 2:20). We see this in the book of Acts.
“Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them. The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing … Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John . . . . they began laying their hands upon them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:5-6,14,17).
Paul aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that (he) would not build on another man’s foundation (Romans 15:20). This was Paul’s special anointing over against that of Peter and James. It is no more “apostolic” to extend the kingdom into virgin territories than it is to expand the kingdom in and among existing churches.
Multitudes of doors are opening for apostles and the restoration which they bring. There is a growing awareness that faulty foundations need to be replaced by Jesus Christ, the True Foundation. The apostle must walk through these doors with love, integrity, patience and wisdom. (Ephesians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11-15)