HOW IMPORTANT ARE APOSTLES?
By C. Peter Wagner
I expect that some for whom this idea of apostle is new will be saying, “The church has gotten along fine for many generations without recognizing the office of apostle. Why make such a big deal of it now at this late date?” That question deserves as careful an answer as possible.
My hypothesis is that the bride of Christ, the Church, has been maturing through a discernible process during the past few centuries in preparation for completing the task of the Great Commission. My starting point is the Protestant Reformation in which the theological underpinnings were firmly established: the authority of the Scripture, justification by faith and the priesthood of all believers. The Wesleyan movement then introduced the demand for personal and corporate holiness.
The Pentecostal movement later profiled the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in a variety of power ministries. The office of intercessor was restored in the 1970s and the office of the prophet was restored in the 1980s. The final piece came into place in the 1990s with the recognition of the gift and office of apostle.
This is not to say that the Church is perfect. It is to say that the infrastructure of the Church, so to speak, may now be complete.The Church is much more prepared to advance the Kingdom with a speed and intensity that has not been possible in previous generations.
Apostles are Unique
It could be argued, quite convincingly, that the Church has always had apostles, but they have not been recognized as such. Nevertheless, true as this assertion might be, once the apostles receive the recognition they deserve, the Church is prepared to move to a higher level. This is what is happening in our day.
John Eckhardt puts it this way: “There is no substitute for the apostle. The prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher cannot do what the apostle can do. Neither can the apostle do what the other gifts can do. Each gift is needed and has a unique purpose. They are not optional. God gave them to us because we need them all.”
Predictably, recognizing apostles and thereby bringing the church to a new level will stir up opposition in the invisible world. I like what David Cannistraci says: “How the enemy dreads the apostle! How he fears the full restoration of this ministry! A New Testament apostolic function fully deployed within the church today would significantly impact the dominion of darkness. Satan knows this, and I’m sure all of hell shudders at the prospect of a revitalization of apostles and apostolic people.”
Apostolic Rocket Boosters!
This is all to say that the apostles are extremely important for the answer to our prayer, “’Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’” (Matt. 6: 10).
Bill Hamon says, “When the apostles are restored in their fullness, it will activate many things. It will cause many prophecies concerning the end times to start coming to pass at an accelerated rate. The apostle is the last of the fivefold ministries to be restored. It is like a great machine that needs five things to happen in sequence before it will fully work. It could be compared to a space rocket booster that must have five switches turned on before it can launch the space shuttle – the Church. Each switch or button represents one of the fivefold ministries.”
Keep in mind that the premise on which the importance of apostolic ministry is predicated is the completion of the Great Commission. John Kelly agrees: “We live in a critical hours. There needs to be a demonstration in this generation of the ministry of the apostle with miraculous, prophetic power and world-changing productivity. When the apostles begin to arise by the thousands, we will be able to take the nations for Jesus Christ. The harvest cannot be brought in apart from this foundational office.”