Eph 2:20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, … and… Eph 4:11-13 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, (12) to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (13) until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
I find it difficult to believe that anyone could assert that we have anything that remotely resembles unity of the faith. In fact, with all the denominations and divisions, it seems profoundly clear that the opposite is the case. Therefore, in my view apostles and prophets still must be necessary to the body of Christ. Further, the office of evangelist, pastor and teacher is still widely revered and accepted so why not apostles and prophets?
So then, if there should still be apostles in the body of Christ, what would that look like? What is their function? I think that it is answered in Ephesians 2:20. They should lay the foundation of the gospel of the kingdom. When you look up the Greek word apostolos as it is used in the New Testament, Strong provides this definition, [From G649; a delegate; specifically an ambassador of the Gospel; officially a commissioner of Christ (“apostle”), (with miraculous powers): - apostle, messenger, he that is sent.] Therefore, an apostle is one with a specific call to be an ambassador or emissary of the kingdom of God and the gospel of Christ. This gospel/kingdom focus will be the main driving force in the life and mission of an apostle. Since they are sent forth, they actually have within them the qualities of all of the five gifts. They can function in any of the gifts for a period of time but they are called first and foremost to be staunch defenders of the gospel of grace.
Here at the turn of the twenty-first century, considering the condition of the church, realizing that the leaven of the Pharisees has a strong hold within the evangelical church, apostles should be busy trying to establish the foundation of the pristine gospel. Apostles should be strong proclaimers of the grace of God. They should be encouraging the saints to comprehend and accept the deep unconditional love of the Father. They should comfort and console those who are being led astray from the pristine gospel. If they are to rebuke at all it should be to those who have taken leadership roles that are not promoting the pristine gospel of grace, and are trying to lead the people into achieving righteousness by works through fear.
They must insist that the mixture of gospel and works righteousness be ended. The main reason that the church today does not experience real profound signs and wonders is that the signs and wonders are meant to establish and confirm the gospel of grace (Acts 14:3.)
I especially like the way it reads in the NLT;
(Act 14:3 NLT) But the apostles stayed there a long time, preaching boldly about the grace of the Lord. And the Lord proved their message was true by giving them power to do miraculous signs and wonders.
There you have it in the plainest of speech… The signs and wonders confirm the Word of His Grace, the gospel.
I can see that this series will need several posts to cover the topics properly… especially in the 500-700 word per post format…….. More to come!