"I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel." 1 Corinthians 4:14-15
Jesus is laying His head down in the church today... His whole head... All five of the headship ministries. The church has lacked wholeness because we have not accepted all of the ascension gift ministries as being for toady. The church has been like a family without a father figure. Apostles are being restored to the church today so that we might come into a level of maturity that will reflect the image of Christ to the world.
Malachi 4:6 says, "And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse." In this verse, I see the fathers as being the apostles and the children as being the church. (We see this in the writings of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:15; 2 Corinthians 6:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:7,11, and Philemon 10). Galatians 4:19 is peculiar in the fact that here he speaks about himself as a mother giving birth to a congregation of spiritual children. If we will again look at the passage of scripture in Ephesians 4:11-16 we will see, or should see, that without the restoration of ALL five ministries that the church will: 1) not be fully equipped, 2) not be in unity, 3) not be mature, 4) remain as children, and 5) be continually tossed about by every wind of doctrine.
Verse 16 is the least understood: "from whom the WHOLE body, being fitted and held together by that which EVERY joint SUPPLIES, according to the PROPER WORKING of EACH individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love." A pastor cannot possibly be every joint supplying the church. The pastor, evangelist, and a teacher cannot possibly be every joint that supplies. ONLY when all five ministries are restored, accepted, and released to function in their anointings and recognized by the church, will the saints ever be trained, matured, and unified to do the work of the ministry.
The restoration of the apostolic office brings to the church the following:
#1. DIVINE ORDER (Kingdom government) - (Ephesians 2:20, 1 Corinthians 14:40; Ephesians 3; Titus 1:5). - 1 Corinthians 15:13 says, " the Lord our God made an outburst on us, for we did not seek Him according to the ordinance (or the due order)." God is raising up prophets as Jeremiah..."See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."(Jeremiah 1:10). The structure must come down to the foundations so that the apostles and prophets can establish solid foundations upon which to build. Kingdom government must be re-established in our churches by the ascension-gift apostles of our day. Just as with prophets, we cannot put the apostle into a mold. Some apostles plant and some apostles water, but the important thing is that even with diversities, we are one. Paul said, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth." (1 Corinthians 3:6). Then he goes on to say, "...he who plants and he who waters are one." (1 Corinthians 3:8).
#2. STABILITY AND DISCIPLINE - Colossians 2:5 says, "For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in the spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ." 1 Corinthians 4:21 says, "What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod or with love and a spirit of gentleness?"
I think most everyone would agree that the universal church has become very unstable. There appears to be more instability in the lives of Christians now than at any other time. The apostles arriving back on the scene will also bring the necessary stability to the family of God that fathers and mothers bring into natural families.
#3. ACCOUNTABILITY - Luke 9:10, Hebrews 13:17, Acts 5:1-16
#4. UNITY - (Ephesians 4:3, 13; Colossians 3:14). Jesus prayed in John 17 that His disciples be one, just as He and the Father are one. The church will remain powerless as long as we continue to devour each other. As long as the enemy can keep us divided and attacking each other, he can experience success. Probably the greatest but simplest way to illustrate what our response should be is as Jesus did in Luke 9:49-50: "And John answered and said, 'Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name; and we tried to hinder him because he does not follow along with us.' But Jesus said to him, 'do not hinder him, for he who is not against you is for you.'"
#5 GODLY RELATIONSHIPS - (Galatians 6:1-4, 10; 1 Peter 4:8,9). 1 Peter 3:8-9 says, "To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing."
#6 ESTABLISHING THE SAINTS THROUGH IMPARTATION OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS - Romans 1:11 says, "For I long to see you in order that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established..."
#7 THE RESTORATION OF SOUND DOCTRINE - (Ephesians 4:14, 1 Timothy 4:6, 6:1,3; 2 Timothy 4:3; Titus 1:9, 2:1,7,10). One problem today is that almost everyone is setting doctrine (pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc.) Today's apostles do not set new doctrines, but they re-teach the apostles' doctrine that was set in the church by the twelve apostles of the Lamb. It's called "sound doctrine."
To summarize all this, the restoration of the apostolic office to the church will bring the church back to the Biblical pattern. Jesus said, "I will build My Church," and trained His disciples to be apostles to establish His Church His way and in His order. He is again accomplishing this in order to prepare the Bride for the Bridegroom. This all sounds great, so why don't we see all this in the church today? The main reason is that most churches do not RECEIVE the apostle and prophet today. The religious spirit in America will not yet let them minister to the church, let alone support them. People generally receive an evangelist because the evangelist tells good news. The prophet is usually prophesying repentance and the apostle will be speaking of STRUCTURE, RIGHT RELATIONSHIPS, and GOOD FOUNDATIONS. Religion rejects change, especially if it attacks "pet programs" that we've had in effect for years!
More Scriptural Basis for the Apostolic Ministry
Luke 11:49 says, "For this reason also the wisdom of God said, I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute." Jesus is still sending prophets and apostles. Some are persecuted, and in some parts of the world they are killed. One way to kill apostles and prophets is to not receive their ministry.
Ephesians 2:19-20 says, "...God's household, having been build upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets..." If this is true, then apostles and prophets ARE the foundation of the church. If we do not accept the apostolic and prophetic ministries, then our churches will have improper foundations and the structures will fall under the pressure. Verse 21 states, "...in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord." The church today seems to be a pile of lively stones just rolling around. They don't fit together; there is no cohesion. There is no relationship to cause them to stay together.
1 Corinthians 3:9-10 says, "For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it." Here apostle Paul refers to himself as a wise master builder who laid a foundation. He goes on to say that each man's work that is built upon this foundation will be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work (verse 13). There can be no quality of a man's work unless it is according to the pattern that Jesus established for His church.
I believe that we have sacrificed quality for quantity. We have abandoned the original pattern because it didn't attract the masses. You don't build large churches by activating and training the saints to do the work of the ministry. You don't build large churches when you confront sin in the congregation and challenge the people to fast, pray and mature to the point of hearing from God for themselves. You don't build large churches by having lengthy meetings. This list could go on, but the point is that rather than being established on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, the church has been built upon the foundation of the desires of the flesh.
Jesus said, "I will build My church" (Matthew 16:18), and chose twelve disciples and named them apostles (Luke 6:13). These apostles laid out the government and pattern for the Church. I would venture to say that they knew a whole lot more about the divine order for the Church than the theologians of today. We should study their pattern.
1 Corinthians 4:17 says, "for this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach EVERYWHERE in EVERY church." Apostle Paul says here that he taught the same thing in EVERY church, EVERYWHERE. The twelve apostles of the Lamb established the pattern. The apostles of the Church (who came after the original twelve) continued with the same pattern.
A problem today is that many people are laying foundations other than that which was laid by the apostles. They are laying foundations on faith, or deliverance, or prophecy, or healing, or whatever. In 1 Corinthians 3:11, apostle Paul said, "For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." There is no other foundation, and apostles must lay that foundation.
At this point you may be thinking, "Our church doesn't accept apostles and prophets as being for today and isn't established according to the Biblical pattern, but we love Jesus and preach the gospel." In John 14:15 and 21, Jesus says, "If you love Me, you will keep my commandments." In other words, if we love Jesus, we will follow him in every detail, including His pattern for the Church.
A Cry for Government!
Many ministries and saints are now beginning to recognize that the Lord is restoring the hearts of the children to the fathers and are accepting the apostolic ministry. There is a cry coming forth today for government... God's government!
Apostolic ministry will only be effective when there are father & son relationships established. "Paper apostleship," and occasional meetings will not work. Apostles and church leadership must have ongoing relationships.
Paul writes to the Corinthian church, "Am I not an apostle? Are you not my work in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 9:1-2). (Remember that Paul was not one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, but was an ascension gift apostle.)
The early apostolic ministry was effective because there was relationship established. When discipline was needed in the Corinthian church, Apostle Paul wrote them and said, "What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod or with love and a spirit of gentleness?." (1 Corinthians 4:21). God deals with us as sons (Hebrews 12:7). If we are not in relationship with God or His ministries, then we are illegitimate children (Hebrews 12:8). If we walk in the light, then we have fellowship (relationship) with one another (1 John 1:7). Apostle Paul refers to Timothy as his son, and in Philippians 2:20 he relates to him as having a kindred spirit.
We refer to one another as brothers and sisters, but yet we throw stones at each other. Where are the fathers that are needed to restore peace and order in the house? This is what Paul was speaking of in Corinthians 4:15, when he said, "In Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel." In I Thessalonians 2:6-7, he stated that, "...even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority. But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children."
And speaking of mothers, what about the woman apostle called "Junia", mentioned in Romans 16:7? Any healthy family needs both a father and mother. We are to have those we look to as fathers and mothers in the Lord and honor them as such. We must build strong relationships in the family of God and that requires much communication, contact, openness, and honesty.
Now look at I Thessalonians 2:8 with me: "Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you have become very dear to us." Also check verse 11, "just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you AS A FATHER WOULD HIS OWN CHILDREN." The family relationship is continually stressed throughout the Bible. We see it, and we believe it, so now it is time to practice it. Again, let me stress the fact that if we do not accept apostles in the Church, then we are as orphans. Kelley Varner says, "Anytime you speak of fatherhood or apostleship, you have tapped into the Ancient of Days for wisdom."
The restoration of apostles will bring the necessary stability to the family of God that fathers and mothers bring to natural families. True apostles strengthen the church, not try to take something from it. Divine order must be restored to the house of God, or the church will not come into the fullness of power and anointing that will be needed to meet the challenge and bring in the harvest at the end of the age.
This article was quoted from Apostle Richard Wright's book "Not many Fathers" chapter three, which can be purchased on his web-site at http://www.eaglesaint.net/
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