This week I wish to continue from last week’s sermon and move into the five-fold gifts of ministry. Last week I spoke about how as your pastor, I want to structure this church as Christ intended because I believe that if the church operated as He intended it to, it would bring greater fruit to the ministry. That fruit being souls.
Jesus was the example of church life, and the new believer’s life, and by reading in the Book of Acts, as the newly established church grew in numbers, and lived that Jesus life, it needed structure along with the function of the gifts that God gave the church so the church would grow within the teachings of Jesus and His Apostles.
It would not be by Word alone that God would be represented on the earth, but by signs, wonders and miracles, through Spiritual gifting, as well as the ministry gifts. All overseen by the Elders whose focus would be on keeping the teachings of Jesus pure, training up the new believers, the expansion of the church, and seeing the church move into uncharted areas of the earth to spread the Gospel.
And to continue to speak about the Elders from last week, when the church was established in Jerusalem, the 12 Apostles were the Eldership of the Church, along with others who walked with Christ, like Jesus’ brother James. These first leaders of the church established the early church leadership and the flow of future leadership for the church.
It had to start somewhere. We see that with the picking of Matthias to take over for Judas Iscariot, and the creation of the Deacon role with the seven, along with other dialog in the New Testament where individuals like Paul, Barnabus, Silas, Timothy, Titus and others raised up and placed leaders in the cities where new congregations were being established.
Godly Elders today, still do the same thing. Maybe under a different name, but the office has not changed. Those who operate in the “Gifts of Ministry” should not be applying their ministry skills without an Elder covering today. They didn’t do it back then; we should not do it now.
Oversight and accountability is always needed, and like during the first church, we need to be forthright, and accountable to other men.
That will be the place here as we grow.
No one at the Furnace House of Prayer will be a lone ranger. Functioning Eldership grows the church when Spirit lead. Being Spirit led gathers all of the participants to follow one path.
Now for tonight, as I got into the message, I found I had more to say about the first ministry gift, or the first of the five-fold ministry the Apostle, so that is all I am speaking on tonight. The others will follow. So let’s look at:
Ephesians 4:11-13, “And truly He gave some to be apostles, and some to be prophets, and some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. 13 And this until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full-grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;”
In the letter to the Ephesians the Apostle Paul describes the kind of leaders God provided for His church for it to attain maturity and Christ-likeness, to become the spotless Bride of Christ.
In this passage Paul lists five offices: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.
There have been some who have said going back centuries that these the first two gifts, Apostles and Prophets were only for the Apostolic period of the 1st century, but the Bible does not infer any of that. Reading what Paul said in Ephesians 4:13, all the gifts are still needed.
Ephesians 4:11-13 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,”
We are not there yet, and truthfully, I don’t think we will be there until Jesus returns.
And additionally I personally believe that during the Dark Ages of the church, after the fall of Rome ~ 500 AD, many of the gifts went dormant due to the paganism that infiltrated the church.
After the reformation in the 16th Century, because the gifts were not in action, they were dismissed. Which includes the Ministry Gifts as well as the Spiritual gifts, along with anything else supernatural that the believer was to operate in, directed by Jesus.
Many today discount the supernatural because they don’t see it, so they think they do not exist anymore, and if it is seen, they believe because of the inherent teachings of the church that the gifts were for a prior time, they think they are of the Devil, or by chance, or they try to shrug it off as something just unexplainable.
But as you can see with resurgence of healings taking place over the past 100 years, the gifts are not dead, and concerning the vocal gifts, tongues, words of knowledge and especially with the prophetic word on the rise in these days, the commands of Jesus to the believer, and even the words from the prophet Joel are being realized. God is pouring out His Spirit in these days, and parts of the church need to recognize this and not worry so much that what they were taught, was wrong.
Since the early 1900’s, and even before that, we have seen a resurgence of all the ministry and spiritual gifts, as God is moving in these days. So it is important that we in the church have a biblical understanding of the gifts, and today our focus is on the ministry gifts, so this church will function to the will and plan of God for Christ’s church. So let’s talk first about:
The Apostle is probably the most misunderstood Ministry Gift today. Blame the church for that. The church mixes up Jesus Apostles, and those after.
Apostles have been in the church since its inception, and have had a lead role in the growth, and function of the church.
Paul said what he said in Ephesians, but also said 1 Corinthians 12:28.
“in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.”
Apostles as well as others were placed by God to serve a function.
In Mark it says that Jesus appointed His 12, and they had their purpose:
Mar 3:14-15, “And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach, and have authority to cast out demons.”
The original 12 had a lead role in the growth, and function of the church.
The 12 Apostles who were with Christ, minus Judas Iscariot, add in Matthias were unique in their calling and anointing because the church was birthed by Jesus through them. All other Apostles were to be examples of them in their calling. The original Apostles laid down the original groundwork for the church, and established the teachings for the church which we have today. That cannot be changed. Apostles today who receive revelation, just as a prophet, must line up with the Word of God. That has changed. No more additions to the new Testament.
Apostles were the leaders, they were out front, the leaders, and so with scripture, they are first in the list, and just because the Apostle is first, it does not give them some kind of preeminence within our governmental understanding. Some will say that, but that is not the case. They do have Spiritual authority, but within the realm of unity. I want to establish that first.
They are no better than any other believer really. They have a specific calling like all of us do. The Apostle as well as with all the ministry gifts are considered servants. Yes, they are visible servants, but with visibility comes responsibility and higher accountability.
The Apostle Paul called himself a slave to Christ, a bondservant of Christ, a servant of Jesus. The Apostle Peter called himself, a bondservant of Christ.
Men who had authority, but men who were humble, who were afflicted by others because of their office. They were all about Jesus. If it were about status and power, they would have established themselves like kings over the people in some city, but they did not. They were the example to all of the offices of ministry what church leadership should be.
The office of Apostle, as well as the other offices was established by Jesus to function under an anointing, and those truly called should have been tested and proven, having gone through the fire of preparation. If they were prepared, they would display true humility and Christ-likeness, furthering the kingdom of God through that anointing, through the power of preaching, with signs and wonders following.
None of the ministry gift positions, or offices should hold any rank over the people, but should do what Paul implied, that they would be used:
“for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
Jesus established His church to be in unity with all things.
Act 2:44, “ And all who believed were together and had all things in common.”
That was to be common in all parts of kingdom living.
Ephesians 4:1-6, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit -- just as you were called to one hope when you were called--  one Lord, one faith, one baptism;  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
People may argue that the ministry gifts were a hierarchy in the church, but that is not so. We do not follow the form and function of the world.
We work together as we all have a role in the kingdom, and every role is important. That is why we are called the Body of Christ. Every part of the body is important for every other part.
The ministry gifts have a part in the whole, and if an Apostle, or Prophet for the matter has a word from the Lord, or a direction to follow, we the rest of the Body of Christ, if we are in tune with the Holy Spirit, should recognize the truth of the Word, and together, move forward with the Word. Amen!
When the Eldership of the church comes together, through prayer and revelation, they should be one with a Word they receive. That is true unity. Because there is one God, one Christ, and One Spirit. All in unity.
When individuals have issues with a real Apostle or Prophet, they are usually the issue. They are not unified with the Spirit. They are usually of the flesh.
I continue to say this first with the Apostle, because the church in some respect today has given men this title, that have not earned it, nor have they represent the function as Jesus intended. So they are only apostles, little a, in their own minds and organizations. True Apostles have impact on the Kingdom of God, they are forerunners of the Church.
Today, there are many who are called Missionaries, Pastors, and Evangelists, who function in an apostolic capacity who are not called Apostles, but they are.
James Goll from his book, “The Coming Prophetic Revolution”, defines an apostle as “one called and sent by Christ to have the spiritual authority, character, gifts and abilities to reach and establish people in Kingdom truth and order, especially through founding and overseeing local churches.”
Missionaries do that, and so do those called to pastor. When you look at the life of Paul and some of the other Apostles, they did the work of an evangelist by preaching the Gospel, but they established the church in cities and trained up leaders. When the churches were up and running with Elders and Deacons in place that they trained, some Apostles went to another city to start a new work, some stayed. Barnabus in the Book of Acts was called an Apostle, and like Paul did the same work as an Apostle and as an Evangelist.
Today, is no different. We have individuals doing the same thing. Primarily missionaries, and some evangelists, who go into areas where the gospel has not been preached, and are planting churches and raising up indigenous leaders to take control. Those missionaries then take on a role as an overseer, they are a Bishop, they are an Elder and they guide the churches along.
Many of these missionaries have paid the price for their ministry to people. They have been tested and gone through the fire as they have fought the demonic, but have triumphed through signs and wonders, and the preaching of the powerful truth of the Word of God.
Apostles also have a burden for the church to have a strong solid biblical foundation. An example is seen in Acts 11, when Paul and Barnabas spent two years at Antioch, teaching and equipping the saints.
Apostles have the desire to train and raise up church leaders who will come into full maturity in the church, release them, and then may move on to plant another church. We see this with Timothy who became the Bishop of Ephesus, and Titus, who was a Bishop over the island of Crete.
But, Apostles can be in leadership in a church, and be used to plant other churches and ministry in the area. Local leaders can walk in that anointing.
I know of a true Apostle, who traveled in many places in the world, but ended up in Lebanon, and in his latter years, has been training up leaders for the church in that war torn area within the Muslim world, and having impact. He told me years past, because I asked him, you’re in a bad area, that no one really messes with him. And I know why. If you walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and it is evident, some people aren’t going to mess with you. But this man was a true Apostle and to be around him, you could feel the anointing coming off of him. It was incredible. He wore a brown robe over his clothes like a monk and was humble loving, and non-assuming.
Pastor Butch Dodzwiet in Uganda, who is a Bishop over 3000 churches in Rwanda, Uganda, the Congo, and Kenya, was adopted by a Dutch Missionary, who planted all those churches, and raised up leaders. This missionary was an Apostle. Men like these are all over.
Apostles are important for the church today. To do the work of ministry in places where Christ is needed, but to also give direction to the church. Apostles are given the vision to administrate the plans of Jesus for His church. We see that with the Apostle Paul and his writings to the churches. They see the whole picture, and put things in place for the picture to happen. So they may be evangelistic, prophetic, and administrative in nature, but they are in tune spiritually with God, and whomever He puts with them to establish His kingdom. Paul & Silas, Paul & Barnabus, etc. He will bring leaders into a church from all over to establish it for the kingdom. We are praying for that here.
The Apostles, Prophets, and Pastors, who are Elders, but who also need a covering today, are leaders for the Body of Christ. But their leadership is through the unction of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God should be evident in their lives as they lead, and their leadership is, yes, to be out front, but as an example to follow, but within the foundation and teachings of the Word of God. I want to emphasize that. If they go outside of that, they are false Apostles, and prophets, and pastors, and teachers.
Many reasons that a ministry office od Apostle, as well the office of Prophet is rejected, is due to abuse.
The Apostle must be above reproach. He must be humble. He must have the mind of Christ. He must hear the Holy Spirit. And he must walk in the anointing that he has received to walk, with other leaders to move the church into a greater understanding of the word of God, to perfect the saints. To see the church run with efficiency through the Word of God. God created the office for them to be the chief administrators of the Kingdom, with strong gifting’s, but to lead all in love and humility to see people come to Christ.
I don’t what that looks like here at the Furnace, today. We will see. For myself, I see myself as an Overseer, but not the only one. I am the Pastor, but down the road, not the only one. I can prophecy, but I don’t feel I am a Prophet, we’ll get into that next week.
My wife and I have been prophesied over and were told we will work with other apostolic leaders to bring in a huge move of God. You can take that however you want, but for this church to function the way Jesus wants, we must wait and see what He does here in the future with us, and with others he will bring in to do the work of the ministry.
Apostles are relevant today. They are functioning if some want to believe it or not, and I believe as the days get darker, these individuals who will be called out by God, will be seen more for who they are, because they will be making more of an impact against the darkness as it grows.
The Apostle Paul stood against whole Cities for Christ. I believe you will see this happen again.
Amen! Let’s pray.