Are there Apostles and Prophets Today?
Christian greetings in Jesus’ name.
Enclosed you will please find my article on SPIRITUAL CONTROLS. This was written after much prayer, concern, study and experience of going through some of the heartbreaks of this in a family very close to me.
We all want a revival. We all believe in miracles. We have given our lives for this Oneness Pentecostal truth. This organization has been built on the work of Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers, with good solid preaching of the Word of God.
This is the third time the writer has known of the encroachment of so- called “prophets,” once when we were first saved years ago, again in the 1950’s and at present. There is no control over an “apostle” or “prophet” because these offices do not exist now. There are no guide lines in the Bible to control them. They finished their work. They wrote the Bible and no one dares add to these writings.
The same so-called “prophet” who can foretell a blessing can also foretell a curse! Not one office in our organization would be safe if the “prophets” get enough control. Years of labor can be washed out over night. If you ever had to watch twenty years of hardship in a family you loved suffer because of a “prophecy,” then no one would treat this lightly.
The writer has no aspirations for anyone’s position. I envy no man’s place. My heart is for the good of all. We have the truth and I do not believe we have to become frantic or fanatical to accomplish our calling. The world is in an upheaval and men’s hearts are failing for fear. It is easy to persuade people into extremes. God’s Word has prodded us to be filled with the Spirit and also to keep a level head so that in quietness and confidence can also be our strength. (Isaiah 30:15)
If there is any way we can help you, or if you wish additional copies of spiritual controls, we will mail them to you or if you wish to print this article in your periodical you are welcome to do so.
Rev. S. G. Norris, President
By: Rev. S. G. Norris
God has laws that control the heavens and the earth. He also has controls for the dearest thing to His heart the church.
There are guide lines and controls for ministers, deacons, aged men and women, young men and women and even children. He also has controls for those operations which are in order in the house of God.
This so-called super move of God did great damage during the 1950’s. It was not easy to stay with the Word of God at that time. The world is far more “jittery” today. May the good Lord be with us.
THE GIFT OF TONGUES, INTERPRETATION & PROPHECY
All nine spiritual gifts are for administration.
1 Cor. 12:5 This means their operation will help hold the church together. They are never used to separate to divide. Administration That is one control by which we can measure the gifts.
PROPHECY I COR. 14:3
This gift has nothing to do with foretelling. It is controlled by God’s Word.
1. Rev. 19:10….It is a special anointed testimony, and operates within the guide lines of EDIFICATION, EXHORTATION AND COMFORT.
2. It is not some weird expression of “thus saith the Lord.” When controlled it is a great blessing to the church.
3. I Cor. 14:22….Prophesying SERVETH for them which believe. Paul encouraged the saints to seek this gift. I Cor. 14:1
4. I Cor. 14:29-31….The prophets mentioned here were saints that had the gift of prophecy. This had nothing to do with foretelling. Two or three were encouraged to use this gift in a service…but still under control of….”that all may be COMFORTED.”
5. I Cor. 14:12….Again the guide line – “forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the EDIFYING of the church.”
WHAT ABOUT AGABUS?
The greatest service that Agabus rendered in the book of Acts was to show us that the gift of prophecy was NOT used to foretell.
Acts. 21:8, 9. Philip had four virgin daughters. They all had the gift of prophecy. They were fine young women in the church at Caesarea but they could not foretell. Agabus came from Judea and gave a simple warning that Paul would suffer trouble when he went to Jerusalem. This did not stop Paul from going. There was nothing very mysterious about this message of Agabus.
Acts 11:28-30. Agabus foretold that there would be a drought in the immediate future. The disciples sent relief to the brethren in Judea by Barnabas and Paul.
Agabus was a good saint but he is the only prophet in Acts who foretold a future event. There was no established office of a prophet in Acts. Other prophets mentioned did not foretell. They were simply good men, preachers, that helped spread the Gospel.
WHY NO PROPHETS OR APOSTLES TODAY?
Eph. 2:20. The Apostles and the Prophets wrote the Bible. If the water was not an Apostle such as Mark and Luke, then he was a Prophet. His writings were inspired and told not only of current happenings but also of the future. For example, subjects such as the coming of the Lord and the days of tribulation.
There was an end to the writings of the Old Testament. There was also an end of the writings to the New Testament. If a man today could be an Apostle or Prophet he could add to the Bible. We would be at his mercy. There would be no control except for his private interpretation. This has wrecked individuals, homes and churches.
ARE NOT EVANGELISTS, PASTORS & TEACHERS SUFFICIENT?
Why do the extremists always claim to be Apostles or prophets? Why don’t they ever give due honor to the positions of evangelists, pastors and teachers?
The reason is that there are NO CONTROLS for Apostles and Prophets in the Epistles like the other offices. Why? Because there are no more Apostles or Prophets. They wrote the Bible. That was a job well done. Those who claim such a position in many cases set themselves up as almost untouchable. We dare not question an Apostle or Prophet. When that takes over in a church or organization it is really sad. What about the college of Apostles in a certain church? What about the school of Prophets? What about the prophets in the Mormon Church? All these groups know if their people believe in those who can add to the Word of God, their followers are helpless.
Can’t we stay humble enough and be evangelists, pastors and teachers and operate within the controls of what the Apostles and Prophets wrote for us? We will do well to obey all that they said. It saved our souls. Thus far it has blessed our organization. These writers gave us the hope of salvation and the rapture. They gave us gifts to use in a sensible manner and most of them laid down their lives to do it.
Brethren, let us pray one for another. It is still safe to “do justly,love mercy and walk humbly with God.” Such a program will not stop revivals or miracles and it will not turn us away from the path that leads to the city of God.
TONGUES AND INTERPRETATION
This gift has controls. It is a sign to them that believe NOT,I Cor. 14:22. Whatever the message, it will not drive the unbeliever away from the church. It would be some rational thought that would help convince the sinner that this is the right way. It is never used for rebuke. That responsibility remains with the pastor.
I Cor. 14:28. This gift is limited to THREE MESSAGES…”at the most by THREE.” This certainly does not mean that one person cagive three messages and then another three more and on and on.Evidently they were doing that in the Corinthian church and Paul warned that the unbelievers would say they were mad.
CONTROL FOR TONGUES AND PROPHECY
Please notice the difference between the control of the number of messages in tongues and prophecy. For tongues it states “AT THE MOST,”but for the gift of prophecy which would edify, exhort and comfort, it states two or three but it does not say “AT THE MOST.” There could be a few more anointed testimonies exercising this gift and they would still be a blessing in the service.
MORE APOSTLES TODAY?
Definitely not. Here’s why.
1. Acts 1….Judas had failed. Peter stood up and said..”must one be ordained.” Even when there were two fine men, Just us and Matthias, nevertheless they only voted for one.
2. Matthias was chosen but NEVER acknowledged by the Lord.
3. Paul was chosen by Christ. He revealed himself to Paul on the Damascus road. It is mentioned many times, “Paul, an Apostle…”
4. If the Apostles could not choose another Apostle, who has that authority to choose apostles today?
5. There is a booklet written recently stating there are THREE SETS of Apostles. This is really sad. It is not to be taken lightly that Rev. 21:14 tells us that the walls of the Holy City had twelve foundations and in them the names of the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb. If there could be more Apostles today God would have to change the foundations of New Jerusalem.
FIVE FOLD MINISTRY
Eph. 4:11-14. God gave us the Apostles and Prophets to write the Bible. He has also given us evangelists, pastors and teachers to preach and teach what has already been written. When we lose that guide line and control we are drifting either toward deadness or fanaticism.
Paul also warns us that we “be no more tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine….and wait to be deceived.”
May the good Lord Help us to work with all our hears in the fear of God. We are responsible to do our best by His grace. However, we are not asked to become frantic or desperate. There are no short cuts to a REAL REVIVAL. We are operating in dangerous waters when the gifts supersede the Word of God.
Jer. 6:16 “Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.”
(The above article was given by Rev. S. G. Norris, President of A.B.I.)
APOSTLES & PROPHETS TODAY
By: Marvin A. Hicks
Ephesians 4:11 “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;”
ARE THERE APOSTLES AND PROPHETS TODAY? WERE THESE MINISTRIES TO CEASE AND ONLY PASTORS EVANGELISTS AND TEACHERS REMAIN?
Personally, it is very disturbing to hear our own ministers use the same line of reasoning and scriptural references to try to eliminate pastors and other ministries of inspiration.
The time has come for men of courage to speak out for the five-fold ministry in the New Testament Church today. The plain truth is that until Jesus Christ comes for His Church, there will be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, and ALL NINE OF THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS AS PROMISED IN EPHESIANS 4:11 and I CORINTHIANS 12:1-10.
I ask you a simple question: Is the apostolic ministry a gift? Is prophecy a gift? Is the evangelist a gift to your church? Is the pastor a gift to your church? Are teachers gifts to the church? Certainly, they are . . . just as much as any of the nine spiritual gifts! And inasmuch as this text in Ephesians 4:11 states that “He gave some apostles and prophets”, we must of necessity conclude that if they were “given”, they were “gifts”.
But now to the important question. Where is the verse in the Bible that says these gifts . . . these ministries were to cease? Who has the authority to go through Ephesians 4:11 and draw the line of elimination? Some draw the line after apostles and prophets, and thus,they leave evangelists, pastors and teachers. Others draw the line after apostles, prophets and pastors . . . thus, leaving what they call uninspired evangelists and teachers.
Upon what “meat hath Caesar eaten that he hath waxed so great” so as to go through the Word of God and eliminate the office than to silence the voice of God through any one of the five ministries authorized by Ephesians 4:11! I cry out again: WHERE IS THE VERSE THAT TELLS US THAT THE APOSTOLIC AND PROPHETIC MINISTRIES WILL CEASE?
Now turn to I Corinthians 1:7 and find a verse that speaks clearly about these gift ministries. “So that ye come behind in no gift;waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:.” Then cast your eyes upon I Thessalonians 5:19-23. “Quench not the Spirit . . . despise not prophesy’s . . . unto the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
First, consider the reasons given by some who reject apostles and prophets today.
1. That there were only twelve (12) original Apostles of the Lamb and because the foundation of the Holy City is named after these men.
2. That when Judas failed, of the two good men available, only one was chosen (Matthias was chosen over Just us).
3. That nowhere in the scripture do we read where God recognized this election of Matthias as a replacement for Judas.
4. That the apostles and prophets were used to write the Bible. . .the and once the Bible was written, the need for apostles and prophets was eliminated.
A careful study of these reasons will prove the existence of apostles and prophets today! No one denies that there were twelve original Apostles of the Lamb and that the Holy City will be honored by their names. But the truth is, the original twelve apostles were chosen and ordained by Jesus himself. Paul was himself made an apostle by the glorified Jesus. Granted that Matthias was an interim apostle. . .that he did no miracle . . . but served only until Apostle Paul was divinely ordained, the fact that because be was elected (AND NOT PLACED IN THE CHURCH BY JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF) proves the point.Matthias was elected. No apostle or prophet today is never voted on by popular demand or placed in the Church by the will of men. The difference is the answer. Please look at Ephesians 4:11 again. “And he gave some . . . .” The “he” here is Jesus Christ. The “gave” refers to the five-fold gift ministries. The “some” means the churches. He gave the churches apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.The apostles and prophets were not elected . . . they were not voted on . . . God placed them in the Church and since God did it . . . they may not even be recognized as such by the Body of Christ! That’s why there is a question about the apostleship of Matthias . . . he was voted upon . . . he was elected by the casting of lots. Of course,even this was done before the Day of Pentecost and the establishment of the Church. We need to understand in this “end time revival” that we simply do no VOTE on what GOD PLACES IN THE CHURCH.
God gives them . . . and for the sake of revival, we simply say “THANKS TO GOD” and accept their ministries among us!
ARE THESE MINISTRIES LISTED ACCORDING TO THEIR IMPORTANCE?
Others have reasoned that the categorical mention of these ministries determines their significance . . . the first mentioned being the most important and the last mentioned being the least.
This is utter folly! Jesus said a man must be born of “water and Spirit.” Does this logic mean that water is more important than Spirit? The Apostle Paul said, “Now abideth faith, hope and charity.” Does this mean charity is least because it’s mentioned last? Quite the opposite is true. “The greatest of these is charity,” declared the apostle. In the ministerial line up of Ephesians 4:11, the evangelist is mentioned before the pastor. Where is the pastor who would take second place to the evangelist, turn all the authority of his church over to the visiting preacher and abdicate his pastoral authority? You know this would destroy any church.
GUIDELINES FOR CONTROL
But where are the guidelines to control these ministries? I answer, in the Bible . . . in the same verses that control the evangelists, pastors, teachers and the other gifts of the Spirit. These guidelines can be read clearly in I Corinthians 14:3 and all ministries must be for “EDIFICATION, COMFORT AND EXHORTATION”! So if there are no prophets after the original prophets, what about Agabus? Agabus
prophesied over Paul telling of his sufferings in Jerusalem, and in doing so, he was fore-telling a future event. But why did not Philip’s daughters prophesy? The answer is simply that they had not joined the women’s lib movement . . . and they did not assume to prophesy over such a great man as the Apostle Paul. Brethren we simply cannot found a doctrine on what someone did not do! So with Agabus, at best, you have a prophet telling an apostle something and this certainly does not indicate that the prophet is superior to the apostle.
HAS THE NEED FOR APOSTLES AND PROPHETS CEASED?
Now to the heartbreak! Some have taught, “We have the Bible so we do not need apostles and prophets. These were for the writing of the Bible” . . . and on and on go the arguments! These same positions are used by those who do away with healings and miracles, for they say we have the Bible now . . . we do not need the gift of the Holy Ghost . . . we do not need the spiritual gifts. Oh, brethren, we have fought this for years, and I say not one of our ministers must ever resort to this logic to protect an office or position.
If there are no prophets because the Bible is complete, pray tell me why was Agabus a prophet . . . or Philip’s daughters? Where is the book of Agabus? Where are the books of Philip’s daughters? Luke was not an apostle, and he wrote some of the Bible! The Bible, therefore, was not written by apostles and prophets exclusively.
If we eliminate apostles and prophets because the Bible is complete,why not eliminate tongues? A man could just as easily stand with a message in tongues and say “thus saith the Lord” and add to the scripture as could an apostle or prophet. You know as well as I know that no man nor message can add to the written Word of God! So the safeguard men worry so much about is the Bible . . . the same guidelines that control tongues speaking and other gift ministries.AND NO MAN, BE HE AN APOSTLE, PROPHET, EVANGELIST, PASTOR OR TEACHER WILL EVER UTTER ONE WORD UNDER DIVINE ANOINTING THAT CONTRADICTS ONE SINGLE VERSE IN YOUR BIBLE!!
WHO HAS AUTHORITY TO CHOOSE APOSTLES AND PROPHETS TODAY?
Now we come to another urgent question. If the apostles could not choose a successor to Judas . . . or if the apostles could not choose another apostle…WHO HAS THE AUTHORITY TO DO SO TODAY? The answer is . . . the same One who chose and ordained the other apostles . . .His name is Jesus Christ! Remember, it is He who gave apostles and prophets to the churches. No man elects or approves apostles and prophets today. God himself gives them to the churches and they may move among us, unrecognized by us, because we have a habit of recognizing only what we vote on!
It is further argued that “Not one office in our organization is safe if we have prophets today!” Dear God, how carnal can we get? ARE WE SO SET ON PRESERVING AN ORGANIZATIONAL OFFICE THAT WE ARE WILLING TO SILENCE THE VOICE OF GOD THROUGH APOSTLES AND PROPHETS? IF GOD, SPEAKING TO US WITHIN THE GUIDELINES OF HIS HOLY BOOK, THREATENS AN OFFICE . . . SO BE IT!
You see, we admit the danger here if we allowed the prophets to become superior to the other ministries of Ephesians 4:11, but I have already proven that this is not true.
And there would be a danger if we elected these apostles and prophets and by their popularity among us, they would influence sincere souls into un-scriptural practices and beliefs. But I have already proven these ministries are not elected by the popular vote of the people. In fact, the man who proclaims loud and long that he is an apostle or a prophet has probably been placed in the position by self-appointed. But I am speaking of those good men of God whom the Lord gave to the churches.
We deeply resent the inferences that this end-time revival with the five-fold ministry is like the latter rain of the fifties where bobbed hair and painted faces exposed the fallacy of women who allegedly received gifts and imparted gifts. Ah, those people fought the Name of Jesus . . . but today, the Name of Jesus is the very foundation stone of this end-time revival among the United Pentecostal Church International!
It is true, some prophesy by praising God. We are aware that the “spirit of prophecy is the testimony of the saints!”But you cannot confine the word “prophecy” to testifying. If means to tell forth. . .and to foretell. But always remember, the prophet has no room for guess work, he’s not allowed a batting average! He is always right, or he becomes a false prophet! And the Bible can judge him so. So we conclude, apostles and prophets are gifts to the churches today just as much so as tongues, healings and miracles.
Now I bring you one final word. Does not the Bible say the “the law and the prophets were until John . . .”? It certainly does. But I ask you, why was the law abolished? The answer is . . . it was without Spirit! The law failed! Why were the Old Testament prophets silenced? Because they were without the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. The Spirit moved upon them, but they were not Spirit-baptized! But today, all New Testament prophets are baptized with the Holy Ghost. This is the Kingdom of God.
TO REJECT THESE MINISTRIES IS TO HINDER REVIVAL
Now I plead with you, do not object a single one of the ministries of Ephesians 4:11 . To do so is to hinder
revival. To do so is to draw a line through the verse in the same manner the so called Church of Christ preachers do! If you can, so can they!
By the same reasoning used by those who oppose the five-fold ministry today, men have eliminated pastors, the nine gifts of the Spirit, the healing power through prayer for the sick in Jesus’ Name, and the call of God to any part of the ministry!!!
Far be it from any one of us to follow this same trail to the cemetery of denominationalism, for if we do, the spirits of tens of thousand of sainted souls will rise to curse the day we were born.
(The above article was a radio message delivered by Brother Hicks, June 19, 1974, at the Texas District Camp Meeting.)
THE MINISTRY OF A PROPHET
By: W. C. Parkey
“And God hath set . . . in the church . . . prophets. . .” Cor. 72:28.
I have always wanted to be a prophet. From my childhood when I read of men who came speaking for God, I have longed to be that kind of man. I have since become a preacher, but I still carry that desire to be a prophet of the Lord.
I still believe in prophets. The New Testament says that God gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Eph. 4:11). This has been called “the fivefold ministry”. Others feel that the pastor and teacher is one ministry, but at any rate the prophet is definitely included. The Bible even names certain prophets in the New Testament Church – Agabus was certainly one (Acts 21:10) and the church at Antioch had others (Acts 13:1). It is said that God set in the church, firstly apostles and secondarily prophets. Since we know that the church today is the same New Testament Church that began on the day of Pentecost, it is not out of order to look for prophets in the church today.
However, there are certain facts which must be noted in order to give the office of a prophet its proper place. Just as in the Old Testament Israel had prophets, priests and kings to fulfill their own particular function, in the New Testament church God has seen fit to include the apostle, the evangelist, the pastor and the teacher along with the prophet. God did not expect all of his ministers to fulfill the prophetic office, therefore he included other necessary ministerial functions for the work of the ministry and the edifying of the body of Christ. The work of the prophet is not all that is needed by the body of Christ to bring the saints to perfection.
There were other men beside the twelve apostles who were called apostles but these did not take the place of the twelve “foundation apostles” who were entrusted with the task of establishing the church. No modern apostle, whatever his qualifications can challenge the faith that was once delivered unto the saints (Jude :3). It is for this reason that we reject the claims of such men as Joseph Smith as spurious because they seek to establish new truths that were not taught as the principles of the apostles’ doctrine. So, no modern day prophet is going to speak under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost anything that is contrary to the principles which were first delivered to the church by the twelve (Acts 2:42).
It is also well to consider that the gift of prophecy is not the same as the ministerial office of the prophet. Just as the gift of tongues is not the same as the gift of the Holy Ghost which causes one to speak with tongues and just as the gift of faith is not the same as the saving faith that is present in every believer, so the gift of prophecy is not the same as the ministry of the prophet. Paul has said that all may prophesy and endorses the desire for all to prophesy, but all are not prophets (I Cor. 12:29).
The gift of the spirit which is called prophecy is the spiritual endowment to speak unto men to exhortation, edification and comfort (I Cor. 14:3). It is said elsewhere in scripture that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10). Prophecy came in old times when holy men of God were moved by the Holy Ghost (1 Pet. 1:21), and thus it comes today. But the prophet was not a message sent from God, it was a man sent from God. Such men are more important than the message. To speak in tongues or to prophesy does not qualify one to be a prophet. God gave prophets, just as he gave pastors and evangelists.
While we are command to “despise not prophesying” and we should not, we still should be aware that prophecy is only one of nine gifts listed in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. We should give due regard to all of the gifts and not only to the gift of prophecy alone. We should also give due regard to the other ministries that God has provided for the perfection of the saints and not look only for a prophet.
The ministry of teaching is a neglected ministry in this generation. The ministry of the evangelist has only recently been given the accent that it deserves. The ministry of the pastor is so important that it would not seem necessary to emphasize it. There is a danger, however, that in our search form the prophetic office that the role of the pastor could be held in contempt. Just as many persons tend to downgrade the ministry of teaching after the fiery effervescence of an evangelist, so many who see the power of God resting upon a prophet tend to compare their own pastor and his ministry unfavorably.
God used the prophets of Judah and Israel to speak to the kings of those countries, but the prophet did not try to become the king. The prophet was often called upon to speak to the priests about their service in the house of the Lord, but he left the discharge of the duties of the priesthood to the priests.
Let us hear the gift of prophecy, but let us also have the operation of the other gifts in the church. And let us have the ministry of the prophet among us. God give us men who are sent from God to speak and to exercise spiritual direction among us. But let us also have the ordered ministry of those who rule the house of God well. Let us give them double honor for they are deserving of it (I Tim. 5:17). Let us give the evangelist his place and revive the respect for the teaching ministry. We need all of God’s gifts and all of his ministries to perfect the saints, do the work of the ministry and edify the body of Christ.
(The original source and/or publisher of the above material is unknown.)
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
By: O. F. Fauss
Some say there were twenty-three apostles in the New Testament church, and that there are apostles in the church today. Others say there are none. Please explain the ministries, especially of apostles and prophets.
I invite you to study with me a few facts, using both the Scriptures and good common sense. We shall deal first with apostles, and later with prophets.
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines apostle, or apostles as “the original twelve sent out by Christ to teach the gospel; a person sent out on a special mission or as a preacher, the first Christian missionary in a country or place; any early Christian missionary or leader, an early advocate or leader of a new principle or movement, especially one aimed at reform.”
Therefore, the way in which the word Apostle is used or applied determines its true meaning.
Apostles were first mentioned in the Scriptures when Jesus called, ordained and sent forth The Twelve (Mark 3:13-19; Matthew 10:1-4; Luke 9:1, 2). These men are referred to as The Twelve throughout the New Testament (it being understood, of course, that one of them, Judas, fell, and was replaced). For references, see Luke 2@8-@; Acts 15:1, 2, 4, 22, 23, 25, 28; I Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 2:20; Revelation 21:14.
Paul was called an apostle to the Gentiles. Barnabas was also called an apostle. He was not one of The Twelve, but he was one sent forth on a special mission as a preacher. Paul and Barnabas served as the first Christian pioneer missionaries, and founders of churches in those various countries where they were called.
To contend that Paul was urging the perpetual continuation of the office of the twelve Apostles when he wrote: “And he gave some apostles. . . .” (Ephesians 4:11), and “. . . God set some in the church, first apostles. . . .” (I Corinthians 12:8), tends only to confuse and mislead unstable souls. In a sense, the Pentecostal pioneers. founders and builders were apostles, for they were sent forth, but it would be a mistake to try to place them in the same category with the Twelve Apostles, who were designated as “FIRST apostles. . . .”
During my more than fifty-year connection with the Pentecostal movement, I have associated with some of the greatest ministers, leaders and builders – men who have accomplished wonders in the name of the Lord. Yet, it would seem awkward and unfitting, both spiritually and Scripturally, to introduce any one of them as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.
What About Prophets?
The ministers of the New Testament church preached from the only Scriptures they had in their day- the Old Testament Law and the prophets. For example, Peter told Cornelius, “To him gave all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). James, in referring to a certain question before the Apostles and elders, said, “And to this agree the words of the prophets, as it is written. . . .” (Acts 15:15). Finally, Paul, in referring to the setting up of the church, declared, “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. . . .” (Ephesians 2:20).
The word prophet does not necessarily refer to foretelling alone. It also means “to declare, to teach, or to preach.” Even the Old Testament prophets did this. Isaiah was told “Show my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isaiah 58:1). A prophet was, and still is, God’s messenger.
God has revealed wonderful truths in the last generation or so- truths that through the middle ages were hidden beneath rituals and man-made traditions. These truths concerned God’s plan of salvation. There has been a restoration of the message that Jesus commissioned His early followers to declare unto all the world. Each truth, as it has been revealed, has established and strengthened all the former revelations of God’s Word. None exalted men or individual groups, to give glory to the flesh.
Whenever or wherever we hear something being presented as a revelation of truth, let us keep this Scriptural rule in mind: “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and draws from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little and there a little. . . .” (Isaiah 23:9, 10). And again, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).
In other words, one truth magnifies all other truths, and agrees thereto. Too many manifestations and spiritual demonstrations are foreign to the methods and practices of those in the apostolic age, or of the God fearing men of our day who have brought us this precious Pentecostal truth.”
(The original source and/or publisher of the above material is unknown.)
WHAT ESTABLISHES ELIGIBILITY OF APOSTLES TODAY?
By: David F. Gray
If there are apostles today, what establishes eligibility?
We must make a distinction between Apostles (the office) and apostles (the ministry), just as we must between Elder (the office) and elder (a comparative term). Just as all the “elder” men are not Elders, so all who are “sent forth” (the meaning of the word apostle) are not Apostles.
There are only twelve Apostles of the Lamb whose names are inscribed upon the twelve foundations of the holy city of God (Rev. 21:14), These are the twelve that will sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel in the millennium (Matt. 19:28). There are twelve and only twelve Apostles of the Lamb, and there will never be any more.
These compose the foundation of the Church, for we “are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:20). This foundation, which is “the Apostle’s doctrine” (Acts 2:42), and “the faith once (and for all) delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), is contained in the writings of the New Testament which the Apostles and prophets (such as Paul) wrote. There never can be another foundation laid or more Scriptures to be written, therefore there is no more need for the Apostolic office, which was to lay the foundation for the Church once and for all.
Qualifications for these twelve were that they must have been a disciple of Jesus from the time He was baptized in Jordan by John the Baptist, and that they witnessed His resurrection (Acts 1:21,22). It is my conviction that Matthias succeeded Judas Iscariot in the twelve.
The ministry of apostle, however, was extended to many others besides the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb. Included in this number was Paul (Rom. 1:1), Barnabas (Acts 14:14), and Andronicus and Junia (Rom. 16:7).
While I do not believe there are any more than twelve Apostles of the Lamb and that this office is closed for all time and eternity to any others than the twelve, I do believe that the ministry of an apostle, as exemplified by Barnabas, and in its highest order by Paul, does continue, and that there are apostles in that sense today.
The ministry of an apostle is that he is sent forth to a region or a nation that is as yet unreached by the gospel. There he must labor, evangelize that area, establish the work and oversee it. God confirms his ministry and apostleship with supernatural signs and wonders. This one sent forth by God then becomes the apostle to those people.
Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, was the prime example of such an apostle. He asks, in I Cor. 9:1, 2; “Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?Are ye not my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.” Further, he declared in II Cor. 12:12: “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.”
But then Paul says, “I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me” (II Cor. 12:11). This leads us to give a final word of warning. It would be a mistake for any man, no matter how great his ministry, to claim he has the ministry of an apostle today. There is too much confusion in the minds of the people concerning apostleship. It is far better to faithfully and humbly labor in the harvest field, leave whatever ranks and titles and offices one may qualify for to God, and simply accept the title of “brother”. “Let another man praise thee and not thine own mouth” (Prov 27:2).
Jesus said, “Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matt. 20:26,27), and “Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matt. 23:12).
(The above article appeared in an issue of Gospel Tidings) Christian Information Network