APOSTOLIC FOUNDATIONS FOR OUR TIMES
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:19-20).
In the fourth chapter of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul wrote that, at the time of His ascension, Jesus gave five governmental gifts to mankind. In that list, the apostle is mentioned first. Taken with the reference from the second chapter, it would seem that the apostle, while intended to be a team player, might be looked upon as “the first among equals.”
It is true that Christ is our Chief Cornerstone (Eph. 2:20) and the Rock upon which the Church is built (Psa. 18:2; Luke 6:48); but the Church also has a foundation, without which it cannot stand. That foundation is the apostles and prophets, those who, in God’s economy, govern and guide the Church. Beginning in the 1940s, we began to see the restoration of the five-fold ministry gifts. The 1940s and -50s saw the restoration of the gift of the evangelist as men like Billy Graham, Oral Roberts, A.A. Allen and others sought to turn the heart of the nation back to God. The 1960s and -70s saw the restoration of the gift of the pastor, as God touched the hearts of many to minister to the harvest of souls who had been rejected by the established Church. These God-called pastors were not always seminary-trained, but regenerated hippies flocked to them by the tens of thousands because of the love and acceptance they displayed toward a generation that had tuned in, turned on and dropped out.
From the late 1970s into the 1990s, there was a simultaneous restoration of the teacher and the prophet. These years were characterized by a hunger for the Word of God, and manufacturers of cassette tapes (and tape players) prospered. Nationally-known Bible teachers toured the churches and convention centers of America, and a number of prophetic ministries were birthed.
None of those gift ministries existed in a vacuum, of course. From the 1940s to the 1990s, many men and women taught and prophesied, and evangelized and pastored under the unction of the Holy Spirit. Most were gifted in those realms for service to the local church, but not all of them were specifically called and anointed as part of the five-fold ministry to the Church at large.
In light of the order found in Ephesians 4:11, it seems that God had things backward, or at least confused. Technically speaking, the office of Apostle should have been restored first, then the office of Prophet, etc. Of course, God’s ways are not ours (Isa. 55:8-9), and He knows better than we the order in which ministries should be restored. We could spend quite a bit of time speculating why He chose to wait to restore the office of Apostle until the others were reestablished; but speculation would be just that. It is enough to know that He is doing it now.
A foundation must first be aligned according to a primary reference point. If the reference point itself is misaligned, the rest of the foundation – and the entire building – may be jeopardized. For that reason, today’s apostles (like those of old) must align themselves with the Chief Cornerstone, Jesus Christ, and Him alone. No other reference point is perfect. No other reference point is capable of providing “a sure foundation” (Isa. 28:16). Today’s apostolic leaders carry the same responsibility as the first apostles – to uncompromisingly preach and teach the truth of the gospel of Christ with power, wherever He may lead them.
Is it possible for a modern apostle to be “out of plumb”? Yes. Apostles today are just as human as those in New Testament times. Just as Paul warned against false teachers and false prophets, so we should also be wary of false apostles. However, that does not mean that we should be fearful and simply disregard the words and ministry of the apostle. Rather, we should be like the Berean Christians mentioned by Paul in Acts 17:10-12, searching the scriptures daily to verify the words of today’s apostles.
This syllabus is a compilation of teachings from a number of modern apostolic leaders. It is rich in the wisdom of God’s Word, but it is also full of lessons in practical application. As you study these chapters, and as you search the scriptures to verify their contents, you will be enriched, challenged and blessed. Perhaps your own foundation will be repaired as you study and learn.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Robert L. Rundall, D. Phil.
To access course material, click on “COURSE SYLLABUS” below.