Apostles have the ability to forge into new territory and take the Gospel of the Kingdom to unreached areas and unreached people (Romans 15:20). As an “architect” an apostle designs and lays foundations for new churches. They want these new foundations to be built on Jesus Christ and His Word rather than human tradition and opinions.
Paul was commissioned by the Lord and by other apostles in the early Church to build and to plant churches among the Gentiles. Peter was commissioned by the Lord to build and to plant churches among the Jews (Galatians 2:8).
It seems that the authority of an apostle changed in nature once a local church was established and had the oversight of local elders. For example, Paul took on the role of a father whose authority diminished once his spiritual sons or daughters reached adulthood.
With this new release of apostolic fathers that we are currently seeing – there will arrive false apostles. False apostles prey on the works and finances of others. Looking for churches already established and wanting to use those churches to enhance their portfolio, they say, “come join me.” They have not laboured to see these works established but instead are looking for what a church can bring to them versus the true apostolic mindset that says, “How can I help this church succeed?’
An apostolic team exists for two reasons – to serve Jesus Christ and to serve local church leaders. If an apostle stops doing either of these two things, they have lost their reason for existence.
A true apostle has those who say, “If it were not for this person, I would not be successful in ministry.” In 1 Corinthians 9:2, Paul told the Corinthians, “You are the seal of my apostleship.” In other words, they were proof to the world that he had an apostolic gift functioning in his life because of the spiritual fruit of his labours among them.
Training leaders is an important apostolic function. When Paul and Barnabas made their second visit to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, they ordained elders in each church (Acts 14:21-23). Appointing leaders of local churches should be the job of apostles working with the local leadership teams rather than a matter of congregational voting or other selection.
Local churches often encounter problems that need outside assistance. Local leaders sometimes have blind spots that need the apostolic ability to break through the blindness and speak God’s Word to areas of imbalance or division or other problems. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians illustrates his ability to use his apostolic authority to speak to the problems in the church.
More next time…