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Apostles and prophets Part I: Five or three


Calling of the Apostles by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1448 - 1494) Credit: Perledarte/Flickr/Creative Commons

Calling of the Apostles by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1448 – 1494) Credit:
Perledarte/Flickr/Creative Commons

[by Keith Hazell] Some of us have lived through days of exciting change in the Body of Christ.  We have seen God bringing the Church into her own; equipping her in ways that had not been seen for many years in the past.

In particular God has been giving us the opportunity to see the resurgence of men and women who carry the Ministry of the Apostle and the Prophet in their lives. Many have had to pioneer the modeling of these ministries without themselves having good role models to follow.

In my lifetime I have seen the return and recognition of both the Apostle and the Prophet by New Testament Churches; although it has not come without much confusion and controversy.

In 1948 God began to bring a revelation to the church in North America through the Latter Rain Revival which broke out in North Battleford in Northern Canada. The principles released in those days to the Church were to reverberate around the earth and to be catalyst for the release of these ministries into the Church once more. Some chose to ignore these truths on the ground that they were restored through men who then perverted some of the truths  they discovered. But the Biblical standard and walking the truths out with a servant attitude has been acted on by many.

Through the 1960’s and the 1970’s there was a resurgence of the teaching concerning Apostles as the Charismatic movement broke out around the world, drawing people back to the search for New Testament Church patterns.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, Apostolic and Prophetic ministries were birthed and nurtured, and began to grow and operate effectively.
 Toward the end of the decade, a group of people who are generally called the “New Apostolic Movement” began to propagate similar teachings. Unfortunately, their  teaching was tainted with attempts to use the revelation as a way of building personal “kingdoms”.

Networking with one another and using a specific vocabulary to try justifying their own elitism, they caused confusion between themselves and genuine Apostolic Ministries. In addition to this, they tended to give the impression that they were actually the people who had restored this understanding to the Body of Christ when they were in fact latecomers in the restoration of these truths.

As well, some self-proclaimed Apostles brought the Office into disrepute. However, in spite of these confusions, God continues to draw us to the Biblical standard in these days.

In this series, we will look particularly at how the Apostle and Prophet can work together in a team along with the other Gift ministries (Pastor, Evangelist and Teacher) to build up and equip the Body of Christ.

Five or Three

What oversight and leadership structure does the Bible expect to be operating in the church?

Ephesians 4:11 tells us that God gave the Church five ministry Gifts which include both the Prophet and the Apostle.

The next verse (verse 12) says the purpose of these ministry Gifts is “to prepare Gods people for works of service,  so that the body of Christ may be built up  until we all reach  unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, and become mature attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

It stands to reason that without the ongoing presence and participation of each of the five ministry Gifts we will always have an immature and incomplete church; undeveloped to its full potential and unable to fulfill the purpose of Jesus on the earth.

For many years the Church has existed and limped along with a three gifted ministry of Pastors, Evangelists and Teachers.  She rejected the provision of Jesus due to not understanding the significance of each of the Offices.  The reasons for this rejection of the whole provision of God are many, but tend to revolve around an unwillingness to accept the ongoing role and call of those involved.

In the past, we had “missionary pioneers”; we had “pastors of pastors”; and some went as far as to call them “spiritual fathers”. But, it was not accepted to simply call them Apostles the way the Bible does. Was it because of our “vain tradition”?

Biblical Scholars had known for Centuries that the term “Apostle” was used in the New Testament many more times than might be apparent to the average person. And there has been some attempt to craft a view that only the original twelve Apostles of the Lamb should have that title. However, the New Testament is clear that Paul, Barnabas and others were recognized as apostles, giving a clear pattern that the church should expect God to continuously be calling people into the Apostolic gifting.

In these days, we again have those who are recognized Apostles and who are doing the work that God has given them and their impact is being felt in restoring a church in the earth that is fully functional to train, direct and build the Body of Christ in the Nations.

As well, we have seen the recognition of Prophets.  The seedbed of this change can be traced both to the Welsh Revival in Penygroes and the Azusa Street Revival in the early 1900’s. The Welsh Apostolic Church was born out of the revival in Penygroes. This group of believers saw both the Apostle and the Prophet as a part of their experience and Government.

Out of the crucible of their own movement they clearly saw that Prophets existed and could have an ongoing part in the life of local churches. Some of these men, who were certainly Prophets, traveled to North America and sowed seeds into the fertile ground which would later be called the Latter Rain Revival in North Battleford in Canada.

There was less controversy concerning the Prophetic perhaps because there were no Prophets chosen by Jesus and few could name the New Testament Prophets like Agabus, Judas and Silas, and there was less resistance to the label being applied to living people.

Sadly, much damage has been caused by those with Prophetic Office who modeled the harsh attributes of Old Testament Prophets, as opposed to the building attributes of effective New Testament Prophets. Often isolated, angry with the Church, and unable to find a place, these prophetic pioneers caused a backlash in the Body of Christ, and made people resistant to the Prophetic Ministry.

In spite of all these things the Apostolic and Prophetic Ministries have made a strong come back in the life and government of New Testament Churches around the world. I trust that we are again in a time when the church looks for people, called of God, in all five of the Ministry Gifts.

_____________________________

Copyright Keith Hazell — Used by permission

Keith, now deceased, traveled internationally as a prophet and teaching ministry. For more than 35 years he has traveled among the nations demonstrating the Prophetic and teaching and raising up new generation prophets. He was one of the most accurate prophets that I have personally known.

 More in this three-part series by Keith Hazell:

More in this series on the Ministry of Apostles:

 

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