Part 4

by Bill Click

To this point we have surveyed of how Apostolic and Prophetic ministries share the same source, function and priority. This came by emphasizing that Apostles and Prophets are distinct among the Gifts of Christ (Eph.4:7-16) due to their participation with "the mystery of Christ." We also asserted that through their participation with this unique revelatory release of Christ's nature and ability, they provide "foundation" for the Church (Eph.3:5; 2:20). As each is fastened to Christ the Chief Cornerstone they pave the way for others to flow into their destiny as well. And as Apostles and Prophets flow together unto the Lord, they fulfill their Eternal Purpose in Christ. We've also shown that the relationships which result from recognizing what God is doing in the Apostolic/Prophetic becomes the crucial, essential safeguard for the authenticity of the Church. Today we demonstrate that results in their unique "first" and "second" order of government and service to the Church (1Cor.12:28).

The Holy Spirit through Paul makes it clear that"God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets. . ." (1Cor.12:28, auth. emph.). What does it mean to be "appointed?" Although the NIV translates the Greek word etheto as "appointed," the KJV uses "set," and in this instance "set" is more true to the Greek meaning of etheto , which literally means both "positioned" and "placed." There is a selection of empowered ministers, ministries and gifts in the Body of Christ, and this selection is made by God. Why is this so important? Let's consider both meanings.

The one "appointed" can have confidence in being called to be an Apostle or Prophet, but the one "positioned" and "placed" has confidence in the strategic mode, operation and location of that Apostolic or Prophetic ministry. For a proper understanding of the role of Apostolic and Prophetic ministry, being both "positioned" and "placed" are critical for us if we are to rightly receive and apply the Word of the Spirit through Paul. Why? One reason is due to our tendency to overemphasize recognition and reception of a "call" due to people becoming important and their organizations sizable. In our natural understanding, we would perceive those indicators as the important catalysts for forwarding that call. But God is making it clear through His Word that His choice, preparation and deployment of the individual(s) are the qualifying factors not only for Apostles and Prophets, but for the entire body as well (1Cor.12:27-31).

God calls the body parts specifically, positioning persons with particular giftings of Christ and the Spirit within unique "spheres" (2Cor.10:8; 1Cor.12:28). By doing so He purposes to produce the purest possible demonstration and establishment of the message, ministry and mission of the Kingdom of God. As a result, the "the mystery of Christ" will then not only be received and released by Apostles and Prophets through Christ by revelation of the Spirit of God, but will be more likely to be received as well (Eph.4:7,8; 3:5). "Positioned" and "placed" as Christ intended, all facets of the Apostolic or Prophetic calling can then emerge (Eph.4:7,8; 3:5). This foundational truth single handedly dismantles the overemphasis on organizational needs which are so often prioritized over and against the specific graces of individuals who've been chosen to loose reproductions of Kingdom revelation and manifestation. This specificity of grace is also to become the clarifying lens for defining program refinement in the church. If one is not gifted for it, one is ultimately not called to it- regardless of the slot to be filled or the program to be administered.

If we don't "have it" in terms of God's grace through the gifts of Christ, Spiritual and/or motivational giftings (in regard to what we are endeavoring to establish), we should have already made an important discovery: We have placed programs over the development of individuals with His grace who (when loosed through equipping), will have much better "programs" within them than the ones we may now be frustrated with due to their not producing as we envisioned. This is not to lessen an Apostle's authority, but instead increases it because as others are loosed into their grace, the impact of the Presence of the Lord will be greater upon all. That is a primary principle of the body which God makes clear through Paul (1Cor.12:26). As long as true, pure foundational ministries are in place, what is established by maintaining such a clear, uncompressed standard of God-giftedness for church function is a continuing opportunity for the church to be developed as a body which learns to operate solely by its God-given grace.

What does it mean that Apostles are "first" and Prophets are "second?" The words used for "first" (proton) and "second" (deuteron) indicate not only the chronological order of their establishment, but more importantly their order and significance. Apostolic ministry was the first grace of Christ to appear because of the order of its importance. Jesus trained Apostles. And He did so by discipling them. Why? Christ is the "apostle and high priest of our confession" (Heb.3:1) He was "sent" into the world to become "the author and finisher of our faith" (Jn.3:16; Heb.12:2). God clearly used Jesus as an Apostle to His people, in order that all would "come to the knowledge of the truth" (Jn.1:10-11; 1Tim.2:4). That Apostolic Grace which flowed through Christ is now active within those called to be Apostles today. And each one of them has a unique measure of it (Eph.4:7-16; 2Cor.10:8).

Before one can reproduce spiritually, there needs to be a Father or Mother. That parenting anointing to create and to reproduce is part of the Apostolic grace of Christ. The Fathering/Mothering anointing and ministry was eternally established through Christ as Progenitor. The obedience of Jesus to His Father as a "sent one" clearly established a pattern for those whom He called to Himself to be raised into that same ministry of reproduction.

Jesus initiated the message, ministry and mission of the Kingdom through His life and ministry. The Apostles He commissioned were those through whom the Church was initiated, orchestrated, and overseen. The Apostles He calls today are likewise loosed in a specific measure of His authority to demonstrate and establish facets of His Kingdom and authority throughout the earth. The going forth of the Gospel to authoritatively conquer the law of sin and death in the hearts and lives of people has now been charged first and foremost to Apostles. By Christ's creation of new life within all who respond to the Heavenly Father's loving power, Apostles are to become authentic representations of Christ, continuing in the same vein of His unique, foremost Apostleship.

So even though Christ is our elder "brother," He is our Father in terms of Apostleship (Ro.8:29). His pioneering Parenthood in Apostleship is never to be ignored. Why not? Because being an Apostle can never be separated from Jesus. The pattern for each Apostleship must always come first and foremost from Him. And receiving and applying these revelations and strategies are part and parcel of what it means to participate in "the mystery of Christ" (part. Eph.3:5-7).

The Spirit through Paul is makes it clear that Apostolic ministry is of the utmost priority to the body of Christ. Why is this the case? The Church is to be the Body of Christ, and Jesus was first and foremost an Apostle. The most clear, single definition of His advent was that of being "sent" (Jn.3:16). Without Christ likeness, there is no way the Body can be an authentic representation of the Head. In the same way Christ is "the image of the invisible God," we must become "conformed to the image" of the Eternal Christ to be His representatives on earth (Col.1:15-20; Ro.8:29; Acts 1:8).

Jesus left behind clear instructions that the going, moving, pioneering aspects of His nature and ministry were of utmost importance (Mt.28:16-20). Therefore, for us to be authentic, we must be first and foremost an Apostolic people. He emphasized this would be the direct result of His transference of the Spirit to the Church at Pentecost (Lk.24:45-49; Acts 2:1-4). The church is therefore dependant upon the Spirit for authentic Apostleship as well. And it is out of that emphasis on the Spirit the church receives fresh fuel for receiving revelation and release on its ongoing Apostolic advance.

The Apostolic mission, being the foremost priority of the church in ministry, flourishes through a Prophetic relationship with Christ, which is a condition for its authenticity (Lk.11:1; 17:5; Ro.8:14-15). New Testament Apostles heard from God, received visions, dreams and also prophesied. They were not personally dependant upon Prophets, but they were properly activated Prophetically in their relationships with God and with one another. Similarly, Jesus was sent as an Apostle, but He was also a Prophet as well (Acts 3:22; 7:37). Revealing, healing, encouraging, warning and exposing, Christ manifested the "two edged sword" which Scripture makes clear that He is (Jn.1:1; Heb.4:12; Rev.1:16).

Likewise, the manifestation of Apostolic power throughout the Church remains dependant on Jesus' Prophetic revelation to become infused and released (Lk.24:45). The complete restoration of Prophetic ministry and leadership, however, also depends upon the restoration and setting into place of the Apostle. This is an example of restoration's divine challenge as well as supernatural journey. We cannot have a fully mature Prophetic expression of Christ apart from the Apostolic. We will never have a completely authentic representation of Christ the Prophet without Christ the Apostle. Why not? Without what has been "set" by God "first," what is "second" becomes first by default (1Cor.12:28 KJV).

God did not design the church to be primarily Prophetic and secondarily Apostolic. When the church is primarily Prophetic, it is more future focused than present-tense oriented. Jesus violently ripped away the traditions of the "one day, someday" mentality, whose "hope deferred maketh the heart sick" (Pro.13:12). Christ emerged on the scene stressing "today" (Lk.4:21). He taught and lived a today mentality, that "each day has sufficient trouble for itself" (Mt.6:34). He emphasized applying what was received, not a future blessing apart from adequate preparation of the vessel (Mt.7:24-29). Throughout the New Testament, "today" is emphasized (Heb.3:7, et al). Why? Because Apostolic priority depends upon a release of fresh faith for doing God's will every day (Heb.11:1; 6).

God designed the Prophetic to be "second" (1Cor.12:28). We have seen during the restoration of the last 20+ years that one of the primary activities of the Prophetic has been to declare and decree the emergence of the Apostolic and its establishment. We have seen glimpses and glimmers of the Apostolic in church planting, revival moves, miracles and the emergence and coming together of emerging Apostles. The Prophetic has been largely responsible for these advancements, by releasing revelation which "makes room" for what God wants to do (Pro.18:16). The Prophetic has not fulfilled its role because some seeds of Apostolic fulfillment have sprouted. The Prophetic has only gotten started. But it will require the continual unfolding of Apostolic emergence to make the Prophetic more potent and effective. But the Prophetic ministry will always be important. Only the Apostolic function will be of greater significance. And both are absolutely essential for Christ's church. And will remain so until Christ's return.

We can see how essential it is for both the Apostolic and the Prophetic to function, especially as both are being restored. The actual laying of the foundation for the church which will enable all to be built, joined together and rise "to become a holy temple in the Lord" and "a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit" depends upon both Apostles and Prophets receiving and releasing "the mystery of Christ." Scripture calls for a distinct order of significance and also a priority of function when it comes to the Apostolic and the Prophetic. Apostolic ministry is "first" in Christ's Headship. Why? Because the church will always be dependant on obedience to the Great Commission and demonstrating God's power for its authenticity and full establishment. Prophetic ministry is "second" in Christ's Headship, because the church will always be dependant on the Spirit's leading and power which accompanies that impartation to accomplish what God sets before her. So by this we can see the consecutive order and significance through right priority of function for Apostles and Prophets according to the Word of God (Eph.2:20-22; 1Cor.12:28).