Releasing Wealth in Apostolic Times

a letter from C. Peter Wagner
 

I think the time is ripe for those of us who are apostles to begin to understand the crucial role we have in God's plan to release the wealth of the wicked for the advance of the kingdom of God. Chuck Pierce and I have been talking a lot about this in recent days. Some of you would have received his important 5-page intercessory memo of August 1: "31-Day Prayer Focus to Release Wealth." Chuck also has a strategic chapter, "The Transference of Wealth," in his book The Future War of the Church (Regal Books).

Unlocking the Supply

In that chapter, Chuck speaks of the keys of the kingdom and writes, "God is saying to us in this hour that He is ready to give us keys. These keys will unlock the supply we need to advance His covenant purposes" (p. 160). He says that in order to do this we must identify the "illegal domination of demonic structures from region to region" (p. 161), and then recognize that "apostolic authority must be established in a field if we are to reap the harvest in that field" (p. 162). In other words, there seems to be an important, most likely an essential, relationship between this divinely-ordained transference of wealth and the gift, office, and ministry of apostles.

To elaborate, Chuck goes on to say: "How apostles are received is a key measuring stick as to how the Lord will release blessings or judgments on a territory. Apostles also have authority over the demonic rulers of a region. They have the ability to demonstrate supernatural power that draws a whole region to our life-giving God" (p. 164). From this I think that we can conclude that if full-stage spiritual warfare is to be done in a region, the generals of that warfare must be apostles. Intercessors and prophets are also necessary, but without apostles, intercessors and prophets can only expect partial results. Because this is so important, I have asked Chuck to moderate a panel on Apostolic Warfare in our 2002 ICA Annual Meeting in Dallas.

Prophecies for Releasing Wealth

In recent years you have undoubtedly heard more than one prophecy that God wants to release tremendous amounts of wealth for advancing the kingdom. My sense is that we are not talking just seven or eight figures, but nine and probably ten figures. Others may have different dates, but the best I can pick up is that these prophecies started around 1992. As an example, I recently heard Khian Seng Tan of Christian Growth Resources in Singapore tell an audience that he received one of these prophecies in 1999. The essence of the prophecy was, "I am about to pour out unprecedented wealth to my bride." Tan pointed out that the time of their life when many men spend the most money is when they get married. Their bride is a priceless possession. But Jesus' wedding is rapidly approaching. Little wonder He feels that now is the time to spend extravagant money on His bride. Tan said that he sensed that the indicated amount would be from the millions into the billions.

All of this is puzzling. It is puzzling because a steady stream of prophecies has been flowing for about ten years, but these financial resources have not yet been released in the magnitude anticipated. I personally have no doubt at all that we have been hearing the true word of the Lord. The prophets to whom I have been referring are not false prophets, nor are they flakes. If it were just one, we might suspect that an individual could have missed it this time, but it is not just one. A substantial number of recognized and respected prophets have been agreeing with each other and saying these kinds of things.

I have made a private list of potential sources of funding that have surfaced over these ten years. Some have needed one or two things to happen in order to generate the anticipated funds. But in some others the money is actually there in the quantities we have been talking about. However obstacles to its transfer to the kingdom (none of them considered insurmountable obstacles, by the way) have been preventing the release of these resources. All of these funds have been earmarked for the fulfilling of the Great Commission. The last time I looked at my list, I had identified eleven of these potential sources of funding.

We know, then, that God desires to release this wealth. We know that the purpose is God's own heart—to seek and to save that which was lost. If this is the case, why haven't we seen it happen?

Timing

My conclusion is that we are dealing with an issue of timing. For some reason God has been saying, "I am going to do it, but it is not yet time."

If this is true, one crucial question remains: What needs to happen that hasn't happened yet that will cause God to say, "Now is the time?"

Several suggestions have been offered through the years. Some say we are not holy enough. Others say that we do not worship correctly or that our Christianity is superficial or that our level of giving is too low or that we do not have enough compassion for the poor or that we allow our unborn babies to be killed or that we do not pray accurately or that we worship Mammon or that we have too many divorces or that our evangelistic messages do not require enough commitment or that we do not support Israel as much as we should. You could undoubtedly add another half-dozen items to the list.

The Government of the Church

I do not question any one of those statements. I think that every one has validity. However, and realizing that some may disagree with me, I personally am not sure that any of them should be seen as the determining variable in this equation. I think that the determining variable might well have to do directly with the gift and office of apostle.

I believe that it makes sense to postulate that God might well hesitate in lifting the church to a new and unprecedented level of financial resources until the true, biblical government of the church is actually in place. According to Ephesians 2:20, apostles and prophets are the foundation of this ecclesiastical government, and 1 Corinthians 12:28 adds the fact that apostles are first in its order. How, then, could God entrust this wealth to the church until the apostles have been recognized in their rightful place? It would be like loading cargo into a truck with no tires. The cargo, good as it might be, could go nowhere.

The good news is that the biblical government of the church has actually been coming into place over the past 30 years. In the 1970s the gift and office of intercessor began to be recognized, in the 1980s the gift and office of prophet began to be recognized, and in the 1990s the gift and office of apostle began to be recognized. My personal reckoning is that this process was completed, at least in its initial stages, in 2001.

If that is the case, why, then, haven't the funds been released?

Marketplace Apostles

The answer to that may well relate to what have been called "marketplace apostles." It is helpful to think of the church as two interrelated spheres, the "nuclear church" and the "extended church," much as sociologists distinguish between the "nuclear family" and the "extended family." The nuclear church is the church as we have traditionally known it, congregations of God's people that meet together on Sunday and groupings of these congregations. The extended church is what we have commonly thought of as God's people in the marketplace.

1 Corinthians 12:28 says that God gave to the church "first apostles." It seems reasonable to conclude that He would have given apostles both to the nuclear church and the extended church. Almost all of the recent process of recognizing the gift and office of apostle has focused on apostles in the nuclear church. Progress has been rapid and we are becoming quite comfortable with that phase of apostolic ministry. But now is the time, in my opinion, that we need to do similar work on understanding the role of apostles in the marketplace or the extended church.

The Bottom Line

It is important, as I have mentioned, to keep in mind that the bottom-line purpose of this massive funding is to advance the kingdom of God, to make disciples of all nations. As we have entered the 21st Century, we are seeing the development of a new wineskin of world missions. For one thing, missionaries are now being sent abroad in greater numbers from Third World nations than from Western nations. For another thing, the standard mission boards, both denominational and parachurch, which operated strongly for the past 200 years are now being supplemented by mission outreach led by apostles. Apostolic missions are the new wineskin. Churches related to the New Apostolic Reformation comprise the fastest growing segment of Christianity on all continents. According to David Barrett, they are currently the only megablock of Christianity now growing faster than the population and faster than Islam.

As I argue in my book, Spheres of Authority, we now live in the second apostolic age. Apostles are the ones who understand this new wineskin of missions and who know how to advance the kingdom by multiplying churches and transforming society.

I bring this matter up because it seems to me that the crucial question facing us at the moment is: How would this imminent transference of wealth end up in the hands of those who have already proved that they can multiply churches, transform society, advance the kingdom of God, and fulfill the Great Commission?

Four Links in a Chain

I think the answer to this question will take the shape of four links in a chain. There are four major sets of players, but, like chain links, each will overlap some with the link on both sides.

Link #1:

Providers. The providers of this wealth may be believers, but it may also come from unbelievers. Two biblical examples of a large release of wealth are the Egyptians providing for the people of God in the exodus and Cyrus of Babylon providing funds for the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity. In both cases it came from pagan idol worshippers.

I think at this stage intercessors play a crucial role. Satan will try to block the transference of wealth at this point, and aggressive spiritual warfare can push back the forces of darkness and bind the strongman who does not want these goods released. Intercessors can remove these spiritual obstacles.

I don't see any specific apostolic role in this first link, although apostles may well be involved from time to time.

Link #2:

Managers. The funds that are released will need to be managed skillfully. The money cannot be spent all at once, nor should it be. A skillful manager can invest these funds in a way that huge streams of finances will be available for extending the kingdom on a regular, ongoing basis rather than seeing a financial flash in the pan.

Who could do this? Some nuclear church apostles deal with funds in seven or eight figures. But very few, if any, have the ability and the experience to manage funds in the nine or ten figure category. Not every marketplace apostle could do this either. But this does seem to be a role of some anointed marketplace apostles. I see the managers as one assignment of marketplace apostles.

Marketplace apostles, however do not typically have broad knowledge of where these funds need to end up. This is where nuclear church apostles are needed.


Link #3:

Distributors. The distributors are those who have been able to gain knowledge of the world on a broad scale. They know how the kingdom of God is actually being advanced in nation after nation. Their information comes from a broad spectrum of apostolic networks, denominations, church forms, theological emphases, and philosophies of ministry.

Even more importantly, distributors will have built personal relationships with apostles around the world. This is important because apostles are the spearhead of the new wineskin of missions. Distributors will, by and large, be nuclear church apostles and most often they will be horizontal, as over against vertical, apostles. The managers will transfer the available funds to the distributors.

Link #4:

Field Marshals. The field marshals are nuclear church apostles, usually vertical apostles, who know better than anyone else how to spend the money for the advance of the kingdom of God out there on the cutting edge. They have a track record of multiplying churches and penetrating society with kingdom principles.

It is the task of the distributors to see that all the funding necessary ends up in the hands of the apostolic field marshals who have the experience, track record, productivity, character, vision, integrity, and wisdom to use these funds in a way that will please God.

Disclaimer

The ideas in this memo are fairly new, especially the concept and role of marketplace apostles. Throughout I have tried to use a tentative tone, although I wouldn't have written it at all if I had not reached certain conclusions. Let's talk about this. What fine-tuning do we need? What may be some of our blind spots? Is this an important issue at all? In these early stages of suggesting a possible innovation, it is necessary to hear and understand as many points of view as possible.

I am going to post this on the ICA website which is password protected, but I will also post it on the Global Harvest Ministries website, www.globalharvest.org which is open to the public. If you write a response to this memo, I will consider posting it on both websites also so that others can follow the dialogue.

Blessings,

CPW