As we continue our look at the evangelist ministry of apostles today … we are in the midst of pulling truths out of Acts 13 and the Church in the city of Antioch. Today I want to briefly examine the truth that: “The ultimate sender of an apostle is not a church or a para-church organization not really any group of people – the sender is God Himself.”
As a result of their experience in God’s presence in Acts 13:1-4, Barnabas and Saul could go out in confidence that they had been “sent out by the Holy Spirit.” This is the key to all genuine apostolic ministry: not sending ourselves out or even being sent by the Church, but being sent by God. Paul later wrote to the Galatians about his call to apostolic ministry, “Paul, an apostle – sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father …” (Galatians 1:1 NIV).
Many young people today are awaiting a call to ministry, but they are expecting to receive it from people. They think, ‘Maybe the pastor will recognize my gifts and ordain me to ministry.’ Or, ‘I sure hope that prophetic minister calls me out of the congregation and confirms my calling.’ Or, ‘Perhaps I should go to Bible School or seminary so my calling can be recognized.’
All these feelings are understandable and I see them and hear about them in every nation where I travel to minister. But, they miss the crucial point: Valid commissioning always comes from the presence of God. Yes, people should confirm our calling, but they are not the source of the calling. Before being confirmed through the prayers of others, we must first hear God’s voice in our personal prayer closet. When we hear His unmistakable voice and it is then confirmed by godly leaders around us, we can go our with an unshakable conviction that we have been sent by God and not just sent by man.
So, really, a person should know in their heart that they is called as an apostle and then the prophetic words from apostles and prophets are simply a confirmation, a reminder, and an encouragement to hold on to during tough times; a confirmation of something that is already being sensed and felt in the person’s heart. Regretfully, because many today do not take adequate time in God’s presence and often do not know how to accurately hear His voice – the prophetic word through an apostle or prophet is often the first indication a young person has that there is a call upon their life. In Paul’s life he had already hear from The Lord regarding his calling and then the Church in Antioch was simply confirming what he already knew (see Paul’s road to Damascus experience in Acts, chapter 9) and adding a few details. This, I believe, is how it should be for all those called into the five-fold ministry of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher (Ephesians 4:11).