From the Captain’s Log at Pirate Christian Radio, Chris Rosebrough writes “Here is the truth about the NAR that Dr. Michael L Brown has yet to properly address.”
Will Michael Brown keep his head in the sand over the NAR or will he finally come clean?
Modern Restoration of Apostles?
For nineteen centuries the church has existed without any living apostles who operated in the same power, authority and office as Peter, James, John, Paul and the others whom Jesus sent into the world to make disciples. But for those who buy into the ideas and teachings of the New Apostolic Reformation (N.A.R.), this is a tragic turn of events and a grave error committed by the historic Church. Joseph Mattera, the head of The United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders, writing in Charisma Magazine about the historical loss of apostles in the church explained the problem this way:
It is tragic when the vast potential of an individual or entity is limited or eliminated because there is no room for their gifts. In the case of a lion, when captured and encaged, it loses its aggressive roar because it is forced to be localized into the confines of a cage.
It may be a lion, but it is no different from a house cat because, like a house cat, it no longer has to claim its territory and hunt to satisfy its hunger, and is content to stay confined within a building!
To me, all of this is related to the condition of the local church after it ceases to recognize the ministry and function of apostles. This results in cutting off the pioneering spirit and apostolic call to conquer and expand kingdom influence.
(I don’t necessarily think people have to use the title of apostle; the function is what is most important.)
In the case of church history, centuries ago we replaced the title (and consequently the function) of apostle and replaced it with the office of bishop. This vastly changed the nature and mission of the local and universal church. Apostles in the New Testament were the “sent ones” who, as military generals, were called to lead the church in mission as they were sent out to conquer new territories by planting churches and kingdom influence in key cities of the old Greco-Roman world. (For example, Paul the apostle started churches in over 30 key cities before the commencement of the first century!)
The office of bishop was primarily meant to oversee and administrate local churches: First starting in a local church (1 Tim. 3) which then evolved into overseeing a parish, then a diocese and then a region that included other bishops (hence they became archbishops or metropolitan bishops). However, as bishops became the apostolic successors it connoted a change from adventure, pioneering and conquering new territories (e.g., Paul, who prioritized going where Christ was not named as we read in 2 Cor. 10:10-14) to one of settling and maintaining the church and focusing primarily on church life, polity and politics.
Not only that, but after the Protestant Reformation many (in response to the abuse of the bishops and popes) even eradicated the office of bishop and opted instead for a Presbyterian form of government (whether for good or bad) which only recognizes pastors, elder and teachers in the church. The eradication of the bishopric further isolated and fragmented the emerging evangelical church and resulted in numerous denominations and independent local churches. (For example, when the Eastern Church split from Roman Catholicism in the 11th century, it remained virtually unified and intact because they kept the bishopric and/or the episcopate.)
Getting back to apostolic ministry, it is essential that we recapture the function (if not the title) of apostolic ministry once again so the lions of the church are released from their cages to go out and hunt (metaphorically speaking) and expand kingdom influence! The early church never saw their congregations as separate from the apostolic ministry and function of their recognized apostles. [emphasis added]
Mattera’s believes (and a significant number of Charismatics would agree with him) the Church has been stymied and limited by the apparent erroneous belief that apostles were no longer needed in the church. Note that Mattera’s explanation is that Bishops filled the role of the Apostle’s but according to Mattera with the change of title also came a change of function and eventually a loss of the apostolic function altogether. The solution to this problem according to Mattera is for the church to change course and return to apostolic ministry. To do that God would have to send a new crop of apostles into His church.
C. Peter Wagner and his associates in the New Apostolic Reformation, openly claim that God has already restored the office of Apostle, and there are men and women around the world today operating from within that office with more on the way. Wrote Wagner:
Are there apostles in our churches today?
Most Christians would affirm that they believe in apostles because Jesus led a group of 12 of them. However, apostles are generally seen as figures of a bygone age, like Vikings, Roman legions, Spanish conquistadors, or pioneers in covered wagons. They made their contributions to history, but the world has moved on.
One reason why this kind of thinking is so prevalent is that this is what most of our church leaders were taught in seminary and Bible school. I know— I was one of them. The notion that there could be contemporary apostles never came up in the seminaries I attended, not even as a suggestion. We were taught that the original 12 apostles had a singular, one-of-a-kind mission that was completed by the time of their deaths, and that was that— the end of the brief life of apostles on Earth. Consequently, I graduated assuming that apostles did not continue long after the first hundred years or so of the Church.
Not so! We are now living in the midst of one of the most epochal changes in the structure of the Church that has ever been recorded. I like to call it the “Second Apostolic Age.”…
The Second Apostolic Age is a phenomenon of the twenty-first century. My studies indicate that it began around the year 2001.[Emphasis added]
Wagner’s claims are breathtaking! Regardless of whether or not they’re true, the claim that they are true is having and will continue to have an immeasurable impact on the church.
This paper will examine the claims by Wagner and others that God has restored Apostles to the church and then provide a brief Biblical rebuttal.
Scriptural Foundation for the Return of Apostles
The claim that God has restored Apostles to the church is huge. So huge in fact that one cannot make a claim of that magnitude without attempting to back it up from scripture. C. Peter Wagner in his book Apostles Today tries to provide a Biblical foundation for this claim. Wagner offers three verses to back up his claims. They are Ephesians 4:11, Ephesians 2:20 and 1 Corinthians 12:28. In Wagner’s interpretation of these texts, it becomes clear that he believes that they reveal an ecclesiastical structure that God intended to continue throughout the history of the church. Below is Wagner’s Biblical explanation for his claim that God has restored apostles to the church:
There are three Scripture verses that serve as the primary proof texts for recognizing the gift and office of apostle. Many other texts support this, but these three are core: Ephesians 4: 11, Ephesians 2: 20, and 1 Corinthians 12: 28. Let’s examine each of them.
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers (Eph. 4: 11).
As the verse indicates, the five foundational, governmental, equipping offices are apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. The “He” is Jesus, who gave these gifts to His people when He ascended into heaven after rising from the dead and spending 40 days with His disciples (see Eph. 4: 8). He subsequently gave gifted people to the Church on two levels: (1) the foundational or governmental level (see Eph. 4: 11), and (2) the ministry level through the saints (see Eph. 4: 12).
A common term for these five offices is “the ascension gifts,” because Jesus first gave them at His ascension. Many people refer to them as “the fivefold ministry.” However, this may not be the best term, because “ministry” is not mentioned in verse 11 but in verse 12, as the role of all of the saints, while apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are those who equip the rest of the saints to do their ministry. This may seem like a minor point, but it is the reason I refer to the five ascension gifts as “foundational” or “governmental” or “equipping” offices.
[The household of God, i.e., the church, is] built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2: 20).
A well-known hymn states that “the church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.” This is obviously true in a general, theological sense because there would be no Church at all without the Person and work of Jesus Christ. However, in the nuts and bolts of the growth and development of the Church after He ascended and left the earth, Jesus apparently prefers to be thought of not as the foundation but as the cornerstone. The foundation of the Church through the ages is to be made up of apostles and prophets. The cornerstone is essential because it is the primary building block, the identifying, central stone that holds the foundation together and guides the laying of all subsequent blocks that go into constructing the building. If a church has Jesus without apostles and prophets, it has no foundation from which to initiate solid building. The two go hand in hand; there cannot be one without the other.
The wording of this verse—“ built on the foundation”— is another reason why I call apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers the “foundational” offices.
And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues (1 Cor. 12: 28).
The numbers in the verse, proton (first), deúteron (second), and tríton (third), indicate that this not simply a random selection of gifts and offices. Proton in this instance should be interpreted to mean that apostles are first in order or sequence, not necessarily in importance or hierarchy. Hierarchy is an old-wineskin concept. To put it simply, a church without apostles will not function as well as a church with apostles.[emphasis added]
It is significant to note that every time Scripture mentions the role of the apostles in the church that Wagner understands the texts to be discussing an ongoing set of offices in the church. This interpretation is accomplished by the changing of the noun “foundation” into the adjective “foundational”. Although at first glance this seems insignificant, Wagner’s changing of a noun into an adjective changes the whole sense and meaning of the texts. It is because of this shift in meaning that Wagner believes that these passages reveal an ongoing and never changing ecclesiastical structure for the church that Christ intended would remain in place until His return.
Wagner is aware of how the church has historically understood these texts, Protestants in particular. Wagner not only rejects this historical understanding, he believes that this misunderstanding has limited the church and held it back from fulfilling its mission:
The traditional Protestant Church has understood apostles and prophets to be offices relegated to the First Apostolic Age but not continuing in churches throughout history. Based on that understanding (that there are no longer apostles and prophets in our churches), then teachers, who are next in line according to l Corinthians 12: 28, would now be first in order. Obviously, this is not so.
Protestant denominationalism over the past 500 years has been, for the most part, governed by teachers and administrators, rather than by apostles and prophets. That means that denominational executives are actually administrators— good, godly and wise ones, but administrators nonetheless. Most pastors of local churches are assumed to be teachers (at least ever since the sermon became the central point of weekly congregational gathering), with the sermon being their primary vehicle for teaching their people. It is fascinating that even though we have had church government backward over the past two centuries according to 1 Corinthians 12: 28, we have evangelized so much of the world! Think of what will happen now that church government is getting in proper order. Administrators and teachers are essential for good church health and will function much better once the apostles and prophets are in place.[emphasis added]
Note that Wagner’s view assumes that we’ve been without apostles almost two millennia but in his mind that has already changed. Although the church has been effective in evangelizing much of the world it will be far more effective now that God has restored apostles and prophets and the Second Apostolic Age has begun.
In his discussion of the objections that some Christians may have to embracing the reality of the Second Apostolic Age, Wagner lays out his most significant interpretive point regarding Ephesians 4:11 and how he believes that this passage requires the church to always have apostles:
A major stumbling block in the minds of many who first hear this news of the Second Apostolic Age has been the assumption that once the apostles and prophets completed their work of laying the foundation of the Church in the first couple of centuries, that ended the divine assignment of apostles on Earth— as if they were no longer needed. This deeply entrenched notion cannot be biblically sustained, however, given the statement of Ephesians 4: 11. After saying that Jesus gave to the Church apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, the length of time they would be needed is then stated: “Until we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4: 13). Who in their right mind can claim that we have arrived at that point? The only reasonable conclusion is that we are still in need of all five offices.[emphasis Wagner’s]
Wagner believes that because Eph. 4:13 states “until we all come to the unity of the faith” that God has revealed that His original intention (which has been clearly thwarted) for the church was to replenish the apostolic office and raise up apostles until the perfection of the church.
Sources of God’s Revelation
It is one thing to say that my interpretation of the Biblical texts states that God never intended for the church to be without apostles and something entirely different to say that God began restoring apostles around the year 2001 and we’ve now entered the Second Apostolic Age. The first is a matter of rightly understanding Biblical revelation while the second requires an extra-Biblical source of God’s revelation. It is important that the reader understands that C. Peter Wagner and the N.A.R. as a whole rejects the principle of Sola Scriptura. They instead believe that God is speaking in many ways today. As a result, determining what God is saying and doing, in their view, requires Christians to read their Bibles, listen to what God is saying to modern prophets and apostles as well as rightly interpreting the current works of God. Wagner calls this the phenomenological approach. His explanation for this approach is as follows:
I want to make it clear that my research methodology is not philosophical or theological (in the classical sense) nor exegetical or revelational, but rather phenomenological. I am not saying that any of these methodologies is right or wrong. Phenomenology clearly is not superior to exegesis. It is merely my personal choice. The phenomenological approach leads me to employ terms not found in the Bible, because I believe it is not necessary to only use the Word of God but to also combine the Word of God with accurate observations of the present-day works of God. I am not approaching this so much from the question of what God ought to do as much as what God is actually doing. What the Spirit has said to the churches is one thing, but what the Spirit is now saying to the churches is another.
In other words, Wagner claims that he is a careful student of multiple streams of God’s revelation and is asserting that a significant portion of what he is teaching regarding the restoration of apostles is not based on scripture but has been revealed by God in other places.
This view that God is currently speaking outside of His written word has significant implications in regards to the church’s doctrine. Bill Hamon, another major thought leader in the N.A.R. who also subscribes to the same formal principle as Wagner, in his book titled Apostles, Prophets and the Coming Moves of God: God’s End-Time Plans for His Church and Planet Earth explains how this approach to understanding the multiple streams of God’s revelation impacts the church’s doctrine:
First of all, fivefold ministers are the headship directors for establishing Biblical principles, teachings and church doctrine. trine. New Testament doctrine was established by proper revelation and application of the Logos Scripture, which was the Old Testament at that time. There was no collection of writings by the apostles or church prophets that was acknowledged edged as equal to the writing of the Old Testament prophets and the Law of Moses. Church order, doctrine and practices were not established by prophecy, visions, dreams or personal spiritual experiences of any private individual (2 Pet. 1:20). Doctrine that would be applicable to the whole Church was not determined by one great apostle, who could make papal decrees that would become binding doctrine for the whole Church. The scriptures dealing with the Council at Jerusalem show that apostles, prophets, visions and personal experiences are Biblical means that the Holy Spirit can use to gain our attention, enlighten our understanding or prepare us to receive a doctrinal truth that God is about to reveal. But such personal spiritual experiences should not be the sole basis for formulating a doctrine.
Note that Hamon is arguing for the church to return to a pattern that he believes is revealed in the Book of Acts for determining doctrine. What is fascinating about his view is that while it acknowledges that there was a time in the church’s history that the Apostle’s writings and teachings hadn’t been collected he does not seem all too interested in putting much weight on what those Apostle’s later wrote. Instead, Hamon sees that time in church history reveals an ongoing pattern that the church should be currently emulating. Wrote Hamon:
I personally believe that in the 1990’s and into the 21st century, as prophets and apostles are being restored back to proper order and function within the Church, many of these church councils of leading present-truth ministers will be necessary. One particular apostle or prophet or camp will never receive the whole revelation for the establishing of prophets and apostles back into the Church. Many will have visions (even of Jesus), dreams, rhemas, angelic visitations and supernatural personal experiences and sovereign moves of the Holy Spirit in their meetings. But doctrines that claim to be binding on all Christians must not be established by only one apostle, prophet or camp. There must be meetings of a church council with other leaders of past and present restorational streams of truth.
It is clear from this quote that Hamon is arguing that the church should expect God to be revealing new doctrine today and that he believes these new doctrines are binding on all of Christ’s church.
How exactly then is the church to determine which current day revelations from God rise to the level of binding doctrine? Hamon proposes five principles:
Five Principles for Establishing Doctrine. When the fivefold fold ministers come together to consider doctrines and practices this way, they will need to keep several areas of insight in mind: (1) the claimed revelation from God; (2) the fruit of the ministry among those who have received the doctrine or practice; (3) the supernatural working of God accompanying it; (4) the Logos and Rhema word of God application and authority for the doctrine or practice; and (5) the witness of the Spirit and the unified consent of those present.
In other words, Hamon, Wagner, and others believe that modern day apostles (just like Jesus’ apostles) not only have the authority but they also have a mechanism for establishing doctrines in the church. It is vital to understand this as the rest of this paper unfolds. The reason for this is that much of what follows regarding the definition and roles of modern day apostles does not come from scripture but is derived from the other streams of “revelation”.
Definition and Roles of an Apostle
Since Wagner, Hamon, and others in the New Apostolic Reformation believe that we have now entered the Second Apostolic Age and God has sent and continues to send Apostles into His church it is vital to understand how they define an apostle and what functions and roles they believe they fulfill.
Wagner, in describing the distinctions between ordinary believers and those holding one of the fivefold offices in the church explains the differences in terms of degrees and scope of direct revelation from God:
Whereas every believer can and should hear directly from the Holy Spirit, it is only the apostles, in proper relation to prophets, who hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Parents hear what the Spirit is saying to their families. CEOs hear what the Spirit is saying to their businesses. Teachers hear what the Spirit is saying to their classes. Pastors hear what the Spirit is saying to their church (singular). But apostles, along with prophets, are those who hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches (plural). That is what Paul means when he writes, “[ The mystery of Christ] which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets” [emphasis was added by Wagner]
In other words, pastors should expect to hear directly from God revelations pertaining to his individual congregation. But prophets and apostles hear revelation from God that is meant to be believed and applied in many or even all Christian congregations. It is with this understanding regarding the type and scope of revelation that today’s apostles are to receive from God that Wagner proposes a definition of an apostle. Said Wagner:
An apostle is a Christian leader, gifted, taught, commissioned, and sent by God with the authority to establish the foundational government of the church within an assigned sphere of ministry by hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches and by setting things in order accordingly for the growth and maturity of the church and for the extension of the kingdom of God.
It is important to note again that Wagner is relying on his change of the noun “foundation” to the adjective “foundational” to come up with this definition of an apostle. Although, Wagner provides a precise definition of what he believes an apostle is, the claim that apostles exist today opens up a whole host of questions, the most important of them being, “what are the duties and functions of the apostolic office that the church should expect the modern apostles to be exercising?” Wagner cannot point to a concise Biblical list of clear duties that those holding the apostolic office today are supposed to fulfill because, unlike the pastoral office, such a list doesn’t exist in scripture. Instead, Wagner, based on his observations from both scripture and what God is supposedly revealing in the church today has created a list of roles and functions that today’s apostles are supposed to accomplish. According to Wagner the duties of modern apostles are as follows:
• They receive revelation. Apostles hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Some of this revelation comes directly to them, some of it is received together with prophets, and at other times through proper relationships with prophets.
• They cast vision. An apostle’s vision is based on the revelation he or she receives.
• They birth. Apostles are self-starters who begin new things.
• They impart. God uses apostles to activate His blessings in others (see Rom. 1: 11).
• They build. Apostles strategize and find ways to carry a project along its intended course, including any funding that may be required. •
• They govern. Apostles are skilled in setting things in order. Along with prophets, they lay the biblical foundation of the Kingdom (see Eph. 2: 20).
• They teach. Early believers “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching” (see Acts 2: 42).
• They send. Apostles send out those who are equipped to fulfill their role in expanding the kingdom of God.
• They finish. Apostles are able to bring a project or a season of God to its desired conclusion. They are uneasy until the project is done. They seldom burn out.
• They war. Apostles are the generals in the army of God. They lead the church in spiritual warfare.
• They align generations. Apostles have a long-range perspective on the purposes of God, and they raise up second-tier leadership for the future. Another way of saying this is that they father or mother children in the faith. “For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers” (1 Cor. 4: 15). An excellent resource for this point is Larry Kreider’s book The Cry for Spiritual Fathers and Mothers.
• They equip. Ephesians 4: 12 says that apostles equip the saints for the work of the ministry.
From this list of roles and duties, it is clear that Wagner’s vision of what modern apostles are supposed to accomplish in their office today is much more expansive than the functions and roles that Jesus’ apostles were responsible for fulfilling. Clearly there has been an upgrade to the office and with the update has come new tasks. Not only has the Second Apostolic Age brought with it new apostolic functions, but it has also brought with it a variety of new types of apostles.
New and Varied Types of Apostles
In what could only be described as the most significant doctrinal “development” since Rome invented the doctrine of the Papacy, C. Peter Wagner, based solely on his observations of what God is supposedly doing in the church today, has discovered that not only has God restored apostles to the church, He’s also created new kinds and types of apostles. The three main types of apostles being:
• Vertical apostles: These apostles lead organizations, such as apostolic networks, and provide direct “spiritual covering” (counsel and correction) for those in their networks.
• Horizontal apostles: These apostles lead groups of peers— such as all the pastors in a city or all the apostles in a nation— to work together to accomplish specific purposes.
• Workplace apostles: These apostles provide leadership for Christians working in different sectors of society (for example, real estate, government, health care, or the media).
Wagner also claims that there are subcategories of both Vertical apostles and Horizontal apostles. The four subcategories of Vertical apostles are as follows:
• Ecclesiastical apostles: These apostles lead apostolic networks of churches and parachurch ministries; examples include Ché Ahn (Harvest International Ministry, based in Pasadena, California), Bill Hamon (Christian International Ministries, based in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida), and Naomi Dowdy (Global Leadership Network, based in Singapore).
• Apostolic team members: These apostles are part of a leadership team that supports an apostle in the governance of his or her ministry. They can be other apostles who minister under the ecclesiastical apostle. Having an apostolic team allows an apostolic network to grow much larger because a single apostle can’t provide direct oversight of hundreds or thousands of churches— and direct oversight is seen as crucial to the health of the network. 150 For example, HIM— an apostolic network of more than 20,000 churches— is led by presiding apostle Ché Ahn but also has an apostolic team under Ahn’s leadership made up of apostles Sam and Linda Caster, Brian and Candace Simmons, Charles and Anne Stock, Mark and Ann Tubbs, and Lance and Annabelle Wallnau.
• Functional apostles: These apostles lead individuals or groups working within a specialized area of ministry; an example is Jane Hansen (Aglow International, an organization for women based in Edmonds, Washington).
• Congregational apostles: These apostles lead large churches, such as pastors of megachurches.
The four subcategories of Horizontal apostles are as follows:
• Convening apostles: These apostles call together peer-level leaders who minister in a specific field. Wagner has acted as the convening apostle over a number of groups, including ICAL, the ACPE, and the International Society of Deliverance Ministers.
• Ambassadorial apostles: These are itinerant apostles who catalyze apostolic movements in nations and various regions of the world through activities such as convening regional apostolic summits or assisting apostles in organizing their networks. John Kelly— before becoming the convening apostle of ICAL— served as the coalition’s ambassadorial apostle.
• Mobilizing apostles: These apostles mobilize Christians for a specific cause or project. For example, Cindy Jacobs mobilizes Christians in prayer and spiritual warfare efforts to reform America back to its “biblical roots.”
• Territorial apostles: These apostles provide leadership in specific regions, such as cities, states, and nations. For example, John Benefiel is seen as a territorial apostle in the state of Oklahoma. Doug Stringer has been seen as a territorial apostle in Houston, Texas.
With all of these new and varied types of apostles along with Wagner’s further observation that apostolic hybrids are also possible (i.e. Ambassadorial-Territorial apostles) how one goes about discovering they’re an apostle and which type they are is beyond the scope of this paper. Suffice it to say that its complex and almost impossible to figure out on your own (don’t worry though the N.A.R. has living prophets that are all to willing to help you sort this out once you agree to recognize that God is speaking directly through them).
A Brief Critique
There is much that can be said by way of critique when it comes to these claims that God has restored apostles to the church and has inaugurated a Second Apostolic Age. However, what is most obviously in error is Wagner’s, Hamon’s and others’ presupposition that the church has been without apostles and prophets for nearly 2000 years. Nothing could be further from the truth.
For nearly two millennia the church has confessed the belief in “one holy, catholic and apostolic church.” In so doing, the church has confessed that Jesus’ apostles are still in the process of fulfilling their duty to “make disciples of all nations.” Lutheran dogmatician, Francis Pieper, in discussing what it means for the church to be apostolic states:
The Church is Apostolic (ecclesia apostolica) inasmuch as all its members to the Last Day come to faith in Christ through the Word of the Apostles (John 17:20: πιστεύσοντες διὰ λόγου αὐτῶν εἰς ἐμέ) and cling to the Word of the Apostles (Acts 2:42: προσκαρτεροῦντες τῇ διδαχῇ τῶν ἀποστόλων), and this over against all departures from the truth of Scripture. Rom. 16:17: “Avoid them,” namely, those who “cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned.” The endeavor of the Romanists and the Anglicans to derive the Apostolic character of the Church from the “Apostolic Succession” has correctly been termed childish folly, because Scripture (a) makes no distinction between bishops and teaching elders, or pastors (Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5, 7) and (b) tells us to avoid all teachers who depart from the Apostolic Gospel, no matter whether they are called bishops, elders, or otherwise (Rom. 16:17; Gal. 1:6–8)
In other words, confessing that the church is apostolic is to confess that she is built on the doctrine and words of Jesus’ apostles. Jesus, in the 1st century, speaking of the ones He would send (the apostles) said of them, “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” (Luke 10:16) Since Jesus never personally wrote any books or letters, the only way we learn of what Jesus taught and said is through the ones he sent to be his authorized envoys (a.k.a. apostles). This explains why scripture says that the earliest Christians, “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42). This understanding of the ongoing work of Jesus’ apostles then gives us the proper way to understand Ephesians 2:20. Rather than understanding it to be describing a ‘foundational’ governing structure in the church it instead reveals that the apostles are the ongoing foundation of the church with Christ as its cornerstone. Regarding this passage Francis Pieper wrote:
To be sure, Christ’s person is the cornerstone of His Church (Eph. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:6). But we find Christ nowhere else than in His Word. Only as we believe, and stand on, the Apostolic and Prophetic Word, which is Christ’s Word, are we built on Christ the Cornerstone. That is clearly stated in the words immediately preceding: “built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets.” Whoever pushes the Word of the Apostles and Prophets away is not standing on Christ; Christ is not there. “When I am without the Word, do not meditate on it, and occupy myself with it, there is no Christ at home” (Luther).
Ephesians 2:20 reveals that the church has never been without apostles. Instead, the church’s apostles have always been Matthew, Peter, James, John, Paul etc. This text also reveals that the church has always had prophets. They are Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Hosea and the rest. Both the Apostles and the Prophets continue to teach us by virtue of the fact that their words have been written down and now comprise the living and active Word of God. Therefore, whatever part of the church that God is building today will always be built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets through the written Word of God which they left us.
Another insurmountable problem for those who believe in modern day apostles is the fact that the Biblical requirements for one to hold the Office of Apostle as laid out in Acts 1:21-22; namely that the man must have been a part of the group of Jesus’ disciples from the time of His baptism, until His death and be an eye-witness of His resurrection and then be chosen and sent by Him (Acts 1:26) make it painfully clear that no one living today can meet these qualifications and therefore categorically rules out the existence of modern day Apostles altogether. Furthermore, since the scriptures do not provide the church with a list of qualifications and duties for those who aspire to hold the Apostolic Office like it does for those who aspire to the pastoral office, the scriptures assume, by this vital omission, that the office itself is closed, and no one will be filling the Apostolic Office after the death of those whom Christ put into that office. The fact that C. Peter Wagner has had to concoct his own list of qualifications and duties for those aspiring to be apostles today, despite his attempts at appealing to alternative (dubious) sources of divine revelation, is further proof that God never intended the Apostolic Office to continue in perpetuity. If God had always intended that, then God would have provided the list of qualifications and duties for apostles in scripture 2000 years ago.
This paper has examined the claims of leaders in the New Apostolic Reformation like C. Peter Wagner and Bill Hamon that God has restored the Apostolic Office and has inaugurated a Second Apostolic Age and has found that these claims cannot be squared with scripture. Despite the fact that these claims cannot hold up even under the most basic Biblical scrutiny, it does not change the fact that there is now a small but growing army of men and women claiming to be apostles who’ve set up shop in the church today. Although they claim and believe that they are sent by Christ as His apostles, that is not the case at all. This means that at best they have sent themselves and at worst they were sent by the devil. This fact makes the New Apostolic Reformation one of the most dangerous and destructive movements in the visible church today.
Source: Ps. Chris Rosebrough, Captain’s Log, Pirate Christian Radio; http://www.piratechristian.com/captains-log/2016/11/modern-restoration-of-apostles, Published 16/11/2016. (Accessed 17/11/2016)