We are looking at the restoration of the ministry of the apostle. So far we have seen:
The apostolic ministry The apostolic mantle and authority The apostolic mandate – Kingdom expansion The apostolic mission – Laying the foundation The apostolic message – sonship The apostolic motivation – Filling the earth with God’s glory
Let’s look at our next concern – “The Apostolic Method” …
THE APOSTOLIC METHOD – Fivefold Impartation
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13)
We can teach what we know, but we impart what and who we are. We can inform people on a variety of topics. However, we can only form people according to what we are. Everything reproduces after its own kind (Genesis 1). The apostle labours in childbirth until Christ is formed in people. The need is for formation, not mere information.
Jesus said, “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (Matthew 10:40).
This is more than a promise of information! Jesus is declaring that when someone receives the one who is sent, he or she actually receives Jesus. Because, Jesus is abiding in the sent one, He may be imparted by the sent one, and formed in the one who receives. Furthermore, because the Father abides in Jesus even as Jesus abides in the sent one, the recipient receives not only the sent one, but also Jesus and the Father!
Jesus continues, “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward.” (John 10:41)
A prophetic impartation is received when we receive a prophet. The prophets, as well as the other fivefold ministries, are themselves gifts to the church (Ephesians 4:10-11) They have freely received their anointing from the Holy One, and freely give as they are received. The prophetic gifts of God are imparted through the prophets of God.
In the same manner, the apostles are God’s gifts to the church for the purpose of imparting of the apostolic anointing. Paul, a master builder, was constantly motivated to intentionally strengthen and establish the church through impartation:
“For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established.” (Romans 1:11)
FULL, BALANCED, FIVEFOLD IMPARTATION
The apostle is a vessel of clay through whom Jesus, THE Apostle, chooses to reveal Himself. The prophet is a human being through whom Jesus, THE Prophet, manifests Himself. In like manner, the evangelist, pastor and teacher are mere men and women through whom THE Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher glorifies Himself.
God’s grace, not our choice, determines our giftings. Paul testifies, “For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I laboured even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.”
(I Corinthians 15:9-10)
Each one is what he is by the choice and grace of God.
It is the will of God that the church, “Grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16)
As His body, we are to manifest all aspects of Christ. He is Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher. Therefore, His body is to be apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, pastoral and teaching. Jesus imparts these aspects of Himself through His gift – fivefold men and women, His gifts to the church.
Apostles reproduce after kind; prophets reproduce after kind; evangelists reproduce after kind; pastors reproduce after kind; teachers reproduce after kind. Apostles impart the apostolic gift. Prophets impart the prophetic gift. Evangelists impart the evangelistic gift. Pastors impart the pastoral gift. Teachers impart the teaching gift. The church grows up in all aspects into Him as these aspects of Him are imparted through the fivefold ministry gifts.
Apostles are task focused. As master builders, they see and understand the blueprint for building. They will normally view everything from the point of view of fulfilling the task of building up the church and extending the kingdom of God throughout the earth.
Prophets are word focused. They speak to man on behalf of God. As spokesmen for God, they are constantly comparing what they are seeing in the natural realm with what they are seeing in the spiritual realm. They are weighing everything according to the word which is revealed to them.
These two gifts are foundational to the church.
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22)
The evangelist is soul focused. He equips the church for evangelism, the saving of souls.
The pastor is people focused. He tends and feeds the flock, caring for them and bringing healing to them.
The teacher is detail and doctrine focused. He builds the truth into the understanding and lives of people, precept upon precept, line upon line.
The church which is growing in all aspects of Christ, through fivefold impartation, will be apostolic – envisioned for worldwide kingdom expansion; prophetic – sensitive to the voice of God; evangelistic – concerned that everyone should hear the gospel; pastoral – given to caring for one another; and teaching – sharing what each one has learned with others.
Fivefold Ministers – Apostles govern, prophets guide, evangelists gather, pastors guard and teachers ground the church in the truth.
The church which is growing in all aspects of Christ, through fivefold impartation, will enjoy divinely ordered government, divinely inspired guidance, fruitful gathering of new believers, the environment of a safe sheepfold, and will prosper in the word of God.
Such a local expression of the Church of Jesus Christ will be a manifestation of Christ Himself, a mature man (Ephesians 4:13), a body with many members which builds itself up in love (verse 16). Authentic fivefold ministry will bring the impartation of the many aspects of Jesus Christ so that He may be revealed in His body.
The apostle must understand his sphere, both with respect to his measure of rule and also his areas of anointing. He must operate within his geographical and ecclesiastical boundaries. As a master builder, he must coordinate and cooperate with the other gifts in the body to assure the fully orbed equipping of the church for the work of service.