New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches



NT Church Proliferation Digest Wednesday, July 24 2002 Volume 02 : Number 127
[NTCP] Elders and Their Roles in the Local House Church
Re: [NTCP] What are apostles?
Re: [NTCP] What are apostles?
Re: [NTCP] What are apostles?

Date: Tue, 23 Jul 2002 13:59:24 -0600
From: "JC Elder" <jcelder1 * earthlink>
Subject: [NTCP] Elders and Their Roles in the Local House Church
Here's an article a friend sent me recently.
Elders and Their Roles in the Local House Church
(http://www.cwowi/articles/elder_roles.htm)
The Word of God must be our guide to discover how the elders of churches
functioned in the first century, their heart, and their responsibilities.
Many centuries have passed since the church began and church government has
changed, though the Word has not.
Some churches in the United States in particular are run like a secular
corporation, others like a family business. Some churches are run by a
board, having authority over the pastor. Some are a democracy based on a
vote from the congregation that has authority over the pastor. Many
charismatic and evangelical churches are run by an elite few trusted friends
and/or family members of the pastor (ëyesí men)...and the list goes on and
on.

All the above are examples of a typical ëpyramidí style of leadership (with
the pastor at the top of that pyramid) and not at all what the Bible
describes as the structure of the church. By contrast, the Bible
demonstrates a flat style of leadership rather than a steep pyramid.
For instance, in most Bible schools and churches there is instruction about
ësubmission and authorityí or something to that effect, meaning ëhow to keep
the sheep in lineí. This instruction is based around the congregation or
staff members (paid or volunteer) submitting to the pastor and those in
authority. Yet Jesus said in Mark 10: 42-45 that leadership was to submit
downward to those they served. In John 13 Jesus washed the feet of the
disciples and exhorted them that this was a pattern for leadership. This
means that instead of a pyramid structure, the church should a flat or
horizontal structure with mutual submission.

Does this mean that submission and authority have no place? Not at all, for
clearly there is instruction to the congregation to obey those in authority
(Heb 13:17 for example). However, the New Testament is built around
empowering believers to hear from God for themselves within a check and
balance network of relationships of those who speak into their lives,
respecting elders and the more knowledgeable and mature in the faith.
It should be noted that in the whole of the New Testament letters, not a
single one is written to ëthe elders of the church at...í. Every letter is
written to the church as a whole, not to a group of informed leaders ruling
over the congregation. This tells us that Paul, Peter, James and John
understood (as elders themselves) that they were to empower believers to be
responsible Christians, along with the elders and leaders, taking
responsibility as a body for the happenings in their church (which met in
homes, but see related study on this web site).

The first pastors conference was held in Miletus and recorded for us in Acts
20:17-38. It was no longer safe for Paul to go into Ephesus, so he called
the elders (Gk: presbytery) of that church to Miletus, a town a short
distance away. In 20: 28 Paul tells them that they are to take heed to
themselves and the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has made them overseers
(Gk: bishops). He tells them to feed (Gk: pastor) the flock.
In this one verse we see that the duty of the elders was to pastor the
flock, being given that responsibility by the Lord. Elders are to have the
heart of a pastor, wanting to feed and protect the flock.
In many churches today the elders (or whatever title their equivalent role
is given) are notable business people, the pastorís relatives, an
influential person, a politically motivated person, or gifted in some area.
Yet the Bible is clear that the heart of the elder is concerned for the
spiritual maturity and growth of the members of the church, as a shepherd,
interested in the sheep and their nurture and protection.
Paul addresses the type of person an elder/overseer/bishop should be in I
Timothy 3: 1-7 and it should be noted that the issue is character and
motive, not gifts or connections.

There are many gifts listed in the Bible. Among them would be the
charismatic gifts of I Cor 12: 8-10, the ímotivationalí gifts of Romans 12:
6-8, the ministry gifts of I Cor 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11, and so on. Gifts are fun for us to operate
in, but they are not the basis upon which the call of God rests. The call of
God rests on the character of a person. Itís always more fun to operate in
your gift, but your call must be fulfilled through character.
In the world we see many gifted people in sports, movies, TV, and the music
industry. They have developed their gifts to a very high degree. But many of
these gifted people are in and out of relationships, in and out of rehab, in
and out of substance abuse. Why? They have not developed character along
with their gifts.

Unlike the world, God will not allow a personís gifts to develop beyond
their character (though a Christian can ignore God and become conformed to
the world in the development of their gifts). He will shut down a gifted
person, putting them on the sidelines for a season until their character
catches up with their gift.

Paul wrote that elders are to be people of character first and foremost, and
that means age, experience, maturity and heart in the things and people of
God.

In a home church setting, as in the New Testament, elders are pastors who
ëtake heed to themselvesí meaning they watch over their own walk with God.
This brings into their lives the constant reminder of accountability to the
Lord. They also seek the well being of the sheep as a first priority. They
are people of character and maturity, with adequate life experience to guide
others. Their leadership is offered to others, not demanded. They know when
to be quiet and let the Lord use others, and when to speak. They are apt to
teach, imparting to others what they have learned, though they are usually
not gifted in or fill the role of teacher, but rather as father in the
faith.

Their heart is that Christ might ëbe formed in themí (Gal 4:19) and that we
all may come into the unity of the faith, to the fullness of the measure of
the stature of Christ.

Thoughts, comments?

JC


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Date: Tue, 23 Jul 2002 17:51:00 +0000
From: ScogginsTravel * ccmail.lfa
Subject: Re: [NTCP] What are apostles?

I am working on a book--which I hope to actually finish-- on the role of
house churches in evangelizing unreached areas in Indonesia.

DS: I have worked with Church Planter in Indonesia (planting house
churches), and have visited there a number of times for training. BTW I
normally use the word "church planter" rather than apostle. But to me they
are synonymous.

One of the issues is signs and wonders as a sign of an apostle.

DS: Keep in mind that when Paul wrote this (2 Cor. 12:12) it was because
the Corinthians were in danger of dismissing him as a non-apostle at least,
a false apostle at worse (see context). Earlier in the book (10:7-18) he
makes an earlier arguement for his apostleship among them--that "we (his
team) were the first to come even as far as you in the gospel of Christ."
(10:14b). So the first arguement was not signs and wonders, but rather
that they were the "sent ones" with the good news. The signs and wonders
are a further testament. It is interesting that he is saying all these
things almost incredulous that he should have to. But he is NOT saying in
12:12 the converse, that anyone who does not do signs and wonders is NOT an
apostle. Merely that there should be no question about his apostleship.
(There seem to be a number of cities where Paul's teams planted churches
where there were no signs and wonders done.)

I asked Dave, the missionary involved in this work if God had ever done any
signs and wonders there. He told me of a story of going to a village where
the villagers said their gods were doing fine for them, and pointed to a
wonderful vegetable garden across a creek. He left, and later it rained and
mudslide washed the garden into the creek. They wanted the missionary to
return and tell them about his God. Dave was there when the people movement
for Christ swept through and tens of thousand gathered to 'burn their
fetishes.' But the only example of a miracle was the garden story, and it
doesn't sound like signs that were done through him like the signs we see in
Acts. Of course, from what I know of Dave, if he had raised people from the
dead, he would likely refrain from telling anyone. To hear him tell of his
work with the Dani, it sounds like he wasn't even there.

I would probably consider Dave to be an apostle if it weren't for one verse:

II Corinthians 12:12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you
in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

DS: I would think he is likely an apostle. As mentioned above: signs
and wonders may be one qualifying mark of an apostle but there are
more, fundamental ones like bringing the gospel to a new people group.
(eg. pioneering). So there may be many marks of an apostle and every
apostle probably does not have all of them, nor do they need to. God
is the one who appoints apostles after all.

So my question is, in order to be an apostle, must one do signs and wonders?

DS: I would say not. God does signs and wonders, and sometimes does
these in order to see churches planted. But that is His choice. I will
summarize below what I have found to be the scriptural criteria.

I have another question I've wondered about. I can understand an apostles
'measure' of authority in an unreached area. If an apostle takes the gospel
to an unreached Mslim village, for example, I can understand that he would
have a measure of rule there, and a type of spiritual fatherly authority
there.

But how does the 'metron' work out in already evangelized areas? Here is
the verse I have in mind:

DS: I believe that apostels have authority to plant churches where
there are none (this has to be carefully defined--eg. would CP amongst
Hmong in an inner city of the USA where there were no Hmong churches
be considered apostolic CP?, I think yes). They have the authority to
plant the church and ordain the elders. Then they are to leave. They
can give input afterwards, but the final authority in the church (or
network of house churches) would be the elders, not the Apostles. (BTW
they always work in groups or teams in the Bible. YOu never see a
church planted by a solo apostle.) So, like everyone else, the
apostles have a limited sphere of authority. They are also itinerant.
Since they are sent ones, they are required to move on, or they cease
their apostolic function.

So many 'apostles' today in the IC claim to be apostles due to the fact that
they 'planted churches.' But they didn't plant a new church. They just
started new organizations that mainly drew in existing believers from other
denominations.

DS: There is a big difference from re-organizing the kingdom to
pioneer church planting. And there is a difference between church
reproduction and church planting. God can use both church
reorganization (starting new churches with existing church members)
and church reproduction (existing church members budding off to start
new churches). But it is very different than apostolic CPing. See
below on criterean for apostles.

Some who believe in modern apostles (IC usually)

DS: Sorry to display my ignorance, but I do not know what IC is.

But I think Paul is calling himself a father to the Corinthians because he
evangelized them when they didn't even know about the Gospel. He had
'begotten' the church, not just rearranged it from existing believers.

DS: I think this is accurate.

With this in mind, let us consider the 'seal' of Paul's apostleship:

Paul's seal of apostleship came from starting a new church from scratch,
becoming a father by introducing the people to the Gospel, and laying the
foundation of Christ.

DS: But, of course he did so in team. Notice the "we" pronouns in 2
Cor. 10 for instance. But this plural group is common in Paul's
speech. He worked in apostolic team with other apostles (Cf. Acts
14:4,14)

The US cannot be considered 'new territory.' On the city level, there is a
church in nearly every city. Maybe there are some exceptions in Alaska or
on Indian reservations.

DS: It is important not to think of geography but people groups
(nations--ethne--ethnic groups). In this sense there may be unreached
people groups right around the corner from 1st Baptist of Providence
where all the attenders of this inner city church communte there from
the suburbs but the Hmong neighbors are not understood, avoided and
unreached.

If a territory or region already has a church, can an apostle come to that
area, expand the growth of the church, and share in the 'measure of rule?'

DS: An apostle can always be invited into an existing church and share
as long as he does so under the authority of the existing eldership.
He can add what the Lord has given him to what is happenging there.
But he is probably operating in an Eph. 4 manner rather than
apostolically (breaking new ground by planting churches where there
are none).

One thing I notice about Paul in the church in Jerusalem is that he didn't
act like he was a spiritual father to that church.

DS: That is correct. Paul was not "apostolic" to the Jerusalem church. Peter
was (and others of the band of the apostles serving with Peter there). Just
as an elder of Thessolonica would not have been accepted as an elder of the
Jerusalem church, apostles are not apostles to everyone. They are apostles
to those whom God has called them to reach.

I don't see how apostles can claim a measure of rule if they start a house
church by gathering together existing believers, or come into an existing
house church and legitimze it by teaching a series of foundational
doctrines.

DS: I would say that is not an apostolic role. It could certainly be
valuable in reviving God's people and expanding the Kingdom, but I
don't see it as apostolic.

So my questions are:

1. If an apostle does not do signs and wonders, is he an apostle?

A person can be apostolic w/o doing signs and wonders (although I would hope he
would be open to do them as the Lord leads. Given enough time and experience in
different theatres of CPing I would presume that signs and wonders would be
practiced at some point, but they may not appear that way to the signs and
wonders folks.)

2. How can an apostle get a 'measure of rule' in a city that already has a
church?

DS: See above. There may be many "nations" in a single city, and some of these
may be unreached and unreachable through existing churches.

3. How does the apostle relate to churches in areas where the foundation of
Christ has been laid for generations?

DS: They should mostly avoid them. However if such churches want to
contribute to the help of the ministry that is fine as they share in
the apostles rewards (Cf. Phil 4:15-17, Romans 15:24)

In closing some observations about things that appear common to
apostles:

1. The were sent ones. (Basic meaning of term. Cf. Acts 13:1-5)

2. They may have been appointed by God earlier but at some point were
designated by others in authority as sent ones and sent out. (Cf. Acts
9:15; 13:1-4)

3. They were then sent out to a team or in team (Acts 13, 16:1-3)

4. They worked in teams as apostles. Cf. Acts 14:4,14. many references
to "we" in Paul's letters.

5. They were itinerant and moved on after appointing elders (Cf. Acts
14-20).

6. They lived by faith--either by faith in God providing them work, or
faith in God providing support (Cf. Acts 20:35; Ph. 4:10)

It should be noted these are traits of the apostolic team of Paul, not
to the 12.


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Date: Wed, 24 Jul 2002 00:32:16 -0400
From: "Linkh * bigfoot" <Linkh * worldnet.att>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] What are apostles?

Brother Dick Scoggins,

I appreciate your excellent response. I'd like to make a few comments:

> The signs and wonders
> are a further testament. It is interesting that he is saying all these
> things almost incredulous that he should have to. But he is NOT saying in
> 12:12 the converse, that anyone who does not do signs and wonders is NOT
an
> apostle. Merely that there should be no question about his apostleship.
> (There seem to be a number of cities where Paul's teams planted churches
> where there were no signs and wonders done.)

You do believe, though, that he 'signs' of an apostle in II Cor. 12:12 are
signs, wonders and mighty deeds?

I read one interpretation that Paul did the signs of an apostle-- enduring
the suffering mentioned in the chapter-- accompanied by signs, wonders, and
mighty deeds. But I suspect that 'sign' in Greek may imply someting
miraculous.

If signs and wonders are a mark of an apostle, then wouldn't that indicate
that if one is an apostle, he would do signs and wonders? I can see your
point, I suppose, but it would seem the these thigns are typical, at the
least, fo the apostolic ministry.

What is the difference between an evangelist and an apostle. I would think
that an apostle--at least any one who worked with Paul-- would have
functioned as an evangelist, proclaiming the Gospel. The apostles in
Jerusalem also proclaimed the Gospel.

But Philip went down to Samaria preaching, and a church was started through
his efforts when he won Samaritans to Christ. He was even 'sent' in a
sense, by the Spirit to the Ethiopian. Philip is called an evangelist, but
not an apostle.

Philip was not sent out by the Jerusalem church to Smaria as far as we know.
He didn't do a lot of 'follow up' having the apostles come in to make sure
the people were filled with the Spirit. It would seem unlikely that he was
involved in appointing elders. He did have an evangelistic gift.

What about people like Philip who go out and start new churches with no one
sending them out? Are they apostles?

Is the sending out of a worker through a church, under the direction of a
church a criteria for his apostleship? I noticed that Paul and Barnabas are
only called 'apostles' in Acts after they were sent out in chapter 13. I
thought that most significant when I first noticed it. I thought that
perhaps Christ's calling of him predicted that he would be sent out as an
apostle in the future, in Acts 13.

But then, it seems that Paul may have considered himself to be an apostle
before he was sent out by the Antiochan church:

Galatians 1:16-17
16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen;
immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me;
but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

Doesn't verse 17 indicate that Paul was an apostle at his conversation? The
following passage is further evidence if one holds to the south Galatian
theory--which seems by far the most plausible explanation for understanding
the book of Galatians:

Galatians 2:7-9
7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was
committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;
8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the
circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the
grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands
of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the
circumcision.

Paul also said he was not an apostle 'of men:'
Galatians 1:1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus
Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)

If Paul became an apostle in Acts 13, then how would this square with him
not being an apostle 'of men?' If he were an apostle before, then can we
say that all apostles have been sent out by a church or by those in
authority in the church?

> DS: I believe that apostels have authority to plant churches where
> there are none (this has to be carefully defined--eg. would CP
amongst
> Hmong in an inner city of the USA where there were no Hmong churches
> be considered apostolic CP?, I think yes). They have the authority to
> plant the church and ordain the elders.

I'd thought of that sort of a scenario when I wrote the previous message.
But another doctrinal point that comes to mind on this issue is that in the
Bible, we see the 'church in X city' pattern. If Paul preached the Gospel
to some Gentile enclave in Jerusalem on a trip there, would have had
authority to appoint elders, or would the Jerusalem apostles or presbretry
have had that right?

> Then they are to leave. They
> can give input afterwards, but the final authority in the church (or
> network of house churches) would be the elders, not the Apostles.

If Galatians was written to the certain of the First Missionary Journey
churches, then Paul was giving instructions to churches that already had
elders. Of course, I don't see why any would think that Paul would loose
his right to argue strongly for doctrinal truth after the appointment of the
elders.

In I Corinthians, there is no mention of bishops. I think this epistle may
have been written during the growth stage of the church while the elders
within the church were still maturing to the point where they would be ready
to be appointed as elders. Paul and Barnabas left churches alone without
appointed leadership, and then appointed elders from within the
congregations. (Elders were not to be novices, and since they were
appointed from within, the waiting period would have been necessary.)

In I Corinthians we see that Paul acts as a judge on a spiritual issue in
their assembly-- the man who had his father's wife. Since there is no
mention of appointed elders in the book, this doesn't violate the idea of
apostles not interfering once elders are appointed.

But another book of the Bible does seem to contradict this principle. I
Timothy. Chapter 5 mentions elders that rule well, so apparently there were
some recognized elders in charge. But Timothy is there fucntioning in an
apostolic role. Paul gives him instructions about appointing bishops.
Apparently Timothy would be doing the appointing. Paul did tell him to 'lay
hands on no man suddenly.' Also, Paul told Timothy to receive not charges
against an elder except by two or three witnesses. Could it be that
Timothy, as an apostle, was serving as a judge temporarily while he was
there?

I do believe that apostles are to nurture churches until they can be mature
and 'independant' in a sense. In Acts, the apostles started out
distributing food to widows, collecting offerings laid at their feet, and
all their preaching duties. By the end of the book of Acts, elders were
receiving money given to the poor. Paul was sent to James and the elders
when he came to town in the midst of contraversy, not the 12 apostles. I
believe the elders and deacons grew to take over the responsibilities of
apostles over time.

Paul served as a judge in a case for Corinth, but in the next chapter, he
rebuked them for not having their own judges. Timothy may have served as a
judge in Ephesus-- or maybe he did so only in cases against elders. Maybe
the church leadership was to eventually develop to the point where they
didn't need an apostle to serve as a judge, or to appoint elders.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't see the Biblical case for the
idea that an apostle necessarily looses his 'measure of rule' once elders
are appointed. I suppose it's possible that Paul and his team continued
contributing in decision making during an initial phase of the churches'
life in order to help train the elders. Paul spent three years in Ephesus
exhorting the elders day and night with tears. If he never saw them again
after that, the they must have been able to get along without seeing him in
person after that.

> (BTW
> they always work in groups or teams in the Bible. You never see a
> church planted by a solo apostle.)

Some have said that Epaphras was an apostle. Paul said the churches in
Colossia and two other cities heard the word from him, and he didn't mention
a co-worker.

Of course, we don't know whether Epaphras was an apostle or an evangelist.
He may also have had unnamed co-workers.
> They are also itinerant.
> Since they are sent ones, they are required to move on, or they cease
> their apostolic function.

What about the Twelve in Jerusalem? They were in that city for years, and
were still called 'apostles' in scripture. Peter was sent to the Jews, and
Jews just kept coming to the city where he was for feasts and to relocate,
and he stayed there a long time in Jerusalem evangelizing them.

I noticed that Watchman Nee's view of apostleship was very much focused on
Paul and his team. Later, if the Living Streams books are accurate, Nee
modified his view to include the idea of Peter being both an apostle and
elder. Some views of apostleship don't seem to take into account the fact
that the Twelve may have been at least somewhat stationary for an extended
period of time.
> Some who believe in modern apostles (IC usually)
>
> DS: Sorry to display my ignorance, but I do not know what IC is.

Sorry: IC is Internet talk for 'the Institutional Church.' Sometimes, the
radicals will also call the IC 'the whore of Babylon' but I haven't seen
that idea on this forum that I can recall (fortunately)
> If a territory or region already has a church, can an apostle come to that
> area, expand the growth of the church, and share in the 'measure of rule?'
>
> DS: An apostle can always be invited into an existing church and
share
> as long as he does so under the authority of the existing eldership.
> He can add what the Lord has given him to what is happenging there.
> But he is probably operating in an Eph. 4 manner rather than
> apostolically (breaking new ground by planting churches where there
> are none).

From what I understand, an apostle functioning in this manner would not have
the 'measure of rule' that apostles who started the work had.

Another issue I would appreciate comments on is the 'measure of rule' a
'founding pastor' would have.

In Indonesia, one of the big evangelism efforts involves training Bible
college students in theology, and requiring them to win at least 18 souls to
Christ before graduation. These graduates go out in twos to start new
churches in new villages. The plan is called One One One: one church in
every one village in one generation. There are plenty of unreached
villages.

The book I plan to write (prayers that I complete it are appreciated.) will
compare this concept of sending a 'founding pastor' to found a church and
stay there all his life, to the Biblical concept of the travelling church
planter who goes around planting churches, leaving them to reach new areas
occasionally visiting or sending letters and co-laborers, and returning to
appoint elders _from within_ the body.

What about a 'founding pastor' of a church in an unreached village on the
frontiers of the Gospel? Does he have a 'measure of rule' similar to that
of an apostle? What if an evangelist's preaching births a church, but the
evangelist is not an apostle-- as may have been the case with Philip the
evangelist? Does he have a 'measure of rule' in that church?

Thank you for the good responses to tough questions.

Link Hudson


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Date: Tue, 23 Jul 2002 17:51:00 +0000
From: ScogginsTravel * ccmail.lfa
Subject: Re: [NTCP] What are apostles?

I am working on a book--which I hope to actually finish-- on the role of
house churches in evangelizing unreached areas in Indonesia.

DS: I have worked with Church Planter in Indonesia (planting house
churches), and have visited there a number of times for training. BTW I
normally use the word "church planter" rather than apostle. But to me they
are synonymous.

One of the issues is signs and wonders as a sign of an apostle.

DS: Keep in mind that when Paul wrote this (2 Cor. 12:12) it was because
the Corinthians were in danger of dismissing him as a non-apostle at least,
a false apostle at worse (see context). Earlier in the book (10:7-18) he
makes an earlier arguement for his apostleship among them--that "we (his
team) were the first to come even as far as you in the gospel of Christ."
(10:14b). So the first arguement was not signs and wonders, but rather
that they were the "sent ones" with the good news. The signs and wonders
are a further testament. It is interesting that he is saying all these
things almost incredulous that he should have to. But he is NOT saying in
12:12 the converse, that anyone who does not do signs and wonders is NOT an
apostle. Merely that there should be no question about his apostleship.
(There seem to be a number of cities where Paul's teams planted churches
where there were no signs and wonders done.)

I asked Dave, the missionary involved in this work if God had ever done any
signs and wonders there. He told me of a story of going to a village where
the villagers said their gods were doing fine for them, and pointed to a
wonderful vegetable garden across a creek. He left, and later it rained and
mudslide washed the garden into the creek. They wanted the missionary to
return and tell them about his God. Dave was there when the people movement
for Christ swept through and tens of thousand gathered to 'burn their
fetishes.' But the only example of a miracle was the garden story, and it
doesn't sound like signs that were done through him like the signs we see in
Acts. Of course, from what I know of Dave, if he had raised people from the
dead, he would likely refrain from telling anyone. To hear him tell of his
work with the Dani, it sounds like he wasn't even there.

I would probably consider Dave to be an apostle if it weren't for one verse:

II Corinthians 12:12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you
in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

DS: I would think he is likely an apostle. As mentioned above: signs
and wonders may be one qualifying mark of an apostle but there are
more, fundamental ones like bringing the gospel to a new people group.
(eg. pioneering). So there may be many marks of an apostle and every
apostle probably does not have all of them, nor do they need to. God
is the one who appoints apostles after all.

So my question is, in order to be an apostle, must one do signs and wonders?

DS: I would say not. God does signs and wonders, and sometimes does
these in order to see churches planted. But that is His choice. I will
summarize below what I have found to be the scriptural criteria.

I have another question I've wondered about. I can understand an apostles
'measure' of authority in an unreached area. If an apostle takes the gospel
to an unreached Mslim village, for example, I can understand that he would
have a measure of rule there, and a type of spiritual fatherly authority
there.

But how does the 'metron' work out in already evangelized areas? Here is
the verse I have in mind:

DS: I believe that apostels have authority to plant churches where
there are none (this has to be carefully defined--eg. would CP amongst
Hmong in an inner city of the USA where there were no Hmong churches
be considered apostolic CP?, I think yes). They have the authority to
plant the church and ordain the elders. Then they are to leave. They
can give input afterwards, but the final authority in the church (or
network of house churches) would be the elders, not the Apostles. (BTW
they always work in groups or teams in the Bible. YOu never see a
church planted by a solo apostle.) So, like everyone else, the
apostles have a limited sphere of authority. They are also itinerant.
Since they are sent ones, they are required to move on, or they cease
their apostolic function.

So many 'apostles' today in the IC claim to be apostles due to the fact that
they 'planted churches.' But they didn't plant a new church. They just
started new organizations that mainly drew in existing believers from other
denominations.

DS: There is a big difference from re-organizing the kingdom to
pioneer church planting. And there is a difference between church
reproduction and church planting. God can use both church
reorganization (starting new churches with existing church members)
and church reproduction (existing church members budding off to start
new churches). But it is very different than apostolic CPing. See
below on criterean for apostles.

Some who believe in modern apostles (IC usually)

DS: Sorry to display my ignorance, but I do not know what IC is.

But I think Paul is calling himself a father to the Corinthians because he
evangelized them when they didn't even know about the Gospel. He had
'begotten' the church, not just rearranged it from existing believers.

DS: I think this is accurate.

With this in mind, let us consider the 'seal' of Paul's apostleship:

Paul's seal of apostleship came from starting a new church from scratch,
becoming a father by introducing the people to the Gospel, and laying the
foundation of Christ.

DS: But, of course he did so in team. Notice the "we" pronouns in 2
Cor. 10 for instance. But this plural group is common in Paul's
speech. He worked in apostolic team with other apostles (Cf. Acts
14:4,14)

The US cannot be considered 'new territory.' On the city level, there is a
church in nearly every city. Maybe there are some exceptions in Alaska or
on Indian reservations.

DS: It is important not to think of geography but people groups
(nations--ethne--ethnic groups). In this sense there may be unreached
people groups right around the corner from 1st Baptist of Providence
where all the attenders of this inner city church communte there from
the suburbs but the Hmong neighbors are not understood, avoided and
unreached.

If a territory or region already has a church, can an apostle come to that
area, expand the growth of the church, and share in the 'measure of rule?'

DS: An apostle can always be invited into an existing church and share
as long as he does so under the authority of the existing eldership.
He can add what the Lord has given him to what is happenging there.
But he is probably operating in an Eph. 4 manner rather than
apostolically (breaking new ground by planting churches where there
are none).

One thing I notice about Paul in the church in Jerusalem is that he didn't
act like he was a spiritual father to that church.

DS: That is correct. Paul was not "apostolic" to the Jerusalem church. Peter
was (and others of the band of the apostles serving with Peter there). Just
as an elder of Thessolonica would not have been accepted as an elder of the
Jerusalem church, apostles are not apostles to everyone. They are apostles
to those whom God has called them to reach.

I don't see how apostles can claim a measure of rule if they start a house
church by gathering together existing believers, or come into an existing
house church and legitimze it by teaching a series of foundational
doctrines.

DS: I would say that is not an apostolic role. It could certainly be
valuable in reviving God's people and expanding the Kingdom, but I
don't see it as apostolic.

So my questions are:

1. If an apostle does not do signs and wonders, is he an apostle?

A person can be apostolic w/o doing signs and wonders (although I would hope he
would be open to do them as the Lord leads. Given enough time and experience in
different theatres of CPing I would presume that signs and wonders would be
practiced at some point, but they may not appear that way to the signs and
wonders folks.)

2. How can an apostle get a 'measure of rule' in a city that already has a
church?

DS: See above. There may be many "nations" in a single city, and some of these
may be unreached and unreachable through existing churches.

3. How does the apostle relate to churches in areas where the foundation of
Christ has been laid for generations?

DS: They should mostly avoid them. However if such churches want to
contribute to the help of the ministry that is fine as they share in
the apostles rewards (Cf. Phil 4:15-17, Romans 15:24)

In closing some observations about things that appear common to
apostles:

1. The were sent ones. (Basic meaning of term. Cf. Acts 13:1-5)

2. They may have been appointed by God earlier but at some point were
designated by others in authority as sent ones and sent out. (Cf. Acts
9:15; 13:1-4)

3. They were then sent out to a team or in team (Acts 13, 16:1-3)

4. They worked in teams as apostles. Cf. Acts 14:4,14. many references
to "we" in Paul's letters.

5. They were itinerant and moved on after appointing elders (Cf. Acts
14-20).

6. They lived by faith--either by faith in God providing them work, or
faith in God providing support (Cf. Acts 20:35; Ph. 4:10)

It should be noted these are traits of the apostolic team of Paul, not
to the 12.
 


End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V2 #127

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