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Guiding Principles


CHAPTER 9 - THE FIVE GOVERNING OFFICES, GIFTS OF CHRIST

The five offices as enumerated in Eph. 4: 11 are these: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist, Pastors and Teachers. These offices are the gifts of the Ascended Christ, and their purpose is revealed in Eph. 4: 12, 13.

9.1 APOSTLES
(I) APOSTLESHIP:
When the term “Apostleship” is used in this book, it is always meant to refer to:
(a) an Apostle charged with particular duties by the Council of Apostles.
(b) a number of Apostles acting in concert by authority of the Council.
(c) the whole Council of Apostles.
(II) RECOGNITION OF APOSTLES:
CONDITIONS:
No one to be recognised in the Church as an Apostle, unless called by the Apostleship or through ordained prophet functioning with the Apostleship in the government of the Church.
OTHERS CLAIMING TO BE APOSTLES:
Any one desiring to associate with the Church and claiming to be an Apostle cannot be recognised until confirmed by the Apostleship or through ordained prophets.
CALLING APOSTLES:
The revelation of a call to the Apostleship through an ordained Prophet should only be made known at General Council Meetings. A call may also be made known by a direct revelation to the Apostleship at a General Council apart from ordained prophets of the Church.
(III) FUNCTION OF APOSTLES:
ESTABLISHING: The Apostle is called to establish Churches, and to build and care for them. (I Cor. 3: 10; II Cor. 11: 28).
IMPARTING:
There is authority in the Apostleship to impart spiritual gifts. (Rom. 1: 11; II Tim. 1:6).
ORDAINING:
The Apostleship in the Body has authority to ordain to any office upon a revelation received direct from God, or by personal revelation, or by a prophetical word through ordained prophets, or if deemed wise in certain cases by moral and spiritual qualifications in the persons concerned. (Acts 13: 3, 14: 23; Titus 1: 5 -9).
(IV) MINISTERING OF APOSTLES:
The ministering of the Apostles should be comprehensive and well balanced, meeting the requirements of the various offices and members in the Body of Christ and the needs of the world at large. (I Cor. 9: 1923; 10: 33; Acts 20:17- 27).
BINDING AND LOOSING:
In the Apostleship there is power to bind and to loose -“Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”. (Matt. 16: 19; 18: 18). The power of binding and loosing is inherent in the proclamation of the Gospel by whomsoever ministers it in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is also administered in Church discipline when two dissenting parties refuse to be reconciled according to the steps outlined in Matthew 18: 15 - 20. EXCOMMUNICATING:
Authority to excommunicate is the right of the Apostleship. As excommunication involves a formal exclusion from all spiritual communion with Officers and members of the Church and from all Church privileges, until such time as the offender is completely repentant and sincerely willing to conform to the rules and tenets of the Church and confess his folly, the Apostle of the District, when a matter calling for excommunication comes before him, must make full enquiry into it with the local Presbytery, then consult with the Area Apostles and obtain their sanction before excommunicating. (I Cor. 5: 1 - 13; Matt. 18: 15, 18). The local Presbytery has no authority to re-admit into fellowship until permission has been given by the District Apostle with the consent of the Area Apostles. (II Cor. 2: 6 -11). Excommunication would be applied only in such cases as persistent sin, continued stubborn resistance to the righteous government of the Church, or active promulgation of some false doctrine. Excommunication, as herein referred to, is not mere suspension of membership, but is more drastic, in as much as it is not suspension for a period, but is as it were, a permanent separation and exclusion, in which the only hope of restoration would be a full repentance, a righteous attitude, a godly life, and a public confession of the offence.

DELIVERING TO SATAN:
To deliver to Satan is within the scope and authority of the Apostleship, but according to Scripture, this was only resorted to in extreme cases, as seen in I Cor. 5: 5 and I Tim. 1: 20. No individual Apostle is to act without the sanction of his Area Apostles.

9.2 PROPHETS

I. AUTHORITY FOR USE IN PRESENT DISPENSATION:
The Office of Prophet is established on the fact that Prophet did not cease with Old Testament times, for the Office was found again in the New Testament dispensation, according to I Cor. 12: 28 and Eph. 4: 11.
II. HOW CALLED INTO OFFICE:
The calling into this Office should only be recognised when made in the following ways:-
(a) Through approved Prophets as detailed in the Constitution.
(b) By a direct revelation from God to the Apostleship.
III. FUNCTION OF PROPHETS:
Every Prophet must function in the sphere, and within the scope revealed by the will of God and the Apostleship in the government of the Church.
IV. GOVERNMENTAL PROPHECY:
Prophetical utterances through the Prophet are the property of the Church, and the interpretation and responsibility from them, when of a governmental nature, rest with the Apostleship.
V. ORIGIN OF THE PROPHECY:
True prophetic utterance never originates in the mind of man, but as inspired by the Holy Spirit, and must always be consistent with the spirit and tenor of the Written Word.
VI. SAFEGUARD OF PROPHECY:
We do not believe in the infallibility of Prophets because, as men, all are liable to fail. We believe we are not on Scriptural basis and affirm that we are having the word of the Lord
(a) when the Prophet is a chosen and pre-destined vessel in the Body of Christ;
(b) when he is living in holiness, humility, and obedience;
(c) when he is responsive to the moving of the Holy Spirit within him;
(d) when his utterances are in perfect accord with the written word of God; and
(e) when such prophetical ministry is examined and accepted by the Apostleship.
VII. ENQUIRING OF THE LORD
REGARDING NATURAL MATTERS:
No enquiry should be made of the Lord by an Apostle concerning any personal matter connected with a member of the Church, unless he is convinced that the enquirer has made every effort to ascertain the mind of the Spirit by earnest prayer and waiting upon the Lord, taking as a basis the Written word of God as his or her infallible guide. To this end, the Apostle should seek, in the wisdom of the spirit, to help the person concerned in accordance with “Rules of Conduct” No. 4, without having recourse to enquiry of the Lord. If, after this, the Apostle is satisfied that the enquirer does not know the mind of the Lord, then he or she, if a member of the Church, should not be robbed of the privilege of enquiry which should be made by the Apostle through the approved Prophet, as the Apostle deems wise.
REGARDING HEALING:
Under no circumstances whatever must enquiries be made concerning healings, for the Scriptures declares: “Is any sick among you? “Let him call for the Elders of the Church” (James 5: 14 - 16), not for the Prophets.
VIII EXPOSITION OF THE WORD OF THE LORD THROUGH ORDAINED PROPHETS: RESERVATIONS FOR APOSTLE:
Only Apostles should expound at length on Prophetical ministry through anointed Prophets, and only Apostles should speak on any part of the word which is of governmental nature.
CIRCULARISED PROPHECIES:
Circularized Prophetical Ministry should be read through to the congregation by the Pastor, Worker, Overseer or Presiding Elder before any exposition of it is made.
IX. ATTITUDE OF PROPHETS AT APOSTLES’ MEETINGS:
Prophets should refrain from entering into discussion at Apostles’ meeting, unless they have something important to communicate relative to the discussion or are asked a question by the Chairman. They should wait on their Ministry and hold themselves in vital communion with the Lord, thereby enabling the Lord to break through them in prophetical ministry at any time during the discussion.
X. APOSTLE AND PROPHET ARE COMPLEMENTARY OFFICES:
The Apostle and Prophet are always to be considered as complementary and independent office in the Body. God in Divine ordination has always linked them together in the government of the Church. The Apostleship must always keep in view the great” importance of the second Office and endeavour to have a Prophet or Prophets present in their meetings so that the Lord may have an opportunity to express His mind. (Acts 15: 32 -40; Eph. 20: 20; 3: 5).

9.3 EVANGELISTS:

I. NATURE OF OFFICE
The Evangelist has his own sphere in Church government. The nature of the office is always the same, whatever the scope of service. The need for growth in maturity of the office should be recognised.
II. SCOPE:
The Evangelist will be allowed to take the place in Church government as laid down in the Constitution.
III. WORK:
The work of the Evangelist is to preach the gospel, and to be active in all realms of Church life which deal with reaching those that are unsaved, and in pioneering fresh fields.
9.4 PASTORS:

NATURE OF OFFICE:
The word “Pastor” comes from a Latin word “Pascere” (to feed), synonymous with the Greek word “Plomen”, “a shepherd”. The Pastor therefore is one who has charge of a flock of God’s sheep. As a shepherd he is expected to lead his flock into good pasture, to care for them in health and sickness, both naturally and spiritually. This calling is manifest in other offices, such as Apostles, Paul speaks of his care (shepherding) over all the churches. (II Cor. 11:28). II. RESPECT TOWARDS CALLING:
Because of the more comprehensive nature of his work in the Pastoral sense, the dignity of his sacred calling, and the fact that he has been completely liberated from secular occupations, the Pastor should be respected and honoured by all officers and saints. III. LIMITATION OF NAME:
In order to avoid misunderstanding in the designation of the word “Pastor”, it is essential to limit the use of the word to those called into the permanent full-time Ministry of the Church.
IV. EXTENT OF JURISDICTION:
The Pastor will have charge of one or more Assemblies.
LOCAL PRESBYTERY- MEANING OF THE TERM:
For the sake of brevity of expression as well as to embody the scriptural designations, the office of Pastor, Overseer, Presiding Elder, and Elder, are grouped together in the term “Local Presbytery”, and where the term “Local Presbytery” is used herein it is to be understood that all these offices are included.

9.5. OVERSEERS, PRESIDING ELDERS, AND ELDERS:

The nature of the office of Elder is clearly defined in the New Testament, revealing the spiritual nature of the office in its responsibility, He is called to feed and care for the flock under his charge. (Acts 20: 28; I Peter 5: 2).
I. MINISTRY:
The Eldership in its broad sense (covering the callings of Overseer, Presiding Elder, and Elder) is a calling of shepherding, leading, ruling, and ministering to the Local Assembly. The Eldership has to do with all the essential matters of the Local Assembly, spiritually and materially.
H. RELATIONSHIP:
The Elders are called to rule the Assembly in which they are ‘set, under the leadership of an Overseer or Presiding Elder. There is no difference in nature between the callings of Overseer, Presiding Elder, and Elder. All are equally responsible for the control of the Assembly over which they are called. The Overseer or Presiding Elder should therefore be sensitive that he works in the most intimate co-operation and harmony with his fellow Elders. In matters of principle and general arrangement, he should not notify the Assembly of what is his own voice or opinion, but should always announce what is combined decision of the Assembly Elders remembering that he is only voice speaking for all.

9.6 TEACHERS

NATURE OF CALLING:

Another function necessary for the full-orbed ministry in the Church is the Teacher. He is one of the five offices. (Eph. 4: 11; Acts 13: 1; I Cor. 12: 28). Distinct from the function of the Evangelist who is called to preach the Gospel to the unsaved, the Teacher’s ministry is chiefly for the instruction and edifying of the saints in the principles of the word of God. The range of truths embraced in his ministry are almost unlimited; consequently, he is invaluable for the growth and maturity of the saints. Pre-eminently his credentials and qualifications are embodied in the scriptural phrase “apt to teach” (I Tim. 3: 2). Undoubtedly God in His wisdom has incorporated this function into other callings. The ministry of teaching has already, in a measure, been functioning in the body through persons holding other offices as well as through those set for this office. The great lack of teachers in the Church calls for a cry from the bowels of the Church that God may add to their number.