måndag 25 juli 2016

Apostolic product flows from prophetic purpose


Apostolic product flows from prophetic purpose

Apostolic product will emanate from prophetic purpose. Nehemiah's rebuilding of Jerusalem, for example, was both catalysed and contextualised by Jeremiah's seventy-year prophecy concerning the captivity and restoration. And then during the post-exilic restoration Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi continued to provide the same prophetic catalyst and context for the re-building. Likewise, in the final restoration of all things the ministry and message of the prophet will provide the necessary revelation and blueprint. Therefore, apostolic product without prophetic purpose is pointless. It is, in fact, the foundation upon which all apostles should build.

As it was with the first, so will it be with the last. The wise master-builder (architecton) of Paul's day was both architect and builder. Paul, as a prophet, received the blueprint for God's house; but as an apostle, constructed it. The former flows from the spirit of revelation; the latter from the spirit of wisdom. As a type of Christ's apostleship, Moses also reflects this dual function. He not only received the pattern in the mount, as a prophet; but also, as an apostle, built the house (Heb 3:1-2; Deut 34:10). We can now see how easily the apostle and prophet are the joint foundation of the living temple (Eph 2:20).

Moving between the two functions

This is not to deny some are apostles and some are prophets. I am not suggesting that all prophets are called as apostles, but I am suggesting that all true apostles will function as prophets, in some measure. Apostles will move between the two functions depending on circumstances and the leading of the Spirit (the Didache also carries hints of this overlap).

Nor am I suggesting that apostles will not function in the other ascension-gift ministries of Ephesians 4. Clearly, we see today apostles who are pastors, or evangelists, or teachers to the body of Christ, which is appropriate. What I am suggesting is that as we approach this climax of the ages and the "fullness of the gentiles" (i.e. the final harvest of the nations) we will see a restoration of the kind of apostleship that opened the gentile era. "The first shall be last" in that the first mode of apostleship will be the last to be restored.

Primary role of apostles

In closing, a word must be said concerning the primary role of apostles as stewards of the "faith once delivered to the saints." Christ sends apostles to the church and to the nations with the mandate and prime responsibility for not only the expansion, but also the continuity of Christ's kingdom on earth. This is pre-eminently a discipling and teaching mandate and ministry. A revelation of God and his purposes was given to the first apostles and enscripturated, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as sacred text. It is the responsibility of apostles, as teachers, to perpetuate the gospel through faithfully teaching the word of God. Christianity has content, a body of truth, which is to be conveyed to each generation. This is the true meaning of "apostolic succession". It is not the succession of apostolic office, but of the apostolic faith. True apostles therefore are not church planters only, or entrepreneurs, CEOs, and administrators. Like Paul, they are prophets and teachers. Even so, as Paul underlined, we have many teachers but not many fathers. This calls for the disicipling side of the apostolic equation where apostles invest themselves in those who have the character and the grace to do likewise, and thus ensure the expansion and continuity of the faith.

Recalibration necessary

In light of the above some recalibration will be necessary. Many apostles, under the weight of the dominant paradigms, are prophets in denial. Many others currently graced to function apostolically may be pastor-teachers, or supports and governments, as members of an apostolic team.

We are grateful for a generation of apostles who have emerged through the pastor-teacher paradigm. Even so, as the full day comes and the body of Christ approaches full stature we will see a supernatural proliferation of apostle-prophets released in the Pauline mould. Only then will the gentile mission be completed—the fullness of Christ revealed and the nations filled with the knowledge of his glory.

I trust these brief thoughts may be sufficient to stir a fresh pursuit and a fuller appropriation of all God has destined for his people through the ministry of apostles and prophets.

May the future come today!

Copyright © David Orton 2012

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