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Excerpts from "The Apostolic Ministry" by Rick Joyner

"Until all attain to the unity of the faith, and of [2] the of the Son of God, [3] to a mature man, [4] to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ."

Is there a church anywhere on the earth that has yet attained this stature? We would have certainly heard if this had been attained by a church. Therefore, we obviously still need these ministries that were given to the church... all of them.

This not a new revelation. The fastest growing part of the Church over the last two decades has been what is now being called "the new apostolic movement." Not only does it now appear that a majority of Pentecostal, Charismatic Christians are embracing this truth, but many evangelical, and even those who are referred to as 'old line' denominations are now embracing it. Where this is happening there is an obvious, new, spiritual energy and excitement created that is helping church life in the twenty-first century become what God intended it to be.

Just embracing the truth of the need for the equipping ministries seems to bring great blessing and growth, but like all previous restoration movements, it has come with controversy as well as extremes and mistakes. This should not discourage us. Like the apostle Peter, those with the Faith and courage to step out of the boat and start walking on water will also be prone to making some mistakes. As both Scriptures and church history testify, those who walk with God without making any mistakes need not apply. Even so, these also testify that those who do not acknowledge the mistakes for what they are and learn from are doomed to increasingly worse tragedies.

With the faith and courage to keep pressing on, we also need the wisdom and humility to examine the teachings an practices that are causing unnecessary problems. However, this book is not written for the purpose of examining the present apostolic movements, but rather to help define what true, apostolic ministry is, and what the fruit of this ministry should be-true, apostolic, church life.

From a perspective of church history, after the first century, all of the equipping ministries given to the church were gradually, but generally removed from the life of the church. 1 say "generally" because there were many who functioned in these ministries for several more centuries, even if they did not continue to be called by them. There have also been students of history who have made a good case for all of the equipping ministries continuing in the life of the church throughout the church age, but almost entirely in the underground, persecuted church. There is merit to this view, but looking at a broader picture of the church, it appears obvious that all of the ministries were removed in their authority and function in the church in general for over a millennium.

Beginning with The Reformation in the fourteenth century, we see a gradual recovery of these ministries in the reverse order in which they seem to have been lost to the church (I personally mark the beginning of The Reformation with the ministry of John Hus). The first ministry to cease to be recognized by the church, and was therefore lost, was the ministry of the apostle.

It is now clear that this will be the last of these ministries restored, making it the ministry that will have the least amount of time to accomplish its purpose during the church age. Even so, it will be enough. Just as the apostolic church of the first century was the most powerful, and accomplished more for the spread of the gospel than possibly any generation since, the apostolic church at the end will again shake the entire world with its truth and power.

As encouraging as the growing realization of Christians for the need of the apostolic ministry, as well as the other equipping ministries, it is also apparent that we are still quite far from having an authentic apostolic ministry restored. Likewise it is obvious that the prophetic ministry has not been restored to the church, and is still in an immature state. In fact, this same thing could be said of all the equipping ministries.

Just because the pastor, teacher, and evangelist ministries are widely recognized and accepted throughout the church, and some have been for centuries, this does not mean that they are functioning at the level to which they are called. None of the other ministries given to the church will be fully restored and mature before the apostolic ministry is restored and abel to take its place with them.

Without the apostolic ministry, the church will continue to be like a sports team that does not have a coach. They may be able to play and be gifted players, but basically their lack of coordination and discipline will result in a much lower level of performance than they would have with a coach. Such a team will be beaten by teams with far less talent that have a coach. In this same way no ministry in the church can grow to its full stature, or the level of performance and fruitfulness that it could have, without the authority of authentic apostles and elders of the church present.

For most of my Christian life, I have been considered a part of the prophetic ministry, and am usually associated with prophetic movement. I have felt a personal mandate to help see the prophetic ministry restored to its biblical stature and place in the church. When I inquired of the Lord recently about how much progress we had made, I was surprised when He replied that what we were experiencing was about 15 percent to what we are called. That may sound discouraging to some, but it was very encouraging to me. Twenty years ago I would have said it was at about 2 percent, at best.

In this I am not talking about levels of accuracy, but rather the authority and degree of revelation that the prophetic is now walking in compared to what is intended for the New Testament prophetic ministry. Even 2 percent is better than none, but there will be a prophetic ministry raised up by the end that will overshadow any prophetic ministry that has previously walked in this earth. That may sound far fetched, but it is sound biblical truth. As II Corinthians 3:7-11 states, what we are supposed to experience under the New Covenant should be greater than what was experienced under the Old Covenant. Are there any prophets today _ who have attained to the stature of what the Old Covenant prophets walked in?

I do know a few, very remarkable prophetic ministries that I feel measure up to the biblical stature of this powerful ministry, and a good number more who are growing in authentic prophetic gifts and authority. However, even the most mature and anointed that I know still have a way to go to even measure up to what was experienced under the Old Covenant. Even so, we can be sure that what Paul wrote in II Corinthians will be proven true before the end of this age-the glory of the New Covenant will greatly overshadow that of the Old.

Like the prophetic ministry at this time, all of the other equipping ministries given to the church are far from what they are called to be. We may think of some extraordinary pastors, teachers, and evangelists, and wonder about the truth of that statement, but I just ask you to consider how _ fruitful they would be if they were in a proper relationship to all of the other equipping ministries. For example we would not have huge crusades with multitudes “making decisions" with only a tiny percentage of them being added to the church. Pastors and teachers would be ready and in place to help these new believers become established in their faith, and in the church. No ministry can be what it is called to be, or accomplish all that it is called to accomplish, without being in a proper relationship with the other ministries given to the church. This is the way that the Lord designed His church, and it will not function as He intended without doing it His way.

I travel quite extensively, and everywhere I go I try to have at least one meeting just for pastors and leaders of ministries in the country or region. These are usually attended by anywhere from a hundred to a thousand or more. Regardless of the size, I try to use much of the time with the group for questions and answers. For several years now the question that I am most asked is what I think of the new apostolic movements. Usually this is a "loaded" questions in which the one asking is at least disturbed, and in some cases, has been deeply offended by them. As I to get a reading on the others, it is obvious that this is one question that almost everyone seems to have a great interest in at least. Even though I have my own opinions about them, I always try to share them as just that, also understanding "that we see in part," and "know in part.” (See 1 Corinthians 13:12) The following are some things I have seen from inquiring of the Lord, and though I feel He did show me something that is accurate, I still believe all prophetic revelation is still seeing in part. This is the part I was given.

When I inquired of the Lord about the present state of the apostolic ministry, I was shown a number of beautiful, fast looking cars. However, they were not running, but were being pushed about by people, because they did not have motors. The apostolic movement was also one of these cars, and it was going faster than the others because it had a few more people behind it pushing. What does this mean?

What we have now may look good, and even look fast, but without a lot of human effort it would not be moving at all. This is not only true of the apostolic movement, but it appeared true of all of them. However, as I watched, motors were brought and put in these cars. The motors that came were the apostolic ministries. These did not just come to the apostolic movements, but to the others as well. When they were put in and started, all of the other parts began to function the way for which they were created. When that happens, they are going to not only be able to go fast, but will be able to carry people instead of requiring the people to push them.

As I pondered this I began to wonder how many churches and movements really exist to equip the people, and get them to where they are called to go, rather than just using the people to go where they themselves want to go. From my experience, this seemed a very accurate reflection of where the church is in general.

This is not to imply that what has been done to build the church, or the present apostolic movements, through pastors, teachers, and evangelists is wrong, but I just ask you to consider how _ fruitful they would be if they were in a proper relationship to all of the other equipping ministries. For example we would not have huge crusades with multitudes “making decisions" with only a tiny percentage of them being added to the church. Pastors and teachers would be ready and in place to help these new believers become established in their faith, and in the church. No ministry can be what it is called to be, or accomplish all that it is called to accomplish, without being in a proper relationship with the other ministries given to the church. This is the way that the Lord designed His church, and it will not function as He intended without doing it His way.

Even so, there is a big difference between what God is empowering and what is being pushed along by human effort. Today the church may have a lot of great looking vehicles, but is their performance really more the result of Human effort than the power of God? Motivating people for a purpose is not necessarily wrong, but the apostolic ministry has much more than the ability to motivate or even to lead people. The apostolic ministry has to do with releasing the power of God, and empowering people with the authority and power of God in which they are called to walk, rather than it is getting people to follow them.

For this reason much (not all) of what is today called “apostolic” is in fact the exact opposite of the authentic apostolic. Just because someone is a good motivator, a good recruiter or a good administrator, does not make him an apostle. We only have true spiritual authority to the degree the King Himself lives in us, and expresses Himself through us.

Now I will share something from our experience with apostolic movements, again knowing that this is only part of the picture, but it is a part that could have major implications for the future.

I help to oversee a fellowship of churches. We have received many reports from them about how they have been recruited by"apostolic" networks. One of them testified to having been recruited by eight different apostolic networks in just one year. This little congregation did eventually go with one of these, which I thought was the right thing for them to do. I had told this pastor, if he ever felt any other group could help him more than we could, then he was not only free to change his association, but we would bless it, and help the transition in any way that we could. I sincerely believed this particular congregation would be served better by such a network than we could serve them at the time. However, such tactics for growing a network reveals some fundamental issues that are decidedly un-apostolic, and that will at some point certainly become major problems.

The New Testament apostles were obviously devoted to helping each other. Paul expressed the desire not to build on another man's foundation, and obviously tried not to do it except when requested. It is fundamental to a true apostolic mentality to be seeking to take new territory for the kingdom. It is also fundamental to a true apostolic mentality to have a vision for the whole body of Christ, and not just one's own ministry. Recruiting people or movements from other churches or movements will create divisions, and certainly does not demonstrate a heart for the whole body of Christ. Even sports teams have the integrity to ask other programs for permission to talk to their players, coaches, or other personnel before trying to hire them. We should be even more devoted to such courtesy in the body of Christ, and those who are not selfishly ambitious will. The recruiting mentality of many of the apostolic movements reveals a serious poverty of spirit, not the Holy Spirit. This rose up in the Shepherding Movement of the seventies that quickly became one of the most divisive and destructive movements of the twentieth century. How is this so destructive? Right behind the mentality that would motivate one to recruit or take from that which has been the work of others, is a control spirit that will ultimately do much damage. This is because what is built on selfish ambition and the strength of the flesh will have to be maintained by the flesh, and that is the basic food of the control spirit, as well as every other as we are told in James 3.

Years before the apostolic networks became popular, we were given a prophetic warning of a false apostolic movement that would come. I say "we" because this came to several on our team, in various ways. We were also told the location is movement would arise. When I began to inquire - I was told that this false apostolic movement would end up being more devastating to the church than the Shepherding Movement had been, and that it would be taken over by the same control spirit and political spirit that came into the Shepherding Movement. The political spirit is what would motivate one to build the church or their ministry, more on human alliances than in obedience to the Holy Spirit. From this time, I began more of the in-depth study on strongholds that resulted in much of what I have written about them since.

At the time these warnings came, there did not seem to be anything in the church that even remotely fit the description of this false apostolic movement. Now there does seem to be some, and it is falling into the pattern of what we were shown. We have been very public about this warning for years. I believe we have shared these warn­ings every time we have felt to prophetically speak about the restoration of the apostolic ministry to the church.

Obviously, I could not address this subject without bringing up this warning. However, when we are given warnings like this we do not believe that they have to come to pass. We feel that warnings are given to us to help prevent them from coming to pass. That remains our devotion, and is why I feel that I should address what is not apostolic as well as trying to sow a vision for the coming, true apostolic. Also, I have never met a false teacher or false prophet, when I did not recognize the calling of God on their life, but had turned to evil or carnal means for gaining influence which opened the door for their corruption.

It seems that there is almost always a "Saul" before there is a "David," when it comes to anything the Lord is restoring to the church. In relation to the establishment of the kingdom in Israel, the Lord had promised Israel a king through Jacob (see Genesis 49:10). It was nearly time for the king to arise and to prepare the people for their coming king, when the Lord put the desire in their hearts for a king. However, they could not wait for God's king to mature, but demanded a king immediately, and by this rejected God and His provision for them.

So the Lord gave them a king, and even anointed him. I think the Lord is doing the same to much of what is being called apostolic today. I think it is more the people's apostolic ministry than the Lord's, but He listens to His bride, and will often give her what she persists in asking for.

Just as Saul did fight some of the battles of the Lord, and accomplish some things for Israel, he was not able to carry the weight of this responsibility as a king for long. Soon he was attacking anyone else who was anointed, and jealousy began to drive him more than the purpose of God. His ensuing poor leadership caused more problems for the ­Lord's king, who was a true king after the Lord's heart. However, David possibly would not have been the great king without the trials provided for him by Saul. Even so, Saul's administration caused many unnecessary problems for Israel, and made it much more difficult for the people to recognize David's anointing to be king.

This is the warning that I was personally given about the restoration of the apostolic ministry to the church­ that one would come first that did seem to be "head and shoulders" above the other movements in the church, but it was premature and would cause many problems. Though these biblical precedents are seldom completely accurate in the way they reflect later parallels, they are good guidelines.

We can expect some of those movements today that are called "Apostolic" to accomplish some good, and will fight battles of the Lord. However, they will also help to mature the true apostolic which is coming, but will cause many problems, making it difficult for Christians in general to recognize the real when it comes.

As stated, this book was not written to debunk teachings or movements but rather to help prepare the way for the real that is coming. However, I could not call myself a shepherd if I did not try to protect God's people from attacks. I could not call myself a watchman if I did not sound the alarm when I am able to see the danger. Even so, I do not expect a single book to bring an end to the rising controversy surrounding the restoration of the apostolic ministry, and I am not writing this book for that purpose.

Though I have been identified with the prophetic movement for many years, I started teaching on the apos­tolic long before I ever taught on the prophetic ministry, beginning nearly thirty years ago. I wrote about the apostolic ministry in our original newsletters before I wrote on the prophetic ministry. This is a subject that I have considered not only important, but crucial for the church in our times to understand. I also think that one of the primary purposes of the prophetic ministry is to help prepare the way for the coming apostolic ministry to be fully restored to the church. We cannot experience true New Testament church life as it was intended to be without it.

I also want to say that in spite of all that I have written about the movements, which may end up causing trouble for the church, I have a very high regard for those who have the courage to press beyond the present limits of church life to seek more for the body of Christ. I think some may have carried things a little too far in trying to see the apostolic ministry restored to the church prematurely, and are so full of zeal for the Lord and His people, that the devil simply could not stop them. So, he got behind them and pushed them too far. I am also convinced that what the devil intends to do with these can be changed, and I still hold to that. Regardless of the amount of confusion that comes by some prematurely trying to walk in the apostolic ministry, clarity will come and the truth will prevail.

THE VICTORY IS SURE!

An authentic apostolic ministry will be restored to the church. There is' abundant evidence that those who will be true apostles in the end times are already among us, and are maturing. Like King David, most are faithful shepherds who have learned to fight the lion and bear, and will risk their own lives to do this to protect the sheep. They are also Probably not regarded highly by their own brothers at this time, but in due time they will be recognized. Even if a prophet comes to pour oil on them and tell them about their high calling their response to this will be to go back and faithfully watch over the flock they have been given. They will consider if this is from God, they can wait for God to promote them in His time.

In all these matters, let us keep in mind that there is a ditch on either side of the path of life. If we overreact to extremes on one side, we will fall in to the ditch on the other side. It is my prayer for you that this book will help to clarify some things, but even more than that, impart a vision and an understanding for the coming apostolic ministry. It will be far more powerful and far more exciting, than anything we have yet experienced. These are the times that even the prophets of old desired to see, and you are here!

For those who read this and feel called to this ministry, remember that even King David was willing to serve in the house of Saul. He also refused to lift his hand against “the Lord's anointed (I Samuel 26: 11). David could have he could have taken the authority to which the prophet had already told him he was called. Because of this awesome respect that he had. for the anointing and for authority, the Lord could trust him with more anointing and more authority, than He could have otherwise.

If there is one phrase that rings over and over concerning the apostolic ministry in the book of Acts, it is that they were “filled with the Spirit.” Possibly the most basic characteristic of those who were true apostles is that they followed the Holy Spirit, which is what I have tried to do in writing this book. I pray that you will do the same in reading it.