"And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught."
Why we need Apostolic Councils
It is time for the apostolic leaders of the church to form an apostolic council that will provide oversight and leadership for ministers, ministries and fellowships who are wanting to be part of the apostolic church as patterned in the Scripture and that is emerging everywhere today. Such a council would include leaders of various apostolic companies and apostolic and prophetic bodies. The council being formed is not the beginning of a new movement, denomination or network but a realistic outworking of scriptural practice.
At some point in the near future, there will be a great number of saints, ministers and whole fellowships led by their ministers joining with the apostolic faith which is “the faith once and for all delivered to the saints” Jude 3.
In the present time, various apostles and prophets have been raised and companies have gathered around them or churches have been planted by an apostolic leader, or fellowships and their ministers have come into relationship with an apostle. However, these leaders do not have any place or forum where they can relate as peers and submit in a mutual relationship and be accountable for their doctrine and practice. Because of this, when a problem arises, a leader can act unilaterally and be out of order, causing unnecessary division and damage.
Another dangerous development is for an individual leader to become overly influential through his particular interpretation of apostolic teaching and ministry [obviously the same applies to a prophet or a teacher]. Attention is thereby drawn to the leader and much emphasis is then placed on that leader’s opinion and judgment of all things. This is a miss-development that detracts from the centrality of Jesus and the pre-eminence that must be given to Him in all things. Such a development leads to the particular ministry leader and those who adhere to his teaching and practice becoming a delineated movement, no longer being a genuine apostolic ministry to the body of Christ.
The Issue of Covering
An issue of importance to most ministers is that of covering. The apostolic council is clearly under the covering of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact there is no other covering for the church. Jesus alone is the head of all of us and He does not delegate headship, in His church, to any man. Through the mutual submission of all members, the council then provides oversight to each member. The apostolic council is according to the pattern of Acts 15.
The Jerusalem Council
Acts 15:5 reports on a serious problem that had arisen in the church because “some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them [Gentile believers] and to command them to keep the Law of Moses.’”
v6 Apostles and elders gathered “to consider this matter”. There was a large number in that council, “multitude” v.12.
v7 “there had been much dispute.”
v12 But after Peter had spoken of his experience in Cornelius’ house (Acts 10) and Paul and Barnabas were now to speak, the multitude kept silent and listened. When apostles, with present truth to share, speak, they command the attention of everyone.
v15 James then brings the council to a proper conclusion by bringing the quickened word from the Scripture: it is written! The Scripture finally settles the issue and that should be our motto: Scripture alone. The Scripture is our only authority for faith and practice.
v22 Notice the reference to “their own company”. The idea of apostolic company has a scriptural basis.
v25 While the council started in dispute, they finally were able to say “It seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord.” Being in one accord is the goal that we can achieve by being willing to handle disputes in a biblical way and allowing the Holy Spirit and the word of God to be the final arbiters, not the will of a strong leader.
v28 “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.” The Holy Spirit is the head of the apostolic council.
v31 Good fruit came from the Jerusalem council: when the letter was read in Antioch “they rejoiced over its encouragement.”
A Smaller Apostolic Council
In Galatians 2:1-10, Paul tells of his going up to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus to purposefully communicate the gospel that he was preaching “among the Gentiles” v2. He met with James, Peter and John “who seemed to be pillars” v9. Paul, as a senior apostle and a man who clearly knew the call and commissioning of the Lord and who received awesome revelation of the gospel, wanted to communicate with the leading apostles in Jerusalem. It was in this meeting of apostles that it became clear that Paul was to go to the Gentiles while Peter was to specifically lead ministry “for the circumcised” v7-8.
Notice that there was no hierarchy among these apostles. One was not ‘the spiritual father’ of the others. Rather they recognised that they were peers and that the Father of all is the Apostle, Jesus Christ.
The aim is ONENESS
The council is a place where leaders of various groups can come together because of a shared commitment to the end goal. This goal is clearly expressed in Ephesians 4:12-16, specifically v15b-16 “growing up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”
Each group pursues the vision the Lord has given to them and therefore contributes into the body for the up-building of the whole body. The council enables various leaders to come into a place of safety and security, where they are recognised and received.
Australian Apostolic Council
An apostolic council has been formed here in Australia for ministry and local church leaders. This council meets every few months and is a wonderful forum and fellowship for leaders to fellowship together as saints exercising ministry in the call of God. If you would like to be included in this council, please contact us.