This is the first in a series of articles I will be publishing concerning a matter of utmost importance to the future of the Church Jesus is building in these end-times in which we are living here in the 21st Century—the matter of the restoration of the apostolic and prophetic offices. It is a matter of utmost importance to the future of the Church Jesus is building because of the nature of the ministry offices as delineated and elucidated in Scripture—and they are indeed, despite all the adamant and oftentimes angry claims to the contrary. And that confidence in the validity of that assertion is based on the stated fact that the offices or functions indeed are unequivocally and irrefutably, specifically referenced in the Word of God, which is the Church’s foundation for all spiritual truth.
[CLICK HERE to read Part 2 of this series.]
Answering the Conundrum—Is It Good or Evil?
It’s natural and normal, I suppose, to go against the old adage that cautions: “Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.” We like things to be either all good or all evil. That’s certainly easier, albeit maybe the intellectually lazy way to deal with things, so we don’t have to spend time thinking about it. We don’t like it when things are “a mixed blessing”; that makes it harder to determine if something is good or if it is evil. If it’s intrinsically good, then we want all its fruit or what it produces to be wholly and purely good, and if because it does not coincide with our own current understanding or knowledge we conclude it’s evil, we want to identify it as being purely and solely evil. And, all of that certainly is totally understandable when it comes to spiritual matters, including to believers and those who function in any sort of leadership capacity in the Church, and therefore are required to make such assessments—after all, those of us who use the Word of God as the touchstone in accessing things are very familiar with a number of Scripture passages that essentially indicate that very thing, such as Jesus’ statement, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit” (Mat. 12:33).
Indeed, it’s easy to make a snap judgment about a “new” spiritual matter that has emerged that is incongruous with our current knowledge base and challenges our long-held understanding based on that verse and cite that verse as the basis for our rejection of the matter and its validity. However, the unfortunate thing is that that particular verse is often taken out of context and the import of what Jesus was saying in it is commonly misconstrued. The context or backdrop of that verse is Jesus’ dissertation to the Pharisees juxtaposing Satan and his kingdom against God and His Kingdom following an incident in which He healed or cured (therapeuō, Gr.) a man who brought to Him who was blind and mute as a result of being demon-possessed by casting out the demons that were causing his blindness and muteness:
Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw. All the crowds were amazed, and were saying, “This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?” But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.” And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand. “If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? “If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges. “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. “Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. “Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. “The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Mat. 12:22-37)
Thorough analysis of this passage and Jesus’ stern and rebuking dissertation to the Pharisees makes it clear that, as indicated already, Jesus was actually juxtaposing the kingdom of Satan with the Kingdom of God, and speaking what is inherently evil and from Satan’s domain vis-à-vis what is good and intrinsically from God’s Kingdom—good versus evil—and that the supply source for what humans speak is either from a heart of God, i.e., God’s Kingdom and Spirit, or it is Satan’s kingdom and spirit. Moreover, the trees He juxtaposed in this context were the two trees that were in the Garden of Eden—The Tree of Life, the Tree of God’s Kingdom, which was the Tree of Good, for only God is purely good (Mk. 10:18) and therefore the source of genuine and pure Good, and whose fruit is that pure Good which originates solely from God; and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which is “the spirit of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2), which is the spirit of Satan, and whose fruit is evil. Jesus made this statement concerning the tree and its fruit being either good or evil, but not both simultaneously, in response to what the Pharisees were thinking and saying among themselves—that the source of Jesus’ power over devils was “Beelzebul the ruler of the demons,” identifying the source of their thoughts and assessment with which they were maligning Him, as well as they themselves, was Satan rather than God, because what they were thinking and speaking about Him was not good, but evil, and the substance of those thoughts and words they spoke was an evil heart, not a heart of good that is of and emanates from God, which is why He followed that statement by castigating them, calling them a “brood of vipers.” Thus, the import of what Jesus was saying in this incident was that any spiritual concept, attitude, or mindset either originates from God, and therefore is of His Kingdom, or it originates from Satan, and is of his kingdom, making it and its fruit either GOOD or EVIL, but the source and produce cannot be a mixture of both! Rather, it must be either, or.
What Jesus is instructing us in this dissertation is that it is imperative to understand and keep in mind, in examining and assessing all spiritual matters, that their validity is a matter of their source—whether the Kingdom of God or Satan’s kingdom—and fruit the particular matter will produce in the fruit-bearing stage—good or evil—is determined by and is a product of its source and nature. If it originates from God, then its nature can only be good and it will produce good fruit, but if it is authored by Satan, its nature can only be evil or bad, and its fruit can only be evil or bad. Simple as that!
However, the problem with virtually all spiritual matters that do originate with God, are therefore indeed of His Kingdom and intrinsically good, and produce good fruit, as is manifestly obvious, lies not in their source, nature, and fruit, but rather in their implementation “on earth as it is in Heaven” by redeemed, but not yet perfected, humans. New understanding of Kingdom Truths God is revealing and paradigms of which He is decreeing and requiring institution in the Church Jesus is building always are affected and impaired in their implementation, particularly at the outset, as a result of the fact that it is imperfect humans that God works through to implement and employ them. The most profound affirmation of that, as shall be discussed further toward the culmination of this article, is found in the fact that the Lord has been very patiently, gradually, and methodically “perfecting the saints” and “building up the Body of Christ” (Eph. 4:7-16), as part of the process of building His Church and preparing the Bride for the return of Christ to claim Her as His Eternal Bride now for more than two-millennia!
When God first births a spiritual element of the Kingdom to the Church on Earth, and calls for its institution in the Church, like the birth of humans, it always is far different in its infancy in terms of appearance and functionality than it becomes through its maturing process until it reaches perfection. For this reason, as with the human birth and development process, it is a mistake to attempt to make judgments about what this entity is destined ultimately to be. My parents, for example, could not have possibly envisioned 64 years ago, when I was born a little prematurely, underweight, and sickly, who and what I would turn out to be through the various stages of the process of human development and maturation. One simply cannot look at a newborn and know with any degree of certainty at all what that baby’s life will be about and the achievements that baby will make, and to even attempt to make those judgments is nothing more than wild speculation at best.
All of this is applicable to the nascent and ongoing apostolic-prophetic restoration process that first commenced around the time of my birth in 1948 (unfortunately, in the midst of a “movement” that turned out to be fraught with error as it progressed), and then was kicked into high gear, so to speak, in the mid-1980s and ’90s, and continues today in 2012 as I write. As in the case of human births, there is often a lot of jubilation and celebration along with high-spirited and hopeful prognostication about a newborn that has come into the world, and, more particularly, into the lives of two parents and their extended family. Nevertheless, not everyone on the planet celebrates or even knows about the new life that has come into the world, nor, unfortunately do they care. In fact, some people have internal biases and acrimony that make them despise the knowledge of the new birth as well as the newborn, unfortunately. All of that is also true concerning the matter of the apostolic-prophetic restoration, as well as the larger matter of which it is actually a subset—the Fivefold Ministry model. For more concerning that larger issue of Fivefold Ministry, I urge you to read the series of articles I’ve published, “The Role of Fivefold Ministry.”
False Cessation Theology
For centuries, cessation theology has posited and promulgated the thoroughly unscriptural notion that the apostolic and prophetic offices, or functions, ceased to exist and to function with the completion of the New Testament writings and the death of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb. Unfortunately, many so-called “fundamentalist” ministers, churches, and denominations today continue to espouse these wholly indefensible cessation theories, thereby “invalidat(ing) the Word of God by their traditions.” I won’t consume the space here in this article required to present a comprehensive debunking of cessation theology hypotheses, but I am providing here links to some articles we’ve published either here on this site or on some of our other websites we operate.
For our purposes here, I will offer two counterpoints that swiftly and completely debunk cessation theories. The first is the common sense assertion that if there is a viable, that is, living, Church today, comprised of, as Peter said, “living stones,” and no true believer would deny there is because the Word of God expressly informs us of that fact, then there must of necessity be a viable, that is, presently living, not ceased or deceased, foundation to that Church as Ephesians 2:20 indicates. This fact of living, functioning apostles and prophets today, is indisputably corroborated by First Corinthians 12:28, in which the Spirit of God testifies that GOD HAS (present continuous tense; not “did”) SET (immutably fixed) in the CHURCH first apostles, second prophets.” Inherent in this passage is the truth that as long as the Church exists, and it will continue until Christ returns in the clouds in the air and the Body of Christ is “taken up” into the clouds to be united with Him, God is continuously setting into the Church apostles and prophets as its primary leaders. If the Church continues to exist, and the very existence of every local church that claims the attribution, “Christian,” entirely depends on the fact that it does, then apostles and prophets are still functioning today because they, coupled with Christ Jesus Himself who is the Cornerstone, are the foundation of the Church (Eph. 2:20). To reason that the apostolic and prophetic office or function no longer exist and function, is to say that the Church is foundationless, and beyond that, even without the Cornerstone Himself. And, if any of that be true the Church itself no longer exists and the one that is operating on the Earth now is a counterfeit and a fraud. Surely, no one in their right mind would assert that that is the case. So, with that brief cross-examination, I rest my case.
OVERVIEW OF THE APOSTOLIC
But this is a people plundered and despoiled;
All of them are trapped in caves,
Or are hidden away in prisons;
They have become a prey with none to deliver them,
And a spoil, with none to say, “Give them back!” (“None says restore”—KJV)
None Says Restore!
On October 31st, 1517, in Wittenberg, Germany an obscure Augustinian Priest by the name of Martin Luther, began to say “restore,” as he nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Castle Church, sparking what became known as the Protestant Reformation.
In Acts 3:21, the Apostle Peter prophesied concerning that “period of restoration,” saying that “Heaven must (retain; lit, Gr.) the Christ until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time” has been completed and fulfilled. The Protestant Reformation was the beginning of that restorational period that continues yet today, almost 500 years later.
Less than 300 years following the birth of the Church and the inception of the Church Age, the Church had devolved into a period of spiritual darkness known as the Dark Ages that spanned 1,200 long years, fulfilling the Apostle Paul’s prophecy concerning a corporate Great Apostasy:
“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will FALL AWAY FROM THE FAITH, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron.” (1 Tim. 4:1)
This was the Great Apostasy for the corporate Church, concerning which the Apostle Paul prophesied. During this age of spiritual darkness, the Truth was subverted by humanistic ideologies and vain philosophies of men (Col. 2:8)—the doctrines of demons of which Paul forewarned. Many of the foundational doctrines of the Church were distorted, perverted, diluted, invalidated, or totally abandoned. Moreover, the Fivefold Ministry Offices, as well as the apostolic-prophetic governmental foundation of the Church, upon which it was originally established (Eph. 2:20) were abrogated and replaced with an ecclesiastical hierarchy, as elite clergymen began to be driven more and more by what Augustine called libido dominandi, lust for rule or dominion. Indeed, the greatest single factor contributing to the spiritual debacle of the Dark Ages was the drift, following the death of the original Apostles of the Lamb, from the apostolic-prophetic moorings upon which the Church was founded.
As the Head of the Church, Jesus Appointed Apostles To Be His Delegates After His Ascension
Not long after the start of His fleshly ministry, Jesus, who, its vital to remember, is the literal, not merely metaphorical, Head of the Church, after spending all night in prayer, the following morning came down from the mountain and stood “on a level place” with His disciples, Luke recounts (Lk. 6:17), chose twelve of His disciples and named them Apostles (v. 13). As a result, in one moment, these twelve men went from being merely disciples to being apostles when Jesus NAMED them Apostles. No seminary, no school of ministry, school of prophets, or school of apostles. Jesus simply NAMED them Apostles. The Gospel of Mark says He appointed them, “that they might be with Him, and that He might send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out demons.” Jesus named and appointed these twelve men apostles, and sent them out, charging them with His very own authority to heal the sick and cast out demons: “He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness” (Mat. 10:1). And this, mind you, was BEFORE the Day of Pentecost, BEFORE their imbuement with power from on High through the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and BEFORE Easter Evening in the Upper Room when all gathered there became the first humans who were regenerated as Jesus breathed upon them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
For three and a half years these apostles walked, talked, fellowshipped, ate, and drank with Jesus, experiencing first-hand the “Word of Life” embodied, as the youngest of those eyewitnesses described Him: “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life (1 Jn. 1:1). During that brief period of His fleshly ministry, He modeled before them the ministry He intended for them and the Church He is building to carry on following His departure and ascension to reclaim His Seat of All Majesty and Glory at the right hand of God.
As Jesus Was Ascending On High
Following His death, burial, resurrection, and numerous appearances in His resurrected Form, on the Day of Ascension, on the Mount of Ascension, as He was ascending on High, the Apostle Paul, who, as an apostle born late (1 Cor. 15:8), as it were, was not even there, but who reveals to us by revelation of the Spirit, that Jesus relegated and delegated His five-faceted anointing that He Himself ministered through during His fleshly ministry, unto the Church that He is building (Eph. 4:8-13), fulfilling the type and shadow of Elijah’s Prophetic Mantle falling down upon his successor, Elisha, as he was being translated into Heaven alive, having eluded death (2 Kgs. 2:1-15).
Jesus, as He was ascending, according to Paul’s prophetic narrative in Ephesians Four, relegated and delegated His five-faceted ministry anointing unto certain persons of His own election:
“some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the service (ministry), to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain unto the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”
The Church Age Commenced and Culminates With Apostles Extant and Functioning
Not many days following Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven, just as He had foretold, the Apostles, along with the other disciples of the Early Church, all received “the promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4), and were imbued with power from on High as the Holy Spirit descended upon them, manifesting in the form of “tongues of fire” spread by “a mighty rushing wind” of the Holy Spirit. They all were baptized, or immersed, in the Holy Spirit, and immediately began to speak in unknown tongues as the Spirit gave them the substance of the utterance (Acts 2:1-4). The Church that Jesus is building, having been conceived with Jesus’ appointment of His Twelve Apostles, was now birthed, and the Church Age commenced.
What is inherent in this narrative provided in Scripture is that the Church Age began established upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus being the Cornerstone (Eph. 2:20), and operating in the Apostolic Dimension, with all five of the Fivefold Ministry Offices functioning. Moreover, in that the Church Age began with all five of the Fivefold Ministry Offices functioning and the Church is forever established upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, therefore the Church Age—that is, the period of time during which the Church is extant upon the Earth—shall also culminate operating in the Apostolic Dimension, established upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, and with all five of the Fivefold Ministry offices functioning properly and fully, as well.
Jesus Is Fully And Forever Dedicated And Committed To Building His Glorified Ekklesia
Prior to His ascension into Heaven, Jesus Himself informed us that He was fully dedicated and committed to building His ekklesia, or Church, which He would ultimately return to claim as His co-sovereign Eternal Bride. The Hebrews writer referred to this ekklesia as Christ’s House, and that “He was faithful to the One who appointed Him” and “faithful over His House as a Son whose House we are,” i.e., the Body of Christ, spiritual Jews (Heb. 3:1-6). The writer juxtaposed Christ’s House to Moses’ House, i.e., the House consisting of the natural Jews, the Old Covenant saints, testifying concerning Moses that, as was Christ over His House, Moses was faithful “in all his house” (v. 3), and that: “Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later” (v. 5). It was “this latter house,” the House of Christ Jesus, of which God was speaking in the prophetic word He communicated through the prophet Haggai “to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people”: “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former (i.e., the House of Moses), saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts” (Hag. 2:9).
Indeed, the Glory, or tangible manifested presence of God, inherent in the Latter House—i.e., the Church, Jesus’ House, the ekklesia He is building (Mat. 16:18)—shall be greater than the Former House, Moses’ House. The Latter House—Jesus’ House—has been designated by God to possess and operate in an exceedingly higher and greater dimension of the Spirit in all these things than the Former House, the “church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38), which was not “granted… His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them (they) may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (2 Pet. 1:4), they were not recipients of the “the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness” (Rom. 5:17), nor of the regenerative and sanctifying workings of the Holy Spirit in their hearts, nor of the “the promise of the Father”—i.e., power from on High and the “powers of the age to come” (Heb. 6:5), as is the ekklesia, the Church Jesus is building, beginning with the First or Early Church.
Moreover, because the Early Church soon fell into the abyss of apostasy and thereby forfeited these endowments of glory, we rejoice also in the fact that the End-Times Church, those “upon whom the ends of the ages have come,” as it embraces and espouses the restoration and recovery that was initiated in 1517, shall possess, or repossess, that GLORY which these former Houses forfeited.
The Voice of the Reformer Is Heard Once Again
Approximately 470 years subsequent to the inauguration of the “times of restitution,” or “periods of restoration,” which became known as the Protestant Reformation, in the mid-1980s, the voice of the reformer once again began being heard throughout the world and in the Church that Jesus is building and has been building over two millennia, in the form of the restoration and recovery of the foundational offices, first, of the prophet, and, subsequently, the apostle. An initiation of that restoration and recovery process transpired in the last two decades of the 20th Century, though the process was by no means completed during that century, but only begun. Reform and restoration are the bywords of the Spirit for the 21st Century Church, for the Lord is continuing this process in the End-Times Church as well.
God Declares He Will Send Elijahs To Restore and Make Ready A People
God declared in the culminating words of the Old Testament, “Behold I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord. And he WILL RESTORE (Mal. 4:5,6)!” God is sending forth special messengers—apostles and prophets—who will operate in “the spirit and power of Elijah” (Lk. 1:17) to decree and establish restoration within the Church, to RESTORE the hearts of the fathers, the spiritual fathers of the Church, unto the children, the spiritual offspring, the Sons of God, and to RESTORE the hearts of the children, the spiritual sons and daughters, unto the spiritual fathers, lest God come and smite the land with a curse.
These spiritual fathers are the Fivefold Fathers, operating in a new dimension of the Spirit—the Apostolic Dimension—to turn the hearts of an elder generation of self-seeking, self-absorbed, spiritually impotent and non-reproductive fathers toward a younger generation of fatherless, orphaned, spiritual children, to show them the way, to rear them in the way they should go, to rear them in the fear and admonition of the Lord, to “show them the Father,” to rear true sons of God’s House who abide in the House forever (Jn. 8:34-36), vis-à-vis the previous generations of slaves/servants who abide not in the House forever.
The Elijahs (end-time judgment prophets) are coming forth to expose and slay the false prophets of Baal and the false prophets of Jezebel, to set the stage for the King Jehus (warrior apostles)—warriors anointed by prophets to reign over a defined territory, prophets who, as Jesus said of John the Baptist, are “more than a prophet” (Mat. 11:9). What is a prophet who is more than a prophet, but an apostle (cf., 1 Cor. 12:28)? These Apostolic Jehus will mount up under apostolic commissioning, wielding apostolic power, and will go after and nullify the false authorities—principalities and powers (Eph. 6:12; Rom. 8:38)—that have been ruling in territories where God has assigned them apostolic authority, including Jezebel, to cast down that principality of witchcraft from its balcony in the heavenly places.
“It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Lk. 1:17)
But, make no mistake about it, God is raising up and bringing to the fore these anointed Elijahs in the prophetic spirit and supernatural power of Elijah for one ultimate, overriding Divine purpose—to pass on the mantle to their successors, the Elisha Generation, who will inherit a Double Portion Anointing of the Spirit, to perform double the works that their spiritual fathers performed, to perform not only the supernatural works that Jesus performed, but even greater works, in order to haul in the giant catch of the End-times Harvest, and to accomplish the End-times purposes and plans of God of maturing the Church “to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13), that He might return to claim the Church as His Eternal Bride, a Glorious Church, “in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless” (Eph. 5:27). All this will be the fulfillment of the passage quoted above that was not only speaking of John The Baptist but also those other forerunners that God will send “in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Truly, God is doing a new thing in this last hour! He is restoring the apostolic and prophetic ministry functions to the Church Jesus is building. He has issued a mandate, with which the Remnant Church, the true Ekklesia, must and will comply. The Spirit has decreed it, and it must come to pass, for His Word cannot return unto Him void without accomplishing the purpose for which it is sent (Isa. 55:11). The Head of the Church, is forging change, reformation, re-formation, restructuring, to His Church. And, it IS HIS Church—to do with as He pleases, for He has purchased it with His precious shed blood. A decree for structural reformation has been issued from Heaven which cannot be negated or nullified! God will not be mocked! The Church—the TRUE Church that Jesus is building, the Remnant Church—has no choice or option in order to move forward but to hear and heed Heaven’s decree and begin to comport to it. No church— independent or affiliated, denomination or network of churches—that considers itself and desires to remain a “lampstand church” (Rev. 2:5) is exempt from the Heavenly mandate. Those who refuse will soon have “Ichabod,” the glory has departed, written over the lentil of their doors by the hand of God, and everyone who enters those doors will know: the glory has departed, the Spirit of the Lord is not here!”
Overseers and Stewards of the Building Process
Apostles and Prophets are the Master-Builders, or General Contractors, of the House of God—the Church Jesus is building. They are the foundation-layers. As an apostle, Paul stated to the Corinthian Church, “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder”—a primary Biblical definition of what an apostle is—“I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it.” So we see that apostles are foundation-layers. That is why the apostolic ministry function must always come “first” in order and rank, because they lay the foundation, and the building is built ON the foundation. The foundation is subterranean, underground, and is the substruction of the building that is unseen once the building is built, nevertheless it is the foundation that undergirds or supports the building. The foundation is the “government” of the building; it determines the extent and expanse of the building.
In addition to being foundation-layers, they themselves, that is, the office or ministry function apostles and prophets occupy and operate out of, form the tripartite foundation of the Church at large, as well as local churches under this Fivefold ministry paradigm. First Corinthians 3:11 declares that “no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Prima facie and standing alone—precisely as many fundamentalist theologians of the past have construed it—this verse appears to be saying that Jesus Christ Himself, and He alone, is the entire foundation of the Church. However, Ephesians 2:20 further defines the foundation of God’s household as the “apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone” (which, juxtaposed with the First Corinthians 3:11 text, made these two verses appear to be conflicting when regarded as it has been by the fundamentalist theological interpretation). So we see that Jesus, the Head of the Church, has so closely associated and identified Himself with the ministry giftings and offices of apostle and prophet that the three of them together form a spiritual triumvirate through whom Jesus is building His Church.
“Unless the LORD builds the house (HIS WAY), They labor in vain who build it” (Psa 127:1). The way the Lord has chosen to build His House or Building (1 Cor. 3:9), i.e., the Ekklesia is through the functioning of apostles and prophets, as the preeminent builders and overseers of the building process. God is the Builder and the Architect of the Heavenly City, Mount Zion—the Church (Heb. 11:10; 12:22; Rev. 14:1). As the Builder and Architect, it is God who has drawn up the blueprint or pattern (Exo. 25:9,40; Num. 8:4; 2 Kgs. 16:10; 1 Chr. 28:19;), and He has chosen to entrust the blueprint and the building of the Building of God to the stewardship of apostles and prophets. Moreover, it is God who issues the building permits (Heb. 6:3). So, again, “Unless the LORD builds the house (HIS WAY), They labor in vain who build it!”
Moreover, speaking in his capacity as an apostle, or wise master-builder, the Apostle Paul said, “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and STEWARDS of the mysteries of God.” (1 Cor. 4:1). Apostles are indeed the stewards of the mysteries of God. Being a steward of the mysteries of God is one of the ways apostles along with prophets serve the entire Body of Christ. The Apostle Paul gave further definition of this stewardship of apostles in his letter to the Ephesian Church:
if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. (Eph. 3:2-12)
[CLICK HERE to read Part 2 of this series.]
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