No, I am not talking of a succession of authority out of Vatican City or Salt Lake City or Kansas City.
I am talking about a ministry gift, a parenting, guiding spirit to enable the fledgling churches and to bring focus to the power of resurrection in the Body of Christ. This parenting attachment never wanes. I see it in my own wife as she regards her thirty-something daughter and remembers the precious little girl in pretty dresses and big curls.
Some will say that apostles must have been specifically commissioned by Jesus and must have seen Him in His resurrected person. This gives them a particular point of view in hearing the Apostle Paul speak to the Corinthians, ‘Did I not see our resurrected Lord? Have not the works of an apostle been done before you?’(1 Corinthians 9 and 2 Corinthians 12)
We see the listing of various gifts in First Corinthians 12: 27Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
Have the Bible lists of giftings been edited? Since when? By whose authority? By which direction of scripture?
Let us look beyond the original twelve or thirteen and see such servants as Lydia, Ananias, Phoebe, Barnabas, Silas and Doctor Luke. These probably had not seen the risen Christ with natural eyes, but they had vitally experienced and understood resurrection power for the birthing, edifying, shepherding and refining of the churches.
Such apostolic opportunity is still available as the Spirit wills. Let it not be shut down by unbelief, denominationalism, ignorance or pride. Let candidates not be corrupted by adulation or spiritual pride. Let every word of guidance or admonition be measured against the full counsel of scripture. Let us pray for these servants that they might continue to operate in a spirit of Christ-like meekness.
Let us also remember that such apostles are not meant to be perpetual providences for a fellowship. They appear at times of formation or crisis. But they must also allow the fellowship to experience for themselves the bump and grind of ordinary growth. Remember that Paul the Apostle blessed and then moved down the road, trusting that the Holy Spirit would do precious work. See the link: http://momentsmidstream.blogspot.com/2010/10/glengarry-meeting-house.html
Doug Blair, Waterloo, Ontario