Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-21
So you are called to be an Apostle or a Prophet? Then you are a foundation gift. So what does it mean to be the foundation?
The Apostle is the Foundation. He is not the Walls, Doors, and Ceilings
Jesus should be the cornerstone of every ministry or building. The cornerstone Jesus sets for every ministry is unique and determines the ministry’s purpose, style, size, depth, and width. The apostle and the prophet then builds a foundation around this cornerstone that the ministry or building will set on. Another word used in the business world for foundation is platform.
The apostle is to build the platform that Jesus wants that others build on top of.
The order of a ministry should first be Jesus calling an apostle to build something according to the vision (the cornerstone) He gives him. Second step, the apostle builds a foundation for the ministry according to this vision. Third step, other 5 fold gifts come alongside the apostle and prophet and builds the walls, doors, and ceilings on top of the foundation and cornerstone. These represent the visible programs, anointings, and outreaches of the ministry. Finally, the ministry is in full bloom as it goes out to the people in the style and size that was determined when the cornerstone was set.The building or the ministry has been built.
2 things to note: First, the apostle doesn’t get to decidehow the platform is built. He has to stay close to Jesus and build what the cornerstone wants for that particular work. Second, eventually the platform is hidden by the walls, doors, and ceilings that are built. At this time the apostolic gift is not as visible in the public’s eye if he has done his job well.
At this time in America, the gift of Apostle is often seen as a glamorous and public ministry. But this doesn’t seem right to me if the gift of the apostle is to be the foundation. In a real building the foundation gets covered over with flooring – wood, carpet, or vinyl. The foundation is still there setting the orientation, width, and height but nobody sees the foundation directlyanymore. Most people never think about the foundation of a building again. The only time some one thinks about the foundation is when the floor is creaky, crooked, or not stable. This does not mean the Apostle’s job is not important. It is very important! Besides the cornerstone, it is the most important feature of the building. It determines its values, characteristics, orientation, and many other things. The whole building or ministry is influenced by the foundation whether they realize it or not. But it is hidden!
Over time in a ministry, an apostle should be seen less and less as the rest of the building is built. If you are wanting to be an apostle to be seen you do not understand the role. The apostle is usually only in the public regularly at the beginning of a work. You can see this pattern in the Apostle Paul’s life where he would set the foundations in new churches he started and then leave. But he was always a father, counselor, and guide to that church for the rest of his life. The foundation never leaves and doesn’t come back. He can’t or the building would collapse, but his role changes overtime. The apostle is a platform for others – not the other way around. He lays the foundation for other leaders and 5 fold gifts to build a building on that is then occupied by the people.
And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:28 NIV
Here are 3 points to consider about being a foundation:
A true apostle lays down his life and gifts in the foundation. The main people that will know his sacrifice is not the people in the ministry but those few leaders that are nailed to the foundation as walls built on top of it. Few people walk into a beautiful building and say, “This place is great, I can feel a firm foundation under my feet!” Instead, they say something like this, “Wow! I love the color you have painted the walls!”
This is a test of humility for the apostle to over time get out of the way and let the other members who are the walls, doors, and ceilings assume the majority of the public duties.
Realize you walk in a powerful gift that influences many but not in the traditional sense. You influence the world by influencing a select few that then influences the world. Realize the boundaries of your gift and don’t allow the anointing on your life to have to always be seen and in control.
Turning over your work for others to build can be one of the hardest things you do as an apostle. You don’t want others to ‘mess it up’ and the ability to let others take some of the praise for what is going on can be hard. But this is where we realize we are a ‘part’ of the building God is building and not the ‘building’. An apostle realizes that others may get more ‘glory’ for the building than they do. This is where we build for our Lord to get credit and with a view towards eternity and its rewards. Being an apostle is understanding the great role we have but also it’s place.
This doesn’t mean the Apostle doesn’t have an influence. But his influence is as a foundation gift. Sometimes the walls and doors can ‘overhang’ or go in the ‘wrong direction’ thereby not reflecting the foundation and cornerstone. At that time the Apostle would come in to ‘straighten’ up the walls. But this must be done with much prayer and a heart for what is God building and not for wanting to be seen. You will see Paul doing this in almost all of his letters. God has given the Apostle grace for the platform but very rarely in all the details. The platform is the core values and emphasis of the ministry.
The platform is the core values and emphasis of the ministry.
Build the Way the Cornerstone Wants
The foundation greatly influences how the ministry goes. But he must build the foundation around the plans that the head of the Church – the Cornerstone – Jesus wants built. So the Apostle does not get to determine the foundation orientation, size, and depth. He must build according to what he is resting against – the wishes and plans of the Cornerstone. This requires unselfish ambition.
One of the greatest enemies of the Apostle is selfish ambition. There is good ambition and selfish ambition. Good ambition is unselfishly wanting Jesus to get set in the proper place and He be glorified forever. Good ambition is ambition to see Jesus get all. Unselfish ambition is building for our name and plans to be promoted. This is usually unconscious but it is a great enemy. We must be continually examining our motives and comparing the plans to what does Jesus want. Selfish ambition has to be regularly killed.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4
Moses was an Old Testament foreshadowing of a New Testament apostle. But note he did not get to build the Tabernacle according to His desires. He had to stay so close to God that He thoroughly understood what God wanted to build. Moses then communicated and organized these plans with the people. This is a good model for today’s apostle.
Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you. Exodus 25:8-9 NIV
Paul, followed this same method. He did not decide what kind of church to start. He was the one that had to seek the heart of the Father and build according to his plan in each place God wanted him to go to. I personally doubt that the Jewish, Sanhedrian member, synagogue going background of Paul would have built some of the types of churches we see in the epistles on his own vision.
Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the wordin the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. Acts 16:6-10 NIV
Take your human need for ambition regularly to the Lord. Realize you are building His kingdom – He is the cornerstone not you – and not yours. Ambition when you are building for Him is good, selfish ambition is destructive. This is a heart and motivation issue. At first only you will know your heart but it will be revealed by your fruit over time.
One of the Main Jobs is to Put Together the Team
To build a ministry requires a team. The team is led by the 5 gifts given by Jesus to the church.
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13
Notice the 5 results that God wants the Church to walk in – the people know how to serve, unity, knowledge of Jesus, maturity, and and walking as Jesus walks. These 5 results will not happen without all 5 gifts – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. There is no way 1 man could ever be gifted enough to bring about these 5 results by himself. It takes a team. As an apostle you are primarily responsible and gifted to help identify, place, and direct this team. One of the gifts of the apostle as a foundation gift is the ability to recognize the other offices in people. This makes sense since people will be building on what the apostle is doing.
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him andchose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles. Matthew 6:12-13 NIV
But the ability to do this will take time, patience, and much prayer before God. It will be revealed to you over time.
The apostolic gift must resist the urge to have to know and do it all. They must know when to delegate, trust, and allow others to grow in their gift.
So can you say that the apostolic gift is one that should be walked on? In a matter of speaking yes! So be stepped on for the glory of God apostle and prophet!