By Michael Blue Erdmier on Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 11:54pm
Ephesians 4:11-13 "And He gave the Apostles, the Prophets, the Evangelists, the Shepherds [Pastors] and Teachers,
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,
to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (ESV)
The Bible mentions a "Five-Fold" ministry model multiple times
in the New Testament.
As we see the Apostles interact with the early church throughout the New Testament, we see them fulfilling their role as part of the foundation of those churches,
teaching, directing, admonishing and speaking the heart of God for those churches.
Today we are seeing a renewed sense of calling to this format, the "Pastor-led"
or "Elder-led" models (which are found nowhere in scripture) showing
themselves to be inadequate for the furtherance of the Kingdom.
There was a reason David chose five, smooth stones to defeat Goliath. There is a reason God still chooses them today.
Each minister is one facet of God's heart, each fulfills a different role in reaching and ministering to the lost, pastoring, teaching and discipling the church.
No one man can do it all, without this model no team of elders is diverse enough to protect from every attack, to handle every situation.
As I have studied this in recent years, my own calling has been slowly revealed
to me, and a pattern of how the Five-Fold work together has become clear.
Each of the five giftings or callings has its own strengths and weaknesses, its own areas of clarity and its own areas of potential attack.
For this reason, the five are all required to help keep one another safe from attack, on track for the intended goal. I will illustrate some of those interactions here.
Different from all the others, an Apostle is "set apart",
by God alone, before birth (Galatians 1:15). No man can make another an Apostle.
You are not hired for this position, you are not called by an elder team, congregational body or denominational convention, you are set apart by God before your birth.
My personal experience has taught me that Apostles are generally outsiders,
not generally accepted or even well-liked.
They are not your popular kids, not the successful businessmen who are well thought of in the community.
If you look at the scriptural examples we have to base any reference for the Apostolic on; Moses, David, John the Baptist, Jesus...
None are likely to be your pastor, your elder, your deacon or anyone in other positions of leadership in a traditional church setting.
No, these are the folks tending sheep out in the wilderness, eating locusts and honey, with their insecurities, speech impediments, general un-interestingness and inadequacies.
But, they do have one thing going for them, at least where it concerns faith.
They are hard-core fanatics for the cause.
Unafraid to unabashedly make known the will or heart of God for a people, a time or a place. Making no reputation for themselves, these folks are not, ever, afraid to speak the Truth.
They will not bend or compromise on the Word of God, they don't preach with sloppy scripture references or poor interpretations.
No, they revere the Word as what it is; Jesus Christ Himself. This is a trait they share with true Prophets and Teachers.
For better or for worse, the world appears more "black and white", situations are a lot more "cut and dry" to these folks.
If you are trying to determine someone's calling or giftings and they don't fit this particular characteristic, you're not looking at an Apostle, Prophet or Teacher.
Apostles necessarily must not only posses those characteristics of a Prophet
and Teacher, but also those of the Pastor and Evangelist.
These two share the drive to bring the word to those who need it, and to help keep those who have found their way into a flock from straying.
They are all about love, tolerance, getting along, caring about the hearts of others and looking out for the feelings of everyone involved in a situation.
This, combined with a lesser sense of dedication to "the letter of the Word" makes these two more susceptible to false teaching, bad theology and a lukewarm approach to faith.
All of the misguided "interfaith" meetings between Christians and Muslims, the false belief that Eastern Mysticism like yoga have any place in the church or in a believer's life,
universalism and more can be blamed on this over-developed sense of heart. "Love and tolerance" takes control over the pursuit of righteousness and speaking the hard Truth in the church.
This isn't all bad, we need these folks and their perspective is absolutely necessary to balance out their Prophet and Teacher counterparts.
An Apostle needs to be able to see all of these perspectives and weigh them
Knowing how to carefully and skillfully guide the other four requires not sympathy, but empathy for those positions and perspectives.
When a Pastor wants to invite the local Buddhists over for an "interfaith" meeting, it is the role of the Apostle to act on what both the Prophet and Teacher see with him as a major issue.
When the Prophet wants to banish someone from the body for a perceived blasphemous remark, it is the Apostle's job to act
in accordance with the hearts of the Pastor and Evangelist in maintaining those relationships, while also bringing correction and direction if and where it is needed.
If you hear of someone going around calling themselves an Apostle and they do not posses both a strong commitment to the Word, as well as a real heart for people, they are false.
Apostleship is not some daring, glorious call to a huge ministry. It is servitude.
Although our culture looks at positions of authority as "on top of" their subordinates, in the church it is the other way around.
Just as Christ served and was obedient, so anyone answering the call of an Apostle must obey God and serve those in his charge. Apostles are, with Christ, part of the foundation a church is built on.
It is the pattern they personally received from God, along with the Word and a commitment to prayer, that leads a body and keeps them from the many pitfalls awaiting them.
More often than not, those doing this work without the title are in the background, undergirding those ministries that have been called to.
Here again, if you see someone with a huge international ministry with their name in lights, they likely are not a true Apostle.
Finally, there are those who claim that the time of Apostles and Prophets
has passed. They claim that, since Christ is the Cornerstone, the entire foundation
must already be laid.
They claim the purpose of the Five-Fold in that capacity was the establishing of the Bible as we know it today.
I humbly submit that this assumption is based on a lot of speculation and creative interpretation.
The Word says itself the purpose for the Five-Fold; "Until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ".
It goes on to talk about false doctrines and the church being tossed to and fro.
It seems to me that we are still in a time of needing a strong Apostolic foundation in the church today, as we are still being tossed by false doctrines,
we are still not in unity, being divided by all kinds of denominations and doctrines, each based on some man's perspective on a particular issue.
Until the church can be in unity, worshiping as ONE, we will need Apostles.
This is a very abbreviated look at the Five-Fold Ministry model.
There is much, much more to it and the full teaching of it would, and does, take a lifetime.
But it should give you a better view on the interaction between the five, why they are each needed,
and how they work together as one to protect and guide a church family in the way God intended and prescribed.
May God greatly bless all of you!