Has your church had its recent visit of a “traveling apostle”?
“As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines” (1Tim 1:3)
The apostle Paul saw a great need for another apostle, Timothy, to “remain on at Ephesus” because there were “certain men” – really false elders – who were leading the church in a bad direction. Actually, the whole book of I Timothy you can consider as a manual of what to do about wayward elders and how to reproduce true ones!
Having apostles around was one of the key components in keeping together a “pure church” . Paul said as much when he wrote to the Ephesians:
”And He [Christ] gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Eph 4:11-12)
Here we read that apostles along with prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (commonly called the five-fold ministry gifts) were key to the success of the building up and proper functioning of the body of Christ.
Apostles in action in the early church.
Apostles in the early church were “sent ones” who traveled the world bringing Christ to an unreached area. They were small in number and extremely mobile. Sometimes they stayed in a city for as little as a month or two; staying just long enough to “lay the foundation” of a new fellowship of believers. They used homes exclusively – both for lodging and for gatherings/meetings.
One important trait of a NT apostle is that they manifested the “signs of an apostle” amongst themselves as they went from city to city, region by region.
”The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.” (2 Cor. 12:12) ”in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit… I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.” (Rom 15:19)
Apostles plant the seed.
Apostles, along with prophets, lay the foundations. Others coming after were to build off that foundation.
”I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” I Cor 3:6 NIV
Apostles not only planted the seed, but were of necessity “first on the scene” and first to be involved in the church life:
”And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings…” I Cor 12:28
Apostles bring correction.
Apostles are one of only a handful of people who can bring godly correction and rebuke to the local church.
In I Timothy Paul urged Timothy to stay on longer in Ephesus so that you “may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer” (I Tim 1:3). By doing this Timothy was fulfilling his role as an apostle to the local church! This “roving band of apostles” kept the early church healthy and on track. If there were sin issues to deal with at the local church level, the apostles had the authority and position to address it:
”[Timothy] do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.” (1Ti 5:19-21)
Dear Friends, Church boards and committees can never bring about the correction and rebuke required to keep the local church healthy and free from sin! We cannot vote our way through a difficult situation when a rebuke of the senior pastor/elder may be what’s needed!
We need apostles who have the authority from God to “deliver over to satan” men and women who are living outside the borders set by God, so that they will be brought back into the fold! (1 Tim. 1:20; I Cor 5:5)
We need apostles who are “called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God” (I Cor 1:1) who can exercise their roles and function as servants of God in our midst. If you and your church don’t have an apostle, get one! If you cannot find one, pray hard and raise one up!
Yours for the Coming King,