Sunday, April 15, 2007

Modern Day Apostles and Prophets????

"Stephen, what in the world are you talking about! There is no such thing as a modern day apostle or prophet." I can already assume what the majority of my readers are going to say when seeing this title. However, as I continue in my venture I am compelled to be honest and share what interesting things I am learning from Ephesians as I dig into the word which God has given to us for us to grow.

So what am I talking about? "Where are you getting this topic in the first place", you may be asking.

Well it all started as I was meditating on Ephesians 4:7-16. Paul is now speaking of the unity of the church and the instruments God has ordained for the building up of it. So Paul speaks of the gifts that were given to the church from Christ. It reads, "But to each one of us grace was given, according to the measure of Christ's gift."

When were these gifts given you may ask. They were given at His ascension when He led the captive free and He sat down at the right hand of God. When Jesus sent His Spirit to the church these gifts were delegated to elect individuals that God chose for the very purpose of building up the church, the bride of Christ.

What are these gifts you may ask. Well the gifts listed off in Ephesians are listed in order of there authority I think. (See I Cor. 12:27-28) They are as follows: "and He gave some as apostles, and some prophets, and some as evangelist, and some as pastors and teachers.

What for, you may then ask. "For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;"(Eph. 4:12).

So what does this have to do with today? What does this have to do with Modern day apostle and prophets? Haven't these gifts ceased since the finishing of the New Testament? What in this context would even imply that these gifts of offices are still here today for the equipping of the saints and the building up of the body of Christ? Allow me to quote the next verse.

"UNTIL we ALL attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ." Eph. 4:13

Paul points out that these gifts of offices were given for the purpose of the equipping of the saints for the building up of the body of Christ (which is the Church) UNTIL everyone within the church has attained to the unity of the faith. Not only that but also until everyone has become a mature man to the measure of stature which belongs to the FULLNESS of Christ.

This is important to point out because I have never in all my years been taught or heard anyone speak of the Church arriving to this point nor would anyone be able to prove that every individual within the church has matured to point to the fullness of Christ. And there is good reason for this. For these things will not come about until Christ returns for His Bride(I John 3:2).

"So knowing this now what could this possibly mean?"

This was my question as I was coming to these truths. I began to think back of all the reasons I had believed otherwise, all the teaching I recieved explaining why these gifts were gone.

I was left unsatisfied.

I then went to commentarries but none of them venture to explain verse 13's first word "UNTIL".

The president of Emmaus (William MacDonald), President of Master's Seminary(Dr. John Mac Authur), renouned scholar from Trinity D.A. Carson, and good ol' Matthew Henry, at best attempted to explain how, because in Ephesians 2:20, they are the foundation of the church. That, therefore, must elimnate them from being around today. They also pointed out how the apostles all saw Christ and that this was requirement for one being an Apostle.

These are good points, however, when one is honest with this text with a biblical exegesis none of those clearly eliminate the possibilty of a modern day Apostle and Prophet.

Couldn't the Apostles and Prophet be the foundation of the church and still be offices for the edification of the church today? Couldn't modern day apostles see Christ as Paul did?

Although, I am not claiming that there are, these are all nonetheless fair possibilities scripturally. Are they not?

"So then Stephen, what ARE you claiming, or suggesting?"

What I am recommending to you, the reader, to study God's Word diligently and show me with plain and simple logic from scripture that there can't be a modern day apostle or prophet. For this is the dilemma I am having as well.

However, I will say this, there are testimonies from fellow brothers and sisters in Christ of God doing miraculous things through individuals in other countries, such as China. Things that an apostle would do(II Cor. 12:12). And the church as a whole there view him as an apostle. Are we to call them liars? Are we to assume they are just primitive and possibly decieved? Or are we to believe their testimonies and rejoice with them that God is still moving in mighty ways through men that He has risen up for the purpose of the equipping of the saints and the building and perfecting of His bride the Church?

One book I suggest reading is "The Heavenly Man". It speaks of a brother who was miraculously saved and whom God has been working through to perform mighty works in China.

I request for you not to be so quick to "write someone off" as a liar or foolish for believing in God still raising up men whom He has entrusted these gifts to bring about His work in, through, and to the church.

Is it possible for there to be modern day apostles and prophets? You tell me. For I am just beginning my theology on this topic and what it could possibly mean.

God bless you all, and rejoice that, in either way, God is bringing about His work and He will finish His work in, through, and to the Church so that it may be presented to the Son: holy, blameless, and without blemish in the fullness of stature which belongs to Christ.

As a result, "we will no longer be children tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in decietful scheming. But speaking the TRUTH in love, we are to grow up in ALL aspects into Him who is the Head, Christ. From whom the whole body being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in Love." -God through the Apostle Paul to the church of Ephesus

I anxiously await this day with all hope and joy! and Rejoice in knowing my fellow brothers and sisters do as well! God bless!



3 comments:

Treasuring.Jesus said...

Stephen, I really appreciate your post. Thank God for men like you who wrestle with what Scripture actually says in spite of the seemingly persuasive arguments of men's sytematized theology to the contrary. The text does indeed say that Christ gave these apostles and prophets "UNTIL we all attain to...the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13, ESV).

The above Scripture reminds me of the same sense of 1 Corinthians 1:7-8 "...you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" (ESV). The inclusivity of "any spiritual gift" affords the possibility of the sense: "You are not lacking in [apostles and prophets] as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ." So this text supports the understanding that until our Lord Jesus is revealed in the last day, until that day when we see him and become like him, the church will, in some measure and in some sense enjoy the presence of apostles and prophets as gifts from the ascended, reigning, soon to return Lord Jesus Christ.

But what about the text that has been portrayed by some as showing a cessation of some gifts? "As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away" (1 Corinthians 13:8-10, ESV). When will these gifts "pass away"? "When the perfect comes." So when will "the perfect" come? It is certainly not the close of the Biblical canon (although the canon certainly is closed). The weight of Scripture does not rest on that or on some speculative time before Christ comes when the church will be somewhat mature. The weightiest understanding from Scripture points to "the perfect" being the second coming of Christ. That is what the Scripture above points to (1 Cor. 1:7), that is the only possible time when the church could ever hope to attain to "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ," and that is the kind of maturity the Apostle John refers to when he says, "when [Christ] appears we shall be like him, because we shall se him as he is" (ESV). Therefore until the perfect comes, until that day when the Church is perfected at the second coming of Christ, there will be in some measure and in some way apostles and prophets in God's church.

Nevertheless, I do not believe that today's apostles and prophets are exactly like those who wrote Scripture and who spoke ex-cathedra. Yet, there is some way God does have apostles and prophets in His church. Stephen, your allusion to "The Heavenly Man" may indeed be a good example of nowaday apostleship - men whose ministry is accompanied with mighty manifestations of God's power for the proclamation of the gospel for the honor and glory of Christ's name.

If there's anything we can be sure of it's this: "Through [Jesus] we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations" (Romans 1:5, ESV).

StevoWillco said...

thanks for sharing Adam! Much appreciated! Mor input is invited!

Modern Day Apostles said...

There is a church that has as it's foundation Jesus Christ with Modern Day Apostles and Prophets as it's earthly head.

It is called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Each apostle has a special calling of witnessing Christ's divinity. It is so special and sacred that they don't get too specific about this witness, but they allude to it in various ways.