Friday, 1 April 2011

Laying Foundation

Laying Foundation

“...built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Eph 2:20)

Many years ago I was ordained a “bishop” amongst other titles that I have gained over the years – not that we are chasing titles – but it is important for the Church to recognise whose who. There are many extremes out there; some choose to “deny” or “discourage” titles in the Church, while others are teaching what “they” perceive-to-be-correct for whatever reason.

Of course all of us cannot go further than what has been revealed to us personally. For example, in the Faith Movement everybody is a “pastor!” In the Evangelical Movement – there is greater emphasis on eldership with a “set” minister – recognising the pastoral gift, evangelist and teacher but denying the apostle and prophet.

Take for instance when I am traveling through Europe – its easier to use the word “apostle” but when I travel into the African church – there is a greater emphasis on “bishops” – and everyone else is beneath that hierarchy. We will discuss a number of these aspects of leadership over these next few weeks.

Now even though I’m not suggesting here that we “throw-out-the-baby-with-the-bath-water,” we still must bring the “correct teaching” – where leadership is concerned – back into the Church.

The following is an excerpt from one of my many teaching manuals, entitled “The Age of Apostolic Apostleship,” (p58-59).

There is nothing in this system, which corresponds exactly to the modern diocese episcopate; bishops, when they are mentioned (Phil 1:1) are from a board of local congregational officers and the position occupied by Timothy and Titus is that of Paul’s personal lieutenants in his missionary work. It seems most likely that he was then specially designated with the title of bishop; but even when the monarchical bishop appears in the letters of Ignatius, he is till the pastor of a single congregation.

The word episkopos occurs five times in the NT: once of Christ (1 Pet 2:25) and in four places of “bishops” or “overseers” in local churches (Acts 20:28; Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:2, Tit 1:7). The verb episkopeo occurs in Hebrews 12:15 (“watching”) and (in some NT MSS) 1 Peter 5:2 (“exercising the oversight”)… A bishop then has “oversight of,” he is an “overseer.” 1 Peter 5:2 says, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof.” The Greek word for “oversight” is episkopeo, Strong’s ♯1983 - to oversee, to beware, to look diligently, take the oversight. Extra words given: direction (about the times), have charge of, take aim at (spy), regard, consider, take heed, look at (on), mark.

I was on a ministry trip recently where I was asked to be involved with a presbytery of bishops, where there was ordination of several individuals. Some of these “bishops” I might add, were involved with and even chaplains to “presidents” and “high-government-officials” within their respective countries! Eventually the last person to be ordained that day – was that of an “apostle!” Therefore I want to clarify the true position of the apostle – in regards to the other five-fold-ministry gifts and put the “bishop” back into his “overseeing-role” of the local-church! To do this we will look again at the scriptures to see the position-that-goes-with-the-title and whether certain “replacement” doctrine has been received and therefore taught.

Its important therefore to realise that we are in the times of the apostolic and the prophetic – therefore firstly I want us to define together this gift of an apostle and whether there are indeed apostles in today’s church! Please don’t at this point – decide that titles do not matter as Paul the apostle in his writings often declared himself, “Paul an apostle.” Why? Because there is a structure within the Body-of-Christ that Christ Himself has laid.

1. The First Objective of an Apostle: “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds...” (1 Cor. 3:10) Strong’s ♯753 architekton (ar-khee-tek’-tone); from 746 and 5045; a chief constructor, i.e. ‘architect’, KJV – masterbuilder.

Superintendent: he is more than just an architect; He is like a “superintendent” of the building process. Strong’s ♯ 5045 tekton (tek’-tone); from the base of 5098: an artificer (as producer of frabrics), i.e. (specifically) a craftsman in wood: KJV – carpenter. This apostolic function is the necessary basis for every local Church which, forms part of the household of God. “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundations of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:19-29).

2. He Lays a Foundation of Life in Christ: “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:10). This is done through the Word - but not ‘just’ teaching; “For though ye have one thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel”(1 Cor. 4:15 KJV).

Note: “Speakers” only have “hearers” – Fathers have children! A father-in-the-faith is not a remote and austere figure that separates himself from the people but is “real” and able to be “personal” within relationship - as a father is with his son. Remember the emphasis being made here is that an apostle is a “build-er” more than a “bless-er!” For example he is not easily given to the “shallow-short-term-solution” (that is often miss-represented as “blessing!”) but is in it for the “long-term;” willing to go the extra “distance” with people, in order to “build” into their lives. In fact, an apostle is never in it for the “hit-n-run” or “quick-fix” but sticks with it until he sees the fruit! “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you...” (Gal 4:19)

3. He Lays a Foundation of Obedience to Christ: he stresses clearly from the beginning, the Lordship of Jesus Christ for whom he is pledged to make disciples. He aims to bring about the “obedience of faith” and looks for that obedience to be complete. “Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith” (Rom 1:5).

It is harder to get away with even the minimum when an apostle is involved with your life! He aims to help each individual in the church to build his house upon the only sure foundation of obedience - the commandments of Jesus. “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’” (Matt 28: 18-20). “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock...” (Matt 7:24).

4. He Lays a Foundation of Doctrine: before the Church can go on to maturity, the foundational doctrine must have been clearly laid. This is the responsibility of the apostle. To build and to work, making sure that every member of the Church is clear on repentance and faith, baptism in water and the Holy Spirit, on eternal judgement and the resurrection from the dead. “Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instructions about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgement. And God permitting, we will do so” (Heb. 6:1-3).

He will establish them on the same sure foundation of their death and resurrection with Christ. “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Col. 2:6-7).

He confirms in them the dynamic of what it means to be united with Christ. (Romans 6:1 ff) He contends with every error and distortion that would detract from the fullness of Jesus and diminish the believer’s full experience of Him. “See to it that no-one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the Head over every power and authority” (Col 2:8-10). Legalism, antinomianism, mysticism, asceticism, pseudo-spirituality – all alike are refuted and corrected. For the apostle, the truth (the Word) is the only basis for building.

5. Result: the “master-builder” is responsible for the whole construction and supervises the entire work. He is especially concerned for the fitting-out of the building for its intended use. For example, a house has to be finished so that the occupants can take up residence. An apostolic leader is similarly concerned for the house of God. He is concerned for its building. He sees that the parts of the building are fitted and equipped to serve their function. All this is so that the Church may once more be a dwelling place fit for God and his Holy Spirit (Eph 2:20).

Father thank you for the totality that you gave to Your Body the Church.
It lacks no good thing, if it follows after the pattern that You laid out for it in Your Word.
Church is not a place where we survive but where we are supposed to thrive! Thank you Father for all of your marvellous provision for our nurture and development. Amen

Today I walk within the clear boundaries of the Body of Christ. I study to show myself approved and to learn how to rightly divide the Word of Truth. I read the Logos and I hear the Rhema. My life is propelled forwards because I believe His Word and hear His voice; “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto… everyone that believeth” (Rom 1:16).

Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’
Copyright 2011 © Alan Pateman Ministries