Paul is about to tell us what the intent is, and the purpose, for which reason, God has created all things. So how dare you just sit there, as if you’re hearing a mere sermon? How is it you’re not leaning forward in your seat, with your hand cupped at your ear, that you should not miss any syllable of this answer from the apostle who was given such grace to preach these riches?
— Art Katz, ‘Recognize the Influence’
On a Thursday night in January of 2001, an elderly Jewish man got up to speak a message out of the book of Ephesians to a small school of ministry and fellowship in Pensacola, Florida. As the night unfolded, the speaker (who some consider to be a modern-day prophet) delivered a message on the purpose for creating all things, and how that purpose (which, you’ll hear in the audio, has little to do with any direct benefit to man) affects every minute detail in our lives, not only with regard to what we do, but why we do it. The message would end up being disrupted multiple times by people that had to be escorted out of the building (one person claimed Art was ‘preaching his message’), and unfold in a manner that kept even those that had heard him speak hundreds of times before on the edge of their seat, sensing the weightiness of what was coming forth.
The message was entitled ‘Recognize the Influence’, and was brought forth by Art Katz ten years ago at FIRE School of Ministry & Fellowship. The message is below in audio form, but before you listen to it, I’d like to set the stage with the following accounts from those that were either there that night, or were impacted by it later upon hearing it.
Account from Michael L. Brown:
I recall being quite focused and almost pent-up with expectation; I remember having my eye on one guy, feeling that he might be disruptive, and sure enough, during a time of worship when I told everyone that we were going to wait before the Lord and be quiet, this guy tried to prophesy, ignoring my exhortation to be quiet twice before, the third time, I had the ushers deal with him.
Then, during Art’s message, which was one of his life messages, of profound spiritual import, yet one which he stumbled to deliver that night — another guy, whom Bob Gladstone had his eye on — just stood up while Art was preaching and asked if he could share his testimony, and I jumped off the platform and ran over to him telling him this was not the time to do so.
From Bob Gladstone:
The first guy yelled out at one point, “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm!” because his buddy the second guy was told to be quiet. This of course was after the worship period during which Michael Brown’s story of the first guy occurred.
During Art’s speech, the second guy stood up and said, “You’re preaching my message!” Art did not hear him at first and stopped to try to hear what he said, trying to repeat what he said to understand him. I’m sure that’s on the audio. Other dialog occurred I don’t recall. When the ushers escorted guy #2 out, he was praying in a fervent, persecuted sort of way. Art made some comments about the powers getting stirred up (I think) which of course would be on the recording also.
Art’s message was a trademark, definitive prophetic piece from a foundational man to the church. Simultaneously constructive and devastating. A gift for us from the Lord from a key voice of his generation just 5 1/2 years before he died.
From Scott Volk:
It was at least a year after this message was preached that Mike Brown labeled it as ‘the most important message ever given at FIRE.’ I remember sitting at the edge of my seat through this entire message as I felt it penetrating me to my core. I’ve heard Art speak hundreds of messages live and this one had, by far, the most impact on me. There was enough going on in the room that evening to totally distract folks, however, the message was delivered fully and still affects me today! … I will never forget that night as long as I live!
From Mark Harrell:
Oh Lord, I remember so many feelings…
I was in a mainline denominational church as a youth pastor at the time and, before this message, had been to conferences for the kids as well as the pastors. I had been feeling chafed inwardly by these meetings and couldn’t piece together what was causing me to ache so badly. When I heard this word…BOOM, it all just exploded in me. “OH GOD, that’s what wrong with me!!” I felt as if I had been behind a curtain and suddenly saw it lift and saw the puppet masters behind the machines and dolls. I understood so much of what was operating and motivating the strivings of this organization. I saw words on my eyelids like, “status, prestige, power, honor” with the smug smiles and fake back pats that go with it.
This message ruined me. … To this day, this message remains as a stain on my mind, heart and soul. It has colored the way I view everything. I can’t look on the mere appearance of a thing anymore, I’m always painfully aware in certain places and circumstances of what lies beneath so many words and deeds and ministries. I’m always checking my own soul as a result.
From Bryan Purtle:
I can see why Satan would try so hard to derail this word.
I will say that it had a profound impact on my life, and to this day it is one of the top ten most memorable messages I’ve heard. Years ago I played the whole message for a close friend of mine, and his response was something like this:
“Before this message I felt like my faith and my view of God were a factory where all the equipment was dormant, and all the gears were rusty or out of alignment. When I heard Art’s statement about the Church’s call to demonstrate God’s wisdom to the powers of the air, the gears were forced into alignment, and the power came on. It all made sense in a new and fresh way.”
He still refers back to the hearing of that cassette as constituting a major turning point in his life of faith.
I still go back once every year or two and listen to the message again, and each time I feel commissioned afresh to come into the simple, ultimate, whole-hearted reality that was expressed in the early apostolic church. “To God be glory in the Church…..”
The message is below. For those that may not be familiar with Art, who died in 2007, make sure to check out www.artkatzministries.org. You can also check out this article in the Washington Times, which ended with a great line: “He made many such statements that no doubt cost him dearly. As I stood in that grassy field, I realized why some men, like the Rev. Billy Graham, are lionized by the Christian world and others, like Art Katz, have a silent grave in the middle of the north woods.”
Below is the audio of ‘Recognize the Influence.’ As you listen, remember that you’re hearing a man of significant depth deliver his life message, unpacking, quite literally, the purpose of everything that exists, and the ultimate destiny of the church.
[Link to MP3]
Marcus French is Editor of Voice of Revolution, and also helps produce the daily radio show, The Line of Fire. Contact him at email@example.com.
Posted in Featured Articles, The Kingdom of God Tagged with: Apostolic Church, art katz, Bob Gladstone, Bryan Purtle, Church, destiny, Dr. Michael Brown, ephesians, FIRE Church, fire school of ministry, mark harrell, Paul, Pensacola, purpose
“You can’t patch up your prayer life when you get to the judgment seat”
“You can delegate many things, but prayer is not one of them.”
“Yesterdays praying will not suffice for today.”
~E. M. Bounds
“This period we are in now is a dressing room for eternity, that is all it is.”
“In everything by prayer.”
I intend to write to you on the subject of the significance of a life of prayer. This word can be taken as one of three things: an encouragement, a challenge, or an offense. It has little significance to me, for “if you have the smile of God what does it matter if you have the frown of men (Ravenhill).”I write to you in obedience to God. If you take it as a challenge, you can potentially lift the quality of your life above what it is now, as you rapidly move in time to that great day of accountability. If you take it as an encouragement, than most likely you are living for and in the means of prayer, affecting your circle of influence and empowering your pursuit of Christ’s kingdom in an honest and fruitful way. If you take this word as an offense, it will profit you nothing but merely add to your hardness of heart storing up for yourself more to give an account for on that great day of judgment. As I stated, all is well with me, for my heart is not to write for the profit of any other than he who desires to reach the heart of God and stand before Him unashamed and confident in the day of reckoning.
The sorrowful truth that such a spiritual employment is largely neglected has negative effects upon more than just our personal standing with God. It dampens what could have otherwise thrived in fire before the Lord. As intercessory prayer remains that which it has always been, we have been tremendously privileged to the ear of God having been justified, encouraged and empowered by His grace to live an obedient life.
The obedient life alone has access to God’s ear (Psalm34:17; Prov. 15:8; James 4:2, 3). Scripture in no uncertain terms, vastly teaches us the power, significance and details of a prayer life that God acknowledges. “All our libraries and studies are mere emptiness compared with our prayer closets”(E.M. Bounds).
King David overflowed with prayer in the Psalms he penned throughout his earthly life, seeing not only its privilege but also its importance by praying morning, noon and night (Psalm 55:17). He saw the connection between the enlightenment of the word of God and intimate pleading for the same (Psalm 119; 18, 19). The apostle Paul was moved by the same spirit encouraging us to pray “in everything” (Phil. 4:6). This would entail all our dealings in life, family, money, ministry, study and the like. This great privilege and importance wasn’t something to be active infrequent but rather “at all times”(1 Thess. 5:17). “All times” encompasses the positive, negative and mundane. Jesus encouraged us to not only pray, but to endure with persistence not giving up or “fainting” (Luke 18:1). Christ emphasized the importance of prayer by ignoring the potential of its absence in our life. He simply said, “When you pray” (Matt. 6:6). Christ also coupled enduring temptation with prayer (Luke 22:39-46). Scripture reveals to us the aid in our sufferings is prayer (James 5:13).
Our aid in worthy living is prayer (2 Thess 1:11). Our aid in wisdom is prayer (James 1:5). Oh how our lives would be of such a higher quality if we lived in persistent, fervent prayer when trying situations occur instead of aimlessly roaming about! What greater impact would our counsel, words and life have upon those weak hearted Christians who surround us, if our hearts overflowed with burdened persistent prayer for them instead of hidden gossip, jesting and squandering of time! Let us not take lightly that he who prays effectually has first lived effectually. In the words of E.M. Bounds, “He who prays must obey.”For the wonder of the availability of God’s ear to His people can be blocked by our living! (1 Peter 3:7; Psalm 66:18; 1 John 3:22). The effective prayer of the righteous man can effect much (James 5:16)! The availability of God’s ear is as glorious of a privilege, power and grace as it is a responsibility in our way of living and use of time.
Christ revealed that prayer for another can keep one “from the evil one.” Prayer can ignite a disciples life to be “separated by the word” (John 17:11, 15, 17, 21). This reveals that merely hearing or reading the word may need the service of divine assistance in prayer to effect such a sanctification of a disciple. As well as the great ability to “keep” one “in His name”, prayer can effect unity amongst disciples (John 17:11, 15, 17, 21).
Christ having complete understanding of God’s sovereignty continually imposed upon Himself isolation for the purpose of prayer (Mark 1:35). Do you recall how Christ spent a night in prayer before choosing His twelve disciples (Luke 6:12)? The disciples at Christ’s side were interested in learning, not how to teach or heal, but how to pray (Luke 11:2).
Once the potential of true prayer is understood a man can never return, in right heartedness, to a prayerless life. Samuel connected prayerlessness with sin (1 Samuel 12:23). God Himself is seen in scripture searching for a man to pray (Isa. 59:16). Where is the man who will stir himself to get a hold of God in prayer (Isa. 64:7)? “Oh, for determined men and women, who will rise early and really burn out for God” (Hodge). True prayer is not a light matter. Nor is it an exercise for the slothful. Christ Himself offered up prayers with loud crying and tears (Heb. 5:7). He burned in agony and fervency in Gethsemane (Luke 22:14). Christ taught us that prayer isn’t a weak hearted matter, nor an exercise for lazy knees. For the key to its effectiveness is importunity (Luke 11:5-13). Hezekiah’s prayers moved God to add fifteen years upon his life (Isa. 38:1-5). God hears. God listens, to the righteous (James 5:16; Psalm 66:18). He who has the ear of God and sincerely applies himself to such a divine employment has access to a fruitful ministry. The writer of Hebrews asked for prayer (Heb. 13:18). Paul asked for such a divine assistance to be added to his ministry (2 Thess. 3:1). Paul knew the power of true prayer could turn events in the spreading of the word of God (Phil. 1:19).
He saw the aid to his ministry was none other than true prayer (2 Cor. 1:11). Prayer can open doors for uttering the word of God (Col.4:3-4). What a responsibility that will, without question, be one of many things we give an account for before the Judgment seat!
The recorded lesson from the apostolic Church was that dedication of one’s self should be given to the word of God but equally to prayer (Acts 6:4). Just as Elijah in the Old testament prayed for eyes to be opened to see, Paul prayed for the enlightening of the eyes of our heart that we may see (2 Kings 6:17;Ephesians 1:19). Ignore not the radiant evidence of a praying life. It may well open and enlighten a man’s heart to see what he couldn’t by study alone. The hope revealed in the scriptures is the anchor of our soul (Heb. 6:19). It must be the center of our life if we are to live a life pleasing to the Lord (Heb. 11:6; 10:39). At times and in many cases, we, dull of hearing, slow of heart people need the grace of prayer to quicken us with grace to walk out that which is currently in our mouths (Col. 1:9-11;Eph1:16-19;3:14-20). The great protection to prayerless praying (a disease rampant amongst the unstudied) is first of all, the honest, humble and correct study of the scriptures. For nothing else is a lamp unto our feet as we tread down the dark path of a deceptive world and religion (Psalm 119:105). Paul prayed according to God’s working (Eph 1:19; 3:20). Christ eclipsed His will with God’s (Matt. 26:39).
“Prayerless praying, how popular! Yet, useless”(E.M. Bounds). The Pharisees prayed to be heard, seen and recognized with many words and a prideful disposition for the good they have done (Marr. 6:5; Luke 18:10-14). Leonard Ravenhill said, “the secret of prayer is praying in secret (Matt. 6:6).” As the culmination of man’s day draws to a close, the sobriety of our secret place will be our secret to preparation (1 Peter 4:7). We must soberly strive in prayer and allow the Spirit of God to move us in intercession and personal longing for Him so as to sweeten the bitter areas of our lives and the lives of those that God has given us, knowing, at times only the Spirit will know the will of God (Rom. 15:30-31;8;8:26).
A burden is a revelation of a tremendous spiritual need, able to be satisfied by God alone, having no avenue where by it can be expressed, save, groanings which cannot be uttered, explained or understood. “Prayers that cannot be uttered are often prayersthat cannot be refused (Spurgeon).” Leonard Ravenhill challenges, “No man is greater than his prayer life…let me live with a man a while and share his prayer life and then I will tell you how tall I think he is or how majestic I think he is in God…You may impress others but you can’t impress God. You can show off on the platform, singing, preaching and doing your stuff, but not in prayer…Praying men stop sinning and sinning men stop praying. A man first collapses in the prayer closet…Can he share His sorrow with you? Can you remember the last time you couldn’t go to bed because men were dying without Christ?
When was the last time you pushed the plate away and said, “No, I need more time with God?” God looks for a man, not a seraphim, not a cherubim, not a half man and half deity. God looks for men, not money, not methods, not machinery, not movements…Men! We need to say, “Lord I’m concerned, I am speeding up to judgment, look at my ministry, look at the secrets of my life, look at my fruitlessness, look at my dry eyes, look at my poor spirit that has no ache in it, look at me!” The great day of accountability alone will reveal all that could have been effected through a selfless management of your time to invest in prayer. Beware to stand not ashamed. You cannot return to live the way you should have. Dr. Michael L. Brown urged us, “Are you spending your time, energy and efforts on things that are just going to burn?”I tell you after a diligent study of God’s word you will find this common thread, that an obedient life lived in humble intercession avails greatly in the eyes of God. A.W. Tozer at the end of his life said this challenging statement, “I don’t think that I will be ashamed of the things that I have done in my life, but rather what I could have done.” Samuel Chadwick at the end of his life said this sobering statement, “I have spent two thirds of my life in bible study and one third of my life in prayer. If I had the chance to do it all over again, I would spend two thirds of my life in prayer and one third of my life in bible study.” The word of God should never be neglected or despised (thought little of), for without its direction, one will more often than not, spend his time amiss.
They together constitute the whole of God’s assistance toward us.
Let us sincerely ask ourselves, in the light of Him who sees through the outward actions and into the motives and intents, (Rev. 2:23; Hebrews 4:12.) What does it matter if we boldly dance in the assembly, pray with eloquence and volume, shamelessly raise our hands amongst others or even speak the depths of the scriptures if we are bankrupt before God in the quiet place. “The true test of a man’s soul is when he is alone” (Jeremy Taylor). Have you come to the face of others from the face of God (figuratively)? To truly know God is to truly share, in our small degree, His feelings, revealed to us in His word, experienced by us in prayer. To share not God’s burden is to share not in His heart and He who is most dear to God is he who lays his head upon His breast (John 13:23, 25).
“Nothing will so test and stimulate the Christian life as the honest attempt to pray for others”(Andrew Murray). “The men who have done mighty things for God have always been mighty in prayer, have well understood the possibilities of prayer, and have made the most of these opportunities… Men who know how to pray are the greatest boon God can give the earth-they are the richest gift earth can offer heaven.”(E.M. Bounds).
A disciple who will give himself to the divine preparation and work of constant receiving God’s word and obeying God’s word, soaked in personal and intercessory prayer, will be more confident at the judgment. Knowing that he not only fed his spirit with the truth of God’s word but he opened his spirit to share God’s heart. A disciple who will give himself to the divine work of pure ministry of the word and prayer for others will effect greatly the course and pattern of living of these to whom he ministers (Col. 4:12). Of what greater significance can prayer be than that ministry which makes effective all else? The reward for a correct, sincere and fervent life of prayer will, more so than all others, be most significant in that great day. “There is no alternative to prayer and obedience” (Ravenhill).
“For it is a great honor to speak to men on behalf of God, but an even greater honor to speak to God on behalf of men” (E.M. Bounds). Let us not know the guilt of a life that chose to avoid the power, importance, privilege and responsibility of the availability of God’s ear.
Let us not forget that even He who was the Word made flesh lived a life of fervent Prayer. Let us plead for divine assistance for ourselves and others as we pursue the offered Kingdom through conformity to the image of God’s Son through nothing other than interaction with His Spirit!
Eric Gilmour is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Revival & Evangelism. Visit his website at agonypress.podbean.com
Posted in Featured Articles, Revival & Prayer Tagged with: Apostolic Church, burn, Christian, depth, Kingdom, power, prayer, spiritual
Editor’s Note: A guest article from David Ravenhill
HELPING TO SHAPE A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE
‘You put to the test those who call themselves apostle and they are not, and you found them to be false.’ Revelation 2:2
23 ‘Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as if insane) I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death.
24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty- nine lashes.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.
26 I have been in frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren.
27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure
28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches.
29 Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?
30 If I have to boast I will boast of what pertains to my weakness.’
2 Corinthians 11:23-30 NASB.
|The New Apostles
23 ‘Are they Apostles of Christ? (I speak the truth) I more so; in far more luxuries, in far more resorts, never beaten in golf, often in danger from overeating.
24 Fifty times I received massages at the Country Club where I play.
25 Three times I suffered heartburn, once I suffered sunstroke, three times I had to fly coach, a night and a day I have spent without my bodyguards.
26 I have been on frequent cruises, in dangers from jetlag, dangers from the Stock Market, dangers in my private jet, dangers from the IRS, dangers in my limo, dangers on my Harley, dangers on my yacht, dangers from rival televangelists.
27 I have been in spas and hot-tubs, through many six star nights, in buffets and steakhouses, often without my Perrier, or without ice in my Coke.
28 Apart from all these carnal pleasures, there is the daily pressure of counting my seed faith contributions.
29 Who is rich without me being rich? Who is led to give to my ministry without my intense joy?
30 If I have to boast I’ll gladly boast about myself and my mailing list.
New Apostolic Version
Posted in Scripture Tagged with: apostles, Apostolic Church, biblical christianity, carnal pleasure, compassion, david ravenhill, godliness, gospel, Guest Writer: David Ravenhill, New apostles, prosperity gospel, suffering, televangelists
Will we wander and die during visitation or go into Jesus-centred identity during visitation?
“Do you still not understand?” Mark 8: 21
I am convinced that to understand the true meaning of the Gospel disclosed by the New Testament writers, we have to get a grasp and revelation of the account of Israel’s Exodus. Even more so, I believe the Exodus will have special spiritual significance in the life of the Church in these early years of this new millennium. Perhaps the Exodus is the key moment in all of Israel’s history. It is central to their existence and understanding of the one true God and their role as His chosen people. I am a deep believer that it was with the Exodus in mind, the Gospel writers understood the emergence of Christ and His powerful victory on earth. In fact on the mount where He was transfigured and the disciples saw His glory, it is recorded that He spoke with Moses and Elijah regarding His ‘departure’ or ‘exodus’.
I believe that there are vital revelations deeply ingrained in the Exodus for the New Testament people of God. And to add to that, they will bear special significance and power in the imminent move of God that is about to break into the Western nations. At the time of writing there is a fresh excitement of imminent revival. It is as though Christ in His great compassion is about to feed the thousands, and cause a genuine move of the miraculous from the provision of His Kingdom. There are many signs beginning to take place among the hungry of heart. However, this move is about more than feeding the masses, good though that is. I believe God is speaking in the midst of this stirring, however only some may choose to listen to His voice. What is in my heart is in connection to the following question from Jesus.
“Do you still not understand?” (Mark 8: 21)
This is a monumental question from the Lord, after His disciples had just witnessed the feeding of the four thousand. Previously, they had seen the feeding of the five thousand, and so we must understand that their faith for this kind of miracle was not what was being questioned. Rather, Jesus was questioning their lack of insight into the signs and their deeper meaning. To get further insight into these events we have to look at John 6, where John the beloved disciple gives his own account of the feeding of the five thousand. He is the only Gospel writer who provides us with an explanation by Jesus of these unique feeding miracles. The two feeding miracles are closely connected. The message and meaning are the same, and yet each one is specific to those who witness them and are fed.
John recalls that after the first of the two miracles, Jesus is followed by the people. Jesus sees their hearts and knows that they are following because of what has just happened, not for who He is. Their cry is “give us a sign and we will believe…” In other words, they partake of His miraculous provision for their earthly needs, but will not see the miracles as manifestations of a spiritual truth. Jesus is the true ‘Bread of life’, which He embodies. He gives them eternal life through union with Himself. Jesus thus warns them for their lack of understanding in John 6: 49 & 50, and likens them to the early children of Israel who ate the miraculous manna from heaven in the wilderness AND STILL DIED! However, Jesus states that He is the true Bread of heaven, of whom men may eat and never die. But this is not the only thing Jesus is conveying here. He goes on to make further startling and even offensive statements to those around.
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” John 6: 56
Jesus is here giving the ‘deeper meaning’ of the feeding miracles. He is actually calling those that are pursuing His benefits, to go deeper and to partake of Him. To eat the miracle bread is one thing; to eat of Him is the real deal! In other words – it’s a very awesome and deeply spiritual issue. It is not enough that we enjoy His awesome signs and visitation (although we are to rejoice when they happen!) but it is more an issue of experiencing the heart of visitation, through identifying with Him and becoming part of Him spiritually. To find that deeper meaning and experience in Christ is what it truly is to become His body – the one loaf.
1. The ‘deeper meaning’.
Every move of the Spirit has one issue at the very heart of it. Despite their unique characteristics in each generation, whether the great awakening in England during the 1700s, the Welsh revival of 1904, or the Hebridian revival of the 40s & 50s, or even modern renewal / revival movements of the recent years in the USA and UK, the key issue has always been one grasped by some, and missed by others. It is the issue of a deep knowing of Jesus and our joining to Him, and He to us. Yet in the midst of outpouring the words, ‘Eat my flesh…’ are still as costly and offensive today as they were when originally spoken. Our soulish appetites still long for the peripheral activities of God, rather than the heart of Him who provides. Yes, it is God who moves in supernatural ways, and we rejoice in His great power, but if we do not become a ‘Jesus person’, or become a ‘Jesus people’, we can still die in our vain wandering in a kind of spiritual wilderness when in fact we were called like Israel to ‘go in and possess…’
The Lord in Deuteronomy 8: 3, spoke regarding His miraculous power given for His people, and yet gave them the ‘deeper meaning’ of the bread given for them.
“And feeding you with manna… to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of Lord…”
The mouth that spoke this to the children of Israel is the same mouth of the one God-man who spoke after the feeding of the five & four thousand, and the meaning is the same.
2. A deeper meaning still.
In the same chapter of John, the allusion is made to the forefathers of Israel who ate of this provision from heaven, and died in the wilderness. This people were uniquely called of God to an apostolic type ministry, led by Moses. They were called out of Egypt, to prove God’s delivering power. They were called through the wilderness, to know of the leading of the Angel of the Lord. They were called to be a priestly people of a unique Kingdom, carrying the Ark of the Presence. But the ultimate purpose of all of this was to go into the land of promise, dispossess the nations, and establish God’s true reign. What an awesome calling and destiny, and yet they failed because they could not fully identify with the Lord God, His righteous ways, His purpose, and the unique role they had in pointing ahead to the Messiah of God – Jesus! Paul in 1 Corinthians 10, warns the Church of the same tendency at work in them. He says:
“They all ate the same spiritual food… Nevertheless God was not pleased with most of them.” (V3 – 5)
By the way, neither did Moses and Aaron go in! Despite their apostolic-type calling, they disobeyed the Lord.
The sober warning is this. God is now about to bring a fresh move of His glory, power and presence into the Church again. Jesus is the One providing a new outpouring of grace. The people of God today are knowing of heavenly manna. However, Jesus, will not fail to enter that promise with His people, in the way Moses did. His intention is that those that are ’in Him’ will go in too. Therefore, whatever He is now pouring out is for that one aim alone, to create a ’Jesus people’ who will no longer wander aimlessly in the wilderness and die, but rather go in! Jesus people are those that eat of Him, and DO NOT DIE! They, in their union and identification with Him, go where He goes. His destiny is theirs. This is the deeper and ultimate meaning of revival in every generation, and definitely today’s! Young person don’t miss it at this point, it is central to the Spirit’s work. People may make of revival-type things what they will but the Spirit of God has this central issue in His heart – to create a Jesus generation. ‘Jesus people‘ go in! They are of a resurrection kind and they do not wander or die. Don’t miss the meaning of His outpouring – it has deep purpose in it!
3. Eating Him means identification not isolation.
This issue is not just a matter for the individual in becoming a ’Jesus person’ but it is a corporate one. It is about a people embracing Christ and His Kingdom as a unique body of called-out ones on the earth. This is not so much an ecumenical ‘all are involved‘ kind of calling where anything goes; in fact it is a particularly unique and exclusive one. Yes all are welcome but because of Christ’s demands for our soul, our life, our all, it is a very particular thing to become a ‘Jesus people’. Yes, Jesus prayed for unity among His congregation, but centred solely around a fellowship with and in His dynamic person. We have been guilty of watering down the uniqueness of the man Jesus. We have preached mental assent to Christ in order to get people ‘saved’ rather than the original concept of becoming His and joining Him in His exodus. God forgive us!
One of the key moments in a disciple’s life is the moment of his calling to follow. That’s how it was in the life of Andrew & Peter, Phillip & Nathanael. It was deemed so important that John in his Gospel (Chapter 1: 35 – 51) gives a lengthy account of their time of forsaking all to follow Christ. Andrew, after hearing John the Baptist’s words, ‘Look the Lamb of God’, goes to find his brother Simon Peter, and ceases from being John the Baptist’s disciple and becomes a dedicated pursuer of Jesus. The same is true of Phillip who goes to find Nathanael. They both leave all to follow. What is the meaning of this? It is simple. For them, believing in Jesus meant identity with Him, and it was all or nothing for them. They became a ’Jesus people’. They became the ’ekklesia’ (called-out ones) of God, in Jesus. For them this was eating the bread of Him who came to bring eternal life. Yet today, things are often different. ‘Becoming a Christian’ is about a mental assent to the right thing or doctrine. “Jesus Christ is my saviour, He died for my sins; I am forgiven and am going to heaven.” And then the individual remains the same, isolated, and never enters ‘into God’. They fail to eat His flesh and drink His blood until He is in very union with them. Their identity in and with the Master is not grasped.
Some have said because of the influence of this western-type individualistic centred message, “Faith in Jesus is a personal thing. I don’t need to come to meet with God’s people. I can have my faith where I am. “ I was confronted with these words when visiting Poland, after one young lady had had dramatic experience of Jesus, only after which the enemy came and robbed her with the following deception. She believed that because her new ‘faith’ was a personal issue of forgiveness and granting access to heaven alone, that she did not need to become a key member with God’s people. She could not grasp the costly demands of identity with Jesus the Master, and all that faith in Him meant. I was deeply troubled by these words and did not know how to answer them. I did not want to come up with the spiritual clichés of how we need to meet together as the Church etc. I wanted God’s answer, not only for that situation but for wherever we proclaim the Gospel. After days of seeking, the truth suddenly came alive in me. I began to see that to the early disciples believing in the Gospel was not just a matter of personal forgiveness (though we have that). I became aware that our Gospel preaching in the West had become focused on the individual benefits from God to us, and it had produced an ‘individualistic salvation’. I became aware that the first century concept of the Gospel was in stark contrast to the one today. We preach justification without identification, and we teach baptism as symbolic of ‘new life’ without emphasising the individual’s immersion into Jesus and His body. The results of this are disastrous, and are sadly evident in churches across the UK, USA & other neo-western countries today.
We have missed the essence of our salvation, which is in the account of the feeding of the thousands – i.e. the Bread of Life must be eaten and recognised for who He is, so that we become part of that one body / loaf. To see God’s miraculous power alone is great, but insufficient if we fail to become a true ‘Jesus person’ and join with a true ‘Jesus people‘, of whom all are inseparably linked to this glorious God-man. This is what that young lady in Poland had failed to see. Again, with the words of Jesus I ask: “Do you still not understand?”
4. The Bread of Presence.
The amazing thing about the command to ‘eat the flesh’ of Jesus is that it contains not only an experience of identity with Him, but also a knowing of Him with us, “…and I in him” – (John 6: 56)
So there is a remaining in Him on our part, but also of Him in us on His part. When we eat bread in the natural we eat and enjoy its taste. It goes down into our digestive system, giving of its nutrients, and if you like, it becomes a part of us. This is the case with those that eat the flesh of the Son of Man. It is a guarantee of His presence – always. The bread to be kept in the tabernacle in Exodus was called, ‘the Bread of Presence’, and the bread we eat in communion is a celebration of the same reality – our union with Him, and He with us. It is to be experienced, tasted and known. Whilst many have said that feelings are not what following Christ is about, I find the deeper I look into what Jesus’ life and message was about, the more I see that it was all about a true & living experience that is entered into through faith. This is what He called men into. Praise King Jesus!
5. Finally… Mark’s insight on the issue.
And so now we return to Mark’s account in chapter 8 of the second miracle of this two-part act from Jesus. As in the first miracle, there are similar themes:
- Belief and unbelief.
- Obedience and disobedience.
- Signs in and of themselves versus signs that penetrate the heart and lead to Christ.
- Wander and die during visitation or go into King-centred identity during visitation.
Mark puts the emphasis on Jesus’ questions to His followers. ‘Are you hard of hearing? Are you blind? Do you still not understand?’
What are they not getting? Firstly, there is significance in bread. There is bread which contains yeast, causing it to rise. In the Exodus, God commanded Israel to make bread without yeast in order to have a quick escape from Egypt. They would not have time to wait for the yeast to grow. So to Israel yeast was a sign of holding onto former ways, worldliness, disobedience and sin. Jesus is saying here that those who are identified with Him and are one in Him, are like a loaf without yeast, for He is not of Egypt but of the land of promise. The people that went in to the land were those who believed, obeyed, captured the heart of God’s activities and were those who took into the new land His Kingly rule and presence. They are those who will not hold on to former things but embrace His ways. Therefore the manifestation of Herod and the Pharisees sinfulness is like yeast in the people of Israel that did not enter the promise. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. God’s Old Testament congregation Israel was now leavened, yet Christ had come to form a new people of God – His called out ones, in whom no yeast dwells – they are to know Him! In other words, the deeper meaning of the visitation and outpouring of the Spirit is the light of Christ’s righteousness that shines through those who embrace the heart and depth of what’s happening. Unrighteousness and unbelief cannot enter into the promise of God. Jesus people do, because their Master has already stepped into the promise!
So today’s application is simple: The unrighteous do not believe or go after identity with Jesus, but they want to keep the supernatural provision. The righteous believe, they gladly lay down all for this union with Jesus, and they experience His Kingdom reign and know fruitfulness. They in their allegiance will go in. Do we now understand?
Finally, Christ also puts an emphasis on the number of baskets left over and the connection between the two events. Here is a glorious ministry of Jesus to the Jew and Gentile. Scholars agree that the first was to a Jewish audience, the second feeding to both Jew and Gentile.1 Now in God’s new day of visitation, through His Son, Gentiles become part of the congregation of God, with Jews, to go into the promise land and carry the Kingdom. The One new man is a reality through Him. This is what the Spirit is now calling for in this fresh move of His Spirit. Hence in Mark 8 the mention of only one loaf in the boat after the miracle. Out of the Jew & Gentile He forms a ‘Jesus people.’
So this is the meaning of the Bread of Heaven.
- It is to be eaten – that is absorbed into our spirits, through identification with Jesus, and by the Holy Spirit’s entrance into our hearts. Remember, you are what you eat. No yeast in this bread.
- It’s meaning is also exclusively Jesus-centred not ‘sign-centred‘. Yet out of this union, great Kingdom demonstration is evidenced.
- It’s meaning is about a body of people, who embrace the above, who in fellowship and apostolic movement form God’s new people. Thus they are called to inherit and dispossess nations. We are to be led by the Angel of the Lord who is the Lord Jesus. We are now to carry the Ark of His presence in our hearts. We are to experience supernatural signs of power but also grasp their significance. They are signs of the Kingdom! HOWEVER, we are not to die, for those in Christ do not die but live, they know, they do, they are – I.e. they ‘go into promise‘. This is a King-centred move of the Spirit – let’s not forget it.
David Ravenhill has in recent years written timely words for these days of visitation we live in:
‘How could Israel ever forget this incredible sight as they stood there on the banks of the Red Sea? They watched the entire Egyptian army being swallowed up by the mighty torrents of water cascading down upon them. God was unleashing His mighty hand of judgment against those who had helped impose Israel’s forced captivity of oppression and slavery… As wonderful as this experience was, it was merely the beginning – the first step in God’s plan and purpose for His people. Even as they celebrated, God had His goal in mind – to “bring them and plant them in the mountain of (His) inheritance.” (Exodus 15: 17) His purpose was to have people passionately in love with Him, a people who shared His heart for others who were in slavery and bondage.
This then, was the first stage in God’s plan to bring Israel out of their bondage; through the wilderness of testing, growth and preparation; and into the land of promise, where they would dwell in the very presence of God… God’s plan was to bring His people into Zion and establish them in a life that revolved around His presence… The same thing is true for the Church… His ultimate goal is to gather all nations to Himself.’ 2
So one more time, with the words of Jesus, I repeat, “Do you still not understand?” He’s moving again out of His great compassion, grace and favour. He is visiting His people but His deep callings remain the same, and if anything, during times of revival the intensity and power of those deep callings increase.
Jesus has come as ‘Emmanuel – God with us’ to reveal a deep and great mystery for all ages, that despite satan’s assault on mankind, God can and will have a people for Himself. They as one new man will demonstrate what the early disciples became through their association with Jesus. The Jewish disciples of a Jewish Jesus accomplished what their ancestors did not, not because of their own ability but because of their identity in and with this glorious God-man, who is greater than Moses and succeeds where even Moses failed. Let’s not make the mistake of disassociating the power of God from the God of power. He moves in signs and wonders in order to reveal His heart, and for us to share in His heart. Today the prophetic call is the same and to this end. Today the apostolic mandate and mission is the same and to this end.
In the challenging words of Bob Gladstone, ‘A new Jesus people are arising…’
Will you become part of the new ‘Jesus people’?
1 William Lane, NICNT on the Gospel of Mark (Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974) Comments on Mark 8 account of feeding of 4000.
2 They drank from the river and died in the wilderness, David Ravenhill (Destiny Image 2000) Quote taken from Chapter 6: P67 & 68
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: Apostolic Church, awakening, Bob Gladstone, Church, Exodus, forgiveness, Jesus-people, John the Baptist, judgment
This is the final part of this particular article on the theme of ‘Apostolic ministry’. I realize that we have only scratched the surface of this theme. However, hopefully we have now begun to take a new look at the term ‘apostolic’, and may it help bring about a fresh move of the Spirit in the day in which we live. We have looked at Jesus, the sending of the 12, OT and NT theology of these ministries, but it would be a culpable omission if we did not take a brief look at Paul, who was a giant amoung apostles, and was ‘sent’ post the ascension of Jesus.
Part 4 – Paul, apostle to the Gentiles.
The great thing about Paul is that he never calls himself ‘the Apostle Paul’ but rather ‘Paul, an apostle…’ For him the name is descriptive of His ministry but never prescriptive, demanding an ecclesiastical credence.
Another, thing about him is that we not only see this apostolic function in his life and mission, but we read insights by virtue of his epistles. Due to the huge scope of His teaching, it is better for me to just state some of the key activities of his which are in keeping with the above, and also some key statements of his in relation to this ministry.
· Chosen / Sent. He was chosen by God from birth, to this ministry – Galatians 1: 11 – 24
· Recognised not promoted / Released not restricted. He was initially found by Barnabus probably with seeds of Apostolic gifting beginning to bare early on; then recognised and sent out by the local church at Antioch, then at a later time acknowledged by Jerusalem / Wider Church body. (Acts 12, 13 & Galatians 1) Therefore, he probably began manifesting this gift before full recognition came later on. Thus it is important that an apostolic ministry must be revealed to the man first with his immediate peers by the Holy Spirit. This enables him to function as part of a team in that ministry without restriction but with covering (Acts 12: 25.) As that ministry develops and widens, it is then recognised among the wider body of Christ, as with Paul at Jerusalem. NOTE: The later recognition should be recognition of what already exists in function. It is not to prescribe a promotion to higher office, which only then allows such ministry to take place. However, it is obvious that Paul’s initial freedom was borne out of an acceptance of his ministry in Antioch, and carried into the communities he planted rather than those he did not – i.e. Jerusalem. (See 1 Corinthians 9: 1 – 2) His wider recognition came later, and would have enabled other churches that had little to do with him or his ministry to accept him as such.
· Missions. The heart of his ministry was apostolic missionary (1 Timothy 2: 7), in proclamation to the Gentiles of the Good news, teaching, debating, demonstrating the power of the Kingdom of God, discipling believers, ordaining elders and church fatherly aftercare.
· Team. He worked in a team. Barnabus, Silas, John Mark, Timothy, Titus (Plus 20 others at least at different times) It is evident that as well as working in harmony with other 5 fold ministry gifting, he also saw and worked with other apostolic ministries beyond himself. (Romans 16: 7) No ‘apostle’ should display a ‘sanctified independence’. Whilst this distinct ministry is in its nature ‘first’ in function, it is not first in importance. (Romans 12) It is better to think of it ‘first’ in terms of its foundational nature, but rightly related to other ministry.
· He built with prophetic ministry in harmony with the apostolic ministry. His explanation of this in Ephesians 2 and 3, gives us theological understanding in light of the OT explanation in the previous installments. Also, we see His work with Silas, and Acts 16 highlighting such ministry. The prophets with the team would bring revelation of God’s purposes and strategy for mission.
· Fathers & Sons. He trained other apostolic ministries in Timothy and Titus, instructing them in Church aftercare and to ordain elders in every city.
· Builder. He worked as a wise master builder and foundation layer (1 Corinthians 3) after the pattern of His Lord and Saviour – Jesus. That which the Lord had demonstrated, Paul would have copied and put into practice through preaching and teaching.
· Suffering and authority. Due to the foundational nature of pioneering and missions for the Kingdom, great authority would have been manifest, yet for Paul death and the cross life was also a part of both Jesus and his own life. (1 Corinthians 4: 9& 2 Corinthians 10 & 11) For him, apostles were like those in the procession of death and persecution in their warfare type role. Jesus had foretold this. Kingdom authority – yes, but with Cross like sacrifice. Servant / slave was a word Paul often used about himself. Without death to self and suffering, he would not continue to rely only on God’s grace and power in ministry. The Cross was the source of authority for him.
· Apostolic revelation. Another dynamic aspect of Paul’s ministry (which we also see in the preaching and teaching of Jesus) is that of bringing apostolic revelation. The Word says that the revelation of the mystery of Christ has ‘now been made known’ by apostles and prophets (Eph 3: 4 &5). Part of the apostolic function is to bring out by the Spirit the deep revelatory truths of God, which will in turn build the people into Christ-likeness, and prepare them for works of service (Eph 4). The apostle as ‘sent one’ is actually bringing an incarnational ministry of Jesus to the people in a small way. When this happens it puts into the people an apostolic DNA which causes body growth, or an apostolic seed which bears fruit. Paul says, ‘Imitate me, as I imitate Christ..’ The more apostolic and prophetic revelation comes to a people, the more a community looks like their King in possession and practice. This kind of revelation is not weird or flaky but it is deep, and Christocentric in substance, nature and power. This then makes a mature body, which in turn prepares men for eldership, and people for service. Then God is glorified through His Son, by the Spirit in His Body!
It goes without saying that Paul won thousands to the Lord; transformed cities or regions; planted many churches by discipleship, laying on of hands for impartation and ordination. Yet, He also was a humble man, a servant, slave and a soldier not counting his life worth anything but obeying every command from Heaven. His one goal was to bring ALL men into the fellowship of the revelation of Jesus Christ. Jesus was Paul’s apostolic vision for the nations (Romans 1) Without claiming such a Pauline status ourselves, should we not be looking for similar hallmarks today in apostolic ministry?
In Conclusion, it is my conviction today many apostolic ministries are to be found in the unknown places on the front line on the mission field among the nations, although that is not exclusively so. Some are called to mission at home. These ministries often are breaking new ground in diverse Kingdom ways and building according to the pattern. There are those who administer with elders in building God’s people. Others having gone through the missional stage of ministry are now ‘fathers’. They have gone through the ‘giving birth to new works’ stage and now provide a fatherly role in care and counsel, as Paul to Timothy. Both ends of the apostolic ministry spectrum are different stages of the same apostolic gifting, but both equally as valid – sons and fathers. I believe there are different kinds of apostolic ministries, according to the variety that is in God’s heart. Some encouragers like Barnabus, some exhorters like Peter, some edifiers like Paul, but all apostles with the distinct features of apostolic commission, calling and fruitfulness.
Ultimately, Jesus Christ is the great Apostle. Let us do as the original 12, 70 and early church did – and make known the revelation of the Son of God until He comes! Amen
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: apostle, Apostolic Church, art katz, Jesus, Kingdom, Paul, prophets, the church, the Gospel
3. The New Testament Dynamics of the Apostolic Ministry.
We have seen the first use of the term ‘apostle’, and we have considered the OT and NT prophetic significance of this ministry, that of missions, pioneering, foundational building for the new temple of God. But what does it look like practically? To answer this question we need to evaluate some key lives, which manifest such a calling and ministry.
A: Jesus – the Chief Apostle.
Hebrews 3 says:
1Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. 2He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. 3Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. 6But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.
Firstly, in this scripture Jesus is compared to Moses. It is evident in this scripture that Moses carried an OT type of apostolic ministry, as well as priestly. However, Moses was a faithful servant in God’s house, but Christ was the builder and the Son over it! Moses rescued God’s people, but also led them, formed the structure of their national identity in obedience to God’s commands, and he was supposed to lead them into the land of promise, and see them planted by God in that place, after disarming the nations and their powers. He was a ‘Kingdom missionary’ in an OT type of way. His calling was very apostolic!
So too do we see Jesus in a greater way. We must look at the example of He who appoints, sends, gives and perfectly manifests the apostolic ministry – Jesus Christ. If he is the apostle, then there must be something in His life here on earth that demonstrates that in His life & mission. I’d like to suggest the following:
i. He was chosen & sent by God to this world on a Divine mission. (John 3: 16; 8: 16 – 18, plus many more)
ii. His actual physical presence on earth carried the authority of God’s Kingdom as an apostolic representative. The ancient Jewish law says. ‘The one sent, is as the one who sent him…’ We will see that this carries through to present ministry, though Jesus is more than that, as He is the ‘word made flesh, dwelling among us’.
iii. His apostolic ministry has at its heart, mission. Just as Moses not only delivered God’s people but also was commissioned to take them in to promise, so was the apostolic ministry in Jesus one of a ‘NT Exodus’. That was Christ’s mission! It has been said that an evangelist takes people out from bondage, but an apostle takes out, in order to take people into something. Jesus not only manifested a ‘rescue ministry’ but also a purposeful ministry of the Kingdom. He disarmed the powers over the peoples, to bring them into His inheritance, planted in a place of fulfilment, that they may become an apostolic Kingdom people. That was His apostolic mission!
iv. The parables of Mark 4 and the account of Jesus’ ministry in Mark 5, really beautifully demonstrate how the Kingdom of God works. It is my belief that this account carries tones of the apostolic about it, and how Jesus brings Kingdom advancement into new regions. Here the Lord goes on a mission to the ‘other side’ of the lake to deliver a man possessed by demons. In chapter four he has taught on the work of the Kingdom, especially how in seed form it becomes large and spreads. He then goes on to illustrate practically what that looks like in the 5th chapter. Yes, there was a tormented man needing deliverance, but as we study this account we find the region was oppressed also, and that Christ had gone to reach a people, through a man. We see initially, that Christ and the disciples encounter a violent storm en route to the other side. The Lord rebukes the storm in a manner only attributed to demonic powers. I believe the Lord was going to touch a region, as well as a man. On encountering the tormented man, the Word says that they (the demons) begged to stay in the region, hence why they desired to be allowed to enter the pigs. Jesus actually permits them but only for casting them into the sea! Upon his deliverance the man begs to follow Jesus, and the people beg Jesus to leave the region! (Interesting!) The man is not permitted to leave with Christ but to stay and tell all of God’s goodness. The region must be transformed. As the parable of the mustard seed had illustrated, from seed form the Kingdom would grow into something grand and glorious! So it was the case in this region. Kingdom advancement, and planting of Kingdom seed is apostolic ministry.
v. Consider another account in Mark 1. Jesus heals masses out of His great mercy and compassion. He delivers a man from demons with authority. Many from the region of Galilee see, hear & follow, as they have never seen this authority before. After resting in the home of Simon and Andrew, and healing the mother in law, He goes to pray alone the next morning. Again the crowds are waiting at the house, and Simon summons Jesus to come and minister to the crowds. Surely this is the beginning of a ‘great’ ministry. National fame could lead to global magnitude! The world’s first great healing evangelist! (Not that there is anything wrong with that kind of ministry.) Yet the Lord is mindful of the Father’s apostolic purposes, and must visit other towns and villages also. He says in another Gospel account of this story, that this is why He has been ‘sent’. It is one thing to minister to great crowds, and see God move and bring release, but it is quite another to see the mission beyond evangelism. It is apostolic to bring a penetration of God’s rule into physical locations. God wants a representation of His Kingdom, through peoples, in locations. A divine deposit in each location visited. Christ’s apostolic ministry was one of Kingdom advancement, through mission pioneering, penetration of the powers of darkness, and forming a people / disciples to bear witness to that in every location.
vi. The text earlier quoted in Mark 3, where Jesus chooses the 12 to be apostles, is also a key part of His apostolic ministry. He knows that He alone cannot fully perform this ministry, and so designates the same authority of the Kingdom upon them, that they may multiply the apostolic work of the Kingdom. The one ‘sent’ also must be a ‘sender’. This too is apostolic. W.A.C Rowe , a man greatly used of God in the apostolic church UK, which was birthed in the Welsh Revival once said, ‘the apostolic ministry is not a flash of brilliant individualism. It is always glorious team work.’ It is apostolic to raise up others with the same DNA and send them out. This leads us into the next example of 12 apostle’s ministry.
B: The 12 Apostles of the lamb, in particular Peter.
Having chosen the 12, it is not sufficient to place a title upon them alone. It has been rightly said that the ministry gifts are not prescriptive but descriptive of ministry in lives. Therefore, Jesus gives the 12 clear apostolic instructions, which He has embodied and demonstrated for them to carry forth. We must heed to these instructions, because they surely must have played a foundational role in the thinking & activities of the 12, 70 and Church in Acts in their mission to the nations.
We will look at Matthew 10 and examine the elements of this ministry.
i. Verse 5. Here specifics of geographical locations are given. Jesus is the sender. George Ladd says: ‘The Kingdom creates the Church, not vice versa. The Church bears witness to the Kingdom’s activities.’ Therefore, those sent are obeying a call and commission to something / somewhere. Oswald Sanders says: “Missions are to be based on the passion of obedience, not the pathos of pity” So we can see the absolute centrality of the Lord Jesus in the apostolic ministry from the outset, in that He as the Head of the Church is the One from whom all apostolic specifics come. One Scripture says, He sent them (the disciples) where He Himself was about to go. He knows the spiritual dynamics of the nations, and therefore where we would not choose to go, He would often choose, knowing what the key to unlocking a place would be! This takes a unique apostolic dependency by the vessel upon God.
ii. Verse 7. Secondly, their first act in their mission is to proclaim the presence of the Kingdom as good news. They are to announce the Lord’s redemption, power and free grace, based upon repentant lives and faith. What we see in this is God’s ambassadors announcing the ‘invasion’ of God’s rule into the house of the enemy. This is evidenced also in Paul & Barnabus’ ministry in the cities they visited (and the subsequent upheaval!)
iii. Verse 1 & 8. Authority is given for the driving out of powers of the Kingdom of darkness. This is essential in apostolic mission, as one cannot progress to rescue and build something of Kingdom value until the ground is free, so to speak. The spiritual governs the earthly (as with Mark 5 and Luke 11: 14 – 28) and therefore the 12 had to be instructed in this. This ministry of deliverance and healing was evidence that what they proclaimed was fact!
iv. Verse 11 – 16. Apostolic ministry is not only to rescue but also to appropriate God’s rule on earth for a location and people. Therefore, Jesus instructs the apostles to find a house for the ‘shalom of God’ to rest there. Apostolic ministry as demonstrated in Christ, leaves something behind, which produces the fruits of righteousness, peace and joy, in lives and in homes. It is a ministry of reconciliation and restoration of God’s order. What was once previously owned by the powers of the air is now a place of dominion for God and His people. If a house receives this, it knows of grace and peace in the Holy Spirit. From there, the Kingdom, like leaven can spread to the other houses in that place. From this a community of the King is formed that constitutes the congregation / Church of Jesus Christ. A house is the foundation of a community. When a house received the Good news, the men are instructed to stay and make it a base for operations in their mission.
Also, Matthew 16 gives us further insight into the apostolic ministry of the 12, and particularly Peter.
16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.
Here we see the type of authority expressed in the apostolic church. Upon her revelation of the Son of God, given by the Father, she is built by Jesus, as a stronghold of the Kingdom against the powers of hell. Peter, as a foundational part and representative of this apostolic body of God’s people, is symbolically given the keys of the Kingdom, to bind and loose. Again, the heavenly realities are connected to the earthly manifestations. Acts tells clearly of Peter’s administration of this in chapter 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 & 10.
In Acts 8, we see a good demonstration of the apostolic ministry in Peter. Upon Phillip’s evangelistic success in Samaria, Peter with John goes to affirm what is happening and bring authority and order to that revival. It is not two governmental Apostles bringing things ‘under their control’ but rather it is a distinct function at work. Evangelistic success is great, but without something remaining in that region it is wasted. New wine needs a new wineskin. Apostolic insight also brings out any satanic infection in the new work quickly (as we see with Peter and Simon the sorcerer). This is important so that the new house is built without foundational weakness and is fitting dwelling place for the Spirit. It is worth comment also that they upon their return visit other places in Samaria to preach the Gospel. Both Gospel proclamation, and setting things in place for continuation of God’s work are key parts of the apostolic ministry.
So then we see, that apostolic ministry is not a hierarchal governmental office that sits around presiding over everything. No! Rather it is a functioning ministry in harmony with the work of God, yet distinct from the other ministries. It is a powerful ministry, which brings Kingdom authority with it in evangelism and administering God’s work in mission, for the building of His Church. ‘Going’ is a vital part of the ministry, that’s what ‘sent’ means. Nowhere is presiding mentioned or seen. Rather, as WAC Rowe says, apostles should be those who ‘breakthrough’ & ‘blaze a trail’ for the Kingdom, and should be the most progressive of ministries in the Church.
Apostolic ministry in Peter was foundational. No builder can lay a foundation unless he ‘goes’ to the place of choosing. (We cannot build from out of an office, right?) That’s part of the mission – to go!
It is worth here mentioning, James’ role in Acts 15. He is also mentioned in apostolic terms in Galatians 1 & 2. It is apparent here that His apostolic ministry was more to Jews in Jerusalem, rather than the Gentile nations. So was this a ‘presiding kind’ of apostolic ministry? I do not believe so. I believe one can be ‘sent’ to a city, as well as a people or nation / nations. I know of such ministries today, such as Colin Dye in London, or Jackie Pullinger in Hong Kong. These ministries are far from presiding bishops (in our understanding); rather they are God’s pioneers and builders for that city. In as much as others plant and do mission in a plurality of locations, so too do these servants reach an entire city by planting a plurality of faith communities in different suburbs or areas of the city. If there is any form of remaining after the initial work it is for the purpose of aftercare with the elders for those churches.
Finally, Acts 10, again we see Peter’s apostolic ministry at work. He is mysteriously apprehended by a vision for the house of Cornelius. Supernatural ministry accompanies the apostolic function due to its Kingdom advancing nature; as does the evangelistic ministry also demonstrate. Peter uses the ‘keys’ to open the door of the Good news of the Kingdom to the gentiles, and the Spirit falls upon the house! Notice the house as a key ingredient to this story. How many missions have failed or been partially successful because we have not taken the Kingdom to a house and remained there! This is apostolic.
In conclusion, from Peter, with John, and indeed Paul, we see that part of the foundation building is the laying on of hands for healing, Baptism in the Holy Spirit and ordination. These are foundational aspects of a foundational ministry that are vital to the ongoing building work of the community of faith.
In the next and final installment will conclude this series by taking a look at Paul, and how the Lord through him has given us a glorious pattern to follow.
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: apostle, Apostolic Church, art katz, Jesus, Kingdom, Paul, prophets, the church, the Gospel
In the first installment of this series on the apostolic ministry (see earlier post), we took a look at the original meaning of the theme ‘apostolic’ as given by the Lord to the 12; that of ‘sent ones’. In this next part we will look at Christ’s Apostolic ministry in particular, and the significance of it then and now.
2. Prophetic significance from OT history & prophets; fulfilled in Jesus.
Mark 11, 12 & 13 capture a remarkable sequence of events in the life of Jesus. It is a time when Jesus is open about His Messianic status like no other point in His life. He did this in the final week before His atoning death and triumph. This was a moment like no other in that He was now declaring Himself as the pioneer of a new day, a new foundation, a new building and a greater glory! This statement of truth about Himself was the ‘Rock of offense’! Thus, because the ‘grace of apostleship’ is the grace of Christ through a vessel, in a smaller but important way, apostolic ministry due to its pioneering and foundational nature causes a great disturbance, but also great glory! Let’s look at why.
Throughout the Gospels & Epistles, Jesus is referred to as the ‘Stone’. (Acts 4, Ephesians 2, 1 Peter 2) This is in prophetic fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecies in Isaiah ch 28, and Zechariah’s words in his book – ch 4 & 10. It is also wonderfully foretold in Psalm 118.
The overall picture presented in the OT prophecies is that Jesus is both the foundational stone in the beginning of the building process, and Capstone / consummator of God’s house at the end. With Him in the NT teaching, Apostles and Prophets both historically (Eph 2: 20) and now by their present function (Eph 3: 5) fulfil a foundational role in what God is building for His glory, and the Spirit’s dwelling.
We see in Mark’s Gospel 11, 12 & 13 something of the fulfilment of the OT prophetic word conveyed. Jesus arrives in Jerusalem one week before His death and resurrection, and begins ‘ministering’ for a week at the temple. As he enters Jerusalem, the crowds cry ‘blessed is He…’ in fulfilment of Psalm 118: 15 – 29. It is significant because the cry of ‘blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord’ is directly related to the Psalmist’s prophetic declaration of the Capstone being rejected and it being the Day that the Lord has made.
After this event in Ch 11: 12 – 19 – the Lord clears the temple, and declares God’s intention for His people – that it is His house of prayer for all nations! The next day Jesus speaks of speaking to mountains, after cursing the fig tree, and using true faith in God. And then in ch 11: 27 – 33 – His authority is questioned. In other words to build something new, must require a fresh ground to work with; every obstacle removed and persistent standing in the face of opposition. What Christ has come to do is lay a new foundation stone in His mission and message. This is apostolic.
In Mark 12 He tells a parable of Tenants who reject the Son, and He quotes the Psalm 118 in fulfilment of the rejection of Him – the Stone, by the Jewish religious leaders. He then teaches in the temple for a few days. God has suddenly come to His temple!
Ch 13, the disciples marvel at the ‘stones’ of the temple, and the Lord tells them it will be destroyed.
It is evident that Jesus Christ, the Stone, is clearing the way, so to speak, for a rebuilding of God’s house, based upon Himself. It will demand a new understanding of what God is doing in the earth. What God is doing to a physical temple by destroying it, He will perform the opposite by building a new spiritual temple built upon His Son. This is in fulfilment of Zechariah 3 & 4 where the Stone would be laid to shouts of ‘grace / blessings’. Interestingly, Zechariah prophesies to the mountain of opposition that stands before Zerrubbabel and Joshua’s building work, by saying ‘What are you O mountain… you will become level ground.’
Zerrubbabel and Joshua were the commissioned builders against the will of the enemies of Judah (Ezra 4) and yet the prophet brings encouragement to build in the face of opposition. This historic account in the OT is also prophetic of the Lord’s glorious NT work.
So the OT prophetic type is the builder working with the watchman in the building of God’s house. In the NT, the apostle and prophet are foundation ministries for the NT people of God, built upon Jesus! In the both examples it is not by might, nor by power but by the Spirit of the Lord!
Here we see an OT prophetic view & NT fulfilment of what the great apostle Jesus did in His ministry. He destroyed the temple, and rebuilt it in 3 days! Now we can understand why apostolic & prophetic ministry working together brings great disturbance to the powers of darkness, because it is the taring down of satan’s kingdom, and the laying of a foundation Stone – the message of the Kingdom of God, in Christ. It is a building of a new spiritual temple upon Jesus, the Chief cornerstone. Apostleship is front line ministry, rather than ‘managerial status’. It is rooted in the Man, Christ Jesus, and because of this it will bring commotion but come with great glory from God and to God! Upon Himself, with apostolic ‘building’ ministry and prophetic ‘watchman’ ministry, we can see God’s house built for God’s glory to dwell in by His Spirit.
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: apostle, Apostolic Church, art katz, Jesus, Kingdom, Paul, prophets, the church, the Gospel
Author’s Note: Over the next few weeks I’d like to talk about the apostolic ministry in today’s Church, and how I believe Scriptures reveal it works in the Kingdom of God. I will publish four parts, including looking at Christ, OT prophetic significance, the original 12 including Peter, & Paul.
May God speak to us in regard to these things in a deeper and more precious way!
We are all well acquainted with the Scripture in Ephesians 4: 11,
‘it was He who gave some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors & teachers…’
It has become a well quoted Scripture in many circles around the world, and thank God that many in the Body of Christ are now embracing it as a present reality in the Church! However, it still produces much disagreement, debate and confusion. And even if many agree with its present truth, much confusion, speculation and even abuse in applying these truths have come.
It is even more so in regard to the apostolic ministry itself, that the truths have become very clouded of late. Not that the Word of God is cloudy on the issue but what men make of the precious word ‘apostolic’ has become cloudy. Thus, abuses abound; who are these people? Men, women, or even both? Are they bishops or spiritual CEOs, or neither? Who has the right to choose or name them? Are there different grades of apostles? Is it an office or a function? Does the ‘apostle’ have the right to ‘make the calls’ and ‘pull rank’ if others disagree?
It is my view that we have to come away from answering these questions, and quarrels in endless debates, and go back to the Scriptures. From there we can see the clear picture the Scriptures portray. (Please be aware that I will not get into the debate of ‘if they are valid ministries for today’, as that question has been answered thousands of times, and I am taking it for granted that the readers will believe it to be so.)
I quote Art Katz in regard to this theme of ‘Apostolic’:
“Like every Biblical word, we will not find the definition in a dictionary. We need rather to be apprehended by the genius of what the word represents… Probably one of the greatest failures of the Church is to be satisfied with verbal statements and creedal affirmations but without the corresponding actuality.”
1. Back to basics. The Apostle as ‘sent one’.
Mark 3: 13 – 15.
Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14He appointed twelve—designating them apostles — that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15and to have authority to drive out demons.
The scripture above carries some foundational elements to understanding the apostolic ministry, which are in keeping with Ephesians 4: 11 & 1 Corinthians 12: 28. It is that ‘He’ – Jesus Christ has appointed these ministries. In this Scripture in Mark 3 we see the following:
Firstly, there is a Pattern. While on the mountain in prayer (Also see Luke 6: 12 -13) – Jesus calls and man responds / Jesus appoints & designates – His servants ‘go’. This shows that initiative is God’s, not man’s, in the raising up of this ministry. He by the Spirit imparts the gifts and graces needed. He calls and anoints His servants for such a task. Man’s duty is to respond.
There is also a Meaning. Mark 3 (Also read Luke 6) is the first time in the life of Christ and the disciples that the word ‘apostle’ is used to define a ministry. That means that this initial use of the word should be deemed as key to any future understanding of its meaning. For example, the meaning of the word ‘apostle’ and how that meaning relates to its function today, is to be understood in terms of what we then go on to see evidenced in the life of Jesus and these 12 men in the Gospels from this point. It is also from this significant point that the Lord Jesus delegates the authority and power of this ministry upon the 12 ordinary men; it is from this key moment that this ministry begins to be seen in their lives. We will discuss this more later on, when examining the 12’s particular ministry.
The word ‘apostle’ means ‘sent one’. That is, one commissioned with a Divine mission or message by God to a people. Think of a ship, bearing special cargo, on a mission to take it to a specific destination.
So then, the word ‘sent’ carries a missionary call & dynamic to it. It is a word of action and commissioning; it is also a word of authority and representation from the sender. It is a ‘go-ing’ word! If we remember this, we will rightly understand the spiritual dynamic contained in this ministry.
In the OT, Exodus 3: 10 & 12, God calls and meets with Moses in the Burning Bush encounter. We again see the Apostolic God revealing Himself, calling His servant, commissioning him to His purposes, sending His servant to a particular mission with the sender’s authority and message. It is worthy to note, Stephen in Acts 7 gives an account of Moses calling at the bush, uses the word ‘send’, which is an apostolic word. Moses really fulfils an OT type of apostolic ministry.
There is a message. The Scripture in Mark 3 specifically says that the sending was in connection to them preaching. Preaching is a vital ingredient in the apostolic ministry, but not just any preaching. I believe there is a kind of ‘apostolic preaching’ that brings the authority of the Gospel of the Kingdom to bear in virgin territory, and establishes God’s rule through the building of new communities of faith. This preaching is one of tearing down in order to raise up. It is an appropriating ministry accompanied by signs and wonders that can change a region. This preaching also carries a foundational grace that reveals Jesus Christ both theologically and experientially to the newly formed community. It takes the newest of believers to the depths of discipleship in such a way that, ‘Christ is formed in them…’ and they in turn become a Christ centred apostolic people.
In part 2 of this article we will look at how Jesus Christ began to fulfill Old Testament prophecies as the Great Apostle of our Faith.
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: apostle, Apostolic Church, art katz, Jesus, Kingdom, Paul, prophets, the church, the Gospel
In my previous article, we took a look at the role and function of Prophets & Prophecy in the New Testament context. As promised in that article, I want in this second part to follow on by giving some historic and personally witnessed examples of the above.
We will look specifically at two examples of what I feel to have authentically and powerfully demonstrated some of these things – The Welsh Revival (and the ensuing Apostolic Movement) & the Latter Rain outpouring.
I want to reiterate some things before getting into specifics of these moves. Firstly, these examples are both born in the fires of revival. Therefore, they are God initiated rather than human ideas coming to the fore. Secondly, mistakes WERE made due to their pioneering nature, yet this does not invalidate the fruit that remains. Thirdly, they bear the Divine hallmark and testimony of Jesus Christ at their core. Finally, not all that has happened since in the name of these moves should invalidate the original saints devotion and integrity, and the authenticity of the original outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (Remember the sons of Sceva in Acts 19)
So, I would like to deal with the two moves in chronological order, as the two are connected by order of events, as well as certain personnel, not to mention the continuity of the work of God.
The Apostolic Church.
The 1904 Welsh Revival is one of the most famous, if not the most famous revival of relatively recent times. The scope of its impact is huge, not to mention incalculable in terms of lives affected. Without getting into too much detail, many of us are aware of the supernatural nature of the visitation, and how it literally gripped churches, saved and unsaved alike, even entire communities, regions and a nation came under the influence! God’s tangible and manifest presence came in an unprecedented and deep way. To say this is quite remarkable in the light of the fact that Wales in the 1700s & 1800s would have seen regular revivals of a potent nature, sometimes on average in every 15 years! But 1904 – 1905, was peculiar in that it went beyond visitation of a place, to the producing of nation shaking ministries. I could mention the names of Evan Roberts, Stephen & George Jefferies, Rees Howells, Alexander Boddy of Sunderland, plus countless 100s more, who were directly born out of the fire or touched by it in some way.
However, there are two men directly saved and impacted in the ‘04 revival who are less known, but equally as impacting. They were known as D.P. ‘Dan’ Williams and his brother, W. Jones Williams. Time doesn’t permit to go into all the details but suffice to say that these two men were carriers of the fire for an entire generation after. (In my mind the revival went beyond that which historians recognize.) These men not only were saved and later baptized in the Holy Spirit, but were gripped by a revelation/vision, which for its day was literally ‘revolutionary.’ D.P. Williams was gripped by an ‘Apostolic Vision,’ which entailed a revolutionary movement of powerful, Christ–centered ‘foundational ministries’ that would manifest a restoration of the function of the Apostle & Prophet, as was seen in the Acts Church, and the ministry of Paul in particular. At this point I want to emphasize something very important: The vision these young men had was not about creating a hierarchical, tier system of offices. It was not as some do today, about laying a claim to the office or a title which actually only produces ‘renamed Bishops’ without function. It was not about ‘super–apostles’ or ‘lone ranger prophets’ dishing out unchecked words about everything and everyone. For them it was to do with Gospel & Missionary Enterprise, as demonstrated by Paul in the NT. It has been commented by many that these pioneers came into such a revelation of NT Scripture concerning these ministries, that when they expounded about them or selflessly demonstrated them, listeners and onlookers were left astounded as to the quality/humility of character, and powerful depth of Biblical revelation these men conveyed. These men deeply believed that Jesus had given these gifts to the Church in order to build her, mobilize her and mature her into the stature and image of Christ. They were above all, Christocentric in substance and Christ revealing in character.
In particular regard to prophecy, a teenage Jones Williams, began to be stirred from the Welsh Revival onward. They both witnessed powerful prophetic utterance in the years of 04 – 05. In one instance it is noted that the 04 Welsh revivalist, Evan Roberts, regularly went to their home village to visit a lady in a local Church, upon whom he recognized the prophetic spirit. She was remarkably used, so much so that Roberts (a non–Pentecostal) had great reverence for the depth and power of the gift at work within her. So you see, the Revival was more than a ‘soul saving’ awakening, rather it was God birthing revelation of deeper issues in young lives for future ministry. It was not just understanding of NT revelation theologically, but experientially, breathed by the Holy Spirit with freshness in the midst of a great revival.
A few years later, Dan Williams began to minister with his brother Jones Williams, in an Apostle & Prophet ministry. This was not a self-certified thing, but a function in the Church they demonstrated, and were as a result recognized by others in the Body. They weren’t the only ones at the time, they recognized others with them in that kind of function, but they certainly pioneered this ‘functional/missionary type’ vision, operation and understanding of the ministry gifts.
So what were the hallmarks of their ministry? Not to mention the general acknowledgment of Christ–likeness in these men seen by others, there was powerful lasting fruit. DP’s apostolic vision was to see the Apostolic Gospel ‘belt the globe’ – the nations coming into the revelation of the mystery of Christ were at his heart – through the Apostle & Prophet ministry together. And secondly, to see out of that, Apostolically minded churches planted in the nations of the earth. With him, his brother the prophet, along with others of various gifting, they would travel to new places in the UK, and other nations, as Apostolic missionary teams, and stay there some time to see what would come of their visit. Today, Nigeria stands as a witness in that it has 4.5 million apostolic church members radically following Christ, including one Church of 100,000! All this because men of years ago were obedient, selfless, and Christ glorifying in the pioneering years! Also, Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, Denmark, Latvia, Mexico, Brazil, among many others, are now places bearing fruit from the labors of these pioneers of years ago.
So what typified DP’s brother – Jones Williams’ ministry? He in his function as a prophet, would be seen to play a foundational role in the establishing of new churches, and building up of already established ones. They (he and his brother) would only function together rather than in isolation, due to the nature of Paul’s teaching on the subject and from what they believed to be the Divine pattern of wall-builder & watchman. DP’s preaching and teaching would be Scripturally based, foundational, expositional, Gospel centered and revelatory; whereas his prophetic brother, would compliment this ministry with the prophetic word. PLEASE – when I say ‘the prophetic word’ try not to link that with any particular thing you may have witnessed or heard about in recent times. It was noted by onlookers, that the depth of prophecy coming from this uneducated yet devoted young man was extraordinary and deeply searching in way people had never witnessed before. He prophesied in such a way that it would bring the revelation of Jesus and the fear of God to those who were not right with Him. It would bring the light of revelation to hungry hearts, and it would reveal the wisdom and intent of God to bear upon the people, as a ‘now word’ for their situation. The prophecy through this man was more than the gift, rather he (the man) was seen as the gift itself, carrying a ministry deeply impacting to all who heard.
Jones Williams had been so impacted by the burden of God on one occasion, that it is recorded that he prophesied under an intensity and anointing of God for hours at one time! Please again understand, these were Godly, Jesus centered, holy men, deeply affected by revival, who had such a thorough repentance at conversion, such a deep work of the Spirit thereafter, that to liken it to anything today would not do it justice. Jones would prophesy powerful revelation into the Body, through forth-telling and foretelling. People would literally be changed after hearing this Spirit infused ministry, along with the other ministry of the team they functioned with. Yet despite the clear anointing upon this life, his words were to be judged by those with whom he worked. Yes, mistakes were made at the time both in the judging and handling of words, such is the nature of a fresh visitation and it’s pioneering nature. However, correction has come and lessons have been learnt over the years since.
The prophecy heard was also ‘apostolic’ in content and nature. It went beyond words of encouragement or blessing, and rather came in a way that it would provide an ‘apostolic word’ to the direction of the Church and the mission teams. Sometimes it would concern strategy for missioning new communities, direction to the places/people of God’s choosing, and comfort for those to whom it was foretold would be leaving for foreign soil and not return home alive (we don’t hear that too much today!). From this ministry it would not have been uncommon for the prophet to have signaled God’s intention for a young man or woman, and upon the collective Amen of the brothers, the vessels would be ‘sent out’ and see the most remarkable signs of God’s grace among them, as confirmation of the prophetic revelation. The sent vessels would see souls added to the Church, new churches planted, lives deepened, and in some instances further revivals breakout on foreign soil. (How we need that today!) And yes, those to whom the Spirit spoke of paying the ultimate sacrifice, would have to pay that price for the Gospel.
I want to say also that these pioneers experienced persecution; some lost or had to leave loved ones for the Gospel due to the travel limitations of the day; people spoke evil of them, and yet they never manifested a spirit of retaliation against those who were opposed to them (even from within ‘Christian’ circles). They were in their day called a ‘sect’ by fellow believers just for pioneering the truth of Ephesians 4:11. (Hardly heresy is it?) Yet in the context of their day it was a huge development in the overall progress of the Church, and as with every revolution, upheaval comes.
Finally, one instance comes to mind, where these two brothers were in prayer together seeking the face of God. Jones the prophet, began to prophesy that the Spirit had prepared an unknown family in a given locality and at a specified address, (which was previously unknown to the two brothers, except by revelation!). The Spirit signaled that they were to go there with the Apostolic grace and Gospel, as God had opened a door. So they went, and upon arriving at this unknown address were amazed to find that the Spirit had already visited the home during a family prayer time, foretelling of the visit of these two men to bring truth to them. (Yes this is true, accounted for, and very Biblical) Upon entering the home the ministers were greeted with an accompanying, ‘we’ve been expecting you…’ due to the fact that one of the children of the house had prophesied their visit. From there a local church was planted, established and grew in the grace of the Lord Jesus.
Because of time I cannot tell of the hundreds (literally) of stories that are similar to this, but hope that the little taste will have whetted your appetite for a genuine manifestation. I do believe that there are authentic expressions today of such things, even if they are unseen by most. God is bigger than any one of us, so is His Church. God is faithful in glorifying His Son through these ministries today. Those who come into ‘revelational’ understanding of such things are not licensed to hold exclusive rights on the matters but to share it with the Body. In as much as God visited young men in a powerful revival to restore truth and pioneer it aboard, He can take up vessels today and do the same, if not more! However, my feeling is that the popular claims today in Christian media, of a ‘new wave of Apostolic reformation’ would do well to be checked against a proper investigation of history, and a learning of what God revealed in that visitation from 1904 onward, and other similar moves. From that, perhaps we should again with prayerful hearts search the Word. That way, we can learn from past mistakes and successes, and remain on course for an equally deep and anointed manifestation of it today. Today, I don’t want to experience the seemingly shallower versions, when Scripture and history set a higher and deeper standard! And more importantly, I don’t want some of the obvious dangers of much of today’s ‘prophetic’ talk, without the plumb-line of Jesus and that which He formed in the early church, and that which He poured out through humble, pure servants of God who served in times of revival.
Today, I can testify that whilst not personally part of the UK branch of the movement, I do know of many Godly men and women still serving the Lord working within that structure. They have been over my lifetime and continue to be a people with a powerful revelation of true NT prophecy, both in understanding and practice. You probably won’t have heard of any of them, but that perhaps is a good thing. They have not sought to make their prophetic calling one of ‘Christian mediums’ thus filling large arenas for the sake of those seeking to have their fortune told. Rather they have grasped their obligation to Jesus and the forth-telling of His heart for His people – the Church, expressed in a given locality to proclaim the Gospel of God.
The Latter Rain.
As with many God initiated movements, with the dying out of the pioneering vessels, the Apostolic Church became somewhat institutionalized. After D.P. Williams’ death, and that of his brother, organization was deemed as key to maintain, rather than organic growth from life in the Spirit. It is probably no coincidence then that within a couple of years of the death of the pioneering figures in the UK, came the deluge of God in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada. During this season, many established Pentecostal groups had become hungry for a new touch of revival, due to the growing frustration of institutionalized denominations that had been “over-constitutionalized” after the outpouring in UK and America.
A small group of believers and Bible School students from Sharon ‘Orphanage & Schools’ had been intrigued by the visit of William Branham and Ern Baxter to their region. The two men of God were contemporaries of the eventual LR Revival but in no way instigators or involved in it. After witnessing the incredible sense of God’s presence at these meetings, the believers of Sharon began to seek the Lord earnestly for a fresh visitation in their local context. Praise God – the Lord responded to their desperate cry.
Now remember, many of those crying out to God at that time had witnessed the previous Pentecostal outpourings, which were very powerful, and had seen countless thousands of conversions, baptisms in the Spirit and more. Yet, they had become unsatisfied at what man had made of it. Upon God’s visitation in 1948, they began to realize that God was adding further truth and bringing further reform to His Church. These hungry believers were about to come into further revelation regarding the role of the local Church (autonomy & body ministry) laying on of hands, spiritual singing, Apostolic and Prophetic ministry, the Churches role in carrying the Kingdom now, and the return of Jesus to consummate the end time revival.
Let me give you an insight from an eye-witness, George Hawtin, of what took place:
“During the past six weeks we have enjoyed a great visitation of the Spirit of God. Some of us have been praying for twenty years that the nine gifts of the Spirit would be restored to the Church. The Spirit of fasting and prayer has rested upon the whole School all winter. Finally the great ‘breakthrough’ came and the spiritual gifts began to operate among us… The revival is spreading all over the province… A new era is dawning.”
Then another one of the leaders in the movement, Reg Layzell, BC, Canada, gives his account:
There was no religious hysteria present, but much sincere worship and praise. Jesus was the centre of attraction. His presence was desired, cultivated and felt. The laying on of hands was regarded by all as a solemn holy ministry: holy to those ministering and to those being ministered to… In those days it was necessary to fast. There was no such thing as a wholesale invitation to all who wanted hands laid upon them… You will see by this that this was no hard and fast rule, but a sincere attempt was made to follow the indication of the Spirit as was first given by the revelation of the laying on of hands. In the beginning (of the LR) God said: ‘I will indicate from time to time upon whom hands are to be laid.’ All ministers did not take part in the laying on of hands – only those whom the Spirit indicated had such a ministry (generally apostles and prophets) When hands were laid upon a brother or sister in the beginning it was something solemn. All in the meeting entered into the ministry of the Spirit. God was present in such a spirit of unity. It was easy to prophesy and the prophesies were very accurate. The prophets sincerely sought God – they were almost fearful lest they say something that was not God. The utterances were not just ‘nice things’ – many hearts were sought.
WOW! How refreshing to hear of such intense and fearful, Spirit led and anointed ministry. Again, time does not permit me to include all the stories of this beautiful visitation. But as well as the above mentioned brother I will mention those other (unknown to some) but powerfully used servants of God. (Some were directly involved at the time, some were touched indirectly, and some today are spiritual sons of what God did then.) Some of you may have heard of Dick Iverson, who has been instrumentally used of God in teaching on Body ministry, team ministry and some of the LR truths; he also helped build a wonderful local congregation known as Bible Temple, which birthed an entire NT network of strong Biblically balanced and anointed ministries. Iverson is one who was affected greatly by the likes of Reg Layzell, David Schoch, Ernest Gentile (still alive) George Evans – servants who were all in some way touched by the LR revival. Some of these men by all accounts (and from my personal witness) were and are some of the most powerful prophetic ministries in modern times, and would function in the same way as the account given by Layzell.
Also, you can also include Kevin Conner with Iverson, as another respected NT teacher, instrumental in proclaiming truth regarding the Body’s ministry today. Not to mention many others used at the time like George Warnock etc.
I hope that I am conveying to you something of God’s hand at work here, despite many critics back then and today. We must learn to speak to those directly involved in any move of God, to know the truth from rumor. As one writer has rightly said:
The movement itself should be distinguished from those whom it ultimately influenced. Some branches of the movement ultimately led to cult like groups, some parts of the movement remained orthodox, and other parts of the movement moderated the doctrine and ultimately had positive effects on the Charismatic and Pentecostal churches at large.
Many today have claimed influence from the LR, and yet have brought grief to those originally touched and raised up in that time, due to bad teaching and practice, or worse still, heresy in some cases!
Thank God though that what He does is glorious and pure. Such as what Reg Layzell also wrote in another testimony of the revival:
… The revival continues. Hallelujah! It is a wonderful thing when the revival partly leaves the revival with you when you go…. I have seen more souls saved in the last two months than I saw in two years of ordinary church life in Toronto… People were healed! There were many outstanding healings and thanks to God they are lasting… Saints were baptized in the Holy Spirit as hands were laid upon them and were prayed for. Great liberty in the Spirit was among the people and the singing in the Spirit was heavenly…’
Out of this great move of God a restoration of Biblical practice was taking place, marked by the solemnity mentioned by Layzell in the paragraphs above. One practice birthed was where young men and women with the call of God on their lives for service would fast for 3 days, along with the ‘presbytery’. Those gifted along the lines mentioned above would then solemnly gather with the saints, and after this time of seeking God would lay hands on the candidates for prophetic confirmation of God’s desire for those to whom they ministered. (See 1 Timothy 1: 18, 4: 14 & 2 Timothy 1: 6) After that they would be sent on their way in an Antioch fashion.
Now please understand, that because of today’s abuses, because of the strange teaching of men, even if they lay claim to origins or influence of a movement, it does not necessarily invalidate the original work and those sincere saints who continue to walk with God. Did you know today that there are some still alive, powerfully transformed in the LR revival, who are now ashamed to use the name or tell of their links to it, due to the heretical abuses of people today who have tarnished it somewhat by claiming involvement!
Today, I know some of the spiritual sons of those genuinely affected in the LR, and they are some of the most Godly and anointed people I know. They are always welcome among us here to minister in their way because we see their Godly lifestyle, we know their Biblical teaching and anointed ministry – not to mention the fruit they bear for Christ.
I want to finally mention one other prophet who is perhaps a bit more well known. He came into the LR revival and was transformed. He is Stanley Frodsham formerly of AOG UK, friend of Smith Wigglesworth, later on was used powerfully in the prophetic during the LR and in the subsequent Elim Bible Institute, which also was affected by the LR. Frodsham himself also had to endure persecution from his former colleagues in the faith, because of the ‘new thing’ that was happening, yet it is recorded he remained gracious.
During his time in the Elim Bible Institute, he brought a remarkable word. I cannot for space sake write the entire ‘word’ given a number of years ago by this man, but it is easily accessible online through the link below. I hope it demonstrates to you the kind of depth, anointing and purity of genuine NT prophecy that both the above movements have witnessed over the years and sought to hold as a Divine standard.
The word is found at:
Another interesting point to note is that some of the Apostolic UK missionaries who had began serving in Canada and the USA during the time of the LR, came back to Wales and reported the great things God was doing in restoring truth and bringing revival. Unfortunately, the unaffected ministers at home in the UK, like the AOG, said God could not endorse it, despite their brethren’s positive reports. They pointed to ‘unscriptural practices and teachings’ as their cause for concern, and eventually publicly withdrew any connection with the revival. Interestingly today, there are many old saints in the Apostolic Church UK still alive, who all recognize the hand of the Lord in the early years of the LR, and wish that the Apostolic movement UK had opened to it. They felt it would have brought the needed refreshing and reform. Maybe there was a perceived threat due to the similarity of the works among peers. Back then however, the Apostolic UK missionaries were not disheartened totally that their report had been rejected by the establishment. They knew God was moving and returned to their labors in the countries where they served and continued to be used and enjoy the ‘new thing’ God was doing. Glad to say that recently, the previous national leader of the UK movement has led the people in repentance for the previous generation’s rejection of the LR.
So we see that history teaches us valuable things. It teaches us that there is a higher standard of ministry for us today. God does not want us to go back ‘to the good old days’ – which the Scriptures tell us not to say, but He wants us to learn from the saints of old. Hebrews encourages us to learn from their way of life, the consecration, separation and the depth to which they moved. See the fruit of their lives. Listen to their written wisdom, and upon that build for a future work of God’s grace, which will restore further truth from the Word and make it a glorious reality among us for today’s generation. May God’s people aim higher and deeper, for the ministry of prophecy and prophets to be fully recognized in the Body again, but for all the right reasons, AND in their right setting. So that when we hear ‘Spirit utterance’ in the future, people coming in will say: ‘God is among you’. (1 Corinthians 14: 24 & 25)
Unfortunately, I am not able to duplicate the pictures of the people mentioned above, but below are some links with pictures, and far more detail of the history than I have time or space to convey.
Also, there are valuable publications available on the two movements:
1. Your Sons & Your daughters shall prophesy – Ernest Gentile
2. Born in the Fire (Biography of D.P. Williams) by Tom Davies & Peter Yeoman
Posted in Lead Article, The Kingdom of God Tagged with: Apostolic Church, D.P. Williams, Jones Williams, Latter Rain, Layzell, prophecy, Revival, Stanley Frodsham, Welsh Revival