Preparing The
End-Time Church

"That He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless." Ephesians 5:27

What a beautiful picture of the Bride of Christ: the Church! This is the Church for which Christ is returning. And (if this is true) Christ won't be returning any time soon!

The Church has been waiting almost 2000 years for Christ's return. What went wrong? What happened?

Every-Day Life happened... In Matthew chapter 13, Jesus gives the parable of the Sower and the Seed. In verse 22 He explains that the person who "received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful." By the end of the first century, the Gospel had spread from the British isles in the West to India and Syria in the East. It has been estimated that, by the end of the third century, almost half the civilized world had been evangelized.

Doctor Dale's first rule for a successful Christian life: The Main Thing is to Keep The Main Thing the Main Thing.

It happened innocently, at first. In their struggle to survive, local Churches began to consolidate. False doctrines began to infiltrate the Church and Church leaders began repudiate them. But, what if a group of churches embraced a false doctrine? Who would say if they were right or wrong? Who was led by the Holy Spirit? Anyone could claim they were: Everyone claimed they were. A struggle for power ensued. By the end of the fourth century the Church of Christ had MPD (multiple personality disorder) with the Eastern Churches becoming the Orthodox Church with its own primate, the Western Churches becoming the Roman Catholic Church with its own primate, and the Anglican Church in the far west becoming overshadowed by the Roman Catholic Church AND everyone claiming they were the "One, True Church", they were the only ones going to heaven and EVERYONE else was going to hell. Individual groups of believers and their pastors struggled to live for Christ while the government of the Church became big business, run by those motivated to make a profit rather than those anointed by the Holy Spirit for service.

The Reformation of the 16th century brought no lasting changes: reliance on a Spirit-led life was non-existent. Protestant churches (most visibly represented by the Baptist/Fundamentalist churches of today) retreat to a misinterpretation of I Corinthians 13:10 to explain away the ministry of the Holy Spirit. To add insult to injury, the Pentecostals use the same verse to explain away God's plan for building the Church in Ephesians chapter 4.

Doctor Dale's second rule for a successful Christian life: When things get rough and the minutia of everyday life become overwhelming: See rule number one.

Somewhere along the way we stopped building the Church God's way and started building Her man's way.

What is wrong with The Church today?
1. She has no foundation!
2. Her leaders have no Biblical plan to reach completeness.

1. She has no foundation?! I can hear the Fundamentalists screaming now: "Are you crazy? The foundation of our church is Jesus Christ!" That's a great answer... Wrong, but great. Saint Paul explains in Ephesians 2:20 the Church (believers) "are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone." But, if you decide a certain scripture doesn't apply to us today, then all you have left is man's way.

2. Her leaders have no Biblical plan to reach completeness. I didn't say there wasn't a Biblical plan to enable the Church to reach maturity... There IS! The problem is that today's Church leaders have rejected it! It's kind of like deciding to build a house. You've envisioned this beautiful, 4500 square foot home. You have a wonderful set of plans and so you set out to hire the contractors who will build your house... except you decide you don't want Masons, or Electricians, or Carpenters. You decide you'll be able to get the house built with only Plumbers and Roofers! Nothing against Plumbers and Roofers, they ultimately MAY get your house built, but it won't be anything like you've envisioned it. And the foundation will crack, the lights will blink on and off and the air-conditioning won't work. But, at least your roof won't leak.

Now, let's take look at God's plans. You see, He too is building a house. It's called the Church: the Body of Christ. Ephesians 4:13-15 details His ultimate goal for us: His Church. "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:"

That's the plan. That is what our God envisions for us: the Church. But, how will He build this building? Are there men and women with the natural ability to build this house? Of course not! But, that hasn't stopped us from trying to build the Church on our own for the past 2000 years. And look at what we've built!! Over-all, we are still a powerless church, still arguing who will go to heaven, or not.

God's plan is NOT to use man's ability to build His Church but, to raise up men gifted by the Holy Spirit. Saint Paul reveals God's plan in his letter to the Ephesians, chapter 4, verses 4-12: "Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ"

These are the Ascension Gifts, sometimes referred to as the Five-fold Gifts. Before we look at them individually, let's learn some general truths about these gifts or, more properly, giftings.
  1. These Are Not the Spiritual gifts available to all Believers:
    1. 1st Corinthians 12:4-5 make a clear distinction between Spiritual Gifts and Ministries. "4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord."
    2. Spiritual Gifts are "Distributed" - 1st Corinthians 12:11 "But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills". Ascension Gifts are "appointed" or "gifted" to the Church - Ephesians 4:11 "And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,"
    3. Spiritual Gifts are for "the common good", for fellow believers to encourage and bless each other - 1st Corinthians 12:7 "But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." Ascension Gifts are intended to prepare the Church for service - Ephesians 4:12 "for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;"
  2. Unlike Spiritual Gifts (of which a Believer might have several), There is generally one, Ascension Gift per minister.
    • Ephesians 4:11 "And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,"
    • Occasionally, a minister may be called upon to temporarily minister outside of his gifting. Timothy, universally recognized as the apostle of Ephesus was called upon to minister as an evangelist - 2nd Timothy 4:5 "But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."
    • Note: There is no such thing as a Super Minister - someone who possesses all five giftings. Anyone who claims to possess all five giftings is, at best, confused and/or ignorant of God's Word; or, at worst, a charlatan. Either way, if you meet such a person, turn around and run!
  3. The Ascension Gifts are appointed for a life-time - Romans 11:29 "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance."

The Ascension Gifts: Ephesians 4:11
Note: For the sake of this discussion, I will refer to the group of Ephesians 4:11 ministers as the Apostolic Team. This, in no way, infers the preeminence of the Apostlic Gifting.
  1. Apostles:
    • αποστολος, apostolos: One who is sent with a message or one who is sent on a mission. Again, these are Ascension Apostles, called, gifted and given to the Church. They are not to be confused with the Apostles of The Lamb: the original 12 apostles, chosed by Christ during His earthly ministry.
    • "Greek, emphatical. Himself by His supreme power. "It is HE that gave,". gave some, apostles--Translated: "some to be apostles, and some to be prophets," etc. The men who filled the office, no less than the office itself, were a divine gift [EADIE]. Ministers did not give themselves."; Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary.
    • "And he gave some apostles,.... That is, he gave them gifts by which they were qualified to be apostles; who were such as were immediately called by Christ, and had their doctrine from him, and their commission to preach it; and were peculiarly and infallibly guided by the Spirit of God, and had a power to work miracles for the confirmation of their doctrine; and had authority to go everywhere and preach the Gospel, and plant churches, and were not confined to anyone particular place or church; this was the first and chief office in the church, and of an extraordinary kind..."; John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible.
    • The Apostolic Responsibilities Cover 3 Areas:
      1. Doctrine: The major component of a good foundation is sound doctrine. Since the Church in Rome hadn't been established by an apostle (but, by converts) we observe foundational doctrines established in Saint Paul's letter to the Romans which were not addressed in other epistles. Saint Paul takes the opportunity while penning this epistle to establish doctrines that he probably taught to the Churches he personally established. Once good doctrine has been taught, it is also the apostle's responsibility to guard against any false doctrine which may find its way into the Church.
      2. Discipline: Dealing with sinful conduct within the Body of Christ has always been the responsibility least enjoyed by ministers. However, the office of the apostle has an unique gifting to handle such challenges. In Galations 2:11, Saint Paul relates his confrontation with Peter - the most respected of all the apostles - after Peter's open sin was leading others astray.
      3. Nurturing: The apostolic office provides permission for the other 5-Fold ministers to develop their gifting. Imagine the 5-Fold ministry as a hand: the thumb representing the apostle and the 4 fingers representing the other offices. As the thumb easily accesses the 4 fingers, so also the apostle is able to touch the other ministries, providing encouragement and direction as they develop their gifts.
  2. Prophets
    • προφητης, prophétés: An interpreter or forth-teller of the divine will. Not to be confused with the spiritual gift of prophecy which the Holy Spirit can give to any believer at any time. This represents a divine office within the Body of Christ which is responsible for supernatural insight into God's will.
    • "and some prophets,.... by whom are meant, not private members of churches, who may all prophesy or teach in a private way; nor ordinary ministers of the word; but extraordinary ones, who had a peculiar gift of interpreting the Scriptures, the prophecies of the Old Testament, and of foretelling things to come; such were Agabus and others in the church of Antioch, Acts 11:27"; John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible.
    • The Prophetic Responsibilities Cover 2 Areas:
      1. Inward: For the Apostolic team. As decisions are made concerning the various activities and programs in which the team is involved, the Prophet can provide divine guidance and counsel.
      2. Outward: For the Body of Christ. As individual members of the Body of Christ seek counsel for themselves and/or their family members, the Prophet can be useful in seeking God's direction or uncovering secret sin.
  3. Evangelists
    • ευαγγελιστης, euaggelistés: A bringer of good news.
    • "and some evangelists,.... by whom are designed, not so much the writers of the Gospels, as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, some of which were also apostles; as preachers of the Gospel, and who yet were distinct from the ordinary ministers of it; they were below the apostles, and yet above pastors and teachers; they were the companions of the apostles, and assistants to them, and subserved them in their work; such were Philip, Luke, Titus, Timothy, and others; these were not fixed and stated ministers in anyone place, as the following officers be, but were sent here and there as the apostles thought fit:; John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible.
    • The Evangelistic Responsibilities Cover 2 Areas:
      1. Inward: For the Apostolic team. As decisions are made concerning the various activities and programs in which the team is involved, the Prophet can provide divine guidance and counsel.
      2. Outward: For the Body of Christ. As individual members of the Body of Christ seek counsel for themselves and/or their family members, the Prophet can be useful in seeking God's direction or uncovering secret sin.
  4. Pastors
  5. Teachers

How Does 5-Fold Ministry Work?

In one word: Deference

In Acts 15:1-30 we see the occasion of Paul and Barnabus addressing the Apostles and Elders in Jerusalem concerning the gentiles they have led to the Lord. Should they be circumcised, become Jews, then become Christians? Peter was there. Other Apostles were there. The Elders were there. Yet, who made the decision? Remember, this is a doctrinal issue. Therefore, the resonsibility for this decision falls to the Apostles. Did Peter or one of the other Apostles of the Lamb make the decision? No, everyone deferred to James, the half brother of Jesus, and now an Ascension Apostle.

Deference is how the ArcAetos team (Set Free's Apostolic team) works. We defer first, to the gifting then, to the anointing. Our team is not that big: less than a dozen members. But, we are spread out around the world. Skype has become a real blessing to us. (I find it amazing to be able to acquire an internet connection in the jungles of South Asia.)

Let's say that the team has gathered to discuss an evangelistic crusade. As an Apostle (the gifting), I may not have any leading by The Holy Spirit (the anointing) and it's not my area of gifting, so I keep quiet. The responsibility for things evangelistic lies with the Evangelists. Of the 3 Evangelists present (the gifting), one may not have any leading about the matter (the anointing), so the group defers to the remaining 2 Evangelists who have both the gifting and the anointing. This doesn't exclude the remainder of the team. The Prophet may offer some divine insight or direction and it will be necessary for the Pastors to develop a program to deal with the converts (perhaps guide them to established Churches). What if there are no Churches in the area? Now, the Apostles are involved in establishing a new Church and the Teachers are responsible for creating programs to instruct the new Believers.

This illustration reveals how deference works. It's also important to remember that deference works in two directions: God-ward and inward. We defer to the power of God in EACH of the team members (gifting and anointing) and we defer away from our own desires and human wisdom. Failure to defer from personal desires and human wisdom has been the destruction of many ministries. Once someone as determined that their value as a minister is determined by their contribution to every decision, the seeds are planted for a power struggle, resulting in a controlling spirit. The presence of a controlling spirit has side-lined more than a few successful Apostolic teams.

Doctor Dale's third rule for a successful Christian life: When everything is flowing smoothly and there isn't a problem in sight: See rule number one.

This paper is not intended to be an in-depth treatise on the inner workings of the Ascension Ministry Gifts, Five-Fold Ministry, Apostolic Ministry, or any other terminology with which you may be comfortable. It is merely an outline of what the ArcAetos team has experienced over the past 25 years.

In the beginning we experienced a lot of resistance to Ascension Gift model of ministry: the pioneers always take the arrows. After receiving the Lords calling into the Apostolic ministry, I tried to learn more by associating with other "apostles". I visited every known team in Texas only to find them dominated by either a controlling spirit or an unholy spirit.

So, it was back to the drawing board. After a 30-day fast, the Holy Spirit confirmed the two, key concepts for the one and only, scriptural model of ministry:

  1. God's ministers live by the highest standard of conduct: "Holiness Unto The Lord" - Exodus 28:36. Any minister who practices sin so they can receive more grace is full of the devil. (Romans 5:20: "Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:")
  2. God's ministers serve The Lord and The Church, not by clever programs or the wisdom of man, but by deferring to the gifting and anointing in themselves and in the others with whom they are called to minister.

At the very least, I hope this treatise causes you to search God's Word and come to your own, informed decision about true ministry.

In His Service:

‡ A. Dale Climie