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-- © GodSpeak International 2002 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.net> --

Author: Teresa Seputis ts@godspeak.net http://www.godspeak.net
Editor: Bob Hawley

Finding Your Place In God's Kingdom Order

Lesson 1
Power-Filled Believers

By Teresa Seputis

About five to 10 years ago, the "prophetic" was the place to be. God was actively restoring the prophetic and establishing the role of prophets in His church. He raised up some mature prophets who had been groomed in the refiner's fire and who had embraced God's agenda for the church. The results were stunning. These men and women of God became God's clear voice to the church. They brought understanding, vision, gentle correction and redirection as they set God's house in order and helped move the "church" as a whole back on the right track. The goal of their message was to help the church understand and line up with God's plans and purposes, to embrace God's agenda.

In short, God moved powerfully through the prophets and as a result, everyone wanted to be a prophet. The role of the prophet was not always perceived accurately. Many people assumed prophets were above pastors, teachers and evangelists instead of peer ministries and co-workers in God's Kingdom. They viewed the prophet as the top of the "chain of authority."

And suddenly everyone who had ambitions to "be someone" in the Kingdom of God wanted to be a prophet. Many self-proclaimed prophets began rising up who had not been fully trained/refined. Some of these had their own agenda rather than hearing and embracing God's agenda. The genuine continued to operate, but the imitation began to spring up like weeds planted along side of the "good seed." It was hard for some people to tell them apart. As a result, the prophetic movement got a bit of a black eye in some circles -- where the imitation had caused harm, division, or operated in a wrong spirit. Sadly, the faulty imitation soured some parts of the Body of Christ against authentic prophetic ministry.

Along with this, may people who are not called or gifted as prophets are somehow convinced that God has installed them in the "office of prophet." I can't tell you how many times people have said to me, "I am a prophet, but I have a problem I would like you to help me with. I don't know how to hear His voice, I don't get any visions and when I get dreams from the Lord, I don't understand them. But I know I am in the office of prophet. So how can I develop my prophetic gifting and start to use it?" The reality is that such people can't hear God's voice, they can't possibly be a spokesman for God because they have no idea of what He is saying. If they are not moving in the prophetic, they are not operating in the office of prophet. (It may be that God will call and gift and groom then into the office of prophet, but most of the time, that is not the case.) There were so many people who wanted to be a prophet because it was the "popular" or "respected" thing to be. If they actually understood what being a prophet entails, they might not be quite so eager to be one.

Then about five or six years ago, a lot of people began to notice that God was re-establishing the apostolic in the church. So the apostolic began to gain in popularity, and focus began to shift from prophet to apostle. I think a lot of us don't really understand what an apostle is. Many have heard about one of the functions of the apostle and think that is the main thing an apostle does. As a result, there are some misconceptions about what apostle is. Many think their main purpose is to be the "top authority" or "boss" in the church, that they are positionally over all others and their role is to "govern" or "rule" the church. It is true that God has given some apostles governmental authority in the church, but the primary purpose for apostle is not to rule or to boss others around.

The word apostle actually means "sent one," and is someone who God has sent on a kingdom mission. (According to Webster's online dictionary, the English word apostle comes from Greek apostolos, which means "messenger," or from apostellein, which means "to send off" -- apo + stellein where stellein means "to send.") The underlying meaning of apostle is NOT ruler or leader, but one whom God "sends" to do His tasks.

There are many genuine apostles recognized and operating in many churches today. But some of the genuine apostles are viewed as missionaries instead of apostles. Others are viewed as teachers instead of apostles. We will get into the role of apostle a bit more later on. It is not well understood because it is still a bit of a new thing to the church as a whole.

However the concept of the apostle is gaining acceptance in the overall Body of Christ, and individuals whom God has called are being recognized in this. Again, God is doing rather amazing things through them, and as a result, many people see the calling of "apostle" as the highest and greatest calling God may place on an individual believer.

Again, the weeds are starting to spring up. It seems that just about everyone thinks he is called to be an apostle these days. I can't begin to count how many people have told me that they are in the office of apostle. But they are busy living their lives for themselves and are not actively advancing the Kingdom of God in any manner. They do not have any of the demonstration of God's power operating in their lives and they are not bringing people to know Jesus nor building up believers to be more effective in God's Kingdom.

Many of these self proclaimed apostles are really people who want to "be important" or make a difference in God's Kingdom. But the "wanting" and the "being appointed" to the office are not the same thing. Apostles do not just lead and govern the church. In a lot of cases they are out doing Kingdom work in God's power and authority -- getting their hands dirty doing real work, serving others, causing God's Kingdom to advance as they do with the Father what He is doing. And a lot of the time, they are not in plush offices with nice salaries; they are sacrificially laying down their lives for the Kingdom of God. It is not always a glamorous job. In fact, most of the time it is not glamorous at all.

If God has appointed someone as an apostle or prophet, they don't have to promote themselves as one. Their gifting and calling will be recognized by the Body of Christ. They don't have to "call themselves" by their office; others in the Body of Christ will begin calling them one. For instance, there was a time when Paul Cain (who has since fallen into sin) was recognized by many as one of the most senior prophets alive today. He was widely known and respected as a prophet. But Paul seldom, if ever, called himself a prophet. He did not have to, because the Body of Christ at large recognized his gifting and called him a prophet.

I am not saying that it is wrong for someone in one of the five-fold offices to say he is in that office. It is not wrong. It just is not necessary. If they really are in that office, others will recognize it from the Kingdom work they do, from the power and authority they walk in. They have God's seal of approval, His recognition. And they do not need recognition or approval from man.

The truth is that God has not called everyone to the five-fold offices. In fact, He has not called most of us to those offices. But He does have a wonderful, powerful and important call on each of our lives.

God is calling His church to be His "bondservants," to obey Him because we love Him, to be fully and totally committed to obeying Him (John 14:15, John 15:14). When we die to self and become bondservants to Christ, God is able to use us powerfully. We are called to be His witnesses, sharing the Good News of what He has done for mankind (Matt. 28:18-20). We are to heal the sick and cast out demons (Matt. 10:8, Mark 3:15, Mark 16:15-18). We are to move in God's power and authority (Matt. 28:18-20). We are to be overcomers in Christ, (1 John 4:4, Rev. 12:11), walking in His victory (1 Cor. 15:57).

We don't have to try to be something God has not called us to be, because what He has called us to be is incredibly awesome. God's plan for each and every Christian is powerful, wonderful and important in advancing His Kingdom. We do not have to try to be something God has not called us to be to feel important -- because God has called each of us to something important. His plans for the "everyday believer" are incredible. They are good, they are powerful and God will use each of us to make a real difference for His kingdom.

But the key is that we must be committed to obeying Him, to serving Him, to loving Him, to doing things His way and to aligning with His plans instead of asking Him to align with our plans. God has important stuff. He has good stuff for each of us to do. We do it with Him, in His power and in His authority.

-- © GodSpeak International 2002 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.net> --

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