GIFTED WITH GIFTS F
But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” 9 (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.
In these last days, we have seen a restoration of a number of missing truths, beginning with the reformation. God is moving us toward His original idea of what it meant to be His people. God’s movement is always aimed at that which impedes love. Jesus will always focus His efforts on that will which will harm His beloved. God chooses what is best for us out of absolute love and celebration. God restores to us what we foolishly set aside as irrelevant or irritating.
11 This verse is a commentary on the quote in verse 8, Christ’s giving gifts to Christians. The gifts to the church are gifted people. The subject He is emphatic in the Greek. It denotes that Christ Himself gives the gifted people. The differing kinds of gifted people are listed in the predicate accusative, so the NIV correctly translates it as , gave some to be. The first two, apostles and prophets, have already been mentioned in 2:20 and 3:5 as the foundation gifts to the church. The apostles include the Twelve, who had the office of apostleship by virtue of being with Christ (Acts 1:21-22) and having been appointed by Him (which would also include Paul; 1 Cor. 15:8-9; Gal. 1:1; 2:6-9). But “apostles” also included others who were recognized as apostles, such as a James (1 Cor. 15:7; Gal. 1:19), Barnabas (Acts 14:4, 14; 1 Cor. 9:6), Andronicus and Junias (Rom. 16:7), Silas and Timothy (1 Thes. 1:1; 2:7), and Apollos (1 Cor. 4:6, 9). Apostles, in the early days were those who carried the gospel message with God’s authority. “ Apostle” means “sent as an authoritative delegate.” “Apostles” were literally made to order messengers carrying out their sender’s mission, backed by the sender’s authority to the extent that they accurately represented that commission. In the New Testament, the term applies to commissioned agents of Christ authorized in a special way (gave some/more authoritatively set apart than others) to declare and propagate his will.
As in many ancient lists, some of these terms may overlap considerably as the Greek indicates an especially strong overlapping connection between “pastors” and “teachers.” There is shared, common focus and basis of authority as bearers of Christ’s presence and message. The authority is resident in their words and works and their spiritual gifting. As in the case of Jewish teachers of God’s message (as opposed to the chief priests), none represents institutional authority in the sense of a supralocal church hierarchy, which does not seem to appear until the early second century. In my opinion, this is the mistake of some of our generations voices who are advocating new apostolic networks (read denominations), as they are rebuilding the system that replaced the apostolic community. Together these ministers of God’s Word were to equip all God’s people for their ministry (4:12–16).
12 The term for “training” or “equipping” was used in the Greek culture to describe the work of philosophers and teachers.
Now here’s a novel concept, these Apostles and the people they led and influenced became an apostolic community under Kingdoms Chief Apostle, Jesus, Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus (Hebrews 3:1). Acts 8:1, 4 tells us that when the great scattering happened, it was the people, not the Apostles who left and spread the Gospel initially, At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles… Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.
Why do I point out the combination of people, Apostles and scattered company? They both operated under Holy Spirit, who by nature is Apostolic (sent from Jesus as a dora gift). Spirit’s nature and personality are apostolic, And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6)!” This is why we are to be people who are always seeking outpouring. When Spirit pours out, a true activation of apostolic ministry follows because He is apostolic. God the Spirit is invasive, life changing and supernatural. Wherever He comes, wherever He is welcomed, the end result will be miracles, invasions of His life and transformed lives through His ministry of reconciling people to Jesus Kingdom, Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18) is imperative and it is biblical. This is advanced in the Gospels in Luke 1:13, 17, where we read, But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John… He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. It is the LORD’s desire to find a people that will turn the hearts of the children back to the Father’s (spiritual parents). This is real apostolic ministry.
Apostolic ministry of this nature has been illustrated for us in the relationship that Jesus had with Father God,
For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” 18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him…I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me (John 5:16-23, 30).
This statement connotes a number of things, but what I want to hone in on today is that we have a Father/Son God. Fatherhood and sonship in ministry are reflective components of the Godhead. This is why Apostolic ministry is so important today, it reflects the proper balance of relational ministry that we see in Jesus to the Father, and vice-versa. Relational issues address the personal nature of God and it carries over into the direct revelation of God as Father and God as Son.
Proper biblical lines of authority carry these same components, as Jesus shows us that real ministry only happens in relationship, not appointed positions, as Jesus could do nothing unless it was done in direct relationship, agreement and submission to the Father. As a bonus to this train of thought, we see that the Father will not act unless it is through the Son. That my friends is an astonishing truth! God exists as a father to a son and a son to a father. This revolutionary view needs to invade the church again, as it is the key to the release to the power expressions of the Spirit.
Without this revelation on a horizontal and vertical level, we will always fail to fully share in His divine nature, which will limit our capacity to be true expressions of heaven on earth. The main difference between freedom in religion and religious bondage in my opinion is fun. When you have to labor and toil under perceived mandates or tedious expectations, the life giving force of faith is drained. On the other hand, when our religious pursuits are grounded in relationship, both Vertical (man to God) and horizontal (man to man), an atmosphere of pleasure and enjoyment is created. This leads to a faith that is fun regardless of the necessity of sacrifice. Transition away from oppressive religion and find a faith that is free, fun and liberating in Jesus as He imparts the fullness of Holy Spirit!
In order to properly display God to others as releasers of the light of Christ, the nature of the church has to reflect the nature of God. That’s why we are supposed to be naturally supernatural. The homousios doctrine says that Jesus ins two natures combined perfectly and fully in one person. We have two natures as church… natural and supernatural combined in one entity, the church. As reflective agents of heavens reality, we have to be relational people. Without relationship born in the reflective pools of God’s love and power, we cannot become imparters of the life and love of God. This is the key to taking the power of god to the nations and communities.
This is why Jesus prayed,
I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me (John 17:20-23).
One of the biggest detriments to true, Apostolic ministry relates to the perverse system that developed under the apostolic fathers in the early centuries of the churches existence as Greco-roman influences lapped at the shores of God’s Kingdom. Apostles are not the top rung in a ladder, nor is it a bottom supported ministry expression. Isaiah 60:1-2 is a key passage in opening our hearts toward Gods truths as they apply to the administrative functions of the church today. Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. 2 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.
Real Apostolic leadership isn’t a form of Lording over others with a special ability to dictate. It is the new wineskin that will change the church back into God’s original design of Father/Son relationship. This is the spirit of Romans 8:15, where Paul said that we have received the Spirit of sonship.
This father/son model of ministry permeates Scripture starting with Adam, who was made in God’s image and who served as the father of the human race. Abraham, God’s friend was chosen to be the father of the faith and the father of multiple nations precisely because he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD (Genesis 18:19). The Abrahamic promise/Covenant was centered on Abraham’s fatherhood. We see this in the fact that almost his entire life was one that was expectant of a fulfilled promise concerning a son. In the same way Abraham was called to be a father, every ministry leader today carries that same type of calling. We are responsible to focus our faith on raising up sons and daughters in the ministry.
This same principle repeats itself throughout Scripture with Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, Eli and Samuel, Paul and Timothy… The days we are entering into necessitates Apostolic and Prophetic alignment, but in particular with Apostolic authority that operates in the role of fathering and nurturing,
For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel (1 Corinthians 4:15). Paul’s admonition here isn’t one of easy relationships. It is birthed in the caldron of adversity and correction, as he begins his discussion by holding that he and Apollos were stewards of the mysteries of God and capable of bringing correction and judgment in due time. The biggest mistake people make in times of transition is quick judgment. Transition takes time. Judging too soon disallows the vision to come into fruition. The key is to adopt a wait and see philosophy. Oaks take a long time to grow. Poisonous mushrooms don’t. One will kill you, the other serve you. Be wise in your assessments and stand on the right side of the fence when all is said and done.
The transition we are beginning to see in the body of Christ is the rise of relational ministry fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, fathers and daughters, and mothers and sons. This is a mindset that says there is something better than a professional priesthood, as we are restorers of the Davidic way of leading. Think about this, when Jesus was released into His ministry on earth by God, it happened with a pronouncement that encapsulated the entirety of the New Covenant and all of its better promises, this is My beloved Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17).
This relational quality is really, really important, as it counteracts the institutional form of faith most churches operate under. Abraham became a father to the nations through the creation of a son(s). Moses had Aaron and Elijah had Elisha. These sons in the faith became a mighty warrior and a double portioned leader. The Old Covenant ended with a final verse that states:
Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. 5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. 6 And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse (Malachi 4:4-6). This is a passage of interest, as in its transitional nature it contains a promise a curse and a prophesy.
Malachi’s word is especially important in our discussion about church offices, leadership and order, as it points to Elijah’s main role in Scripture. Elijah is the only father who successfully passed on the double portion anointing to his son in the faith. This is our only example of a double anointing being received, even though it is the rightful inheritance of every firstborn son scripturally. Friends, we are the first born and we need to press in to our rightful inheritance. You do understand that you are the church of the firstborn, don’t you (Hebrews 12:23)?
Leadership is not about living separately from the people. Platforms, titles, all that kind of stuff, positions – they’re irrelevant in many ways. When it all comes down to it, we’re all children of God learning how to walk with Him. I like getting involved in people’s lives. It’s thrilling. Everyone has a story and a journey. Good leadership is about stepping off a platform into someone’s story!” Graham Cooke
As wonderful as the first church movement was, God has always intended it to be replicated. Whether it was the Reformation, the Great Awakenings, the Jesus Movement, the Charismatic Movement, the Evangelical Movement, they have paled in comparison to the first move. It’s time to press in for all God had intended us to walk out and embrace the end time revival fires. The wave is mounting, as world missions estimates indicate that around 80,000 people are being won to Christ daily, with 20,000 of these conversions happening behind the Bamboo curtain.
When we think about these things, it raises questions like, what dynamics will be released in the next season of the Spirit? How will we be impacted and affected? In most movements, external influences outside of the local church are the primary shapers of movement, like speakers or denominations, or events. This is where impartation happens, and it is why we see people flocking to events to hear what is happening elsewhere, as we receive impartation from others. There is nothing wrong with that. Speakers challenge us, present truth in new ways and demonstrate new models or paradigms of activities.
Ministry: Break down the clergy-layman distinctions. I don’t believe in vertical
Last 4 centuries have seen tremendous restoration movements occur, at times with great force and momentum, at times slowly. We are currently in an Apostolic and Prophetic revolution. Think about this for a moment: the 20th century saw a restoration of healing and worship with a huge wave of prayer momentum.
This wave in the 20th century included a flood of evangelists in the 50’s, in the 60’s and 70’s a surge of pastor/teachers and teachers stormed the beaches. In the 80’s an openness to the prophetic office began to be embraced. Although there has been attempts to restore the apostolic, it has met resistance. In part this due to ignorance, in part it has to do with the governmental structure the Evangelical church has operated under.
Qualifications of an Apostle:
- Apostles have to have the spiritual gift of apostleship. The gift was provided by Jesus Christ after His ascension into Heaven, Eph. 4:8-11. This gift was first imparted by Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, 1 Cor. 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills; Acts 2.
- Apostles receive their gift and office by the sovereign decision of God the Father, 1 Cor. 1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother; 12:18; Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus Eph. 1:1; Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother Col. 1:1.
- Apostles had an eyewitness vision of the resurrected Lord, Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 1 Cor. 9:1.
Credentials of an Apostle:
- Apostles are endowed with miraculous powers for miracles, Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds 2 Cor. 12:12.
- Apostles should be successful in evangelism, Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2 If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord; 1 Cor. 9:2; But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter 8 (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), 9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised Gal. 2:7-9.
- Apostles have the capacity to minister supernaturally and patiently, Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds 2 Cor. 12:12.