Sunday, November 18, 2007

Wanted: Apostles and Prophets!!

I love it when one of my heroes says something that I have been thinking and musing on for ages but says it far more eloquently and far more unapologetically than I ever could! Both Rob Rufus and Terry Virgo have spoken recently on the vital need for more apostles and prophets in the Church today. I fear that because of hyper-legalism and authoritarianism in some circles among some self-appointed apostles - that there is a backing off for the continued call for more of these vital Ascension gifts of the Risen Christ. The concept is as true in spiritual gifts and charismatic life as it is here: wrong use doesn't excuse no use - we need right use!

"An over-emphasis, therefore, on the pastoral role can result in pre-occupation with needs. We could become need-centred instead of apostolic and prophetic, thereby missing God’s intention and forgetting the bigger picture, building churches that gradually become foreign to the atmosphere of the New Testament".

Terry is by no means rubbishing the vital need for the pastor/teacher but in his post he goes on to historically document how the role of pastor/teacher has developed (maybe not for the best) in response to the changing culture in which we live. He wrote;

"We may have failed to bring adequate positive Biblical teaching about the vital role of pastors and teachers. They are, of course, the most visible ministers in the local church. They have the most ‘hands on’ role among the flock".

But that being said, Terry shows very ably how initially pre-Reformation the pastor/teacher was seen as a "holy man" and the "mediator between God and man". I think and suspect that many pastor/teachers are still seen as the "holy man" and the "mediator between God and man". It chills me when I hear Christians who are meant to be Spirit-baptised speaking with hyper-reverence about their pastor and pondering questions on the guidance of God that they are going to take to him to find out God's will. Then Terry went on to show how the Enlightenment brought in a generation of pastor/teachers who felt they needed to become academically trained and equipped and from that came the academic theologians to whom many of us now look.

But are we suffering as a result of this from lack of anointed spiritual ministries? Has theological training replaced spiritual anointing? Has books replaced the Presence of the Holy Spirit? Has the presence of the pastor replaced the need for the daily personal Presence of God?

Rob Rufus is absolutely clear that there is a direct link between the vacuum of grace in the Church today with the absence of apostles and prophets. He said;

"Pastor/teachers and evangelists do not have the grace anointing to protect the church from a grace-hating spirit - they just don't seem to see it! Whereas apostles and prophets sniff it out. They can smell the grace-hating spirit and have an aggression towards it that may frighten people but they WILL deal with the grace-hating spirit!"

Well some may argue that the Church has sort of flourished and continued to grow despite apostles and prophets not being very visible. That argument really doesn't stand up to logic or Scripture. We should never take God's natural grace and His promises ("I will build My Church") as an excuse to not live up to the promises and demands of Scripture ("He has given some"). If He has given some - then we should be asking where are they!? Are apostles and prophets rising up in our ranks of churches only to be squashed and snuffed out by controlling pastor/teachers and elders who feel threatened by them?

Rob Rufus too, like Terry, has a very good understanding of church history and said;

"In the Dark Ages the ministry of apostles and prophets were totally rejected, lost and hidden and the church went into darkness. When that happens secular society also goes into darkness. When the Church comes into restoration, a restoration comes on secular society with technological break through. In the Dark Ages the church came almost entirely under a grace hating spirit".

These things are all linked gloriously and wonderfully. We cannot continue to see apostles and prophets in isolation from the "grace revolution" that is sweeping the earth. Grace can so easily be snuffed out by legalism. Don't tell me it isn't true. I've seen it happen in my own life. I've seen it in my family's life. I've seen it in past churches life and it still happens. We must be avidly interested in ANY gifts from God that will serve to set His Church gloriously free into enjoying His grace and Presence - and that most definately includes apostles and prophets.

Let our prayer and cry be: Lord, give us more!

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