I believe Paul would have a fair amount to say to the Church today. First he would comment lovingly that if we really are apostles or prophets, it is likely that someone will figure it out without reading it on our business card. We need more people functioning with apostolic and prophetic impact, and fewer people worrying about having the titles. Paul never called himself “apostle Paul” making his call from God and his role in the church into a ‘title.’ He recognized that it was a job description and so he would write “Paul, an apostle of The Lord Jesus Christ” or simply call himself a bond-slave of The Lord. (Romans 1:1)
Secondly, he would without doubt warn us about the false notion that apostolic ministry is characterized by prestige and honor. He would also point out that apostles are likely to be persecuted, slandered, and treated as the scum of the earth (1 Corinthians 4:9-13; 2 Corinthians 6:4-10)
Perhaps we have heard or read so much on the mighty exploits of the original apostles that we have elevated the apostolic role to a position far higher than God intended. In the biblical record, apostles certainly were dedicated and marvellously gifted ministers – but they also had fears, flaws, and shortcomings, much like many of the men we know in ministry today.
Thirdly, Paul would emphasis the need for apostles in the church today. As he wrote so many centuries ago – apostles are foundational in the Church (Ephesians 2:20) and lead the work of planting the Gospel so The Lord can raise up new churches (1 Corinthians 12:28). He would let us know that God is raising up apostles to serve His Church – and that, if we are wise, we will recognize our need for this role and the input and wisdom these men bring to the work of the Kingdom and the Church. Discernment will be needed, for true apostles are unlikely to come with halos or with the word ‘apostle’ engraved on their letterhead.
Fourth, that the Church desperately needs to regain its apostolic heart – a heart that breaks with compassion for a lost world. Stop playing church and start fulfilling the mandate given to the Church by it’s Founder and Hear to “go into all the world and make disciples.”
So, where are the apostles today? Many with apostolic gifts have purposely steered away from describing themselves with such a lofty term. They may even be serving in more traditional roles, such as a denominational bishop or district overseers. Others have adopted an uncontroversial designation such as ‘church planter’ or ‘church consultant.’ And some ministers known to us as pastors or missionaries may actually have apostolic callings. However, because the role is not recognized in the circles that they travel they have chosen to simply not use the role designation.
Many of the ‘coming apostles’ are still in the crucible of training. Others called to apostolic ministry have chosen the ‘Hollywood version” and gone the way of seeking fame and fortune. Still others have tasted of the adversity and hard work that being an apostle entails, and have backed away from their calling. But God is calling out and raising up apostles in every nation so that the Church can rise up and bring honor to The Lord and people into the Kingdom.