Today we often read of people in churches claiming that they are a Prophet or an Apostle of God. Sometimes they even title themselves that way. They believe that they have God’s words for today; that is, new revelations from God. They believe that they have been chosen to lead the Church in this time, in a similar way to when the Lord Jesus chose 12 Apostles who led the Early Church. I write 12 Apostles here because I include the Apostle Saul (Paul) who clearly was directly chosen by God. But there are many false prophets and apostles in the world. How do we know what is the truth and what is a lie? We go to God’s word.
I present the following to get an understanding of what were and what are the roles of true apostles and prophets. (All bold are my emphases added. Square brackets [ ] indicate meanings of words. King James Version Easy-Reading Bible (KJVER) used.)
This true foundation for God’s chosen ones, the true Church, to build upon is the word of God, which was delivered to us through apostle and prophets, of whom Jesus Christ is the chief.
Ephesians 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone
This is the foundation of the Church on Earth, where Jesus Christ is the cornerstone, the stone that used to keep the building true, is both senses of the word. Without the cornerstone the building would not be built properly and can collapse. God throughout history has sent prophets, to warn His people, and apostles carrying His message to the world.
Luke 11:49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:
Who are these? What role do they have?
1 Corinthians 12:28 And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
1 Corinthians 12:29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
No, there are many roles and gifts. Apostles and prophets are quite rare and have a special role. They have provided us with God’s Word through their utterances, and provided a foundation to build the Church.
Ephesians 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
Jesus Christ is the chief Apostle and Prophet. He gave the Word as did other prophets and apostles. The 11 Apostles who knew Christ on Earth and the Apostle Paul were specially called and chosen of God. (Judas was also chosen as one of the 12, but not to salvation. his role was to hold the office, but because of the son in his heart, he was used to betray the Lord, which was expected according to the prophecies given by the earlier prophets. For example,
Zechariah 11:12-13 And I said to them, If you think good, give Me My price ; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for My price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD [Jehovah] said to me, Cast it to the potter, a goodly price that I was prized at of [valued by] them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them unto the potter, in the house of the LORD [Jehovah].
God is speaking so the pronoun is ‘My’. He is speaking of the money paid to Judas to betray him. This prophecy was given in the 6th century before Christ and fulfilled in Judas when the money was used to buy the potter’s field to bury Judas, who hanged himself after he betrayed Jesus (Matthew 27:9,10).
The prophecy above suggests there would be a haggling of terms in connection with the betrayal of Jesus. “If you think good, give Me My price ; and if not, forbear.” Matthew records Judas’ words as follows.
“What will you give me, and I will deliver Him to you? And they covenanted [agreed] with him for thirty pieces of silver.” (Matthew 26:15).
The chief priests couldn’t believe their luck and they “covenanted” to give him the money, and the traitor “consented” to the deal (Luke 22:5-6). The term “covenanted” signifies “to work out a mutually agreeable contract,” which they did.
This was in line with the Mosaic law. To make remedy for the damage done to someone by an oxen, a price of thirty pieces of silver could be paid and the oxen stoned to death (Exodus 21:32). In the same way the chief priests, religious leaders were paying to have Jesus put to death. There is much more detail of the precision of this prophecy, which was exactly fulfilled. Fulfilment then is the signature of a true prophet.
The prophets like David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Elijah, Elisha and many more were called and chosen. Their utterances have become holy writ, which is the foundation of the Church.
Ephesians 3:5 Which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
In the Church today we also find some apostles and some prophets, but these are ones sent with the message God has revealed in His word. This is not the same as in the Apostolic period with Christ came to Earth.
Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
These are for leadership of His churches on Earth. God is the one who sets them in those roles. But Brian McLaren (and all New Apostolic Reformation), Rick Warren (and all Emergent church preachers), Andrew Wommack, Joel Osteen, Joyce Myer, Kenneth Copeland (and all Word of Faith preachers) and the like are not apostles of God. They fail to honour and obey God’s Word.
2 Peter 3:2 That you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
They spoke God’s Words, not their own words. So if the prophet or apostle ignores Scripture today he is not of God.
Revelation 18:20 Rejoice over her, you heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets; for God has avenged you on her.
There is the sense that all those who love and obey Jesus Christ can be his holy apostles and prophets in the last days. But test all things.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
Never just take someone’s word for it. If they alone are saying something, i.e. that God revealed it to them now, and that it is new, never before mentioned or that their way is the true and only way, I would say beware.
Jesus warned that in the last days would come many false prophets.
Matthew 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Don’t be led astray. Stay close to God’s word.
Please listen to this sermon by Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones. He makes a very clear distinction between the 12 chosen and called Apostles by the Lord Jesus Christ (the 11 plus Paul) and those who might be called apostles (i.e. those sent with a message).