THE FULLY FOUNDATIONAL CHURCH:
COMBINING & MOBILIZING THE PARTS OF CHRIST'S COMPLETENESS


by Bill Click
Part 5

In this segment we plunge into more depth regarding the consecutive authority which Apostles and Prophets have been given through their distinct order and significance (1Cor.12:27-28). We first surveyed how Apostolic and Prophetic ministries share the same source, function and priority. 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 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 of the Body 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 therefore have also reasoned that relationships which result from recognizing what God is doing becomes the crucial, essential safeguard for the authenticity of the Apostolic/Prophetic. We did this by beginning to looked closely at the order of significance and priority of function of Apostles and Prophets.

As we endeavor to envision the establishment of the revelational truths of God in regard to foundational ministries and the Church Jesus is building, we should always remember that there is a difference between those who are "called to be" and those who have been "commissioned as." The Holy Spirit speaks God's Word into our spirit using eternal terms at the time of our calling. He "calleth those things which be not as though they were" (Ro.4:17). Gideon found out what it meant to be spoken to in terms of the finished product even before the beginning of the process of becoming that which God ordained. So previously had Moses and so later also did Jeremiah. Such is the way of God, so much so that Paul would be speaking by the Spirit to apply the history and manner of God in calling "those things which be not as though they were" (Ro.4:17). From the time of our knowledge of the call, we begin the lifelong process of responding to that call. When God calls us, however, we already are what He says we are going to be, because He sees us as His completely matured son or daughter. How? Because- standing in all time equally- He is "the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending" (Rev.1:8; 11; 21:6; 22:13).

It is presumptuous for any of us to assume that we are the finished product at this time. Although many have been commissioned, the nature of the ongoing restoration of the Church prohibits any from considering them self as having "arrived." The Word of God requires that we see ourselves in process (Php.1:6; 3:12-16). Therefore, those who are "called to be" may be encouraged and informed as to their potential by what the Word of the Lord reveals in regard to their role in the church, but they should not presume it as a "right now" which they must fully function in to be pleasing to God. The elements of the commissioning of the Lord includes development of our character, right placement within and relationships among the Body, and arrival at the "set time" for what He desires to release us into during that season. All of these must come together for us to be "set" in a way we will not become upset (1Cor.12:28). And as we are faithful in that measure of commissioning, we will be prepared for more if we remain willing to be continually shaped and molded for greater intimacy and vision for increased fruit bearing in ministry.

APOSTOLIC & PROPHETIC MINISTRIES ARE CONSECUTIVE IN AUTHORITY
The consecutive order of significance and priority of function for Apostolic and Prophetic ministries signifies their consecutive authority in the church. That Apostles led the way in the early church is unmistakable to see as one reads the New Testament. They led in matters of mission (Acts 13:4-5/14:14). They were the ones assigned to resolve doctrinal issues (Acts 15:1-35). Apostles established order and priority in local churches (1Cor.14:37-38). They also took responsibility for leading other Apostles and Prophets (1Tim.1:3; Tit.1:4-5; 1Cor.14:29-32). Apostles clearly had the greatest responsibility in the church for insuring that all was as Jesus desired. Why Apostles and not Prophets (as in the Old Testament)? Why Apostles and not Pastors (as the denominational wineskin's continue to prioritize & support)?

Simply put, the ministry which has the greatest measure and responsibility to manifest authority over darkness possesses the primary authority in the Church, because "for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil" (1Jn.3:8). Therefore, Apostles cannot be seen as anything less than Generals in an army. Jesus trained Apostles. He led leaders. He released (& releases) a measure of His all powerful nature and victorious life into everyone in the church, but first and foremost to His Apostles (1Cor.12:28). Since Christ Himself possessed authority in every situation, and manifested it in more ways than just Apostolically, He also releases Himself to all in all ways. But, since Jesus specifically trained Apostles, and trained them in matters of authority over the enemy (& not just in matters of revelation & evangelism), Apostles are the focal point of all Spiritual warfare in Christ's Kingdom. Not only in its advancement, but also in being opposed (Mt.10:1; Lk.10:19).

No where do you see Prophets of the New Covenant engaged in such strategic, difference making warfare. Their place in that is behind and in support of the Apostle, seeing, hearing and saying in matters which are more peripheral to (but not disconnected from) the mission of the church. The Prophet's role in the New Testament church is much more about revealing and declaring than it is about advancing and establishing. Their revelation of "the mystery of Christ" becomes essential to the advancing, warring body as a support to the Generals of the advance. If separated from the advancing, warring dimension of the Apostolic, the Prophetic gets too caught up into predicting societal occurrences and promoting the personal prosperity of individuals. Beware the Prophetic which is separated from the Apostolic advance and establishment of the Bride of Christ.

AN INDICTMENT ON WHAT PREVAILS AS THE CONTEMPORARY UNDERSTANDING & EXPRESSION OF APOSTLESHIP

Since the Apostolic ministry is that which has been given the greatest measure and responsibility to manifest authority over darkness because of possessing the primary authority in the Church, we see that much of what passes today for Apostolic is simply less than Christ's measure and not truly authentic. Spiritual authority is not first and foremost a matter of large congregations, multiple leadership oversight, network development and multimedia outreach. If such is the representation of the true Apostolic, then those of the corporate world are more prepared to be Apostles than those of Christ's Body. Indeed, you see evidence of this by the degree to which Christian leaders have abandoned the Spirit and Word for seminars and principles that are more personality and method based than related to any imaginable form of Christianity as we have seen it displayed in the New Testament.

The primacy of the Apostolic ministry was first revealed through Jesus, and during the first generation of the Church it was fully established by the Apostles. That authority became the basis for the release of the Apostles into their ministry of gathering and establishing the Bride by the power of the Holy Spirit (Mt.28:18-20). Since advancing in the Great Commission is the Church's primary purpose, the order of His Divine Headship is that which has been designed to function most effectively outside the church. Because of that outer authority, which is not dependant on the corporate anointing or the right spiritual environment for function of the gift, the Apostle is the ministry of Christ with the greatest authority inside the church as well. This is God's architecture (1Cor.12:28). And by doing such the Lord has established His means of Order to keep the church not only anchored in her purpose of advancing, but fully established in it as well.

IDENTIFYING THE SHIFT FROM THE PROPHETIC AS PRIMARY TO THE APOSTOLIC AS ESSENTIAL

Jesus called and trained Apostles, making it clear that Apostolic authority would be second to none (Mt.19:28; 16:16-19). Why did He do this? It was not so everyone would know who was "in charge" after His ascension (& hopefully we have also moved beyond the insecurity-oriented need to control by title). Apostolic authority was released by Jesus to insure that His authority to advance the Kingdom would be properly identified, received and used. But the idea of an "apostle" was totally new to Israel. The only secular equivalent was with the Greek shipping fleets of the day, whose Captain's were sometimes given the title "apostle" to describe their authority as ambassadors representing those who had sent them. Therefore, this term and its implications were certainly foreign to the disciples.

The Apostles in training were familiar with the gift, ministry, leadership and office of the Prophet: primarily through the Scriptures and secondarily through John the Baptist. They understood that Prophets issued fresh declarations and also warnings of judgement, enforcing the Covenant and even anointing the Kings. But Jesus' Presence was changing everything. Ministry would no longer be relegated to the priestly order, or freshened by the raising up of a corrective, relevant, Prophetic voice for the times and conditions of the nation of Israel.

Beginning with Jesus' earthly ministry, all was brought under the umbrella of the very nature of Christ. Therefore, the external nature of the Old Covenant, the various types and shadows of what it pointed toward and the Kingdom as a political realm instead of spiritual reign, was replaced by the Prophetic fulfillment of an Apostolic dimension that began bringing into reality all God had previously promised (Isa.9:1-7; Jer.31:31-34).

But Apostles were something never seen nor experienced before. They would be representing, demonstrating, and establishing the essence of the New Covenant, making internal, spiritual and experiential establishment of that which previously had been external and only foretold. Apostles went way beyond "setting the rules" and even pushing back the demonic, they initiated this New Covenant with those who had neither previously experienced God nor imagined they could participate with Him. And they did so with miraculous signs and an authority which could lead to changed hearts, making those who witnessed their workings hungry for the God who worked through them.

The training of Apostles reflected the new emphasis of God in Christ: bringing those outside spiritual relationship with God into relationship with Him by the Holy Spirit. Apostles set the stage for reclaiming the earth, which having been cursed through the influence of satan, was devoid of true God-given authority. And Apostolic revelation of this mandate and authority was part of their unique dispensation of "the mystery of Christ" (Eph.3:5). God had now decreed the reclaiming of mankind by manifesting the authority of Christ throughout the earth by His Divine race, the Church. How? By way of the Apostolic advance which clears a path so that Apostolic and Prophetic foundation can be laid, granting revelation, releasing equipping and resulting in the reproduction of right relationship with God to every group of people the Gospel reaches (Eph.3:9-11; Mt.28:19-20). This being God's purpose in Christ before the foundation of the world, it is now the essence of our purposeful existence with the Spirit until being joined with Him forever (Rev.13:8; Eph.1:3-14).

That the disciples marveled at the manifestation of Apostolic power (& not Prophetic revelation) is no coincidence (Lk.10:17-20). Indeed, what the Prophetic Jesus revealed to them was also new because it no longer flowed from an inspired interpretation of the Old or foretelling of the New. Instead, it flowed directly from Christ's own Prophetic omniscience and omnipotence with the Father. But instead of the Prophetic, it was the Apostolic the disciples were drawn to. Why? Because it was the Apostolic they were being called to, equipped in, and prepared for.

The Apostolic was established first (Mk.3:13-15), released first (Mt.10:1-42), and prioritized first (Mt.28:16-20/1Cor.12:28). The Prophetic stood alongside– revealing, energizing, edifying and equipping (1Cor.14:29; Eph.3:5; 4:11). As Christ led the advance through the Apostolic, He also supplied ample Prophetic revelation with which to fully supply His foundation for all the Church was to be and to do in His Name. Through participation with "the mystery of Christ" Apostles and Prophets found themselves complimenting each other in ministry as they both endeavored to follow His leading (Eph.3:5). As they functioned together they laid foundations which the church could stand on for every life issue (Eph.2:20). Through their ongoing relationships they discovered their order of significance and priority of function (1Cor.12:28). And as they walked in what they discovered, they manifested a consecutive order of authority as well (1Cor.14:37).