Apostles and restoration

APOSTLES are part of the continuing foundation of the church. They are necessary until the body of Christ reaches unity of faith and reaches its ultimate maturity (Ephesians 2:20; Ephesians 4:12-13).

Apostles are gifts of the ascended Lord Jesus Christ to his church, and are first among the equipping ministries (Ephesians 4:7-11, 1 Corinthians 12:28). They are not first because of superiority but because of their function. Paul described himself as a ‘master builder’ concerned with the total design of the church (1 Corinthians 3:10).

Apostles preach the Kingdom of God and lay Jesus Christ as the foundation in people. They establish communities of believers who demonstrate together in the power of the Holy Spirit what it means to be the church of Jesus Christ. The description of the church in Acts 2:41-47 is an example of an apostolic community.

Apostles appoint elders, who have the responsibility to continue the heart and mind of the apostles into the church (Acts 14:23). The apostles, elders and the people of God work together in fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20).

Apostles are team players; while having primary leadership they act as the catalyst for the other ministries so that together they can prepare God’s people for works of service. As such, no Ephesians 4 ministry works independently of others; they have a corporate responsibility towards God and his people.

RESTORATION: Jesus must remain in heaven until the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21), which includes a restored church. It will be a church that has made herself ready as a bride prepares for her bridegroom. There are two aspects to Restoration:

1. Recovering what is lost. In its secular use the word meant the repair of a road, the restoring of property to its owner, or recovery of a former condition. Restoration means returning things to their original order.

2. Compensation. The Bible contains the principle of compensatory restitution (Exodus 22:4,7,9; Numbers 5:5-7). Restoration involved compensation in addition to restitution. Restoration is not only recovering what has been lost but also includes compensation; adding what was not there in the first place. Restoration is not going backwards to return the church to some ideal original condition that is supposed to have existed in the past. It is moving on to the fullness of God’s original intention for the earth and for humanity created in his image.

The Bible reveals that the early church was riddled with division and legalism; and was affected by the empty philosophies of the day. Nevertheless, in the New Testament there are eternal, moral and spiritual principles that are the foundations of the church. It is these elements that we recover in advancing the church to its fullness. Restoration involves recovering what has been lost, but then going on to the place that the church has never yet been. This advancement will culminate in the glorious return of Jesus Christ himself.

Roger Aubrey

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