Saturday, May 2, 2015

Living Faith Realities: The Necessity Of Restoring Apostolic Ministry

Living Faith Realities: The Necessity Of Restoring Apostolic Ministry: Guest Blog By My Father Apostle, Dr. Leo Fram Today we hear a lot about Apostles and Apostolic Ministries. Unfortunately most of the B...

The Necessity Of Restoring Apostolic Ministry

Guest Blog By My Father Apostle, Dr. Leo Fram

Today we hear a lot about Apostles and Apostolic Ministries. Unfortunately most of the Body of Christ has little or no accurate information about who Apostles are or what they do? Misinformation is more readily available than truth causing confusion in the people of God. While this topic is too broad to be fully explained in one article I will attempt to present some basic truths about Apostles and their ministry.

There are two passages of Scripture that we will base this teaching on. First Corinthians 12:28 says: “And God has appointed in the church, first Apostles, second Prophets, third Teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing’s, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.” The other text is Ephesians 4:11 &12: “And He gave some as Apostles, and some as Prophets, and some as Evangelists and some as Pastors and Teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the service to the building up of the Body of Christ.”

Both of these passages refer to Apostolic Ministry, but from two different perspectives. The First Corinthian text presents an organizational listing of how the Ministry gifts are aligned. Apostles come first because they are the predominant gift, being first in Rank, Authority and Importance. There is no ranking given in the Ephesian text, this passage pictures the five ministry gifts as a team designed to fulfill a function. Each gift is equally important to the fulfillment of our assignment. Working together we are to bring the Body of Christ to maturity. No local church will ever attain to its full potential without input from each of the ministry gifts. I am sad to say that many congregations are 3/5 short. They have a Pastor and occasionally an Evangelist drops by, but Apostles, Prophets and Teachers are never invited in. If Jesus Christ provided the five ministry gifts to bring the church to maturity and we ignore the three most important gifts it is easy to understand why the modern church is so weak and unbalanced. If we can grasp the concept that each ministry gift operates with its own unique anointing, then the need for the five to release their impartations into the Body becomes easy to comprehend.

If an Apostle quotes John 3:16 it is released with an Apostolic anointing and will produce an Apostolic impartation. If a Prophet quotes John 3:16 it will be released with a Prophetic anointing and produce Prophetic results. It is exactly the same scripture, but delivered under a different anointing it will produce a different impact on the hearers. It’s the anointing makes the difference. With that as background let’s look at some Apostolic functions.

One of the primary functions of Apostles is to judge doctrine. They are the only ministry gift anointed to perform this task. We can see a good example of this in Acts the fifteenth chapter. Some Jewish converts began teaching that in order to be saved you had to put faith in Jesus Christ and also be circumcised. Needless to say this caused division in the young church. It was decided that an Apostolic Counsel be formed to look into this matter. Many church leaders came together to examine this teaching. Peter, Paul and Barnabas were among those gathered together. James was serving as the presiding Apostle overseeing the meeting. The Bible says that there was a great deal of discussion among those present. When many had spoken their minds Peter addressed the counsel sharing from his own experiences. After Peter, Paul and Barnabas related their experiences.

When everyone had shared their viewpoint, Apostle James said “listen to me”. He next stated my judgment is. No votes were taken, no objections were voiced. The presiding Apostle judged the issue and rendered his decision. The church was not designed to be operated by committees and votes. James issued an Apostolic decree and that settled the issue and his decision still stands today. When the counsel announced its findings to the church at large, they wrote a letter saying: “Having become of one mind”…everyone agreed with James’ decision. They also said: “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and us.” James decreed and the counsel said amen.

If you want to see an Apostle come completely unglued just preach some flaky doctrine. They will go right up the wall, because of their gift to judge doctrine. It is important to remember that we are talking about doctrine not opinion; there is a huge difference between the two. Godly men and women hold different views on some teachings. For example consider the return of the Lord for his church. Many different opinions are espoused by Christian Leaders in our day. That is Okay, we respect everyone’s right to be wrong on controversial issues. Perry Stone and John Hagee present the pre-tribulation point of view. Pat Robertson and Irving Baxter teach the Post-tribulation position.

Both cannot be correct, but this is opinion. All four of these men love the Lord and are serious students of the scriptures. Each can present his viewpoint from the Word. They disagree on when the Lord will return for his Bride; that’s a matter of opinion, we do not judge opinions. If someone preaches that Jesus has gone away and He is never coming back, that is faulty doctrine and it will be judged. There are other controversial issues in the church. Some churches serve wine at the Lord’s Table, others use grape juice. That’s opinion. Some baptize converts in Jesus Name, others say in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, that too is opinion. Apostles must be mature enough and schooled enough to know the difference between opinion and false doctrine and carefully select what they challenge.

Apostles also bring correction and establish protocol. The Corinthian Church was abusing the Lord’s Table. Paul wrote to them saying: when you meet together it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. Some of you are hungry, others are full and some are even drunk; in this I will not praise you. Most of us would agree that this is improper behavior. In short Paul was telling them you are out of order. Then he uses the next ten verses to explain the proper administration and purpose of Communion. In this case the Apostle corrected their conduct. The way things are performed in the House of God is still to be judged by an Apostle; not only the style but also the substance. For example today many ministries have dance teams; I have seen some that promote worship and others that bring other thoughts to mind. Some direct your attention to Jesus; others cause you to focus on the artist. Apostolic correction is needed for the latter. Revealing costumes and suggestive movements should never be allowed in the sanctuary. Enough said!

Apostles promote the proper operation of Spiritual Gifts. There are some ministries that have no manifestations of the Gifts of the Spirit. They require an Apostle to not only teach on the Gifts but also to release an impartation for the Gifts to begin operating. There are other places that have a spiritual mess. Everything is out of order. You will see two people trying to prophesy at the same time seeking to out shout one another. Someone will deliver a public message in tongues, with no one in the house to interpret. There are also people who think they have the right to interrupt the preaching of the Word with their utterance. All of these situations need to be corrected. The Apostle Paul wrote three chapters defining the Gifts and their proper operation. Still there is great confusion in the church. If you ask three Pastors you could get four opinions. Two will say what they think and the third is not sure so he picks from the other two. We need an Apostle to settle the issue. This issue should be settled for the entire network, territory or area under that Apostle’s leadership. Some denominations tried to accomplish this task by appointing District Superintendents. In too many cases those appointed were not Apostles. They were smart, successful, gifted individuals, but they lacked Apostolic anointing. Only those possessing Apostolic anointing can successfully perform Apostolic functions. It’s the anointing that makes the difference.

All Apostles are not alike. They may be as brilliant as Paul or as uneducated as Peter. Neither Paul’s keen mind nor Peter’s ignorance had any major impact on their ministries. It was the gift of God freely bestowed on each of them that produced the results. Apostles are not self-made, and no one deserves to stand in the Apostolic office. No one is good enough or smart enough to occupy this lofty position. It is God’s choice, God’s calling, God’s gifting and God’s grace that enables Apostles to function. Paul said I am what I am by the grace of God. Every minister should say amen to that. When God appoints a person to function in Apostolic Ministry, He anoints them to fulfill the responsibilities of that office. The Chief Apostle imparts exactly what each Apostle requires to fulfill their individual assignment. Every Apostle receives Apostolic anointing, but their gifts, talents and abilities will differ based on their assignment.

Some Apostles are gifted musically they can arrange music, direct choirs and lead worship. Others have the ability to be prolific writers, it seems every time they pass a keyboard a new book or article comes forth. Still others are creative and artistic they can produce illustrated sermons that will keep you on the edge of your seat. All are Apostles, all function Apostolically, yet possess very different personalities and passions. Look at Peter, Paul, James and John. These four are about as different as it is possible to be, but all are Apostles. Peter was the fighter he cut off the ear of Malchus in the garden when they came to arrest Jesus. Paul was the intellectual, he learned at the feet of Gamaliel the most respected teacher of the day. Paul was called a Pharisee among Pharisees. John was the lover he was the one who leaned on Jesus breast. James was the intercessor. He was nicknamed old camel knees. It was said that he spent so much time on his knees praying that his knees resembled the knees of a camel. These four were very different from one another yet each was a true Apostle. We must learn to recognize everyone the Lord sends to us not based on their personality or gifts but by the anointing on their lives. Simply put if you are not anointed, you have not been appointed by the Master. If you have been both appointed and anointed, your ministry will produce the fruit that proves who you are.

Finally I want to share what I see coming to pass in the very near future. Get ready for an Apostolic explosion. The church began operating under Apostolic leadership, and that is the way it will be at the end of the age. The emerging Apostles will be men and women from every culture, tribe and nation. No one will be overlooked as God restores His church. The restoration of Apostolic and Prophetic ministries is a sign that we are moving deeper into the last days of the church age. Peter preached in Acts 3 that heaven must receive Jesus until the restoration of all things. (Acts 3:21) That includes restoring Apostles and Prophets to their rightful positions in the church. The Christ proclaimed: “I will build my church.” He will build it according to His own design. Men have been messing up his design for centuries, but things are beginning to change. Several local assemblies are beginning to resemble the Biblical pattern. Jesus provided the five ministry gifts and every local church must welcome and receive from all five in order to participate in God’s end time program.

Many will continue to follow their own traditions and the Lord will allow them to reap their own harvest. Those releasing the five ascension gifts to flow freely in every service are the ones that will be strong and do exploits. It has always been important to be a part of the right church; but in the days ahead it will be critically important. So much so that the church you attend could determine whether you will live or die. Every church must receive: Apostolic influence, Prophetic direction, Evangelistic fervor, Profound teaching and Pastoral nurturing to fulfill its destiny. This is the pattern of the New Testament Church. Everything that looks different than this pattern is a work of the flesh and destined to fail. There is only one way to have a successful church that is God’s way. We will either follow the Master’s blueprint or we will be weighed in the balances and found wanting. The shift to the Biblical pattern is already underway, may each of us be a part of it.

Operating In Transition

Lately we hear plenty of talk about transition. We have heard many prophetic words about this being a season of transition. A while back I preached a message entitled: “A season Of Transition”. Everywhere we turn in the Body of Christ, whether it is books, tapes, CD’s, magazines, TV or the Internet, we are constantly hearing about transition. In this Blog I want to come from another angle and take some principles from the Children of Israel as they went through their 40-year transition from Egypt to the Promised Land.

Transition Defined

“The passage from one state, stage, subject or phase to another, Change.” Webster’s Dictionary.

“Transition is coming from an ending through an unknown into a new beginning.” Dr. Mike Brown

About fifteen years ago I went through a major transition when God changed my office from that of Evangelist to Prophet. I can relate to these principles because I lived them out during that transition. Transition is never an easy thing or a thing we enjoy because it involves change, which we all hate. But if we can get these principles down it will help us navigate through the season of transition we are in and help us get to where we are going.

1.      Resist The Tendency To Return To What You Know

The children of Israel seemed to have a recurring theme as you go through Exodus and Numbers, they repeated over and over again, why did you bring us out here into the wilderness to die, why are we in this season of transition, let’s go back to Egypt.

“Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.” Exodus 14:12 NKJV

“And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, ‘If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the LORD brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?’ So they said to one another, ‘Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.’” Numbers 14:2-4 NKJV

There is a deception of the enemy when in you are in a season of transition…because when you are in a time of transition it is an unknown and you think I need to go back to the known; but God does not bring you out so you can go back to where you came from…He brings you out so you can transition and go into His destiny for your life.

Don’t Go Back. During my transition God had me leave the church where I was an Elder and Leader for 10 years…when it got a little rough and it was easy to go back there…but that was not God’s plan. There is no future in your past.

2.      Believe The Right People

When you are in a time of transition you must listen to and believe the right people. You have to have the right associations. You can’t break out of the old season without the right associations. You can’t break into your next season without the right associations.

You need a Spiritual Father, a Big Brother, Mentors, Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers…you need the right associations. There were a lot of voices speaking to the Children of Israel as they were going through the wilderness, but what were they saying? Let us go back to Egypt.

To get out of Egypt they needed to believe Moses. To get through the wilderness they needed to believe Moses. You must be careful whom you listen to in the time of transition. During my transition I had to listen to people that were flowing in the Apostolic and Prophetic. For about three to four years I fed myself on Apostolic and Prophetic books, because that is where I was going. Who you listen to and believe will determine your future.

3.      Resist The Tendency To Murmur

Right after the Egyptian army is drowned in the Red Sea and Miriam just finishes her song and dance of praise about the horse and rider being thrown into the sea, they became thirsty after a 3-day journey into the wilderness and came to Marah, and the water was so bitter they could not drink it. So what did they do?

And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?” Exodus 15:24 KJV

The root word for MURMUR in Hebrew in this text means: TO STOP ON PURPOSE TO COMPLAIN. Wrap your mind around that for a moment. They stopped on purpose to complain.

God forgave them for Idolatry, Abominations and Immorality but not murmuring. They murmured in Exodus 16:2, Exodus 17:3 and Numbers 14:2. Look at what God Decreed:

“Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward which have murmured against me.” Numbers 14:29 KJV

Look what the Apostle Paul wrote:

“Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.” 1 Corinthians 10:10 KJV

The lesson here is quite clear…DON’T MURMER!

4.      Focus On The Promised Destination

When God wants to move you from your present season He gives you a picture of what He wants to take you to. He paints a picture for you. For the Children of Israel it was the Land Flowing with Milk & Honey. If you come out of the present season, endure the transitional season; there is a better season ahead. If you are going to survive the transitional season you have to learn to focus on the promised destination.

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13 & 14 NKJV

In light of what Israel went through what does this Scripture mean to us? Forgetting what is behind, Egypt, the past season; and reaching forward to those things, which are ahead, Canaan, the promised destiny.

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17 & 18 NKJV

We do not look at the things of our transitional season, which are temporary and subject to change. We look at the promise, which is eternal, which is our destiny in God. We must keep in mind during the transitional phase that this is a temporary season, not an eternal season…Stay focused on the destination.

5.      Learn To Follow The Cloud

The Children of Israel followed the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. When the cloud moved they moved, when the cloud stopped they stopped. The cloud represented the presence of God to them.

What is the parallel for us in the New Testament? Learn to be led by the Spirit of God.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God...The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans 8:14 & 16 NKJV

Unfortunately most in the Church don’t know how to be led by the Spirit of God. God will enlighten us, or guide us through our spirit. Too many of us are more soul conscious or body conscious than we are spirit conscious. In order for us to be led by the Spirit of God we must learn to be spirit conscious.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16 NKJV

When we speak of being spirit conscious we are speaking of the real us, the us on the inside; that part of our being that the Spirit of God indwells…our heart. If the Spirit of God is bearing witness with our spirit and leading us through our spirit; than our spirit must be in tune with the Holy Spirit. What is the witness on the inside of you? If we learn to go by that witness as opposed to our head we will be much better off.

In this Blog we have laid out five simple principles adapted from the Children of Israel during their Transition from Egypt to the Promised Land. If we apply these principles they will help us navigate and operate in our Season of Transition. I know from whence I speak as I lived through them already.