Embracing the Apostolic Reformation
by Dr. John Tetsola

    And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

    Ephesians 2:20-22

The word apostolic is not a theological perspective or a doctrinal word. It is a functional word. It is the function of those who are walking within the confines of apostolicity. The apostolic ministry is probably the key to opening the secrets of the Kingdom of God in this particular hour. The church has experienced the transition of spiritual movements over recent decades, and God has restored a number of key things to the church in the last thirty to forty years. In the seventies, the Holy Spirit restored the role of intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer today has become one of the keys to unlocking cities. Along with this movement came the Faith, Prosperity, and Teaching movements. The eighties was the decade of the prophets. The Holy Spirit began to validate dynamic prophets through the power of endorsement. It was also in the eighties when spiritual warfare became a legitimate term in the body of Christ. People were no longer just praying, but their prayers became pointed towards the heavenlies and were fixed against demonic strongholds. In the nineties we had the release of the ministry of the apostles, which is where the cloud of His presence presently abides.

Who is an apostle? Apostles, like the entire five-fold ministry, are a set aside group ordained for the purpose of setting forth the new covenant kingdom of Jesus Christ. The word apostle comes from several Greek terms and roots. Its broadest meaning, the one most commonly given, is "a sent one, a specially commissioned messenger of Jesus Christ." Its prefix "apo" means "away from," describing a separation where a sharp severing has taken place. "Apo" infers consecration from the masses to fulfill a commission. The word apostle comes from the Greek apostello which means "set apart to send out on a mission by liberating from previous obligations." In the strictest sense of the word, Ezra and Nehemiah exemplify this. Under King Cyrus, they were both occupying other positions, yet when the king was inspired by God to restore Judaism, they were formally relieved of their duties, and sent out on an ordained commission.

The New Testament Understanding
In order to get a clear understanding of this ministry in the New Testament, we must carefully look at the origin and use of this word. Both the name and ministry of the apostle have been frequently surrounded with a lot of controversy. For this reason, people have been somewhat reluctant to apply these terms to people. Understanding the distinctions that exist between apostles and the actual function of the apostle would help to release the apostolic anointing with power to the body of Christ. Even though the word apostle literally means "one who is sent forth," this definition in itself, however, does not really help us because it is too general. All ministry should in a sense be sent forth. Why is this term singled out by Jesus and applied to a certain kind of ministry in His day? The key for this lies not in the definition of the word itself, but in the use of the word.

The Greek World Understanding
In the Greek world, the word apostle is used to refer to four things. It was used to refer to an emissary or an ambassador, to a fleet of ships or an expedition sent with a specific objective, to the admiral who commanded the fleet, or to the colony which was founded by the admiral. If a fleet of ships left Rome with the purpose of establishing a new colony somewhere, all of these were called apostles-the fleet, the admiral, and the new-found colony. The particular truth that is emphasized by this usage is the relationship of those who were sent, to the sender. All of these - the admiral, the fleet, and the colony that was formed represented a true image of the one by whom they were sent. In other words, they were faithful to transmit or reflect the intentions of the sender. The primary attitude of a true apostle, then, must be faithfulness.

The Relationship Between the Sender and the Sent
This association and connection between the sender and the one who is sent is clearly seen in the New Testament. There is an old Jewish maxim that teaches that "the apostle is the equivalent to him who has sent him." This is not seen as simply a matter of substitution, but rather, the one who commissions is seen to be present in the person sent. This is seen most vividly in the life of Jesus, who was the Great Apostle sent from the Father to found a church and faithfully represent the intentions of the Father. Jesus made it simpler and clearer when He said, "He that receiveth you receiveth Me, and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that hath sent Me." In the light of this, it is significant to see that after spending the night in prayer, Jesus chose twelve men and named them His apostles. These twelve men were going to be ambassadors or emissaries of Jesus. They were going to go out under orders to found and establish a new colony, the church, that would truly reflect the intentions of the Sender. It would be a true representation of the heavenly city with foundations whose builder and maker is God. It would be a little bit of heaven on earth and it would be known as the faithful city. An apostle then is a Christian leader gifted, taught, commissioned, and sent by God with the authority to establish the foundational government of the church within an assigned sphere of ministry by hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches and by setting things in order accordingly for the growth and maturity of the church.

The Emergence of the Apostolic Anointing

    Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?
    Isaiah 43:19a

We are living in the time of the restoration of the apostolic dimension. This is a kairos time. Kairos does not simply mean a moment in time. Kairos time is a strategic time, a special time. 1 Chronicles 12:32 tells us that the Sons of Issachar "discerned the times," meaning that they had a gift from the Holy Spirit called "discernment." This discernment was given to reveal that which is, and that which is not from God. Presently, we are in a strategic time-the time of the emergence of the apostolic dimension upon the church. The height of one move of God, and the emergence of a new move are precious times within His presence. While we are still learning to understand and embrace the emergence of this apostolic dimension, the walls of denomination are coming down, and we are witnessing a new order, structure, and move of the Holy Spirit. God is indeed doing a new thing. It is springing forth, and like the Sons of Issachar, we know and discern it. Yesterday's move of God was great, but God is progressive. We must follow the cloud of His presence, and this cloud is now hovering over the horizon of the apostolic dimension today. We love sunsets, but when sunsets are over, we must look to sunrise!