God has a very specific agenda for the Church and for the world. Whatever the Church of Jesus Christ does therefore, must be in keeping with God’s objective, both in substance and in His timing. It must enhance Christ’s vision or else the Church is out of the will of God. Apostolic perspective undergirds and steers the Church, keeping it on course, in tune, and in step with what the Spirit of God is saying and doing for the advancement of Christ’s Church and of the Christianity He instituted.
Without an apostolic perspective the Church could find itself out of step with the Lord, out of His will, and out of His purpose. Without an apostolic perspective we will not understand what the Lord is saying and doing in the present—how He is working to advance and position His Church. One could be out of the will of God, and even backslidden, but not know it unless he recognizes and accepts the importance of apostolic correction and direction. This is a sure way to end up as an unprofitable servant, individually, and as an unprofitable church, corporately.
Should you miss what Christ wants to get done and in His specific time, you will be laboring in vain even as you produce that which is good and plentiful. Our good would then be, in effect, a hindrance to the will of the Lord, and as good as good is, it would be a counterfeit to the perfect—standing in the way of God’s best for our lives. Keep in mind that God is about perfection and not about settling for a comfortable place which we may accept as His will. All that glitters is not necessarily gold. We need the apostolic dimension to rightly position us in the Church, the Body of Christ, individually and corporately.
Jesus Christ provided that requisite apostolic office to the early Church. We see the apostolic office in operation in Matthew 16:21. Peter had just received the revelation that Jesus was the Christ and immediately after, Jesus began to introduce him and his fellow disciples to the cross, saying to them that He had to go to Jerusalem, suffer and be killed. However, Peter took Him aside and rebuked Him saying, in essence, to Him: we will not allow this; we will defend you; we will fight for you; you are our Lord and Savior and our leader and you are talking to us about suffering and dying? On the surface of it, we may conclude that Peter was doing a “good thing”, but Jesus turned and said to Peter, and to the devil who spoke through Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” He said this because that “good thing” that came out of Peter’s mouth was not from God—it was, in fact, a devilish thing! The good was contrary to and a hindrance to God’s will and plan and the only way that Peter would have known this, was by the correction spoken out of that apostolic office and from that perspective. Yet, even after this, Peter, in Matthew 17 on the Mount of Transfiguration, continued to express his “brand of Christianity”by suggesting that they make three tabernacles and “have church” up there where there was no trouble. Peter did not see anything good in going to Jerusalem, suffering persecution, rejection, and then crucifixion, although this was the Father’s perfect will for Jesus. Peter needed an apostolic intervention and this time the Father intervened. He shut off the vision because Peter was ready to camp on the mountain top when they were really called to the valley below.
The apostolic perspective was needed then, and still is needed today, to understand the pulse of the Spirit for effective Kingdom business in every situation.
In the Book of Revelation, through the letters which Jesus dictated to John for the Pastors (the angel) of the seven churches, we again see how much apostolic vision and perspective is absolutely essential. Jesus revealed to them all, the good things for which they were famed but was careful to illuminate the areas where they had strayed from the will of God, in order that they might get back on course. Five of seven churches were operating outside of the will of the Lord and were totally unaware of it. Jesus, speaking from the apostolic office gave them the true picture of who and where they were, from God’s viewpoint. Without that vision and perspective they would have remained totally off course.
Jesus knew of the good works and the abundant patience of the church at Ephesus but despite it all He divulged to them that they were, in God’s eyes, fallen and backslidden. They were totally oblivious to this. The Lord stressed to the angel of the church in Thyatira, that he would be held responsible for all that was taking place in that assembly and that Jesus, therefore expected him to deal with the “spirit of Jezebel”—that rebellious, controlling element that sought to carry the church in a direction that was contrary to God’s direction. He reminded him that God, being a God of order and structure, would not bypass His appointed leadership and give a word of direction to a member of the congregation which is contrary to the thrust set by His appointed leader. That is not God’s way. That “other voice” would certainly be misleading. I thank God for apostolic vision and perspective. Consider too, the church at Laodicea, who viewed themselves as rich, yet Jesus saw them as wretched, poor, blind, and naked because they were neither cold nor hot. They were neutral—not taking a position. Jesus cautioned them to move from that place of inactivity because He had saved them to be involved in advancing His kingdom so that someone else could now benefit.
Unlike the church at Laodicea, The church at Smyrna was wretchedly poor and experiencing persecution and tribulation. They could not boast of ease, comfort, and prosperity because they had none! No doubt they were accused by many of having missed God, so the Lord sent a message to them to give them their true perspective in God! He assured them that, despite their troubles, He saw them as rich. Could you imagine what happened to that church when all the while they were thinking that they had gone wrong! God’s apostolic perspective assured them that they were on the right path and this encouraged them to continue on and not to trade persecution for comfort and ease. The church at Smyrna undoubtedly found strength to go on as the apostolic perspective was revealed.
This is what the Apostolic Office is for—to point out errors; to point out the path that is God’s path and will; and to have each assembly find its place in the Body of Christ. It is the apostolic perspective which helped these churches to find their way again. Many churches are guided by that which is natural and resort to “doing their own thing”, but God’s Word and way remain true … “he who has an ear to hear let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.”
Additionally, there is a time factor involved in securing the success of God’s plan for His Church. Something may be right, good, and true but if you miss God’s timing for its occurrence, you would be unsuccessful and would have to wait for the cycle to come around again. Let us look at the experiences of Paul for an apt example of this. Paul, was genuinely called of God but in the absence of apostolic perspective he was unaware that moving in God’s timing is vital to being effective for God, so he “ran with the call” and almost lost his life. Yet another scenario requiring apostolic perspective presented itself when God allowed a “thorn” in Paul’s flesh. When Paul realized that this seeming hindrance was from God, purposed to secure his ready availability to Him, he did not waste any more time praying against what God had permitted for his good, lest he missed God’s purpose. God was on the move to take the Church forward with Paul’s help. Paul could not afford to spend time feeling sorry for himself or he would have missed God. You have to be in God’s time, in step, having the right beat, or else the enemy would gain the advantage. Many may have regarded Paul’s infirmity as the consequence of his sins but Jesus warned that we must not judge after the seeing of the eyes or after the hearing of the ear.
Even prophets and apostles are not above the need for apostolic direction. Theirs and our own destiny is dependent upon our humility to seek out those with whom we need to be joined, so that we may accomplish our purpose. We will never step into our purpose otherwise. Even Jesus submitted to the ministry of John the Baptist before proceeding to His own calling despite His being above John. Let us therefore, operate in the spirit of humility, embrace Christ’s apostolic office and appointees to the Church, and seek out and connect with those who could help us step into our destiny for we need them.