Part 3
by Bill Click

˜"Ministry to the Lord" Precedes True Apostolic Movement˜
At Antioch we see a phenomenon which is unique in the New Testament. We tend to call what took place there as the initial, intentional, Apostolic Mission to the Gentiles. But the Prophetic-equippers had not assembled to enlist prayer for an already determined course of action. These leaders simply came together, "ministered to the Lord, and fasted" (Acts 13:1-5).

Through lavishing love upon the Lord they experienced His presence and received impartation from Him. The overflowing agape of the Father released the Spirit to call for Barnabas and Paul to be set apart for the Apostolic advance of the Kingdom. A "new thing" in the Church was taking place by the Holy Spirit. God was not only present but was also clearly speaking and then completely yielded to throughout the entire process. This is referred to as "being sent out by the Holy Spirit" (Acts 13:4).

The unselfish display of intimacy with the Lord at Antioch for His Kingdom through worship, intercession and fasting was in direct proportion to the specific call of God on Paul and Barnabas (Acts 9:15-16; 4:36-37). It was also in keeping with the specific Apostolic commission of Jesus for His Kingdom (Mt.28:16-20). The power for this phenomenon was originally promised and specifically provided for through Jesus' promise to the Apostles (Acts 1:4-8). Therefore, "ministry to the Lord" is a significant aspect of Apostolic/Prophetic intercession and can be clearly seen as the indispensable catalyst for being thrust forward into the Great Commission.

From that point Paul and Barnabas are known as "Apostles" (Acts 14:14). What changed? Why are they no longer understood to be Prophetic-equippers? Along with the commission to go forward with the Lord, they also received the grace of Christ's own Apostolic authority. They had previously Prophetically established those who believed; now they were given authority to Apostolically create Kingdom community by enabling others to receive, then establishing those who had previously yet to believe.

The Apostolic commissioning released Barnabas and Paul in the grace and authority to establish those outside faith in Christ with not only the foundations which had been laid in their own lives, but those which would be laid in the Apostles as they ministered and grew into maximum effectiveness as Apostles. Becoming Apostles was not a change of title; it was an expanded development of Christ's nature and ability working within and through them. As Prophetic-equippers, they had operated in a grace which received, released and equipped the church with Christ's word. But now as Apostolic ambassadors they were not only going to be used in releasing that word, but to establish God's way for His will to be fulfilled.

Paul and Barnabas were released into a new dimension of Christ's person and power to overcome opposition to the Gospel. They pioneered and established a "light of the Gentiles" (Isa.42:5-9). Because Christ brought such redefinition to their lives, not only did those they met benefit from their obedience by receiving their message, so also did the church at Antioch (Acts 14:26-28).

In a very real sense, it is with Paul and Barnabas we see the initial, intentional thrust of Apostolic movement into the Great Commission of Christ. This same movement should be evident today: the Prophetic commission from Jesus Christ to Apostolically advance, gather and establish a Bride for the Son. But Biblically speaking, it is Apostolic/Prophetic intercession that includes "ministry to the Lord" which is to bring this about.

This move into in-depth Apostolic/Prophetic intercession can begin to take place through a new dimension of purpose being released through faithful prayer ministry by the Church under His authority. Throughout this process, authentic intercession which receives and releases the ongoing prayer of Jesus to the Father will examine hearts by the Spirit, transforming us into Christ's very nature (Ro.8:29). As the Lord's nature increases within us, His authority will also be released.

As Christ's heart is imparted to us, His priority for life and mission will also become ours. As a result, we will begin to yearn for fulfillment of His movement until our lives change and become fully prepared for its emergence. When this takes place, it won't be about starting churches, although that will be the result. When this begins to happen, it won't be about establishing works of ministry, but this will also take place. When this begins to happen, it won't even be about seeing prophecies fulfilled, although that will certainly happen. Instead, it will be about lives which are in love with the Lord so much that He sends them to represent Him and bear fruit which bears fruit that continues being fruitful.

˜Take Responsibility, Stand with Christ and Finish Strong˜
It should be brought to our attention that this Apostolic emergence took as long as 17 years for Paul (Gal.1:11-2:1). In the same vein, many believe Barnabas to be the "Rich Young Ruler" in the Gospels, the one who only after years of reluctance eventually comes to Christ on God's terms (Acts 4:36-37). Refusing to heed God's call is never a safe or pleasant 'place' within from which to live out life. Thankfully, it is not how we start, but instead how we finish (Mt.21:28-31). But again, it is Apostolic/Prophetic intercession that will make the difference in our transformation. Our role is to stand with Christ for His purposes. Being changed as we pray, our spirits and souls become one with Him (Ro.8:29).

By participating with Christ's intercession, we become aligned for both living and being used according to His will. The result of ongoing intercession is that whatever Christ's desires, we become. A "word made flesh" which not only alters us but also others as it is received becomes an activation of His grace in the Earth (Jn.1:14). If we continue to flow in this dynamic, we will see His purposes revealed and fully established in our lives.

This is why it is absolutely essential that Apostles and Prophets have a lifestyle of continuous intercession. Most (if not all) of what God truly wants to do in and through all of us must first be revealed in prayer. Moreover, Apostles and Prophets are to receive vision and impart anointing for the body of Christ. To do so, they must have first received it, been activated in it and developed a lifestyle which carries that "treasure in earthen vessels" (2Cor.4:7). Apostles and Prophets must take responsibility for loosing what has been uniquely given them through "the mystery of Christ" in prayer (Eph.3:4-5). If they will, the gap between heaven and earth can be bridged, bringing the order of Heaven into the church (Mt.6:10). This will enable God's plan for eternal mortar to be laid in each life to be fulfilled (Mt.7:24-27; Eph.2:19-22).

˜Beyond Ministering the Gift & into Equipping & Releasing the Grace that is in Others˜
Apostles and Prophets who intercede will be able to move beyond ministering their own gift into equipping and releasing the grace that is in others. This will loose the body to shed the old wineskin of "the church" being a 'place' to rest and be blessed. A functioning body of Christ will then be empowered for being truly equipped to become their best. But this will take intercession by the Apostles and Prophets for dismantling the religious stronghold of "attending church."

By breaking through and past just revealing and healing from the podium as loosed with activations of grace, the Church will become freed from religious mindsets which have kept many from becoming maturing members of the household. The resulting new wineskin will enable those who have (at moments) been "touched" with truth and power to be able to contain and carry the deposit, appropriating it within (for self) as well as for releasing it to others. Then, we will begin to see full restoration of spirit, soul and body throughout the house. But this can only come through continuous activation and release of the various graces (2Cor.4:7; 1Thess.5:23; Eph.4:12; 2Tim.2:1-2).

It will take this degree of breakthrough for the Church to become who Christ intended (Mt.16:18). And the answer to the questions we will ask in moments may be "leadership," at other times "a now word," and at still others "wisdom," timing" or "strategy," but it will always be intercession by Christ's Apostles and Prophets that will advance the church into eternal purposes. And as Apostles and Prophets live out this mandate, those who co-labor, serve, and support them will become enabled to also.

1. What happened to the persecutor of the Church, Paul, that he became the most prolific equipper and revealer of Christ as He was sent? Apostolic/Prophetic intercession (2Pe.3:15-16).

2. What will shape those who struggle the most with God's purposes? Apostolic/Prophetic intercession (Ro.8:29).

3. What will transform those called to the highest office, enabling them to see God create from nothing when they step into a realm of assignment for which there is seemingly no pattern? Apostolic/Prophetic intercession (Acts 13:1-5).

What is the catalyst which activates this culmination of calling, preparation and commissioning we see in Acts 13? "They ministered to the Lord, and fasted" (13:2). "Ministry to the Lord" is the single most clear example in the New Testament of what it meant to undertake Apostolic/Prophetic intercession.

As we join with the heart cry of Jesus to the Father by the Spirit Christ's own purpose is perceived and His power is received. It can then be released to call laborers and prepare the hearts of those who will soon believe. If we will agree and enter into His intercession, Christ's yearning for the completed Bride His Father created Him to desire and secure will be fulfilled (Jn.17:9; 20-21).

˜Apostolic/Prophetic Intercession Releases the Very Action of God˜
Intercession which is truly Prophetic tunes the heart for perceiving Christ's Apostolic purposes and for being endowed with that same power. As we receive His thoughts and intents, we instinctively rise up and move in the direction Christ is headed. Therefore, Apostolic/Prophetic intercession moves us into the very action of God. As we join with Christ to intercede today, we will participate in the very activity of Heaven right here on Earth. And by doing so we take our stand with Christ as He continually intercedes for the Church (Heb.7:24-25).

The intercession of Antioch's Prophetic-equippers released the Father's heart to extend the Kingdom's presence by releasing the Apostolic witness of Christ and enlarging the family of God. That is the accomplishment of Apostolic/Prophetic intercession. It merges the Church's lifestyle with the ongoing direction of the Lord. Without it, we are relegated to receiving direction which remains without empowerment for being carried out.

But through the divine power of being elevated into His purposes, those who were once outside the Family are able to come in and through the Spirit express the heartfelt cry of "Abba, Father" (Ro.8:15). This victory becomes fully ours as well because we have been empowered and then participate in the continuing ministry of Christ to gather and establish His Bride. And this, more than any other blessing, is what it means to validate and establish Christ's victory on the Cross.

˜Ever Consumed by Him and His Purposes˜
Concerning these New Testament examples, it is noteworthy that the Church comes together for the purpose of yielding to the call of the Lord, whatever that might be. There is no indication in Acts 1 or Acts 13 that they truly understand what that call entails before they pray. Instead, it is revealed as they pray. And in Acts 4, their prayer reflects the assurance that they are progressing in the plan of the Lord. It is not a cry for God to endorse their understanding of a goal they had set, or to preserve and protect them apart from a forward movement.

So whether for prayer in Acts 1, Christ's continued manifestation through Apostolic Evangelism in Acts 4, or "ministering to the Lord" in Acts 13, the intent is the same. In each case they are consumed by Him and His purposes. And in each case, the outcome is the same. The explosion of souls during Pentecost, the increase of the church in spite of persecution and the release of the Apostolic movement from Antioch supernaturally propels them into fruit gathering: harvesting that which was already ripe (Mt.9:36-38; Jn.4:35).

Their intercession is true; it looks beyond their present boundary. It does not attempt to secure their border, "man the fort," or "circle the wagons" out of fear or felt need for self-defense. They are not motivated by attempts to find ways to get God involved with them. Instead, they become consumed by love for Him and His. This truth alone calls many today to a major paradigm shift. But the new wineskin the Lord has for us will not protect the status quo.

Instead, it will call Christ's Apostles and Prophets into an intercession with Him that is actually "ministry to the Lord." Then it will move them to empower, equip and release the graces that not only they have been given, but also those that are within others. Then, as this new activation is carried and released by all, the church Jesus came to build will truly begin to be established (Mt.16:18).

That said, there is much more to this than a "major paradigm shift." This calls all of us to a change of heart concerning our passion and priority of Christ's mission and then also a renewal of the mind for perceiving, conceiving, and achieving God's purpose in action.