Let me start out by saying, “We do not know everything there is to know about apostolic gifting.” Note, I said “we,” so I am not talking from a completely informed position, but from a perspective that we are on a journey together and need to learn/explore together.
Most Christians who believe in five-fold ministry see it from a hierarchy perspective. For them, apostle comes first, so we want the title that gives us prominence. This attitude comes from complete immaturity and a lack of scriptural perspective. Although the apostle may have a position of authority in function, it can be a very humbling position. This is what the apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:9-10, “For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored!”
When the scripture speaks of apostles being first, we must understand that it means they are in the forefront. The forefront of the kingdom can be a place of great struggle, or even warfare! That is why Paul exhorted the church of Ephesus to put on the whole armor of God before they engaged in spiritual warfare. Successful warfare requires the “sword of the spirit,” or the word of God. This particular reference of “word” translates from the Greek root “rhema,” which means the spoken word. We must note that this is different than the logos, or written word. This means that the Word of God is alive! Paul asked them to pray for him too, for utterance to be given that he may “open his mouth boldly” to make the mystery of the gospel known. Apostles are at the forefront of the proclamation of new truth, and often face opposition to change and fresh ideas from God.
Remember, Jesus Is Still Building!
Jesus Himself is a witness to the fact that if you try to change the religious system, it will fight back. It is not just the bad systems either; it is every system that forgets that Jesus said, “I will build my church.” The building of the church has required progressive revelation; often, even Spirit-filled believers will operate from the carnal, rather than the spiritual realm. The church I was trained in was a voice in the Latter Rain revival. This was a great move of God in 1948; a major year in the eternal scheme of things. A natural sign of significance of this year is that it was the year Israel became a nation (it is good to remind ourselves that what is happening in Israel is a good barometer of what God is doing in the spiritual realm). When the Latter Rain started proclaiming the restoration of five-fold ministry, denominational Pentecostalism rejected what they called “the New Order of the Latter Rain.”
When you are in a denominational structure, five-fold ministry can be a threat to your system, especially if that system has a retirement program. Many charismatic Christians have independent fellowships that will come under the same threat if they need to make adjustments to their cherished order! This is why true apostles have such conflict, but are so necessary for the maturing and developing of the church.
Today, I would ask you to open your heart and mind, asking the Lord if He has something to say to you. Truly, this is the time to hear the admonition of scripture that says, “…break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord.” It is time to prepare so that the Lord will “rain righteousness upon us!”