By Deborah Bell
(Lead Apostle DGAN Global Network and DGFC churches)
(Originally posted 9 April, 2015)
When we talk about the Fivefold Offices there seems to be a flurry of comments, always!
Few amens, though! We should be at the “more amens” stage than the apparent resistance to what God has ordered in the body of Christ, set in the Word.
There is a divine order given in Ephesians 2:20 & 4:11 and in 1 Cor 12:28 specifically. (We
all know the Scriptures), we all love and HONOUR the Word of God, therefore we must be
careful not to omit what makes us uncomfortable in it, for whatever reason.
Leaving out the Office of Apostle, is unbiblical. Not just calling it out (because then it is just a title) but the true originally intended functionality of these offices. Why? Because the word says that these two offices (Apostle & Prophet), are the foundation of the Church, with CHRIST as the Chief cornerstone. We cannot expect to have a fully functioning body of Christ without embracing God’s operational & spiritual strategy for the Church.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ himself as the chief cornerstone.
FUNCTIONALITY OF THESE OFFICES
I believe this struggle is not over titles but I truly believe it’s over the functionality of
theses offices. Because then, this text implies that without the proper foundation we are
not functioning as we should. If we leave out the foundation of a building it will fall over
very quickly. It’s the same in the church. I’m not talking about perfection, just about the
right model and function.
We can no longer be a “limping” threefold body of Christ and then call ourselves the
Fivefold body of Christ, when in effect perhaps that is being a little pious and not about
honouring each Office accordingly.
It’s not about lifting up anyone, any human being; it’s about honour, it’s about
acknowledging the role of that office because we have a genuine understanding of what
that office or any other office, brings to the body of Christ. I don’t need a title to know who
I am and where I fit in in the body of Christ. Titles are for others to know who we are, not
GETTING OVER MYSELF
I wrestled with that long enough to get over my spirit of ‘piety’, but I certainly do know that we so need to educate more on this topic and model it as leaders. Therefore as a mandate in my ministry I will continue to do what I have been called to do and teach on this. With the proviso that I am always open to hear godly counsel. We can never think we have arrived, as that too leads to self righteousness and arrogance.
So why do people seemingly “freak out” when any discussion on the Apostolic is talked
about? Or specifically when “Apostle” is used as an office or description? Why is this not so when people call out “pastor”?
Is it possible that we, or some of us in the body of Christ, could have become somewhat self righteous about this without realizing it, in thinking that pastors cannot “lord it”
or manipulate, but if we let Apostles be Apostles, what then?? Uh oh…
AARON’S BEARD – THE DIVINE ORDER
…Then the blessing is passed down the head to the beard then the body and it begins to
run, not limp, that’s what happens! But the offices have to function together in unity and
agreement. Honouring the office, ushers in the anointing attached to that office to which
some are called and are SERVING.
Unfamiliar territory, implication of stereotyping, lack of understanding, wrong teaching,
mistrust, all form some of the reasons why people don’t want to ‘go there’. The rest are
spiritual wars, whether people think so or not.
Because the office of Apostle does carry a governmental anointing that comes with the
office. To play it down for fear of Apostles “taking over the world” or something like that, is
To then also exclude that part of the function is to take away what that office does, which
is to establish, build, occupy, bring deliverance, carry the breaker anointing etc.
By excluding it or playing it down, we deprive ourselves of that anointing in our churches
or that impartation.
It’s the same as when a Prophet prophesies over us and we dismiss the word. We deprive
ourselves of what comes from God through that anointing. No wonder there is so much
For many years in our ministry, I refused to acknowledge this. I threw away the books that
were given to me on the Apostolic and got very religious about this Office thing.
That’s why today, I stand here without qualm. God pulled every religious thread out of me
concerning this (there may be other threads but not about this). I repented about my
rejection of these offices about 8 years ago, and we began our journey as a church to walk as an Apostolic Prophetic ministry; teaching it, preaching it and studying it as well as
connecting with other Apostles and Fivefold and teaching this to other churches, forming
networks etc, etc.
It was only in 2011 / 2012, that my leaders, and other Fivefold ministers first, initially in
and around South Africa, started to call me by the Office, as their Apostle, that I finally
accepted and embraced who I was always called to be. Of course I was uncomfortable for a while, because of the same stigmas and also because I was aware how some fivefold have given Apostles a bad name because they want to lord it over others. I have found that usually it’s people whose calling was never confirmed as such, that do this. Or those that have not remained steadfast in the word. Our calling is given by God but will always be confirmed by other leaders around us that are credible in the body of Christ. (We must keep in mind that one doesn’t have to be an Apostle to abuse a fivefold position. There are pastors that can abuse their position and the list goes on.)
It’s time for Apostles to ‘come out’ of the proverbial Apostolic closet
COMING OUT OF THE PROVERBIAL APOSTOLIC CLOSET
Today I am out of the proverbial ‘Apostolic closet’, and I freely understand and accept my
role and I understand the persecution that comes with it. There IS a great cost.
We have to be careful that we ourselves are not compromising the word of God because of our own preconceived ideas, when dealing with the roles of these offices, rather than
adhering to what the word says about them, or only receiving into our spirit what has
traditionally been taught, not allowing any new revelation of the word into our spirit.
Rather, we must teach and educate our people by not shying away from something that
GOD has ordained.
No one in an office should have that office if they are not healthily accountable in that
office. I make myself voluntarily & mutually accountable wherever I can to other Fivefold & Apostles.
SPIRITUAL REQUIREMENTS FOR THE FIVEFOLD
It also doesn’t take away that no one can walk in an office, or ‘demand’ respect of such an
office, without producing fruit in their lives, a consistency that comes through as we
mature in Christ.
Respect comes with showing oneself to be Christlike in how we live our lives in the
consistency of who Jesus is in us and through us. It’s how we deal with people, our families, our struggles, the struggles of our peers and Church family etc. (This is Fivefold 101 found in 1 Tim 3 & Titus, on how we should conduct ourselves as the Fivefold. No one should be in the fivefold unless we are prepared to meet the bar in 1 Timothy, to start with).
Also then, every Apostle and the other offices must be ready to do the hard part of holding people accountable where it’s due, including the Apostle being held accountable, so that the body of Christ can trust leaders again.
Part of any fear in the body of Christ is that leaders have not held their people and leaders accountable and have not always been diligent in applying proper biblical standards of repentance and restoration when needed. This leaves the body of Christ unsure and hesitant to trust.
Any Office can only be given to those who know how to steward those offices well, and of
course, have a confirmed calling. They are God given and confirmed by others in the
People can and do get very religious with something new. And 15 – 20 years is a very new
thing for the body of Christ.
DON’T GET HUNG UP ABOUT THE TITLE THING
True fivefold will never be hung up on their office, but should it be played down to humour people that have not been taught correctly on this, or who have experienced abuse of theses offices? I don’t believe so. In that case why do we still find it acceptable to call out some of the offices but not the full fivefold?
We find it okay for example to call fivefold “pastor” and find that acceptable, but fail to find it acceptable to call out “Apostle” or “Prophet” (although people are still more comfortable with calling out “Prophet”, because it’s an older office and has had more time to settle).
Again, it’s not even about titles; it’s about honouring an office!
It’s never been about titles, nor is this about gifting. But I’m not going to downplay the
biblical structure of the Government that is in the Word of God because of religiosity or
fear that is still very evident with some in the body of Christ. The general Church are
always 20 years behind the new moves of God and when these happen there is always
resistance. This is an historical fact.
Look at Luther, for example. Yet his stance on Grace in the first Reformation changed the
way the body of Christ viewed the bible! But after he nailed his 95 theses to the door, the
Church nailed him to the floor!
When there is change, most of the criticism has always come from the body of Christ itself.
It’s very sad to see historically how much resistance there is when new revelation or new
moves of God happen.
Back to topic. Will we lose some folk for teaching this the correct way in the body? Yes,
absolutely and very sadly. But we must no longer be “embarrassed” or be “pious” about
calling it what it is. What we should do, is function as the body in the presence and POWER of Christ, that a true “well oiled” (Psalm 133) Fivefold can do!
SERVANTHOOD IS KEY FOR ANY FIVEFOLD – WHY DO WE KEEP REMINDING APOSTLES ABOUT IT?
The reason there is so many going on about this being a title is because of fear of change & often ignorance among our people about the Fivefold (which inevitably causes religiosity and even a ‘form of godliness’ can develop regarding this, and in this sense I use the word “piety”.)
Goodness me, surely by now we shouldn’t have to keep reiterating servanthood when we
mention the office of an Apostle? Its a bit like saying: “Apostles keep in check now,
remember to be servants….” Come on now! If we’ve been on the negative end of an
Apostle then the same can be said of pastors, teachers, or any one of the fivefold.
One thing I’ve learned in 33 years of this ministry is that very often its our Fivefold that
have to learn how to trust. Can we get hurt? Yes. But should that stop us submitting to
each other, or trusting each other? No! We keep on keeping on and we obey GOD in every respect, even if it means being unpopular with people. We must of course all be servants first; that must be a given.
SUBMISSION IS FOR EVERYONE
So, in my opinion, there is to an extent, a fear of healthy submission (yes, even ‘us pastors’
can have submission & trust issues, it’s not just the general congregation, especially when
we’ve been stabbed in the back by others so many times), and then there’s the lack of the
Fivefold standing in their offices functionally and teaching with conviction what the word
says to educate the body, which is not helping us.
If we’re stuck on this, let’s call someone in the fivefold and get healing so we can all get on with what we are called to do and be in the body of Christ. (Again I’m not referring to the gifts, I’m referring to the offices here.)
(At the same time, working through understanding this will, of course, be a process for
some, but then commit to that and start with those that have the resources to help.)
All these things invariably play a role. There will be those that will always come against the new that God is doing in the body of Christ. But that doesn’t stop us from continuing on as an Apostolic Prophetic church. Nor does it change the facts.
We need to educate our Fivefold, by living out a demonstration of this truth and imparting it. The word does call us to build sons and daughters. (When Jesus was at the cross he spoke this out to John and Mary.) But we as leaders must first know how to be spiritual parents.
There is much spiritual warfare because the enemy knows the implication if the body
functions this way: the way it is supposed to, to operate in fullness. The very fact that this
invokes what it does, should show how far the body of Christ still is from embracing what is in the word.
Let’s make sure we are first growing as the spiritual Parents that we are called to be in the
Fivefold so that we can build up the body of Christ with sons and daughters that
understand the love of God, the power of God, and the presence of God in their everyday
lives, fully equipping them to carry out the “Great Commission”, instead of the “Great
Apostle Deborah Bell