New Book on Modern Day Apostles

Yes, I am the nut case who believes apostles still exist today. I’m even posting a series over at my co-authored blog, To Be Continued, of which I am about half-way through. I recently posted considering the apostles that actually existed in New Testament times (there were more than we think!).

In the near future, I am writing a paper for the churches I work with, and one major point I will consider is the nature of apostolic ministry today. And so I was specifically made aware of a new book that came out this past summer entitled Fathering Leaders, Motivating Mission: Restoring the Role of Apostle in Today’s Church. Continue reading

Haggai & Modern-Day Prophecy

Tucked away, near the end of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Christian Old Testament), we find a little prophet named Haggai. Well, he could have been a big prophet, but the words we have recorded were not as many as say an Isaiah or Jeremiah or Ezekiel, or Hosea or Zechariah for that matter. His words are important, just shorter.

Haggai (pronounced Hag-eye by Americans and Hag-ee-eye by Brits) was part of a post-exilic team that included at some point the main leadership of various people as Zerubbabel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Zechariah and Malachi (some overlapping with one another).

I recently found myself reading Haggai. I had no plan to, but the Lord had been speaking to my wife out of one of the minor prophets and she decided to share with me the passage. When I asked where the passage was specifically found, she mistakenly told me Haggai, though it had actually been Zephaniah (to which I later found out when I didn’t come across the passage she had read out to me). So I found myself taking up the “2 chapters” of Haggai’s prophetic message to the Jews who had returned from exile in Babylon.

After I read through this short book, a few things came to me that I believe can teach us about prophecy today, meaning prophecy coming forth in these days, centuries after the formation of the biblical canon. It mainly sprang out of these few verses: Continue reading

Extraordinary Gifts

Recently, I have seen some banter around the blogosphere which argues against the idea that the Spirit giftings of 1 Cor 12:8-10 should be considered any more special than other gifts mentioned elsewhere in Scripture, at least those found in places like Rom 12:6-8 or not too far along in the 1 Cor 12 passage, mainly some of those found in vs28-30. This argument normally flows from the cessationist sector, or those who believe these specific gifts are either not normal for today or have ceased all-together.

I actually understand the desire to keep all gifts on a kind of level ground, not making any of them more important than others. Quite like we want to steer clear of any two-tiered Christianity with the have’s on one side and have not’s on the other. This has unfortunately been created by some of our brothers and sisters in Pentecostal and charismatic circles. I know and it saddens my heart.

If anything, we are all one in Christ, as Paul argued adamantly in Gal 3:26-29.

But while I agree with this underlying focus and emphasis of non-continuationists on the importance of all gifts, I do want to clarify some things that come from the Pentecostal and charismatic circles of why we might emphasise the extraordinary nature of those gifts found in 1 Cor 12:8-10. Continue reading

PDF Document on Apostles Today

Last Friday, I finished out my lengthy, 17-article series on apostles, specifically putting forth a case of why apostles continued to exist following the first century AD and up to today.

No one wants to browse 17 articles on my blog and read them all. Well, I don’t even know if anyone wants to read any of the posts. But, if you are interested, below I have uploaded the complete series in PDF document form. It is 53 pages long, so well in depth. But hopefully it can be of use to others.

Click on this link here – Intro to Ephesian 4 Ministries & Apostles

What Is An Apostle?

Many will know I am that blogger guy who believes apostles still exist today. That is a loaded statement, is it not?

Apostles exist today?!

It has been quite a while since I posted an article on my lengthy series on apostles today. You can review the previous 16 (yes, 16!) articles by clicking on this link. But do be advised that, early next week, I will post a PDF document that will contain the whole series in one place. That might be easier for people to access if they would like to engage with me on this topic.

Still, as a summary, my major premise was mainly four-fold:

  1. Christ was the greatest apostle to ever exist. We might not have thought of him as an apostle, but he was.
  2. The Holy Spirit was sent in Christ’s stead to continue the exact same work he began. Thus, the Spirit of God is an apostolic Spirit.
  3. Christ, by his Spirit, has empowered the church to be all of Christ in all of the earth.
  4. Thus, Jesus desires to have both an apostolic body as a whole and continue to gift people in apostolic ministry.

As I progressed through the series, there were 3 specific sub-issues that I hit on:

  1. Apostles in New Testament Scripture
  2. Objections to the existence of apostles today
  3. What an apostle actually is

I addressed the first 2 above, but not the third. Hence, this final article on what an apostle actually is. As a forerunner, you might be interested in this very practical post on what should be true in the lives of all leaders within the church. Apostles, or shepherds for that matter, do not have some ‘position’ or ‘title’. Rather, they have a ministry to serve the body by equipping it to be all that Christ would have it be.

Now I move on to highlight seven summary points about apostles.

Sent One

As I repeatedly emphasised, noting the essence of the Greek word, apostolos, an apostle is a sent one. And all apostles are specifically sent and commissioned to a particular mission task. It does not mean all missionaries are apostles. Some missionaries will function in other ministries like that of an evangelist. Nor does one have to go to far-off nations abroad to fulfil an apostolic ministry. But, in whatever task they have been appointed to by Christ, they are ‘sent’ knowing they have a particular mission-task to accomplish.

Foundation Layer

Apostles are foundation layers, as we saw in our discussion of Ephesians 2:20. As previously discussed, they are not called to lay a completely different gospel foundation from the first apostles (and prophets). Rather, while treasuring that very important foundation, the call of apostles (and prophets) today is to lay foundations that equip the church to live out the gospel in this day and culture. Specifically, as foundation layers, I would say that apostles are spiritual architects par excellence.

Equipper

As with all five ministries of Ephesians 4:11-13, apostles are called to be equippers of God’s people so that the body of Christ can get on with ministry and be built up in Christ. And, at the same time, this will assist the body in moving towards the ultimate goal of unity and maturity.

We can see an example of laying foundations and equipping through the constant work of both Paul and Barnabas in the book of Acts. Many times we see them returning to the churches they had established, all that they might strengthen the disciples and even appoint leadership in the churches. See these insightful passages below:

  • Acts 14:20-23
  • Acts 15:41
  • Acts 16:5
  • Acts 18:23

Servant

Apostles are servants, as Paul stated about the ‘true signs of an apostle’ in 2 Corinthians 12:12. The great apostle, Jesus, was the greatest servant ever (see Matthew 20:25-28). Therefore, we should expect apostles to be exemplary in serving (washing feet and laying down their lives) as well.

Teamwork

Apostles believe in teamwork, not in lone-ranger ministries. This we see in the life of Christ and in the life of people like Paul. They also recognise the importance of accountable relationships. Though they have a strong and important measure of gifting in God, they do not get a free pass on being accountable to the body of Christ. And, of course, in understanding such an important call, they will take joy in such relationships with Christ’s body.

Authority, Anointing and Revelation

Apostles will carry a special authority and anointing given by Christ to help the church be strengthened and equipped in fulfilling the purposes of God. They are also people of revelation (Ephesians 3:5-6). Again, this will not contradict the tenor of Scripture. But we live in a world today in which the dynamic life of the Spirit of God is available. We need God’s Spirit to continue to provide revelation for living out Christ today. Apostles will be utilised in such to help the body of Christ.

Also, I would note that apostles would be people generally utilised in the miraculous. Some will have a stronger miraculous ministry than others, no doubt. Just as some leaders in Christ’s body hold a stronger measure of teaching than others, etc. Of course, looking at New Testament apostles like Barnabas or James, we are not certain if they were ever used in the specifics of miracles and healings. So, though some would claim this as a hard-line proof of apostolic ministry, I wouldn’t be so dogmatic. Yet, as a general acknowledgment, I recognise that apostles have been and will continue to be people who function in the miraculous.

Leaders To Leaders

We could say that, as foundation layers, apostles will be people of wisdom, insight and compassion, providing leadership to leaders. Or, I might state it this way: apostles are pastors to pastors, shepherds to shepherds. This is to be seen as a great blessing to other gifted leaders.

Of course, I could have spent loads of more time fleshing out these characteristics. But suffice it to say, these are seven very important factors in the life of those who are apostles (whether first century or today). Remember, apostle is not inherently defined as Scripture-writer. Though some of the first apostles were utilised in the recording of the New Testament Scripture, it is not part and parcel to such a ministry, noting that plenty of apostles never penned Scripture.

Keep your eye out for the full PDF document post next week.