Global Missiology English, Vol 4, No 14 (2017)

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APOSTLES THEN AND NOW

Chris Ross

Abstract


There seems to be much confusion today concerning how to go about fulfilling the Great Commission. Yet, when one looks at the New Testament, the apostle Paul and his apostolic band appear to set down a very clear pattern for how to go about discipling the nations. Everywhere that Paul and his apostolic team went, there was a string of churches left behind them, which were born out of their pioneer evangelism. This means that Paul and his gospel coworkers were breaking up new ground. For Paul, foundation layers (like himself) were needed to take the Gospel into these new territories. These foundation layers are referred to throughout the pages of the New Testament as apostles. For some reason or another, however, many within the twenty-first century church have decided that Paul’s model of apostolic ministry is confined to the New Testament, while believers today are left to come up with new innovative models of their own. In reflecting on this, Don Dent confronts the issue at hand, noting that while claiming that Scripture is the ultimate authority for life and practice, there seems to be an evangelical disconnect between New Testament teachings and missions methodology for today.  
So how did the church find itself in this predicament?  For many, this disconnect is due to the rejection of the apostolic function within the body of Christ, for they see apostles as the “big shots” of the New Testament.  But, is this what the Bible actually teaches? A closer look seems to indicate otherwise. Don Overstreet boldly articulates the diagnosis concerning this confusion: “Satan, the great deceiver, is at the heart of all darkness and ignorance, and his attempts to cloud the issue have been deliberate. The apostle may well represent the single greatest human threat in existence to the work of Satan.”  The enemy has clouded the issue for far too long.  Thus, in order to regain the missionary heartbeat of the early church, believers desperately need to get back to a healthy understanding of the biblical teaching concerning who apostles are and how they should function within the Body of Christ. It is the hope of the present writer that in light of the biblical evidence, readers will conclude that God still calls and sends apostles today for the purpose of pioneer church planting.

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