Introduction:- Ecclesiastes.1:9 & 3:15.
“There is nothing new under the sun”
We have recently been exposed to a very subtle trap the devil is currently using to that many new and more mature believers are falling into. The prime reason is to counter what is being presented as Biblical truth by some groups. That it is in reality yet another subtle distortion of scripture and context. Unfortunately it is clear that very few modern day believers have been established firmly upon the basic foundational truths of the doctrine of Christ . Presently we are being challenged by some that believe the ministries of the Apostle and Prophet are no longer recognised in the church and that they have been raised up as the new Apostles and Prophets to the body of Christ, to replace that which they say is lacking. Leading many into believing that this “new” revelation of old truth somehow makes them somehow superior Christians. Their teaching on the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians.2:19-22, that the foundation of the church is built upon the ministry of the Apostles and Prophets with Jesus Christ Himself being the CHIEF CORNERSTONE is presently incomplete and needs further input from their particular understanding of the word. What these people are missing is the fact that the main emphasis is not upon the ministry of the Apostles and Prophets but is upon the third person mentioned in this scripture the LORD JESUS CHRIST is the CHIEF CORNERSTONE of the CHURCH! This actually refers back to statement He said in Matthew.16:18, that He would continuously build His church. The constant progress of building the church would continue after His Ascension through the ministry of the Holy Spirit and gift ministries of the Apostles and Prophets, together with the other ministry gifts of Evangelist, Teachers and Pastors ministries that are given to them by Jesus Christ Eph.4:11, never self-appointed. The word “built” Gk. “epoikodomeo” signifies “to build upon” (epi = upon). In other words it is passing on what has originally been taught to them by Jesus Christ.
Having spent considerable amount of time trawling through the Internet looking at what numerous well qualified ministries have to say about this movement who claim to be replacing the lost ministries of the Apostle and Prophet in the church. It can only be concluded that that there are many believers who are very gullible and easily led astray into what they believe to be a new revelation of basic truth. In these present days there appears to be a desire for some form of “new revelation” or there are those who look for the latest exciting thing that appears to be genuine, but is not based upon the true and correct interpretation of God’s word. Revelation.22:18–21 contains serious warning that nothing must ever be added or taken away from the scriptures. To do so is nothing more or less than presumption on the part of those promulgating their particular brand of interpretation.
Early this year someone wrote to me asking if Apostles and Prophets were still active in the present day church? Subsequently within a short space of time it became obvious that even some of our own members were being influenced by this particular teaching and had wrongly concluded that the Cornerstone Family Church no longer recognised the ministry of the Apostle and Prophets. This conclusion is totally wrong as we fully believe and teach the principle of the five-fold ministries of Ephesians.4:11.
It became very clear there was something much more subtle in this teaching, which is affecting or has affected some areas of current Christian thinking which has crept into Christian teaching namely the reintroduction of the Apostles and Prophets into the church. We began to realise that this “new emphasis of doctrine” was more widespread than we thought possible and was finding a foothold in many places. Upon discussing this current trend of false doctrine with other members of our Leadership we unanimously felt in our spirits that something was not quite right about this teaching leaving us all with a very uncomfortable feeling that we were being confronted with a doctrinal error that has somehow subtly yet firmly established itself among many churches and believers. Consequently this has caused me to look further into this particular brand of doctrine that is not only being propagated, it is also sadly being easily swallowed as factual by certain Christians who are not really well grounded in the word of God. The impression given is that those who minister this doctrine and others who blindly follow its teachings have the sense that they are now belong to a superior group of believers with special insight and revelation of the word of God. Pride is always a tool that Satan has used to try and destroy the testimony of the church of Jesus Christ. Inevitably any type of erroneous teaching will be followed by a fall, just as in similar manner the false teachings of financial rewards of the “Faith in Faith movement” or the “Prosperity teaching” has virtually faded and gone the way of all falsehood. No one can ever manipulate the Lord or Hi Word to their own particular will or desires, Isaiah.55:8-9, Romans.11:33-36.
For several years I have been very concerned at the general lack of basic Christian teachings and principles given in the churches particularly the Doctrine of Christ, Hebrews.6:1-3, (Apostles Doctrine ) which is immediately pre-ceded by Hebrews.5:12-14.the last verse 14, instructs us that it is those who have received the solid word of God and are mature believers who will be able to discern between what is both good and evil. It is my personal opinion the good old fashioned Bible Study, referring back to Acts.2:42, particularly the Apostle’s Doctrine, which more often than not has been replaced by Care or Cell groups that enjoy fellowship but lack the depth of teaching we once used to give in the AOG. This is not saying that people cannot or do not spiritually grow and mature in those groups. Somehow we have lost something very precious by dropping formal Bible Studies. Even if these Cell or Care Groups are led by Elders or selected Leaders, 1.Timothy.3:2 “Able to Teach”, an ability or aptitude to teach, does not make them a “Teacher” as described in Ephesians.4:11. Sunday morning exhortations, or evangelical ministry from the Pulpit can never effectively replace the principles first taught and accepted by the early church as outlined in Acts.2:42, these four basic truths are the anchors of our faith. Priority is firstly given to the Apostle Doctrine(Bible Study) Fellowship(Care or Cell groups in homes of the believers), Breaking of Bread(Essential to every believer), and Prayer(an absolute must) These are not necessarily four separate meetings, but they are four very important principles. Cell(fellowship) can never fully replace the emphasis upon the Apostles Doctrine – learnt at the feet of Jesus. To ignore this basic truth literally means that the main holding anchor of any ship(Church) of faith is missing, the ultimate result will be shallow followers of Christ who are easily led away from the Truth of God’s Word, into error.
If Cell or Care Groups are regarded as necessary to a church programme. Surely it is then better that in these weekly meetings where the Bible is either studied or referred to, the Teaching of God’s word would be better prepared in advance by the Pastor or a recognized teacher of the word with the same material being presented simultaneously at each Group meeting. This requires some form of pre-preparation, plus willing submission on the part of a Group Leader to the oversight of the church. Cell or Care Group leaders can still allow time for questions and fellowship amongst those attending. In the event of being asked a question they cannot Biblically answer then they should seek input and direction from the Pastor of the church.
The reason for stating that the Doctrines of Christ Heb.6:1-3, are also called the Apostles Doctrine, is because the Early church as described in Acts.2:42. Continued steadfastly in the Apostles Doctrine—-etc., which had obviously been taught to the Apostles by Jesus Himself. Also Hebrews.13:8. “Jesus the same yesterday and today and forever” meaning that Jesus and His teaching has never varied from “Past” to “Present” or “Future” this is also based upon Matthew.18:18 “I will build My church ” the Gk verb build = oikodomeo = has the continuous sense of action. Heb.6:1 says “Let us go on not laying again the foundations” In other words, build upon the foundations already laid by Christ and those He appointed as Apostles, move forward building the church numerically through Evangelism, and the other ministries confirming the new believers in their faith.
Referring back to the original question put to me at the beginning of 2015 in regard to Apostles and Prophets, the answer is that they are both still active, however they need to be viewed with caution due to the fact that there is a distorted understanding of these ministries in some of the modern churches primarily because during the middle to latter part of the 20th Century and into the present age false prophets started preaching and teaching that these two ministries had disappeared from the church, and that these self-styled or self-appointed Apostles and Prophets are replacing what is lacking in the church of Jesus Christ. To do this is nothing more than pride and presumption. There certain persons in ministry who claim or use the title of an Apostle, wherever or however they arrived at that conclusion or who appointed them with the right to use this title surely cannot have had the real mind of the Lord. There appears to be little or nothing in their ministries that have any resemblance of the Biblical Apostleship’s of those whom personally Jesus appointed or those that were later referred to as having an Apostolic calling and ministry such as Paul. Also obviously from Ephesians.4:11-16, we see it is Jesus who continues to appoint these specialised ministries to the church. In the light of Hebrews.13:8, there is no apparent reason that Jesus would have suddenly stopped using these ministries to build the church.
Prior to moving into what the word “Apostle Gk= Apostello” really means, let us refer to John.1:6. The word is speaking about John who we refer to as the Baptist, quoting from the NKJ Bible, “There was a man “SENT” (Apostello) from God, whose name was John. The only link between the word “SENT” and his name was the man’s specialised ministry that God had raised him to do and “Sent” him to perform. Which was basically to prepare God’s people Israel by being the herald of Jesus the Messiah to bring HIM to their attention. John was effectively the last O/T Prophet the bridge between the OLD and New Testaments who heralded the ministry and person of Christ, once his ministry had accomplished its introductory work he vanishes from the scene although through the very nasty method of being beheaded, at the request of Salome’s daughter to which King Herod had made a rash promise that he was forced to keep.
The act of beheading was the most effective method of silencing John’s ministry and his accusations against Herod’s illegal marriage to Salome. Digressing slightly this same method or principle has been used over and over again by church leaderships who have wished to rid themselves of a pastor or minister who would not compromise upon the word of God, because either they or together with some parts of a congregation have asked the denominational leader or leadership to remove their pastor because they did not like or accept he had been sent to them by the Lord to preach the truth of the Word, not crowd or people pleasing compromise of the word. Resulting the speaking head or voice of GOD’S word has been to all intents and purposes beheaded. Usually results in that particular church continuing to follow a path of compromise that keep people happy but not challenged to live the life the Lord desires of every believer and church.
The following are quotations taken from “All the Apostles of the Bible” written by Herbert Lockyer. Published in 1972 by the Zondervan Publishing House. A renowned Bible Teacher of the previous century.
Page.31. The apostles had heard Jesus say, “I will build my church” and Paul later affirmed that James, Peter and John were pillars of this spiritual building (Galations.2:9) also that all these apostles were the foundation of the household of God of which Christ was the chief cornerstone (Eph.2:19-22)
n.b. Although this writer does not here mention the ministry of the prophets, they are quoted as foundation builders together with the apostles. Therefore we must ask the question what part did these prophets play, the answer is surely quite simple. The prophets were simply preachers who also went out proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom as they had been instructed and taught by the apostles. In Acts 2:42, at the commencement of the early church the only teaching or ministry doctrine mentioned is that of the Apostles, nothing whatsoever is said concerning any prophets.
Page.19.The title “Apostoli”, was given in a special sense to the twelve original men chosen by Jesus, although this title was not confined solely to them. The Christian religion began as a way within Judaism. “If he(Paul) found any of this way” Acts.9:2, 16:17. “No small stir about that way” (Acts.19:23, 22:4, 24:14, and Heb.10:20) Jesus described himself in John14:6 “The Way” The earliest leaders or missionaries of this way sent out were the Apostles. Early Christianity was considered a sect by the religious Jewish leadership. Apostles were “those who were sent” or spiritual envoys (2.Cor.5:20, describes them as ambassadors of the Kingdom). Later “apostoloi” were those who were sent out with a special authority such as those sent out by the leadership in Jerusalem to collect tribute or tithes from fellow Jewish believers who had been dispersed through persecution.
The Hebrew word signified not merely a Messenger but a DELEGATE BEARING A COMMISSION, and as such would have carried a commissioners authority. In this sense the Apostles were the authorized representatives of Christ who had commissioned them, John.17:18, the word sent in this verse is Apostello, literally commissioned or sent out by Jesus with His message”
n.b. I have occasionally inserted or changed the generally wording of Dr Lockyer in a few places to give clarity and simplicity when needed.
Page.23. The apostolate was not a limited circle of officials holding a well-defined position of authority in the church, but a large body of consecrated men exercising the highest function of the prophetic ministry (1.Cor.12:28, Eph.4:11) They were all envoys or ambassadors to an unbelieving world. Gal.2:7 & 9.
Regarding the ministry of an Apostle, there is a need to fully understand what the actual word means and its implication to and for the church. Together with these quotes from the teaching of Dr Herbert Lockyer, there are some other thoughts that will still further illustrate the real meaning of an apostle.
Hebrews.3:1 Jesus is called the Apostle and High Priest of our calling or faith in Jesus Christ. The Greek word used is apostolos = One sent forth from God with a specific mission. The Amplified Bible additionally qualifies an Apostle as a special messenger sent from the Lord. Matthew.28:18-20 clearly indicates Jesus commanded His disciples, particularly His Apostles to go forth and spread the message of the Good News.
The N/T Prophets ministry is frequently wrongly associated with predicting or foreseeing future events, when in reality it is associated with the proclamation of the Gospel based upon the Apostles Doctrine. Therefore the N/T Prophet who ministers the Gospel, is an anointed preacher. The confusion comes when the “gift of Prophesy” distributed by the Holy Spirit, 1.Cor.12:11, is wrongly combined with the role of the Prophet as described in Ephesians.4:11, which is a ministry gift originating from Jesus. However anyone who is preaching whatever their particular gifting is as per Ephesians.4:11, they are effectively ministering in a prophetic manner and may without being fully aware that they may have been used in of the vocal gift of the Holy Spirit. Which may have been contained within the message content, a prophetic word, or one of knowledge or wisdom, yet they themselves are unaware that the Holy Spirit has used their message to speak into the life of a church or individual. First Thessalonians.5:19-22, specifically warns that “prophesy” whether in a word of prophesy or during preaching should not be despised or rejected. In every situation the prophesy must be judged, in the light of God’s word by responsible leaders of the church. See. Acts. 17:10-12. The Berean Jews searched the scriptures, checking out if what Paul taught was true and based upon God’s word. This same principle needs to applied whenever any either preaches or prophesies, there is always the necessity to judge what is said and compared to the truth of God’s word.
When Paul wrote Ephesians it is obvious the ministries of Apostle and Prophet as listed in Ephesians.4:11 written about AD.61-62. Had not ceased otherwise why would Paul be writing this approximately 30 years after the Death, Burial, Resurrection and Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. The following verses 12-16, inform us exactly what these ministries are for, to build and bring the church into the Fullness of the Lord Jesus Christ. These ministries are not providing fresh revelation of the word, they are appointed by Jesus Christ the Head of the church to act upon His behalf and continue to build upon the foundation already once laid as described in Ephesians.2:19-22. Another scripture used by those claiming to be either apostle or prophets is Ephesian.3:1-12, where Paul is actually teaching that the Lord revealed truths concerning the church to him, obviously no one can then simply apply what was personally given to the Apostle Paul to their own particular ministry. That is paramount to claiming that they are on an equal to Paul and whatever they say is supposedly substantiated by their own corrupt and false interpretation of the actual words of Paul, who happens to be in the process of explaining his present understanding of the church had been given to him directly by revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is Jesus who alone appoints men into those positions within the church, there is no place for self-appointment or appointment by others who think they may see an Apostolic ministry in someone. It is Jesus choice who alone anoints those He wishes to be instrumental in ministering and building His church upon the foundation He Himself has laid. He chose the original disciples who in time He appointed with the title of name of Apostle, this included Judas Iscariot who later betrayed Jesus. Although Judas is described as a thief, which was quite true. There is a question we may ask ourselves where the word says in. John.2:23-24. “Jesus knew what was in all men” understood their thoughts and motives. Then why was Judas Iscariot appointed to the twelve apostles? Possibly it was to fulfil the prophetic word of Psalm.41:9. Or another reason was to show us that there are some who claim to be or use the title Apostle, may because of the hidden thoughts of their heart initially deceive themselves and others to accept them as apostles. In time their true nature will be revealed, and they are shown to be “false apostles” Paul refers to these in 2.Corinthians.11:13-15. Peter.2:1-22, in v.17. Where these people are described as wells without water, full of promise but in reality nothing to offer, also as clouds carried by the tempest, driven by false teachings, clouds that look promising in a drought but have nothing substantial to offer, blown away as quickly as they have appeared.
Acts.2:42. Describes the early church activities. “And they continued steadfastly in the Apostles Doctrine, and Fellowship, in the Breaking of Bread and Prayers. These are the fours Anchors of Christian faith. Please note that there is no mention of the prophetic ministry. The first mention is the importance of the “Apostles Doctrine” The reason that the prophetic ministry is not listed there is simple there were prophets or other preachers included amongst the disciples of Jesus, they would be preaching what they had been taught by Him and the Apostles, or the doctrinal teaching they had all learnt at the feet of Jesus. Ephesians 2:19-22, includes the Apostles and Prophets, with Jesus Christ being the Chief Cornerstone (from and to everything taught or spoken was and is measured) as laying the foundation of the church. The Apostles and prophets mentioned here are ministering the same doctrine as Jesus had laid. 1.Corinthians.3:11. “FOR NO OTHER FOUNDATION CAN ANYONE LAY THAN THAT WHICH IS LAID, WHICH IS JESUS CHRIST”. Verses 12-15, Paul gives severe warning to anyone who builds or attempts to build the church in any other way or method than that once laid by Jesus Christ, for everyone’s work will be tested by God’s Holy fire.
The conclusion is surely that anyone who claims to be a self-appointed Apostle or Prophet with the mandate of bringing these two particular ministries back into the church, are surely walking upon dangerous ground, unless they have personally confirmation from the Holy Spirit and the word of God having been appointed by Jesus Christ! It is He alone who selects men for this call upon their lives. Recently someone wrote claiming to have had 1000 personal prophesies confirming him as an apostle, the question must be asked are these prophesies genuine, tested against the word of God, or are they figments of man’s imagination. 1.Thessalonians.5:21.
Matthew.7:15-28. v.15. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” v.16.”You will know them by their fruits————“
Acts.20:17-32, v.28-31. note:- v.29-30. “For I know this, that after my departure SAVAGE WOLVES will come in among you, not sparing the flock.”
“Also FROM AMONG YOURSELVES MEN WILL RISE UP, SPEAKING PERVERSE THINGS, TO DRAW AWAY THE DISCIPLES AFTER THEMSELVES.”
Old Testament Illustrations – Of which there are many more not mentioned here for the reason of limited space.
A. Genesis.3:1. “Has indeed God said?” These false apostles and prophets are still today saying basically the same words, putting thoughts of doubt into people’s minds in similar manner used as that used by the serpent(devil in disguise) in Genesis.3:1, 2.Corinthians.11:2-15, note verses 3 and 13-15.
B. Leviticus.10:1-3. Nadab and Abihu, who in Lev.8:22-24, with Aaron’s other two sons of been anointed with the blood of a sacrificial OX and the anointing Oil as Priests to God for the people. Shortly after the Glory of the Lord appeared to the people and fire came out from the Lord and consumed the burnt offering Lev.9:23-24. These two ordained priests shortly after Leviticus.10:1-2, went and offered profaned (unacceptable) fire from the wrong altar and offered it to the Lord. Immediately fire went out from the Lord and consumed them. To me this is a further illustration that even today the Lord will judge anyone who seek to distort His word or introduce a “new doctrine or teaching” or even to presume a church office to which they are not entitled will ultimately be judged as per 1.Corinthians.3:12-15 by the Holy fire of God.
C. 1. Samuel.6:1-15. The Ark of God which had been previously captured by the Philistines,1.Samuel.5. They decided after suffering the Lord’s judgement upon them, to return the Ark back to Israel on a new cart. I 1.Samuel.6-7:2, Where it lay ignored in the house of Abinadab for the next 20 years. 2.Samuel:6. After David had ascended to the throne of Israel. He decided that the Ark must be returned to its rightful place in Jerusalem. Sadly God’s specific word was ignored or forgotten in regard to the method of transporting the Ark. Numbers.3.29-31, the descendants of the family of Kohath were held responsible for the Holy vessels of the Tabernacle particularly the Ark, Numbers.4:1-15, this family had to carry the Holy Vessels on their shoulders. This instruction from the word of God was ignored when David decided to move the Ark. 2.Samuel.6:!-15, verses 3-7. The Ark is placed and began its journey under the Israelites on a New Cart drawn by Oxen. They were copying the Philistine or worlds method of compromising God’s word. The consequences is that soon after at Nachon’s Threshing Floor, the Cart must have fallen into a depression on the road, a priest called Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the Ark, immediately God’s anger arose and Uzzah was struck dead that instant.
What lesson can we learn from this incident? That any deviation from God’s word or method of attempting to restore what man may think has been lost will eventually result in God’s judgement upon those involved. Isaiah.55:8-9, teaches us that His ways are not our ways or thoughts, but when it comes to His word extra care must be exercised to stay within the limits of His written word. Even Moses had to pay the ultimate price because he and Aaron presumed to strike the rock when they had been told specifically to speak to the rock.Numbers.20:7-12.
It is a very dangerous thing to assume that anyone knows better than the Lord, Romans.11:33-36. Let no-one ever presume to think they know more than He does. Surely if the Apostles or Prophets ministry were or are missing from the church, beyond any possible doubt the Lord knows all about the situation, and if necessary He will remedy the situation without our help or input. Revelation. 2-3. Jesus reveals He knows about everything good or bad in those churches, nothing escapes his knowledge. To every church named in Revelation 2-3. He says “He that has an ear let him hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to the churches”.
2.Timothy.3:1-9 “In the last days PERILOUS TIMES WILL COME” lit = times of stress!
Hebrews.1:1-4. “Has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom He also made the worlds” Genesis.1:1
2.Peter.1:12-21. No prophesy is of private interpretation.
2.Peter.2:1-22.v.17. Wells without water, nothing to offer. Clouds, that look full of promise but empty of and substance, that are quickly blown away, such as the “Faith in Faith movement or Prosperity Teaching”. Where are they today after a relatively short time of prominence, during which they also claimed they were right and everyone else wrong? But those who continued in the truth of the scriptures are still ministering the word of God!!!! Many believers lost their faith and commitment when they gullibly followed wrong teaching.
Jude.3. “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you EXHORTING YOU TO CONTEND EARNESTLY FOR THE FAITH WHICH WAS ONCE FOR ALL DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS”
THE RIGHTS OF AN APOSTLE – PAUL’S DEFENCE OF HIS APOSTOLIC MINISTRY IS GIVEN TO THE CORINTHIAN CHURCH IN HIS FIRST AND SECOND EPISTLE. 1.Cor.1:1 “Called to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ, through the will of God” & 15:8-10. 2.COR.1:1, 5:20. THESE ARE ONLY AFEW OF THE MANY VERSES JUSTIFYING HIS APOSTLESHIP IN THE LORD.
IN THIS LETTER HE LEAVES US WITH NO DOUBT THAT THERE ARE CERTAIN ABILITIES AND CHARACTERISTICS THAT LEAVE US AS TO WHAT IS THE ACTUAL MINISTRY OF A TRUE APOSTLE THE LORD HAS APPOINTED TO PRESENT HIS MESSAGE OF SALVATION TO THE WORLD. These are taken from a commentary by a current and well known commentator of God’s word -David Guzik.
Note:- included in this presentation are comments extracted from the Internet regarding the “False Teaching in reference to the ministry of the Apostles and Prophets” These extracts are against such teaching not only confirming but also adding much more to my own personal understanding of this very subtle error that has crept into the churches. This teaching is dangerous, presumptuous, and full of pride, the very things that led to the downfall of Satan and him being cast out of Heaven.