This morning I attended the first segment of the training track, Prophetic Encounter. Today’s session, “Apostles and Prophets Together on a Mission,” emphasized that there is great strength in apostles and prophets working together. They are often seen as complementary gifts in the early church as they help to lay foundations and bring adjustment to erroneous practices in church life. Today’s session was led by Guy Miller and Julian Adams.
Guy is based in Bournemouth, UK and heads up the team that oversees the Wessex region. Guy also leads the eldership team at Citygate Church, Bournemouth, and has responsibilities in India and Portugal. He is married to Heather and they have four children.
Julian Adams is originally from The Bay Community Church, Cape Town, South Africa, where he was an elder. He moved to the UK in August 2006 in response to God’s leading for him to be with Terry Virgo for a season and become part of Church of Christ the King, Brighton. In August 2007, he returned to South Africa for a few months before returning to Teesside in the north of England. Julian has traveled widely, serving Newfrontiers churches in the UK and elsewhere.
More posts from this conference can be found on my TOAM08 label page. You can download the mp3s of this week’s talks by subscribing to the new Newfrontiers podcast, which will be an easy way for you to get access to the mp3s for free.
In introducing the seminar, Guy reminded us of the similar seminar from last year. I was there myself and can testify to the life-changing nature of the time. The prophecies given to me last year were very important and influential on my life. There are some implications of that which I will be sharing on my blog at some point in the coming weeks.
As for two specific things that happened last year in this seminar— one guy was singled out and prophesied over in a highly specific way, and a church plant in Paris was the result. There was also a barren woman who now has a baby.
Prophets do sometimes disrupt nice tidy churches. But people sometimes take a prophetic word out of context and turn it into individualism. Actually, it should build the local church, not send people into isolation.
Ephesians 2 and other places speak of apostles and prophets working together. We believe the gifts in Ephesians 4 are intended for today.
How do apostles and prophets work together? Not everyone is a prophet or apostle. Apostles equip, build, and plant churches and help them to be healthy. Apostles know how to build the church with Jesus as the foundation. They are given by the ascended Christ. They draw all the other gifts back to building the local church. Apostles lay the hidden foundations. No one ever says you have lovely foundations in your house! If apostolic ministry is working, then people see a glorious church, although they might not always realize what the foundations are.
The Church is built on apostles and prophets who work together. A prophet is not someone who sometimes prophesies. They are big picture men. People who catch the Church up to the bigger framework of God’s unfolding plans in history.
Jesus is the cornerstone; everything else fits to him. Jesus is the center. Apostolic ministry sniffs out legalism and teaches grace. Apostolic ministry is missional. The great days of mission are before us as a movement. Apostolic ministry is concerned about the poor.
Two reasons why apostles work with prophets. One is for accountability. Are you going beyond what God said? Has it come true? Are you ministering out of pride or hurt? Prophetic ministry can break the status quo. But we can treat prophecy with contempt. The second is authority. Without authority, prophecy is dangerous. Prophetic can lead to “I am doing what I want to do.” The other thing is that we have to interpret how to respond. Agabus predicted a famine and a response was needed. Later on, when he predicted the imprisonment of Paul, the correct response was for Paul to do nothing and keep going. Apostles will know how to respond to the word of prophecy.
Julian Adams then came up and spoke about his experiences of working in partnership with apostles. He explained that he worked alongside Simon Petit, who valued the prophetic highly and then applied it radically. For Simon, prophetic encounters drove much of the shape of ministry. Traveling with Simon opened a bigger picture of what the Church was. It made him want to give the rest of his life to building the local church. We must see something of the mystery of Christ and his Church. They want to see the Church become all that she should become.
He then turned to Matthew 16 and began reading at verse 30. It is ongoing revelation of the resurrected Christ that is the foundation of the Church. We don’t add things to the Bible, as the Bible is enough. But there is a living, speaking, talking, caring, loving Jesus who wants to reveal himself to you in order to shape your destiny and direct the Church, which is still His.
Prophets flow from a place of encountering Jesus in order to receive blueprints and revelation so that the Church can be built. Each church has a location, a personality, a blueprint. The prophet recalls the blueprint for that locality.
Someone who prophesies is not necessarily a prophet. The first way you know someone is not a prophet is when they call themselves a prophet! There is a “spirit of prophecy” which can affect people in the room when a group of prophetic individuals are together. Baptism with the Holy Spirit is often the gateway gift, allowing things to flow together. Hang out with other prophets. But not ones who are too weird.
Ask God for words of knowledge and prophecy. Ask also him for an impartation from other prophets. You can flow in the gift of prophecy much more. It is our inheritance to move in prophecy. All of God’s servants are now able to hear his voice (see Acts 2 where Joel is quoted). We didn’t get saved just because of a good preacher—the Spirit of God spoke to our spirit and caused it to become alive so we could respond to him.
Don’t follow after prophetic words, follow after intimate communion with the Father. We have access. The big difference between Old and New Testament prophets is that everyone under the new covenant can hear from God, not just the prophet. The prophet is given to the Church.
Prophets speak with a different authority. The reason for prophecy is not that people can be individually blessed. Instead, it is to set the individual into a place where they can function best to help people. The prophetic carried weight in the early Church. “There is going to be a drought,” said Agabus, and they immediately made provision. They weighed prophecy. We must not take them flippantly. Get the Church ready for Christ’s return. Add weight to the Word.
Faith is the activating ingredient to see the Word of God come to pass. Ministry that apostles and prophets have in common is that they come into a context to break legalism, control, and the spirit of Jezebel. No word is too big for your local church. Prophets and apostles will do a consultation with them. Prophets feel things, sense things. It’s li
ke an antenna—it can get crossed sometimes. Sometimes the prophets don’t even realize what they are doing. A wise apostolic man will pick up on what is being said and apply it. Prophetic people get rejected. Prophets are in the pit. They get frustrated. Sometimes that frustration leads to rejection of the Church. But you can’t love Christ without loving his bride. You cannot carry the head around without his body.
Apostolic ministry is not management speak. The point is that we need revelation by the Spirit. We need signs and wonders. Fall in love with Jesus. He is empowering you to live a resurrected life! Let’s love him a little bit! God wants to hear your voice. Lift him up. God is not deaf, but he’s not scared either!